The Sarah Dore Detective Club

The Sarah Dore Detective Club invites you to help solve some of the mysteries surrounding Lady Sarah in “Garrow’s Law”.

The issues: Who was the mysterious Sarah, Sarah Dore who eventually married William Garrow? What was her family background? Was she Irish? Was she Catholic? Was she high born? What was her true relationship with Arthur Hill? What was the true relationship between Sarah and William Garrow before they married?  Is it true that……?  While there is a chapter on Sarah in the biography, “Sir William Garrow, His Life, Times and Fight for Justice”, there remain unanswered questions.

© Waddesdon, The Rothschild Collection, (The National Trust) and The Courtauld Institute of Art.
Image on the right from Courtauld Institute of Art Photographic Survey of Collections. © Waddesdon, The Rothschild Collection, (The National Trust) and The Courtauld Institute of Art – no reproduction without permission.

The background: These are typical of the questions that a small group has been asking and for which they have been seeking answers. This quest has been by a small group connected to Sarah in a family way.  And the quest started long before Lady Sarah became a celebrated public personality in modern times.

The name “Sarah Dore Detective Club” was coined – as best I can recall – by Alan Dalton in July 2000 to describe the activities of new friends brought together to search the records for information on Sarah Dore. Alan is the husband of Jan who is a Dorehill and a direct descendent Sarah Dore and William Arthur Hill, the couple becoming famous today in the legal drama, “Garrow’s Law”. Alan is a retired publisher, and computer enthusiast, with a rich sense of humor. Jan holds the Dorehill family records, and is the genealogist of that family line. Prior to the Daltons sharing information, Doug and Rosalind Monk engaged in an ongoing exchange of information and visits with Carol and Richard Braby focusing on the family histories of Sarah and William Garrow. This relationship started in 1990.  Doug is a retired bank manager who has a natural gift of focusing on details and is a descendant of Jane Garrow, Sir William Garrow’s sister. He has collected many of the existing genealogies of the wider Garrow family. Richard Braby is a direct descendent of Sarah Dore and William Garrow, and is co-author of “Sir William Garrow, His Life, Times and Fight for Justice”, the first biography on William Garrow. His career was in research with the US Dept. of Defense. His wife Carol is a trained historian and journalist.  The first biography of William Garrow includes much family information generously shared by these members of the “Sarah Dore Detective Club”. The Daltons live in New Zealand, the Brabys in America, and the Monks in England.

Private information held by family: Until published in Sir William Garrow, His Life, Times and Fight for Justice (2009) , information held by the Dorehill family was not available to the public. Included are pictures (family treasures) of Sarah Dore and William Arthur Hill, as well as stories describing their relationship, including the birth and care of their child, William Arthur Dorehill. Family pictures tell family stories.

Sarah, copyright of Jan Dalton – no reuse or reproduction without written permission
William Arthur Hill, copyright of Jan Dalton – no reuse or reproduction without written permission

Successes: Based on the wealth of family data made available by Jan Dalton, and archival research by others, we claim to have brought Sarah’s relationship with Arthur Hill into the public record and established that the person known in the public record only as “Mrs. Garrow” was indeed Sarah Dore. We have searched the records available to the public from the 1780-1850s and in the current timeframe, and find no other information….except in the new version of the Dictionary of National Biography under “William Garrow”.  It states:

About 1780 Garrow entered into a relationship with Sarah Dore (d. 1808).  It was a connection formed “somewhat irregularly”, a contemporary was to say (Farington. Diary, 11-4017). Indeed, they were not to be married until 17 March 1793, a decade after Sarah had borne two children:

David William (1781-1827) and Eliza Sophia (1783-1857). They also raised a son (William Arthur Dorehill) from Sarah’s earlier relationship with Arthur William Moyes Hill, later second Marquess of Downshire.

This Garrow article was written by Professor John Beattie, a personal friend, based on information I gave him from data gathered by The Sarah Dore Detective Club…information he carefully evaluated before inserting it in his biographical sketch on William Garrow.

