Montagu Williams (1835-1892) was at times a soldier, playwright and magistrate, but his fame rests on his defense of the accused in notorious criminal cases from the 1860s to the 1880s.
Late in life he wrote two volumes of his memoirs (followed by a lengthy supplement) in which he described some of his cases: he lost his first as a prosecutor of a horse thief. Then came the Catherine Wilson murder cases in 1862 (acquittal in the first, guilty in the second). From then on he was very busy in the courts, at times acting as Serjeant Ballantine's junior.
The stories of his trials (the outcome depended heavily on the trial judge's summing up) are lively, and his anecdotes about other barristers (Serjeant Parry warrants special attention) and judges are memorable. Here is one:
"On one occasion in an action for false imprisonment, heard before Mr. Justice Wightman, Ribton was addressing the jury at great length, repeating himself constantly, and never giving the slightest sign of what winding up. When he had been pounding away for several hours, the good old Judge interposed, and said: "Mr. Ribton, you've said that before." "Have I, my Lord?" said Ribton; "I am very sorry. I quite forgot it." "Don't apologize, Mr. Ribton," was the answer. "I forgive you; for it was a very long time ago."
Volume 1 ends lamely with Williams's thoughts on fees, the necessity of a criminal court of appeals and so on.