Newspaper Reports, 1782–84

Thursday 18 April 1782

WHEREAS I Thomas Freeth, of the parish of Corsham in the county of Wilts, yeoman, did, at the last summer assizes in the said county, falsely and maliciously, and without any reasonable or probable cause whatever, prosecute and cause to be tryed Edward Barton, of the parish of Corhsam aforesaid, yeoman, for an unnatural crime, of which crime the said Edward Barton was clearly acquitted; and the judge immediately after the acquittal was pleased to direct an action to be commenced by the said Edward Barton against me, for such false and malicious prosecution, which action has been since commenced and proceeded in until an interlocutory judgment was signed against me in the cause: But the said Edward Barton, at the intercession of friends, on my paying a sum of money, and all costs, charges, and expenses, which attended the defence of the proseuction, as also the cost, of the said action, is pleased to drop farther proceedings; for which I give him thanks, and am exceedingly sorry for my offence. As witness my hand, april 8, 1782
          The mark [X] of THOMAS FREETH.
          Stephen Vezey, attorney for Mr. Edward Barton.
                              (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Thursday, 12 Decembeer 1782

Yesterday two Men were committed to Wood-Street Compter by Alderman Halifax at Guildhall, for being detected in committing an unnatural Crime at a House near Smithfield. (Daily Advertiser)

Monday, 20 January 1783

Several attempts, says a correspondent, have lately been made in St. James's and the Green-Park, to extort money from persons passing thro' it, at a late hour of the evening, by drummers, soldiers, and other suspicious persons, by first asking them for money, and then on their refusal, threatening to charge them with having made an attempt to commit an unnatural crime; the consequence of which has been, that several persons have rather chose to give those villains money, than have their names brought into question on an accusation of so horrid a nature:– It is much to be wished that some measures were taken, to put an effectual stop to these shocking depredations, by instituting a patrole with power to take up all suspicious persons, found in the Park, at a late hour. (Morning Herald)

Tuesday, 28 January 1783

On Friday last was apprehended at Kingston, in Surry, B— R—, Esq; and a servant of the name of — D—is, in consequence of a warrant granted upon the information of — Lansdown, he having detected the said persons in an attempt to commit an unnatural crime. The gentleman and servant were admitted to bail before the magistrates of Kingston in the sum of 800l. [sic] to take their trials at the next assizes for Surry. (Parker's General Advertiser)

Thursday 17 April 1783

Yesterday at twelve o'clock, a coachman and groom stood in the pillory at Charing-Cross, pursuant to their sentence, for having extorted money from their master, by threats of charging him with an unnatural crime. The gentleman advanced money at various times, under apprehension of lying under such a detestable scandal; but at length had them apprehended, and they were convicted, on trial, to be pilloried twice, and to three years imprisonment. This is the second time of their being pilloried. (Stamford Mercury

Thursday, 24 July 1783

Daniel Hickman, a private in the 3d regiment of guards, was next tried for a robbery: the nature of his offence was this; under the menace of charging a man with an unnatural attempt he had extorted from him three guineas. – There was only the single oath of the prosecutor to prove his own innocence, with respect to the charge of an unnatural attempt, and the guilt of the prisoner in extorting the money. – The prisoner admitted that he sent a letter to the prosecutor, insisting on some more money than he had already received (the prosecutor under the apprehension for his character had given him three guineas), but he maintained that the prosecutor had asked him to sleep with him; that he had given him bread, cheese and ale to drink, and had also made him a present of a breast buckle; and he had afterwards made attempts upon him; which in the fury of his indignation, he declared he would make public; and having consented, at the entreaties of the prosecutor not to expose him, he had agreed to take two guineas from him, which he offered voluntarily, and one more tha next day: he called two soldiers in the guards, one of whom produced a breast buckle, which he said he had received from the prisoner; and which the latter pretended he had received from the prosecutor; but which the prosecutor swore never to have been his property; and never to have been in his possession.
          Mr. Justice Buller, said a cause nearly similar to this had been tried before him a few years ago, (alluding to the case of Donnelly who had been convicted for having extorted money from the Hon. Mr. Fielding) and the twelve judges had been unanimously of opinion, that when a man is put in fear of bodily harm, and in consequence of such fear, gives up his money the person who put him in that fear, and to take his money, is guilty of robbery: in the present case indeed, the prosecutor had been put in dread only of injury to his character; but ths Judges had been on the former occasion of opinion, that if any menace, of any nature had been used, which might induce a reasonable man to part with his kmoney against his consent, the person using such a menace, and taking the money, was guilty of a robbery: this being the law, it rested with the jury to determine whether they believed the account of the prosecutor, or not; if they believed they would of course convict the prisoner; if not they would acquit him. The jury withdrew, and in a few minutes returned a verdict – Guilty – DEATH. (Morning Herald)

