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

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)

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.]

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)

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 serevant 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, for extorting money from John Church, Esq; (Stamford Mercury)

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, enlarged 27 July 2019 <>.

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