Colonel Fawcett’s Duel

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Yet another local pub loses its historic name: The Camden Arms in Randolph Street is now The Colonel Fawcett. This is not quite such crass vandalism as the renaming of The Old Mother Redcap. At least the new name has a local connection. This is the story.

Almost the last formal duel in this country was fought in 1843 in a field near The Brecknock Arms in Camden Road. Lieutenant Alexander Munro challenged Lieutenant-Colonel David Fawcett, his brother-in-law. They fought with guns.

Munro was serving with the Royal Horse Guards (Blue) and lived in Brompton Square. Fawcett lived in Sloane Street and had recently come back from China, where he had commanded the 55th Regiment of Foot. He was 34 and had a young family.

Apparently Munro had insulted Fawcett’s wife. As well as that, Munro had looked after Fawcett’s affairs while he was in China and they argued over the sale of a property.

They fought and, although was this still a rural area, a constable arrived quite soon to find Fawcett bleeding from a wound in the chest. When asked what had happened, Fawcett said ‘What is it to you? It was an accident.’

The owners of The Brecknock Arms were not around and the waiter refused to have the wounded man on the premises, so the poor fellow was carried down to The Camden Arms and died there two days later.

At the inquest the jury brought in a verdict of wilful murder. (The coroner was Thomas Wakely, founder of The Lancet.)

Fawcett’s second, Lieutenant Cuddy, was tried at the Old Bailey but the jury seemed unwilling to find him guilty. A charge against the surgeon who was at the scene was not proceeded with. This was George Gulliver, the surgeon of Fawcett’s regiment. Munro’s second, Mr Grant, was meant to be tried at the same time but did not turn up. He finally surrendered himself for trial but was found not guilty.

Munro avoided justice for four years by going abroad but eventually returned to stand trial at the Old Bailey. He was found guilty and sentenced to death but there was a strong recommendation of mercy and his sentence was commuted to twelve months’ imprisonment. However, his military career was ruined.

The is, in fact, one more recorded duel in England. In 1845 Lieutenant Henry Hawkey killed Captain James Alexander Seton.