Colonel John Hamilton

Perp: Colonel John Hamilton

The Crime: Manslaughter - a result of a duel where both men died

The Victims: Charles Lord Mohun (aka Baron of Oakhampton) and the Duke of Hamilton.

Weapon of Choice: Swords

Motive: Fight over the estates of 3rd Earl of Macclesfield who died without leaving an heir.

Date: 1712

Punishment: Pardoned

Location: Old Bailey

The Condensed Version

This story would appear to be somewhat confusing so here is the condensed version.

Baron Mohun of Okehampton was best known for participating in duels and basically being a rake. He and James Hamilton, 4th Duke of Hamilton basically hated each others guts.It all came to a head when the 3rd Earl of Macclesfield died in 1702 without an heir and the two tried to lay claim to his extensive estates.Hamilton believed he had rights to the estates due to that fact his wife was a granddaughter of Charles Gerard, 1st Earl of Macclesfield. While Mohun claimed them as named heir to Charles Gerard, 2nd Earl of Macclesfield, to whom he had been a companion-in-arms. For years the men fought through litigation but on the 15th of November 1712, it all came down to a swordduel in Hyde Park, London. Mohun was the first to fall down dead. Duke of Hamilton was then killed by Mohun's second, George MacCartney. Both   MacCartney and Colonel John Hamilton, Hamilton's second , fled the country but were tried for murder and were both eventually pardoned.

OK, I know you are proabably wondering what is a "second" ? well, they are a person appointed by each party to make sure the fight is fair. Basically they check to see if the weapons are equal and the field is fair. However, some times the role of the seconds was to continue the combat if their party was killed or seriously injured.

The Story

THERE was no occurrence which at the time occupied so much of the public attention, and excited so much general interest, as the duel which took place in the year 1711, between the Duke of Hamilton and Lord Mohun ; in which, unhappily, both the principals fell.

The gentleman who is the subject of the present notice, was the second of the noble duke, and appears to have been connected with him by the ties of relationship. At the sessions held at the Old Bailey, on the 11th of September, he was indicted for the murder of Charles Lord Mohun, Baron of Oakhampton, on the 15th of November preceding ; and at the same time he was indicted for abetting Charles Lord Mohun, and George Macartney, Esq., in the murder of James, Duke of Hamilton and Brandon.

Colonel Hamilton pleaded not guilty; and evidence was then adduced, which showed that Lord Mohun having met the Duke of Hamilton at the chambers of a master in chancery, on Thursday the 13th of November, a misunderstanding arose between them respecting the testimony of a witness.

On the return home of his lordship, he directed that no person should be admitted to him, except Mr. Macartney ; and subsequently he went with that gentleman to a tavern. The Duke of Hamilton and his second, Colonel Hamilton, were also at the tavern ; and from thence they all proceeded to Hyde Park. The only evidence which exhibited the real circumstances immediately attending the duel, was that of William Morris, a groom who deposed that, as he was walking his horses towards Hyde Park, he followed a hackney-coach with two gentlemen in it, whom he saw alight by the Lodge, and walk together towards the left part of the ring. They were there about a quarter of an hour, when he saw two other gentlemen come to them ; and, after having saluted each other, one of them, who he was since told was the Duke of Hamilton, threw off his cloak ; and one of the other two, who he now understands was Lord Mohun, his surtout coat, and all immediately drew. The duke and lord pushed at each ether but a very little while, when the duke closed, and took the lord by the collar, who fell down and groaned, and the duke fell upon him. That just as Lord Mohun was dropping, he saw him lay hold of the duke's sword, but could not tell whether the sword was at that time in his body ; mar did he see any wound given after the closing, and was sure Lord  Mohun did not shorten his sword. He declared he did not see the seconds fight; but they had their swords in their hands, assisting their lords."

It further appeared that the bodies of the deceased noblemen were examined by Messrs. Boussier and Amie, surgeons ; and that in that of the duke, a wound was found between the second and third ribs on his right side ; and also that there were wounds in his right arm, which had cut the artery and one of the small tendons, as well as others in his right and left leg. There was also a wound in his left side between his second and third ribs, which ran down into his body, and pierced the midriff and caul  but it appeared that the immediate .cause of the sudden death of his grace was the wound in his arm. It was further proved, as regarded the body of Lord Mohun, that there was a wound between the short ribs, quite through his belly, and another about three inches deep in the upper part of his thigh ; a large wound, about four inches wide, in his groin, a little higher, which was the cause of his immediate death ; and another small wound on his left side ; and that the fingers of his left hand were cut.

The defence made by the prisoner was, that " the duke called him to go abroad with him, but he knew not anything of the matter till he came into the field."

Some Scottish noblemen, and other gentlemen of rank, gave Mr. Hamilton a very excellent character, asserting that he was brave, honest, and inoffensive ;and the jury, having considered of the affair, gave a verdict of " Manslaughter ;" in consequence of which the prisoner prayed the benefit of the statute, which was allowed him.

At the time the lives of these noblemen were thus unfortunately sacrimany persons thought they fell by the hands of the seconds ; and writers on the subject subsequently affected to be of the same opinion : but nothing appears in the written or printed accounts of the transaction, nor did anything arise on the trial, to warrant so ungenerous a suspicion ; it is therefore but justice to the memory of all the parties to discredit such insinuations.