Newspaper Reports, 1780–81

20–22 January 1780

Yesterday a Man was tried at Guildhall, charged with an Attempt to commit an unnatural Crime in Moorfields, and being found guilty, was sentenced to suffer three Months Imprisonment in the Poultry-Compter, and to pay a Fine of 5l. (St. James's Chronicle)

25–28 March 1780

To the Printer of the St. J. CHRONICLE.
. . . News-papers are more generally read than any other Productions of the Press. To tell you, Mr. Baldwin, that the St. James's Chronicle is, in every Respect, the first Paper in this Kingdom, were only to assert a Truth, which, I suppose, hath been long since proved by the Extent of your Sale. You will however excuse the Liberty I take in suggesting to you one Step farther towards Perfection. I have already said that Decency is characteristick of the present Age. Why not therefore fall in entirely with the Delicacy of the Times? Why such frequent Mention of Men being tryed for Rapes, for Sodomy, for unnatural, for detestable Crimes, for Beastiality?
          I have no Doubt, Sir, but your own good Sense will, upon Reflection, suggest the extreme Impropriety of such Words appearing in a News-paper which is read in almost every Family in the Kingdom. What can a Father answer, when an innocent Son or Daughter asks the Meaning of these Words? He evades the Question, and thereby increases their Curiosity. It were absurd to upbraid me with having in this Letter written the very Words I mean to reprobate. My Subject required that I should be explicit; but I hope this will be the last Time that not only these Words, but every other Expression tending to excite the same Ideas, shall be read in the St. James's Chronicle. In the Name of common Decency and common Sense, let there be at least one news-paper, which a Man may venture to read in a Company of modest Women! Your having excluded the many shameless Quack Advertisements which are seen in other Papers, is highly commendable; and I flatter myself, that the laudable Motive which inspired that Resolution will prompt you to extend your Plan of Reformation so as to render your Paper as far superior to others, in Point of Decency, as (without a Compliment) it certainly is in every other Respect.
                    Your's, &c.
          (We readily subscribe to the Justice of this Correspondent's Censure upon the Indelicacy of the publick Prints, and shall endeavour to render the St. James's Chronicle unexceptionable, by excluding every Occurrence of such abominable Practices.) (St. James's Chronicle)

Saturday 29 April 1780

WHEREAS we ELIZABETH BRIANT, of the Parish of Chalfont, St. Giles's, in the County of Bucks, and ANN MILES, of the same Place, having published some false, feigned, scandalous, and defamatory Words, respecting the Characters of WILLIAM MANDERSON and CHRISTOPHER MANDERSON, both of Amersham, in the said County of Bucks, Drapers, by saying that they had committed an unnatural Crime with each other. And in Consideration that they, the said William Manderson and Christopher Manderson, having declined a Prosecution which they had commenced against us, We, the said Elizabeth Briant and Ann Miles, do hereby own and acknowledge, that such scandalous and defamatory Words, by us spoken, were, and be, entirely false, and without any Grounds or Foundation.
          As witness our Hands, this 22d Day of March, 1780.
                    The Mark X of ELIZABETH BRIANT.
                    The Mark X of ANN MILES.
                              (Oxford Journal)

Tuesday 28 November 1780

Sunday evening the Rev. Mr. Romaine, in the course of his sermon at St. Dunstan's, Fleet-street, observed, that he had ministered in Holy Things in that place upwards of thirty years, and that during that period no riot or disturbance had happened; but that he had at that time great reason to apprehend something of that nature. He then informed his congregation, that some persons had been observed in that sacred place, in actions which indubitably indicated they wanted but convenience to perpetrate the most detestable of crimes; that peace-officers were stationed in different parts of the church, in order to apprehend them, should they repeat their beastly and sacriligious practices; and that they were known, and he was informed, that some of them were then present. He next expatiated with great ardency on the danger of their situation, if they continued in their abominable sins; and concluded with a pathetic and fervent application to the throne of mercy for their conversion and pardon. (The British Mercury and Evening Advertiser)

