Newspaper Reports, 1764

Tuesday, 3 January 1764

One Day last Week a Miller, of the Parish of Elme, near Frome, having been detected in Sodomitical Practices, hung himself. The jury brought in their Verdict Suicide, and he was buried in the Cross-Road on Thursday last. (Public Advdertiser)

30 March to 2 April 1764

Friday last at the assizes at Maidstone, Kent, a man was capitally convicted for an unnatural crime on an old man upwards of 60 years of age. It appeared on the trial that he met the old man on the road near Rochester, and threatened to rip him up unless he complied with his desire, which he refused; on which the marine stabbed him twice with his bayonet in his breast, and then perpetrated his execrable design, and afterwards robbed him of his coat, which was found in his possession at Rochester. The poor old man recovered, and was evidence against the above villain at Maidstone. (Dublin Courier

Tuesday, 10 April 1764

Extract of a Letter from Maidstone, April 8.
"On Thursday last Dennis Obrian, Robert Stephenson, Thomas Page, John Welch, William Finton, and Timothy Readen, were executed on Pennendon Heath, pursuant to their Sentence at the last Assizes, held at this Place, for the County of Kent: They all behaved in a decent and penitent Manner. Obrian, Stephenson, and Readen, died in the Romish Religion. There was thought o be the greatest Concourse of People ever known on such an Occasion. . . . Obrian was strongly pressed by a Friend, the Mornng of his Execution, in the Gaol, to satisfy the World whether he was guilty of that barbarous Murder or not, and ikewise at the Gallows; but he made no Confession. . . – Welch behaved in a raving, desperate Manner, which drew Compassion from all the Spectators, who thought him more fit for a Madhouse than the Gallows. – Stephenson behaved very bold, staring and looking about him all the Way from the Gaol, and at the Gallows. – Flinton, for Sodomy, behaved in a decent Manner, declaring he was innocent of unnatural Acts, but that he justly deserved Death. – Page, for robbing a Woman, behaved very well. . . . The three poor unhappy Protestants had no Clergyman to attend them whilst under Sentence in Gaol, nor on their Way to, or at the Gallows." (Public Advertiser)

Thursday 3 May 1764

Yesterday a Gentleman's Servant who lodg'd at Bath was committed to Shepton-Mallet Bridewell for an Attempt of an unnatural Crime. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

7–9 June 1764

On Thursday an information on oath was made before a magistrate by a soldier in the foot-guards, of 16 men who have frequent meetings in a room hired by one of them, where they commit the most unnatural crimes. Upon which warrants were granted for apprehending of them; two of them were taken that night, and secured in Westminster Gatehouse; and yesterday the officers went in pursuit of the rest. (The London Chronicle: or, Universal Evening Post)

17–19 July 1764

Tuesday Evening [i.e. 17 July], about Eleven o'Clock, one John Gill was apprehended in a Coach in the Strand, dressed in Women's Clothes extremely gay, his outside Petticoat trimmed with Silver Lace, which the Mob tore in Pieces, with Ear-rings, a Bracelet, &c. and being carried Yesterday Morning before Sir John Fielding, he not giving a good Account of himself, and no body appearing to his Character, was committed to Clerkenwell Bridewell as a disorderly Person. He goes by the Name of Miss Beasly about Devereux-court, and is strongly suspected to belong to a Gang of infamous Miscreants. (St. James's Chronicle)

Thursday, 19 July 1764

Yesterday was committed to Clerkenwell Bridewell, from the Public Office in Bow-street, by Sir John Fielding, and Thomas Kynaston, Esq; one of those detestable wretches called Sodomites. He was detected by the officer of the night, in the parish of St. Mary le Strand, in the commission of certain indecencies in the habit of a woman, neatly dressed in white silk stockings, womens sattin shoes, stays, treble ruffles, &c. but proved to be of the contrary sex. (Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser)

1–3 August 1764

John Gill, otherwise Miss Beasly, who was committed to Bridewell, on being found in a coach in the Strand, dressed in woman's cloaths, was discharged the next day, some persons appearing for him, and declaring it to be only a frolick. (Lloyd's Evening Post)

Saturday 4 August 1764

OXFORD, August 4.
Francis Putlock of Benson in this County, out on Bail, surrendered in Court and took his Trial for an Assault on Thomas Craggs, with an Intent to commit the most detestable Crime of Sodomy; of which he was found Guilty, and ordered to be imprisoned for Six Months, and pay a Fine of 40s. (Oxford Journal)

Wednesday, 5 September 1764

Yesterday were committed to the Gatehouse by Justice Spinnage, Sitting Magistrate at the Public Office in Bow Street, three Men charged with Sodomitical Practices, who had the preceding Night been detected in the Market Place in Covent Garden, by the Officers of the Night, committing indecent Practices; several others detected at the same Time, were bound to their good Behaviour. (Public Advertiser)

Wednesday, 5 September 1764

Monday night last, by the vigilance of the constables of the parish of St. Paul, Covent-garden, with some assistance, seven of those unnatural wretches, called Sodomites, were apprehended mongst the trees in Covent-garden-square: they were yesterday examined at the Public Office in Bow-street, by the Sitting Magistrate there: several of them were known to be old offenders, though old Rachael the chinaman made his escape: four were committed to the Gatehouse, and three bound to their good behaviour; and the peace officers of the above parish have received strict orders to be watchful in removing these offenders from their above place of rendezvous. (Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser)

11–13 September 1764

On Monday night the constables of St. Paul, Covent-Garden, cleared the streets of prostitutes and idle fellows; twenty-two were confined in the Roundhouse, and next day they were carried before a Magistrate, where some were committed to Bridewell, and the rest gave bail for their appearance: amongst the above were two men dressed in women's cloaths. The officers of St. Clement Dane, and St. Martin in the Fields, have cleared the Strand of the swarms of loose women and bullies which nightly infested that part. Upwards of 200 disorderly person have, withiun a fortnight past, been taken up in the above three parishes. (London Evening Post)

Thursday 13 September 1764

[A very long review of Churchill's The Times, with many long quotations, of which the following is representative:]

THOSE who have pretended to find Fault with some of our Author's late Poems, we are of Opinion will be very much at a Loss to find out Matter to carp at here. Never, indeed, was Performance tinctured with more Severeity; but, on the other Hand, never was any Thing more bold, nervous, and animated, and which is sitll more to the Writer's Credit, never did Satyr exert her Power in a juster Cause. . . .
          After a few more Lines to the same Purport, he presents us with the following Account of the Evils derived to this Nation from our Intercourse with foreign Parts.

