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.

Sunday, 29 January 1797

A Council of the Cabinet Ministers was held on Friday at Buckingham House, to receivethe Recorder's report of the convicts, at which the Duke of Portland, Earls Spencer and Westmoreland, the Lord Chancellor, and Mr. Windham assisted; when John Bannister for robbing on the highway, and Alexander Leake for sodomy, were ordered for execution on Wednesday next. The other three convicts reported with them were respited during his Majesty's pleasure. (Observer)

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)

Sunday, 19 February 1797

This was an action against the Defendant for injuring the Plaintiff's character.
          Mr. Mingay opened the case, by stating that the Plaintiff [Kingston] was a married man, and was now living with his second wife. Having been in company with the Defendant [Eaton], a young man, at a dinner at Kensington, he was charged by him with an attempt to commit a crime so horrid and detestable, that delicacy forbade him (Mr. Mingay) to mention, but the Jury would no doubt form an idea of it. In consequence of this charge the Plaintiff was beat very severely, and kicked out of the company.
          If there was really any thing of that horrible nature attempted by the Plaintiff let the witnesses speak it out – let nothing be concealed – he did not wish to screen an offender of such an odious description. If on the othe rhand the Defendant had brought such a charge against the Plaintiff with a view to ruin and blast his character, he did not know any punishment too great for him. The Defedant had taken the matter to a Grand Jury, but they threw out the Bill.
          Nothing could exceed the horor [sic] of the crime but the detestable malignity of the person who made the charge if it should turn out false. Mr. Mingay then called
          James Martin. He lived at the Adam and Eve, Kensington. The Plaintiff Kingston keeps a chandlers shop at Kensington, is a married man between thity and forty – was at the witness's house at an annual dinner in June last, where the Defendant's father also was. The Defendant, who is a apprentice to his father, came there to take him home. The Plaintiff and Defendant retired together into the garden where the Plaintiff called for drink to treat the Defendant. On the Defendant's rejoining the company the witness heard him complain of the Plaintiff's attempting to use indecent familiarities with him. The witness was at the Sessions House, at Clerkenwell when the Plaintiff had indicted the neighbourhood for burning him in effigy. Kingston had been suspected of this offence before this happened.
          Mr. Mingay said he would proceed no further, he was satisfied.
          The Plaikntiff was nonsuited
[i.e. the lawsuit was stopped, either because the plaintiff was judged not to have established the case, or because of voluntary withdrawal by the plaintiff]. (Observer)

Monday, 20 February 1797

William Winklin, (a young man of 22 years of age) was indicted for feloniously committing an unnatural crime on the body of William Terry. – Guilty –: Death. (True Briton)

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)

Friday, 3 March 1797

MANY thousands have been recovered that have not take Dr. BRODUM's excellent Medicines, as well as many thousands of those that have, but how has this been effected? By those having been induced to purchase his celebrated publication, the GUIDE to OLD AGE; who, but for the isntructions, would certainly have fallen the victims of disease. It is a matter of serious consideration,l that a certain destructive secret vice practised by youth, is the source of most of the disorders that occur in maturer years. This deluding habit is generally learned at large Schools. This abominable practice weakens and destroys the whole nervous system; and is the crime for which Onan suffered divine vengeance, as recorded in the 38th Chapter of Genesis; but would young persons consider, that species of debauchery strikes deep at the root of the Cosntitution, inevitably has lent many alarming disorders, and in the vigour of youth, causes the infirmities peculiar to old age, and finally produces premature dissolution. The reflection of these dreadful consequences, should actuate them to desist from so vile and abhorrent a practice. To extricate Patients of this description, from the miseies this destructive habit occasions,
is particularly calculated, and the informaton contained in his Guide to Old Age, renders the perusal of that Publication, indispensibly necessary to the Youth of both sexes, that they may benefit, by the errors of others, and re-establish an excellent constitution by a practical adherence to a system of prudence. . . . (Telegraph)

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, being 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, updated 18 June 2021 <>.

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