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

Newspaper Reports, 1792–1793

Saturday 10 March 1792

On Wednesday the Commission was opened here, for holding the Assize for Oxfordshire, . . . Joseph Stibbs Jacobs, for an Assault with intent to commit an unnatural Crime, was ordered to be imprisoned twelve Calendar Months. (Oxford Journal)

Monday 8 October 1792

At the general quarter sessions of the peace for this county, held at our Town-hall, on Tuesday last, . . . Isaac Matthews, for an assault on Joseph Wythe, with an intent to commit an unnatural crime, to be imprisoned 12 months, and fine 10l. . . . (Reading Mercury)

Saturday 20 October 1792

Yesterday the Grand Jury, at Westminster, found a Bill of Indictment against General Gustavus Guydickens for an Assault, with intent to commit an unnatural crime on John Scott. – A true Bill was also found against Scott. (Northampton Mercury)

Saturday 3 November 1792

A nest of the worst description of people were last Monday apprehended at one Field's, in Clement's Lane, London. The officers, upon rushing into a room up-stairs, discovered two wretches dressed in women's apparel, and painted in the face, walking a minuet, sixteen other wretches were at this time sitting round the room on the benches, laughing spectators of the degradation of man, and in indecent familiarities with each other; they were all immediately secured, and conveyed to the watch-house; and yesterday morning they were taken, amidst the general execration of an immense mob, to Bow-street. The following are the names of the 18 men who were examined: – Charles Dean, Robert Brady, William Houlton, Thomas Blesset, Joshua Thomas, Joseph Reid, Charles Mosely, Samuel Bower, John Male, John Whitmore, Nicholas Welch, Robert Roberts, William Brown, John Sanbach, George Adams, John Beard, John French, and John Davis.
          The names they made use of to distinguish each other at the Club, were – Lady Gormanstown, Lady Golding, Countess Papillion, Gipsey Moll, Lady Mary Duncan, Miss Conveniency, Miss Jobson, Bold Black Moll, Miss Frisky, Betty Dash, Moorfields Moll, Miss Jenny, Lady Pelham, and Miss Cock a-too. To these names some of them confessed.
          The persons, who were taken in women's habits were Charles Dean and Robert Brady; and when they were taken, they requested leave to get their hats, which they said were in the bed-room: – the bed-room was accordingly broke open, and the hats found on the bed. – They were committed to Tothil-fields Bridewell amid the execrations of the populace.
          From the nature of the information which led to the discovery, we have every reason to believe that this infamous nest of beings have been countenanced in their diabolical practices by some opulent individuals; if such men there are, however high their rank in life may be, we shall make it our study to hunt them from society. (Norfolk Chronicle)

