William Garrow in the British Museum


Print made by Thomas Rowlandson © The British Museum
Miseries of Human Life / More Miseries. or Being Nervous and Cross Examined by Mr. Garrow


This is a copy of the most used cartoon depicting William Garrow. It depicts the quality of Garrow’s courtroom style for which he is most remembered, his skill in examining and cross-examining witnesses. Early on his style was described with the following words relating to a trial in which he cross-examined a well trained witness.

“…the great art with which he extracted them (the facts) from a woman who was so well trained and prepared in her story, afforded to a young barrister the finest lesson on cross-examination. No scene in any dramatic author was ever more interesting than the one, … (that) appeared to all that saw it. The court was in a dead silence during the examination, which lasted above three hours: Mr. Garrow’s eyes were scarcely once off the witness; they seemed to penetrate into her very soul and lay open the inmost workings of her mind. She was as collected as himself for some time, but her firmness at length gave way; he broke in at last upon the truth of the story and , finally, made her so palpable confute herself, that his victory was complete. … It must be confessed that his powers as a pleader are chiefly confined to the humorous, the ridiculous, and the light; no man better understands or better expresses these qualifications; but of the pathos he has, perhaps, less than other gentleman of the bar. His voice, though not powerful, is clear and melodious, and , while he wisely omits all action, his countenance and expression are nicely adapted to every passion he wishes to excite.”

2 Replies to “William Garrow in the British Museum”

    1. “Hi Tim. Your observation is a good one. “The Old Bailey Advocate bringing off a thief” must be included in the collection of images on Garrow in the British Museum collection. As you say, It is almost certainly Garrow, although M. Doprothy George, in her “Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum” identifies the figure as someone else… But as you well know, in 1789 in the Old Bailey, it was Garrow that fits the title. We strongly recommend that viewers go to http://tinyurl.com/37sxzv6 to view this image. And we greatly appreciate your efforts in your work with the Old Bailey Proceedings Online project. Please add all the additional comments you wish to the Garrow Society site.”

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