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

Newspaper Reports, 1776

NOTE: See a separate page for the trial of Thomas Burrows, one of the men who regularly attended the private club where sodomites met for sex, as described in a separate page of news reports.

Thursday, 8 February 1776

Mr. Newenham, a young gentleman of Mitcham, appeared against Thomas Evans, and from a manuscript, which he had prepared for that purpose, acquainted the bench of the following facts – That in consequence of a very full house at one of the theatres, he was of necessity obliged to go to the shilling gallery, which, though crowded, was the least so of any part – that in attempting to lean, he happened by mere accident to lay his hand upon the thigh of a strnger who sat by him, and who in the course of the evening frequently conversed with him – that after the play was over, they both retired to a public-house in Bow-street, where they spent some time – that as they were returning to their different lodgings, the stranger stopped him suddenly in the street, and demanded the reason of the infamous attempt which, he said, he had made on him in the play house; at the same time declaring, that, unless he gave him what money he then had about him, and also a promise of a future sum, he would acquaint the public with his character, and expose the unnatural attempt he had made – that being a stranger in town, and totally unacquainted with the illicit practices by which bad people acquire money, he was terrified into a compliance, and to be released from such an accusation, gave him three guineas and two shillings, which was all he had about him, – that the next morning he was surprized in his lodgings by the appearance of the said stranger, in company with another – that threats were again used, and forty pounds insisted on, – that notwithstanding his conscious innocence, finding himself in the possession of such villains, he was a second time frightened into a concurrence – that after this, they had the audacity to follow him to Mitcham, and there insisted upon no less than one hundred pounds; upon which he acquainted his friends of the whole affair, and in consequence of their advice followed them to town, where the prisoner was secured. – The prisoner in his defence said, that the gentleman took a liking to him, and offered to him so much money; he denied he had ever accused him, and acknowledged that no indecency had been offered. Upon deliberation, the Justices committed him for felony, in robbing the prosecutor of three guineas, the money being taken in the street. (Morning Post)

Monday, 27 May 1776

On Saturday evenng the sessions ended at the Old Bailey, when nineteen convicts, including the two murderers, who are to be executed this day received sentence of death. – . . . the person who robbed a gentleman of Mitcham, under the pretence of concealing an unnatural attempt, . . . (Mornng Post)

Monday 4 March 1776

At the assizes for the county of Hants, which will begin at Winchester on Tuesday next, the following prisoners are to take their trials, viz. . . . Richard Watley, for sodomy; . . . (Reading Mercury)

Monday 11 March 1776

At our assizes which began here on Tuesday Last, and ended this day, . . . At the above assizes Richard Whatley, otherwise Churchill, was convicted upon the clearest evidence of that detestable crime called Sodomy, on Benjamin Duprey, coachman to Lovell Stanhope, Esq. one of the Members of Parliament for this city, who was on a visit at his Grace the Duke of Chandos's at Avington, in this county: and several witnesses coming from London on behalf of the prosecutor, they moved the Judge for their expences, and his Lordship ordered that their coach hire to and from London, and half-a-drown a day for their expenses, should be paid by the county; but Mr. Stanhope's Gentleman being in court, he told his Lordship that his master would pay all the expences himself of the prosecuition, without putting the county to any expence at all. – But to the honour of the county of Southampton, it is to be remarked, Whatley is not a native thereof. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Thursday 14 March 1776

Winchester, March 9. At our assizes, which ended yesterday, Richard Whatley, otherwise Churchill, was capitally convicted, upon the clearest evidence, of that detestable crime called sodomy on Benjamin Dupre, coachman to Lovell Stanhope, Esq; one of the members of parliament for Winchester, who was on a visit at his Grace the Duke of Chandos's, at Avington. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Thursday 28 March 1776

Friday Richard Whatley, otherwise Churchill, was executed at Winchester, pursuant to his sentence at the last assizes, for committing sodomy on Benjamin Dupré: He went from the gaol to the place of execution in a mourning coach, and was afterwards carried to Boyton to be interred. Though he denied to the last the actual commission of the infamous deed, yet he confessed the attempting it, and died a penitent. He was about 41 years of age, and had lived in many principal services, where he saved a considerable sum of money. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Monday, 1 April 1776

On Friday Afternoon last a young Man, in a State of Lunacy, jumped from the Ballustrades of Black-friars Bridge, and falling into a Coal-Lighter, was bruised in a most terrible Manner. With his Limbs broken, and Blood streaming from different Parts of his Body, he was taken to St Bartholomew's Hospital, but without any Hopes of Recovery. The Case of this unfortunate Youth is truly pitiable. Being charged with an unnatural Crime, of which he was perfectly innocent, and dreading the Loss of Reputation, he took a Resolution to put a Period to his Life. (Public Advertiser)

Wednesday, 3 April 1776

Yesterday at one o'clock two men were put in the pillory at the end of Margaret-street, Cavendish-square, where they stood for an hour, for extorting money from a gentleman under the pretence of his wanting to commit an unnatural crime with one of them; they were pelted in a severe manner with rotten eggs, dirt, &c. till they were almost dead; they were afterwards taken down, put in a coach, and carried back to prison. (Morning Chronicle)

Tuesday, 3 December 1776

Yesterday the Right Hon. the Lord Mayor, Alderman Smith, the Recorder, &c. held the General Sessions of the Peace for the City at Guildhall, when one Thomas was tried or an indictment preferred against him by Payne the Constable, for a Sodomitical attack; and being found guilty, received sentence to be imprisoned in Newgate for the term of twelve months, and once within that time to stand in the pillory. (Morning Post)

5–7 December 1776

Tuesday evening a man attempted to commit an unnatural crime on one Smith, a drummer in the guards; but the latter being resolute, he seized the villain, and took him to St. Martin's watch-house; and on Wednesday he was brought before the magistrates in Litchfield-street, who committed him, and bound the party over to prosecute. (London Evening Post)

Wednesday, 18 December 1776

On Monday morning a well-dressed man was found dead in the Green Park, having been shot the preceding evening in consequence of an unnatural attempt on a centinel. (Morning Chronicle)

Monday 23 December 1776

Monday another of those wretches who disgrace human nature, was charged before the Magistrates at the Rotation-office in Litchfield street, with assaulting Thomas Eaton, and attempting to commit an unnatural crime; and as the fact was supported by the testimony of the several witnesses, he was committed for trial. (Hampshire Chronicle)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1776", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 5 September 2014, updated 15 Feb. 2021 <>.

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