His barnstorming performances in court rewrote the law books. But it was 18th-century barrister William Garrow's shocking love life that caused the biggest rumpus in Georgian society
© The Garrow Society
Hero: Garrow became the Robin Hood of the courtroom
It was 1791, and chaos reigned in the Old Bailey courtroom. Men and women spat their abuse from the public gallery, the faces of bewigged legal officials remained impassive and in the dock, wringing his hands in abject misery, stood 23-year-old Rhynwick Williams.
The search for the notorious London Monster - who had slashed and stabbed women in vicious, unprovoked attacks, thus striking fear throughout the capital - was apparently over.
Corrupt and inept police, under intense pressure to find a man, had done just that.
Williams, a drunken reprobate, had found himself hauled before court. It didn't matter that two honourable witnesses could testify that he had been with them when several of the attacks had occurred. All that mattered was that the baying crowd were about to get their blood.
In these times of swift trials - many court hearings lasted just eight minutes - and death penalties meted out without hesitation, Williams' future looked bleak indeed - and everyone in court knew it. Suddenly, out of the chaos, stepped a young barrister.
Grasping the attention of the court and the rabble in the gallery, he turned on those giving evidence and launched a savage verbal attack.