Saturday 31 August 1782

N O R W I C H, August 30.
Friday last was committed to the castle Tho. Taylor of Dartingham, blacksmith, and John Narborough of Ingoldsthorpe, charged with committing the most detestable act of sodomy, which the said Tho. Taylor, on his voluntary examination, hath confessed. (Ipswich Journal)

Wednesday 29 October 1783

A correspondent from Paris, who was present at the late execution of the Friar convicted of an unnatural crime, has favoured us with the following particulars: the monk who murdered a young boy that would not submit to his infernal solicitations, was tried at two o'clock in the afternoon, and sentenced to be broke alive on the cross, and then burnt to ashes at four the same day. He was allowed some time in a house to prepare himself for the awful moment, but did not remain there half an hour. He was then taken to the Grève, the place of execution, tied to the cross of St Andrew, and broke with amazing celerity. He had eight bones broken, and was thrown alive into the fire. It is usual for criminals on these occasions to receive the coup de grace, that is, the criminal being tied down on the cross, which is fixed upon a scaffold, the executioner sets a halter round the said criminal's neck, and passing the ends of the rope through two holes made on purpose in a board of the scaffold, one of Jack Ketch's men, who attends underneath, joins the aforesaid ends in a kind of press, and takes care to strangle the malefactor at the very instant he receives the first stroke. The Friar in question was denied this extraordinary favour, though he begged it with many dreadful cries. Monsieur Jack Ketch made his appearance in his own coach, dressed in scarlet laced with gold, with three of his men behind. (Caledonian Mercury)

Tuesday, 21 October 1783

On Friday, the 10th inst. a friar was executed at Paris for an unnatural crime, and afterwards attempting to murder a young boy of 14, a commissionaire, a kind of porter to waits at the corner of the streets to run of errands. The sentences on criminals are published in France by the Courts of Justice in which they are passed; the present runs in the following manner: Jacques François Paschal, is condemned to the amende honorable, before the principal door of L'Eglise de Paris, where he shall be conducted by the executioner of haute justice, in a tumbril, in his shirt, his feet and head naked, holding in his hand a burning torch of yellow wax of two pounds weight, having a rope about his neck and a label before and behind, on which shall be written these words: Debauche contre nature & assassin:" "The crime against nature, and murder;" and there, on his knees shall declare in a loud and intelligible voice that wickedly, rashly, and ill-advisedly, he had delivered himself up to an excess the most criminal towards a young commissionaire, aged fourteen, and had enticed him into his chamber, on the 3d of the present month of October, where, irritated by his resistence [sic], he had attempted to murder him, by giving him a great number of stabs with a knife on the head, reins, and in the back; of which he repents, and demands pardon of God, the King, and Justice: He shall then be taken in the same tumbril to the Place de Greve, to have his arms, legs, thighs, and reins, broken on a scaffold erected for that purpose in the said Place de Greve, and shall afterwards be cast into a burning fire, there to be consumed to ashes, and his ashes scattered in the wind, &c. The boy, though desperately wounded, we hear is not dead. (Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser)

