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

The Dutch Purge of Homosexuals, 1730


Introduction

The major anti-gay purge of the eighteenth century occurred in the Netherlands. In April 1730 some men were arrested in Utrecht; they incriminated others, and on 21 July the States of Holland issued a Placat, posted in every town, that set off wide-scale persecution. The document began with the customary warnings about the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, then lamented that no laws had heretofore been provided to punish "this execrable crime of sodomy", and concluded with its measures for obliterating this evil: that sodomy be punished by death, that those who offer their homes for its commission also die, that their corpses be burned to ashes and thrown into the sea "or exposed as unworthy of burial", that the names of the convicted — including the fugitives — be publicly posted, and that the magistrates be specially authorised to investigate thoroughly any suspicions, particularly against those who mysteriously flee the province.

Some 250 men were summoned before the authorities; 91 faced decrees of exile for not appearing. At least 60 men were sentenced to death. For example: In Amsterdam, Pieter Marteyn Janes Sohn and Johannes Keep, decorator, were strangled and burnt, 24 June 1730; Maurits van Eeden, house servant, and Cornelis Boes, age 18, Keep's servant, were each immersed alive in a barrel of water and drowned, 24 June; Laurens Hospuijn, Chief of Detectives in the Navy, was strangled and thrown into the water with a 100-pound weight, 16 September. At The Hague, Frans Verheyden, Cornelis Wassemaar, milkman, Pieter Styn, embroiderer of coats, Dirk van Royen, and Herman Mouilliont, servant, were hanged and afterwards thrown into the sea at Scheveningen with 50-pound weights, 12 June; Pieter van der Hal, grain carrier, Adriaen Kuyleman, glove launderer, David Muntslager, agent, and Willem la Feber, tavern keeper, were hanged and thrown into the sea with 100-pound weights, 21 July. In Kampen: Jan Westhoff and Steven Klok, soldiers, were strangled on the scaffold and buried under the gallows, 29 June. In Rotterdam, Leendert de Haas, age 60, candlemaker, Casper Schroder, distiller, Huibert v. Borselen, gentleman's servant, were strangled, burnt, and their ashes carried in an ash cart out of the city and then by ship to the sea and thrown overboard, 17 July. And at Zuidhorn, at least twenty-two men were executed on 24 September 1731, including Gerrit Loer, age 48, farmer; Hendrik Berents, age 32; Jan Berents, age 19 — all scorched while alive and then strangled and burnt to ashes; twelve others aged 20-45 were strangled and burnt; and eight youths aged 16-19 were strangled and burnt, including Jan Ides, age 18, who said upon hearing his sentence: "I forgive you for the sin which you have committed against me."

It seems as though most of the men were literally "guilty" of being homosexual, that is, this is properly described as a pogrom or a reign of terror, rather than a hysterical witch-hunt which rounded up "innocent" people falsely accused of being witches. The astonishing purges of 1730 were widely reported in the English newspapers (mainly in June and July), and probably sent men running for cover even in England. The English news reports also state that many Dutch sodomites fled to England — where they unfortunately were not accorded the same reception as refugees from religious persecution. One of these men was probably Peter Vivian whose trial I reproduce on another page. Hendrick Froomcliff arrested in London in June was also probably a Dutch refugee. Early in July the Dutch Government persuaded the British Government to suppress reports in the English press.

(Note: European countries adopted the Gregorian or New Style calendar long before Britain, with the result that reports from the Hague dated "N.S." are eleven days "ahead of" Britain. This is why some reports from the Hague are dated the same day or even a day later than the British newspaper they were published in, despite requiring time to reach Britain overseas.
The reports related to this Dutch purge are grouped together, followed by gay-relevant reports from the British press.)

