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

Newspaper Reports, 1790

Saturday 16 January 1790

At our Quarter Sessions . . .
          Ralph Oakdon, was tried on three several indictments for an unnatural crime; on the first he was found guilty of an assault, and fined ten guineas; on the second he was found guilty of the assault with an intent, for which he is to be confined in a solitary cell for 6 months, and to stand in the pillory this day in our market; on the third he was found guilty of the like for which he is to be imprisoned in a solitary cell 6 months, and to stand in the pillory in our market, the first Friday of that 6 months, and on Friday before the expiration of the said time. (Ipswich Journal)

Monday, 18 January 1790

Charles Ogden, Steward to the late Earl of Waldegrave, was tried on three indictments for unnatural attempts on various domestics of the said Lord. Being found guilty of them, he was sentenced to pay a fine of ten guineas, to be imprisoned twelve months in one of the solitary cells of the gaol, and to be put three times in the pillory in the course of his imprisonment. (Diary or Woodfall's Register)

Saturday 30 January 1790

Last Friday Ralph Oakdon, was set in the pillory in our market, pursuant to his sentence, for an attempt to commit an unnatural crime. The poulace expressed their detestation of so wretched a character, by the most ungovernable fury towards the delinquent, who was so severely pelted during the hour he was sentenced to be exposed, that many were of opinion he must have expired in the pillory; however the fellow speedily recovered, and returned to gaol in a most deplorable condition, amidst the groans and hisses of an enraged populace. (Ipswich Journal)

Friday 5 February 1790

Friday last was set in the pillory in the public market of Exeter, pursuant to his sentence, Charles Debernair, for an attempt to commit an unnatural crime. The populace expressed their detestation of such a character, by the most ungovernable fury towards the delinquent, who was so severely pelted, that he fainted before the expiration of the hour he was sentenced to be exposed; and had he not been speedily taken from the pillory, must have expired in a very few minutes. (Chester Chronicle)

Thursday 25 March 1790

At Bury assizes, fourteen prisoners received sentence of death; the ten following were left for execution, viz. . . . J. Southwell and J. Smith, for the detestable crime of sodomy, . . . to be hang'd at Ipswich. (Dereby Mercury)

Saturday 27 March 1790

IPSWICH, March 27.
Southwell and Smith, for the detestable crime of sodomy; and Mills for horse-stealing, are very penitent. They are to be executed at Rushmere on Saturday next the 2d of April. (Ipswich Journal)

Saturday 27 March 1790

At the assizes held at Bury before Sir Wm. Henry Ashurst, Knit. which ended on Monday, the following following prisoners were capitally convicted and received sentence of death, viz. . . . John Southwell and John Smith, for the detestable crime of sodomy. . . .

Saturday 3 April 1790

IPSWICH. April 3.
This day Southwell, Smith, and Mills, will be executed on Rushmere Heath, pursuant to their sentence. (Ipswich Journal)

Friday 9 April 1790

The Kalendars throughout the kingdom are peculiarly black, and the sacrifice of human blood must necessarily be profuse: . . . And not fewer than ten are devoted to the fatal rope at Surry, viz. four for highway-robberies; three for burglaries; one for horse-stealing; and two for the horrid, unnatural crime of sodomy. . . . (Chester Chronicle)

Wednesday 14 April 1790

The Rev. Mr. Hervey, who has been for a considerable length of time detained in custody, upon a charge made against him by a man of the name of Carruthers, for attempting to commit an unnatural crime, appeared in Court, at the Westminster Session, to take his trial; but the prosecutor not appearing, he was discharged. (Hereford Journal)

Thursday 15 April 1790

IPSWICH, April 10. Saturday Southwell, Smith and Mills, were executed at Rushmere. They all behaved in a very penitent manner; at the place of execution, Mills, addressed the surrounding spectators a considerable time in an audible voice, exhorting them to take warning by his untimely end; adding, he had often been present at such scenes, but that they never had any effect upon him. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Monday, 3 May 1790

Charles Jones, alias Vaughan, alias Fat Phillis, and George Smith, was charged with assaulting the Honourable Mr. CUFFE, at Covent Garden Theatre, and endeavouring to extort money from him. – It appeared these fellows had threatened to accuse the above gentleman with attempting to commit an unnatural crime on a lad that was in company with them, unless he "made the matter up," as they termed it. The gentleman, very properly, did not do so – the fellows followed him home, and called twice, but did not see Mr. CUFFE, who applied to this office; in consequence of which, one of Sir SAMPSON WRIGHT's officers was sent to wait at Mr. CUFFE's house; the prisoners came a third time, and were taken. – They were both committed, and Mr. CUFFE was bound over to prosecute Vaughan.
          Sir SAMPSON WRIGHT, and the Bench, expressed their highest approbation of the service the Hon. Mr. CUFFE has rendered the Public in bringing before them a man who had appeared under various names and characters, and whose person was perfectly recognized at this office.
          The appearance of Vaughan was highly disgusting; and by his own acknowledgment he was painted. (The World)

