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

Blackmail, a Hanging, and a Masquerade Ball

News Reports for 1724–1725


Friday 7 August 1724

Yesterday the Assizes ended at Kingston, when 13 Persons were convicted of Capital Crimes, viz. 12 Men and one Woman, among whom were John Poor, for feloniously entering in the Night Time the Mansion House of Alderman Parsons at Rygate in Surrey, with an Intent to rob the same, the Maid being very positive in her Evidence. A Person for the Riot in the King’s Bench Prison, and for the Murder of Francis Clifford. One upon the Mint Act, and another for Sodomy. The Woman pleaded her Belly, but a Jury of Matrons being impannel’d, they found her not pregnant. (Daily Journal)

Friday 7 August 1724

Yesterday the Assizes held at Kingston before Mr. Justice Dormer ended on the Crown Side, when 12 Malefactors receiv’d Sentence of death, of which Number there was one for Sodomy, and one of the Debtors in the King’s Bench Prison for the Riot that happen’d there, in which Murther was committed; but Mr. Perry, Mr. Burleigh, and the other Persons, who went in on the Part of the Marshall, are to be try’d at the next Assizes, and were accordingly order’d to give Bail for their Appearance. The Court sits again to Day on Nisi Prius. (The Daily Post)

Saturday 8 August 1724

On Monday the 3d Instant the Assizes for the County of Surrey began at Kingston ... the Number of Criminals try’d on the Crown Side, and of Causes on Nisi Prius were so many, that notwithstanding the Judge made the utmost Dispatch, he did not proceed to Condemnation till Thursday in the Afternoon, when 11 Men and one Woman receiv’d Sentence of Death, viz. Cross for the Highway, Jackson for Sodomy, Osburn on the Mint Act for Perjury, in swearing himself a Shelterer in Suffolk-Place when he was not so; Abbis for a Riot in the King’s Bench Prison; Poor for entering feloniously Mr. Alderman Parson’s House with an Intent to rob; Dunce, Eades, Visage, Edwards, Hammers, Clay, for Burglaries and Felonies, and Mary Setter for picking of Pockets. (The Daily Post)

Monday 10 August 1724

The Midsummer Assizes are now ended all over England, a great Number of unfortunate People have forfeited their Lives for Capital Crimes, as Rapes, Sodomy, Murders, Robberies, &c. but the Rigour of the Law hath, in many of these Cases, been mitigated, by a Mercy lodged in the Breasts of the Judges, and happily peculiar to the Lenity of the British Government. (The Daily Journal)

Thursday 20 August 1724

A Warrant is gone to Kingston upon Thames, for the Execution of the six following Malefactors there on Saturday next, viz. John Summers, James Edwards, Thomas Visage, and Thomas Eades, for House-breaking, John Cross for the Highway, and Samuel Claye for Felony. The other six Malefactors are reprieved, viz. Edward Abbis for the Riot in the King’s-Bench Prison, and William Osborne for Felony upon the Mint-Act, for six Weeks only, and John Poor for entering the House of Alderman Parsons in the Night-time. Oliver Jackson for Sodomy, Thomas Duince for House-breaking, and Mary Setter for picking Pockets, are reprieved in order for Transportation; and they have been brought from Kingston to the New County Goal in Southwark. (The Daily Journal)

Monday 24 August 1724

On Saturday last, six Malefactors were executed at Kingston upon Thames, among whom was Oliver Jackson, for the detestable Crime of Sodomy, the Emissio Seminis [emission of semen] being prov’d at his Tryal; two others are shortly to be executed at Kenington Gallows in the same County. (The Daily Journal)

Friday 28 August 1724

When the 6 Malefactors were executed last Saturday at Kingston, Oliver Jackson, who was hang’d for the detestable Sin of Sodomy, gave the Hangman a Guinea to fix the Knot of the Rope so that he might be soon out of his Pain; Th. Eades’s Wife, in his way to the Gallows, brought some Bread and Cheese to him in the Cart, telling him she would have brought him some cold boil’d Beef, but she fear’d it was not good, wherefore she desir’d him to eat heartily and go out of the World like a Man: When all six were ty’d up, and the Minister was praying with them, Thomas Visage, with an impudent Air, said he was an Enemy to Canting, and that he was brought thither to die, and not to pray; after which, he gave a spring out of the Cart, and was hang’d before the rest. (The Original London Post or Heathcote’s Intelligence)

Monday 7 September 1724

In the Whitehall Evening-Post of Saturday last it is said, We hear that a Tradesman near Covent-Garden is committed to the Gatehouse, Westminster, for Sodomy. The same is false and villainous, and is levell’d against a reputable Shopkeeper near Covent-Garden, with a design to ruin his Trade and Character. (The Daily Journal)

