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List of duels

The following is a list of famous duels.

Historical duels

Antiquity

Australia

  • 1801: Captain John Macarthur duelled with William Paterson, shooting him in the shoulder. Macarthur was sent back to England to be court Martialled.
  • 1851: Major Sir Thomas_Mitchell confronted Sir Stuart Alexander Donaldson in Sydney. Mitchell issued the challenge because Donaldson had publicly criticised the cost of the Surveyor General's Department. Both duellists missed.

British and Irish duels

  • 1598: Playwright Ben Jonson kills actor Gabriel Spenser
  • 1609: Sir George Wharton and Sir James Stuart; fought a duel over a game of cards in Islington; both were killed
  • 1609: Sir Hatton Cheke and Sir Thomas Dutton; fought in Calais; Cheke was killed.
  • 1613: Edward Bruce, 2nd Lord Kinloss and Sir Edward Sackville (later 4th Earl of Dorset); fought a duel over Venetia Stanley. They fought in Bergen-op-Zoom, Netherlands to avoid the wrath of the King; Lord Bruce was killed, but Venetia Stanley ended up marrying Sir Kenelm Digby.
  • 1613: Grey Brydges, 5th Baron Chandos and James Hay (later 1st Earl of Carlisle)
  • 1652: George Brydges, 6th Baron Chandos and Colonel Henry Compton (grandson of Henry Compton, 1st Baron Compton); Compton was killed, Chandos was found guilty of manslaughter and died whilst imprisoned.
  • 1668: George Villiers (later 2nd Duke of Buckingham) and Francis Talbot, 11th Earl of Shrewsbury; Shrewsbury was killed, and George Villiers' second Sir J. Jenkins was killed by the Earl's second.
  • 1694: John Law and Edward Wilson; Wilson challenged Law over the affections of Elizabeth Villiers (later Countess of Orkney); Wilson was killed. Law was tried and found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted to a fine, upon the ground that the offence only amounted to manslaughter. Wilson's brother appealed and had Law imprisoned but he managed to escape to the continent.
  • 1698: Oliver Le Neve and Sir Henry Hobart, 4th Baronet on Cawston Heath, Norfolk; Sir Henry was killed and Le Neve fled to Holland.
  • 1711: Richard Thornhill, Esq and Sir Cholmeley Dering, 4th Baronet; Sir Cholmeley was killed and Richard Thornhill convicted of manslaughter
  • 1712: Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun and James Douglas, 4th Duke of Hamilton; both were killed. Their seconds George Macartney, Esq and Colonel John Hamilton were found guilty of manslaughter.
  • 1731: George Lockhart of Carnwath, Scottish spy, writer and politician, killed in a duel in Scotland.
  • 1731: William Pulteney, 1st Earl of Bath and John Hervey, 2nd Baron Hervey of Ickworth
  • 1749: Captain Clarke R.N. and Captain Innis R.N; Innis was killed. Clarke was sentenced to death but received a Royal Pardon
  • 1762: John Wilkes and Samuel Martin in Hyde Park. Martin, in his place in the House of Commons, had alluded to Wilkes as a "stabber in the dark, a cowardly and malignant scoundrel." Wilkes prided himself as much upon his gallantry as upon his wit and disloyalty, and lost no time in calling Martin out. The challenge was given as soon as the House adjourned, and the parties repaired at once to a copse in Hyde Park with a brace of pistols. They fired four times, when Wilkes fell, wounded in the abdomen. His antagonist, relenting, hastened up and insisted on helping him off the ground; but Wilkes, with comparative courtesy, as strenuously urged Martin to hurry away, so as to escape arrest. It afterwards appeared that Martin had been practising in a shooting gallery for six months before making the obnoxious speech in the House; and soon after, instead of being arrested, he received a valuable appointment from the ministry. From: 'Hyde Park', Old and New London: Volume 4 (1878), pp. 375-405. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=45205. Date accessed: 25 December 2007.
  • 1765: William Byron, 5th Baron Byron and William Chaworth; Chaworth was killed. Byron was tried in the House of Lords and acquitted of murder, but found guilty of manslaughter, for which he was fined.
  • 1772: Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Captain Matthews; as the result of a quarrel between the two concerning Elizabeth Linley, to whom Sheridan was already secretly married, both men went to Hyde Park, but on finding it too crowded repaired instead to the Castle Tavern, Covent Garden, where they fought with swords. Both men were cut, but neither was seriously wounded. Sheridan won this duel as Mathews pleaded for his life after losing his sword. They fought a second duel in July at Kingsdown near Bath to resolve a dispute over the first duel. Both men's swords broke, and Mathews stabbed Sheridan several times, seriously wounding him, before escaping in a post chaise.
  • 1779: Charles James Fox and Mr Adams
  • 1780: William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne and Colonel Fullarton
  • 1783: Richard Martin ("Humanity Dick"), who engaged in over 100 duels, fought George "Fighting" FitzGerald in the Castlebar barrack yard. Later in the same year Martin's cousin, James Jordan forces a duel: Jordan is shot and dies of his wounds. As a result of this, Martin later refuses to duel with Theobald Wolfe Tone, even though he was having an affair with his wife.
