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Putney Heath
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London Parks & Gardens Trust

Activity Putney Heath, Wandsworth
Duels and Disputes
Cartoon of duel between Pitt and Tierney, 31kb

A famous duel occurred on Putney Heath in 1798 when William Pitt, who was Prime Minister at the time, insulted a man called George Tierney by accusing him of 'lack of patriotism'. Although neither man was hurt in the duel, the event became quite famous, being reported in newspapers at the time and even depicted in the cartoon shown below.

Roll over the characters in the picture to read what they are saying.


In the 18th Century, Putney Heath was a very dangerous place - not only was it famous for highwaymen and robbers, but it was also a favourite spot for people fighting duels.

Putney Heath today, 6kb
Putney Heath today.

Duels were commonly fought when people thought they had been insulted or wronged in some way. The people taking part could use a number of different weapons, but swords and pistols were the most common.

Although participants in duels were occasionally killed, more often the intention was just to hurt the other person, to 'prove a point' and clear the insult.

Do you notice that George Tierney (on the left of the picture) is deliberately firing his pistol in the air, rather than at his opponent? Why do you think he might be doing this?
Draw It!

Settle It

Nobody nowadays would think of fighting a duel to settle an argument.

How would you settle a dispute if somebody insulted you or you thought they had done something bad to you?

Click here to download a cartoon drawing frame. Using the four boxes in the frame, draw a cartoon that shows how you would settle an argument or dispute with a friend.


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