Murder, Rape and Trial by Battle Holroyd, Edward [1794-1881]. [Thornton, Abraham (c.1793-1860)]. Observations Upon the Case of Abraham Thornton, Who was Tried at Warwick, August 8, 1817, For the Murder of Mary Ashford: Shewing the Danger of Pressing Presumptive Evidence too Far, Together with the Only True and Authentic Account Yet Published of the Evidence Given at the Trial, The Examination of the Prisoner, &c., And a Correct Plan of the Locus in Quo. London: Printed for J. Mawman, T. Miller, 1819. 88 pp. Folding map. Portrait frontispiece, misbound before preface. Octavo (7-3/4" x 4-3/4"). Disbound stab-stitched pamphlet, untrimmed edges. Moderate toning, light soiling to exterior, dampspotting to map, small library stamps to title page and frontispiece. $500. * Third and final edition, one of three printed in 1819. Abraham Thornton, a bricklayer, "was accused of rape and murder after attending a dance where he became intimate with a gardener's daughter named Mary Ashford. They left the dance together and her body was found the next morning in a deep pool of water near a local footpath. Thornton was tried at the Warwick assizes on 8 August 1817. Since the marks on Mary's body were not necessarily inconsistent with Thornton's claim that she had consented to sexual intercourse, and since the times on the morning in question when Thornton was seen walking home to Bromwich suggested he could not have been with her when she met her death, the jury found him not guilty. The case aroused much interest and reminded people of a similar murder of a local woman a year earlier. Many were convinced of Thornton's guilt and he was assailed in local and London newspapers. A group collected around the Birmingham solicitor William Bedford invoked the old legal process of 'appeal of murder,' by which a person acquitted of murder could be tried again for the same offense. This process was generally regarded as obsolete, though there had been several instances in the eighteenth century. More controversy arose when Thornton came before the court of King's Bench in November 1817 and demanded ordeal by battle, which was open to the subject of an appeal of murder but had not been claimed since Charles I's reign. After several hearings between November 1817 and April 1818 the court decided that the appellee did have this right. The appe.
Book number 75888