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

General Gustavus Guydickens

Gustavus Guydickens was born in 1732. He was appointed a Cornet in the Inniskiling Regiment of Dragoons on 17 December 1754, and held that post through 1760, when he was commissioned as Lieutenant and Captain in the 3rd Foot Guards on 1 May 1761, becoming aide-de-camp to Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick. He married Frances Tracy in April 1762 while living in the parish of St Margaret Westminster, and they would have three children, all girls. He rose steadily in his military career, being appointed Captain of a Company in 1775. He was appointed Gentleman Usher to Queen Charlotte by 1777, and appears in the Royal Household accounts from then through 1792, rising to Gentleman Usher to the Privy Chamber. He was made 2nd Major in the 3d Regiment of Foot Guards on 30 October 1784 (London Gazette, 26 October 1784); First Major on 22 April 1786; Major-General on 1 May 1790; Lieutenant-Colonel on 16 September 1791 (London Gazette, 13 Sept. 1791).
          A letter to him from his father refers to him as "Gusty". He engaged in friendly correspondence with Ferdinand Duke of Brunswick, and with Charles Duke of Mecklenbourg. Then at the peak of a distinguished military career, everything began to unravel. In August 1792 he was caught in Hyde Park in "an unnatural situation" with an 18-year-old lawyers' clerk. They were apprehended by two soldiers, who took them to the guardhouse, where the General panicked and demanded that they be locked up for "grossly insulting" him, and escaped. A day later he ordered their release, but failed to show up for an enquiry by the Duke of York. Finally he faced his accusers and was indicted for an unnatural crime, paid his bail, and laid low. His companion could not find bail, and remained in prison. In mid-September the General charged the two soldiers with assaulting him; the Duke of York provided bail for them, and the charge was eventually dropped. In October Guydickens' trial was transfered to the Court of King's Bench. When his case came up early next year it was postponed to February 1793, when it was again postponed to March, when it was again postponed indefinitely, as a material witness had conveniently been posted abroad. In April 1793 one of the soldiers who had apprehended the General, Thomas Cannon, was charged with attempting to seduce the 72-year-old porter of a noble lord; the Court recognised that the charges were trumped up to impeach his character, and he was acquitted. General Guydickens' trial was scheduled for May 1793, when it was put off to June. When it was put off again in June, the Judge expressed anger that Guydickens' accomplice was still languishing in prison for lack of sureties, and demanded he be brought to court immediately, when presumably he was set free pending an eventual trial. No trial ever took place, and in August 1793 General Guydickens retired. But he was deeply in debt, and in November 1793 was committed to the Fleet Prison for debt. The debts remained unpaid, and he remained in prison, where his health declined, until he died in March 1802, age 70.
          The story of General Guydickens is the relatively straightforward story of a high-ranking man caught having sex with another man and using all the means at his disposal to avoid prosecution. But the story of one of the soldiers who apprehended him, Thomas Cannon, is more complicated. At the time the charge was made, a fellow soldier claimed that Cannon was in the habit of searching out men in the parks from whom he would extort money by threatening to expose them as sodomites. A Bow-Street official confirmed that Cannon had recently charged a man with soliciting sex with him and that the man had fled the country to avoid a prosecution. Nevertheless, extortion does not seem to be the motive for his apprehending Guydickens, for he refused the offer of money from Guydickens. Further, the lawyers' clerk actually admitted that some indecencies had taken place between him and Guydickens. So I think the Guydickens affair happened exactly as charged. Then, to complicate interpretations, the story takes a new turn in November 1808, when Thomas Cannon is arrested, and convicted, for having extorted money from a man under threat of accusing him of sodomy. In fact even more counts were included in the original indictment, though they were not all tried. It transpired that Cannon regularly solicited men in St James's Park, and took them back to his lodgings, where he threatened them with exposure if they did not give him money. In appears that Cannon sometimes actually had sex with them, before extorting money from them, otherwise there is no reason to have invited them home with him. It is possible that Cannon had a conflicted personality: he captured and prosecuted sodomites, he extorted money from men he accused of sodomy, he had sex with sodomites – in other words, he was a homosexual who exploited other homosexuals.

Saturday, 18 August 1792

Yesterday morning, in consequence of an order from his Royal Highness the Duke of YORK, TOWNSEND, one of the police officers, took into custody JOHN SCOTT, and carried him before THO. GORDON, Esq. the sitting magistrate, where he underwent a private examination for committing an unnatural crime with General ——, in Hyde-Park, on Thursday night last, where they were taken by two soldiers belonging to the Duke of YORK's regiment, and by them committed to a place of confinement in the magazine, in which place they were apprehended.
          The prisoner was committed for further examination.
          The General has escaped. (Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser)