  • 1786: Lord Macartney and Major-General James Stuart; Lord Macartney was wounded.
  • 1787: Sir John MacPherson and a Major Browne; Browne had been British Resident at the court of Shah Alam II, he took offence at his recall and challenged MacPherson, the former Governor-General of India, on the latter's return to Britain. A pistol ball passed through MacPherson's coat and another struck a pocketbook in his coat pocket, but the two men were uninjured.
  • 1789: HRH Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Lennox; Lennox had called the Duke out after the Duke had accused him of making ".. certain expressions unworthy of a gentleman". Lennox had no recollection of making such expressions and his demands for a retraction were refused. Lennox now demanded satisfaction the two men met with pistols on Wimbledon Common on 26 May 1789. According to a report in The Times by the seconds, Lord Rawdon for the Prince and Lord Winchelsea for Lennox, Lennox's shot "grazed His Royal Highnesses' curl". The Duke then refused to fire stating that he had been called out to give satisfaction to Lennox and the satisfaction had been given and the matter was closed.
  • 1792: Lady Almeria Braddock and Mrs Elphinstone; so called "petticoat duel"; Lady Almeria Braddock felt insulted by Mrs Elphinstone and challenged her to a duel in London's Hyde Park after their genteel conversation turned to the subject of Lady Almeria's true age. The ladies first exchanged pistol shots in which Lady Almeria's hat was damaged. They then continued with swords until Mrs. Elphinstone received a wound to her arm and agreed to write Lady Almeria an apology.
  • 1798: William Pitt the Younger and George Tierney
  • 1799: Colonel Ashton and Major Allen; Duel took place in India; Ashton was killed.
  • 1807: Sir Francis Burdett, 5th Baronet and James Pauli; both men were wounded.
  • 1808: Major Campbell and Captain Boyd; Major Campbell was tried and executed for killing Captain Boyd.
  • 1809: George Canning and Lord Castlereagh; Canning was slightly wounded.
  • 1815: Daniel O'Connell and Norcot d'Esterre; d'Esterre was killed.
  • 1821: John Scott and Jonathon Henry Christie. Scott was the founder and editor of the London Magazine. The duel was born out of the Cockney School controversy. John Gibson Lockhart had been abusing many of Scott's contributors in Blackwood's Magazine (under a pseudonym (Z), as was then common). In May 1820, Scott began a series of counter-articles, which provoked Lockhart into calling him "a liar and a scoundrel". In February 1820, Lockhart's London agent, J.H. Christie, made a provocative statement, and Scott challenged him. They met on 16 February, 1821, at a farm between Camden Town and Hampstead. Christie did not fire in the first round, but there was a misunderstanding between the seconds, resulting in a second round. Scott was hit in the abdomen, and died 11 days later. Christie and his second were tried for willful murder and acquitted; the collection for Scott's family was a notable radical cause.
  • 1822: Richard Temple-Grenville, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Chandos and Francis Russell, 7th Duke of Bedford.
  • 1824: The 3rd Marquess of Londonderry and Ensign Battier; Battier was a cornet in the Marquess' regiment. When Battier's pistol misfired, he declined the offer of another shot and left. He was later horsewhipped by the Marquess' second Sir Henry Hardinge.
  • 1826: David Landale, a linen merchant from Kirkcaldy, duelled with his bank manager, George Morgan, who had slandered his business reputation. This was the last duel to be fought on Scottish soil; George Morgan, a trained soldier, was shot through the chest and mortally wounded by Landale, who had never before held a pistol. Landale was tried for murder but found not guilty. The subject of a book "Duel" by his descendant James Landale.
  • 1829: The Duke of Wellington and the 10th Earl of Winchilsea; both aimed wide.
  • 1835: Mr Roebuck and Mr Black, editor of the Morning Chronicle
  • 1835: William Arden, 2nd Baron Alvanley and Morgan O'Connell, son of Daniel O'Connell. Alvanley asserted that Morgan's father had been "purchased" by William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne on his accession to the office of Prime Minister, O'Connell retorted by calling Alvanley "a bloated buffoon".
  • 1839: The 3rd Marquess of Londonderry and Henry Gratton
  • 1840: James Thomas Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan and Captain Harvey Garnett Phipps Tuckett; Captain Tuckett was wounded. Cardigan was arrested, tried in the House of Lords and was acquitted
  • 1840: Prince Louis Napoleon and Charles, Count Léon; Police arrived to prevent the duel; both men were arrested and taken to Bow Street Prison.
  • 1843: Colonel Fawcett and Lieutenant Monro; Colonel Fawcett was killed.
  • 1845: Lieutenant Henry Hawkey, Royal Marines, and Captain James Alexander Seton, British Army; Captain Seton was killed. This was the last recorded duel fought in England.