I have asked Mark Pallis, the barrister on the writing staff of “Garrow’s Law” to share with me the documented origin of the name “Sarah”  and the information used to script Sarah’s relationship with Arthur Hill.  I specifically asked if it was the new Dictionary of National Biography entry for Garrow.  It would be exciting if there is another detailed historical source – other than our detailed family records.  Perhaps – just perhaps – the source for “Sarah” and her relationship with Arthur Hill in “Garrow’s Law” is the work of the Sarah Dore Detective Club.

You can help. The biggest mystery surrounding Sarah is her family origins. There are some clues, some apparent leads.  The Dorehill family has passed down through the generations the story that Sarah was an Irish lady of high birth.  There is family speculation that she may have been Catholic.  But we have not been able to connect Sarah with her forbearers.  For those of you that are curious and have genealogical skills, I encourage you to continue the search for the family background of Sarah Dore Garrow. While chapter 12 in our book, “Sir William Garrow, His Life, Times and Fight for Justice” is on Sarah, and I have enjoyed putting some information about Sarah in the Garrow Society website, there is more work to be done. The best place to start may be St. Margaret’s churchyard near Dorenth, Kent – Sarah’s burial site…


Jan at Sarah’s tomb (Image copyright Alan Dalton – no reuse or reproduction without written permission)

Sarah’s tomb is next to Margaret Dore (1714-1801) and George Dore (1745-1805). Was this Sarah’s mother and brother?  It would appear that Margaret’s maiden name was Munn and there is an extended Munn family in the area. But what of the Dore lineage? We need hard data, good records that confirm relationships.  If you come up with anything interesting I will put you in touch with the other members of the “Sarah Dore Detective Club”.

And there are lots of other topics to entice you into the archives that hold the Sarah secrets of the past.

Richard Braby

The Braby’s with Jan during visit to New Zealand (Image copyright Alan Dalton – no reuse or reproduction without written permission)
Rosalyn and Doug Monk with Jan Dalton (Image copyright Alan Dalton – no reuse or reproduction without written permission)

11 Replies to “The Sarah Dore Detective Club”

  1. The last picture is of Rosalyn and Doug Monk with Jan Dalton taken when Alan and Jan visited England .
    While the BBC series ‘Garrow’s Law’ has brought William Garrow to the forefront it is unfortunate that there are many factual errors – the baby was named William Arthur NOT Samuel!
    As he did not inherit the family title he was (in my opinion) definitely illegitimate – his parents Sarah Dore and Sir Arthur William Hill were not married and he was given the surname DORE-HILL. It is reportrd in the family that ‘he never did a day’s work’ as he scrounged from his father!
    Sir Arthur died early, in his Will, which must have been somewhatof a shock to his Widow – he also supported two other children he had sired out of wedlock.
    He had married Mary Sandys in 1786 who was a ‘notable heiress’ and the title Marquis of Downshire continues to this day.
    Sarah never was a ‘Lady’ as she had died before Sir William Garrow received his knighthood.

    1. Hello to all- I am the partner of the custodian of Pegwell Lodge and we live some of the time. His mother grew up in the house and it has stayed in the family. I am exceedingly interested in the house, it’s intimate family history, use, functions and complex background. As a history grad I cannot help but feel exceedingly sympathetic to the house as something we must carefully preserve and pass on its heritage faithfully for all. I am keen to both share what we know and find out more about what we don’t. If anyone who was directly descended from Sarah would care to contact us, we would be thrilled to hear what they know of their home in Pegwell Bay and their life there. We have discovered some really fascinating anomalies within the house and would love to know what they mean and were for. We want the true family history attached to the house to be restored and continued. Sleeping and living there we feel it our duty to know the history of the family in all detail. I hope to gain some detailed insight into The Lady Of The House so we may honour her memory.