Saturday, 18 August 1792

Crimes of glaring atrocity can never be made too public, and whenthey are committed by men, who, from superior rank, in life, are looked up to as examples for society, they become more heinous. – The account which follows is such as we doubt not will surprize our Readers; at the same time, it must fill the breast of every one with indignation and horror.
          We shall relate the account as laid before his Royal Highness the Duke of YORK yesterday morning, at the Guard Room on the Parade.
          Thomas Cannon, a Soldier in the Coldstream Regiment of Guards, while the battalion for guard yesterday were exercising on the Paade, in presence of his Royal Highness, ran out of his ranks, and seizing John Scott, a young man, who, we understand, has been employed by an Attorney, informed the Duke, that he (Cannon) in company with William Haywood, another soldier belonging to the Coldstream Regiment, had the night before, between the hours of nine and ten, detected Scott and General G-yd-k-ns, (who, as well as a General Officer, ranks high in the Queen's Household) near the Spring, in Hyde-Park, in a situation which manhood must shudder to hear related, and decency forbids us to state. – That he seized the prisoner, who escaped from his afterwards; and his companion (Haywood) secured the other.
          W. Haywood was brought on to the Parade by the Sergeant of the 3d Regiment (to which Regiment the Staff Officer belongs) and stated to his Royal Highness, without deviating a tittle, what had been related by Cannon, with the addition that the General was very unwilling to rise from the ground, and in a supplicating posture offered him money to let him go away, which he (Haywood) refused; and on his struggling to get away from him, Thomas Godfrey, a person that he had never before seen came up, and assisted to convey the Officer to the Magazine Guard, where he gave charge of him to Sergeant Biggen, of the 1st Regiment, then on duty, who knowing the General, refused to take charge of him, and told Haywood who he was; but on the General ordering the Sergeant to secure both him and Godfrey, they were taken into custody, and confined all night, and until about nine o'clock yesterday morning, when a Sergeant of the 3d Regiment was sent by the General to order the Sergeant that had them in custody to release them. Haywood then insisted that the Sergeant of the 3d should go with him to the Parade, and explain the reason of his not being there to mount Guard, which occasioned him to come on to the Parade with him.
          Godfrey was also examined, and, as far as Haywood's tale related to him, repeated, word for word, what had been before said; in short, so clear an evidence we never heard given by three men.
          His Royal Highness, with that manly detestation of the crime which every one must feel, resolved to give Scott up to the civil power, and accordingy sent one of his own servants for TOWNSHEND, who conveyed the prisoner to the Office in Bow-street, where an examination of all the witnesses, except Sergeant BIGGIN, and of the prisoner, took place, and they did not there differ in a word from the account they had given before the Duke of YORK.
          The Prisoner was committed for further examination. The General will, we fear, evade the endeavours used to bring him to justice, by a precipitate retreat. (The World)

