Home Site Map Back

Source: Bell's Weekly Messenger, No.1779, Sunday, May 2, 1830.

(before Lord Tenterden and a Special Jury.)


The Attorney General, for the plaintiff, stated that this was an action for an assault and false imprisonment. The plaintiff, Mr. Anderdon, was the son of a gentleman who was formerly a merchant and a member of parliament. The trespass the plaintiff complained of arose from an endeavour to make him the subject of a lunatic asylum, under the supposed imputation that he was insane. One evening last November, after he had returned home to his house, two persons came to the gate and inquired if the plaintiff was at home; he answered yes, and asked what they wanted. They said if he would come outside the gale they would tell him. He did so, and was laid hold of by Thomas Hassard and John Shild, two of the defendants. They said he was the person, and he must go with them, This he resisted, and whilst he was struggling with them some of the neighbours came to the spot, and assisted the plaintiff in resisting their efforts to take him away. At last these persons were taken to the watch-house, and, upon being asked under whose authority they acted, they produced a certificate signed by Dr. Burrows, which was in the following words:—
"By direction of Mr. Oliver, I authorise you to secure and confine Mr. Anderdon in his own house." the constable thought very properly that this was no authority at all, and the two men having been given in charge by Mr. Anderdon, they were detained until morning, when they were taken to Union Hall, where some inquiry was made into the state of the plaintiffs mind, and then it was considered by the Magistrate that there was no ground for depriving this gentleman of his liberty. As he understood, the only grounds for impeaching the plaintiff's soundness of intellect were, first, that he had worn a large straw hat, and that, about the time in question, he had drawn a check upon his bankers, which was dishonoured, but which was ultimately paid. The objection to paying the check arose on the part of the plaintiff's brother, who was a partner in the house of Bosanquet and Co. The excuse for not paying it, he understood to be, that the plaintiff had given it in payment for some pictures which he had bought of a Mr. Young; but he could show that the pictures in question were of great value, and that his client was a very good judge of paintings, of which had a good collection. His client had very frugally confined his expenses to 251. a-year, but this resolution was no grounds for imputing insanity to him. The Jury would learn that, ever since the month of November, there had been no attempt to obtain a commission of lunacy against the plaintiff - that he had during that time, as well as before, acted with a careful caution and due regard to his own interest. They would also hear that two of the defendants were prepared with screws, manacles, and a strait waistcoat. He left it to the Jury to hear the evidence, and to do justice to themselves and the country by giving ample damages to the plaintiff.
John Metcalf, carpenter, York street, Lambeth—knows Mr. Freeman Anderdon, the plaintiff who lives in the same street. On the 1st of November last witness was passing Mr. A's house, about night-fall. Mr. A. was then outside his garden-gate, which is facing the street. Two of the defendants were with him, he (Mr. A.) standing between them. He believed both had hold of him. Mr. A. was acquainted with witness and the person who was with him. Mr. A. said, "Gentlemen, I claim your assistance; these two men are trying to take me away, under false pretenses." Witness asked the men for their authority. They said they had authority, and produced it, saying it was from Dr. Burrows. The paper produced was taken to the next light, in order to its being read. While going there Mr. Anderdon wished witness to notice the two men so as that they should be known again. (Here Mr. Brougham asked Mr. Denman if he would produce the paper, which the learned gentleman refused.) Witness said he recollected the contents, which were in substance—"by order of Mr. Oliver, take Mr. Anderdon, and confine him as a lunatic, in his own house. G. H Burrows." It was dated from Montague- street. Witness remonstrated with the two men, saying their conduct was strange. They said they did not wish to treat him ill, but, on the contrary, as a gentleman; and they were ready to take him either to his own house or to a hotel; but Mr. A. refused to do either, and said he would not stir from that place. The men tried to pull him away, he still resisting them. One of the men had a bag, and said that if he was not quiet, they (the two men) had implements to make him quiet. Mr. A. made great exertions, and got away from the man who had the bag, the other man still holding him. Mr. A. called the watch, who came to the spot, and took Mr. A. and the two men to the watch-house.
Aaron Robson, a carpenter, was with the last witness on the evening of the 1st of November. The evidence that person gave was correct. Has lived a year and a half in the neighbourhood of the plaintiff's house, and never heard that he was insane.

Mr. George Drewett—Is the plaintiff's attorney, and on the 31st of Oct. wrote to the plaintiff's bankers, Bosanquet and Co. for some money by plaintiff's desire.

Cross examined—Was introduced to the plaintiff by a Mr. Young, on the 31st of October. He has never been in his house, and cannot say the amount the plaintiff had laid out in pictures. The plaintiff was in the habit of keeping fire-arms in the house for the protection of his house. He never told witness his house had been broken into by a thief in top boots.

Re-examined—The plaintiff considers his pictures to be worth 10,000l. He told witness they cost him under 4000l. Has seen the plaintiff almost daily since the commencement of this action. Advised the plaintiff to leave of his straw hat, because the newspapers were teeming with remarks about it, and he thought it drew more attention to him than was necessary. He was at this time coming to witness' chambers every day. The hat was an unusual one for the time of year.
David Kidd?—1st clerk to the last witness. Went on the 2d of November with the plaintiff to the banker's, On the plaintiff's presenting his check, it was refused. The plaintiff's brother is a partner in this banking establishment. On the next day a writ was issued against the bankers, and on the 18th the money was paid to Mr. Freshfield, the banker's attorney.
John Barham occasionally purchased pictures; the plaintiff has been at witness's house about pictures, but could never make a bargain; the plaintiff had most excellent judgement, and he did not think him likely to be imposed on.

Charles Young—Is a picture dealer, and has known the plaintiff for about twelve months; has sold pictures to him, they were generally excellent pictures; the plaintiff was a very good judge; on one occasion sold him seventeen pictures, one of which was a Claude; asked 900 guineas for the lot, but the plaintiff reduced him to 600, which sum he paid; for the Claude alone he asked 1000 guineas, but his selling price was 500l.; in the amount received for the seventeen pictures the Claude was estimated at 350 guineas; soon after the plaintiff had bought the lot, witness offered him 400 guineas for the Claude; because he could have then sold it at a profit on that amount; the plaintiff would not let him have it. The pictures he sold to the plaintiff were such as would fetch the money he gave for them; they would sell for that amount now.

Mr. S. Farnell occasionally dealt in pictures, and considered himself to be a judge; has seen the collection in the possession of the plaintiff; some of the pictures are very good, and some of an inferior description. There were about 60 pictures; one of which was a Claude, for which he (witness) would have give now, 350 guineas. In the conversations he had had with the plaintiff, he always appeared to be of a sound mind.
Several witnesses deposed to the sanity of the plaintiff.

The plaintiff's case being concluded,
Mr. Common Sergeant, on the part of the plaintiff, then rose, and in an eloquent address spoke in mitigation of damages.
Lord Tenterden having summed up, the jury found a verdict for the plaintiff, Damages 500l.