Newspaper Reports, 1767–1769

Monday, 12 January 1767

On Friday last William Coombes, a private soldier in the 2d regiment of foot-guards, was tried at the sessions at Guildhall, Westminster, on an indictment for endeavouring to extort money from a gentleman of family and fortune, by assaulting him near St. James's, and charging him with an attempt to commit sodomitical practices upon him near the Royal-Exchange, on the 20th of November last, and was convicted upon the strongest and most satisfactory evidence; it being clearly proved, by several gentlemen of unexceptionable character, that the accused gentleman was in company with them, and many others, at a very distant part of the town at the time; and the whole charge appearing to the court to be wicked and groundless, the prisoner was sentenced to be imprisoned a year, and to be twice publickly whipped within that time. (Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser)

5–7 May 1767

William Coombes, late a private soldier in the second regiment of foot guards, who was convicted at the Sessions held at Guildhall Westminster in January last, on an indictment for having assaulted a Gentleman with an intent to extort money, by charging him with making an unnatural attempt upon him, having lately escaped from the Gatehouse, and being retaken at the expence of the Prosecutor, was yesterday publicly whipped, for the first time, fromt he west end of Pall Mall to the bottom of the Hay Market. (London Chronicle)

12–14 January 1769

Yesterday one of the servants of a certain public charity in Southwark was tried at St. Margaret's Hill, for sodomitical practices, and was found guilty of the same. He was sentenced to stand on the pillory, and suffer six months imprisonment. (Whitehall Evening Post)

Saturday 18 April 1767

Sunday two Men and a Woman came to the House of the Right Hon. the Marquis of Caernarvon at Southgate, and the Woman presenting a Letter to the Servants, directed to the Marquis, and not giving a good Account of herself, or her Business, was refused Admittance, and her Letter Reception; whereupon the three Parties greatly misbehaved, and made an Affray, which occasioned a Peace Officer to be sent for, who, with other Assistance, and his Lordship's Servants, conveyed the Offenders before Sir John Fielding, before whom it appeared, that their Errand to Southgate was to extort Money from his Lordship, under a Pretence of a Crime of an unnatural Nature, which one of the Men had laid to his Charge; and the Woman, after a long Examination, discovered the Scene, and the two Men were committed, in order to take their Trials at the ensuing Sessions at Hicks's Hall. (Oxford Journal)

Monday 20 April 1767

Yesterday one Charles Preston was committed to Newgate by Sir John Fielding, charged with writing several letters to the most Hon. the Marquis of Carnarvon, threatening to accuse him of an unnatural crime, with a view to extort money from his Lordship. (Salisbury and Winchester Journal)

28–30 May 1767

Last Wednesday an elderly man was severely ducked in the Thames near Scotland-yard, for attempting an unnatural crime. (London Chronicle)

13–16 June 1767

On Sunday two men were sent handcuffed to the Gatehouse [in Hyde Park], having been detected the night before committing an unnatural crime. (London Evening Post)

