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

Newspaper Reports, 1777–1779

Saturday 4 January 1777

A principial tradesman at Sudbury has lately been accused of attempting to commit an unnatural and detestable crime; he had it seems made the same attempt some time since, but on promising never to repeat such behaviour, the affair did not then transpire. (Ipswich Journal)

Saturday 11 January 1777

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; . . . (Newcastle Courant)

Friday 17 January 1777

Yesterday Mr. Recorder made his Report to his Majesty of the Prisoners under Sentence of death in Newgate, when the following were ordered for Execution on Wednesday the 29th Instant: . . . and Thomas Burrows, for the detestable Crime of Sodomy. (Derby Mercury)

Monday 20 January 1777

Yesterday the Report was made to His Majesty iN Council of the Convicts under Sentence of Death in Newgate, when the following were ordered for Execution on Wednesday the 29th inst. viz. . . . Thomas 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 abominable Purposes; . . . (Northampton Mercury)

Friday 31 January 1777

LONDON, (THURSDAY) January 30.
Yesterday Morning, at half past Eight o'Clock, the six following Malefactors were carried in two Carts from Newgate to Tyburn, where they were executed, pursuant to their Sentence, viz. . . . and Thomas Burrows, for the detestable Crime of Sodomy. – Just before they were turned off (which was about half after Ten o'Clock) Burrows threw a Paper among the Crowd, to the following Purport: "I am as innocent as the Child unborn of the Crime which I am about to suffer for. However, I hope to receive Mercy from my gracious God. I forgive my Prosecutors, and pray God to do the same." They all behaved with great Decency and Composure of Mind. A scaffolding that was before some new Houses, contiguous to the Gallows, on which a Number of People were assembled, fell down, by which Accident several were severely bruised, but no Lives lost. (Derby Mercury)

Monday 14 April 1777

Thursday, 24 Prisoners were tried at the Old-Bailey, . . . The Trials of a Person of Staines and his Nephew, a young Lad, for Sodomy, came on Yesterday at the Old-Bailey.
          Matthew Tillotson was the only Witness, and, from the Circumstances of his Evidence, Judge Blackstone did not think it necessary the Prisoners should be put on their Defence: They were of course acquitted.

Monday 30 June 1777

On Tuesday last came on to be tried before Earl Mansfield, at Westminster Hall, the two several prosecutions of the King against Thomas Jackson, Postmaster at Staines, for attempting to commit an unnatural crime, &c. when Mr. Jackson was acquitted. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Saturday 5 July 1777

BURY, July 4.
Saturday was committed to our gaol James Bulbrook, woolcomber, of Chevington, aged near 60, charged with violently attempting the crime of sodomy on John Kemp, labourer; and further charged with wounding and maiming the said Kemp in the face with a knife, on account of resisting his unnatural attempt. (Ipswich Journal)

Saturday 5 July 1777

Monday last . . . James Bulbrook, of Chevington, near 60 years of age, was committed to our goal, charged on the oath of John Kemp with assaulting, cutting and maiming him in the face and underlip, with a knife; also with attempting sodomy on the said John Kemp. (Norfolk Chronicle)

Tuesday, 8 July 1777

Bury, July 4.   Saturday was committed to our Gaol a Woolcomber, of Chevington, aged near 60, charged with violently atempting an unnatural Crime, and further charged with wounding and maiming the Person in the Face with a Knife, on Account of resisting his unnatural Attempt. (Daily Advertiser)

Tuesday 12 August 1777

WILLIAM MOWDEY was arraigned at the bar, for committing the unnatural and detestable crime of —— with a mare, in the parish of Seud, in the county of Surry. As soon as the ceremony of arraignment was over, and the said prisoner left at the bar for the first trial, all the ladies, taken by surprize, were in the utmost consternation, and, much to the honour of the sex, withdrew precipitately. The two witnesses (after delivering their evidence upon oath) being particularly asked whether they could swear to the actual fact, they could not, when the Judge directed the Jury to acquit the prisoner of the charge laid in the indictment, there being no indictment laid for the assault with intent to commit that most horrid and detestable crime, the witnesses were bound over to prosecute at the next assizes at Kingston for the attempt.
          The ladies were now called in, and restored to their places, when Rose M'Daniel, Ann Underwood, and Mary Eagle, were put to the bar, indicted for stripping and robbing a poor Welch country girl in a field near Camberwell, and leaving her there exposed and naked. . . . (Leeds Intelligencer)

