Newspaper Reports, 1770–1771

20–23 January 1770

Tuesday, January 23.   Last night three men were committed to New-prison, Clerkenwell and Tothil-fields bridewell by John Spinnage, Esq; charged upon the information and oath of a gentleman's butler for unlawfully conspiring, combining and confederating to cheat and defraud him of large sums of money, and actually extorting from him sums of money at several times, to the amount of near 20l. by false pretences, threats, menaces, that (unless he would from time to time furnish them with money) they would swear sodomy against him. One of them has already stood in the pillory for the practice of the like kind, and was imprisoned four years. (General Evening Post)

Monday 26 February 1770

On Saturday two fellows named Rook, were convicted at Hick's-Hall, on the prosecution of a person whom they charged with an attempt of the worst sort, in order to extort money from him; and received sentence of imprisonment in Newgate for three years, and are to be put three times in the pillory. (Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser)

Saturday 24 March 1770

NORWICH, March 21.
At Thetford assizes, . . . Thomas Dunn, a shopkeeper, at East Dereham, was sentenced to stand in the pillory there, for an attempt to commit an unnatural crime, and to suffer 6 months imprisonment. (Ipswich Journal)

Saturday 21 July 1770

CHELMSFORD, Essex, July 19, 1770.
WHEREAS JOHN CHILDHOUSE, otherwise CHILDERS, who was admitted an Evidence against Caleb Howard for an unnatural & detestable Crime, broke out of the House of Correction at Chelmsford, Jan. 22d, in the Night: Whoever will apprehend the said Childhouse, and deliver him at the said Prison on or before Wednesday the 25th of July instant, shall be well rewarded for their Trouble, and be allowed all reasonable Charges.
                                        NATH. STOCK.
          John Childhouse is about 19 Years of Age, 5 Feet 8 Inches high, fair Complexion, effeminate Voice, dark-brown Hair tied up behind; had on a brown Fustian Frock and Breeches, and a striped Waistcoat; was born at Wangford in Suffolk, bound Apprentice to a Taylor there, and ran away from his Apprenticeship.
          As Childhouse will certainly be discharged without any Punishment or Imprisonment as soon as he has given his Evidence, if he will surrender himself as above he shall be allowed his Expences of coming to the Assizes.
                    (Ipswich Journal)

Friday 17 August 1770

For some Time past, divers persons at Worksop in Nottinghamshire, have been strongly suspected of assembling together, to perpetrate with each other, unnatural Crimes, to the Dishonour of human Nature, and the Laws of God and Man. Last Friday, a Discovery of these Practices was made in a Barn, in the Neighbourhood of Worksop, which gave so great an Alarm to these Sons of Sodom, that they broke up, and fled their Country; two however were taken in the fact, Luke Bottom, Wheelmaker, and Joseph Mellers, Labourer, and being carried before Richard Sutton, Esq; one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace at Retford, were committed to our County Goal at 12 o'Clock last Tuesday Evening, where they are strongly ironed, there to remain till the next Assizes. – One of the Persons absconded is a Man of Property, being worth near Three Thousand Pounds, and lived in a very genteel Manner. (Derby Mercury)

Monday 20 August 1770

We have an Account from Nottingham, that a Gang of those Infernals called Sodomites were lately detected in a Barn at Worksop, in that County, two of whom are committed to Nottingham Goal, where they are strongly iron'd; the rest have absconded, one of whom is said to be worth near 3000l. (Northampton Mercury)

Saturday 1 September 1770

On Saturday Night a Man in a reputable Way of Business in Westminster, was committed to Tothill-Fields Bridewell, for an Attempt to commit an unnatural Crime in St. James's Park. The Populace, especially the Women were so incensed against him, upon a Supposition of his being an old Offender, that the Justice sent for a Guard to attend the Coach, to protect him from their Fury. (Oxford Journal)

Monday 3 September 1770

On Saturday night was committed to Tothill-fields Bridewell, by Justice Keeling, after a long examination, at the Sun Tavern, the Corner of Bridge-street, Westminster, for an attempt to commit an unnatural crime, in St. James's Park, a man, who has for many years kept a bookseller's and toy shop in Westminster-hall; the populace, especialy the women, were so enraged against him, that guards were sent for to attend the coach, and protect him from their fury. This fellow was committed to the same Bridewell, about a twelvemonth since, for an attempt of the same kind upon his own servant boy, but was bailed out, and made it up with the boy's friends, before the Quarter Sessions. He was also some time since tried at Westminster Hall for the same crime with a Counsellor's servant. We hear detainers will be lodged against him by the parents of several children, in that neighbourhood, for most shocking indecencies offered them, when playing in the Hall. And it is hoped he will at length fall a deserved victim to justice, which by his money he has hitherto evaded. (Reading Mercury)

