However, after a while Seton started to show adverse symptoms - quite probably from blood poisoning - and no amount of nursing care had any positive effect.
Mrs Seton remained by her fading husband's side throughout and Mrs Hale, the hostess of the Quebec Hotel (pictured above) acted the role of nurse and comforter to perfection, but all to no avail.
As it became obvious that Seton was dying, the Reverend J. P. Mc Ghie was sent for to administer spiritual consolation to him and Mr. Minchin, a local solicitor, was brought in to draft his last will and testament; the dying man fought against the infection to the last and sadly died a protracted death, a terrible way for anyone, let alone such a young man to go.
A Coroner's inquest was summoned by W. J. Cooper, Coroner for the Borough, which met at the Town Hall, with a Mr W. Grant as the foreman of the jury.
In the course of the examination it transpired that a Mr. John Lewis Towne, of Elm Grove, Southsea, heard Hawkey say in Green Row, Portsmouth, alluding to a gentleman present, whom he believed to be the deceased: "That he would shoot him as he would a partridge," also the evidence of Sherwood's assistant, Powell, relative to the incident of the marked pistol on the morning of the duel.
It was also alleged that Hawkey threatened
Seton on one occasion, when he found him at his lodgings in company with his wife - but that evidence now seems to have been decidedly suspect.
After a very protracted inquiry, the jury found the following verdict: " We find that the immediate cause of the death of the deceased James Alexander Seton was the result of a surgical operation, rendered imperatively necessary by the imminent danger in which he was placed, by the infliction of a gun shot wound which he received on the 20th of May last, in a duel with Lieut. Henry Charles Moorhead Hawkey, of the Royal Marines.
"We therefore find a verdict of wilful murder against the said Lieut. Henry Charles Moorhead Hawkey and Lieut. Pym, as well as all the parties concerned in the duel."
A warrant for their committal to stand trial at Winchester, was made out, but the implicated persons did not surrender until the Winchester assize of March, 1846, when they came before Mr. Justice Erle.
The counsel for the prisoners was Mr. Cockburn, whose defence was both bold and ingenious.
He argued that the wound produced by the pistol bullet was not the cause of death, that the efforts of the medical man who first attended the deceased, and who had stayed the bleeding with ice,
pressure, and compresses, would have saved the life of the deceased, had not the operation for tying the iliac been resorted to.
Consequently, Cockburn argued, death was the result rather the result of a meddlesome operation than of the wound inflicted by the pistol bullet in the first place.
The powerful appeal of the counsel, and the knowledge that Hawkey had received much provocation, evidently had its weight with the jury, who returned a verdict of: "Not guilty."
This duel created a great sensation, not only in Portsmouth, but throughout the country, with the duels of Lord Cardigan and Colonel Tuckett and Colonel Faucett and Lieutenant Munroe, were fresh in people's memory, and the legislature was at that time busy framing repressive measures for putting down this infamous system.
Steinmetz, in his Romance of Duelling, says, "this was the last duel fought in this country by Englishmen." It was indeed and although no legislation was needed to curb a system of dispute resolution that had always been illegal in Britain, an Act of Parliament did become law that eventually saw an end to it.
That Act made it possible for the relatives of anyone murdered or maimed in Britain to claim damages from the party responsible - satisfying honour seemed to lose much of its appeal after that!