BBC’s Garrow’s Law is a great piece of drama. And Lady Sarah contributes to the fun of the story. Lyndsey Marshal is intriguing as Lady Sarah. I wouldn’t want to change a thing.
In an historical drama, such as Garrow’s Law, the writers must create fiction – putting words into characters’ mouths. Situations are created to carry out historically accurate themes. Real characters, with new words and created situations, become morphed into new creatures. And the new creatures become remembered as the authentic ones. Known or knowable facts sometimes get in the way of a good story, and are quickly overlooked and forgotten.
Much mystery surrounds the real Sarah. And yet much is known about her. Her name was Sarah Dore. She had a serious relationship with Sir Arthur Hill. They had a child, named William Arthur. By all accounts Sarah was an elegant lady. This is made clear by her portrait by John Russell, which is a part of the Rothschild Collection at the National Trust estate at Waddesdon Manor. She is thought to have had an aristocratic Irish background, and colorful stories have been passed down the subsequent generations of her extended family.
However there are some awkward facts that are overlooked in the “Garrow’s Law” dramas.
Garrow started working as a barrister in the Old Bailey in early 1784. Yet by this time Sarah had birthed the child by Sir Arthur Hill. A son, William Arthur Dore Hill, was born sometime in 1778. It is interesting to note that the father, Sir Arthur Hill, upon the death of his of his own father, Wills Hill, became the 2nd Marquis of Downshire, and soon became one of the richest men in England.
But Sarah’s relationship with Arthur Hill did not last and an early relationship with William Garrow was begun. David William, her first child by William Garrow, was born on 15 April 1781 while Garrow was studying law. Her second child by Garrow was Eliza Sophia, born 18 June 1784, during the first year of Garrow’s practice as a barrister in the Old Bailey, and certainly ordered before he started his practice there. What is true is that there was an ongoing supportive relationship between Sir Arthur Hill, and his son, William Arthur Dore Hill, with the son being supported as a gentleman by the Hill family throughout his entire life – with Sarah in the middle between the Garrows and the Hills. The facts of a case are sometimes just as intriguing as fiction.
This all gets personal with me. Sarah was my great great great great grandmother. And I am intrigued by both Sarahs – the one played by Lyndsey Marshal in Garrow’s Law, and the one that comes down through family stories. In addition to being an elegant lady in both version of the story, Sarah was a good mother, raising healthy productive children, and was a much respected member of her community in Pegwell.
But mystery remains. She is buried in the St. Margaret churchyard near Darenth, Kent. Resting next to our Sarah Garrow is Elizabeth Strutton Munn (1693-1741), Margaret Munn Dore (1714-1801), and George Dore (1745-1805). This appears to be a clue into the family background of our Sarah. Who are these people? I am hoping that some competent genealogists will be challenged to discover Sarah’s family background. Was she Catholic? Was she Irish? Was her background truly aristocratic? Please help all the fans of our Sarah with answers to these mysteries.