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

Newspaper Reports, 1797

HIGHLIGHTS: A 70-year-old man is executed for sodomy; a cross-dressing woman is executed for theft of a horse; two "accomplices" – i.e. lovers – are hanged.

Thursday 2 February 1797

A Council was held this day (Friday) at two o'clock, at the Queen's House, where the Recorder attended, and made his report of the convicts under sentence of death in Newgate, when John Bannister, for robbing on the highway, and Alexander Leake, for an unnatural crime, were ordered for execution on Wednesday next. (Derby Mercury)

Saturday 4 February 1797

Yesterday morning Alex. Leake and John Bannister were executed, agreeable to their sentence, before the Debtor's Door of Newgate. The former for an unnatural crime, the latter for a footpad robbery. (Northampton Mercury)

Saturday 14 January [misdated for early February] 1797

Wednesday morning were executed opposite Newgate, pursuant to their respective sentences, John Bannister, for a highway robbery; and Alex. Leak, for an unnatural crime. There was nothing particular in their behaviour. (Oxford Journal)

Saturday 4 February 1797

Yesterday Bannister and Leak, the former for a highway robbery, and the latter for an unnatural crime, were executed at Newgate, pursuant to their sentence. They both appeared very penitent. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Saturday 25 February 1797

On Saturday George Wilkins was tried for an unnatural crime. The only evidence against him was James Terry, whose testimony was of such a nature that we cannot report it.
          The Jury retired for about half an hour, and brought in a verdict of Guilty. (Staffordshire Advertiser)

Saturday 1 April 1797

At Exeter, . . . Richard Cutlip, for unnatural practices, is to be imprisoned twelve months, and fined 30l. and Rob. Adams, his accomplice, is to be imprisoned fifteen months. (Oxford Journal)

Saturday 27 May 1797

Wm. Winkin, who was convicted at the Old Bailey in February session last for an unnatural crime, afterwards respited during his Majesty's pleasure, is pardoned on condition of his being imprisoned in the house of correction at Clerkenwell, for the term of 7 years, and afterwards to give security for his good behaviour for the remainder of his life, himself in 500l. and two sureties in 250l. each. (Ipswich Journal)

Saturday 5 August 1797

Yesterday John Hervey was brought to the county gaol, being committed to take his trial at our next assizes, eing charged, together with a man named Miller, who is bailed, with committing an unnatural crime at Chichester. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Friday 18 August 1797

At Bury St Edmunds (for Suffolk), the four following prisoners were capitally convicted, and received sentence of death, viz. William Powell, aged 70, for sodomy; – Margaret Catchpole, for stealing a coach-horse belonging to J. Cobbold, Esq. of Ipswich (with whom she formerly lived servant) which she rode from thence to London in about 10 hours, dressed in man's apparel, and having there offered it for sale,was detected; George Bidwell, for privately stealing from the house of Mileson Edgar . . . ; and J. Hearn, for stealing a ram . . . – Before the Lord Chief Baron left the town, he reprieved the three last mentioned, and left only Powell for execution, who will suffer here on Wednesday the 30th inst. (Stamford Mercury)

Thursday 7 September 1797

On Wednesday was executed at Bury, pursuant to his sentence, William Powell, a man 70 years of age, for the commission of an unnatural crime. (Derby Mercury)

Saturday 9 September 1797

William Powell, aged seventy, was on Wednesday executed at Bury, for an unnatural crime. He made no confession. (Norfolk Chronicle)

Thursday 28 September 1797

An account has been received that Capt. A—— has been tried by a Court-Martial in the West-Indies, for an unnatural crime with his boy; which charge being fully proved, he was sentenced to be hanged, and was executed on board his own ship. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Saturday 14 October 1797

At the general quarter sessions for Exeter, Mr. Wm. Gale and John Sams were tried for an unnatural crime, and found guilty upon the clearest evidence; the former was sentenced to be imprisoned in the iron cage of the workhouse for one year, and during that period to be severely tho' privately whipped; Sams to be imprisoned 6 months. (Ipswich Journal)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1797", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 18 October 2014 <>.

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