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

Newspaper Reports, 1755

Saturday 8 February 1755

Last Night, about Nine o'clock, two Fellows were surprized in some Sodomitical Practices in the Temple; one of whom, who was very handsomely dressed in laced Cloaths, made his Escape by getting into the Temple Garden, and jumping over the Wall into the Mud. The other they carried to a Pump, stripped him almost naked, and pumped him till he was almost dead. (Oxford Journal)

Saturday 8 March 1755

The Norfolk Farmers having, in their Petition to the Parliament, set forth, that they apprehend the Disease among the Horned Cattle is communicated by Dogs, and therefore pray for such Relief as the House shall think expedient. And as many People imagine, that this will occasion a Massacre among those Animals, which would give abundance of Gentlemen, Ladies, &c. a great deal of Uneasiness, it is submitted whether the obliging the Keepers of Dogs to castrate them, won't answer the End in Time as well as destroying them all at once; and if this Thought should meet with Approbation, it is to be wished, that a Clause might be added, that the Stallion Breed, distinguished by the Title of Sodomites, were to undergo the same Operation for the future, which may probably put a Stop to that exotic Race of Monsters. (Oxford Journal)

12–15 March 1755

A few Days since died in Newgate, one Jethro Vachell, who was convicted, and sentenced to stand in the Pillory, and to be transported for seven Years, for Perjury, and Subornation of Perjury, having procured several Soldiers to swear Sodomy against divers Persons of Character and Fortune. (Whiehall Evening Post)

Saturday 19 April 1755

Extract of a Letter from Banbury, Oxfordshire, April 10.
          "This Morning J— D—, Esq; was taken up here for Sodomitical Practices, upon the Oath of Obadiah Baker, of Hawys, near Brackley in Northamptonsire, for Usage to him (not proper to be here mentioned) on the 6th and 8th of March last, at his Lodgings in Westminster, and is bound to appear at Hicks's-Hall, and Obadiah Baker is bound in a Bond of 100 l. to prosecute him. D— has been suspected of such Practices upwards of twenty Years, but being a Man of considerable Fortune, and fond of Law, has been the Reason why those People, on whom he made his Attempts, were fearful of meddling with him, he generally attacking the lower Sort." (Oxford Journal)

Saturday 7 June 1755

Two Persons of Figure were apprehended this Afternoon, being charged with Sodomitical Practices; and as they were taken down St. Martin's Lane, the Mob rose upon them, and stopped the Coach; and wou'd have dragged them out, had they not been prevented by the Constables and their Attendants. (Oxford Journal)

28 June – 1 July 1755

This Morning J— D—, of Banbury in Oxfordshire, Esq; mention'd some Time since in this Paper, appear'd at Hicks's-Hall, to take his Trial for Sodomitical Practices; but his Counsel, after a long Dispute, moved to have the Trial put off 'till To-morrow Morning; but before they had quite agreed so to do, D—, not liking the Discourse, took to his Heels, and went clear off. His Bail was 1000 l. (London Evening Post)

3–5 July 1755

On Wednesday last J— D—, Esq; who stood indicted for Sodomitical Practices, surrender'd himself at Hicks's-Hall, and took his Trial, which lasted upwards of five Hours, when the Jury found him guilty. He was fin'd Fifty Pounds, and is to suffer one Month's Imprisonment. (London Evening Post)

Tuesday 8 July 1755

          Yesterday J— D— surrender'd himself, and took his Trial, which lasted more than five Hours, when the Jury found him guilty. (Leeds Intelligencer)

Tuesday 8 July 1755

The Gentleman tried and found guilty at Hick's Hall for Sodomitical Practices, was fined 50 l. and to suffer one Month's Imprisonment. (Leeds Intelligencer)

Saturday 2 August 1755

At the Assizes at Coventry, Joseph Wright and Thomas Grimes were capitally convicted for Sodomy. (Oxford Journal)