Wednesday, 29 November 1780

The scandalous neglect of that great moral duty, which is the cement of society, Matrimony, and the growth of effeminacy in the men, and prostitution in the women, demand the most serious attention. It is of that consequence to a commercial city in a temporal sense, and our salvation in a spiritual, that some method should be adopted to promote it, and give it a free, open, and generous encouragement, as in time of old Rome, where certain privileges were granted to men possessing three children. This would create a laudable ambition in many young men, and the fair governesses of the creation would be treated with that reciprocal respect, attention, and regard, which would strike a mortal stab to prostitution, the scandalous and horrid effects of which are dreadful to a thinking mind. Let it be likewise be understood, prostitution proceeds not from seduction in the men, but absolute neglect, supineness, and contempt; and we are bold to say, bad as the vice of seducing a virgin may be, men have not, in these times of effeminacy, even the courage to speak to, or look a modest woman in the face: therefore such inexplicable beauty and perfection being treated with contempt, drives them to that state of desperation, without reflection or remorse, the most abandoned prostitution and degeneracy; and this evil must be done away by moral persuasion. (The British Mercury and Evening Advertiser)

Monday 5 March 1781

A few Days ago a Gentleman in this City, being charged by three Cadet Servants with an unnatural Crime in order to extort Money, like a Man of Spirit had two of the Fellows taken, whom he prosecuted according to Law, and after a fair Trial, they were both sentenced to be whipped twice, pillored [sic] twice, and imprisoned for twelve Months; at the Instant they received their Sentence, the third Fellow came into Court to know the Fate of his Companions, when luckily the Plaintiff saw him and had him secured, the Court immediately ordered that he should be prepared for Trial, and he was accordingly, and the same Seentence inflicted on him. (Hibernian Journal; or, Chronicle of Liberty)

Friday 16 March 1781

D U B L I N.
Wednesday . . . James Cunningham, James Dillon, and John Darcey, were set on the Pillory at the Tholsel, and afterwards whipped from thence to College-green and back again, for extorting Money from a Gentleman on the false Accusation of his attempting an unnatural Crime on one of them. Both the High Sherriffs attended to see the Sentence executed. (Hibernian Journal; or, Chronicle of Liberty)

6–9 May 1780

Yesterday at the adjourned Sessions held at Guildhall, before the Lord-Mayor, &c. a man was tried for making an attempt to commit an unnatural crime in Pater-noster Row, and being found guilty, was sentenced to suffer one year's imprisonment in Newgate, and to pay a fine of 6s. 8d. But, at the prisoner's request, his sentence was changed to be imprisoned in Wood-street Compter, instead of Newgate. (Whitehall Evening Post)

Saturday 2 June 1781

At the Adjournment of the Quarter Sessions for this City [Oxford], held on Tuesday and Wednesday last, . . . Richard Tarrant, found guilty of an Assault upon Richard Geden, in the Parish of St. Thomas in this City, with Intent to commit an unnatural Crime, was sentenced to two Years Imprisonment in our Castle; to be there whipped; and immediately to pay a Fine of Fifty Pounds to the Bailiffs of the City: And Thomas Forster, a Constable, one of the Evidence upon this Trial, was indicted for wilful and corrupt Perjury. (Oxford Journal)

Monday 30 July 1781

Monday last, at an adjournment of the general quarter sessions for this city, Rd. Geden, for sodomitical practices, was sentenced to suffer two years imprisonment, and during that time to be thrice severely whipped in prison. (Reading Mercury)

Tuesday 31 July 1781

SATURDAY last the Assizes began at York, before Mr. Justice Nares and Mr. Justice Heath, before whom the following prisoners are to take their trials, viz. . . . Thomas Brown, of Doncaster, peruke-maker, charged with buggery; . . . (Leeds Intelligencer)

