Charles Nelson, duellist

The last duel fought in England was in 1845. That same year a duel that took place at Pultah Ghant, Barrackpore in India on 26 July 1845, between Stamford Tulloch and Charles Nelson. Lieutenant Tulloch, serving in the Native Infantry, was seriously wounded at the duel, and a William Todd remained with him at the duelling ground while Tulloch's second took their buggy to fetch a surgeon. This took a long time and eventually William procured a keranchee to transport Tulloch back to Barrackpore, meeting the surgeon on the way. Lieutenant Tulloch died as a result of his wound and, in a highly unusual prosecution for the time, Nelson, as well as the two seconds, was charged with murder and aiding and abetting murder. William Todd was one of two other witnesses at the duel, but was not charged. At the trial, on Tuesday 19 Aug 1845, detailed in Allen's Indian Mail 4 November 1845 pp.642-7, the two witnesses and three charged men all refused to testify and a statement made by Tulloch to his commanding officer before his death was ruled inadmissible because it was not made under oath and there was no opportunity for him to be cross-examined, so the case was dismissed for lack of evidence. William Todd's refusal to testify was given as a refusal to incriminate himself, but also reflects the tension at the time between the law forbidding duelling and societal mores requiring it. The presiding judge had to intervene to stop cheering in the packed court when the prisoners were acquitted.

Charles Nelson was reported to be in, or about to join, the sea service of the Peninsular and Orient Company and George Lane, appearing for him at the trial, stated that three of Nelson’s brothers were in his army unit.

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