5 May 1790

Friday George Smith and Charles Vaughan were brought before Sir Sampson Wright and Mr. Bond, charged by the Hon. and Rev. Mr. Cuff, with an attempt to extort money from him, under pretence that he had taken some liberties with one of their companions at the play-house on Wednesday night. Whe whole of the charge appeared to rest upon Vaughan, and he was committed to answer the assault at the next sessions at Guildhall, Westminster. Smith not being able to give a satisfactory account of himself, was ordered to find bail for his good behaviour in future. (Bury and Norwich Post)

7 May 1790

On Saturday Charles Vaughan and George Smith, who made an attempt to extort money from the Hon. and Rev. Mr. Cuff, were brought up to find bail; but the Magistrates refusing the bail they offered, they were of course remanded to Tothillfields Bridewell. Vaughan is a well known character; he has been observed to attend the masquerades, always appearing in women's apparel, and is well known by the name of – Fat Phillis. (Kentish Gazette)

Saturday 10 July 1790

On Saturday last, about ten o'clock in the forenoon, a notorious Smart in company with another of the same kidney, accosted a gentleman's servant in the passage leading from the Ditches, threatening to charge him with an unnatural crime, if he did not give them some money; but the servant, conscious of his innocence, immediately collared the Smart, and beat him in a most severe manner, to the no small satisfaction of many spectators; the other made off. Our correspondent observes it is a lamentable cicumstance, that a fellow, who has no visible way of obtaining a livelihood, should be permitted to remain in the city, as he has of late been guilty of several instances of the kind. Would it not be commendable in the gentleman's servant to procure a warrant for him, and have him tried for an assault, as Lord Loughborough directed a Jury lately to find a verdict with considerable damages for a similar offence. (Norfolk Chronicle)

Thursday, 29 July 1790

Joseph North was brought by John Shallard, one of the Officers of this Police, who apprehended him at his lodgings, at a house well known (we do not mean for its respectability). He was charged with having attempted to commit an unnatural crime on William Petheran.
          William Petheran is a Soldier in the Coldstream Regiment of Guards, and said he was, on Tuesday night, between the hours of eleven and twelve, doing his duty as a Centinel, at the Butt, in Hyde-Park, when he heard the prisoner coming up to him; to who, as was his duty, he called out "Who's there?" and was answered, "A friend." The prisoner by this time had got up to him, and began to put several questions to him; as "How he did?" and "Where he was quartered?" During this time he gave such evident signs of his intentions, by loosing his garments, and endeavouring to do the same with those of Petheran, that the latter collared him, and a scuffle ensued; in which North tore a button off the waistband of the Soldier's breeches, and, in the end, knocked him down with a stick, which he carried, and fell on him: the Soldier then laid hold of his coat, and the prisoner, in order to extricate himself, slipped it off, and ran away. Petheran added, that about four o'clock yesterday morning, he found, in the place where the transaction happened, one of the prisoner's shoes.
          Robert Bussey, who is a Serjeant, and had the command of the Guard, at the Magazine in Hyde-Park, on Tuesday, on which duty Petheran was – deposed, that as soon as Petheran was relieved, he informed him of the above circumstances.
          The prisoner was fully committed, and the parties bound over to prosecute him.
          He accounted for his being in so remote a part of the Park, and at so late an hour, by saying, he was much in liquor. (The World)

Monday 23 August 1790

On Saturday Richard Biggs and John Bacon, convicted some time back of an unnatural crime, were, pursuant to their sentence, put in the pillory at the top of Hay-hill, Dover-street, near which place they were taken in the fact. They were much pelted, particularly by the women. The Earl of Morton, who was in the croud collected round the pillory, had his pocket picked of a gold watch, chain, &c. A number of other robberies were also committed, and the thieves escaped detection. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Saturday 28 August 1790

Last Tuesday evening, about 8 o'clock, the master of a principal inn at Oxford found means to escape from the constable, who had him in custody by virtue of a warrant from the Vice-Chancellor of that University, fully charged with attempting an unnatural crime upon the servant of a noble Lord during the late races. (Ipswich Journal)

17 September 1790

Tuesday Richard Biggs and John Bacon, who were put in the pillory at the top of Hay-hill on the 14th ult. for unnatural practices, were exalted into the same distinguished and honourable situation at Charing Cross. At one o'clock these nefarious wretches were pinned in the hoop, and continued walking round with great velocity for an hour, during which time they were most severey pelted by the populace with mud, apples, potatoes rotten eggs, &c. About a quarter before wo o'clock a party of women attempted to break into the ring, but were repelled by the constables, and at two the execrable caitiffs were aken away in a coach amidst the uproar of the surrounding multitude, who were ready to destroy them, and, but for the interference of the police, would most probably have executed them a la lanterne. (Kentish Gazette)

