Garrow's Law - Poetic licence?

Hadfield's trial on June 26th 1800 along with Daniel M'Naghten's in 1843 formed the basis of the defence of insanity.

A recent episode of Garrow's Law on the BBC on 13th November 2011 highlighted the case of James Hadfield. Hadfield was charged with treason for the attempted assassination of King George III. He fired a pistol at the King as he went into the Royal Box on 15th May 1800.


Hadfield's trial on June 26th 1800 along with Daniel M'Naghten's case in 1843 formed the basis of the defense of insanity. In Hadfield's case Lord Kenyon felt that prison would not be the right place for him but also felt it would be wrong for him to be released. He was returned to Newgate Prison initially but was transferred to Bethlem Hospital in October 1800. This decision led to the decision that a successful plea of insanity should result in automatic confinement.


So, interesting viewing for all of us interested in the law, but in fact Mr Garrow did not defend James Hadfield, as a matter of fact he was junior counsel for the Crown, and Counsel assigned for the prisoner was The Hon. Thomas Erskine. See below for more details.


Poetic licence perhaps?



Court Of King's Bench June 26th 1800.

Present.—-Lord Kenyon Chief Justice; Mr. Justice Grose; Mr. Justice Lawrence; Mr. Justice Le Blanc.

Counsel for the Crown.—Mr. Attorney General [Sir John Mitford, afterwards Lord Redesdale; successively Speaker of the House of Commons and Lord chancellor of Ireland].

Mr. Solicitor General [Sir William Grant, afterwards Master of the Rolls].

Mr. Law [afterwards lord Ellenborough and Chief Justice of the King's-bench].

Mr. Garrow [afterwards a Baron of the Exchequer],

Mr. Wood [afterwards a Baron of the Exchequer].

Mr. Abbott [afterwards Chief Justice of the King's-bench].

Solicitor.—Joseph White, esq. solicitor for the affairs of his Majesty's Treasury.

Counsel assigned for the Prisoner.—The Hon. Thomas Erskine [afterwards Lord Chancellor Erskine].

Mr. Serjeant Best [afterwards a Judge of the King's-bench].

Assistant Counsel.—Mr. Knapp.

Solicitor.—Mr. Charles Humphries.

Courtesy of Cobbett's complete collection of state trials and proceedings for high treason



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