Saturday 3 November 1792

A fortnight ago, an anonymous Letter was received by the Magistrates at Bow-street, stating, that a Club met every Monday night, for diabolical and unnatural purposes, at a publick-house, called the Bunch of Grapes, in Clement's Lane, near Clare-market, kept by a man of the name of Field, who has formerly been tried for coining.
          The Letter further stated, that in addition to their horrid practices, they were chiefly coiners, utterers of bad money, and thieves of all descriptions.
          The anonymous Letter also mentioned, that all these wretches were, in their Club, distinguished by Nick-names given them by their detestable Associates, and were all constant attendants at the above house: and added the following List of their Titles:
          Lady Gormanston, Lady Golding, Countess Papillion, Duchess of York, Lady Mary Duncan, Miss Conveniency, Blood-Bold Nan, Miss Frisky, Betsy Dash, Moorfields Moll, Gipsy Moll, Miss Fancy, Lady Pelham, Little Cockatoo, Miss Mary Jobson:
          The latter of whom, this anonymous writer affirms, is at this time kept by a Stock-Broker who lives near the Royal Exchange, and whom he names in his Letter. – This Jobson, he likewise says, is one of the most notorious of all the Association.
          A Letter so extraordinary, the Magistrates felt it no less their duty than their inclination to attend to; but as the information came from one who did not make his name known, they determined to discover if there was any truth in it; and for this purpose, on Monday week, sent two of the Patrole to endeavour to mix in the Cub, which they did, and sat there for some time, beholding their abominable intercourse.
          In short, they made such a report, as induced Mr. Justice Bond to grant a Search Warrant, which was, at ten o'clock on Monday night, executed by Mr. Tapp, High Constable for Westminster, a number of Petty Constables, and Officers of Bow-street, who, suddenly rushing into the room, secured the doors and windown, and prevented the possibility of any one of them making their escape.
          On entering the room two fellows, in female attire, with fur muffs and tippets, large shawls, caps of silver spangled gauze, formed into turbans, and decorated with silver tassels and black feathers, aprons, &c. and very much painted, both red and white, were figuring about in minuet steps, while the rest were sitting in couples round the room, in attitudes that disgrace Human Nature.
          They were all carried to the Watch-house that night, and brought in the same dresses yesterday morning to the above Office, at eleven o'clock, and examined before Mr. Justice Addington.
          The crowd collected in the streets was immense, and the utmost caution was necessary to guard the prisoners from the mob, who would certainly have destroyed them. On their examination, they gave the following descriptions of themselves:
          Charles Dean, and Robert Brady, the fellows dressed in female attire, said they were fancy dress makers, employed by a Mr. Davis, who works for the stage.
          William Hanlon, an apprentice to an engraver.
          Thomas Blissett, a servant out of place: acknowledged that he went by the name of Gipsey Moll in the Club,
          Joshua Thomas, a silk-weaver.
          Joseph Read, a servant out of place.
          Charles Moseley, a chair-maker.
          Samuel Beaver, a journeyman shoemaker.
          John Male, lately a waiter, and recently acquitted of stealing a quantity of plate from Lady Newhaven.
          John Whitmore, a calenderer.
          Nicholas Welch, a taylor, who lodged at the house in which he was taken.
          Robert Roberts, a servant out of place: who went by the nick-name, of Little Cockatoo.
          William Brown an Irishman, a short time back in custody for robbing a person; but as the man robbed never appeared, he was discharged.
          John Sanbach, formerly a publican.
          George Adams, at the time he was apprehended, was employed as a waiter at the Free-Masons' Tavern. He stands indicted for an assault, with intent to commit an unnatural crime on a man whose name is Newton, but not surrender himself for trial.
          John Beard, an undertaker, from Kingsland-Road.
          John French, a taylor, and John Davis, a shoemaker.
          The Magistrate committed them all for trial.
          The prisoners were now handcuffed two and two, and all fastened together by a chain. In this state they were to be sent to Tothill-fields Prison; but the crowd without doors, which, on the prisoners being first brought up, consisted of seven or eight hundred persons, being now increased to as many thousands, each individual calling aloud for the most ample punishment to be inflicted on the prisoners, it being apprehended that they would take them from the Civil Power, and massacre them, the Magistrates sent for the Military, who, to the number of forty privates, with two serjeants, a drum, a fife, an Officer, and the High-Constable, with about thirty of the Patrole and Officers of this Office, escorted the prisoners.
          In Bow-street it was with some difficulty that even this force could prevent the mob from seizing on the prisoners; and the crowd followed them to the door of the Prison, loading them with execrations, and occasionally pelting them with mud. (Oxford Journal)

