The McNaghten Case
AT FOUR P.M. ON January 20, 1843, there occurred a murder which resulted in a change in the procedure of the criminal courts in the United Kingdom. Mr. Edward Drummond, Sir Robert Peel's private secretary and a nephew of the chairman of Drummond's bank, was returning from a visit to the bank when he was shot in the leg. James Silver, a police constable, happened to be going from Whitehall to Charing Cross when he saw a gentleman staggering on the pavement with his hand to his side, and a man a few paces distant with a pistol in his hand. With great promptitude he tripped him up and disarmed him before taking him to the police station in Gardiner's Lane. There the man gave his name as McNaghten.
It was hoped that the victim of the shooting would recover. The Queen and Prince Albert were deeply concerned and called for constant reports on Mr. Drummond's condition, but after the bullet was extracted it was found that there were internal injuries, to which the patient succumbed on the following day.
The case is interesting to us as an illustration of the way in which criminals were handled by the police in those early days. Inspector Tierney cautioned the prisoner, and then had several conversations with him in his cell, putting leading questions to him about the riots in Glasgow and the