Monday, 20 August 1792

THE very shocking Charge brought against this Officer, has, as we predicted on Saturday, filled the minds of the public with equal surprize and horror; but every dispassionate person will receive with the utmost caution any tale of this tendency told against a man who has hitherto held a distinguished rank in life – who has been respected by all who knew him as a valuable Member of Society – who has been honoured with the particular favour of Her MAJESTY, and who has a wife and family, amiable and beloved by all who have the happiness to be acquainted with them. The General as a military man has distinguished himself, and his conduct has been such in the Corps to which he belongs, as to have gained him the respect and esteem of all his brother Officers; and, indeed, the manner in which they step forward to support him under this charge, heavy and terrible as it is, proves the very high opinion they entertain of him. The Gentlemen of the Guards are, however, possessed of too much honour and integrity to suffer their friendship to lead them to screen any man from Justice, however high his rank, or irreproachable his conduct may hitherto have been.
          The scandalous reports, therefore, which have been circulated, and which, in justice to them, we state, shall never gain credit with us; nor will any thinking man entertain the idea for a moment, that they delay the time of the General's appearance to answer to the charge, either for the purpose of buying off the evidence against him, or of giving him an opportunity to quit the kingdom; besides their own honour being concerned, how futile such reports must be, may be ascertained from the very commendable conduct of his Royal Highness the Duke of YORK, who was the primary cause of this business being brought forward in the proper manner in which it is, and who would not suffer any attempts of that nature to be made, to screen the General, or any other man on earth, from fairly meeting a charge of this nature, which alone if he is innocent, can be the means of making that innocence appear. But, on the contrary, if he basely shrinks from the charge, and shamefully makes use of evasion and subterfuge, in order to delay the time of meeting it, the world will form such an opinion as he never will have it in his power to obliterate.
          If he is innocent, we shall rejoice to make his innocence as generally known as we pledge ourselves to make his guilt, should that appear. – For in either case this business cannot be made too public; and we hold it equally our duty to protect innocence, as to hold crimes (particularly those of this unnatural tendency) up to universal execration.
          On Saturday morning a further examination of John Scott, the man who stands charged with being found on Thursday night last, in a situation with General G-yd-k-ns, which is a disgrace to the human race, and places them infinitely beneath the brute creation, took place before NICHOLAS BOND, Esq. – It was public, as in such a case it ever ought to be.
          The witnesses were each examined apart, and related their tale fully.
          On Friday evening their account was taken in writing – and on being compared with the story they told on Saturday morning, was not found to vary in any one particular.
          Thomas Cannon, a private in the Coldstream Regiment of Guards, said, that he was with William Haywood, (also a private in the same Regiment) at the apartments of the latter, helping him to clean arms for the company to which Haywood belongs: He dined with Haywood and his wife, and at about a quarter after seven in the evening, when they had done work, they walked to the Serpentine River, in order to bathe, and went in on the side next to the Magazine Guard House. At about a quarter after eight, they were returning through (by the way of the Spring) a part of the Park which is little frequented, they there observed the prisoner and the person, who they afterwards found to be General G-yd-k-ns, but who they at that time did not know, (nor did Cannon understand it was the General until the next morning, he not being in regimentals, and having a round hat on,) standing in a very indecent situation: they removed on his appearance, and went a little distance off. Cannon and Haywood followed, by favour of the trees, unperceived by them. They joined company again, and sat down in a hollow part of the Park, where they suddently came upon the prisoner and his companion, unperceived, and surprised them in a state, the description of which made us shudder.
          Haywood seized the General, while Cannon followed the prisoner, who endeavoured to escape, but was overtaken by him, and conducted towards the Magazine Guard-House, to which place he found Haywood conveying the General; and by this time a young man, whom he undersands to be THONAS GODFREY, had joined Haywood. The prisoner begged for mercy, and said he was but a servant. The General begged them not to ruin the young man's reputation, and offered money, which they all refused; they continued to convey them towards the Guard-House, at about twenty yards from which the prisoner escaped, and Cannon run after him, but could not find him; he was some time in search of him, but, not finding him, returned to the Magazine Guard-House, where he learnt of the Centinel that the person whom Haywood had taken as a prisoner to the Guard-House, being known by the Sergeant, had been set at liberty, and his companion and the other were detained.
          Cannon directly went to Haywood's wife, and, early the next morning, went to the Magazine Guard House, to see Haywood; and there, for the first time, learnt, that the person whom they had found with the prisoner, was General G-yd-k-ns.
          The Battalion to which he belonged being for guard that morning, he returned home, prepared himself, and went on to the Parade, where they were exercised by the Duke of YORK:– While they were going through their manoeuvres, he observed a person whom he thought to be the man that had escaped from him the preceding evening; and when the Battalion were ordered to march, before they formed the line, he passed near the person, and then, being perfectly sure that he was right in the man, he run out of his ranks, and, seizing him, led him to the head of the Battalion, to the Duke of YORK, to whom and to Captain HEWGILL, he related the above tale. The Duke ordered the prisoner to be confined at the Tilt Yard Guard-house; and, after having examined more minutely into the business, sent for Townshend, to whom he delivered him up.
          William Haywood related verbatim the tale told by Cannon, as to the situation in which they found the Prisoner and the General, and every other part of it in which they were jointly concerned. All which transpired in the absence of Cannon he thus described:– When C. was gone in pursuit of the prisoner the first time, he (Haywood) seized the General by the collar, who adjusted his dress as well as he could, and then struggled hard to get from him, and got him down on one knee; but he recovered and overpowered the General, which, when he found, clasping his hands together in a supplicating posture, prayed him to accept of money, and let him go; but Haywood peremptorily refused to take it, swearing he should go to the Guard-house; at this time a man, who was an utter stranger to him, but who he sind finds to be T. Godfrey, came up and assisted him to convey him to the Guard-house; he repeated his proffer of money, which was as often refused. When they got to within twenty yards of the Guard-house, the General called out to the Serjeant of the Guard; and the prisoner at this time escaping, Cannon went in pursuit of him; the Sergeant, who proved to be John Biggen, of the 1st Regiment, came up, and he gave charge of the General, and was proceeding to describe the situation in which he had found him, when the General being known to the Sergeant and desiring him to confine him (Haywood) and Godfrey, he prevented him from proceeding further in his story, and pushing him, ordered him and Godfrey to go into the Guard-room. The General went away, but they were confined all night, and until about a quarter before nine the following mornng, when Sergeant James Parker, of the 3d regiment, brought a release for them from the General: he refused to go to the Parade, as he was for guard that morning, unless the Sergeant of the 3d reg. went with him, which he did, and delivered him up to the Duke of YORK, to whom he told all that had happened. – While in the Guard-room the Sergeant told him, that the person who had given charge of him was General G-yd-k-ns.
          Thomas Godfrey, a plasterer, confirmed the tale told by Haywood, very fully, so far as related to what passed from the time of his joining him, when the General was on the ground supplicating Haywood to accept of money, which he refused, to the time of the release coming on the following morning from the General. He added, that the Serjeant, on the General giving charge of him and Haywood, would not hear the story of the latter, and pushed him (Godfrey) into the guard-house. He went out of the guard-house some short time after Haywood, who he overtook with the Serjeant of the 3d Reg. going towards the Parade, where he stopped, and was sent for by the Duke of YORK, to whom he related all he knew respecting the affair.
          Sergeant John Biggen, of the First Regiment, had the command of the Magazine Guard on the above evening; about half after eight o'clock while he was sitting on the bench in the front of the Guard-house, he heard a noise, and presently after, when they came within twenty paces, the person, whom he soon afterwards found to be General G-YD-K-NS, called the Sergeant of the Magazine Guard, and said he was an Officer of the 3d Regiment. The Sergeant went up close to him, and he said "Take these two rascals and confine them in the Magazine Guard-house. I am General G-YD-K-NS; don't you know me?" The Sergeant replied, "Yes, Sir, I do now." – The General appeared much agitated, and said the men had grossly insulted him. The Sergeant accordingly put them into confinement; but denies that they either of them made any charge against the General, though he understood they had brought him prisoner; he also denied pushing either of them into the Guard-house. Immediately, on having put them into confinement, he returned in less than a minute, in order to know what complaint the General had against the men, but he was gone. Haywood told him afterwrds the situation in which he found the General, and Godfrey related to him exactly the tale he told the Magistrate in the morning. He went to make his report at the Barracks at Knightsbridge, to Capt. HILL, but saw only Sergeant Major COLEMAN.
          On his return to the Guard-house, he found Sergeant James Parker, who said he had brought a release for the two men whom General G-yd-k-ns had confined this night before. The release run thus:

"To the Sergeant of the Magazines Guard.
          "Release the two rascals I confined last night in the Magazine Guard-house.
                    "G-ST-V-S G-YD-K-NS,
                              "Lieut. Col. 3d Guards."
          "Friday morning."

