Newspaper Reports, 1804

3 February 1804

Yesterday Mr. Recorder made a Report to his Majesty of the following Prisoners under sentence of Death, in Newgate, viz. – Mathusalah Spalding, for an unnatural crime, John Green and John Pounceford, alias Ratty, Daniel Fitzmaurice for returning from transportation, Michael Brown, Humphry Crawley, Sarah Cheshire, Ann Hurle, for forgery, Margaret Carroll, Cecil Pitt, Samuel Jenkins: when Daniel Fitzmaurice, Mathusaleh Spalding, and Ann Hurle were ordered for execution on Wednesday next. (Morning Chronicle, Issue 10829.)

4 February 1804

LONDON, February 3.   Yesterday the Recorder made a report to his Majesty of the convicts under sentence of death, when Dan. Fitzmaurice, for being at large before the expiration of the term for which he had been ordered to be transported; Mathuselah Spalding, for an unnatural crime; and Anne Hurle, for forging a letter of attorney, with intent to sell and transfer the sum of 500l. the property of Benjamin Allen; were ordered for execution on Wednesday next. (Jackson's Oxford Journal, Issue 2649.)

Anne Hurle and Methuselah Spalding in the cart prior to being hanged (for forgery and sodomy, respectively) on the temporary gallows outside Newgate prison, February 1804. Engraving from William Jackson, New and Complete Newgate Calendar, or Malefactor’s Universal Register, 1818. In November 1803 Methuselah (or Mathusalah) Spalding was convicted for having ‘a venereal affair’ with James Hankinson and sentenced to death (Old Bailey Sessions Book, No. X.24).

Thursday 9 February 1804

Ann Hurle, convicted of forging the name of Benjamin Allen, of Greenwich, to a letter of attorney, with the view of defrauding him of 500l. Three per Cent. Stock, was yesterday morning executed at the Old Bailey, pursuant to her sentence. This unhappy victim to offended justice was a young woman of very interesting appearance, and her whole demeanour at and previous to her execution manifested how little she expected pardon in this world, and how firmly she relied on mercy in that which is to come. She was brought out of the debtor's door in Newgate exactly at eight o'clock. The mode of execution by the drop having been changed to that of the common gallows, she was put into a cart, and drawn to the place of execution in the widest part of the Old Bailey, where she expiated her offences in penitence and prayer. She was neatly dressed in a black muslin gown, chip hat, and white neckerchief. An amaxing concourse of spectators were collected on the occasion, all of whom commiserated the sad fate of Ann Hurle; while that of Mathusalah Spalding, executed at the same time for an unnatural crime, excited sentiments of a very different description. (Morning Chronicle, Issue 10834.)

Monday 13 February 1804

Execution of Ann Hurl. – This unfortunate young woman, convicted at the last Old Bailey Sessions, was executed yesterday morning. – A new gallows was erected near St. Sepulchre's church; it was of the same construction as those in use before the erection of the new drop, which is to be discontinued. About ten minutes past eight o'clock she was brought out of Newgate, with M. Spalding, executed with her, for an unnatural crime, in a cart covered with black cloth. An immense crowd of persons was assembled to witness the awful scene. She was dressed in a mourning gown and a white cap; her countenance veryi pale and dejected, and the beauty of her face rendering it pecularialy interesting. She did not take the least notice of the surrounding multitude, but fixed her attention entirely on the clergyman. She prayed with fervour for about five minutes, when the cart was driven off. As it was going, she gave a scream, and, for two or three minutes after she was suispended, appeared to be in great agony, moving her hands up and down frequently. (Gloucester Journal)

Saturday 18 February 1804

Wednesday morning, Ann Hurle for forgery, and M. Spalding for an unnatural offence, were executed in the Old Bailey. In the way to the gallows, Ann Hurle fainted, and was with difficulty supported while the executioner performed the duties of his office. – The crowd was greater than has for years been remembered. (Norfolk Chronicle)

Monday 12 March 1804

To-morrow the commission will be opened at Hereford, where there are sixteen prisoners for trial, of whom one is for an attempt to commit the crime of sodomy . . . (Gloucester Journal)

