The two leading figures in the constitutional debates that took place in the
late 18th century in England were jurists Charles Pratt, Lord Camden, and
William Murray, Lord Mansfield. They took opposing positions on many of the
constitutional issues of the day, including general warrants, seditious libel,
the role of the jury, and the power to tax the colonies without them being
represented in Parliament, all issues which helped provoke the American
colonies to declare independence. Although Camden's view on the larger role of
juries dominated the thinking and practice of the American colonies and the
United States during the late 18th and early 19th century, the disposition of
Mansfield to restrict their roles prevailed in Britain, and later infected the
jurisprudence of the United States, so that commentators sometimes speak of the
"Mansfieldization" of the jury system.
Charles Pratt, Lord Camden
(1713-1794) — Excerpt from Lives of the Lord Chancellors and Keepers of
the Great Seal of England, from the earliest times till the reign of King
George IV, by John Lord Campbell (1868).
William Murray, Lord Mansfield (1704-1793) — Excerpt from The Lives
of the Chief Justices of England, from the Norman Coquest to the Death of Lord
Tenterden, by John Lord Campbell (1849-1857).
Lord Mansfield and the Role of Juries — Excerpts from The Mansfield
Manuscripts and the Growth of English Law in the Eighteenth Century, by
James Oldham, U. North Carolina Press, 1992.
Considerations on the Respective Rights of Judge and Jury; Particularly upon Trials for Libel, John Bowles. (1791) — Leading exposition of the Mansfieldian movement to curtail the role of juries, which spread to the United States.
Criminal Libel and the Duty of Juries, Joseph
Towers (1764, 1784), Francis Maseres (1792) — Three essays on the right of
defendants, especially in criminal libel cases, to have the jury decide the law
as well as the fact issues.
Mansfieldism Reconsidered, by Jon Roland — Review of evidence for arguing law in the presence of the jury.
Portraits and Images
Lord Camden, by Joshua Reynolds, full
Lord Camden, by Joshua Reynolds, head detail
Lord Mansfield, by Joshua Reynolds, full
Lord Mansfield, by Joshua Reynolds, head detail
Sketch of Lord
Political cartoon, 1775, depicting roles of
Mansfield and Camden in issues of the day
1780, which attacked Mansfield's house and burned his library
Gordon riot, 1780, shown attacking and burning
Court of the King's Bench