Glove ‘gauntlet’ sold for £5500 by Christie’s.

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In the year 1817, when he was accused by William Ashford of the murder of his sister, it was used by Abraham Thornton to exercise the medieval right to a ‘wager of battle’.

After meeting at a dance Thornton and Mary Ashford had left together, and the next day her drowned body had been discovered in a pit. Thornton was arrested but his swift acquittal on charges of rape and murder provoked public outrage and Mary’s brother launched a private appeal against the verdict.

Re-arrested, Thornton then asserted his medieval right to trial by battle by throwing down this gauntlet. No such ‘trial’ had taken place in England since 1446, but Parliament had never repealed its legal usage and the Court of King’s Bench upheld his right to this challenge.

Ashford, however, declined the offer of combat and Thornton, who later emigrated to the US, was freed.

Such appeals were abolished the very next year along with the right to trial by battle.

The glove sold for £5500.