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August 20, 2005

Ashford v. Thornton

The BBC seems to think the case of Ashford v. Thornton is remarkable mainly for its establishing the principle of double-jeopardy. I think it more remarkable for putting a finish to trial by combat. While in this instance it appears to have allowed a man guilty of an horrendous crime to go free it still somehow seems a pity to have done away with the practice.

In London, on November 17, 1817, Abraham Thornton, accused of raping and murdering young Mary Ashford the previous May, challenged her brother William to settle the question by the medieval method of "trial by battel," combat with clubs. The public was shocked to learn that English law still gave some defendants the right to demand that their guilt or innocence be decided by armed combat.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at August 20, 2005 10:03 AM

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