Friday 15 March 1771

DERBY, March 14.
Tuesday last, about Twelve o'Clock, the Assizes ended for the Town and County of Nottingham, at the Guildhall, . . . which proved a Maiden one, none being capitally convicted.
          . . . In the County, Joseph Mellars and Thomas Stanley, were indicted for committing the detestable Crime of Sodomy with each other, at Worksop, the 30th of July last, in which Mellar was the Agent and Stanley the Patient; but as the Evidence varied in several material Points, after a short Trial they were both acquitted. Luke Bottam, indicted for Sodomitical Practices at Worksop, the 25th of July, with William Champion of that Place, who is fled for the same, was found guilty, and ordered to be imprisoned for two Years. (Derby Mercury)

Monday 25 March 1771

At Nottingham Assizes, Luke Bottam was tried for Sodomitical Practices with William Champion (who has fled) in a Barn near Worksop; and being found guilty on undoubted Evidence, was ordered to be closely confined for two Years.
          The following Persons are to be try'd at our Assizes, whic begin To-morrow, viz. Richard Seaby, charged upon Oath with Sodomitical Practices. . . . (Northampton Mercury)

Monday 17 June 1771

To the PUBLIC.
WHEREAS the sinful and detestable Practice of Sodomy, or Buggery, has been represented to the Magistrates of this County, as creeping into various Parts thereof, and that many of his Majesty's well-disposed Subjects have been deterred from stopping the rapid Progress of the infectious and growing Evil, on account of the Charge of Prosecution: It has been unanimously determined by Eight of his said Majesty's Justices, assembled this Day, at the George Inn in Huntingdon, in the said County, that, for the more speedy and effectual Extirpation of this unnatural and depopulating Vice, all Prosecutions against such Delinquents, from the Date hereof, shall be encouraged and carried on, in the most spirited Manner, at the Expence of the said County.
                  June 8, 1771.
                      (Northampton Mercury)

20–25 July 1771

On Tuesday night a man, charged with an unnatural crime in Pemberton-row, Gough-square, was delivered up to the fury of the populace, who treated the miscreant with great severity; and, after beating him heartily with sticks, dragged him to the Thames, where they ducked him, till he was almost dead, and then suffered him to crawl towards his own habitation. (General Evening Post)

Friday 18 October 1771

Wednesday Morning a Tradesman of Westminster, universally held in Abhorence for the Commission of an unnatural Crime, was sworn into the Office of Petty Constable for the Parish of St. Margaret, Westminster. At the Quarter Sessions held for the City and Liberty of Westminster, when this Man was elected the second of this Month, by the Court of Burgesses, he stepped forward and addressed the Steward in the following Manner, in order to be excused serving the Office: Sir, I think I am not eligible; but supposing I was, I am a veryi improper Man; you know I am the Detestation of all Mankind; every Man who hears me, hates, detests,and abhors me; I am presented to the Office partly out of Joke, and partly from Malice; they who have presented me know what I am, and you, all of you, know, that I am not a fit Person to be put into this Office." Mr. Sayer, the Deputy Steward of the Court, then asked him what he called himself; to which he boldly replied, "The World calls me a S——e [i.e. Sodomite]; I am one." The Steward and the whole Court were struck with Astonishment at so much Impudence; they rebuked him in the severest Manner, but informed him that his Villany ought not to excuse him from serving an Office of Trouble and Expence; and he was returned to the Quarter Session accordingly. Sir John Fielding, the Chairman, in his Charge to the Constables, after expatiating on the Duty, Utility, and Respectableness of their Office, lamented that the court of Burgesses had disgraced them and their Office by putting such an unnatural Monster amongst them; that he was sorry the present Court had it not in their Power to relieve and rid them of so infamous a Nuisance; but hoped they would not think the Affront put upon them, and all human Nature, by this appointment, being the Act of that Court; the only Remedy left them was not to herd with him. The High Constable informed Sir John, they were all apprised who and what Mr. —— was, and to be the more upon their Guard, they had placed him in the Front; which was true, for Mr. —— stood foremost, smiling and laughing alternately at the Court and the Constables.
          Mr. Drybutter is sworn in one of the Constables of Westminster. (Derby Mercury)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1770–1771", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 22 July 2004, enlarged 29 August 2014, 3 Jan. 2016 <>.

Return to Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England