Wednesday 22 September 1790

Yesterday two men were pilloried one hour at Charing-cross pursuant to their sentence, for an unnatural crime, of which the surrounding mob sufficiently testified their abhorrence, by pelting them with a profusion of rotten egs. &c. &c. (Hereford Journal)

Friday, 24 September 1790

On Wednesday John Bagley was brought before Sir Sampson Wright, at the Public-Office, Bow-street, charged on the oaths of two soldiers belonging to the first regiment of Foot-guards,with assaulting Samuel Purdey, on Tuesday night, in St. James's Park, with intent to commit an unnatural crime. He was committed to Tothill-fields Bridewell for further examination. (Public Advertiser)

Monday 11 October 1790

On Thursday at the general quarter sessions for this city, which stand adjourned to Thursday next, a bill of indictment was preferred, and found a true bill, against Edward Roberts, one of the city consables, for unlawfully and negligently permitting Thomas Adams to escape out of his custody, whom he had apprehended, by virtue of a warrant under the hand and seal of the Rev. the Vice-Chancellor, charging him with an intent to commit an unnatural crime. (Reading Mercury)

Monday 11 October 1790

At the sessions for this borough [Reading] William Prater, porter in the market, was found guilty of stealing a sack and a quantity of oats, the property of Mr. Neale, of Ipsden, and sentenced to be publicly whipped this day, and imprisoned and kept six months to hard labour; and Benjamin Townsend, a person who attends fairs with books, was indicted for an assault on a boy, with an intent to commit an unnatural crime, and found guity of the assault only, and sentenced to pay a fine of 20s. and to be imprisoned three months and kept to hard labour. (Reading Mercury)

Wednesday 17 November 1790

Yesterday James Templeman, George Platt, William Smith, and Phillip Roberts, privates in the Coldstream regiment of Guards, were again examined and fully committed by Nicholas Bond, Esq. the sitting Magistrate, for having, at different times, obtained several sums of money to the amount of 8l 12s. from Henry Sharp, a porter, in Covent-Garden, on the pretence of charging him with committing an unnatural crime – the parties were bound over to prosecute at the next Sessions. (Hereford Journal)

Monday 13 December 1790

James Templeman and George Platt, were tried for having robbed Henry Sharp of several sums of money, on pretence of charging him with offering to commit an unnatural crime with one of them. Guilty, death. (Hampshire Chronicle)

15 January 1791

William Smith, a private in the Guards, was indicted for feloniously assaulting, putting in fear, and taking money from the person of Henry Sharp.
          Henry Sharp, the prosecutdor, is a porter at a carpet-warehouse in Covent-Garden. He had been acquainted with a soldier of the name of Templeman (who, with another of the name of Platt, was convicted last Sessions for the same offence with that of the prisoner – namely, extorting money under the terror of an accusation for an unnatural crime) in 1789. They had, at different times, forced him to give them money, the prisoner being of the number. He at last acquainted a friend, of the name of Syms, of his situation, and who, upon one of these occasions, was present; and upon expostulating with them, extorted from them a confession of Sharp's innocence; but they justified themselves by saying, soldiers' pay would not support them, and they must get money somehow, and mney they would have.
          Arthur Syms confirmed the testimony of the prosecutor, as far as he was concerned.
          Two Serjeants of the regiment to which the prisoner beloned, aqppeared to his character, which they described as very good, and believed he was rather seduced by the other two than any evil disposition of his own.
          The Jury found him Guilty – Death.
          His trial had been postponed in consequence of ill-health. (Star and Evening Advertiser)

Saturday, 15 January 1791

FRIDAY, Jan. 14.
William Smith, a soldier, whose trial was put off last session, on account of his being sick, was this morning put to the bar; and by the desire of the Court, the Ladies and boys being retired, the case was opened by Mr. Garrow, as in the last Session, When Templeman, Platt, and Roberts, three other soldiers were convicted. The offence of the prisoner being for extorting money from HENRY SHARPE, in company with Templeman, under pretence of accusing him with a detestable crime. Hery Sharpe and Arthur Simms deposed nearly to the same effect as on the former trials of Templeman, Platt, and Roberts. The prisoner's defence was, that he was totally a stranger to Templeman's motive in obtaining the money, adn understood it to be a debt due from Sharpe to Templeman. Two servants gave him a very good character, not only as a sodier, but as a moral man, and one of them assured the Court, that he had been drawn in by the others now under sentence of death, and produced a letter to him, from those unfortuante men, which the Court rejected as inadmissible.
          The Jury retired for some time, and returned with a verdict – Guilty, Death. (The World)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1790", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 29 Sept. 2014, updated 25 April 2021 <>.

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