Monday 5 November 1792

Before W. Addington, esq.
In consequence of an anonymous letter sent to this office, a search-warrant was granted by the above magistrate, on Monday, to the high constable for Westminster, and the officers of Bow-Street Office, to enter a public-house known byt he sign of the Bunch of Grapes, St. Clement's-lane, Clare-market, kept by a fellow of the name of Field, of infamous character; where they apprehended eighteen persons, who yesterday morning were examined before the above magistrate at this office. They meeting was held at that house every Monday night, for the gratification of the most unnatural and the vilest propensities.
          Two of these wretches were brought up to the office in the dress of females, in which they were disguised at the time of their apprehension. These creatures names are Dean and Brady; one a native of Birmingham, the other of Great Grimsby; who said they were trimming-makers, in the employ of a Mr. Davis.
          Besides their real names, it appeared, from the information, that they had fictitious ones, by which they were known at the club, the recital of which was highly ludicrous. Among these, one had the depraved insolence to suffer himself to be called the Duchess of York; another, Lady Mary Duncan; another, Lady Pelham. One was ingenuous enough to confess, that his club-name was Gipsey-Moll; one young man was called Miss Convenience; another, Miss Cockletop; another, the Countess Pampilion; and another, Cock-a-too
          When the officers entered the room in which they were apprehended, the two dressed in women's clothese, with turban caps, decorated with silver spangles, fur muffs, tippets, and Indian shawls round their neckes, were footing to each other in a kind of jig or minuet; the others were seated round. Adjoining the club-room was a smaller room, with a bed: other circumstances, not proper to mention, could not leave a doubt of the horrid purposes of the meeting.
          The fellow who keeps the house absconded on the arrival of the officers. What is rather extraordinary, the man's wife was privy to this business, and she was brought up for examination. The licence of the house was granted to her mother; she was detained until the mother could be found.
          After having undergone a long examination, they were conducted by the guards to Tothill-Fields Bridewell, for re-examination.
          An immense mob was collected round the office; and so incensed were the populace against the culprits, that a deteachment from the guards was called in, and ranged round the office, for their protection against the efforts of popular fury.
          This nefarious club consists of upwards of 30. (Reading Mercury)

Monday 5 November 1792

R E W A R D.
WHEREAS Joseph Hatton, late of Aston Upthorp, in the county of Berks, Yeoman, who has lately absconded, stands charged on oath, before the Rev. James Morgan, D.D., Henry Deane and George Morgan, esqrs; three of his Majestyu's Justices of the Peace for the said county, wiht an UNNATURAL CRIME: Whoever will apprehend the said Joseph Hatton, and bring him before either of the above-mentioned gentlemen, shall receive a rewared of TEN GUINEAS, on his conviction, by applying to Mr. Andrews, of Reading. (Reading Mercury)

Monday 5 November 1792

Yesterday Philip Davis was capitally convicted at the Old-Bailey of feloniously assauting Edward Peterson on the highway, putting him in fear, and extorting from him one guinea and an half, by threatening to charge him with having attempted the commission of a certain detestable and unnatural crime. (Reading Mercury)

Thursday 8 November 1792

On Monday last, at night, a gang of eighteen of the most detestable wretches, were apprehended by the Bow-street Officers, at the Bunch of Grapes in Clement's-lane, near Clare Market. They met at this house for the most abominable and unnatural purposes. – When the officers entered the room where they seized them, two fellows, in female attire, with fur muffs and tippets, large shawls, caps of silver sprangled gauze, formed into turbans, and decorated with silver tassels and black feathers, aprons, &c. and very much painted, both red and white, were figuring about in minute [sic] steps, while the rest were sitting in couples round the room, in such attitudes as we cannot describe. The day following they were examined before Mr. Justice Addington, who committed them all for trial; and such was the indignation of the populace against these horrid wretches, that they assembled in thousands during their examination, and would certainly have extirpated them from the earth they have polluted, as they were being conveyed to prison, had not the Magistrates obtained a very strong military guard to take them from the Office. (Derby Mercury