          Upon the receipt of this order, he released them; but does not recollect that Hayuwood refused to go, unless the Sergeant of the 3d accompanied him to the Parade.
          Sergeant James Parker, of the 3d Reg said, that he was the orderly Sergeant in waiting on Friday, and, as is customary, in the morning called on all the Field Officers of the Regiment, to know if there were any orders: Among the rest, on Gen. G-yd-k-ns, who sent for him into his room and, after shutting-to the door, said he had been very much insulted the night before by two men, whom he had confined in the Magazine Guarde-house; that he was much hurt in his head, but the Sergeant did not see any hurt he had there: the General then shewed him a waistcoat, and a neckcloth, on which were two spots of bloods. [sic] He said, that the men had used bad language, and had called him a name, which decency forbids us to repeat – that he and another gentleman had been walking in Kensington Gardens, that on his return he sat down upon the grass, when they came up and ill used him. He then folded up the order for the release of the two men, and gave it to the Sergeant, desiring him to carry it to the Magazine Guard; after which the General told him, that the men would be severely punished if he was to take them to Bow-street, but that he was not able to go out, as the Sergeant understood him, from his wounds. When he went to the Guard-house, he accompanied Haywood from thence to the Parade; he does not recollect that Haywood refused to go unless he (the Serjeant) accompanied him; but on their way thither, Haywood relatesd the tale he told the Magistrates, adding, that he would relate the whole affair to the Duke of YORK, who (and we repeat it as one of the highest compliments we can pay his Royal Highness) would hear the complaint of a private Soldier, as soon as he would of a commissioned Officer.
          Biggin said, that at the time the General came up he looked particularly at him, but did not observe any blood or wound about him.
          The prisoner is eighteen years of age. He has been employed as a writer to several Gentlemen in the Law, and to some Booksellers. He admitted, that he was the person that Cannon seized in Hyde Park with the General, whom, he said, he had never seen before, but denied, in part, the shocking indecencies which the soldiers described to have seen pass between them.
          He was committed for re-examination.
          A warrant to apprehend the General is issued.
          Such are the particulars; we shall make no remarks upon them; we have stated them at length in justice to all parties. – In the morning an appointment was made for the General to come forward at seven o'clock in the evening, which he did not do – but Lord SEMPLE and another gentleman of the Guards appeared and said, that for reasons which we do not think ourselves justified to explain, he could not then come forward. Mr. BOND explained to them, that those reasons need by no means have prevented his appearing; at length, to-morrow was fixed on for his appearance, when we sincerely hope he may be able to clear himself from this foul charge.
          We cannot close this account, without bearing testimony to the very impartial and proper manner in which Mr. BOND conducted this business, and admire the sentiments he expressed with respect to the liberty of the subject, as much as we decry those which were opposed to them. (The World)

Tuesday, 21 August 1792

Who was, by appointment, this day to have met his accusers before the Magistrate who has heard the complaint against him, and all the evidence hitherto adduced to support that said charge, yesterday morning, very unexpectedly, made his appearance, (under the protection of the warrant granted by Mr. BOND and Co. GORDON to apprehend him) before Sir SAMPSON WRIGHT, at the Office, in Bow-street, with his friends, and offered to give bail for his appearance to answer the complaint against him at the ensuing Sessions for Westminster.
          Sir SAMPSON said, he thought that the bail should be taken before the Magistrate who had received the charge, and who had heard the evidence against the General; but that, if the Gentlemen insisted on it, he certainly should accept the Bail, which he accordingly did, and offered to read to the General, and his Friends, the evidence against him; but they declined hearing it repeated.
          The General was bound in a penalty of One Hundred Pounds, and two Sureties in Fifty each, who were HUGH Lord SEMPLE, of Renfrewshire, in Scotland, and LLOYD HILL, Esq. of Savoy Square, both Officers in the Guards. The General retired without saying a word as to the charge alledged against him.
          The witnesses are this morning to appear at Bow-street, when they will probably be bound over to prosecute.
          They are all poor men, and wholly destitute of the means to carry on an expensive prosecution; it will, therefore, reflect little credit on the General to harrass them out, by the tedious forms of law, and render it impossible for them to come forward in a Court, where alone his character can be fairly cleared in the eyes of the world. These considerations must occur to every friend of his – they will therefore doubtless advise him to take his trial at the Sessions, and not to go through the expensive and tedious forms of moving it into the Court of King's Bench.
          For the present, we shall comply with the wishes of the General's friends, and suspend our judgment on this case. (The World)

Tuesday, 21 August 1792

Yesterday morning, General G-yd-k-ns surrendered himself at the above Office, and put in bail himself in One Hundred Pounds, Lord Semple and Captain Hill, in Fifty Pounds each, for his appearance at the next General Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the City and Liberty of Westminster next ensuing, to answer a charge exhibited aginast him by Thomas Godfrey and John Haywood, two soldiers belonging to the Guards, charging him with the commission of an unnatural crime. The General advanced nothing in his defence. (Diary or Woodfall's Register)

Thursday, 23 August 1792

Tuesday, (on which day the General was by appointment to have come forward, for the purpose of answering the complaint alledged against him, on the oaths of Thomas Cannon, William Haywood, and Thomas Godfrey) his accusers appeared before Mr. BOND; that Gentleman expressed the greatest surprize at finding that bail had been accepted for the General, contrary to the comon practice, by a Magistrate before whom the complaint did not originate; and even before those who brought the charge were bound over to prosecute, or that the evidence for the Crown was compleatly obtained. He lamented that Col. GORDON, who had received the complaint against the General and John Scot, in the first instance, was confined by indisposition; he, however, directed that all parties should attend that Magistrate at his own house, for the purpose of being bound over to prosecute – which they accordingly did – and were all bound in the penalty of 40l. each for their appearance, to indict both the General and Scot at the next Westminster Sessions.
          A Sergeant of the 3d regiment (to which regiment the General belongs) informed the Magistrate, that a private of that corps wished to say a few words.
          Mr. BOND, with his accustomed impartiality, desired the an to come forward. He accused Cannon with having often requested him to go in search of persons who might be strolling about the Parks of an evening, and to threaten to charge them with unnatural crimes, for the purpose of extorting money from them; that he had heard from others, that he had obtained money in that way, and that he had been several times at the Office in Bow-street, to lodge complaints of that nature against gentlemen for the above purpose.
          Againt Haywood, not one man in the regiment was found to alledge any thing deterimental to his character.
          Mr. BOND very properly infomed the Sergeant, that the man who had made the complaint, (in the hearing of several Officers of the Third Regiment) he had, as it was requested, heard with patience, though it was a tale of that nature that he could not attend to; nevertheless it might be proper evidence to be produced on a trial, if it could be well substantiated; but that neither before him or any where else, would hearsay evidence be attended to: that as to Cannon's having been at the Office several times, on similar occasions, it appeared he had never been there but once, when his conduct was such as reflected on him the highest honour. An attempt had been made upon him by a person (A Mr. M—E, who has since fled his country, to avoid a prosecution) who gave him his purse and watch to comply with his unnatural propensities, which Cannon, highly to his credit, refused. (The World)