Friday, 17 August 1781

It is to be hoped that the public notice, which has been taken for some mnths past of the most unnatural of all crimes, will cause a general exportation of our Anglo-Italians to the dear nursery where that most detestable vice vegetates in perfection. Rome, once the glorious MISTRESS of the world, is now become the vilest prostitute on earth! (Morning Herald)

21–23 August 1780

Yesterday the two young men, charged with committing an unnatural crime last Friday in a house in Darithouse-lane, passed under a long re-examination before the Lord-Mayor, when the several witnesses swore positively to the fact. They desired to be admitted to bail, and two persons appeared, but were not accepted until an enquiry is made whether they were sufficient. The prisoners were sent back to the Poultry Compter until a proper enquiry can be made. (Lloyd's Evening Post)

Thursday 23 August 1781

Monday at the assizes at Bridgwater, Aaron Bywater, late brewer of Walcot, was convicted of an attempt to commit an unnatural crime on Joseph Beaver. It is expected his sentence will be fine, pillory, and imprisonment. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Thursday 30 August 1781

At the Assizes at Bridgewater, . . . Aaron Bywater, for a sodomitical attempt, was fined 200l. and ordered to be imprisoned one year, enter into a recognizance with two sureties, himself in 200l. and such sureties in 100l. each for his future good behaviour, and also for his appearance at the assize next after the expiration of the said 12 months, to answer such matters and things as shall be objected against him. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Saturday 15 September 1781

On Monday last Nicholas Hemings, and Richard Geden, the former for Grand Larceny, the latter for Sodomitical Practices, (under Sentence of two Years Imprisonment, and to be both repeatedly whipped) with James Eldridge, a Deserter from the second Regiment of Guards, found Means to escape from our Castle Gaol, about seven o'Clock in the Evening, by forcing the Door of the Felons Hall, and breaking through the Tower Stair-case about ten Feet above the Ground, from whence they let themselves down by tying together the Sheets from their Beds; but it being broad Day-light, they were observed by the Neighbourhood, who alarmed the Keeper, and the two former were immediately secured. – Geden, by some Accident, had one of his Legs fractured in the Attempt; but the Deserter, who was without Fetters, mixing among the Crowd got off undiscovered, and has not been heard of. (Oxford Journal)

Thursday 20 September 1781

Tuesday one Hippesley was apprehended in this city, and comitted to Bridewell, for being concerned with Prescott, (who is now in Shepton-Mallet goal) in extorting money from a gentleman at Shepton, under the abominable charge that the gentleman offered to commit acts of Sodomy with them. – Prescott is an old offender, and stood in the pillory in this city for the same crime, some years ago. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Benjamin Loveday and John Burke

Thursday 26 July 1781

Benj. Loveday, who with another was lately committed to Newgate for Sodomy, on Saturday last had a fresh indictment laid against them by one James Morgan, for committing the same detestable crime on him, at a house in the Parish of Christ-Church. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Saturday 29 September 1781

Bristol, Sept. 26. Monday Night Mr. Dunning, our Recorder, arrived here, and opened the Commission for holding the Assize and General Gaol Delivery for the City; and on Tuesday, after hearing Divine Service at the Mayor's Chapel, proceded to Guildhall upon Business, when the following Persons took their Trials: – Benjamin Loveday and John Burke, for the detestable Crime of Sodomy; they were both capitally convicted on the clearest Evidence, which is shocking to Human Nature to describe. (Oxford Journal)

Thursday 4 October 1781

At Bristol assizes, which ended Sunday morning early, before John Dunning, esq; their Recorder, five persons were capitally convicted, and received sentence of death, viz. Benj. Loveday, and John Burke, for the detestable crime of sodomy with each other; . . . – Joseph Giles, James Lane, and Wm. Ward, charged with sodomy with the above R. Loveday; the two first were found guilty of a misdemeanour, and the latter acquitted. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Saturday 6 October 1781