French duels

  • 27 December, 1386: Last legal judicial duel in France fought between Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris over charges of rape Carrouges brought against Le Gris on behalf of his wife. After a lengthy trial and fight, Carrouges killed his opponent, thus "proving" his charges.
  • July 10, 1547: Guy Chabot de Jarnac, in a judicial duel with Francois de Vivonne de la Châtaigneraie, a favourite of the King and one of France's greatest swordsmen. Jarnac fooled La Châtaigneraie with a feint and hit him with a slash to the hamstrings. His dignity offended, La Châtaigneraie refused medical aid, and died. This both ended the practice of trial by combat in France, and created the myth of "Le Coup de Jarnac" - a legendary strike that supposedly allowed amateurs to defeat masters.
  • 27 April, 1578: Duel of the Mignons claims the lives of two favorites of Henry III of France and two favorites of Henry I, Duke of Guise.
  • 1641: Kenelm Digby and a French nobleman named Mont le Ros. Digby, a founding member of the Royal Society, was attending a banquet in France when the Frenchman insulted King Charles I of England and Digby challenged him to a duel. Digby wrote that he ".. run his rapier into the French Lord's breast until it came out of his throat again"; Mont le Ros fell dead.
  • 1830: French writer Sainte-Beuve and one of the owners of Le Globe newspaper, Paul-François Dubois, fought a duel under a heavy rain. Sainte-Beuve held his umbrella during the duel claiming that he did not mind dying but that he would not get wet.
  • 1832: Évariste Galois and (possibly) Pescheux d'Herbinville; Évariste Galois, the French mathematician, died of his wounds at the age of twenty.
  • 23 February 1870: Édouard Manet and Louis Edmond Duranty; Duranty, an art critic and friend of Manet, had written only the briefest of commentary on two works of art that Manet had entered for exhibition. The frustrated Manet collared Duranty at the Café Guerbois and slapped him. Duranty's demands for an apology were refused and so the men fought a duel with swords in the forest of Saint-Germain three days later on the 23rd. Émile Zola acted as Manet's second and Paul Alexis acted for Duranty. After Duranty received a wound above the right breast the seconds stepped in and declared that honour had been satisfied. The men remained friends despite the encounter.
  • 1888: General George Boulanger and Charles Floquet (Prime Minister of the French Republic); the General was wounded in the throat but survived.

