Satisfying honour man to man by a challenge of a duel

Satisfying honour man to man by a challenge of a duel

TIME was if you insulted a gentleman’s honor – worse, that of his female companion – you could expect to be challenged to a duel.

Pistols or swords the purpose was the same, to spill your blood.

Roger’s Hill and Perry Wood were the two favorite duel spots in Worcester.

And old maps show the quiet lane between the districts of Barbourne and Astwood – now St George’s Lane North to Merriman’s Hill and Green Lane – was known as Cut Throat Lane.

It was here that disputes were settled, tributes were satisfied and sometimes bodies were carried away.

The last duel fought here took place on the Saturday afternoon of March 3, 1827, just outside the city limits on Kempsey Hams, the flat floodplain bordering the River Severn.

The protagonists were Thomas Parker, who lived at Pirie Manor, Perry Wood, east of the city centre, and John Somerset Russell of Powick Court.

Parker, better known as “Old Tom the Huntsman”, was something of a local character and Master of the Worcestershire Hunt.

Russell was peerage and went on to become Lord Hampton and moved to Westwood House, the centerpiece of the Westwood Park estate just west of Droitwich.

The duel was over an argument between the two over the killing of foxes in Westwood Park.

It seems that Parker accused Russell of killing foxes without letting the hounds do the work which Russell took as an insult because he was the one who issued the challenge.

And so the parties agreed to settle their disputes in the gentlemanly manner, and meet at the close of the hunting season with Captain Barnaby of Hereford Militia acting second to Russell, Lieutenant Palmer of the same corps attending Parker.

After all the brouhaha, the event itself was a definite damp squib.

Standing across from each other, Parker and Russell both drew their dueling pistols, aimed, fired and missed.

As the seconds ticked away, Parker and Russell lowered their shooters, shook hands and walked away.

Whether honor was satisfied was a moot point, but at least both were still in one piece.

Dueling had been illegal in England since 1819 and following a tip off a warrant was issued by magistrates in Worcester for the arrest of both fighters.

The officer charged with executing the warrant arrived in time, but prudently hid behind a bush until it was all over and Parker and Russell had left the scene.

And that was the end of the matter.

The last fatal duel in England took place in the late afternoon of 20 May 1846 on a remote beach near Portsmouth.

It was between Lieutenant Henry Hawkey of the Royal Marines and former cavalry officer James Alexander Seton.

Hawkey accused Seton of having his attractive wife Isabella, who later turned out not to be an entirely innocent party.

At 5:00 p.m., the pair stood 15 yards apart and fired. Seton missed, but Hawkey’s pistol misfired.

According to custom that should have been the end of it, but a second shot was agreed upon and this time Seton was seriously wounded and died in hospital two weeks later.

Hawkey went into hiding, but emerged a year later and stood trial for murder.

He was acquitted, but was forced into early retirement by the army and fell into debt, eventually dying of tuberculosis at the age of 39.

By comparison, Parker and Russell were lucky.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *