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

An Ecclesiastical Court Prosecution, 1726

NOTE: Even by mid-century, not all homosexual offences were tried in the Old Bailey or other civil courts. Some continued to be tried in the ecclesiastical courts, for example the following case in 1726, described in a pamphlet published in 1735.

That in some other Crimes, a Conviction at Common Law may be the Foundation of a Proceeding in an Ecclesiastical Court, cannot well be denied. William Townshend, Parish Clerk of Warminster, about the Year 1726, being prosecuted in the Ecclesiastical Court, in order to be deprived [i.e. be removed from his positioni], for several Acts of Sodomitical Lewdness, besides other Vices and Immoralities, applies for a Prohibition, whic was granted by the King's Bench, quoad the Sodomotical Lewdness, which was indictable at Common Law; what was left to the Power of the Ordinary, amounting to no further Censure than a Monition, the Proceedings stopped, and, notwithstanding the great Offence that it created, he continued to join with the Mnister in the Doxology, and sung on to the Praise and Glory of God. The Parish were at last so far scandalized, that an Indictment was preferred against him at the Expence of the Parish; he was convicted, punished, and then the Court granted a Consultation, that the Ordinary, upon that Conviction, might deprive him.

SOURCE: An Answer To a late Pamphlet, Entitled An Examination of the Scheme of Church Power laid down in the Codex Juris Ecclesiastici Anglicani, &c., By the Author of The Parallel [a certain Andrews], London: Printed for J. Roberts, 1735, p. 141.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "An Ecclesiastical Prosecution, 1726", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 31 May 2009.

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