  2. I am probably sticking my neck out here, but the most curious fact in the Hill-Dore-Garrow triangle seems to me that Sarah & William did not marry until 1793. You have all been looking for the birth / baptism of a “Sarah Dore” but what evidence is there that she was a spinster ? I suggest that you need to look for the death of a Mr Dore in or slightly before 1793, preferably someone who died in a madhouse or somewhere! There was no divorce at this period except for the VERY wealthy. If Sarah was an abandoned/abused wife it would make it even more plausible that she might have become Sir Arthur Hill’s msitress. He seems to have treated her in a very honourable way for an 18th C aristocrat ie pensioned her off when the relationship ended, handed her over to someone else and supported their child financially to the end of his life. In this case the “Dores” in the churchyeard would be her in-laws. Has anybody considered this as an alternative scenario?

    1. Hi Barbara….. Sticking your neck out is exactly what we are encouraging….. out of the box solutions appear to be needed…. I will encourage other members of the Sarah Dore Detective Club to give your observation careful attention. And I would like to encourage you to jump further into the adventure…. With the attention that “Lady” Sarah is now receiving in England, perhaps you will be the one to find the records that solve the mystery of Sarah’s background. Was she Irish? Was she of high birth? Why the delay in getting married? What was the reality in the relationship between Sarah and Arthur Hill who became the 2nd Marquis of Downshire. The solution may be hidden in the genealogical records… or in the correspondence between Sarah’s child, William Arthur Dorehill, and the 3rd Marquis of Downshire and the family records of the Downshires… My wife and I, living in the US, have not had easy access to the full extent of the correspondence…although we have found very interesting material that validate much of the family story passed down through the generations – but not the origins of Sarah.

      Amanda Cable in her article in MailOnline titled “Garrow’s guilty secret” states that William Garrow’s shocking love life…caused the biggest rumpus in Georgian society.

      Amanda Cable’s MailOnline article: [url][/url]

      While that may be the theme of the latest episodes in the historic drama “Garrow’s Law”, it would appear that this is an interesting bit of stage fiction. Or perhaps a bit of a larger family drama. At the time of the drama in “Garrow’s Law” William Garrow’s two older brothers were living in India making fortunes, and both were raising families with native women outside of English wedlock. The eldest brother also had a wife in England. Considering that their father was an ordained minister, the family may have been unusually understanding. William Garrow’s living with Sarah, and raising a family outside of marriage was very much what was taking place in the family. And perhaps in England generally. Any comments?

      If Dore was not Sarah’s maiden name, and she was a spinster when her relationship started with Arthur Hill, the family records and stories are silent on this issue. But as you suggest, we should not rule out this possibility. The Sarah Dore Detective Club, with all the help the members can receive from people like you, will go wherever the trail leads.

      Richard Braby

  3. I looked up the site of Kent Archaeological Society on and found a description of Sara Dore’s tomb and its inscription: “An altar tomb covered with ivy. North side. Sarah wife of William Garow of Pegwell in this county died June 30 1808 aged 56 (The rest covered in ivy)”. Pegwell is a place on the coast, in the parish of Ramsgate. I suggest that enthusiasts look at the parish registers of Ramsgate for further information about Sara Dore and also approach the Kent Archaeological Society for help with removing the ivy from the tomb so that the rest of the inscription can be read. I live in Austdralia so I can’t easily help.

  4. Marriage Certificate:
    17 Feb 1793
    Parish: Queen Square St George the Martyr, Camden, London

    Wm Garrow Bachelor of Camden and Sarah Dore, of the same place (no reference to widow or spinster) married by Licence

    Witnesses: ??? Cooper and ??? Silvester (a fellow Barrister???)

  5. Mr
    I have photos and history passed down to me of the Dorehill family. So I am happy to help if I can. Obviously the Dorehill family started from Sara but we are still missing information going back. Would like to get information to fill the gaps and find more about my family.


    Robert Dorehill.

    1. RE: Mr
      I am writing a feature for a magazine on the Kent connections of William Garrow and Sarah Dore. I would be grateful if anyone has new updated information, they could share it here!

      a) does anyone know what Mrs Sarah Garrow died of?
      b) further local connections to Darenth?
      c) could Arthur Hill have met Sarah Dore in Ireland when he was a Member of Parliament for County Down?

      As always will this topic lots of unanswered questions. Please assist if you can. regards Mike

      1. My partner is the custodian of the house, we look after it and stay there. I’d be happy to talk to you about what has been passed down through the family ownership

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