Pistols at dawn: duelling in the Victorian age

Laws passed in the 1840s should have put an end to duelling, but that didn't stop determined men from settling a dispute with pistols at dawn. Margery Masterson explores...

The Duke of Wellington and the Earl of Winchilsea in a duel at Battersea Fields. (Culture Club/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the Christmas 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine

Victorian travellers boarding a London-bound train in Weybridge would have thought nothing of encountering a party of gentlemen armed with sketchbooks. The picturesque Surrey town had become a popular destination for metropolitan artists in the mid-19th century. What would have surprised fellow passengers, though, was that on a May day in 1852 the sketchbook cases actually contained duelling pistols.

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