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Newspaper Reports, 1774

1 April 1774

Information having been given to the Magistrates in Bow-Street, that a Society of Men met at a Public-House, in Westminster, who, by their Behaviour were strongly suspected to be guilty of abominable Practices, several People were sent from the said Office on Wednesday Night, and took them all into Custody, with the Landlord. They were carried on Thursday before the above Magistrates, and 19 of them were committed to Prison. There was so great a Crowd of People about Sir John Fielding's Door, that it was with Difficulty the Peace Officers could conduct them alive to the Place of Confinement. (Derby Mercury)

2–5 April 1774

An anecdote of the late Lord Tyrawley. – His Lordship was one day walking with a man of rank, who was suspected of being guilty of sodomy, and as they were turning a corner his Lordship stopped, and pointing to a Sir Reverence [human turd], asked him if it did not raise his passions, and incline him to be amorous. This reproof was so severe, though not delicate, that the Gentleman ever after avoided his Lordship. (Middlesex Journal)

4 April 1774

Wednesday 18 Men were apprehended in the Parish of St. Martin's in the Fields, charged with the Commission of a horrid and unnatural Crime; they were Yesterday taken before Sir John Fielding, who committed them for further Examination. (Northampton Mercury) [A report in the Shrewsbury Chronicle for 9 July reports that the men were discharged for lack of sufficient evidence. It also notes that the house was an eating-house near Leicester Fields run by a man named Anson. See The Macaroni Club, newspaper report for 9 July 1774.]

Wednesday, 6 April 1774

On Saturday a man was charged on oath before John Drinkwater, with having the same morning attempted to commit an unnatural crime on one Richard Gurney, and for having about 18 months ago committed on him that most horrible offence. (Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser)

Thursday 14 April 1774

Thomas Bailey, charge with sodomy, was found guilty of a misdemeanour, sentenced to two months imprisonment, and to pay a fine of 1s. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Thursday, 26 May 1774

Intelligence from the Public Office, Bow-street.
Yesterday a young gentleman, clerk to a lawyer, charged William Rook with feloniously robbing him of his watch. It appeared from the examination, that the prisoner extorted fifteen guineas from the prosecutor, upon condition of not swearing a charge of sodomy against him: although there was no ground for any such charge, the young gentleman became the easy dupe of the villain's art, rather than publicly hear so odious a crime annexed to his name; he had therefore given him the money, nor had he resolution enough to make a public example of so great a pest to society, till the fellow demanded his watch, and took it from him. He was bound over to prosecute. The prisoner is notorious for this infamous way of obtaining a livelihood. He has once been pilloried, and his brother made his exit at Tyburn. (Morning Chronicle)
[See reports for 26 Feb. 1770 et passim for the earlier incident involving the Rook brothers.]

9 June 1774

Yesterday at the Public-office in Bow-street, John Clarke, John Pullen, and Wm. Rooke, were put to the bar, when William Pretty, Esq; informed the Bench, that about a fortnight ago, after walking in Kensington-gardens, he stopped in Hyde-park to rest, when the prisoner, Clarke, came up to him, and behaved indecently, but finding a proper resentment in this informant, he begged pardon, said he was a servant out of place, and sued for charity; when Mr. Pretty gave him eighteen-pence: but before he got out of the park Clarke and Pullen came up to him, and swore if he did not give them half a guinea, they would charged him with attempting an unnatural crime, which he gave them rather than have his name mentioned in such an atrocious charge; that about a week ago, the prisoners came to his apartments, about eleven o'clock in the forenoon, when Pullen told this informant, that unless he gave them twenty guineas, Clarke would go before a Justice, and swear he was guilty of unnatural crime; but on Mr. Pretty's refusing to give them the money, they reduced their demand to nine guineas, which he not complying with, they immediately unlocked his beaufet, and took out a quantity of plate, snuff boxes, watch, rings, &c. and forced him to sign a note of hand for nine guineas; they even took the buckle out of his stock, and attempted to take a mourning ring he had for his wife, till Mr. Pretty swore he would defend the ring at the hazard of his life. A peace officer produced a snuff-box, inlaid with gold, which he found in Clarke's lodging, which Mr. Pretty swore to be his property; on which they were immediately committed to Newgate, and Mr. Pretty and the constable bound to prosecute.
          James Pullen, one of the above prisoners, proves to be an accomplice of James Stanford's, who was transported in January, 1773
[see report for 16-19 January 1773], for extorting money from John Church, Esq; (Stamford Mercury)

Thursday, 16 June 1774

Francis Hay was charged by a lad, named Gordon, with attemtping sodomitical practices in Somerset gardens. The boy told a most indecent story, in which he was confirmed by a lesser boy. The prisoner related a plausible story of the boy's inviting him to improper familiarities, and upon his refusal charging him wiht sodomy. Gordon was bound over to prosecute. (Morning Chronicle)

Thursday, 7 July 1774

Intelligence from the Public Office in Bow-street.
          Yesterday the celebrated Mr. Drybutter was examined on charge of an unnatural attempt on Junius Sims, a country lad from Norfolk. The boy very circumstantially recited the particulars of the case, and informed the Bech that a man picked him up on London Bridge, and went with him to Mr. Drybutter's house in Bridge-street, Westminster, under pretence of procuring him a master. That when they came there, they went up stairs to Mr. Drybutter, who poured out a glass of spirits for him, and afterwards drank tea with him and his conductor. As soon as tea was over Mr. Drybutter shut the door, and took some liberties with the boy of a nature too scandalous and indecent to mention. It appeared that the person who decoyed the boy to Drybutter's house was the landlord of the house in Orange-street, where the nineteen persons were lately apprehended on suspicion of being s—tes [i.e. sodomites].
[See reports for 1 and 4 April, above.] The boy was bound over to prosecute Mr. Drybutter, who was committed to Newgate. (Morning Chronicle)

25–27 August 1774

Chelmsford, Aug. 26. – Last Monday John Osborne, of Mountnessing, Carpenter, was committed to our Gaol by the Rev. Mr. Harvey, being charged on the Oath of Anthony Chalice, of Dunmo, with attempting to commit Sodomy on the Body of the said Chalice. (St. James's Chronicle)

Thursday 29 December 1774

An information on oath was made on Tuesday last, at the Town-Clerk’s office, in Winchester, against a clergyman, charging him with an attempt to commit an unnatural crime upon his hair dresser. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1774", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 20 February 2015, updated 11 Feb. 2021 <>.

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