Apprentice Solicitor Swordfight on Eve of Qualification, 1717

A very early Irish legal story, from Pue’s Occurrences, 31 January 1719:  

“About 3 quarters after 2 in the Afternoon, Mr Leigh, eldest Son of Richard Leigh Esq of the County of Westmeath, and one Mr Smith, Son to Mr Smith, at the Sun near Smithfield (who served his Time to an Attorney, and was to be Sworn an Attorney next day) Fought in the Tholsel of this City.  Mr Leigh was run into the Left Breast and died in a Minute after.  The same Night the Coroner’s Inquest Sate on his Corps, and brought in their Verdict that Mr Smith was guilty of manslaughter in his own Defence.”

At this date the Courts of Justice were still across the river at Christchurch. The Tholsel above, demolished in the early 19th century, was where Jury’s Inn now stands.

The 18th century was a time of swords as well as pistols.  On the night of the 21st February, 1757, the same publication reported that

“Mr Peter Kilkenny, attorney, was attacked in a Coach on Summer-Hill, by two Footpads, one of whom held the Horses whilst the other opened the Coach Door and presenting a Sword to Mr Kilkenny’s Breast demanded his Watch and Money, and swore would run him through if he made any resistance, on which he gave his watch and what money he had about him, and then they both made off.”

The Sun Inn, 7 Queen Street, Smithfield (now McGettigans below) was famous for horse sales and political agitation.  Next time you pass it on the way up to Blackhall Place, think of poor Mr Smith, whose legal career was presumably derailed by the above verdict. So many layers of history around these parts!

I wonder what the dispute was about?

Image Credit: Top (1) Top (2) Bottom

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

One thought on “Apprentice Solicitor Swordfight on Eve of Qualification, 1717”

Leave a Reply