Thursday 4 September 1777

Dr. Myonnet, of Gray's-Inn, charged Hutton, Claxton, and two other men, with extorting several sums of money from him, by threatening to accuse him of an unnatural crime. The fact being clearly proved against Hutton and Claxton, they were committed, and the others discharged. (Stamford Mercury)

from Friday 3 October to Friday 9 October 1777

We are sorry to inform the Public, that a Person of this Town, named M——n, who has professed teaching School, has just absconded for a most unnatural and detestable Crime, which it is said he committed several Times, upon a Boy about ten Years of Age, who was one of his Scholars. – It is said the Boy's Father is not in Circumstances proper to bear the Expence of a Prosecution. – Pity it is, that such a Wretch should escape on that Account. (Derby Mercury)

Monday 2 March 1778

Thursday forenoon William Spencer was brought from Newgate, and put in the pillory, in Lincoln's-inn Fields, where he stood one hour pursuant to his sentence on Saturday last, for an assault on John Forward, with an intent to commit an unnatural crime; seven or eight thousand people, it is supposed, assembled on the occasion, who severely pelted him with apples, potatoes, mud, &c. After his time was expired he was carried back to Newgate, in order to undergo one year's imprisonment. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Saturday 9 May 1778

On Friday last, at the Old Bailey, the following singular circumstance happened: A man was indicted for sending a letter to a gentleman in order to extort money from him, and in case of his refusal threatened to accuse him of an unnatural crime. Mr. Sylvester, counsel for the prosecution, as soon as the prisoner was put to the bar, informed the court, that as the prosecutor was coming to court to give evidence, his pocket was picked of his pocket-book, which contained the letter (that was the chief evidence against the prisoner) a bank note of 30l. and other things of value. By this means the prisoner was discharged. (Ipswich Journal)

Monday 3 August 1778

SALISBURY, Aug. 1. The following prisoners are to take their trials at our assizes which begin this day before Sir Richard Perryn, Knt. and Sir Francis Buller, Knt. viz. . . . Edmund Carter, for assaulting John Harding and Christopher Beallinger with intent to commit an unnatural crime. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Thursday 15 October 1778

LONDON, Oct. 10.
The man who was carried on Wednesday before the Lord Mayor, charged with having attempted to commit an unnatural crime, and sent to the Compter as a propr person to serve as a soldier, was on Thursday taken before the Commissioners at Guildhall; but they being informed of the offence he was charged with, refused to accept him, and he was thereupon taken back to the Compter until he can get bail for his appearance at the Old Bailey, to take his trial for the said offence. (Stamford Mercury)

Saturday 30 January 1779

Yesterday was committed to the City Goal, a tanner at Thorp next Norwich, for violent attempt to commit an act of sodomy on a lad about 18 years of age. (Norfolk Chronicle)

