Last night saw the return of the Georgian drama, 'Garrow's Law', to our television screens. This is an excellent BBC drama about the Georgian justice system, inspired by the pioneering 18th century barrister, William Garrow. Mainly set in the courtroom of the period, it is largely based on real trials from the Old Bailey, when the young Garrow made history by defending often innocent and poor people.
Since it's a drama, it also has wonderful characters in Garrow himself, the love of his life and married mistress, Lady Sarah, her dastardly husband, Sir Arthur Hill, and Garrow's friend and colleague, Southouse. Garrow and Lady Sarah caused a scandal by eventually living openly together, even though her husband always had at least one mistress and illegitimate child of his own.
There is no doubt the justice system needed shaking up in the 18th century and Garrow is credited with introducing the legal practise: 'Innocent until proven guilty', a new concept at the time, when the most minor crime was punished by hanging. The series also illustrates the plight of women, when even a Lady like Sarah has no rights of her own.
Wonderful drama for any historical novelist! The Old Bailey now has cases available for research online, from 1674 to 1913.