Saturday 10 November 1792

LONDON, November 1 and 2.
Yesterday above sixteen men were charged before the above Magistrate by the High Constable for the City and Liberty of Westminster, and several of the police officers.
          It appeared they had formed a society of the most unnatural dscription. The information which the Constable had received proved to be true; for on the officers entering the room, they found several members of this infernal society dressed in women's apparel, and dancing together. In this situation they were conveyed from their assembly room, the Bunch of Grapes, in Clement's Lane, to the watch-house, and yesterday underwent an examination at Bow-street. The indignation of the people rose to such a degree against these shocking miscreants, that to protect them from their summary rage, and to secure them to the due process of law, the Magistrates ordered a strong military guard to conduct them to Tothill-fields Bridewell. And it was well they took this precaution: For the multitude was immense, and it was even with difficulty that they could be restrained from sacrificing them to the fury of insulted nature. (Newcastle Courant)

Saturday 10 November 1792

Saturday Edw. Field, the man who kept the infamous house, the sign of the Bunch of Grapes, in Clement's-lane, was taken before the magistrates at Bow-street Office, and was by them committed to take his trial for keeping a disorderly house. (Ipswich Journal)

Saturday 10 November 1792

Saturday last at the Old Bailey, . . . Philip Davis was capitally convicted for extorting a guinea and half from Edw. Peterson, Esq. by threatening to charge him with a detestable crime. The learned judge in his charge to the jury, observed, that a more formidable charge could not be made by one man against another. It was no less than accusing a man of an unnatural crime, not in the course of justice, where a man might have the means of defending himself, and where he might have shewn by witnesses the improbability of the story; but he threatened to charge him in such a manner, as greatly to endanger his life; for if the prisoner had accused the prosecutor to the mob of an unnatural attempt on him, they might have seized him, without listening to any defence he might have had to make. If the prosecutor had seized the prisoner when he threatened him with this accusation, he might have raised the mob upon him, and the counsequence might have been dreadful. The jury immediately found the prisoner guilty. The learned judge said, the public were extremely obliged to the prosecutor for bringing forward this charge; and his Lordship hoped, that, if any other gentleman was attacked in a similar manner, he would display the same degree of fortitude.
          . . . Tuesday judgment of death was passed upon Philip Davis . . . (Ipswich Journal)

Saturday 5 January 1793

From the POLICE – Public Office, Bow-street, London, Nov. 3d, to Dec. 1st, 1792.
JOSEPH HATTON, late of Aston Upthorp, in the County of Berks, Yeoman; who stands charged on oath, before the Rev. Jame Morgan, D.D., Henry Dean, and George Morgas, Esqrs. three of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the said county, with an unnatural crime. The said Joseph Hatton is about fifty years old, about five feet seven inches high, black eyes and hair, his hair cut round, of a sallow complexion, very thin, stoops, and turns his toes out in walking.
          Whoever will apprehend the said Joseph Hatton, and bring him before either of the above-mentioned gentlemen, shall receive a reward of Ten Guineas, on his comitment, by applying to Mr. Andrews, Town Clerk of Reading. (Newcastle Courant)

Monday 14 January 1793

On Saturday the eighteen men who were taken into custody on the 22d of October last, at the Bunch of Grapes, in St. Clement's Lane, on suspicion of being connected together for purposes of the most beastly and detestable nature, were brought up before the magistrates, at the Westminster quarter sessions, and discharged, after a severe reprimand from the chairman, accompanied by some wholesome advice for regulating their future conduct. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Monday 14 January 1793

At the Westminster quarter sessions, Wm. Field, and Sarah his wife, were indicted for keeping a disorderly house in the parish of St. Clement Danes. The principal evidence was Mr. Lavendar, the head clerk at the Puglic-office, Bow-street, who said, that information having been sent, that a club was held every Monday night at Mr. Field's house, the Bunch of Grapes, which consisted of a number of men, who met for the purpose of committing the most unmanly practices, a search-warrant was granted, which he went to see executed, when they apprehended eighteen men – two of whom were habited as women; that at the time Mr. and Mrs. Field were both in the house.
          Some other witnesses were called, who confirmed what Mr. Lavendar had said.
          The chairman, in summing up the evidence, seemed to be of opinion, that Field and his wife might be ignorant of the business for which those people assembled; this concurring with the opinion of the jury, the prisoners were both acquitted.
          The 18 persons taken at the above house, on suspicion of being connected together for practices of the most abominable nature, were brought up, and discharged, after a severe reprimand from the chairman.
          We cannot but regret the idea of such monsters being against let loose, who are abandoned to every act of profligacy. (Reading Mercury)