Saturday 19 September 1724

On Sunday Night a certain young Man going through Sweeting’s-Alley, at the East-End of the Royal-Exchange, about Eight at Night, it being very dark, ran against a Fellow who had placed himself in the midst of the Way, with his Privy-Member in his Hand. The Rascal immediately seizes the poor young Man, and bawls out, A Sodomite! a Sodomite! When instantly there came up a Person who appear’d like a Gentleman with his Sword by his Side, and asked what was the Matter; and was answer’d by the other Fellow, that the young Man he had there seiz’d was a Sodomite; that he had thrust his Hand into his Breeches, and taken out his Privities. Upon which the seeming Gentleman takes hold of the Youth also, and undertook to be Moderator. He desir’d the Accuser not to be too severe, and advised the young Man to make it up. The Accuser talked of having him to the Compter, or Newgate, or at least raising the Mob upon him, and having him thrown into a Horse-Pond; insomuch, that the innocent young Man was terrify’d almost out of his Senses. But finally, the feigned Moderator told him, That this Business was of dangerous Consequence; that ’twas a hanging Matter; and that he must give the Accuser a good Sum of Money to let him escape. The young Man, almost dead with the Fright, ask’d what he demanded: ’Twas answer’d three or four Guineas. He reply’d, he had not so much in the World. They asked him how much he had. He answer’d, about five or six Shillings; and at the same Time gave them six Shillings, which was all he had. Upon that they searched his Pockets, and took from him a Silver Medal. This they said would not do; and the villainous Mediator now told him, That he would also himself swear against him, being Witness that he had given the other Money to compromise the Matter; so that they asked him what he was, and where he lived; and learning that his Master was out of Town, they had the Impudence to go home with him to the very Door, believing they had wrought him up to borrow of the Maid, or to steal something to bribe them from making such an odious Accusation. But a Gentleman, who lodg’d in the House, being at home, and hearing the Story, after a long Time, the young Man’s Terror rendring him incapable of telling it very readily, upon this Gentleman’s going to the Door, the Villains made off, and escaped. (The British Journal) (See the report for 20 February 1725, below.)

Wednesday 30 December 1724

On Monday Night a Gang of 25 Persons in Masquerade Habits, suspected to be Sodomites, were apprehended in a House in Hart-street near Covent-Garden, and secur’d in several Prisons, in order to examination, some of whom we hear have before been convicted and stood in the Pillory for that filthy Crime. (The Daily Post)

2 January 1725

Last Monday Night a private Masquerade was held at a House near Drury Lane, of which the Justices of the Peace having previous Information upon Oath, issu’d a Warrant to the Constables, for apprehending such Persons as they should find there misbehaving themselves: Accordingly near 40 of them were apprehended, and secured that Night in the Gatehouse and other Places. And next Day they were carried before several of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace, who committed some of them to Bridewell, and bound over others to the next Sessions. We hear that tho’ several personated Emperors and Queens, few or none of ’em were above the Rank of Footmen or Scullions; that many of the Men were taken in Womens Cloaths, and generally go amongst themselves by Female Names or rather by the Names of the Racers at New-Market, such as Cochineal Sue; Flying Horse Moll, Green-pea Moll, Plump Nelly, &c. and that one of them was convicted last Sessions for an Attempt to commit Sodomy, which Crime the Assembly in general lies under the Imputation of. This ’tis hop’d will be a Warning to Tradesmen and theirWives, Servants, Apprentices, &c. who frequently are decoy’d into such unlawful Assemblies, as was the Case of some at the aforesaid Meeting, who we are inform’d were discharged, on Promise not to resort to such Places any more. (The Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer)

Saturday 2 January 1725

On Monday Night last, several Men and Women in disguised Habits, were apprehended in a House in Hart-Street, Covent-Garden, many of them suspected to be Sodomites, one having been convicted last Sessions for Sodomitical Practices: They were confined that Night in the Gatehouse, and other Places, and the next Day were carried before several Justices of the Peace, who proceeded against them according to Law, which, ’tis hop’d, will be a Warning to Tradesmen and their Wives, Servants, Apprentices, &c. who frequently are decoy’d into such unlawful Assemblies, as was the Case of some at the aforesaid Meeting, who, we are informed, were discharged, on Promise not to resort to such Places any more. (The Weekly Journal or Saturday’s-Post)

Saturday 2 January 1725

On Monday Night last above Twenty Persons, supposed to be Sodomists, in regard some of the Gang have been convicted of, and stood in the Pillory for that filthy Crime, were apprehended in a House in Hart Street, near Covent Garden, in Masquerade Habits, and secured in several Prisons, in order to Examination. (The London Journal)

Thursday 4 January 1725

This Day's written Letter, verbatim, London, Decem. 29.