Thursday 30 October to Thursday 6 November 1783

A Gentleman who arrived in Town a few Days ago from Paris, was present at the Execution of the Monk on the 10th Inst. for Murder, and an Attempt to commit a detestable Crime, says, the Particulars on the Subject, as stated in some of the English News-papers, are erreoneous; but the following may be depended on as a Fact. – The Monk, who belonged to the Convent of Montmartre, having formed a Design of gratifying his unnatural Passion on a Savoyard Boy, Commisionaire, or Messenger frequenting the Boulevards, Corner of Rue Poissoniere, enticed him to the Convent, and pretending to confess him, took him into his Cell, where, under the Mask of Religion, the Monster in Iniquity attempted to satisfy his brutal Desires, which the Boy resisting, he gagged, and bound him with Cords, to prevent his crying out, or making any Noise, and then stabbed him in several Parts of the Body, locked the Door and fled. Being missed in the Evening at Vespers, the Superior sent to his Cell, the Door of which remaining fastened, notwithstanding being repeatedly knocked at, was ordered to be broke open, when a most shocking Scene presented itself to View, the poor Boy weltering in his Blood, and near expiring. Every possible Assistance was immediately given, but in vain; for he survived no longer than just to be able to relate the dreadufl Story, and to discover who was the nefarious Perpetrator of so inhuman a Deed; in pursuit of whom the Police instantly dispatched the Marrechausse, and he was apprehended the next Morning in the Forest of St. Germain, disguised as a Peasant. Being conveyed to the Prison of the Grand Chatelet at Paris, he was privately tried according to the Custom of that Country, though on this particular Occasion hs Sentence was not announced so soon as is usual; for it was not till after the Expiration of twenty Days allotted for the Arrival of the Chief Executioners from the provincial Cities, summoned to give their personal Attendance at this Execution extraordinary, that his Sentence was read to him, that within forty-eight Hours he was to be broke on the Wheel, and his Body, whilst yet alive, burnt; at which he seemed very little affected. About one o'Clock on the Day mentioned, under strong Guard, and escorted by a very numerous Procession of Capuchin Friars, bareheaded, with lighted Torches in their Hands, chanting a Requiem for his departing soul, he was brought on Foot to the Church of Notre Dame, where, bare-footed, and stripped to his Shirt, with Labels behind and before, denoting, in Capital Letters, his Crimes, he made his final Confession, and asked Pardon from God, his King, and Country. He was, then, in the same Order, conducted to the Grève, the Place of Execution, where a large Scaffold, with the Apparatus of Death, was erected. At the same Time arrived the Executioner of the Capital, stiled Monsieur de Paris, who alighted from a most elegant Cabriolet, beautifully ornamented with his Arms and Crest on the Pannels, and two Servants in rich Liveries behind. He was a tall, handsome Man, between thirty and forty Years of Age, dressed in Scarlet and Gold, with the Insignia of his Order embroidered over the right Shoulder, a Sword by hs Side, and from Head to Foot fashionably and well equipped. After bowing three Times to the Spectators, who were amazingly numerous, he ascended the Scaffold, whereon the Criminal had, in the Interim been placed, and accompanied by a large Body of provincial Executioners, and other Officers of Justice, his Confessor now took leave, and he being fastened to the Cross, Monsieur de Paris, by Means of an Iron Bar, which he used with both Hands, very expeditiously executed Part of the first of the Sentence; and then ordered the Body to be trussed on a Wheel, they were together thrown into a large Fire, kindled at a little Distance from the Scaffold. The poor Wretch mounted the Steps with seeming Composure; but from the Moment he received the first Blow, he continued to utter the most piercing Shrieks, till the Fire put a Period to his Life and Misery. (Derby Mercury)

Thursday 18 March 1784

At Leicester Assizes, which ended on Saturday last, . . . James Murden, for attempting to commit the Act of Buggery on the Body of one Alexander Mutton, to be imprisoned two Years, and to find Sureties for his good Behaviour. (Derby Mercury)