Monday 22 June 1767

Specimens of antient Luxury, extracted from Lord Lyttelton's History of Henry II. just published.
THE opulence of the Monks, as well as the number of them, in the times of Henry the second, was enormous; and the luxury in which men professing poverty lived, was scandalous and offensive to the common sense of mankind. The table, which was kept by the Monks of Canterbury, consisted regularly of sixteen covers, or more, of the most costly dainties. These were dressed with the most exquisite cookery to provoke the appetite and please the taste. We are also told of an excessive abundance of wine, particularly claret; of mulberry wine, of mead, and of other strong liquors, the variety of which was so great in these repasts, that no place could be found for ale, though the best (says Giraldus Cambrensis) was made in England, and particularly in Kent. — There is likewise an account, in the same author, that the Prior and Monks of St. Swithin, at Winchester, threw themselves prostrate at the feet of King Henry the IId. and with many tears complained to him, that the bishop of that diocese, to whom they were subject, as their Abbot, had withdrawn from them three of the usual number of their dishes. Henry enquired of them, how many there sitll remained, and being informed they had ten, he said, that he himself was content with three, and imprecated a curse upon the bishop, if he did not reduce them to that number. I repeat this story (says our noble historian) rather to shew the temperance of the King, than the excess of the Monks. Fitzstephen tells us, that one day there was served up to Becket, during his embassy in France, a single dish of Eels, which cost five pounds stering centum solidis sterlingorum emptum). He adds, that it was talked of all over the country; and well it might, for twenty shillings in those days containing in them as much silver as sixty in these, or little less, if we estimate silver at only five times the present value, as much was paid for this single dish of Eels, as if we now bought one for seventy-five pounds sterl. or thereabouts. But such account exceeds all belief. — In what manner the laity feasted in those days, John of Salisbury has given us a short description. He says, the houses on such occasions were strewed with flowers, and the jovial company drank wine out of gilded horas, and sung songs when they became inebriated with their liquor. This is a better account of the festivity of our ancestors than that given by Froissart, who says that the English in the time of Edward the IIId. s'enyvroient moult tristement, a la facon de leur pays; got drunk in great sadness, after the manner of their country. By many evidences it appears that a luxury in apparel was very general among the nobles and gentry of that age. Even the Nuns were not free from it, as may be inferred from a canon of the Legantine synod, held at Westminster, 1138, which under pain of an anathema, forbids them to use the parti-coloured sables, called in French petit tris, martin, ermine, and beaver skins, or golden rings; to curl, or curiously set their hair. William of Poictou takes notice, that the English women, in the reign of William the Conqueror, excelled in embroidery; and tells us, that the garments of those English noblemen, whom that Prince carried over with him into Normandy, in the first year of his reign, were richly inwoven and incrusted with gold. In the times of Henry the IId. it appears that the whole gentry of England, having adopted the fashions of the Romans, were as mgnificent in their dress as their fortunes could bear. The men also were very nice, in the reign of William Rufus, in curling and dividing their hair, which on the fore part of their heads they suffered to grow very long, but cut short behind. The extraordinary fervour of zeal expressed by Anselm, and other churchmen of that again, against this fashion, seems ridiculous; but we find that they combined it with the idea of an affected effeminacy, and supposed it to indicate a disposition to an unnatural vice, which was very prevalent in those times. The good prelate, whose piety was so much scandalized at it, would have done well to confiser, how much more the celibacy to which he forced the clergy, and the number of monasteries in this kingdom, might contribute to encrease that abominable wickedness, than any mode of dress. And indeed we are told, that his preachingprevailed with the English to cut their hair, but could not reform their morals. (Salisbury and Winchester Journal)

12–16 September 1767

Yesterday a man in the Fleet underwent the discipline of the Pump on the Bare [an oval area near the Fleet river used for exercise], and was otherwise very deservedly roughly handled, for attempting to commit an unnatural crime on a fellow Prisoner. (London Evening Post)

8–10 December 1767

Yesterday at the Sessions at Hicks's Hall, a Bill of Indictment was found by the Grand Jury against Simon Stratford, (nothwithstanding his Escape from Prison) for an unnatural Crime. (St.James's Chronicle)

11–18 December 1767

William Dawson of Halstead in the County of Leicester, and of Foremark Park in the County of Derby, who was apprehended the 26th of November last, for attempting to commit an unnatural Crime on Daniel Ilson of Hungerton, found Means to escape from the Constable, and a Reward of Two Guineas has since been advertis'd to be given for retaking of him. (Derby Mercury)

Monday 14 December 1767

LONDON, TUESDAY, December 8.
Yesterday at the sessions held by adjournment at Guildhall, a Milkman was convicted of attempting to commit an unnatural crime, and was sentenced to suffer 12 months imprisonment in Newgate, to pay a fine of 1s. and to give security for his good behaviour for two years. (Salisbury and Winchester Journal)

18–25 December 1767

Yesterday at the Sessions at Hicks's Hall, a Bill of Indictment was found by the Grand Jury against Simon Stratford, (notwithstanding his Escape from Prison) for an unnatural Crime. (Derby Mercury)

Wednesday, 4 May 1768

Yesterday was committed to Tothill-fields Bridewell, by Major Spinnage, from his Office in Argyle-buildings, Thomas Benson, charged on the oath of John Pigott, for assaulting, and attempting to commit the detestable crime of Sodomy upon him. (Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser)

Tuesday 6 September 1768

Chester, August 30. – There were some Traverses brought on by Mr. Poole, Rector of Cheadle, near Stockport, on different Indictments against him, for assaulting divers Persons with an intent to commit Sodomy; and being found guilty on two of the Indictments, he was sentenced to stand twice in the Pillory, to be imprisoned two Years in our Castle, and to pay a Fine of 100l. (Manchester Mercury)

