Newspaper Reports



See The Tryal and Conviction of Several Reputed Sodomites and Trials of Thomas Vaughan and Thomas Davis for fuller details about the men whose pillorying (and suicide) is reported in the following newspaper accounts. The reports prompted a response from Daniel Defoe lamenting the publicity given to homosexuality. Incidentally, from the report dated 16-18 October, it is apparent that the blackmailing of sodomites (or, simply, of straight men threatened with being exposed as sodomites) has existed ever since sodomites became publicly visible, i.e. from the early eighteenth century, and by no means arose first as a result of such things as the so-called "blackmailers' charter" in the nineteenth century.

Rictor Norton

4-7 October 1707

This Day is published,
The He Strumpets; a Satyr on the Sodomite Club. Printed for B. Bragge at the Raven in Pater-noster-Row. (The Post-Man)

9-11 October 1707

Information being lately receiv'd, That one Augustin Grant, Woollen-Draper in West-Smithfield, who hanged himself, had been falsly Accus'd of Preposterous Venery, and was Innocent: Now this is to inform the World, That the Facts wherewith the said Augustin Grant was charged, did plainly appear upon him, not only by the Oaths of several Witnesses, of clear Reputation and Credit, who went out with the Civil Officers to detect such abominable Practices; but also by the Examination of the said Grant, before the Magistrate, who did not deny the Facts, but said he was in Drink. The Truth whereof can be attested by Sir Thomas Rawlinson, who bound him over to answer it to the Sessions; As also by five Affidavits taken before, and lodged with Sir Richard Levet, to which all Persons that desire farther Satisfaction, may have resort. And moreover it can be proved, That the said Grant made Confession of his being Guilty of the Facts wherewith he was charged, before several Persons of Reputation, that Night he was apprehended. (The Post Boy)

11-14 October 1707

Yesterday [i.e. 13 October] there was a great concourse of People at Guild-Hall, attending the Accusation of some Persons, who have been lately taken up for Preposterous Venery, where many Bills of Indictment were prefer'd against those sort of People, in order to their being try'd at the Old Baily. (The Post Boy)

14-16 October 1707

On Monday last, the Grand Jury at Hicks's Hall, found Bills of Indictment against three Persons, on Account of Preposterous Venery, as the Grand Jury at Guild-hall did, the same day, against six others; but none of them are to be try'd at the Old Baily, as was said before. (The Post Boy)

16-18 October 1707

London, Oct. 18. There are seventeen Bills of Indictment found by the Grand Jury for the City of London, and three by the Grand Jury for the County of Middlesex, against twenty several Persons, for Endeavouring to commit Preposterous Venery; all of them at the Prosecution of several Persons of clear Reputation and Credit; who, having Information of such abominable Practices being frequently committed on the Exchange, and other Places, agreed to use their Endeavours to detect such Practices, in order to suppress the same; and, accordingly, went out with Constables, to such Places, where several Offenders were seiz'd, and immediately carry'd before the Magistrate. But as there are several worthy Persons, who, from a Sense of their Duty, and Love to their Country, endeavour, by their own Pains and Cost, to suppress such vile Practices, by seeking to bring the Offenders to legal Punishment: So there have been some loose and wicked Persons, who, for sordid Lucre and Gain not by seizing the Persons charg'd, upon the Spot, carrying them immediately before the Magistrate, and by being bound to prosecute, (as is the Method of the first-mentioned Gentlemen) but by cunning Arts, coming privately to their Houses, by Threats, and by Shews of Friendship, pretending to make up the Matter, &c. falsly charge honest and innocent Men with such abominable Practices, only to get Money: as you will find by the following Account.      On Thursday last, came on, at Hicks-Hall, the Trial of Thomas Vaughan a Foot-Soldier, and of Tho. Davis a Brandy-Man in New-street by Covent-Garden, for a Conspiracy with Thomas Knight a Barber, and Edward Knight, his Relation, and Apprentice in the Middle-Temple; which two last are fled from Justice. They were indicted for falsly accusing an Eminent Apothecary, who is a Person of an unquestionable and untained Reputation, of Attempting to commit the Sin of Preposterous Venery: And it appear'd, upon a full Hearing, and by a Fifth of the Conspirators, who became an Evidence for the Prosecutor, That their whole Design was to get a Sum of Money from the last. In order to this, they had several Consultations; and it was propos'd among themselves, to enter into Bond, and take an Oath of Secrecy, for the more secure carrying on their villanous [sic] Designs. Several Witnesses prov'd, That Vaughan and Davis have made it their Trade a long time, to extort Money from many Persons upon such like Pretences; threatning otherwise, to ruin their Reputations. It was also prov'd, That Vaughan himself had own'd, he had got several Sums of Money that way, and that it was his Livelihood, and he would live by it. One Evidence depos'd, That at a Meeting of the Conspirators they would have suborn'd him to swear against the Apothecary, for the like Attempt of that unnatural Crime, upon him; but he, having never been in his Company, startled at the Villany, and rejected the Proposal. The Bench of Justices (there being a great number present) seem'd unanimously satisfied with the Innocency of the Prosecutor, and of the horrid and heinous Practices of the Conspirators; who being brought in Guilty by the Jury, were both sentenc'd by the Court, to be Whipt from Temple-Bar to Charing-Cross, and to stand in the Pillory at the May-Pole in the Strand, and fin'd 10l. each. They were a second time indicted for a Conspiracy to swear the same Crime against a Tallow-Chandler, and found Guilty. We hear there is a numerous Gang of these Criminals, who are reputed Sodomites, and have exacted Money upon the same Account, from several innocent and reputable Persons. (The Post Boy)