Sunday, 16 September 1792

General Guydickens on Monday attended the Grand Jury at the Sessions House, Clerkenwell-Green, accompanied by Lord Semple, Colonel Leigh, Captain Hill, and several Officers of the Guards, when they preferred and found a Bill of Indictment against Cannon and Haywood, the two soldiers who are bound over to prosecute the General at the next Session for Westminster. The General's Bill against the soldiers is for an assault. (London Recorder or Sunday Gazette)

Monday, 17 September 1792

We are happy in being able from authority to assure the public, that the Duke of YORK, with an ardor that does him the highest honour, has directed the strictest enquiry to be made through the regiment, respecting the character of Cannon and Haywood, the two soldiers who are evidences against General Guydickins [sic], and not having heard any thing to impeach them, he has directed two serjeants to bail them, on the indictment of assault brought against them by the General. (The World)

Friday, 19 October 1792

A Bill of Indictment preferred agianst General GUSTAVUS GUYDICKENS for an Assault, with intent to commit an unnatural crime on John Scott, was returned by the Grand Jury – A true Bill.
          The indictment was removed by a Writ of Certiori into the Court of King's Bench. This our readers will recollect we predicted would be the case, when the business was first brought before the Public; but as his Royal Highness the DUKE of YORK has stepped forward in support of his men, in a manner that must endear him to his corps, and gain him the praises of the people at large, they are not likelky to be out-General'd.
          A true Bill was also found against Scott. (The World)

Monday, 22 October 1792

SATURDAY, Oct. 20.
Scot, the fellow who stands indicted with General Guydickens, for an assault with intent to commit an unnatural crime, was brought up, and remanded to Tothill Fields Bridewell for want of sureties. He will take his trial with the General in the Court of King's Bench. (The World)

The trial of General Guydickens was postponed to February 1793 – when it was again postponed to March 1793 – when it was again postponed indefinitely.

25 February 1793

The trial of General Guydickens, which was expected to have come on, on Saturday, in the court of King's Bench, is postponed. (Hampshire Chronicle)

9 March 1793

The trial of General Guydickens is postponed, probably never to come on, as the witnesses have embarked with the troops ordered to Holland. (Newcastle Chronicle)

3–5 April 1793

Thomas Cannon, a soldier in the Coldstream regiment, and who is the principal witness against General Guydickens, was tried for assaulting Thomas Owen, with intent to commit an unnatural offence, in the house of Lord Dudley and Ward, on the 29th of December last.
          The [72-year-old] prosecutor, who had lived as porter with Lord Dudley and Ward, swore positively to the charge, but told a story which the Court considered to be unaccountable, about his having invited the Defendant, whom he had never seen but once before, to eat and drink with him at Lord Dudley and Ward's house, in Park-lane; upon his cross-examination he contradicted himself in several particulars.
          It was stated on the part of the Defendant, but not proved, that the present prosecution was instituted by the advice of some Gentlemen to impeach the character of the Defendant, as the Prosecutor on the intended trial of General Guydickens.
          Two witnesses were called, who contradicted part of the evidence of Owen.
          Several persons gave the Defendant an excellent character, as a good soldier, and a decent and honest man.
          The Jury found him – Not Guilty. (London Packet or New Evening Post)

Tuesday, 14 May 1793

In the case of the King, v. General Guydickens, the trial of the indictment is put off. (Star and Evening Advertiser)

13–15 May 1793

General Guydickens again put off his trial. This unfortunate man should consider how he arms public opinion against himself. (London Packet or New Evening Post)

21 May 1793

The much-talked-of trial of General Guydickens, is again put off. (Chester Courant)

Monday, 24 June 1793

Mr. BEARCROFT moved to put off this Trial till the Sittings after next Term; his motion was grounded on an Affidavit, stating the absence of a material witness. – The learned Counsel observed, that the witness, who was a soldier, was prevented from accompanying the Coldstream Regiment of Guards to the Conteinent, for the purpose of giving evidence on behalf of the Defendant, but by some means or other, he got along with Lord HOOD's fleet.
          Mr. ERSKINE – "I certainly cannot object to the Trial's standing over, when I consider the unfortunate situation in which General GUYDICKENS stands."
          The Trial of course stands over till the Sittings after next Term.
          The COURT. – "When such applications are made to the Court, they are extremely unpleasant. – There is a person of the name of Scott in Clerkenwell Prison, whose mother has been frequently with me, requesting that her son may not lay in jail during the long vacation. – Why is he not brought up on his own, or his mother's recognizance? – Let him be brought up on Monday." (The Sun)

[I cannot trace what happened to Scott, but presumably he was not forced to languish in jail indefinitely, and was given bail pending the trial – which never came to pass, for either man.]

8 August 1793

WAR-OFFICE. August 3. Colonel William Grinfield to be Lieuitenant-Colonel of the 3d regiment of foot guards, vice [in place of] Guydickens, who retires, selling his company. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

General Guydickens retired from the 3d Foot Guards in August 1793, thus ending his distinguished military career in ignominy. Unfortunately he also ended his career deeply in debt. Earlier, on 8 May 1790, an advertisement appeared in the London Gazette requesting all of his creditors to send their accounts to his solicitors for the purpose of discharging them. He seems to have been briefly imprisoned in Newgate in April 1790, for debt. Then in 1793, on 15 November, at the Court of King's Bench, Guydickens was committed to the Fleet Prison for several large debts, 600l., 430l., 390l., and 320l. (King's Bench and Fleet Prison Discharge Books and Prisoner Lists, Series PRIS10; Piece 156). The debts remained unpaid, and he remained in prison for more than eight years, where his health gradually went into "decline". He was buried on 20 March 1802 in St Bride's, Fleet Street, age 70.
          Thus ends the story of General Gustavus Guydickens, but the story of his accuser Thomas Cannon takes a new turn.

