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

Newspaper Reports, 1758–1760

Saturday 4 February 1758

Monday a Man was committed to Prison for attempting Sodomy on a Gentleman's Servant. (Oxford Journal)

Saturday 1 April 1758

Norwich, March 25. . . . At the Assizes held at Thetford for the County of Norfolk, one Howlett, an Exciseman at Reepham, was found guilty of assaulting and attempting to commit Sodomy upon two Persons, to the clear and full Satisfaction of the Judge and Court; and one William Moore, one of his Evidences, was found guilty of Perjury, and since committed to the Castle to take his Trial at the next Norwich Assizes. (Ipswich Journal)

Thursday, 17 August 1758

On Monday Night two Men were taken up in St. James's Park for Sodomitical Practices, and on Tuesday last they were committed to the Gatehouse. (Public Advertiser)

Saturday 2 September 1758

Yesterday Cornelius Allen (reputed to be near 60 Years of Age) was committed to Wood-street Compter by Sir Joseph Hankey, on the Oath of John Wilson, on Suspicion of attempting the detestable Sin of Sodomy last Friday Night in Moorfields. Another Person, supposed to be upwards of 60, was taken up at the same Time, but the Evidence not being so clear against him, he was discharged. (Oxford Journal)

Saturday 16 September 1758

LONDON, September 14.
Tuesday an elderly Man was taken up in Old street, and committed to Newgate, for the detestable Crime of Sodomy. There is a Gang of these Fellows who infest Moorfields every Night, and those who will not comply with their wicked Ways, they beat and abuse in a terrible Manner. A young Man who lives in Old Street, a few Nights ago was beat so much by some of these Fellows, that his Life is in Danger. (Oxford Journal)

9–11 January 1759

Last Week a Gentleman's Servant was committed to the Gatehouse by George Wrighte, Esq; of Great Pulteney-Street, for Sodomitical Practices. (London Evening Post)

24–27 March 1759

John Baptiste Fontaine (committed for attempting to commit Sodomy on John Ridley) being a Frenchman, is intitled to be tried by six Foreigners and six Englishmen; and therefore, for want for Foreigners, his Trial is put off till next Assizes. (London Evening Post)

Thursday, 7 June 1759

Yesterday a Person was committed to Wood-street Compter, by Mr. Alderman Alsop, for attempting to commit Sodomitical Practices on a Person, on Tuesday Morning last about Three o'Clock, in the Sheep Pens in Smithfield. (Public Advdrtiser)

Saturday 14 July 1759

OXFORD, JULY 21. . . . a Gentleman of Banbury, out on 500l. Bail, charged with Sodomitical Practices, [is one of] the Chief Trials expected on the Crown Side at the ensuing Assize. (Oxford Journal)

28–31 July 1759

The Gentleman of Banbury, who was to have appeared at this assize to take his trial upon a charge of Sodomy, it is said, is gone over to Holland. (London Chronicle)

Saturday 11 August 1759

The following Felons are to take their Trials at the Assizes for the County of Northumberland, which begins on Monday next, viz. . . . Robert Robson, charged on Oath with the Crime of Sodomy; . . . (Newcastle Courant)

Monday, 3 December 1759

Saturday several Persons were committed to Newgate, by John Fielding, Esq; being charged with that wicked Practice of pretending to charge innocent Persons with Sodomy in St. James's Park, and then robbing them of their Property. (Public Advertiser)

Monday 10 December 1759

Thursday 17 Prisoners were tried at the Old Bailey, one of whom was capitally convicted, viz. James Brown, a Soldier, for assaulting and robbing John Parker, in St. James's Park, of 5s. in Silver. The prosecutor is a Gentleman's Servant, who going through the park, the Birdcage Walk, on an Errand of his Master's, was accosted by an accomplice of Brown's genteely dressed, who clasping him round the middle, forcibly took him aside, and offering him several Indecencies, was surprized by Brown, (planted for that purpose) who after using the alarming Names of Sodomites, &c. threatened, that unless he would part with his Money, he would have him hanged; and after compelling him to give him 5s. demanded his Buckles; and on his refusing to give them, they took him to the Guard, in order to charge him with the above detestable Crime, but was prevented by a Servant of Lord Harcourt, whose Business accidentally leading him that Way, had the Curiosity as well as Humanity to watch; and having observed the whole affair, became the happy means of preserving the young Man's Character, and the bringing to Justice such an Offender. The accomplice was acquitted, the Robbery not being fully proved upon him. (Sussex Advertiser. See Brown's trial.)