Mr. Jones, Head Constable of Holburn [sic], last Night seized at the Two Blue Posts in Hare-street, near Covent Garden, 25 Persons belonging to a Club who have met frequiently in Masquerade Habits, to perpetuate, as is supposed, the hainous [sic] Sin of Sodomy. Several of these taken, 'tis assured, have stood in the Pillory for such Practices. (Caledonian Mercury)

Monday 18 January 1725

London, Jan. 9. . . . Yesterday three of the White-hart Club, vulgarly call'd Sodomites, were discharg'd out of Tothill Fields Bridewell, viz. a Cook to a Nobleman in Palmall [sic]; a Master Taylor, and a Man who kept a Dairy Cellar at the other End of the Town. (Caledonian Mercury)

23 January 1725

Twenty of the Persons who were lately apprehended in Disguis’d and Masquerade Habits, in Hart-Street, Covent-Garden, dancing and misbehaving themselves, and obstructing and opposing the Peace-Officers in Execution of their Duty, and for which they were bound to this Sessions to answer the same, were continued over to the next Sessions. (The Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer)

23 January 1725

[On Tuesday Night last the Sessions ended at the Old Bailey.] The two Persons found Guilty of a Misdemeaner [sic] for threatning to swear an Attempt to commit Sodomy, against a young Man, Apprentice to a Linnen-Draper, and thereby extorting Money from him, were sentenc’d to pay a Fine of 20l. a-piece, to stand twice in the Pillory, once on Tower-Hill, and once at Cheapside-Conduit, and to suffer six Months Imprisonment. (The Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer) (This was also reported in The London Journal the same day.)

Sunday 28 January 1725

From the Evening Post, Jan. 21.

London, Jan. 21. At the Sessions of Oyer and Terminer and of the Peace held for the County of Middlesex, at Hickshall in St. Johns-street, the 14th, 15th & 16th Days of January 1725, the several Persons following were convicted and sentenced, viz.
* * *
Twenty of the Persons who were lately apprehended in Disguis'd and Masquerade Habits, in Hart-Street, Covent-Garden, dancing and misbehaving themselves, and obstructing and opposing the Peace Officers in Execution of their Duty, and for which they were bound to this Sessions to answer the same, were continued over to the next Sessions.
* * *
The two Persons found guilty of a Misdemeanor for threatning to swear an Attempt to commit Sodomy, against a young Man, apprentice to a Linen Draper, and thereby extorting |Money from him, were sentenc'd to pay a Fine of 20 l. a-piece, to stand twice in the Pillory, once on Tower Hill, and once at Cheapside-Conduit, and to suffer six Months Imprisonment. (Caledonian Mercury)

20 February 1725

On Saturday last Benjamin Goddard and Richard Rustead suffer’d Part of the Sentence past upon them at the late Sessions in the Old-Baily, by standing in the Pillory at Cheapside Conduit, for a Misdemeanor, in conspiring to charge falsely one Robert Wise a young Man in creditable Business, with an Intention to commit Sodomy, and by that means extorting from him a Diamond Ring and several Sums of Money. The Populace paid them at the same Time their usual Benevolence inthe Wooden Ruff very plentifully. (The Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer) (See also the report for 19 September 1724, above, and the report immediately below.)

Saturday 20 February 1725

On Saturday last Goddard and Rustead, who were convicted at the late Sessions at the Old Bailey, of conspiring to charge falsely, a young Gentleman, wiht an Intention to commit Sodomy, (from whom they extorted a Diamond Ring and several Sums of Money) suffer’d one part of their Sentence, by standing in the Pillory at Cheapside Conduit. The Populace shewed a just Detestation of such infamous Practices, for they were most severely pelted; and no doubt but they will meet with the same Treatment on Tower Hill, where they are also to wear the wooden Ruff; after whIch they are to suffer Six Months Imprisonment, in pursuance of the Sentence pass’d on them at the said Sessions. (The London Journal) (See the full text of their trial.)

Thursday 31 May 1725

From the London Journal, May 22.

We hear that one of the Masters of a noted School in Essex is charged with committing the abominable Sin of Sodomy with some of his Schollars [sic], and that Warrants being issued for apprehending him, he has absconded. (Caledonian Mercury)

18 December 1725

John Jones, a Boy, was sentenc’d to stand in the Pillory at Lime-Street, and to pay a Fine of 20 Marks, for extorting Money from a Gentleman by threatning to swear Sodomy against him. (Mist’s Weekly Journal)


SOURCE: Various newspapers, as noted above, throughout the years 1724 and 1725.
CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Blackmail, a Hanging, and a Masquerade Ball, 1724-1725," Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. 31 August 2002; updated 10 December 2014 <http://www.rictornorton.co.uk/eighteen/1724news.htm>.


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