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 most of the following news reports. See also the Newspaper Reports for January 1777 for reports of his execution.

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 moed 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)

Friday 6 December 1776

Yesterday at the Public-Office in Bow-Street, Thomas Burrows, and James Ottiwell were put to the Bar, charged on the Oath of Anthony Loome witih sodomitical Practices. He gave a long and circumstantial Account, too indecent and horrible to be related, in which he said the Prisoners, with near 50 other Wretches, usually assembled at a House in Nag's-Head-Court, Drury-Lane, for such abominable Practices; and that one Man, who had the Appearance of a Gentleman, who frequented that House, and who keeps his Carriage, offered the Evidence three Guineas to permit him to commit a Crime of the highest Magnititude, which he rejected with a manly Dignity. Positive Proof of a capital Nature being adduced against Burrows, he was immediately committed to Newgate to stand his Trial at the present Sessions at the Old-Bailey: Ottiwell was comitted for a Misdeameanor, and Loome was bound over to prosecute. (Derby Mercury)

Saturday 7 December 1776

Yesterday at the public-office in Bow-street, a most disgusting examination of a person, accused of having committed an unnatural crime, took place at this office. It apepared from the tstimony of a witness, that a meeting of detestable wretches has for some time past been held, weekly, at the sign of the Harlequin, a publick house near Nag's-head-court, Drury-lane. The witness gave in the names of a great number of persons who frequent this meeting, (several of whom were men of credit, and heretofore unsullied reputation) and related a variety of scandalous and unmanly practices, which he had from time to time been an eye-witness of. He asserted, that one of the prisoners, (named Burrows) was in part the landlord of the house at which these meetings were held, and in the most direct terms charged him with having committed the odious fact alledged, with a man named Brookes, (not yet taken) stating his evidence with such fulness and particularity, that there was not a person present who did not feel a degree of horror at the recital. The prisoner was committed to Newgate, and another man who was set to the bar with him, and accused of some unnatural conduct, was committed to Tothill-fields Bridewell, to take his trial for a misdemeanour. (Ipswich Journal)

Monday 9 December 1776

Thursday 25 Prisoners were tried at the Old-Baiiley, three of whom were capitally convicted, viz. Tho. Burrows, for committing an unnatural Crime at a House in a Court in Drury-Lane, on a Person who, with about 14 others, had assembled for the like vile Purposes; . . . (Northampton Mercury)

Friday 20 December 1776

Committed from the Public-Office in Bow-street since the publication of the Hue-and-Cry.
. . . Thomas Burrows, for being guilty of the detestable crime of sodomy; . . . (Police Gazette)

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 18 September 2014 <>.

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