8 November 1808

On Thursday evening, Thomas Cannon, who pretended to be Sayers the Officer, underwent another examination, as did James Coddington, who assumed the name of Wilkinson, and said he was a Clerk belonging to Bow-street, and, by that means, extorted several sums of money from Mr. Butter, the Goldsmith, to avoid being charged with a most detestable crime.
          In addition to Mr. Butter's former testimony, he stated, that when Coddington [a mistake for Cannon, as confirmed by other reports] took him into custody in the Park, and pretended to be Sayers, he said he was stationed there by order of the Duke of York, in consequence of the affair of General Guydickens, which happened in the Park some years since; and another Officer, in the Guards, having lately been detected under similar circumstances.
          The Prisoner Coddington [again, a mistake for Cannon], who, on his former examination, threw himself on the mercy of the Magistrate and the Prosecutor, now asserted that he had casually met Mr. Butter on the 7th of Aug. who appointed an interview with him in the Park, on the following evening. The Prosecutor, however, was, on the day mentioned, at Windsor, with a party of friends, and did not reurn to London till the following morning.
          The Prisoners were both committed for highway robberies, and the parties bound over to prosecute. (Kentish Weekly Post)

3 December 1808

Thomas Cannon was indicted for assaulting Joseph Butter, putting him in fear, and violently taking from his person, and against his will, one 10l. note, and half-a-guinea, his property, on the King's highway.
          Mr. Butter, the Prosecutor, gave the following evidence:– He is in the employ of Mr. Workman, jeweller, in St. James's-street, and he himself lodges in Cleveland-court, St. James's-place; on the night of the 8th of August last, about a quarter past ten, he was going towards home, through St. James's Park; he sat down upon one of the seats; there were two others sitting there; it was a remarkably fine moonlight night; the Prisoner came and sat down beside him; the party entered into a general conversation; they talked of volunteers; after some time, the other two went away; the Prisoner addressed himself to him, he said he was one of the Mary-la-bonne Volunteers; he familiarly tapped him on the thigh, said he was a nice man, and asked him to come and see him; he said he was a butler in a gentleman's family, that he would give him some good wine, and that many very respectable gentlemen came to see him, so that he need not be afraid; that as he had the appearance of a gentleman, he might hide his watch and seals, and nobody would notice him. This he refused; and, upon the Prisoner's continuing to press him, he began to entertain suspicions; and being afraid he would follow him into the streets, he thought it best to appear to acquiesce, and accordingly desired him to walk on before him towards Buckingham House. In this manner they proceeded till they arrived there, the Prisoner sometimes walking before him and sometimes alongside of him; he then desired the Prisoner to go forward towards Constitution-hill, which he did, and remained, as usual, at a short distance before him; he met a man, to whom he spoke; he then walked on; the Prisoner came up to him, on seeing him speak, and he again bade him go forward at some distance, and he would come to him; about thirty or forty yards from that, he crossed over the road, under a row of trees, thinking to elude the Prisoner, and be able to return back unobserved; a soldier from towards Hyde Park came down near to the spot where he was; he then turned back, and proceeded on towards St. James's Park, at a short distance before the soldier; the Prisoner observed him, and followed at some distance; when they arrived at Buckingham-house, the soldier went towards Buckingham-gate. The Prisoner then came up to him and said, "Shall we retire and take a coach." The witness swore at him, and threatened to knock him down if he did not leave him. The Prisoner then said, they would not part so soon, and expressed some horrible and unmanly indecencies. The witness then renewed his threats; when the Prisoner seized him by the arm, and said he would take him into custody by virtue of his office, at the same time producing something like an officer's silver staff from under his coat. He said he was young Sayers, and that he was an Officer of Police belonging to Bow-street. He said if he made resistance, he had only to whistle, and bring constables to his assistance; but if he would accompany him quietly, he would lodge him in a watch-house, on a charge of intending to commit an unnatural crime. He desired to know the address of the witness; said he had some knowledge of his person; that he had seen him on guard at St. James's, and was sure he was an officer in the Guards. He added, if the Witness would behave generously in the business, it should be hushed up, and insisted on knowing who he was, and where he resided. The Witness made no hesitation to inform him, that he resided in Cleveland-court, St. James's-place. The Witness was very much agitated at the charge. The Prisoner insisted on having it proved that he lived where he said, and for that purpose went with him home. His wife was at that time in the country. He gave the Prisoner his name and employment. The Prisoner went with him to his apartments; he took him from a back room into a dressing-closet. The Prisoner then inquired what he could do for him, to avoid the unpleasant exposure, which would be the consequence of giving him in charge. The Witness replied, he did not kinow what he could require; to which he said he must have 50l. The Witness stated he had no such sum, and he might do with him what he pleased; he then demanded what he could do? and lowered his demand from 50l. to 30l. to 20l. and 10l. by degrees, and persisted in declaring, that if he did not comply, he would take him away, and lodge him in the watch-house for the night. – The Witness still told him, he had not so much money by him. He observed, he could get money in the neighbourhood; he had no doubt he could procure it at the Queen's Larder Tavern, in St. James's-street, to which the Witness objected. He then noticed his watch, his chain, and seals, and that he might obtain money on them. The Witness observed, that at that late hour it was unlikely he should; but as he knew a Mr. Aldess, a pawnbroker, in Berwick-street, he would go and try. Previous to their going out, the Prisoner required something to drink; he gave him some brandy, of which he took two glasses. – He then went out with him. In Piccadilly he took a coach; the Prisoner got in with him, and they drove to Berwick-street. He was there told Mr. Aldess was gone to bed; he was called up, and he got from him a 10l. Bank of England note, upon his watch, &c. The Prisoner was waiting for him near the door, where he found him when he came out; he demanded if he had succeeded, and how much he had got? when he was told, he said he might have asked for 20l.; the Prisoner took the 10l. and said it was an unpleasant business, and he should hear no more of it; but at the moment inquired if he had not got any more cash about him?; he said he had but half a guinea, which the Prisoner demanded of him; he begged he would not take that from him; he then renewed his threats, and said if he did not give it him he would call the watch to assist him; the Witness upon this complied, and gave it to him; the Prisoner then said, the business should rest in oblivion, and he should hear no more of it; the Prisoner left him, and he went home. Being asked why he parted with his money?: he answered, "because I felt a dread of accusation of a charge at which my mind recoiled, as placing me in the situation of a criminal, which would have exposed me at a public bar; I acted under that fear alone." The Prisoner was taken into custody on the 31st of October; he had called on him on the 18th, while he was at dinner with his wife and family; he was called down to him; he then demanded two guineas of him; he said he was going to Portsmouth; that he had been dismissed from the Police Office, in consequence of being off duty on the night of the 8th of August, and not having accounted for his absence; the Witness desired he would leave the house, and told him he would not give him a single shilling. He was loud, and threatened he would expose him; whereupon he insisted he should leave him, and pushed him by the arm out of the door. The same day the witness applied at the public offic ein Bow-street. The next time he saw him was on the 31st October, when he came to him at Mr. Workman's place of business, in St. James's-street, where he had him taken into custody.
          Upon his cross-examination, Mr. Butter acknowleded there were many people in the Park as well as the different centinels, and that he did not call upon any of them for assistance; that he had acted so from the impulse of the moment; that a Captain Marsden lodged in the house with him; but that he did not inquire was he at home at the time the Prisoner recommended him to his lodgings; that the watch were set, and many coaches on the stand; and that he did not speak to any of them; that he did not tell the pawnbroker or any of his men of the affair; that he left the Prisoner in the street, and was in the pawnbroker's house above fifteen minutes; and that he did not communicate the matter to any person whatever, until he thought it right to apply to the Public Office in Bow-street, for the purpose of having him taken into custody.
          Mr. Addess proved his coming to his house, and getting the money, and that he appeared in great agitation.
          William Anthony, the Bow-street Officer, took the Prisoner into custody. The Prisoner was not Young Sayers; there was such a man, a brother to one of the Bow-street Officers. The Prisoner never did belong to Bow-street.
          The Prisoner did not make any defence, or call any witnesses.
          The Learned Judge (GROSE) recapitulated the evidence to the Jury, applying the facts to the charge of taking money by force and terror from the Prosecutors.
          The Jury, with very little hesitation, found their verdict – Guilty
          The same Thomas Cannon, together with James Coddington, was again found guilty of a similar offence agaisnt the same Joseph Butter. (The Globe)