18-21 October 1707

London, Oct. 21. Yesterday 8 Persons were try'd, and convicted, at Guild-hall, of Preposterous Venery, viz. Tho. Lane, John Williams, William Huggins, Charles Marriot, Paul Booth, Benjamin Butler, John Blithe; and James Brooke, who pleaded Guilty to his Indictment. (The Post Boy)

21-23 October 1707

On Tuesday last, Davis and Vaughan, lately Convicted of accusing innocent Persons of the Sin of Sodomy, stood in the Pillory at the May-pole in the Strand, and were yesterday Whipt from Temple-Bar to Charing-Cross. (The Post Boy)

19 November 1707


Just publish'd,
The Case of Sodomy: In the Trial of Mervin Lord Audley, Earl of Castlehaven, for committing a Rape, and Sodomy with two of his Servants, viz. Laurence Fitz-Patrick, and Thomas Brodway [sic], who was try'd and condemn'd by his Peers, on the 25th of April, and beheaded on Tower-Hill, May 14, 1631, with his Articles of Belief, sent in a Letter to his Son, the Letter he sent to his four Sisters, and his Speech at the Place of Execution. Likewise the Tryal and Condemnation of Laurence Fitz-Patrick, and Thomas Brodway, who were Executed at Tyburn, July 6. with their last Dying Speeches. Printed from an original Manuscript. Sold by J. Morphew near Stationer'sHall, and by the Booksellers. Price 6d. (The Daily Courant; this advertisement is repeated in several issues)

2-4 December 1707

There stood in the Pillory yesterday at the Royal Exchange, one of the Persons convicted last Sessions at Guild Hall of Unnatural Lewdness. (The Post Man) [Also reported in The Post Boy for 2-4 December]

2-5 December 1707

Yesterday Two other of those Persons, lately convicted of Unnatural Lewdness, stood in the Pillory against the Monument, on Fishstreet-Hill. (The English Post)

4-6 December 1707

Two more of the Persons convicted last Sessions, in London, of unnatural Lewdness, were put in the Pillory, in the Monument-yard, on Thursday last; and another of 'em was put in the Pillory, yesterday, in the same Place. (The Post Boy) [Also reported in The Post Man for 4-6 December.]

5-8 December 1707

Last Saturday Two more of those Persons that were lately convicted of Unnatural Lewdness were set on the Pillory at Chancery-Lane-end in Fleet-street. (The English Post)

6-9 December 1707

Last Saturday and yesterday, there were (beside those already mentioned in our former) three others put in the Pillory at Temple-Bar, for unnatural Lewdness. (The Post Boy)

9-11 December 1707 On Monday last the last of the Persons Convicted last Sessions for Unnatural Lewdness, stood in the Pillory at Temple Bar, and as this Publick Punishment recommends the Zeal of such Persons, who out of sense of their Duty, endeavoured to suppress such Abominable Practices, so 'tis hoped will deter others from the like Offence. (The Post Man)

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.), "Newspaper Reports for 1707," Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. 11 August 2000, updated 15 June 2008 <>.

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