Tuesday 5 August 1755

We hear from Cirencester that on Tuesday se'nnight Mr John Capps, Steward to the Right Hon. the Lord Bathurst, and who had for some Time been observed to be greatly troubled in his Mind, after having given some Directions to the Workmen, went up into his Chamber and shot himself through the Head. This rash Action could not be caused by any Misconduct in his Accounts, as they were settled with the greatest Exactness; but the following Letter, which he wrote just before he shot himself, shews (it is thought) the Cause of his Trouble, viz.:

"My Lord, I solemnly declare before Almighty God, and as I hope for Pardon for all my Sins and Offences, I am innocent of that beastly and detested Sin of Sodomy, and that I loath and abhor it as much as any Man. I don't write this to vindicate myself to a World I shall soon leave, and soon be forgotten by; but that your Lordship would have that Charity not to think the worse of those Persons who have laid the Imputation on me, and have taken the Advantage of my Imbecility of Spirit. I could bear Poverty, but not Shame. I hope Mrs. S—— will do me the Justice to relate the Conversation that lately passed between us, and of a casual Circumstance."
(Leeds Intelligencer; the Caledonian Mercury for 7 Aug. reported the same story.)

21–23 August 1755

Aldeburgh in Suffolk, Aug. 13, 1755.
WHEREAS Oath has been made before John Jex, Esq; one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the said County of Suffolk, of the Act of Sodomy being committed by T—s W—e, a Lieutenant belonging to the Royal Navy of Great Britain, on the Body of R—t H—n, a Journeyman Blacksmith: And whereas the said T—s W—e is fled from Justice, there are therefore to give Notice, That whoever will apprehend the said T—s W—e, and carry him before any of his Majesty's Justice of the Peace, so that he may be brought to condign Punishment, shall, on his Commitment to Prison, receive a Reward of Ten Guineas, by applying to any of us whose Names are hereunder subscribed.
J. BENNET, Curate of Aldborough,
THO WALL, Coll of the Customs,
          N.B. The said T—s W—e is about thirty-four Years of Age, five Feet eight Inches high, of a fair Complexion, very much pockfretted, grey Eyes, thin faced, strait made, and has a remarkable long Nose. (London Evening Post)
[See reports for 18 October 1755 below and 3 & 10 April 1756.]

15–22 August 1755

Coventry, August 18. On Friday last, about One o'Clock, Joseph Wright and Thomas Grimes were executed on Whitley Common, near this City, for the detestable Crime of Sodomy. They both behaved penitent; but, when in the Cart, deny'd the Crime for which they suffer'd: And Wright deny'd his Intention of killing, or committing Sodomy with, Mr. Warner, of Winhall, of which he was found guilty. (Derby Mercury)

Saturday 23 August 1755

Birmingham, Aug. 18. On Friday were executed at Coventry, for that most detestable Sin, Sodomy, Joseph Wright and Thomas Grimes. Joseph Wright confessed, that he had been guilty of the Crime for which he suffered, but never with Grimes; and Grimes absolutely denied his being ever guilty of it at all, either with Wright or any other Person. (Oxford Journal)

12–19 September 1755

On Thursday at the Sessions at the Old Bailey, the Rev. Mr. Charles Bradbury was, after a Trial of five Hours, honourably acquitted of the heavy Charge of Sodomy brought against him. – The principal Witness, for a long time, persisted in the Truth of his Evidence, and that unfortunate Gentleman was even put upon his Defence for his Life; in the Course of which there being Reason to suspect the Truth of that Witness's Testimony, he was called upon again by the Court, and being pressed to answer some Questions which pinched him, he thereupon recanted, and acknowledged the Falsity of the Accusation. – The Prosecutor's Council and the Jury applied to the Court, that he might be made an Example for this Perjury; but the Court, being justly apprehensive of the more dangerous Consequences of treating him with Severity, as it might be the Means of obliging Witnesses, once forsworn, to persist in their Perjury for their own Security, thought it more prudent that he might stand committed in order to be sent abroad, which he consented to.
          Thirteen other Prisoners were tried, seven of whom were cast for Transportation, and six acquitted.
          The Evidence against Mr. Bradbury was a Roman Catholic Youth about 18 Years of Age.
          Previous to the Trial of Mr. Bradbury, it being observed that there were great Numbers of the Fair Sex present, the publick Notice was given them of the Nature of the Evidence the Law requires in such Cases, in order that such of them, as pleased, might depart out of Court – but 'twas observed too, that not above two or three of them retired, the rest chusing to stay and to shew their Modesty by the Concealment of their Faces. (Derby Mercury)