American duels

Russian Duels

Canadian Duels

  • 1800: John White, 39, Upper Canada's first lawyer and a founder of the law society, was fatally shot on January 3, 1800 by a government official named John Small, who challenged him to the duel. White was alleged to have gossiped at a Christmas party that Mrs. Small was once the mistress of the Duke of Berkeley in England, who'd tired of her and paid Small to marry her and take her to the colonies.
  • 1817: John Ridout, 18, was shot dead on July 12, 1817 at the corner of what is now Bay St. and Grosvenor St. in Toronto by Samuel Peters Jarvis, 25. The reason for the duel was unclear. On the count of two, the nervous Ridout discharged his pistol early, missing Jarvis by a wide margin. Ridout's second, James Small (whose father survived the only other duel in York) and Jarvis' second, Henry John Boulton insisted that Jarvis be allowed to make his shot. Ridout protested loudly and asked for another pistol, but Small and Boulton were adamant that the strict code of duelling must be observed. Jarvis shot and killed Ridout instantly. [There was a story told at the time that Ridout lived long enough to forgive Jarvis for shooting him, but the autopsy discredited it.] Jarvis was pardoned by the courts, even though he had shot an unarmed man [and dueling was illegal]. The text of the John Ridout memorial located on the west side of the King Street entrance to the St. James Cathedral in Toronto, Ontario - "IN MEMORY of JOHN RIDOUT Son of Thos. Ridout, Surveyor General. His filial affection, engaging manners, and nobleness of mind gave early promise of future excellence. This promise he gallantly fulfilled by his brave, active, & enterprising conduct which gain'd the praise of his superiors while serving as Midshipman in the Provincial Navy during the late War. At the return of Peace he commenced with ardour the study of the Law and with the fairest prospects, but a Blight came, and he was consigned to an early Grave, on the 12th day of July 1817. Aged 18. Deeply lamented by all who knew him." The epitaph says Mr. Ridout was "consigned to an early grave".. What it does not say is that Mr. Ridout was shot dead - killed in a duel with Samuel Jarvis (of Toronto's Jarvis St. family). The autopsy also showed that Ridout had been shot in the back. "It is our unpleasant duty to notice the fatal termination of a Duel, fought early on Saturday morning last, in the vicinity of this Town; Mr. John Ridout was mortally wounded and expired before he could be conveyed home." - Upper Canada Gazette, Thursday, July 17, 1817. Jarvis, who later laid out the broad thoroughfare called Jarvis St. through his estate, maintained that the duel had been gallant and honourable.
  • 1819: What historians have called "The Most Ferocious Duel" in Canadian history took place on April 11, 1819, at Windmill Point near the Lachine Canal. The opponents were William Caldwell, a doctor at the Montreal General Hospital, and Michael O'Sullivan, a member of the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada. The dispute arose when Caldwell accused O'Sullivan of lacking courage. The resulting duel was ferocious: The two opponents exchanged fire an unheard-of five times. O'Sullivan was wounded twice in the process, and in the final volley, he took a bullet to the chest and hit the ground. Caldwell's arm was shattered by a shot; a hole in his collar proved he narrowly missed being shot in the neck. Amazingly, neither participant died during the fight, although both took a long time to recover. O'Sullivan went on to become Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench in Montreal, and when he died in 1839, an autopsy revealed a bullet still lodged against the middle of his spine.
  • 1826: Rudkin versus Philpot a duel fought in Newfoundland at St. John's who met at West's Farm near Brine's Tavern at the foot of Robinson's Hill, adjacent to Brine's River to settle their seemingly long standing differences that was further exacerbated by the love of an Irish colleen who lived in a cottage near Quidi Vidi and a game of cards that ended in an argument over the ownership of the pot.
  • 1833: The last fatal duel in Canada was fought in Perth, Ontario on June 13, 1833. Two law students and former friends, John Wilson and Robert Lyon, quarrelled over remarks Lyon made about a local schoolteacher, Elizabeth Hughes. Lyon was killed in the second exchange of shots on a rain-soaked field. Wilson was acquitted of murder, eventually married Miss Hughes, became a Member of Parliament, and later a judge.
  • 1836: Two duelling politicians from Lower Canada were lucky to have sensible seconds. Clément-Charles Sabrevois de Bleury, a member of the Lower Canadian Legislative Assembly, insulted fellow politician Charles-Ovide Perreault. Perreault then struck de Bleury, and a duel was set. Both men were determined to settle the matter with pistols, but their seconds came up with a unique solution. The two foes would clasp hands and de Bleury would say, "I am sorry to have insulted you" while at the same time Perreault would say, "I am sorry to have struck you." They would then reply in unison, "I accept your apology." The tactic worked, and the situation was resolved without injury.
  • 1837: William Collis Meredith and James Scott. On Monday, 9th August, 1837, at eight o’clock in the evening, Meredith (who had articled under the previously mentioned Clement-Charles Sabrevois de Bleury from 1831 to 1833) and Scott (no stranger to duels) stepped out to face one another on the slopes of Mount Royal, behind Montreal. Earlier that day, following a dispute over legal costs, Meredith had challenged Scott. Meredith chose James M. Blackwood to second him, whilst Scott’s choice was Louis-Fereol Pelletier. The pistols used were Meredith’s which he had bought in London, on a previous trip to England. On the first exchange Scott took a bullet high up in his thigh, and the duel was called to a stop. The bullet lodged itself in Scott’s thigh bone in such a way that it could not be removed by doctors, which caused him great discomfort for the rest of his days. Ironically for Scott, this was exactly where he had shot Sweeney Campbell in a duel when they were students. In the early 1850’s (Scott died in 1852), when both the adversaries had become judges, one of the sights then to see was Meredith helping his brother judge up the steep Court House steps, a result of the lameness in his leg that had remained with Scott since their encounter. Meredith was later knighted and went on to serve as Chief Justice of the Superior Court of the Province of Quebec.
  • 1840: Joseph Howe was called out by a member of Nova Scotian high society for his populist writing. When his opponent fired first and missed, Howe fired his shot in the air and won the right to refuse future challenges.
  • 1873: The last duel in what is now Canada occurred in August 1873, in a field near St. John's, Newfoundland (which was not Canadian territory at the time). The duellists, Mr. Dooley and Mr. Healey, once friends, had fallen in love with the same young lady, and had quarrelled bitterly over her. One challenged the other to a duel, and they quickly arranged a time and place. No one else was present that morning except the two men's seconds. Dooley and Healey were determined to proceed in the 'honourable' way, but as they stood back-to-back with their pistols raised, they must have questioned what they were doing. Nerves gave way to terror as they slowly began pacing away from each other. When they had counted off the standard ten yards, they turned and fired. Dooley hit the ground immediately. Healey, believing he had killed Dooley, was seized with horror. But Dooley had merely fainted; the seconds confessed they had so feared the outcome that they loaded the pistols with blanks. Although this was a serious breach of duelling etiquette, both opponents gratefully agreed that honour had indeed been satisfied.

