List of trials of peers in the House of Lords

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This is a list of trials of peers in the House of Lords. Until 1948, peers of the United Kingdom and its predecessor states had the right to trial by their equals.

Year Peer Charge Verdict Sentence
1499 Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick Treason Pleaded guilty Death
1521 Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham Treason Guilty Death
1535 William Dacre, 3rd Baron Dacre Treason Not guilty
1536 Queen Anne Boleyn Treason Guilty Death
George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford
1541 Thomas Fiennes, 9th Baron Dacre Murder Guilty Death
1551 Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset Treason Guilty of an unspecified felony Death
1553 John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland Treason Guilty Death
1571 Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk Treason Guilty Death
1589 Philip Howard, 20th Earl of Arundel and Surrey Treason Guilty Death (died before sentence was carried out)
1600 Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex Treason Guilty Death
Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton Death (pardoned)
1603 Thomas Grey, 15th Baron Grey de Wilton Treason Guilty Death (commuted to imprisonment)
Henry Brooke, 11th Baron Cobham
1616 Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset Murder Guilty Death (pardoned)
1616 Frances Carr, Countess of Somerset Murder Pleaded guilty Death (pardoned)
1631 Mervyn Tuchet, 2nd Earl of Castlehaven Rape and sodomy Guilty Death
1641 Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford Treason Prosecution dropped
1666 Thomas Park, 15th Baron Morley Murder Guilty of manslaughter Pleaded privilege*
1678 Charles Cornwallis, 3rd Baron Cornwallis Murder Not guilty
1678 Philip Herbert, 7th Earl of Pembroke Murder Guilty of manslaughter Pleaded privilege*
1680 William Howard, 1st Viscount Stafford Treason Guilty Death
1686 Henry Booth, 1st Baron Delamer Treason Not guilty
1692 Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun Murder Not guilty
1699 Edward Rich, 6th Earl of Warwick and Holland Murder Guilty of manslaughter Pleaded privilege*
1699 Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun Murder Not guilty
1716 James Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater Treason Pleaded guilty Death
William Widdrington, 4th Baron Widdrington Death (pardoned)
William Maxwell, 5th Earl of Nithsdale Death (escaped)
Robert Dalzell, 5th Earl of Carnwath Death (pardoned)
William Gordon, 6th Viscount Kenmure Death
William Murray, 2nd Lord Nairne Death (pardoned)
1716 George Seton, 5th Earl of Winton Treason Guilty Death (escaped)
1717 Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Mortimer Treason Not guilty
1746 William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock Treason Pleaded guilty Death
George Mackenzie, 3rd Earl of Cromartie Pleaded guilty Death (pardoned)
Arthur Elphinstone, 6th Lord Balmerinoch Guilty Death
1747 Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat Treason Guilty Death
1760 Laurence Shirley, 4th Earl Ferrers Murder Guilty Death
1765 William Byron, 5th Baron Byron Murder Guilty of manslaughter Pleaded privilege*
1776 Elizabeth Pierrepont, Duchess of Kingston-upon-Hull Bigamy Guilty Pleaded privilege*
1841 James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan Duelling Not guilty
1901 Frank Russell, 2nd Earl Russell Bigamy Guilty 3 months' detention
1935 Edward Russell, 26th Baron de Clifford Manslaughter Not guilty
*These were all capital crimes; the usual sentence was death. From 1547 if a peer or peeress was convicted of a crime, except treason or murder, he or she could claim "privilege of peerage" to escape punishment if it was their first offence. In all, the privilege was exercised five times, until it was formally abolished in 1841.
Lovell, C. R. (October 1949) "The Trial of Peers in Great Britain" The American Historical Review 55: 69–81

Further reading[edit]

  • The Trial of James Thomas, Earl of Cardigan before The Right Honourable The House of Peers, in Full Parliament, for Felony, On Tuesday the 16th Day of February 1841. William Brodie Gurney et al, London, 1841.
  • First Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on The Trial of the Earl Russell. HL Paper 143 of session 1901.
  • Second Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on The Trial of the Earl Russell. HL Paper 145 of session 1901.
  • Third Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on The Trial of the Earl Russell. HL Paper 157 of session 1901.
  • Proceedings on the Trial of Earl Russell. HL Paper 165 of session 1901.
  • Report By the Select Committee of the House of Lords on the Trial of the Lord de Clifford together with the Proceedings of the Committee. HL Paper 153 of session 1934-35.
  • Proceedings on the Trial of the Lord de Clifford. HL Paper 12 of session 1935-36.