The Trials of Lady Jane Douglas Review

By Will Barber Taylor

Scotland, Paris, London – the search for the answer to one question sent teams of expensive lawyers far and wide – did the beautiful and wayward Lady Jane Douglas gave birth to twins in 1748 or did her husband buy two babies from French peasants?

No one has ever solved the mystery, which Lady Jane and her husband took to their graves. But at the time an answer was vital to decide who would inherit the fortunes of Lady Jane’s brother, the richest man in Scotland.

As a result, protracted legal proceedings took place in Edinburgh and London, producing results which have been argued about until today. Karl Sabbagh’s detailed exploration of this story unearths new documents which may hold the key. He also suggests that using the 21st Century science of DNA analysis, that matter could be settled by exhuming Lady Jane and her son.

The Trials of Lady Jane Douglas is unlike any other historical biography you could read. Rather than simply examining the events of the life of an individual, Karl Sabbagh writes a compelling and fascinating mystery. A mystery over which involved the richest man in Scotland and a battle over his money, titles and land. Like many great mysteries it has never been definitively solved – a decision was reached but not one that has ever put the mystery to bed. It was a case that divided the nation – everyone had an opinion and leading intellectuals of the day such as Doctor Johnson and Adam Smith supported opposing sides.

What is even more fascinating is that in his book, Sabbagh has discovered new documents, previously unseen for hundreds of years, which may present a solution to the case. This is not a dry, historical analysis of the case but a gripping and thrilling attempt to finally solve one of the 18th centuries most puzzling mysteries. Sabbagh artfully combines a dramatic, Dan Brown like feel, with a detailed and fascinating portrait of 18th century Britain, and 18th century Scottish high society as well. Sabbagh also seamlessly takes the reader through the complex legal system to help the reader understand exactly how each case worked.

In conclusion, The Trial of Lady Jane Douglas is a fascinating, well researched historical page turner which will keep any one who reads it on the edge of their seat. Like Defiance by Stephen Taylor it allows you to enter the world of Georgian high society and become completely immersed in its trickery, vanity, culture and style. A must read for anyone who loves history mysteries and well written historical books.

With thanks to Karl and Skyscraper. You can buy The Trials of Lady Jane Douglas from Amazon here. 

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