Rictor Norton


6 June 1730

Hague, June 6.   There is a miserable Scene of Iniquity lately open'd in these Countries. It is about a Fortnight since the Court of Holland have had under Prosecution Seven young Persons for the detestable Sin of Sodomy, formerly unknown in these Parts, and confined to the South Side of the Alps: Several have been seized upon this Score at Leyden, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Campen, and in short in almost all the Provinces. Men talk of a List of 5 or 600 of these unnatural Wretches. (London Journal)

8 June 1730

We hear by the last Mail from Holland, that seven Persons convicted for Sodomy had been executed at the Hague, and that 13 others were to be executed at Amsterdam; and that several Persons of Distinction, accused of the like Crime, absconded, and among them some eminent Merchants. (The Daily Journal. The identical report was reprinted verbatim in several newspapers, e.g. Fog's Weekly Journal for 13 June; and The Country Journal, or the Craftsman for 13 June.)

11 June 1730

Twenty-two Persons, convicted of Sodomy, have been publickly executed in Holland, and 'tis believed some Persons who were missing and suspected thereof, have been privately executed. (The Daily Journal)

11 June 1730

Private Letters by the Mail Yesterday from Holland say, that near 200 Persons, some of which of considerable Note had absconded, being accused or suspected by Sodomitical Practices. (Caledonian Mercury)

13 June 1730

Hague, June 13.   On the 6th I wrote you some Account of the Progress the detestable Sin of Sodomy had lately made in these Countries; and that there were Seven young Persons under Prosecution for the same: I hinted at the same time, that if any of them were found Guilty, they would meet with a Fate in some measure adequate to their Crime. Now this serves to acquaint you, that Yesterday Seven of those vile Wretches were, after Conviction, publickly executed here, though if Money could have been of any Use to them, (I am sorry to say it) none would perhaps have been wanting to commute the Punishment: But, to the immortal Honour of the Courts of Justice in these Provinces, there is no Respect of Persons in such Cases. The Seven first Persons above-mentioned were first hanged, then Two of them burnt, and the other Five carried to Scheveling, and thrown into the Sea. (London Journal)

13 June 1730

Twenty two Persons, convicted of Sodomy, have been publickly executed in Holland; and ’tis believed some Persons, who were missing and suspected thereof, have been privately executed. (London Journal)

13–20 June 1730

Many Persons accused of Sodomy in Holland, are come hither in Passage Boats for their Safety; and we learn by private Letters and Passengers, that besides the 28 formerly executed, 15 more are to be hanged next thursday, and a Dutch Parson to be burnt alive at Rotterdam; 'tis added, that there are great Tumults in Holland, on Account, as 'tis said, that some of the wealthiest of them had not been publickly executed; the Estates of those who are fled, as well as those executed, besides what pays their Debts, we hear are all forfeited to the Publick. (Ipswich Journal)

17 June 1730 [Wednesday]

On Thursday last, betimes in the Morning, it was observed by the Populace at Amsterdam, that 16 Coffins were carried from their City-House, or Guildhall, which Coffins were supposed to contain Bodies that had been privately executed for Sodomy, of the richer Sort of People; and that Morning about 29 Persons, of mean Extraction, were to have been publickly executed for the like Crime, but the Populace arising in Arms, and demanding publick Execution of the Rich as well as of the Poor, (there then being about 300 of all Ranks in Prison in that City, accused of that Crime, and some of them of great Note and Substance) the Magistrates were oblig'd to send to the Hague for Assistance to quell this Mob, which was very outrageous; upon which 1000 Soldiers were sent to their Assistance. A List is published of those vile Wretches that are now in Custody. Several Gentlemen that were gone to their Country Seats, were returned to their Places of Abode, partly to take Care of their own Affairs, in this dangerous Time, and partly to convince People of their being free from any Fear or Apprehension. The same Cause had occasioned the like Tumults at the Hague, Rotterdam, &c. We hear, that, hoping to appease the People, the Magistrates promised a Number of Persons of Distinction should be publickly executed as Tomorrow, on which Day a Parson was to be burnt alive at Rotterdam. (The Daily Journal. The identical report was reprinted verbatim in other newspapers, e.g. The Weekly Journal, or The British Gazeteer for 20 June; and The Country Journal, or the Craftsman for 20 June.)

