Image of two men kissingHomosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook compiled by Rictor Norton

Early Newspaper Reports


7–10 May 1698

A French Papist pretending to be a Marquis is taken up lately for Sodomy, and committed upon the Evidence of three Persons. (Flying Post)

7–9 July 1698

London. We are well informed, That amongst the Papists lately come over hither from France, to avoid the Misery which the Desolation of their Country, and the Prospect of a bad Harvest and Vintage, is likely to involve them in, there is a great number of that infamous Crew, call'd gypsies, who are lodg'd by the French Papists here in Town; and being more refin'd in their Villanous Art than those of the same denomination in England, hope to find Encouragement, because of their Tricks which they can play by Agility of body, and other pieces of Legerdemain. It is thought the most needful to give the Publick Notice of this, because in France they ruin'd abundance of Youth, to whom they pretended to tell their Fortunes, and to teach some of their Jugglers Feats, by engaging them in the mischievous Course of picking Locks and Pockets, wherein they have a peculiar Dexterity; for which, as also for Sodomy, and other lewd Pratices, many of them were condemned, and their Captain, one Ambervile, burnt at Paris, together with the Record of his Trial; which contain'd an Account of so many lewd and abominable Practices; that it was thought too dangerous to be kept, and therefore destroy'd. (Flying Post)

22–24 November 1698

There are now above 400 Prisoners in Newgate, 78 of whom are to plead His Majesty's Pardon next Sessions, when the rest are to come upon their Trials, as are some others for Buggery, &c. ()

10–12 December 1698

Yesterday the Trials ended at the Old Baily, when about 22 Criminals received Sentence of Death for different /crimes; a great many were Burnt in the Hand, and a certain Captain was fined in 1000l. and ordered to stand 3 times in the Pillory for Buggery; as were some others for Misdemeanors, &c. (Flying Post)

18 February – 2 March 1699

This day is publish'd, The Trial and Condemnation of Mervyn Lord Audley, Earl of Castle Haven ... (The Post Boy)

9I–12 September 1699

On Saturday last came on at the Old Baily the Tryal of Mr. Fornier, a Gentleman belonging to the Ordinance, being indicted for Sodomy. The Tryal lasted a considerable while, but the evidence produced against him appeared to scandalous and malicious, and so many substantial people appeared for Mr Fornier, to justify his good reputation, that the Jury brought him in not guilty, and so he was honourably acquitted. (Post Man and the Historical Account)

10–12 September 1700

This Week a Man and a Boy were committed to Newgate for Buggery. (Flying Post)

15–17 October 1700

This Week several Bills were found by the Grand Jury at Hickes Hall, against some Persons that made it their business to swear Sodomy against Gentlemen. (Flying Post)

21–23 October 1700

Yesterday a Man was whipt from Temple-bar to Charing-Cross, for falsly accusing one Johnson of Sodomy. (The English Post)

16–18 December 1700

On Monday last two Persons were whipt at the Cart's-Arse from Newgate to Smithfield-bars, for falsly accusing an honest Gentleman of Sodomy, only to get a piece of Money from him. (English Post)

25–27 March 1701

Yesterday was published,
The Post Angel (or universal entertainment) in 5 distinct parts, . . . That for March is now in the Press, wherein is inserted a Narrative of the wicked Life and miserable Death of Mr Jermain, the Clerk of St Dunstans in the East, who being charged with Sodomy, cut his own Throat. (Post Man and the Historical Account)

5-7 March 1701

The Parish Clerk of St. Dunstans in the East, being turned out of his Place upon Suspicion of an unnatural Crime &c. Cut his Throat on Wednesday Night almost from Ear to Ear. (The English Post)

20-23 June 1701

On Thursday between 10 and 11 at Night, a Person sitting in Lincolns-Inn House of Office [bog-house], a Young Man happen'd to go into the same Box, whom the other Welcomed, and afterwards entred into a discourse with him, pretending great kindness for him, &c. But at last discovered to him his Inclination, to Commit the filthy Sin of Sodomy, with him, and made an Attempt to force him: But the Young Man crying out, some of the Porters and Watchmen of the Inn, as well as some of the Young Gentlemen came to his Assistance; and soon Cooled the Sparks Courage, by Ducking him in the said House of Office, and afterwards left him to shift for himself. (The London Post)

9-11 July 1701

A Woman in the Habit of a Man, was lately seized at Soho in the Act of Coining and was sent to Newgate. (The English Post)