Monday 3 October 1768

                              September 19, 1768.
WHEREAS on Friday the 9th of September, Inst. one James Mitchell came to the Sign of the Barley-Mow, in Sarum, and lodged at that House; and after he was gone, Reports were raised about the City, that the said James Mitchell was forced by the Landlord to the Sin of Sodomy: I think it highly necessary to acquaint the Public, that the Reports are not true, and that I have this Day given my Affidavit before the Mayor that he never so much as attempted any such thing on me.
                                    The Mark X of JAMES MITCHELL.
                  (Salisbury and Winchester Journal)

Wednesday, 30 November 1768

Newcastle . . . Last Week Mr. Parker, Post-master here, received a Warrant from the Lord-Mayor of London, and another from Sir John Fielding, for the apprehending John Chitty, Porter of St. Thomas's Hospital, who had absconded, being charged with Sodomy; and on Sunday Night the Person described came to the Post-Office to enquire for Letters, when he was taken into Custody and sent to the Tower of the Bridge, where he remains till farther Orders from London. (Public Advertiser)

Thursday 8 December 1768

An information is laid, we hear, against no less than 14 persons of the military for a detestable crime. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Monday, 9 January 1769

Among the persons tried at the general quarter sessions for Westminster, held last week at Guildhall, was one Statius Sobey, formerly a drawer of beer at a public house, but has lately made it his practice to lurk in the dark part of the piazzas, near King-street, Covent-garden, there to attack and accuse passengers of unnatural crimes. But happening luckily to attack a gentleman of known probity, honour and virtue, and a lover of the fair sex, he made this wretch feel the effects of his indignation, by bringing him into an open court of justice, where he was last Friday morning convicted for the horrid attempt to extort money from him by false accusation, and sentenced to be imprisoned one year in the Gatehouse, to be publickly whipped round Covent Garden, and to give security for his good behaviour for two years: and the evidence against this wretch was so clear and satisfactory, that the gentleman received the thanks of the Court for his publick-spirited prosecution, in bring[ing] such an atrocious offender to justice. This is the second offence of this kind that has been lately prosecuted and punished at that Court. (Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser)

24–26 August 1769

COMMITTED. Yesterday a man was committed in Tothill-fields Bridewell by John Kynaston, Esq; for attempting to commit an unnatural crime in St. James's Park the night before. (Whitehall Evening Post)

26–29 August 1769

Wednesday a fellow was detected committing an unnatural crime in Aldersgate-street, the populace took him to the Castle and Falcon in the same street, and severely ducked him in the horse-pond. (Middlesex Journal)

Thursday, 9 November 1769

Yesterday morning Bichard Bransby, for stealing goods and apparel of considerable value, in the dwelling-house of Mrs. Ann Fonnereau, was executed at Tyburn, pursuant to his sentence. – The above unhappy sufferer was, about 18 months since, discharged out of Newgate, where he had been imprisoned two years, for assaulting a man with an intent to commit an unnatural crime.
          A respite, during his Majesty's pleasure, was, near eleven on Tuesday night, sent to Newgate, for George Crowder and John Symonds, who, with Richard Bransby, were to have been executed yesterday. (Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser)

Thursday 16 November 1769

This morning died in Newgate John Maycock, who some time since cut his throat, and was one condemned to be hanged yesterday, but had received his Majesty's pardon during pleasure.
          A respite, during his Majestry's pleasure, was, near eleven on Tuesday night, sent to Newgate, for George Crowder and John Symonds, who, with Rd. Bransby, were to have been executed yesterday.
          Yesterday morning Richard Bransby, for stealing goods and apparel of considerable value, in the dwelling house of Mrs. Ann Fonnereau, was executed at Tyburn, pursuant to his sentence. – The above unhappy sufferer was, about 18 months since, discharged out of Newgate, where he had been imprisoned two years, for assaulting a man with an intent to commit an unnatural crime. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

12–14 December 1769

On Tuesday evening a man who sells Saloop [a popular hot drink] on Ludgate-hill, remarkable for his effeminate behaviour, and attachment to an unnatural crime, was rolled in the kennel, by several of the inhabitants in the Old Bailey, and narrowly escaped with his life. (Whitehall Evening Post)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1767–1769", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 30 Dec. 2015, updated 1 Feb. 2021 <>.

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