Ashford v Thornton (1818)

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Ashford v Thornton
Drawing of a large, crowded courtroom
The Court of King's Bench, circa 1808
CourtCourt of King's Bench
Full case nameWilliam Ashford v Abraham Thornton
Decided16 April 1818
Citation(s)(1818) 106 ER 149, (1818) 1 B. & Ald. 405, available here
Case history
Prior action(s)Acquittal of Thornton on charges of murder and rape. (R. v Thornton, Warwick Assizes, 8 August 1817)
Subsequent action(s)On 20 April 1818, Ashford indicated that he sought no further proceedings, and Thornton went free.
Case opinions
All judges gave opinions upholding the defendant's right to wage battle.
Court membership
Judge(s) sittingLord Ellenborough (Lord Chief Justice), John Bayley, Charles Abbott, George Holroyd
Trial by battle

A celebrated and much-quoted case that demonstrates the persistence of Statute (see: Statute) in English law. The plaintiff invoked a widely-forgotten right to trial by battle, which had existed since the days of Henry II. In the end the defendant refused to fight, and the Statute was repealed the following year.

Case Law