19 June 1730

They write from Holland, that on the 7th of June, N.S. by Order of the High Court of Holland, the following Persons were publickly cited to appear before them on Monday the 3d of July following, on Pain of Banishment and Confiscation of their Estates, to answer to such Crimes as should be laid to their Charge, viz.

Mr. Jacob Cornelise Backer, Sheriff of Buuren.
Ockeze, Lord of Schonewal.
Johan van Meeuwen, of Hynsburg.
Mr. Jacob van Wouw, High Officer of Delft.
Gerrit de Witte, Ensign in the Foot Guards.
Cornelis Simonis.
Petrus de Vos, of the Hospital by the English Church.
Pieter Schoute.
Boudewyn, late a Servant.
Abraham Lapeer, a Mat-Seller.
Duziroo, a Peruke-Maker.
Gerrit Stronk.
Maatys, late a Servant.
Jan Degenaar, alias Ruytie.
Samuel Cohen de Wallenzo, alias Belgrado, a Portuguese Jew.
(The Daily Journal)

20 June 1730

By Yesterday's Holland Mail we learn, that the Common People were pretty well appeased, some more Sodomites having been publickly executed, and being assured there will be no more suffer in private. (The Daily Journal)

20 June 1730

We are informed, that some of the Sodomites who lately made their Escape from Holland, are safely arrived here; but, however, they have taken up their Quarters in a certain End of this vertuous Town, where they will hardly be able to corrupt their Neighbours. (Fog's Weekly Journal. This report was reprinted on 25 June in The Grub-street Journal, with their own editorial comment: "I am of opinion, that all Ends are very secure.")

Hague, June 27. N.S. [The Dutch calendar differed from the British calendar.] The prosecution of the Sodomites here is carried on with a rigour in some sort answerable to the heinousness of their crime; the guilty being made most terrible examples, without respect of persons. Beside the 7 formerly mentioned, 2 have been burnt, and 2 publicly drowned on a scaffold at Amsterdam. All the towns seem to be infected with this unnatural sin. The prisons are full at Leyden, Delft, Rotterdam, here, and at Amsterdam. In short, all ranks are infected to that degree, that the magistrates are almost at a loss, how to extinguish this infernal heat. (The Grub-street Journal, citing The Post-Boy)

25 June 1730

Why's Letter Verbatim, London, June 20.
An English Gentleman who has been some Time in Holland, and lately come from thence, gives this Account of the Occasion of such a general Discovery of Sodomy in that Country, viz. That a young Man who had the foul Disease applying himself to a Surgeon for Cure, the Surgeon, from a Motive of Suspicion, refused to take him under his Care unless he would tell him the Occasion of his Malady, which he accordingly did, and likewise impeached a Gang of Sodomites, and the Houses they frequented; which coming to the Ears of the Minsiters of Amsterdam, they made strong Representations to the Magistrates for publick Justice to be inflicted on the guilty, adding, that without it, their Preaching would be in a manner useless: Upon which Numbers of them were immediately taken up, who impeached one another. (Caledonian mercury)

27 June 1730

Rotterdam, July 5. N.S. The Prosecution of the Sodomites is carried on with the utmost Rigour (The Daily Journal)

4 July 1730

Hague, July 7.   The Baron Van Renswoude, First Noble of the Province of Utrecht, does not yet appear, but is said to be gone to Venice. Be that as it will, he has been formally divested of all his Employs, and was charged home by several of the Wretches executed both at the Hague and at Utrecht, who gave him the horrid Appellation of Bougre Bougrissimo [Greatest of all Buggers]. This is the more extraordinary, because he is on the wrong Side of 70. At Amsterdam there has been a sort of Decimation introduced; Four of those detested Criminals have been publickly executed there, Two of them were half strangled, then burnt with Straw; and the other Two cast into large Tons [tuns, barrels], and drown’d upon a Stage. After this, they were all Four carry’d and thrown into the Zuyder Zee, where 30 others were drown’d in Sacks a few Days before, with Cannon Bullets at their Feet. The second Citations against some that disappear, were expected the 3d or 4th Instant, but were postponed, as it is presumed, till the State has made a more severe Law against that abominable Vice. (London Journal)

