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

Address to the Grand Jury


Before I finish the Part of the my Office, which I am this Day entrusted wtih by the Court, and dismiss you from your present Attendance; I cannot forbear taking particular Notice of His Majesty's Royal Proclamation for the Incouragement of Piety and Virtue, and for the presenting and punishing of Vice, Profaneness, and Immorality: The Reading of it publickly in open Court, is certainly one Part of the Duty of the Court, but not the whole; for His Majesty, as you have heard, doth likewise direct and command His Judges of Assize at their Assizes, and Justices of the Peace at their General Quarter Sessions, to give strict Charges for [p.36] the effectual prosecuting all Offenders of all Sorts and Kinds therein mentioned. And can we then well free our selves from the Imputation of Neglect, Disregard, and Disrespect, nay, will not the Crime rise higher still, if we refuse herein to comply with His Majesty's most reasonable, just, and beneficial Command? The Rings asserted, directed, and commanded in this whole Proclamation, from first to last, are so good as themselves, so honourable, praise-worthy, and for the apparent Advantage of the Publick, that I dare appeal to the Judgment and Conscience of every one in this Audience, whether if they were entirely and universally complied with and obeyed, they would not make us an unspeakably happy and glorious Nation and Kingdom? My Appeal, GENTLEMEN, is to your Judgments, to your cool deliberate Thoughts and Sentiments, upon due Reflection andConsideration; but not to Mens Passions, Appetites, inordinate and irregular Desires: And while we pretend to be Men, I hope we shall all allow, that our Understandings and Reason, and not our sensible Appetites and Passions, ought to determine this Controversy; All that His Majesty lays doen in this solemn important Charge is good in it self, in the Reason and Nature of the Things directed and commanded, and doth not depend barely, or only on His Royal Will and Pleasure: And shall we not then [p.37] have a more particular Reverence and Regard, nay, I may say, a Delight, Affection, and Pleasure, in this Charge and Royal Commandment, when the Matters and Things contained in it, are not there purely to shew His Soveraign Authority, but are in their own Nature and Tendency evidently for our Good, and for the Honour, Safety, and Profit of the Community to which we belong; or else guarding against those Evils or Offences that must destroy and undermine these. To give some particular Instances; Will any say thata excessive Drinkintg, Blasphemy, prophane Swearing and Cursing, Lewdness, Prophanation of the Lord's-Day, publick and excessive Gaming, private Gaming on the Lord's-Day, and all other dissolute, immoral, and disorderly Practices; (some of the Offences His Majesty commands us to give you in Charge to prosecute and punish Offenders for) will any, I say, seriously assert these, or any of these, to be Things praise-worthy, or even innocent and harmless, nay, not mischievous and prejudicial, and must less still for the real Good and Benefit of any Government and Body Politick, where they domineer and bare Rule. Recollect, GENTLEMEN, how many of your Relations, Friends, and Acquaintance, in the several Parts and Places of this County from whence you come, or elsewhere, nay they perhaps and their numerous Families have not only been hurt or shatter'd, [p.38] but beggar'd, ruined, and undone, by one or more of those destructive and impoverishing Vices. The Experience of every one of you more or less, will, I doubt not, confirm my Assertion.

Among the lewd, dissolute, immoral, and disorderly Practices, which His Majesty commands us to give you a strict Charge to Present and Prosecute, there is one entitled to each of those Demonimations, and of that enormous, flagrant, horrid Nature, that I had much rather not mention it, did not the Necessity of the Case require it; but it would, in our present Circumstances, not only be an unjustifiable Modesty, but even almost an unpardonable Crime to be silent here, where the Legal Remedy and Method of Cure is to be prescribed; when in our Publick Prints, from Week to Week, and almost from Day to Day, it is published and declared in all Parts of the Town and Kingdom; I mean, vile, detestable Sodomy, and abominable Sodomitical Practices: Men now, as the Descdription is of the Heathen World of old, dishonour their own Bodies between themselves, burn in Lust one toward another, Men with Men, working that which is unseemly, and most hateful; and notwithstanding they know the Judgment of God, and the Law, that those that do these Thints are worthy of Death, not only do these Things themselves, but have Pleasure in them that do them. And shall not the just Terrors, [p.39] Vengeance, and Punishment of the Law, fall upon these unnatural, odious, base, and filthy Criminals? Shall not every Man in his Place and Station rise up against these mortal Enemies to humane Nature, and the humane Race? The Countenance and Encouragement the Government hath already given, to root out this pestilent, detestable Evil, by an Order to prosecute the Offenders in this Kind: The Assiduity, Labour, and Pains taken by the Magistrates of the City and County, for the apprehending, examining, committing, or binding in good Securities, many charged with these flagitious Crimes; and the indefatigable Diligence, Vigour, and Spirit used and manifested by Officers, and others their Assistants, in order to bring them to Justice: These are noble and glorious Eamples; these are excellent and worthy Patterns to be set before you, GENTLEMEN of the Grand-Jury, to excite and encourage you to do your part, that is, diligently to enquire, and faithfully to Present all such Offenders of this sort and Kind, as shall by proper, sufficient Proof and Evidence come to your Knowledge. [p.40]

SOURCE: The Second Charge of Sr. Daniel Dolins, Kt. to the Grand-Jury, And other Juries of the County of Middlesex; At the General Quarter-Sessions of the Peace Held at the Eighteenth Day of April, 1726. at Westminster-Hall, Printed at the Desire of the Justices of the Peace for the County, and the Jury of High-Constables and Constables, London: Printed for Samuel Chandler, at the Cross-Keys in the Poulty, 1726.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Address to the Jury, 1726" Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. 27 April 2014 <>.

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