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

Newspaper Reports, 1786

Saturday 4 March 1786

The following Prisoners are to take their Trials at the Assizes for this County [Oxfordshire], which begin on Tuesday next, viz. Wm. Pinkard, charged with attempting to commit Sodomy on the Body of Joseph Barley. . . . (Northampton Mercury)

Saturday 11 March 1786

At our assizes, which ended yesterday, . . . Isaac Honeyball, convicted of an attempt to commit sodomy, 12 months imprisonment, and to stand in the pillory. (Ipswich Journal)

Saturday 1 April 1786

At Bury Assizes, before Sir George Nares, Knt. which ended on Tuesday, . . . No bill was found against —— Cordy, for an unnatural crime, but indicted for a misdemeanor, to be tried at the next assizes. (Norfolk Chronicle)

[The following report is not directly relevant to gay history, but is too interesting to ignore:]

Saturday 1 April 1786

A very curious cause was tried at Lincoln assizes: A man sold his wife to another man for one guinea, and delivered her up with a halter about her neck. Some time after he demanded his wife, and the buyer refused to part with her; whereupon the husband who sold her took out an action against the buyer for detaining his wife. – The jury gave a Verdict in favour of the buyer, and the fool of a husband lost his wife, and had costs of suit to pay also. (Norfolk Chronicle)

11 April 1786

Yesterdayj was executed at Peckham Common, (pursuant to his sentence) John Lad, for an unnatural crime. He was attended by proper officers from the New Gaol, and behaved with that decency which became his untimely end. (Kentish Gazette)

Thursday 13 April 1786

The wretch who was lately discovered in bed with his own daughter, a married woman, at Oxford, and whose name, through false delicacy, is concealed, was burnt in effigy before his own door on Friday last, when the populace demolished every window in his house.
          Yesterday John Lad, a Methodist Preacher, was executed at Peckham, for an unnatural crime; – and not many days since, another gentleman, of the same profession, was detected in robbing the altar. Is it from want of power, or want of zeal in religion, that these hypocrites are permitted to impose on the lower orders of the people, and delude them from the established Church? The environs of the town are crouded with these miscreants, and the Bishops see it with indifference. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Monday 17 April 1786

Last Monday was executed at Peckham, John Ladd, for being guilty of an unnatural crime. (Hampshire Chronicle)

from Thursday 27 April to Thursday 4 May 1786

On Saturday ten Prisoners were tried at the Old Bailey, two of whom were capitally convicted, viz.
          Jonathan Harwood, a Soldier in the Guards, for robbing David Drummond, of Sackville-Street, Esq; of 4s. on the 10th of last Month, about Eight o'Clock in the Evening, in St. James's Park. The Money was obtained from the Prosecutor under the Threat of accusing him of an unnatural Crime. – There was a second Indictment against him for robbing Mr. Drummond of two Guineas in the same Manner; but he was not tried on it. It appeared in the course of the Evidence, that he went with Mr. Drummond from the Park to his House in Sackville-Street, and waited close by whilst Mr. D. went in and brought the Money, under the dread of having his Character vilified, and of personal Violence. (Derby Mercury)

Saturday 6 May 1786

Thursday a considerable farmer was examined in the Castle, charged with an unnatural crime. (Norfolk Chronicle)

Monday 8 May 1786

On Monday one Thomas Edwards precipitately absconded from this town, in consequence of a soldier having given information against him for committing a detestable crime; and on tuesday his effigy was borne about the town, and afterwards burnt before his door.
          On Wednesay the enraged mob dressed up the effigies of the soldier who gave the information, and after exhibiting him through the streets, burnt him before the door of his quarters. They then proceeded into his quartes, forced him from his bed, whither he had retired for shelter, and dragged him several times through the fire; they then conducted him to a horse pond, where they several times plunged him over head in water, till he was almost drowned, alledging that he was equally guilty with the other, in suffering him to commit so abominable a crime. He now lies almost lifeless at his quarters.
          In consequence of the above severity of the mob, two other persons, it is said, were so much alarmed for their own safety, as to quit the town in the utmost haste, for the like infamous offence. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Monday 15 May 1786

On Friday the effigies of Mr. S——h were carried through the town, and burnt in the evening, having been suspected guilty of an unnatural crime. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Monday 3 July 1786

On Wednesday, the owner of a Guernsey vessel, who has a wife and two children, and a soldier belonging in the dragoon guards quartered here, were taken into custody, having been discovered the night before in the commission of an unnatural crime. They underwent a very long examination before the Mayor and town Magistrates, at the audit house, in the course of which two witnesses having positively sworn to having caught them in the very fact, they were fully committed to take their trial at the ensuing assizes. – 'Tis well the balance preponderates in favour of the righteous; otherwise the dreadful visitation of an offended deity might with too much reason be expected! (Hampshire Chronicle)

Monday 7 August 1786

Saturday last the assizes for this town and county were opened by Mr. Baron Perryn, knt., when the following prisoners took their trials, viz. . . .
          John Lelarsier [?] and William Greenway, charged with the commission of an unnatural crime, were many hours on trial; but the evidence being in some points incomplete, they were both acquitted. – The mob were assembled round the court and session house in great numbers; and afterwards, as the prisoners were returning back, they were severely handled. Lelarsier was almost killed; and had it not been for the interference of the officers, he had certainly been murdered. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Saturday 12 August 1786

On Thursday ended the assizes . . . James Carleton, otherwise Carrington, for an unnatural crime, returned ignoramus – discharged. (Norfolk Chronicle)

Thursday 24 August 1786

Exeter, Aug. 17. . . . Thursday night a clergyman, of the name of Brock, was detected in an attempt to commit an unnatural crime with a gentleman's servant; and on Friday, after a long examination before the Justices, he was committed to Southgate, to take his trial at the next quarter sessions. Being a stranger to this country, he was not able to procure sufficient bail. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Monday 11 September 1786

                    Wantage, Sept. 3.
A Circumstance has happened in this place, which has engrossed the whole conversation, and it ought before now to have appeared in print. A young man, who lived here as an A—the—ry will about six months ago, and since that he has lived at M—l—h, was burnt in effigy, together with the insignia of his occupation, such as glyster pipes, &c. &c. in consequence of unnatural practices with a wretch who lived with him some little time since as servant. — They had been long suspected, and an intercepted letter to the servant confirmed it. In this letter the servant was called his Dear Joe, and desired to come to him immediately, as his happiness depended upon seeing him, &c. Upon the glyster-pipe hero coming to this place a few days ago, he was, as above observed, burnt in effigy, and driven out of town, but in defiance of decency, he still continues at large. There were others concerned in this detestable transaction; one has since absconded: And as your paper is universally read in the neighbourhood where the man is, it is the wish of this town that you would publish an account of this wicked business, either as an extract of a letter, or as a paragraph, to deter others from the commission of a crime so disgraceful to human nature.
          I am, Sir,
                    Your humble servant,
                              JOSEPH PULLEN.
                              (Salisbury and Winchester Journal)
[For the resulting libel case, see News Reports for 22 and 24 February 1787.]

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1786", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 16 September 2014, updated 30 July 2018 <>.

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