from Friday 12 February to Friday 19 February 1779

Yesterday Morning, at Nine o'Clock, came on at the Old-Bailey the Trial of James Donolly, for a Highway-Robbery on the 18th of January last, at Noon, in Soho-Square, on the Honourable Mr. Fielding, youngest Sonn to the Earl of Denbigh. The Prisoner's Offence was stopping Mr. Fielding, and getting Money from him under Pretence of charging Mr. Fielding, a Young under Age, with unnatural Practices. The Facts were fully proved by Mr. Fielding and his Brother, Jonh Fielding. The Prisoner in his Defence urged a Point of Law, and submitted it to the Judtges, Buller and Perryn, whether it was a Street-Robbery. He also said that the Charge was never thought of till Mr. Fielding came to the Public-Office in Bow-Street, where Sir John Fielding put it into the Prosecutor's Head. This was positively denied by Lord and Mr. Fielding, on Oath. Judge Buller observed to the Jury, that the latter Part of the Prisoner's Defence was an high Aggravation of his Offence, for he accused Sir John Fielding of Subornation, and Lord and Mr. Fielding with absolute Perejury. With regard to the former part of it, his Lordshiip observed, that to constitute a Highway Robbery there was no necessity for Corporal Fear; for if a Person gives his Money under Terror of Mind, and compulsively, and against his Will,or for fear of Loss of Character, it is in Law established to be a capital Offence, nor was there any Necessity for a Person so giving his Money to be in dread of his Life by a Charge exhibited agianst him, it was sufficient that the Money was obtained under Terror of Mind, &c. Under this Direction the Jury found him guilty, but Judge Buller respited Sentence until the Opinion of the twelve Judges can be had, he taking the Verdict of the Jury, that "the Money was obtained under Terror of Mind." (Derby Mercury)

Monday 22 February 1779

Yesterday the Sessions ended at the Old-Bailey, when only three Persons were tried, one of whom was capitally convicted, viz. James Donally, alias Patrick Donally, for assaulting the Hon. Charles Fielding, Esq; on the Highway, putting him in Fear, and taking from hie one Guinea and a Half; the Robbery was committed under the Threat of charging the young Gentlemen [sic] with an unnatural Crime, in Case he did not give him Money. . . . the Judgment against James Donally being respited for the Opinion of the Twelve Judges. (Northampton Mercury)

Saturday 17 April 1779

B U R Y, April 16.
Tuesday Wm. Sell (a prisoner for debt in our gaol) and John Carter, (a private in the West Suffolk militia) were charged on the oath of Wm. Rose, with committing sodomy, which the said John Carter has confessed. (Ipswich Journal)

Friday 7 May 1779

WHEREAS on Monday the 15th of April, 1779, BENJAMIN WHITEHEAD, of Bewdley, did attempt to commit an Unnatural Crime, on the Body of STEPHEN GREEN, of that Place, and is now supposed to be at the Sign of the Feathers in Full-Street, Derby. Whoever shall bring, or cause to be brought, before WILLIAM CRAYME, Mayor of Bewdley, in the County of Worcester, the Body of the said Whitehead, shall receive a Reward of TEN POUNDS. (Derby Mercury)

Saturday 8 May 1779

On Thursday last the twelve Judges met at Chief Justice De Grey's houe in Lincoln's-inn-fields, to give their opinion on the case of James Donolly, convicted the session before last for a robbery on the Hon. Charles Fielding, son of the Earl of Denbigh, when counsel being heard, their Lordships were clearly of opinion, that the threat of the prisoner, when he demanded Mr. Fielding's money, viz. "You had better comply, or I'll take you before a magistrate, and charge you with an unnatural crime," was equivalent to an actual violence, and was such a method as in common experience was likely to occasion fear, and induce any man to part with his property. Lord Mansfield with great energy observed, that it was a specious mode of robbery of late grown very common, invented to fraud to evade the law, but which would not suffer itself to be evaded. (Ipswich Journal)

Monday 24 May 1779

ON Wednesday the sessions began at the Old Bailey, when Patrick Donolly was brought to the bar, and Justice Willes informed him and the court in general, of the purport of the opinion of the twelve Judges upon his case; which was, that his crime with the description of robbery as stated in the most approved law-books, as it had the three chief requisites there mentioned as necessary to constitute that offence; to wit, a felonious itnention, a violence, and a taking; all of which attended Donolly's case, because he had asked for money he had no title to, had threatened a prosecution against Mr. Fielding for an unnatural attempt upon him, if his request was not complied with, and had in consequence received of Mr. Fielding, at two different times, a half guinea and a guinea. Sentence of death will according be passed on him. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Thursday 29 July 1779