Saturday 13 September 1755

Yesterday Morning at half an Hour past Nine, came on the Tryal of Charles Bradbury, the Methodist Preacher, for Sodomy: the Prosecutor was James Hearne, a Lad about 25 Years of Age, who swore the Prisoner had perpetrated the detestable Crime on his Body several Times; about three in the Afternoon two Evidences for the Prisoner deposed, the Prosecutor had owned to them on Wednesday last, that what he said against Bradbury was all false. He was asked by the Court whether he did acknowledge it all to be false, and he answered he did; and upon being asked again, whether what he had then swore was true or false, he declared it was false, and that the Prisoner was innocent; upon which he was acquitted, after a Trial of five Hours and a Half. (Oxford Journal)

Saturday 20 September 1755

Thursday Morning, at half an Hour past Nine, came on the Trial of Charles Bradbury, the Methodist Preacher, for Sodomy: The Prosecutor was James Hearne, a Lad about 15 Years of Age, who swore the Prisoner had perpectrated that detestable Crime on his Body several Times; about Three in the Afternoon two Evidences for the Prisoner deposed, the Prosecutor had owned to them on Wednesday last, that what he said against Bradbury was all fase. He was asked by the Court whether he did not acknowledge it all to be false, and answered he did; and upon being asked again, whether what he had then swore was true or false, he declared it was false, and that the Prisoner was innocent; upon which he was acquitted, after a Trial of five Hours and a Half. (Newcastle Courant)

Saturday 27 September 1755

Last Friday four Soldiers were apprehended on Suspicion of having committed Robberies in the Fields near London: And on Saturday Morning they were re-examined before John Fielding and Saunders Welch, Esqrs. when a Gentleman appeared and swore positively to one of them, namely, Rowley Hanson, for stopping him Yesterday se-nnight in Mary-le-bone Fields, and taking from him one Gold Watch, a Guinea and two Shillings in Money. This Robber told the Gentleman, if he would advertise Twenty Guineas for his Watch, he should have it again. The Gentleman advertised accordingly, and the above Rowley Hanson sent a Person to receive the money; by which he himself was brought to Justice, and is committed to Newgate. In the Course of his Examination it appeared that he has made a Practice of extorting Money from People on threatening to swear Sodomy against them. (Oxford Journal) [See the Trial of Rowley Hanson.]

Saturday 18 October 1755

Ipswich, Oct. 10. Last Monday at the Quarter Sessions held at Lowestoft, Robert Heaken was committed to our Gaol by the Court, in order to his being sent to the next Assizes at Bury; being charged on the Oaths of several Persons, as well as his own Confession, with committing the Act of Sodomy with T. W. a Lieutenant of the Royal Navy. (Oxford Journal)
[See the report of 3 April 1756; and the advertisement of 21-23 August above.]

7–14 November 1755

A few Nights since, by Means of an Information, was discovered an Assembly of a most extraordinary Nature, namely, in a small Room behind a Barber's Shop, were packed together no less than eighteen Men, all of different Stations in Life, and collected together from the most distant Parts of the Town. They were immediately taken into Custody, and carried before John Fielding, and Saunders Welch, Esqrs. in Bow-street, and after an Examination, which lasted till near Two in the Morning, (it clearly appearing, that the abominable Cause of this Meeting was no other than to commit Sodomitical Practices, and Oath being then made of the Fact by two of this horrid Company) they were all directly sent to New-Prison. (Derby Mercury)

8–11 November November 1755

Orders have been given for prosecuting, at the Expence of the Crown, the several Persons lately taken at a certain House near Gray's-Inn, for Sodomitical Practices, even the Lying-in Lady. (Whitehall Evening Post)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1755", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 19 Jan. 2012; updated 25 Aug. 2014, 2 Mar. 2015; enlarged 22 Dec. 2015, 11 Jan. 2021 <>.

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