March 1702

Three Country People were Condemn'd (and I'm told Executed) at the last Maidstone Assizes, for the Abominable Sin of Sodomy. (Post Angel or Universal Entertainment)

14–16 April 1702

Last Week three of the Persons convicted at Maidstone Assizes, for the detestable Sin of Sodomy, received Setnence of Death. (Flkying Post)

9–12 February 1704

Where our Law-Books are silent, we must have Recourse to the Laws of Nature, and Reason; this is Jutsified by Histories of all sorts. . . . In the 20th of Henry the 8th, the Lord Hungerford was Executed for Buggery, before there was any Law positive to make it Fellony; and before there was any Statute against Witchcdraft, there were many Witches hang'd ijn England, ecause it was Death by the Law of God. (Observator)


All the accounts for 1707, which relate to a major round-up of homosexuals, are listed on a separate page in Newspaper Reports for 1707.

23–30 November 1717

Not long since a Person, Clerk to a certan Parish near Stock-Market, was apprehended for the foul Sin of Sodomy committed on his Apprentice, and another Young-man, (being by Trade a Periwig-maker,) but whether it was owing to the Effects of Money, or want of Evidence, we know not; but the Matter buried in Oblivion. (Original Weekly Journal)

1–3 April 1718

Friday last Thomas Kinnersly, a Clergyman, was try'd at Kingston Assizes, for Combining and Conspiring with Will. Moore, Gent. falsely to Charge the Earl of Sunderland to attempt to commit the Venereal Act of Sodomy on the said William Moore, in order to extort great Sums of Money from the said Earl. (Evening Post)

1–3 April 1718

Next Week will be publish'd,
The Tryal of Thomas Kinnersly, a Clergyman, before the Honourable Lord Chief Barton Bury, and several Jujstice of the Peace fort the County of Surry, at the Assizes held at Kingston, on Friday the 28th of March 1718, for combining and conspiring, wiht William Moore Gent. falsly to charge the Right Honourable Charles Earl of Sunderland, with an Attempt to commit the Venereal Act of Sodomy on the said William Moore, in order to extort great Sums of Money from the said Earl of Sunderland. Printed for J. Phillips and sold by J. Roberts in Warwick-Lane. (Post Boy)

Saturday, 6 April 1718

Yesterday was 7-Night came on at Kingston Assizes a Tryal of Nisi Prius before theLord Chief Baron Bury, upon an Information int he Crown, against Thomas Kinnersly a Clergyman and William Moore, Gent. for conspiring falsly to charge the Right Honourable Charles Earl of Sunderland, with an Attempt to commit the henious [sic] Act of Sodomy, with the latter of e'm, in order to extort several Sums of Money from his Lordship; and being Convicted of the same, 'tis not doubted that they will receive their due Sentence next Term, at the King's Bench-Bar at Westminster. (Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer)

4–6 December 1718

London, Dec. 6.
John Bow is to be try'd to Day for Sodomy and Buggery, on the Body of Hugh Ryley. (Evening Post)

Saturday 6 December 1718

One Mr. B—n, who formerly kept a Linnen-Draper’s Shop in the Pall-Mall, and one R—y, an Irish Man, have been committed to Newgate, in order to be try’d this Sessions for the foul Sin of Sodomy; they were taken in the very Act; and, we hear, there is such strong Proof against ’em, as ’tis not doubted but they will meet with their Deserts. (Original Weekly Journal)

6 December 1718

Hugh Ryley and —— Bow, were try'd for the heinous Sin of Sodomy and Buggery, but were acquitted. (Evening Post)

Saturday, 18 April 1719


Whereas Information hath been given upon Oath, to Lawrence Saintloe, Esq; one of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Middlesex, that Stephen Margrave, John Furdiford, John Wood, Richard Williams and Thomas Harris, have together with several others for some time past made it their Business to walk in St. James's Park, Covent Garden, and other parts of the Town to pick up Men and threaten to swear that they have been guilty of Sodomy, and by that means have got several Sums of Money from several Persons; therefore if any Person or Persons who hath met with such Treatment, may repair to the Gate-house Prison, and see the Persons above mentioned, and if they have any thing to Charge them or any of them, they are desired to come and give such Evidence and the Offenders may be punish'd according to Law.
          (Applebee's Original Weekly Journal)

