The Last Duel

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One August morning in 1826, two men went for a walk in the Scottish countryside, in a field just outside Kirkcaldy in southern Fife. Only one of them came back alive. Timewatch tells the story of two men who fought to the death with pistols, one a respected merchant, David Landale, a linen merchant and pillar of the community. The other was George Morgan, a soldier turned banker with a fiery temper, steeped in military tradition. The soldier also happened to be the merchant’s bank manager. It would end with the death of one man and mark the demise of a 600 year old ritual. The pair had quarreled over a bank loan, an argument that had led the banker to spread rumors about his client’s creditworthiness. The merchant had in turn taken his accounts elsewhere and written a stiff letter of complaint to the Bank of Scotland headquarters in Edinburgh. And that is where it would have stayed had not Morgan’s temper got the better of him one morning when he struck Landale about the head with an umbrella in Kirkcaldy High Street. BBC News’s James Landale retraces the steps of his ancestor, who made that final challenge.