3 December 1808

Thomas Cannon, aged 38, was indicted for feloniously assaulting Joseph Butter on the King's highway, putting him in fear, and forcibly taking from his person a 10l Bank note, and half a guinea, his property.
          The transaction is well known. In the evening of the 8th of August last, Mr. Butter was in the Park, and sat down upon one of the benches. The prisoner sat down beside him, immediately addressed himself to the prosecutor, said he was butler to a Nobleman, and asked him to go and take some wine with him. The prosecutor refused, and got up to walk away. The prisoner followed him, and when the prosecutor had reached the Shrubbery he ran up to him, collared him, and pretending to be Sayer, the Bow-street Officer, said he should take him before a magistrate. The prosecutor asked what charge he had against him, when the prisoner said he had seen enough to charge him with an attempt to commit an unnatural crime. The result was, that the prisoner obtained a sum of money from the prosecutor. The next morning, a man named James Coddrington, waited upon the prosecutor, at Mr. Wirgwan's, and obtaned a further sum.
          In a short time after, Cannon, for the third time, extorted money from the prosecutor, who now resolved to make the affair known, and communicated the whole transaction to the Magistrates of Bow-street, who caused the parties to be apprehended. – The case was so apparent that the Jury, without the least hesitation, prounced the prisoner GuiltyDeath.
          He was then tried upon another indictment for extorting the second 10l. in company with James Coddington, and he and Coddington were again capitally convicted. This was done that his accomplice might not escape.
          There were two other indictments against Cannon for similar extortions practised on other individuals [including one Edward Hall], which the Judge refused to try him upon. (Morning Advertiser)

