The Mansfield Manuscripts and the Growth of English Law in the Eighteenth Century - Vol. 1

The Mansfield Manuscripts and the Growth of English Law in the Eighteenth Century - Vol. 1

The Mansfield Manuscripts and the Growth of English Law in the Eighteenth Century - Vol. 1

The Mansfield Manuscripts and the Growth of English Law in the Eighteenth Century - Vol. 1

Excerpt

Soon afterwards there came another, and another, and then the first returned again, and so, by little and little, their tale was this: That the mob, gathering around Lord Mansfield's house, had called on those within to open the door, and receiving no reply (for Lord and Lady Mansfield were at that moment escaping by the back-way), forced an entrance according to their usual custom. That they then began to demolish the house with great fury, and setting fire to it in several parts, involving a common ruin the whole of the costly furniture, the plate and jewels, a beautiful gallery of pictures, the rarest collection of manuscripts ever possessed by any one private person in the world, and worse than all, because nothing could replace this loss, the great Law Library, on almost every page of which were notes in the Judge's own hand, of inestimatible value--being the results of the study and experience of his whole life.--Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge

The passage from Barnaby Rudge describes an event that occurred on 6 June 1780 under the banner of the Protestant Association headed by Lord George Gordon, a minor figure in the English nobility. The extent to which the Gordon Riots were ideologically driven continues to be debated, but at least some of the targets of mob violence appear to have been singled out because of their political beliefs. Lord Mansfield was one such target. In his political life, he had for many years been a prominent adviser to George III, and on the judicial side his positions on seditious libel and religious toleration were unpopular. Filling the air with cries of "no popery" and swelled by hundreds of drunken prisoners just wrested out of Newgate, the mob descended upon Lord Mansfield's house at Bloomsbury Square shortly after midnight on the evening of 6 June.

Any embellishment in Charles Dickens's description of the looting and burn-

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