Introduction: Political Trials in an Age of Revolutions: Britain and the North Atlantic, 1793–1848
The defendants in many of the political trials of the “age of revolutions”, whether speaking for themselves or through professional counsel, were confident that they would appear as protagonists in later histories. They were not to be disappointed. The challenge for those placed on trial was to situate themselves and their own plights within a relevant history of liberty – British, English, Scottish, Irish, or universal – and historical narratives were the most common feature of defences. They carried with them, as did Skirving’s failed defence above, an appeal to posterity which was taken up by later lawyers, activists, politicians, and historians.