8 July 1730

Some Persons have lately been executed in Holland for the detestable Crime of Sodomy, to wit, seven at the Hague, and four at Amsterdam, and some are still under Prosecution; but we are credibly inform'd that this Affair has been very much misrepresented and magnified: And that the Particulars in the Paragraph in this Paper of June the 17th, and in several other Papers in the Article of London, relating to the Prosecution and Punishment of some Persons at Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and the Hague, are entirely false and groundless, and seem to have been calculated and designed to give a bad Impression of the Magistrates, and of the good Inhabitants of the principal Towns in Holland, of which the Minister of their High Mightinesses at this Court hath made Complaints to the Government, in order to prevent such groundless Stories being inserted in the publick Papers for the future. (The Daily Journal) (A nearly identical 'retraction' was published in the London Journal on 11 July, differing slightly in its closing lines: 'And we are assured, that the Minister of their High Mightinesses at this Court has made Complaints to the Government, in order to have the Authors of such vile Reports discovered and punished. We thought proper to publish this, to discourage News-writers from publishing false Accounts of Affairs, and to undeceive their Readers, whomay have too easily given Credit to these false and groundless Relations.']

9 July 1730

Saturday, July 4. We are credibly informed, that a Paragraph in the S. James's Even. Post, June 18. and one in the D. Journal, June 17. both relating to the prosecution and punishing some persons for Sodomy at Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and the Hague, is [are] intirely false and groundless, &c. And we are assured, that the Minister of their H. Mightinesses has made complaints to the Government, in order to have the Authors discovered and punished. We thought proper to publish this to discourage News-writers, from publishing false accounts, &c. — We may, no doubt, expect soon an account, either that no such executions, as lately mentioned, have been in Holland, or that they were the punishments of other crimes. (The Grub-street Journal, citing The Whitehall Evening Post)

Hague, July 11. N.S. [The Dutch calendar differed from the British calendar.] The States of Holland being informed, that some of the London News-papers had exaggerated the story of the Sodomites in their country; and made mention of disturbances, and other circumstances, for which there was no ground; they proposed to send instructions to Mynheer Hop to complain thereof, that the said persons may be more cautious for the future. (The Grub-street Journal, citing The Post-Boy)

23 July 1730

Foreign News. July 18. Yesterday three Sodomites were executed at Rotterdam, by being strangled and burnt with straw. There was executed at the same time a man for counterfeiting the coin, who did nothing but deplore his misfortune of dying in such company. (The Grub-street Journal, citing The St. James's Evening Post)

Hague, July 25. N.S. [The Dutch calendar differed from the British calendar.] This day a Placaert [sic] of the States of Holland and West-Friesland was sent to the Towns to be published, concerning the commission of the detestable sin of Sodomy, and ordering that for the future it shall be openly punish'd with death, &c. (The Grub-street Journal, citing The Post-Boy)

25 July 1730

From Mr. S&\151;&\151;n's Letter, July 16.
They write . . . from Rotterdam, that there were t'other Day executed there, three Sodomites, by being strangled and burnt with Straw; there was executed at the same Time a Man for Counterfeiting the Coin, who did nothing but deplore his Misfortune of dying in such Company, being in his own Sentiments an honest, though unfortunate Man; we suppose he spoke Comparatively. As they were putting the Bodies of the Sodomites into a Boat to carry them to the Sea, the Plank slid away, by which Accident the Schout [local administrative official], and eight or ten other Persons fell into the Water, and were in Danger of being drowned. The next Day four more of the Wretches were to be executed at Delft. There are now but 2 Prisoners upon that Score at Amsterdam. (Newcastle Courant)

24 August 2730

Hague, Aug. 23. Yesterday Nine Persons more accused of Sodomy, all of the richest Fammilies, among whom is a French Refugee, were summoned a second time: But they are all withdrawn. The Refuigee was a Person of seeming great Piety, whose Daughter was lately married to a Minister of one of the French Churches in London, whither he is supposed to have fled. (Caledonian Mercury)

