Sir William Garrow: His Life, Times and Fight for Justice

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Including the lost story of barrister William Garrow's key role in changing the face of the English criminal trial.

Sir William Garrow was born in Middlesex in 1760 and called to the Bar in 1783. He was the dominant figure at the Old Bailey from 1783 to 1793, later becoming an MP, Solicitor-General, Attorney-General and finally a judge and lawmaker within the Common Law Tradition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781904380559
  • Publisher: Waterside Press
  • Publication date: 1/11/2010
  • Pages: 271
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

About the authors iv

Preface ix

Foreword Geoffrey Robertson QC xiii

1 Family Background 17

Scottish Origins 17

Historical Perspective 19

The Reverend David Garrow 20

Children 21

Boarding School 23

2 Education in Criminal Law 25

Pupil Barrister 25

Coachmaker's Hall 26

3 Garrow and English Criminal Procedure 29

The "No-Counsel" Rule 29

The First Breach in the Rule 31

Early Steps Towards Adversary Trial 31

Rules of Evidence 37

The Growth of Advocacy 40

Counsel's Pugnacity 41

4 Early Trials 47

Dedication to the Defence of Clients 47

Initial Success 48

Aggressive Style 51

Exposing Thief-takers 54

Jury Nullification and Pious Perjury 59

Disputes with the Bench 60

Newsworthy Trials 62

Baron Hompesch v. the Farmer and his Dog 63

Mrs. Day's Baby 66

5 Adversary Trial and Human Rights 69

Pressures for Defence Lawyers in Criminal Trials 69

Rights of the Individual 71

Adversary Trial in a Changing World 72

Human Rights 74

6 Government Prosecutor 79

Assessment of Garrow's Early Legal Career 79

Crown Prosecutions 79

Treason Trials 81

7 The Picton Trials 85

Colonial Law 85

Court Records 85

Proceedings against Thomas Picton 86

National Hero 90

Moral Issue of Slavery 91

8 Member of Parliament and Law Officer 93

A Proper Person? 93

Hearsay in the Commons 94

Protecting the Realm 95

Sir Samuel Romilly 96

Attacks by Romilly 100

Corn Laws 102

Animal Rights 103

Government Service 104

Solicitor-General 108

Attorney-General 108

Leaving the Commons 110

9 Garrow vs. Brougham 113

Enlightenment Lawyers 113

Brougham on Garrow 114

Trial between Lord Roseberry and Sir Henry Mildmay for Criminal Conversation 115

Brougham For Sir Henry Mildmay 120

The nature of legal combat 123

10 Judge 125

Baron of the Exchequer 125

Assize Trials 126

Garrow's Style 128

The Case of the Learned Apothecary 130

Trials Before Garrow 133

Precedents 136

Lincoln's Inn 137

Conclusion 138

11 Garrow's Homes 139

Childhood Home 139

Early Homes in London 139

In Pegwell 141

Great George Street in London 143

In Pegwell Again 144

12 Sarah 149

Irregular relationship 149

Financial Support 151

Sarah's Character 153

Mysteries 154

13 Garrow's Will and Trust 157

How Wealthy Was Sir William Garrow? 157

Trustees 158

No Death Duties 160

Women 160

Funeral 161

14 Garrow's Extended Family 163

An Introduction to Garrow's Family 163

Son David and Family 166

Daughter Eliza Sophia and Family 175

William Arthur Dorehill and Family 179

Sir William Garrow's Brothers and Sisters 186

15 Joseph Garrow's Literary Legacy 195

Marriage 196

Florence 197

The Trollopes 198

16 Published Stories 207

Public Characters 207

The Legal Observer 208

Monthly Magazine 208

The Law Review 209

Musical Memoirs 211

The Times 211

Robert Louis Stevenson 213

Garrow's Law 214

17 Conclusion 215

Timeline of William Garrow's Life 217

Appendix 1 Garrow Genealogical Studies: A Note 219

Richard Braby's Story 219

The Sir William Garrow Genealogy 1 223

The Sir William Garrow Genealogy 2 224

The Sir William Garrow Genealogy 3 225

Appendix 2 A Snapshot of Crime and Punishment in the 1800s 226

Appendix 3 Some Primary Sources 229

Public Characters 229

The Legal Observer 236

The Times 240

Law Review (1844-5) 248

Select bibliography 257

Primary sources 257

Journals and newspapers 258

Books and articles 259

Index 263

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted January 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The rediscovered lost advocate


    An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers

    As Geoffrey Robertson QC points out in the foreword to this now wildly popular biography of the lost advocate from Waterside Press - following the recent television series - William Garrow was the first great cross examiner at the English Bar who 'truly can be said to have revolutionized the practice of criminal law'.

    Before Garrow, (an advocate at an earlier incarnation of the "Old Bailey" for 10 years from 1783), the supposedly admirable edifice of English law which had evolved over several centuries, was deeply flawed. When Garrow began his practice, those charged with capital felony "could not be represented by counsel" - a state of affairs that would be deemed unimaginably appalling today.

    Even while this ancient anomaly was breaking down, counsel were still not allowed to address the jury on the prisoner's behalf. Garrow, almost singlehandedly we surmise, with his trenchant and aggressive adversarial skills, persuaded juries to acquit his often hapless clients, winning battles for them against unscrupulous bounty hunters whose income derived mainly from the blood money they 'earned' in accusing the innocent of crimes.

    The authors' stated purpose in the publication of this biography is 'to introduce the reader to the life of a remarkable man in the context of his time and family.and secondly to present him as the criminal lawyer who led the way in altering the whole relationship between the state and the individual by his role in the revolutionary introduction of adversary trial.'

    Garrow helped revolutionise criminal trial procedure - a process of which he, and certainly his contemporaries, were only dimly aware, but which would lead inevitably to reinforcing and extending the principles of justice and fair treatment which are at the heart of current human rights legislation. As the authors have observed, "adversariality", 'with its lasting impact on worldwide jurisprudence has been 'a contributing factor in the establishment of a culture of human rights'.

    Also, there are startling insights into Garrow's family life and any number of references made to the social and political issues of the time in which he was involved and the injustices against which he fought, from slavery to animal cruelty.

    Following his ten year career as a young barrister of note, Garrow became a Member of Parliament and later Solicitor General, Attorney General, judge and lawmaker. As Attorney General, it was Garrow who had overall responsibility for the trial and conviction in 1817 of John Hannay, a slave trader, after the passage of the Slave Trade Abolition Act of 1807. Following the efforts of William Wilberforce and others to secure such a law, 'we must conclude', say the authors, 'that it was finally implemented by William Garrow.'

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