Monday 16 April 1804

The Sessions for the County of Southampton commenced on Monday last, before C. S. Lefevre, Esq. chairman, and nineteen Justices of the Peace for the County, when the following prisoners received sentences as under:
          W. Tannor, for an unnatural attempt, in the Parish of Godshill, Isle of Wight – two years imprisonment, and the first and last months to be confined in a solitary cell; . . . (Hampshire Telegraph)

16 April 1804

OLD BAILEY, April 13.   LOUIS D'ARNIE, a French priest, was this day indicted for an unnatural crime. Two witnesses were examined as to the fact. The Marquis and Marchioness D'Eloisa, the Marchioness de Bourmont, and many other nobility, male and female, a number of the most respectable clergy, and some officers of the late French Court, appeared to his character, as being perfectly inconsistant with the idea of such a charge. The Jury, after deliberating twenty minutes, found him guilty – Death. (Caledonian Mercury, Edinburgh, Issue 12889.)

Wednesday 18 April 1804

The Old Bailey Sessions commenced on Wednesday, . . . Friday . . . Louis Darnly, a French Emigrant Priest, was capitally convicted of an unnatural crime. – A great number of French Emigrants, of the first rank, and of both sexes, were called to speak to his character. (Bury and Norwich Post)

Thursday 26 July 1804

The assizes for the county of Devon, will commence at the caslte of this city, on Monday next, . . . when the following prisoners are to take their trials, viz. . . . Wm. Blackmore, for an intent [to] commit an unnatural crime; Thomas Tipper, for bestiality; Edward Taylor, for intent to commit a rape; . . . (Exeter Flying Post)

Monday 8 October 1804

At the county Sessions, at Petworth, a man was acquitted of an unnatural crime. (Hampshire Telegraph)