At Bedford Assizes Thomas Denby and Samuel Wallis were tried and convicted of unnatural practices, and sentenced to pay a fine of 5s. each, to be imprisoned in the house of correction for one year, to stand once in the pillory, and to find sureties for their good behaviour for three years. (Stamford Mercury)

Saturday 31 July 1779

On Monday evening Lord Chief Baron Skynner, and the Hon. Mr. Justice Blackstone, arrived in this city, and opened the commission for holding the assizes.
          . . . At the assizes at Bury St. Edmund's, which ended on Saturday last, . . . William Fell and Robert Carter, for sodomy, were sentenced to stand in the pillory, pay a fine of 5s. be imprisoned for one year, and find sureties for their good behaviour for three years. – Fell stood in the pillory on Tuesday, and was severely pelted by the populace. He died soon after he came out of the pillory, and it is conjectured that he had taken poison in the morning, with an intent to destroy himself before the time. (Norfolk Chronicle)

Saturday 4 September 1779

On Monday a letter arrived express at Sir John Fielding's from John Thurlow, Esq; Mayor of Norwich, informing him that a warrant had been granted against Thomas Grantham and Abraham Fountain, both of Whittlesey, in the Isle of Ely, for Sodomy, and requesting his assistance in apprehending them. Grantham is by trade a woolcomber, and a man of considerable property, and Fountain by trade a breeches-maker and glover, and of a genteel apearance. Ten guineas reward is offered for aprehending them by the parish of Whittlesey. (Ipswich Journal)

Saturday 11 September 1779

Whereas THOMAS GRANTHAM, a wool-comber, and ABRAHAM FOUNTAIN, a Breeches-maker and Glover, both of Whittlesey, in the Isle of Ely, in the county of Cambridge, stand charged upon oath before the Reference Doctor Warren, a Justice of the Peace of that county, with having committed the detestable crime of Sodomy, and for which warrants are issued to apprehend them.
          Whoever will apprehend them, or be the means of apprehending them, will receive Ten Guineas reward from the officers of the parish of Whittlesex aforesaid, on their conviction.
          Grantham is a man of property, has much the appearance of a gentleman; is about five feet nine inches high, upwards of sixty years old, rather lusty, dresses genteel, and generally in light coloured clothes, a large white wig, sallow complexion, round face, lisps a little, and has a pomposity in delivering himself.
          Fountain is rather taller than Grantham, is well dressed, either in mixed or bloom-coloured clothes; is about twenty-six years old, fair complexion, of a good address, and sandy curled hair. (Newcastle Courant)

Thursday 21 October 1779

The principal matter that came before the Magistrates in Bow-street, yesterday, was the examiantion of one Staples, who was accused of extorting money from Thomas Harris Carsey, servant to a Gentleman in Berners street, udner the pretence of charging him with an unnatural crime; from Carsey's evidence it apepared, that on the 10th of Sept. near eight o'clock in the evening, he met the prisoner in Piccadilly, who joining conversation with him they walked some considerable time, when the prisoner suddenly collared him, said he was one of Sir John Fielding's men, and he would accuse him of an unantural crime if he did not give him six guineas; that surprized and frightened at so heinous a charge, he borrowed some money of a friend and gave him two guineas, and likewise gave him two guineas the next day; yet this not contenting him, he further extorted 16s. and some wearing apparel from him; at last finding there was no probability of getting rid of him, he acquainted Sir John Fielding with the particulars, and had him apprehended. The prisoner attempted to retort the accusation on the prosecutor, but all in vain, for he was committe,d and Carsey bound over to prosecute him upon four separate indictments. (Stamford Mercury)

Monday 25 October 1779

On Thursday five Prisoners were tried at the Old-Bailey, two of whom were capitally convicted, viz. John Taylor, for forging a Receipt upon a Bill of Exchange . . .; The other capital Convict was John Staples, for robbing Thomas Harris Carrsay [sic] of two Guineas, under a Threat of charging him with an unnatural Crime. (Northampton Mercury)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1777–1779", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 16 June 2005; enlarged 29 August 2014 and 18 September 2014 <>.

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