Bristol, October 6. At our Assizes and general Gaol Delivery, the five following Persons received Sentence of Death: — Benjamin Loveday and John Burke, for the Detestable Crime of Sodomy with each other; – . . . Loveday and Burke are to be executed on Friday the 12th Instant. (Oxford Journal)

Thursday 11 October 1781

Loveday and Burke, the sodomites, are left for execution on Friday next. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

16–18 October 1781

Last Friday Benjamin Loveday and John Burke were executed at St. Michael's Hill, Bristol, for sodomy. – They both, in the most solemn manner, protested their innocence respecting the crime for which they were doomed to suffer, and exculpated those under confinement there for the same offence. Loveday was about 41 yearsof age, and Burke 29. The first was formerly waiter at a principal inn in Bristol, but had lately kept a public house in Tower-lane; the latter had acted as a Midshipman in the impress service; but neither of them were natives of that city. (London Chronicle)

Thursday 18 October 1781

Benj. Loveday and John Burke, who were convicted on clear and positive evidence of the detestable crime of sodomy, were executed on Friday at Bristol pursuant to their sentence. To the last moment, they both most solemnly persisted in their innocence, though in every other respect their behaviour was decent, and such as became their awful situation. – Loveday lived some years since as waiter at a principal inn in Bristol, and lately kept a public-house in Tower-lane; Burke acted as midshipman in the impress service; – but neither of them were natives of Bristol. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Saturday 20 October 1781

Last Friday Benjamin Loveday and John Burke were executed at St. Michael's Hill, Bristol, for sodomy. (Ipswich Journal)

Saturday 20 October 1781

Bristol, Oct. 17. . . . Friday last, pursuant to their Sentences, Benjamin Loveday and John Burke, were executed on Saint Michael's Hill, for Sodomy. About Twelve o'Clock they were brought out of Newgate, and being placed in a Cart, moved in slow Procession to the fatal Tree, preceded by the Under-Sheriff on Horse-back, and other proper Offices; and attended in a Chariot by the Rev. Mr. Easterbrooke and two other Clergymen, who have frequently visited them since their Conviction, and earnestly laboured to bring them to a due Sense of their Crime, and a Confession of their Guilt. To and at the Place of Execution, their Behaviour was decent, and becoming their awful Situation; and though their Conviction was founded on clear and positive Evidence, yet with their last Breath, they both, in the most solemn Manner, protested their Innocence respecting the Crime for which they were doomed to suffer; but at the same Time acknowledged themselves to have been guilty of many heinous Offences. (Oxford Journal)

Monday 29 October 1781

I JAMES ROADES, of East-Claydon, in the County of Bucks, do thus publicly acknowledge, that every Thing I have asserted, depreciating the Character of SIMON COANEY, of Northmarston, in the County aforesaid, by charging him with committing an unnatural Crime on the 23d of September last, late in the Evening, is, in every Respect, false and groundless; and I humbly beg Pardon of Simon Coaney for what I have said, and consider it as an Act of the greatest Clemency that he, the said Simon Coaney, consents to stop a Prosecution commenced against me for the above base and scandalous Report. In Witness whereof I have set my Hand,
                              JAMES ROADES.
          October 16th, 1781.
          JOHN TATTAM.
          HENRY COOPER.
                    (Northampton Mercury)

Saturday 15 December 1781

Monday in the court of King's bench, before Lord Mansfield, an indictment was tried, charging the son of a late great lawyer with an unnatural attempt upon a merchant of this city in one of the Theatres. Mr. Dunning and Mr. Erskine, counsel for the prosecution, pressed the matter with great tenderness. Mr. Peckham for the defendant made a very long speech, appealing to the feelings of the jury to consider the honour of the family; he said the defendant was a flighty gentleman of large fortune and rather insane, but he called no witnesses, and the jury found the defendant guilty. (Ipswich Journal)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1780–81", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 26 Feb. 2003, enlarged 29 Aug., 18 Sept. and 18 Nov. 2014, 1 March 2021 <>.

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