14–16 May 1719

London, May 16.
This Day the Sessions ended at the Old-Baily, where ten Malefactors receiv'd Sentence of Death, viz. Simon Eylmore, for Steaing, Abraham Wood, for a Robbery, Margaret Chapman for Picking a Pocket, Henry Broom for Burglary, Ruth Lycence for Stealing, Richard Williams for robbing Mr Ralph Courney the King's Footman, Stephen Margrow and John Wood for Robbery, Elinor Bridges for stealing, and John Mills for Counterfeiting the double Penny Stamp.
          The Fact for which Stephen Margrow, John Wood, and Richard Williams, were convicted, was not only for extorting Money from the Prosecutors, under pretence of charging them with Buggery; but the Prosecutors were assaulted, and put in fear, and then Money taken by force: And the Pretence of charging them with Buggery, is onl a new Contrivance amongst the Rogues, whereby they intended to evade that Punishment the Law directs. (Evening Post)

19–21 May 1719

To Morrow will be publish'd,
The Proceedings on the King's Commission of the Peace, at the Sessions-House in the Old Baily, containing the Tryals of Henry Broom, for 5 Burglaries; Richard Williams, for assaulting and robbing Ralph Courtney; Stephen Margrove and John Wood, for assaulting and robbing George Smith on the Highway, and pretending Sodomy; Isaac Seaman for a Rape; William Gibbs for the Murther of a Horse-Grenadier; and many other remarkable Tryals. Printed for J. Phillips; and sold by J. Roberts in Warwick-Lane. Price 3d. (Post Boy)

20 June 1719

Last Week a Gentleman, and his Servant, coming late to Wimbledon in Surry, were oblig’d to lodge all Night at an Ale-House there; and the Man being in Bed was surprizingly awaked with the Impudence of a Fellow, who stole into the Bed to him, and was committing the abominable Crime of Sodomy on his Body; the Servant fir’d his Pistols, and alarming the House, his Master came down and seiz’d the Buggerer, who was committed to the Marshalsea, and is the Son of a Baker in London. (Original Weekly Journal)

Saturday, 15 August 1719

LONDON, August 15.
On Thursday Morning a Penny-Post-Man came to deliver a Letter at a publick House in the Old-Jewry; where meeting with an Acquaintance, they went in to Drink together, and the Boy of the House observing them in an indecent Posture, acquainted his Master therewith, who watching their Motions through a Peep Hole, at last fairly detected them in the abominable Act of Sodomy. He seiz'd them, and they were carried before a Magistrate, who committed them to Newgate. (Original Weekly Journal)

25 February 1720

On Sunday last, as several Persons were Scating upon the Ice in Hyde Park, one dressed like a Lady, with a large Hoop Petticoat, a scarlet Cloak, and Mask'd, went on, to make one among them: But, unfortunately, the Ice broke, and took the Stranger up to the Waste; upon which a gallant Dutchman immediately came to afford his kind Assistance, and was dip'd in the same manner. At length, in struggling to get up, the Mask drop'd off, and the pretended Lady appeared to be a Gentleman, who was very well known there; whereupon the Hollander seemed sorely chagrin'd to have suffered so much, and to be so errantly cheated in the Subject of his Complaisance. (London Journal)

24–31 December 1720

Some Days since a Gentleman meeting another on the Royal Exchange, though a Stranger to him before, was presently acquainted with him, and told him, he was captivated with the fineness of his Person, and then declared himself in favour of the Crime of Sodomy; and warmly solicited him for his Company to an adjoyning Tavern. This stun'd at first, the other, but collecting himself in order to view the Monster, and have an Opportunity to punish and put him to shame, he agreed to meet him the next Day at a Tavern by the Exchange; but before they met, the Gentleman acquainted the Master of the House with the Matter, and several Persons got reay on the Signal to enter the Room. Accordingly, when every thing within was ready for Action and the Alarm given, the People rushed in. The Guilty Person was not able to rectify some Indecencies he was in. Upon this they gave him the Cold Bath with several Pales of Water thrown in his Face. This restoring Speech and Motion to him, he cursed and swore in a very outragious [sic] manner, and endeavoured to fling himself out of the Room, but they would not part with him till he had been well rubbed down with some Oaken Towels, prepared for that purpose; after which they kick'd him out of the House. (London Journal)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, as noted above. Most of these newspapers were published once a week, on Saturdays, but some were published three times a week.
CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Early Newspaper Reports, 1700-1720," Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. 9 August 2000; updated 11 December 2020 <>.

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