11–13 May 1784

On Tuesday a man, who has lived as a gentleman's butler near twenty years, with a good character, was committed to New-Prison, being charged with an unnatural crime. (General Evening Post)

Saturday, 15 May 1784

Thursday a constable of this city was summoned before Mr. Alderman Newnham, at Guildhall, for receiving the enormous bribe of five guineas for discharging a man apprehended for an unnatural attempt. Upon a very full investigation of the whole charge, the officer seemed to have committed the offence rather passively, as the money was originally left in his hands for a composition of the crime, which was refused, and therefore it became a snug perquisite of the officer. Mr. Alderman Newnham, in his manly and excellent mode of reprehension, called the constable to an account, who, it must be acknowledged, made an apology of the utmost submission, and the Magistrate desired a restitution of the money, otherwise the Ward would prosecute the Constable for the credit of the Common-Council. (Parker's General Advertiser)

Monday 7 June 1784

[In a trial for the murder of Nicholas Casson during a riot:] None of the witnesses who came on the side of the prosecution appearing to have any thing to say, that could prove the guilt of James Ward, Joseph Shaw, and James Murray, they were ordered down, and the whole weight of the evidence was directed against Patrick Nicholson, who was charged by Joseph Gilmore, Edward Arnold, and John Joseph, with having actually struck the blow which occasioned the death of Nicholas Casson, particularly John Joseph, who asserted that he saw him strike the blow, and afterward jump upon the deceased as he lay upon the ground. . . . John Joseph, whose testimony bore the strongest as to the facts he stated, was by Serjeant Hubbard, who had served with him abroad, and had known him 12 years, proved to have received a thousand lashes in America, for making a false accusation of an attempt to commit an unnatural crime, which he denied upon his oath before when charged by Mr. Erskine. Many other creditable people attended to prove that John Joseph was a man of a very bad character, and one whose oath ought not to be taken upon the slightest occasion. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Thursday, 28 October 1784

The late death of an ignoble Irish Lord in Italy, is a fortunate circumstance for this country, and some consolation to insulted manhood; no less a sum than 18,000l. per ann. was regularly remitted his lordship from this country, for gratifications, which however priviledged in foreign climes, we trust, must ever be held in detestation by the true sons of Britain!
          The immediate cause of a certain character abandoning his native country some years since not being generally known, the public may depend upon the auithenticity of the following state of it. His Lordship accidentally dining one day at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand, beheld a very puerile waiter, in whose favour he felt a sudden and not very common prepossession; his visits to the house, in consequence thereof, became frequent under the pretence of meeting some friends to dine, for whom an elegant repast was always prepared; and on the company not meeting at the time, his Lordship ordered only one or two things to be sent in for himself, contriving it so, that his favourite boy was the only waiter who attended him. The master of the house, struck with the repetition of this singularity, had the curiosity at last to peep through the key-hole, and was soon convinced of the only company sought for by his noble guest; – the bell soon after rang, and the bill was called, which the landlord graciously made out verbatim as follows:

        £.     s.     d.
To dinner         2   12     5
Champagne         0     7     5
Claret         0     6     0
Hock         0     8     0
Fruit         1     1     0
To * * * * *, the Boy     500     0     0
(Total)     504   15     0

His Lordship, only casting his eye over it, found it a true bill; and therefore instantly gave a draft for the sum on his Banker; and the same evening embarked for the Continent, from which he never returned! (Morning Post)

Saturday, 30 October 1784

When the ignoble wretch (alluded to in our paper of Thursday) made the unnatural attempt on the waiter, which, at the same time, was not at the Crown and Anchor, but nearer to Pall-Mall, the house at the time was full of company, among whom was the late Charles Townshend [noted politician, whose promotion of taxation on the American colonies led to the American Revolution]; the discovery too was made in consequence of the outcry of the waiter: Charles, who was one of the the first who entered the room, exclaimed, – "D–n, ye, my Lord, – if you had fallen in love with the dumb waiter, you had not been detected." (Morning Post)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1782–84", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 18 September 2014, updated 8 March 2021 <>.

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