Monday 19 November 1804

Mr. ERSKINE applied for a rule to shew cause why a criminal information should not be filed against a Reverend Gentleman, a Clergyman in Oxfordshire, for words and insinuations thrown out against a Mr. S. with whom he had been in habits of intimacy, which, if the Reverend Gentleman could not give some satisfactory explanation of them, he (Mr. Erskine) must be obliged to say, were of a most wicked and diabolical nature. The parties were both married men, and, with their wives, often visited at each other's houses. On the 17th September last, Mr. S. being from home, this Reverend Gentleman called on Mrs. S. and invited her to pass the time of her husband's absence at his house. To this she assented, and accompanied him home. – After dinner that day, he took an opportunity of asking Mrs. S. whether she was properly settled in her residence, and how pecuniary affairs went on, saying, that, before she returned home, he would assign his reasons for making the inquiry. On the 19th he renewed his inquiries to the same effect; asked her to go into the book room with him, and there advised her by all means to procure an immediate settlement from her husband, as a matter of great consequence would soon break out. Mrs. S. expressing astonishment, and a desire to be farther informed as to the nature of the Rev. Gentleman's insinuations, he said that he had received two anonymous letters on the subject, one from a gentleman, and another seemingly from a lady. That Lady P., a connection of his wife's, had frequently dissuaded him from keeping Mr. S.'s company, as her Solicitor, Mr. A. had twice spoken to her Ladyship on that subject, representing it as not fit for a clergyman or for a man. Mrs. S. alarmed, asked if he alluded to her husband being attached to any other woman? He said, “No; he wished he had been so.” She then asked, if he meant that her husband had any children? His answer was, “No; he wished to God he had.” He blamed Mrs. S. for allowingher husband to sleep separate from her in different parts of the town; regretted that he kept low company; and stated that his conduct had been so strange as to make the waiters where he slept think it very odd. Mr. Erskine said that he could not illustrate his case better, in this part of it, than by referring to an opinion delivered by his Lordship a few days since, in a case of words uttered with a malicious intent, in which his Lordship had stated – “that it was impossible for any poerson to hear or read the words used, without being convinced that they were meant and had the actual tendency to infer, that the person against whom they were directed, was guilty of and addicted to improper and unnatural habits and prpensities.” Such, the Learned Counsel contended, was the only inference which could be drawn from the conduct and expressions he had described, as coming from this Reverend Gentleman. Mrs. S. indeed, though greatly alarmed, could not comprehend the Reverend Gentleman's meaning. The matter, however, did not rest here; for, in a few days after he is thus seen representing Mr. S. as a person whose company he had been cautioned to avoid, as unfit either for a clergyman or a man; he goes to Mr. S.'s house, wishing as a friend to consult him on the qualities of a horse which he had bought, and while Mr. S. is dispatched for the Racing Calendar, to solve the Reverend Gentleman's doubts respecting his purchase, he avails himself of the husgand's absence to hand privately to his wife a letter on the same subject. Expecting this to be the anonimous [sic] letter of which she had formerly heart, Mrs. S. retired to read it. She found it, however, to be a letter from this Rev. Gent. himself. In it he refers to what passed between them in the book-room, assigns as his reason for taking up his pen, a dread lest she in an unguarded moment should allow any hint of that conversation to drop from her. Assures her that the communication had proceeded solely from that interest in her welfare,which he had promised to her mother on her death bed to observe; and begs that she will be circumspect, well observe the conduct of her husband, and take no notice of the report which he had communicated, till it could be ascertained whether it might not be the effect of malice. This letter is signed “Simon Pure;” and it is requested that it may be immediately committed to the flames. Having perused the letter, Mrs. S. imemdiately returned to the room, and took the first opportunity of speaking to the writer of it. She begged of him, as the friend of her husand, to communicate to him the reports to his prejudice which he heard; othewise that she herself would inform him, and deliver to him the letter she had just received. The Rev. Gentleman seemed greatly agitated at this declaration; said that Mr. S. would of course apply to Mr. A. which would be extremely disagreeable; adding, that Sir —P. had drawn most of his money out of the funds from the same reason. This last circumstance, Mr. Erskine contended, left no room to doubt of the nature of the charge which the Reverend Gentleman meant to convey. From coupling the letter with the conversation in the book room, to which it expressly referred, and with the observation as to Sir —P. no person could hestitate for a moment what interpretation to put on the Reerend Gentleman's insinuations. The present application was founded on an affidavit by Mrs. S. containing the facts before mentioned; a declaration of a conviction on her part that the conduct of the Reverend Gentleman was intended to convey to her the interpretation which the Learned Counsel had put on it, meaning thereby to alienate her affections from her husband; and that she had lived happily with her husband for seven years, without having had any reason to suspect him of such a propensity. An affidavit to the same effect from Mr. S. declaring also that the insinuations were false, and that he held the crime alluded to in complete abhorrence. And an affidavit from Mr. A. expressive of his utter astonishment at the part in the business attributed to him, and denying all accession to the belief or propagation of such an insinuation. Mr. Erskine therefore submitted, that the woreds and conduct of the Reverence Gentleman being clearly sworn top their falsehood being distinctly alleged; and it being also deposed that such words and conduct were calculated, and appeared to the person to whom they were used, as intended to alienate her affections from her husband; no doubt could remain that Mr. S. was entitled to a rule to shew cause why a criminal information should not be filed against this Reverend Gentleman.
          Lord ELLENBOROUGH asked if it was charged in the affidavit that these words and insinuations had been practised for the purpose of alienating the affections of the wife from the husband, with the intent or expectation of having them transferred to the person complained of?
          The affidavid being read, and seeming not to warrant such a charge,
          Lord ELLENBOROUGH said, “There must be some evidence of a malus animus. It must be proved, and not be allowed to hang in ambiguo. The gentleman complained of being, as appears, left with the charge of Mrs. S. from her mother, might have carried on the conversation in the book room alluded to, without any criminal intention; being afterwards convinced that he had spoken too freely, and wishing to soften the matter, he might have written the letter in question, not from any bad motive, but from the motive which he himself assigned. This rather goes to shew the integrity of his purpose, and his conduct at the husband's house confirms it. We are not entitled to grant a criminal information on doubtful grounds, more particularly as the common mode of trying the case by indictment is still open.” (Morning Chronicle) (
Similar reports in the Bury and Norwich Post for 21 Nov. 1804 and in the Norfolk Chronicle for 24 Nov. 1804 mention that Mr. S. "when in London, slept at Hatchett's hotel." A very short report in the Royal Cornwall Gazette for 24 Nov. 1804 identifies the clergyman as Reverend Mr. Buckworth Hearn, of Oxfordshire, and the aggrieved husband as Mr. Smith.)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1804", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 20 April 2008; enlarged 20 October 2014 <>.

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