Surreal law facts
The truth is always stranger than fiction.
A whole code of law in rhyme
Joseph Henri Flacon Rochelle was born in Paris on October 8, 1781 and died on May 27, 1834. The son of a lawyer, he, too, was a lawyer but also a playwright.
He grew up under the auspices of a new Civil Code in France (1804) and when he found it to be too dry and, well, boring, he rewrote the whole thing ... in rhyming verse!
The Code civil des Français mis en vers avec le texte en regard was published in 1805 and Mr. Flacon Rochelle signed it "J.H.F.R.". Still, today, the book is listed for sale at Amazon.fr.
Murderer dying in style
Horne's Ride William Andrew Horne was a rich but very unpopular resident of Nottingham, England, circa 1729. He had a long rap sheet but managed to avoid long jail terms or the hangman's noose until he was 74 years old. In 1724, while he was but a young man, he and his brother had Charles killed their infant niece but the brother kept William's secret even though William let his brother live in poverty.
But eventually, Charles' secret was let out. William Horne was arrested, tried, convicted of murder, and sentenced on August 10, 1759 to be hung on his 74th birthday, December 11, 1759.
But this much-hated man was nonetheless granted a last request. He asked for, and was granted the right to ride his own carriage, driven by his own coachmen, to the gallows on a night so windy, that contemporary records say that as he sat in the back seat of his coach, his long hair flapped in the wind well on his way to the gallows.
Married and crazy
In his 1693 book, A Description of the Western Islands of Scotland, travel author Martin Martin tells of a groom's very strange, and very dangerous condition precedent for marriage, on the Island of St. Kilda, Scotland:
"In the face of the rock, south from the town, is the famous stone, known by the name of the mistress-stone. It resembles a door exactly; and is in the very front of this rock, which is (150 feet; 50 metres) perpendicular in height, the figure of it being discernible about the distance of a mile; upon the lintel of this door, every bachelor-wooer is by an ancient custom obliged in honour to give a specimen of his affection for the love of his mistress, and it is thus; he is to stand on his left foot, having the one half of his sole over the rock, and then he draws the right foot further out to the left, and in this posture bowing, he puts both his fists further out to the right foot; and then after he has performed this, he has acquired no small reputation, being always after it accounted worthy of the finest mistress in the world."