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

Newspaper Reports, 1785

Monday 14 February 1785

LEWES, February 14.
The following affair happened at Tunbridge-Wells, on Tuesday the 1st instant; – A gentleman, attended by one servant, came to the Angel inn, at that place, who, in the course of the day, it was observed, paid particular attention to a lad about fourteen years of age, nephew to the landlord, and in the evening found means to entice him to bed with him, which being soon after discovered byi the family, they suddenly rushed into the room, and rescued the boy from a situation that justified his friends in taking the gentleman into custody, who was, in consequence, the next day had before Messrs. Children and Hooker, two of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the county of Kent, charged with an attempt to commit an unnatural crime on the body of the boy; after a short examination, the charge was substantiated by the clearest evidence, and to the entire satisfaction of the magistrates; whereupon the gentleman was by their worships bound over to appear at the next assizes for the county of Kent, to take his trial for this detestable offence, himself in One Hundred Pounds, and two sureties in Fifty Pounds each. The sureties are an eminent attorney in London, and Mr. Winton, master of the Rose and Crown, at Tunbridge. The gentleman's name is P——, and it is said, he has lately married a lady possessed of a fortune of twelve hundred a year, and that he was on his way to Lewes, in order to view a part of his wife's estate which is situated in the neighbourhood of this town, when the unhappy affair took place. (Sussex Advertiser)

Saturday 9 April 1785

LONDON, Tuesday, April 5.
Saturday last, at the quarter-sessions held for the city and liberty of Westminster, before a full bench of justices, Richard Cope (a soldier in the first regiment of foot guards) was tried on an indictment found against him, for assaulting and imprisoning a gentleman, of eminence, fortune, and honour, in Lincoln's-Inn, detaining him in a place called the Black-hole, without fire or candle, all night, of the 7th of December last, and charging him with an unnatural crime, in order to extort money from him, when the defendant was clearly found guilty of all the charges laid in the indictment, to the great satisfaction of a crouded [sic] court, for which offences he was sentenced to be imprisoned in Tothill-fields-bridewell 5 years, and to stand in the pillory at Charing-cross 5 times, viz. once in every year, the first time on Saturday next, the 9th instant. (Ipswich Journal)

Saturday 9 April 1785

Mr. P——, who was detected in an attempt to commit an unnatural crime on a boy at the Angel at Tunbridge, and not appearing at Maidstone assizes, his recognizance was forfeited, and he adjudged an out-law. (Ipswich Journal)

Saturday 16 April 1785

This day at 12 o'clock, Richard Cope, a grenadier in one of the regiments of foot-guards, stood on and in the pillory at Charing-cross, pursuant to sentence, for attempting to extort money from a gentleman in St. James's Park, on pretence of swearing an unnatural crime against him. A vast number of people attended, and paid their respects to this consummate villain, by saluting him in a severe manner with rotten eggs, apples, potatoes, &c. He is to be imprisoned five years, and stand in the pillory 4 times more. (Ipswich Journal)

Monday 18 April 1785

On Saturday last Richard Cope, who endeavoured to extort money of Mr. Phipps, by threatening to accuse him of an unnatural attempt, stood in the pillory at Charing-Cross for the first time, pursuant to his sentence; previous to which, he haranged the spectators to invoke their clemency; the first three quarters of an hour he received no marks of their resentment, but during the last fifteen minutes he was severely pelted with mud. (Sussex Advertiser)

Saturday 2 July 1785

John Morris and James Guthrie were tried for robbing John Marshal, in Hyde Park, of a Silver Watch, a Cambraic Handkerchief, and three Guineas, &c. Part of the Things were found on one of the Prisoners, and Part under the Bed of the other. The Prisoners, in their Defence, said, That they had detected the Prosecutdor, and another Man, in an unantural Act, in Hyde Park; that they insisted on taking him before a Magistrate, but he begged for Merecy, and desired to give them the Money, &c. as Hush-money, and that they took them as such. They called the Person with whom they pretended the Prosecutor was connected; but he miserably contradicted himself; and the whole Defence appearing a most wicked one, the Jury found them both guilty: Death.
          The Judge afterwrds told them, that as their Defence was a great Aggravation of their Crimes, it became highly expedient the Law should take its Course on them; and therefore, advised them not to flatter themselves with any Hopes of Pardon. (Oxford Journal)

Thursday 22 September 1785

Yesterday at the Sessions at the Old Bailey ten Prisoners were convicted of Felonies; one was convicted of an unnatural Attempt and sentenced to be publicly whipped twice, and imprisoned three Years in newgate; five were acquitted. (Derby Mercury)

Saturday 24 September 1785

William Sweetman was convicted of an Attempt to commit an unnatural Offence, and ordered to be twice publicly whipped, and imprisoned three Years in Newgate. (Northampton Mercury)

Friday 9 December 1785

On the 25th ult. Isaac Honeyball, was committed to our goal, by Philip Salter, clerk, for assaulting Samuel Gurnett, in the night of the fifteenth and sixteenth days of November, in Shenfield, in his county, with an intent to commit sodomy. (Chelmsford Chronicle) (See News Reports for 11 March 1786.)

Friday 9 December 1785

Monday, in the Court of King's Bench, a cause of a most extraordinary and disgraceful kind came on. A person who keeps an academy was tried for several unnatural attempts on his pupils. It is too dreadful and shocking to enter into any relation of the circumstances of this villainy. – It is in truth too disgraceful to the times to be published at all. (Stamford Mercury)

Monday 12 December 1785

Yesterday a teacher at a boarding-school, and a preacher at a methodist meeting-house at Hammersmith, was tried on an indictment, charging him with an attempt to commit an unnatural crime on one of his school-boys: on the evidence of the child, who proved the attempt very clearly indeed, and of a person to whom he acknowledged it, Mr. Erskine his counsel gave up his brief, and the man was found guilty. (Reading Mercury)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1785", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 13 September 2014 <>.

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