Monday, 21 January 1760

Last Friday a Servant in Mr. Rush's Vinegar-Yard, Southwark, was tried at St. Margaret's Hill for an Assault upon a Youth, of about 16 Years of Age, with an Intent to commit the detestable Cime of Sodomy. He was found guilty, and sentenced to be confined twelve Months in the County Gaol, and to pay a Fine of 100 l. (Public Advertiser)

Saturday 26 January 1760

LONDON, Jan. 22.
Friday, at the Quarter Sessions on St Margaret's-Hill, Southwark, one Richard Branson, Clerk to a great Vinegar Yard in that Neighbourhood, was tried for assaulting one Fawcer, one of the boys of Dulwich College, aged about seventeen, on the first of August last, in Dulwich-Grove, with an Intent to commit Sodomy; when after a long Trial he was, upon the clearest Proof, without the Jury going out, found guilty, and was sentenced by the Court to suffer a Year's Imprisonment in the New Gaol, and to pay a Fine of an hundred Pounds. (Oxford Journal)

Saturday 29 March 1760

Last Wednesday Night John Clarke, who was tried for Sodomy at the same Assizes at Reading, and ordered to remain in Gaol to take his Trial, at the Summer Assize, for another Crime of the same Nature, hanged himself in his Bedchamber: The Coroner's Inquest was taken on Friday, when they brought in their Verdict Felo de se, and his Body was buried in the Cross Roads, with a Stake drove through it. – It appears that a Letter had been intercepted from some of his vile Companions, which opened a farther Scene of this shocking Vice; and which is supposed to have induced him to hang himself, as a Rescue from the Hands of Jack Ketch. (Oxford Journal)

29–31 May 1760

A Letter from Shrewsbury mentions, to the Honour of the Commanding Officer of the Royal Welsh Volunteers, that as soon as he found that two of his Men were charged with Sodomy he dischargted them; saying, that none were fit to serve his Majesty but such as dared on all Occasions face a Man. (London Evening Post)

Saturday 31 May 1760

Shrewsbury, May 24.   On the 29th past, were committed to this County Gaol, by John Ashby, Esq; Mayor of Shrewsbury, and John Rocke, Esq; one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Salop, Francis Russel and Turner Brookin, both of London, and Recruits in the Royal Welch Volunteers, for the detestable Sin of Sodomy. The Commanding Officer of the said Regiment immediately discharged them from his Majesty's Service. (Oxford Journal)

Monday 2 June 1760

Shrewsbury, May 24. On the 29th ult. was committed to this county goal (sic), Francis Russel, and Turner Brookin, both of London, and recruits in the royal Welch volunteers, for the detestable sin of Sodomy. (Dublin Courier)

Saturday 12 July 1760

OXFORD, July 12.
The Commission for holding the Summer Assize for this County will be opened on Wednesday . . .
          On Monday next Lord Chief Baron Parker and Mr. Justice Denison will open the Business of the Norfolk Circuit at Buckingham, at which . . . Benjamin Towle, a Dancing Master, for an Intent to commit the detestable Crime of Sodomy upon several of his Scholars; . . . (Oxford Journal)

Saturday 19 July 1760

OXFORD, July 19.
Benjamin Towle, a Dancing Master, charged with assaulting Mary Hurst, Charlotte Fell, Martha Freeman, and Mary Green, with an Intent to commit the detestable Crime of Sodomy, was found Guilty, and sentenced to stand in the Pillory this Day at Buckingham, and suffer Three Month's Imprisonment — Decency will not permit us to enter into a particular Detail of this Wretch's Guilt, which seems to be an execrable Refinement upon that horrid Vice, and is attended with very extraordinary Circumstances. (Oxford Journal)
[Apparently a very rare instance of heterosexual sodomy.]

25 July – 1 August 1760

This Day at Noon one Bourke, a Barber, stood in the Pillory at the End of Fetter-Lane, Fleet-Street, for Sodomitical Practices, and was very much pelted by the Populace, especially the Women, who stripped him of his Breeches, which he had guarded against, by having another Pair on. They afterwards dipp'd the Breeches in the Kennel, and pretty handsomely flogg'd him with them. (Derby Mercury; other news reports give his name as Burke.)

22–24 September 1760

Last Thursday evening the effigy of a copperman, belonging to the printing house at Strateford, Essex, was burnt in triumph between three fires, by upwards of five hundred women, pencillers and tearers, for that detestable sin of Sodomy, who expressed great satisfaction, and voluntarily declared, that were it their husbands they should be served the same. (Lloyd's Evening Post)

Monday 27 October 1760

WHEREAS there were two scandalous reports put upon two Gate Posts leading from Burwash Town to Withenden Bridge in the County of Sussex, charging John Bexhill-Ellis, of Burwash aforesaid, with being guilty of Sodomy; these are therefore to give Notice to any Person or Persons who will make a Discovery of the Person or Persons, who were the Author or Authors of writing and publishing the said Paperes, so that such Pereson or Persons may be brought to Justice, shall receive the Sum of Ten Guineas Reward from the said John Bexhill-Ellis. (Sussex Advertiser)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1758–1760", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 22 Dec. 2015, 17 Jan. 2021 <>.

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