South American Duels

  • 1814: Buenos Aires, Argentina. Colonel Luis Carrera, brother of Chilean revolutionary General José Miguel Carrera, killed Colonel Juan Mackenna in duel. The reason was the sense of honour that the Carreras had, as Mackenna disrespected the family name many times. This was the second time that both duellists met, and the third time that Mackenna was challenged in duel by a Carrera (the first time it was by Luis Carrera himself, while the second time it was by his brother, Juan José Carrera, the oldest of the brothers and noticeable by his herculean strength. Yet Mackenna was able to run away from the duels both times). They duelled at night, in the first round, Mackenna shot at his head, but missed and blew Carrera's hat away, in the second round, Carrera was able to hit Mackenna in his hand, blowing his thumb away and piercing a hole in his throat, thus killing Mackenna. Carrera was arrested the next day, particularly because Mackenna was part of a secret society called The Lautarian Lodge, which had the control of the government at the time.
  • 1952: Chile. Then-senator Salvador Allende and his colleague Raúl Rettig (later president of Chile and head of a commission that investigated human rights violations committed during the 1973–1990 military rule in Chile, respectively), agreed to fire one shot on each other and both failed At that time duelling was already illegal in Chile.

Asian duels

  • During the Three Kingdoms period of China, warlord Sun Ce encountered an enemy general named Taishi Ci during a journey past a temple. The two fought until the arrival of their men compelled them to break off. This is one of the few examples of two generals dueling during a time of war.
  • During the Sengoku period of Japan, a daimyo called Uesugi Kenshin fought against a rival of his named Takeda Shingen. During one of their battles, Uesegi personally led a raiding party against the Takeda camp. Breaking through, Kenshin attacked Shingen, who fought back using his iron war fan. Uesegi was forced to retreat when reinforcements didn't arrive.
  • 1593: Siamese King Naresuan slays Burmese Crown Prince Minchit Sra
  • On April 14, 1612 the famous Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi dueled his rival Sasaki Kojiro on the island of Funajima. Musashi arrived late and unkempt to the appointed place. Musashi killed Sasaki with a bokken or wooden sword. He fashioned the bokken out of a boat oar on his way to the island. Sasaki's weapon of choice was the nodachi, a long sword.
  • 1906: In Istanbul, during the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II, a duel between a young Kurdish aristocrat named Abdulrazzak Bedirkhan and the chief of police of the city Ridvan Pasha occurred. The police chief was killed and subsequently the entire Bedirkhan family was exiled.

Proposed duels

Duels in legend and mythology

Notable examples of single combat in legend and mythology

Duels in fiction

* Westley (Dread Pirate Roberts) versus Iñigo Montoya: Inigo loses but survives.
* Inigo Montoya versus Count Rugen: Inigo avenges his father's death.

Footnotes

References

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