List of trials of peers in the House of Lords

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This is a list of trials of peers in the House of Lords. Until 1948, peers of the United Kingdom and its predecessor states had the right to trial by peers.

Year Peer Charge Verdict Sentence
1499 The Earl of Warwick treason pleaded guilty death
1522 The Duke of Buckingham treason guilty death
1535 The Lord Dacre treason not guilty
1536 The Queen treason guilty death
Viscount Rochford
1541 The Lord Dacre murder guilty death
1551 The Duke of Somerset treason guilty of an unspecified felony death
1553 The Duke of Northumberland treason guilty death
1571 The Duke of Norfolk treason guilty death
1589 The Earl of Arundel and Surrey treason guilty death (died before sentence was carried out)
1600 The Earl of Essex treason guilty death
The Earl of Southampton death (pardoned)
1603 The Lord Grey treason guilty death (commuted to imprisonment)
The Lord Cobham
1616 The Earl of Somerset murder guilty death (pardoned)
1616 The Countess of Somerset murder pleaded guilty death (pardoned)
1631 The Earl of Castlehaven rape and sodomy guilty death
1641 The Earl of Strafford treason prosecution dropped
1666 The Lord Morley murder guilty of manslaughter pleaded privilege*
1678 The Lord Cornwallis murder not guilty
1678 The Earl of Pembroke murder guilty of manslaughter pleaded privilege*
1680 The Viscount Stafford treason guilty death
1686 The Lord Delamere treason not guilty
1692 The Lord Mohun murder not guilty
1699 The Earl of Warwick and Holland murder guilty of manslaughter pleaded privilege*
1699 The Lord Mohun murder not guilty
1716 The Earl of Derwentwater treason pleaded guilty death
The Lord Widdrington death (pardoned)
The Earl of Nithsdale death (escaped)
The Earl of Carnwath death (pardoned)
The Viscount Kenmure death
The Lord Nairne death (pardoned)
1716 The Earl of Winton treason guilty death (escaped)
1717 The Earl of Oxford and Mortimer treason not guilty
1746 The Earl of Kilmarnock treason pleaded guilty death
The Earl of Cromartie pleaded guilty death (pardoned)
The Lord Balmerinoch guilty death
1747 The Lord Lovat treason guilty death
1760 The Earl Ferrers murder guilty death
1765 The Lord Byron murder guilty of manslaughter pleaded privilege*
1776 The Duchess of Kingston bigamy guilty pleaded privilege*
1841 The Earl of Cardigan duelling not guilty
1901 The Earl Russell bigamy guilty 3 months' detention
1935 The Lord de Clifford manslaughter not guilty
*These were all capital crimes; the usual sentence was death. From 1547 if a peer or peeress was convicted of a crime, except treason or murder, he or she could claim "privilege of peerage" to escape punishment if it was their first offence. In all, the privilege was exercised five times, until it was formally abolished in 1841.
Lovell, C. R. (October 1949) "The Trial of Peers in Great Britain" The American Historical Review 55: 69–81

Further reading[edit]

  • The Trial of James Thomas, Earl of Cardigan before The Right Honourable The House of Peers, in Full Parliament, for Felony, On Tuesday the 16th Day of February 1841. William Brodie Gurney et al, London, 1841.
  • First Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on The Trial of the Earl Russell. HL Paper 143 of session 1901.
  • Second Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on The Trial of the Earl Russell. HL Paper 145 of session 1901.
  • Third Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on The Trial of the Earl Russell. HL Paper 157 of session 1901.
  • Proceedings on the Trial of Earl Russell. HL Paper 165 of session 1901.
  • Report By the Select Committee of the House of Lords on the Trial of the Lord de Clifford together with the Proceedings of the Committee. HL Paper 153 of session 1934-35.
  • Proceedings on the Trial of the Lord de Clifford. HL Paper 12 of session 1935-36.