Newspaper Reports, 1782–1784

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 probably 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 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

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)

Thursday 30 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 desprately wounded, we hear is not dead.

from 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 hius 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)

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)

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 <>.

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