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

Newspaper Reports, 1794

HIGHLIGHTS: the life of a blackmailer of sodomites; a sodomitical seller of pornography stands in the pillory; a man is sentenced to two years' solitary confinement.

Monday 24 March 1794

Of the three capital convicts in our gaol who were left for execution at the late assizes, . . . Thomas Noble, for extorting a guinea from a man under a threat of charging him with an unnatural crime, has received a respite for one week. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Monday 31 March 1794

This morning Thomas Noble, capitally convicted at our late assizes of extorting a guinea from Mr. Moore, of Portsmouth, under a threat of charging him with an unnatural crime, suffered the sentence of the law at the usual place of execution, his respite having expired. – The above unhappy young man conducted himself in the most becoming manner, both on the way to and at the place of execution. He prayed loud and very earnest; exorted the spectators to let his disgraceful end have its due influence upon their conduct; expressed his willingness to die; and, after repeating the Lord's prayer, and imploring the divine forgiveness, he was turned off. So very penitent was his behaviour, that almost every beholder seemed interested for him, and we hope he will exprerience that mercy from God, which the laws of his country necessarily denied him here. He appeared about twenty-five years of age.
          The following is the account which Noble gives of himself: "I was born at Woodchester, a small village in Gloucestershire, near Stroudwater, of honest and creditable parents. About the age of fourteen I was put apprentice to a hair-dresser at Bristol for five years. I had not staid above twelve months before my master chastised me, and I ran away and came home; whatever my parents could do, they could not persuade me to return; and, my master threatening that I should serve my time in bridewell, my father contrived to purchase of him the remainder of my term, and took me home to follow my business with him: but wildness of disposition always appeared; my father and mother did every thing to reform my life, and to make me keep better company and not break the sabbath; however, I never minded what they said: if I had, I never should have come to this untimely end; but I hope that my fate will be a warning to all young men not to neglect the advice of their parents, but always to reverence them, and to live in the fear of God. – I have been a miserable sinner before the face of the Almighty and my parents; yet I trust, by sincere repentance, that God Almighty will forgive me the enormous crimes that I have committed; since Christ says that there is more joy over one sinner that repenteth than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance." (Hampshire Chronicle)

Monday 28 July 1794

This day the several military corps, both horse and foot, left this city on account of the commencement of our assizes, which takes place on Tuesday next, at the castle, before Mr. Justice Grose and the Hon. Mr. Baron thomson. The following prisoners are to be tried, viz. . . . Arthur Buchannan, and Alexander Anderson, for an unnatural crime; . . . and William Hay, for beastiality. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Monday 4 August 1794

The following were acquitted:– Arthur Buchannan and Alexander Anderson, for an unnatural crime at Portsmouth. . . . No bills were found against . . . William Hay . . . (Hampshire Chronicle)

Saturday 23 August 1794

At Coventry assizes on Saturday last, . . . S. Smith, charged with sodomy, to remain till next assizes. (Northampton Mercury)

Thursday 21 August 1794

At the assizes for Devon, . . . William Brooks, for a sodomitical attempt, [is] to be iimprisoned two years. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Saturday 30 August 1794

A fellow of the name of Harrison, who used to sell obscene books and prints at Privy Garden wall, and who was convicted at the Westminster Sessions in October last, for unnatural practices, and sentenced to be imprisoned for 12 months and to stand in the pillory, yesterday underwent that part of the sentence at Charing Cross, where he received a most plentiful quantity of rotten eggs, mud, &c. from the surrounding mob; and it was with the greatest difficulty he could be got out of the pillory at the expiration of the time. (Northampton Mercury)

18 September 1794

William Couse was indicted for feloniously extorting divers sums of money from Andrew Primrose, by threatening him that he would accuse him of unnatural practices.
          Mr. Primrose lives inPiccadilly; has known the prisoner some time: met him on the 9th of July, in Covent Garden; and, as they were walking past the Hummums, the prisoner, on seeing two gentlemen, called out "Sodomites!" on the impropriety of which, he expostulated with him. The prisoner immediately said, "I'll blow you up for a sodomite, for two pins," and then said he must have some money, or he would follow him home, and blow him there; that, under the impression of fear for his character, he gave him three guineas, as he did also on the day following.
          Mr. Justice HOTHAM here desired the Jury to acquit the prisoner, the evidence not being sufficiently strong to affect his life; but at the same time reprimanded the prisoner in very severe terms, and desired him to take warning by the very narrow escape he had just experienced. (The Times)

Monday 13 October 1794

On Tuesday and Wednesday last were holden, at the Castle of this city, the general quarter sessions of the peace for the county, . . . Samuel Bricknell was convicted of an assault, with intent to commit an unnatural crime, on one Thomas Davis, at Lymington, and sentenced to be imprisoned for two years in a solitary cell; . . . (Hampshire Chronicle)

Saturday 29 November 1794

NORWICH, Nov. 28.
Friday last was committed to the Castle, Henry Printall, a serjeant in the Norfolk light dragoons, charged on the oath of John Whitaker, a private, with committing an unnatural crime upon him. (Ipswich Journal)

Saturday 29 November 1794

Yesterday se'nnight Henry Printall, a serjeant in the Norfolk light dragoons, was committed to the castle, charged with an unnatural crime on a private soldier in the same regiment. (Norfolk Chronicle)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1794", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 16 October 2014; updated 1 November 2018 <>.

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