Who has been the world’s most influential woodturner? I nominate Scottish woodturner Daniel M’Naughten, born in Glasgow in 1813. Daniel’s father, who had the same name, was also a woodturner, and son Daniel was duly apprenticed to his father. In 1835 Daniel started his own woodturning business. It seems to have been successful, and in 1840 he sold it and was able to travel. However by this time the first signs of paranoid delusion had become apparent. One manifestation was that Daniel, whose political views were quite radical, believed that the conservative Tory party was persecuting him.
On 20 January 1843 Daniel shot Arthur Drummond in the back. Drummond died five days later. It’s thought that Daniel believed that he was shooting the then Conservative British prime minister Sir Robert Peel whose private secretary Drummond was.
Daniel’s trial for the “wilful murder of Mr Drummond” took place at the Old Bailey, on 2 and 3 March 1843, before Chief Justice Tindal. Both the prosecution and the defence agreed that Daniel suffered from delusions of persecution. Summing up Tindal stated that the medical evidence confirmed that Daniel was mentally ill. Tindale also reminded the jury that if they found Daniel not guilty because of insanity, he would be proper cared for. The jury agreed with Tindale’s reminder, and Daniel was committed to the State Criminal Lunatic Asylum at Bethlem Hospital. In 1864, Daniel was transferred to the newly opened Broadmoor Asylum, He died there on 3 May 1865.