Ashford v Thornton
Last verified judicial battle in Britain was in Scotland in 1597. Adam Bruntfield accused James Carmichael of murder and then killed him in battle. If the defendant was defeated but still alive, he was to be hanged on the spot. It was successfully opposed by the Boston Party in the 17th and 18th centuries.
About Ashford v Thornton in brief
Ashford v Thornton 106 ER 149 is an English law case in the Court of King’s Bench. It upheld the right of the defendant to trial by battle on a private appeal from an acquittal for murder. The last verified judicial battle in Britain was in Scotland in 1597, when Adam Bruntfield accused James Carmichael of murder and then killed him in battle. If the defendant was defeated but still alive, he was to be hanged on the spot; if he defeated his opponent or if he fended him off from sunrise to sunset, he would be declared infamous. It was successfully opposed by the Boston Party in the 17th and 18th centuries as part of legislative response to the Tea Party. It is uncertain when the last trial by fight actually took place in Britain. The defendant could not make the challenge if he was taken in the mainour, if he attempted to escape from prison, or if there was such strong evidence of guilt that there could be no effective denial. Proposals to abolish battle by battle were made in 1774 and 1819, but they were unsuccessful. The case was decided in 1817, and the right to try by battle was abolished by statute in 1819. Thornton emigrated to the United States, where he died in 1881. He was buried in New Jersey, where his family still lives. He is survived by his wife, two children, and a step-grandchild, all of whom were born in the U.S.
and have lived in New York since the mid-20th century. He also has a daughter, who was born in New Mexico and now lives in California. He has a son, who is also a lawyer, and two step-daughters, both of whom live in New England and New Jersey. He died in 1998, when he was in his 80s, and his wife died in her 90s, but he never remarried. He had a son and a daughter-in-law, who died in 2008, and he is now in his 90s. He lives with his wife and two children in California, where they live in the San Francisco Bay area. He says he has no plans to return to the UK, but plans to travel to New York in the future to work for a law firm. He writes: “I want to be a lawyer. I want to do what I love. I don’t want to die in prison. I just want to get out of prison.” He says: “If you want to go to prison, you have to go through the legal process. You have to follow the law. If you don’t like the law, you’ve got to obey the law.” He adds: “That’s the way it is. It’s the only way to get to the bottom of it. You’ve just got to go along with the process.” The court rules that the evidence against Thornton was not overwhelming, and that trial bybattle was a permissible option.