9 December 1808

Thomas Cannon was capitally indicted for a highway robbery upon a Mr. Butler, on the 8th of August last.
          From the statement of Mr. Gurney, as afterwards sustained in evidence, it appeared that this robbery was effected under the terror of threats, by the prisoner to accuse the prosecutor of a certain abominable crime. The circumstances of the case were as follow:–
          Mr. Butler, a young and married man of respectability and character, conducts the business of Mr. Wigan, an emimnent jeweller in St. James's-street. He stated, that, on the evning of the 8th of August last, about ten o'clock, he went into St. James's park, to take a walk. The night was warm, clear, and moon-light, and after walking some time, he sat down on one of the seats in the Mall, near St. James's palace, whereon several other persons sat at the time. Shortly afterwards the prisoner sat down near him. The discourse turned on the Volunteers; and the prisoner said he was himself a volunteer in the Mary-le-bonne corps. The other persons all went away and left the prisoner and the prosecutor together. The prisoner renewed the conversation; and after some little time, told the prosecutor he should be glad to see him at his residence; that he was butler to a gentleman in Mary-le-bonne, and asked him to come with him and take a glass of wine The prosecutor answered, "Certainly not." The prisoner observed, that as he (the prosecutor) had the appearance of a Gentleman, he might be unwilling to be seen visiting him by any of the servants; but added, that he need not be ashamed, as he was visited by many persons of respectability, and that if he would only conceal his watch-chain and seals, he might pass in without being observed. The prosecutor still refused, and the prisoner then asked him to take a little walk with him. The prosecutor now, for the first time, began to entertain suspicions of the prisoner, and got up to walk away, but the prisoner followed him close. The prosecutor several times stopped, to let the prisoner pass and go away, but still the prisoner never went further than a few paces. The prosecutor who had by this time got nearly as far as Buckingham-house, walked on towards Constitution-hill for Hyde-Park Corner; the prisoner walked that way too, and passed him about twenty yards, when the prosecutor crossed, and under the shade of the young trees under the Queen's wall, was returning to avoid his suspicious attendant, when the prisoner again came up close with him, told him he was a "nice man, and that he wished to be better acquainted with him." The prosecutor. alarmed and enraged, bade the fellow immediatly to be gone, or he would have him taken into custody and punished, but the prisoner seeing they were not within the call or hearing of any centinel, seized him by the arm, and told him that he was Young Sayers, a Bow-street officer, and that in virtue of his office, he would take him into custody, and charge him with an unnatural crime, if he did not behave liberally; and, at the same time, producing from under his coat something in the resemblance of a constable's staff, told him not to attempt any resistance, as if he did he would whistle and quicky obtain the aid of a number of his brother officers The prosecutor alarmed and terrified at the idea of having his name implicated with so horrible a charge, knew not what to do; but having no money about him, said he would at any other time give him money, The prisoner first said he supposed he was an officer in the guards; but being assured of the contrary, insisted on knowing the prosecutor's address. He gave the prisoner his card. But the prisoner would not quit him; and followed him close to his lodgings in Cleveland-court, St. James's-place, still threatening that if he did not give him a sum of money, he would take him to the watch-house. The prosecutor took him into his lodgings in hope of conciliating him, and asked him how much he wanted. At first, he said, he must have 50l. but he afterwards fell to 40, 30, 20, and finally to 10l. Prosecutor said he had not got so much money by him, but begged of the prisoner to call next day: this he refused, and suggested that the prosecutor might borrow the money at the Queen's Larder, or pawn his gold watch and seals; the prosecutor said he knew no pawnbroker nearer than Berwick-street, to ask money from at so late an hour: then near twelve o'clock. The prisoner proposed to accompany him thither, and he accordingly went to a Mr. Alders, had him called out of bed, and obtained a ten pound note on his watch and trinkets, which he gave to the prisoner, who remained outside the house door waiting for him. The prisoner further insisted upon half-a-guinea, which the prosecutor had previously said, was all the money about him, and which he accordingly handed over.
          Mr. Butler, on his cross-exmaination by the Court, said he was induced to give his note and money, under the terror of the prisoner's threats to take him to the watch-house, and charge him with so abominable a crime. The prisoner promised, on going away, he should hear no more of him; but on the 13th of October following, he came ot his house, in Cleveland-court, at ten o'clock at night, called for the prosecutor, told him he had been dismissed from his emplyment at Bow-street, in consequence of his being missed from his duty on the 8th of August, at night, and that he was then going down to Portsmouth, and wanted two guineas to bear his charges, which he insisted on having, or he would renew his former charge. The prosecutor refused to give him any money. The prisoner repeated his demand aloud, with new threats; but the prosecutor thrust him out of doors, and went the next morning and fully made known his case to the Bow-street Magistrate. The next time he saw the prisoner was on the 31st of October, when he came to him at Mr. Wigram's again, to repeat his threats, and demanded money, when the prosecutor sent for a peace-officer, who took the prisoner into custody.
          Mr. Alders, the Pawnbroker, of Berwick-street, corroborated the Prosecutor's statement, of having called at his house at twelve o'clock at night, on the 8th of August, and obtaining 10l. from him.
          The evidence for the prosecution being here closed.
          Mr. Allen, for the Prisoner, called no evidence; but submitting to the Court a point of law, which was overruled.
          The Judge summed up the evidence, and the Jury, after a few minutes deliberation, returned a verdict of – Guilty, Death.
          The same prisoner, and an accomplice named James Coddington, were tried upon a capital indictment for a highway robbery on the same prosecutor, in the same parish, of a 10l. Bank Note, on the 19th of August, under similar threats, and both found guilty.
          There were two other indictments pending against Cannon for similar offences, against other persons; but the Court, after two capital convictions, thought it unnecessary to try him upon the remaining charges. (Kentish Weekly Post)

27 April 1809

Yesterday, his MAJESTY held a Privy Council, at which the RECORDER of London attended, and made his report of the convicts under sentence of death in Newgate, convicted in November and February Sessions, viz.
          James Coddington and Thomas Cannon, for extorting money from Joseph Butters, under pretence of charging him with an abominable offence. . . .
          When Wm. Cook was ordered for execution on Wednesday next; the rest were respited during his MAJESTY's pleasure. (The Star)

Cannon and Coddington were both pardoned on 13 May 1809 on condition of transportation (Home Office Registers of Criminal Petitions, HO19, pc. no. 2; first Warrant dated 26 April 1809: Correspondence and Warrants, HO13, pc no 20, pp 19-20): "His Majesty having been graciously pleased to extend his Royal mercy upon consideration of their being transported to the Coast of New South Wales or some one or other of the Islands adjacent for and during the terms of their respective natural lives." In August 1809 they were put aboard the prison hulk docked at Woolwich (Prison Registers, Hulks at Woolwich, Series T38, pc no 335). Almost a year later, in July 1810, Thomas Cannon and James Coddington were among the 200 convicts transported on the Indian, arriving in New South Wales on 16 December 1810. Coddington was given an Absolute Pardon on 5 June 1815 and set free. There is no conduct record for Cannon. A convict named Thomas Cannon is recorded as having died in Sydney in 1811, having been born in 1767. There is a London parish record for the baptism of a Thomas Cannon on 14 june 1767. But if the Old Bailey is correct that Cannon was 38 years old when he was convicted in 1808 (List of Prisoners, HO26,. pc no 14, p. 20), he would have been born in 1770, but we cannot be certain that these ages were completely accurate.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "General Gustavus Guydickens", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 20 May 2021 <>.

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