In Garrow’s Law, Judge Buller is portrayed as a harsh traditionalist. That’s true. But get this: the real Judge Buller was known in his time as Judge Thumb. This was because in 1782 he is reported as saying that it was OK for a man to beat his wife, so long as the stick was no bigger than his thumb. This was the caricatured by James Gilray in an etching. Here is a link. http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/rule-of-thumb.html
We have a crime, we have a suspect, but we’re not ready for the Old Bailey just yet.
Here is a nice example, with Garrow for the defence, where a victim of crime obtains a warrant from the magistate, and then, with the warrant in hand, goes and gets a constable to accompany him to the suspects’ house. The accusation was that someone has stolen some meat. … But when they got there, the cats had already gnawed it!!
If there were no watchmen around, there was no choice other than to run after the criminal yourself. If you discovered a felony, you were legally obliged to apprehend those responsible and notify the constable. Also, if a constable was trying to catch a felon, he could require people to join the ‘hue and cry’.
In this case, a man explains the steps he took to catch the highwayman:
This isn’t a Garrow case and it shows you just how swift and harsh the justice was. No defence counsel, not even a prosecution. Basically, the judge was in charge and played all the parts …
If you enjoy Episode One of Garrow’s Law on Sunday and want to find out more, you can come and catch me giving a lecture on William Garrow at the Legal Biography Project of the London School of Economics on 3rd November from 1800h – 1930h . For more details: http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/law/projects/legalbiog/lbp.htm
Hope to see you there! Mark
In this category of blogs, I am going to set out what happened from the moment a crime was committed right up until the person was sentenced. But I won’t tell the story myself, I’ll leave it to the people who actually experienced it ….
A common way for crimes to be detected is that a Night Watchman would hear or see something. Have a look at the case of Henry Morgan 15 September 1784, we hear from a Watchman examined by Garrow in the Old Bailey.
Tomorrow, we’ll see how Victims could also bring cases ….
Garrow’s law is set in London at the end of the 1700s. It was quite a time to be alive: the American Revolutionary War had just ended, leaving thousands of disgruntled British soldiers looking for work; the had been a revolution in France, and back in England there winds of change were starting to blow. People were starting to talk about rights, and about democracy. The movement to end slavery was getting going, women, like Mary Wollstonecraft, were asserting themselves and talking about the rights of women. And reform was in the air, people were getting frustrated with the corruption in parliament and were hungry for change.
And all this was being played out in a new public arena. There had been an explosion of newspapers and journals:
- In 1770, London has 5 daily papers;
- In the 1780s, it had 9 dailies, 8 tri-weeklys and 9 weeklys;
- In the 1790s, it had 14 dailies, 7 tri-weeklys and 2 weeklys.
But whilst there was change on one side, on the other the ruling classes were battening down the hatches and steeling themselves. They were quite with things as they were thank you very much!