It is ironic that after tonight’s episode of ‘Garrow’s Law’ (BBC1, 5 December 2010) people are likely to be asking ‘Who is Thomas Erskine?’, the barrister who made such a dramatic entrance in the final episode of series two. Indeed, so much has William Garrow within a few short weeks lodged himself in the public psyche as the radical reformer of his era that others – who took the greater share of the credit in the past – have been more or less relegated to a secondary or supporting role. Continue reading “Who Was Thomas Erskine?”
It is interesting to consider how William Garrow has returned to prominence – much of this to do with the success of the prime-time BBC 1 series of 2010 (and now Series Two). The mystery about why he was airbrushed from the general accounts of the development of English law is something of a whodunnit in itself. Maybe Garrow’s face didn’t fit, he was from the wrong side of the tracks socially speaking, or was it his later defection to the Establishment and relative failure as a politician compared to his early success as a radical lawyer? Maybe there is a lesson or moral here – stick to what you are good at.