Monday 21 January 1793

At the Quarter Sessions for this borough, on Friday, . . . John Bond, for an unnatural attempt, [was sentenced] to be imprisoned six months, the first in a solitary cell, and the five last to be kept to hard labour, and to pay a fine of 5l. (Reading Mercury)

Friday 22 March 1793

The following prisoners were tried last week at Lancaster. . . . John Blackburn and John Porter, with an unnatural crime, were acquitted. (Chester Chronicle)

24 June 1793

This action was brought by Mr. Gillum, a Waiter to his brother, who kept a Coffee-house, against the defendant, who was a Publican, for accusing him of unnatural practices. He laid his damages at 200l. The defendant said, the plaintiff had been tried at the Old Bailey for Sodomy. The parties were Members of a Lottery Club, and this case rested principally on the evidence of Mr. Lee, a Member of this Club. He said the defendant moved that the plaintiff should be expelled; the witness objected to it, and said, that the plaintiff was not the man the defendant took him to be: The reason assigned by the defendant for his motion was, that the plaintiff kept a man in breeches instead of a woman in petticoats. The defendant said he had been at the Old Bailey, and had given half-a-crown to search the books to know whether he had been tried, but had not found the plaintiff's name there, and he believed the reason was, because he had not searched far enough back. The defendant moved, that the plaintiff should be expelled, and he was in consequence of that motion voted out of the Society.
          On cross-examination it appeared, that the plaintiff and defendant were strangers to each other, that the defendant kept a Public-house, where this Club met, and having heard a report unfavourable to the plaintiff, he made the motion merely to vindicate the honour of his house, and that no man who was even suspected of that crime should be permitted to enter it. It appeared also in evidence, that this report had been propagated three or four years ago, but a villain for the purpose of extorting mooney from the plaintiff, that it was totally without foundation, and that when Mr. Blanchard came to understand the matter as it really was, Mr. Callum was again restored to the Club, and is a Member at this moment. As this action was brought merely for the vindication of his character, they agreed to withdraw a Juror. (The Times)

Thursday 25 July 1793

On Thursday the assize ended at Nottingham, which may justly said to be a maiden one, as no prisoners were tried. The following were delivered by Proclamation, viz. William Fox, charged with making an assault with an intent to commit an unnatural crime; . . . (Derby Mercury)

Monday 30 September 1793

A soldier belonging to the guards was indicted at the Old Bailey session, for extorting money from a servant of Lady Camelford, under a threat of charging him with an attempt to commit an unnatural crime; but, when the day of trial came, the prosecutor did not appear, and the soldier was consequently discharged. We since learn that the prosecutor, hearing that another soldier was to appear on the trial, who would impeach his character, went and threw himself into the Thames near Barnes, and was drowned, having previously attempted to destroy himself by laudanum. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Saturday 26 October 1793

On Wednesday, at the General Quarter Sessions for this City, James Shipton, indicted for an Assault, with intent to commit an unnatural Crime, was found guilty of a second Count in the Bill for an Assault only,and fined 10l. which he paid into Court and was discharged. (Oxford Journal)

Saturday 16 November 1793

Wednesday a man stood on the pillory at Charing Cross, convicted of an unnatural crime. The populace remained very quiet at first, as they thought it was Mr. Frost, but on discovering their mistake, they evinced a contrary disposition, the effects of which the peace officers prevented. (Ipswich Journal. John Frost had been sentenced to stand in the pillory "for supporting the Rights of the People", i.e. publishing a seditious pamphlet, but "he was found to be so indisposed that he could not stand".)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1792–1793", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 3 October 2014, updated 1 November 2018 <>.

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