29 August 1730

Hague, Sept. 1.   Last Week a Dutch Minister at Viana, three Leagues from Utrecht, absconded by Night from that Place, being accused of Sodomy, not only by and with some of those who have been lately executed, but by others whom he has endeavoured to seduce to that unnatural Crime; and ’tis said he was so harden’d in his Iniquity, that he has attempted to prove, from Pasages of Scripture, that it was not only not a Sin, but a Practice more acceptable to the Deity, than the Love of Women! (London Journal)

19 September 1730

Hague, Sept. 19.   The Arch-Hypocrite Mor——n and others accused of the Unnatural Crime of Sodomy have been cited a 2d time, and ’tis thought that on their not appearing for their Justification at the 3d Citation, that they will be condemned to be hanged in Effigie. (London Journal)

26 September 1730

Hague, Sept. 29.   The living Evidences against a Dutch Clergyman, who has been accused of Sodomitical Practices, having absented or been removed by his Interest, (for he is rich,) he came back last Week to his House. He was sent for by the Magistrates, but declin’d going on Account of an Indisposition; whereupon they sent an open Waggon to his House, with Orders to the Officers to bring him, willing or not; and he was accordingly brought in his Night-Gown to the State-House, where he was examined, which Examination is still kept secret, but he was afterwards permitted to return home on Bail. (London Journal)

10 October 1730

Hague, October 10.   Since the Return of the Clergyman belonging to Viana, there have been no less than Twelve Persons executed publickly in Leward in Friseland, for the unnatural Act of Sodomy: and last Friday the Provost of the Cathedral of Utrecht was also executed for the said Crime; but, thro’ the Intercession of his Friends, his Execution was in private, — As several of those that suffer’d have accus’d many others, Yesterday a Council was held on that Occasion. Upon which Two Persons have absented themselves; and an Enquiry is order’d after the others accused. (London Journal)

15 October 1730

Hague, Oct. 30 [N.S.]. Mons. M——n has been cited a 3d time by the Court of Holland, for Sodomy; and the Fiscal has order'd an inventory to be taken of his effects. (The Grub-street Journal, citing The Post-Boy)

Friday 12 October 1731

Hague, Oct. 9. Since the 5th Inst. we have had a great Number of Sentences affixed up at all the Corners of the Streets and other usual Places, against the Sodomites who are fled abroad; and a List of their Names has been printed by Order of the Court of Justice of Holland. Those Sentences are to the amount of 35; an Extract of one of which I have sent you for a Specimen; and the rather, because it is against one of the richest and most notorious of all that abominable Tribe.
       The court of Holland having seen the Conclusion of the Attorney General of Holland, Zealand and Friesland, taken in the Name of the Sovereignty and County of the said Provinces, against John-Francis de Morin, who lived here at the Hague, and was summoned, but conceals himself in contempt of the Court.
       The said Court having maturely weighed and examined, in full Council, every thing relating to the said Affair, doing Justice in the Name of the Sovereignty and County of Holland, Zealand and Friesland, have, for such his Contempt, verified by the Attorney General, precluded, and by virtue of these Presents they do preclude the said Morin from all Exceptions whatsoever, or other Delays of Justice, which he might have made use of if he had appeared; and also banishes him for ever, for the Crime of Sodomy by him committed, from the Countries of Holland, Zealand, Friesland and Utrecht, whither he is never to return upon Pain of greater Punishment; discharging the Attorney-General of his other conclusions and Demands taken against the said Morin; condemning the said Morin to pay Costs of Suit, as they are taxed by this Court. Done at the Hague the 5th of October, 1731.
           John Thierry Register.
N.B. All those who are included in this Condemnation are banished for ever; but some of them are forbid to return into the Jurisdiction upon Pain of Death; among whom is the famous Poet le Grange. (Caledonian Mercury)


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, The Dutch Purge of Homosexuals, 1730," Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. Updated 13 September 2000; reorganized and expanded 21 July 2002; updated 23 July 2018 <http://www.rictornorton.co.uk/eighteen/1730news.htm>.


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