In MacNamara (1803), Captain James MacNamara is brought to trial at the Old Bailey on manslaughter charges stemming from a duel in which MacNamara killed his adversary, Colonel Robert Montgomery. Interestingly, an examination of the trial proceedings demonstrates that the defence focused on the defendant’s honourability. Rather than focus on the defendant’s criminal actions, the defence sought to counter the prosecution by highlighting the defendant’s actions in relation to another code, the English code of honour. In spite of a strong prosecution, the jury’s verdict of not guilty in MacNamara is reflective of the vast majority of English criminal trials involving duelists being ruled in favour of the defendants, demonstrating the subversion of English criminal law by the code of honour in the Georgian period (1714-1830).
MacNamara (1803) On 6 April 1803, Captain James MacNamara and Colonel Robert Montgomery travelled on horseback through Hyde Park with their separate entourages and Newfoundland dogs. The dogs, who had run ahead of their masters, attacked one another. Arriving at the scene of the canine altercation, Montgomery confronted MacNamara, demanding that the latter restrain his dog. Sensing a challenge, MacNamara asserted his intention to stand by his dog, accusing Montgomery of arrogance and disrespect. With neither prepared to concede, both parties agreed to meet later that day atop Primrose-hill in a pistol duel. In the duel, MacNamara fatally wounded