With our own Island Vices not content,
We rob our Neighbours on the Continent,
Dance Europe round, and visit ev'ry Court
To ape their Follies, and their Crimes import.
To diff'rent Lands for diff'rent Sins we roam,
And, richly freighted, bring the Cargo home;
Nobly industrious to make Vice appear
In her full State, and perfect only bare.
The succeeding Pages are taken up with an Enumeration of the particular Vices imported from every Clime; and from hence the Poet proceeds, by an easy Transition, to the most detestable of all Vices, (Sodomy) which is at once the principal Object of his Poem and of his Indignation.
No longer by vain Fear, or Shame controul'd,
From long, toolong Security grown bold,
Mocking Rebuke, they brave it in our Streets,
And Lumley e'en at Noon his Mistress meets.
So public in their Crimes, so daring grown,
They almost take a Price to have them known,
And each unnat'ral Villain scarce endures
To make a Secret of his vile Amours.
Go where we will, at ev'ry Time and Place,
Sodom confronts, and stares us in the Face;
They ply in public at our very Doors,
And take the Bread from much more honest Whores.
Those who are mean, high Paramours secure,
And the Rich Guilty screen the guilty Poor;
The Sin too proud to feel from Reason Awe,
And Those, who practise it, too great for Law.
The rest of his Poem is taken up in describing, in the strongest Expressions, the great Extent of this Vice, and the Neglect of the Fair Sex. We hope his Stricture on this Occasion are a great Deal too general; but Poets are always allowed a Latitude, and it is sufficient to justify such Censures, that the Fice is prevailing. If the Writer has any Forgiveness to ask of the Ladies, in whose Cause this Poem is assuredly written, we are persuaded the following Lines will procure his Pardon.
Born in such Times, nor with that Patience curst
Which Saints may boast of, I may speak or burst.
      But, if, too eager in my bold Career,
Haply I wound the nice or chaster Ear;
If all unguarded, all too rude, I speak,
And call up Blushes in the Maiden's Cheek,
Forgive, ye Fair – my real Motives view,
And to Forgiveness add your Praises too.
For you I write – nor with a better Plan –
The Cause of Woman is most worthy Man –
For you I still will write, nor hold my Hand,
Whilst there's one Slave of Sodom in the Land.
                        (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

22–25 September 1764

On Saturday night a man was taken into custody in Moorfields, and confined in Wood-Street Compter, being charged with attempting to commit an unnatural crime; and on Sunday night two more were taken up in the same place, and for a crime of the same nature. Yesterday they were carried before Alderman Cockayne at the Mansion-House, and, after a long examination, they were all three committed to the above prison. Many of these wretches have of late nightly infested Moorfields. (London Chronicle)

Thursday 26 September 1764

Bristol, September 21.
Tuesday were also committed David Cummings, a Sailor, born in the County of Kent, aged 35, and John White, late belonging to the Militia for the County of Wilts, aged 20, charged on Oath with having committed the detestable Crime of Sodomy, at a House in Marsh Street, in this City. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Friday, 28 September 1764

TRUEMAN shdws an honest indignation against a set of abominable wretches, whose crimes have been the subject of Mr. Churchill's manly poem, THE TIMES, and has sent us some lines from Juvenal, which, with this correspondent's letter, we should have glady published; but when we consider the multitude of hands through which this news-paper passes, we are fearful of raising improper ideas in some minds; and indeed one great caue of the spreading of this fice is, that it can hardly be painted in any colours but what may be of ill consequence to the uncorrupted. Indeed, if any publication against such a crime can be likely to do good, it must be in a book, which, when written with strength and delicacy, may be of good service; but the most necessary method will be a due exertion of the laws, on the great as well as the common people; for if money, rank, title, or interest, is suffered to screen the guilty, our laws are useless, and the best satirists lose their end. (Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser)

Saturday, 27 October 1764

Nay of our more modern writers: there is scarce a single play that should be suffered to be acted in its present state – Those of Vanbrugh, in particular, allow as much as you will for his wit and humour, are not only often glaringly deficient in the conduct of the drama, but as execrably, thouh not so grosly, lewd and immoral as those of the abovementioned authors ["Wycherly, Mrs. Behn, Otway, some of Beaumont and Fletcher"]. We may gather what his sentiments of fornication and adultery were, from his giving the title of Worthy to that most consummate scoundrel in his Relapse, or Virtue in danger. And well might Pope say, that he wanted grace, when, not content with introducing the most lascivious dialogue and scandalous practices between the sexes, he does not scruple to bring even a Sodomite upon the stage, whose proposals to young Foppington would be, if that part were acted, sufficient to congeal the blood in the veins of a modern audience. (Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser)

Thursday 18 October 1764

On Friday last a fanatical Preacher, near Smithfield, was committed to the Compter, charged with an unnatural Attempt. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1764", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 27 August 2003, updated 23 May 2021 <>.

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