Newspaper Reports, 1808

Saturday 16 January 1808

Samuel James and William George, privates in the 3d Guards, were tried for meeting with intent to commit an unnatural crime. The prosecution was not satisfactorily proved, and the prisoners were acquitted. (Morning Advertiser)

Tuesday 19 January 1808

William Blagden, a green-grocer in Bell-yard, Temple-bar, stood indicted for an attempt to commit an unnatural crime, on the 7th instant.
          The Jury found him guilty, and sentenced him to be imprisoned for one year, and within the first fortnight of that time to stand upon the pillory, for a space of one hour, between eleven and one o'clock, in Lincoln's-Inn-fields. (Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal)

Saturday 30 January 1808

Two bills of indictment were found at the East Riding Sessions, held at Beverley, on the 12th inst. by the Grand Jury, against Mr. Brown, a respectable farmer near Driffield, for an unnatural crime, which will be tried at the ensuing Assizes at York. (Lancaster Gazette)

Thursday 11 February 1808

Monday a Court Martial was held on board his Majesty's ship Magnanime, at Sheerness, for the trial of Lieut. Lillyman, of his Majesty's ship Skylark, for drunkenness, &c. when the charges being proved, he was sentenced to be dismissed his Majesty's service. The Court then proceeded to try the Boatswain of his Majesty's ship Lightning, for an attempt to commit an unnatural crime with G. Davis and J. Wood, two boys belonging to the said ship; and the charges being fully proved, he was sentenced to be broke as a boatswain, and rendered incapable of serving his Majesty as an Officer for ever; also to be rowed round the fleet with a halter about his neck, and his crime read, and to be imprisoned in solitary confinment in the Marshalsea for two years, and then to be disposed as the Lords of the Admiralty shall think fit; also to be mulct of his pay. (Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser)

Saturday 27 February 1808

Mr. Sheridan presented a Petition to the House of Commons, on Friday last, relative to alledge abuses in this prison, . . .
          "Your Petitioner, together with other Gentlemen, late Members of the Grand Jury, also discovered – That several of the liege subjects of this realm were committed to close custody, in cells destitute of fire, eight feet three inches long, by six feet three inches wide, two of them in irons, although sick; some, if not all of these, were innocent in point of fact, as all were then innocent in point in law, being detained under the pretext of re-exmaination, and consequently uncondemned by the legal judgment of their Peers, or even the accusatory verdict of a Grand Jury. . . . That four debtors were shut up in this House of Correction, the only communication between whom and the world appears to take place occasionally by means of two iron grates, at upwards of six feet distance from each other, with a jailor walking in the interval, so as to preclude complaint; and that, from the examination of a debtor, and also by a letter from him, both in the possession of your petitioners, it appears that he was shut up with persons guilty of robbery and unnatural crimes. . . . " (Oxfored Journal)

Tuesday, 8 March 1808

Prisoners in the Castle and New Gaol, who are to take their trials before the Hon. Sir Soulden Lawrence, and the Hon. Sir Simon Le Blanc: –
  .   .   . Mr. Brown, a respectable farmer, near Driffield, charged by two bills of indictment, with the commission of an unnatural crime. (The Hull Packet and Original Weekly Commercial, Literary and General Advertiser, Issue 1104)

Saturday 12 March 1808

YORK CASTLE – Wednesday, March 9.
Mr. FRANCIS BROWN, of Kellythorpe, one of the most respectable farmers in the East Riding of this County, stood indicted, on a Bail found at the last Christmas Quarter Sessions, at Beverley, for the said Riding, and transmitted by the Clerk of the Peace to the Assizes, on the information of John Paul and Robert Eskritt, of Garton, in the said Riding, labourers; for that he the said Francis Brown, had forcibly, and against the will of the said John Paul, committed the crime of Sodomy upon him. Mr. Brown had kept out of the way until the Assizes, previously to which he gave notice to the Prosecutors, and voluntarily attended to take his trial. A defect having been discovered in the indictment preferred at the Sessions, a fresh bill was preferred and found at the Assizes, upon which Mr. Brown was tried.
          Mr. SCARLET, Counsel for the prosecution, opened the case in a very humane, impressive, and elegant manner: – in the opening it appeared,that Mr. Brown had indicted Paul and Eskritt, at the Midsummer Sessions, 1807, for a conspiracy to extort money from him, upon a false charge of Sodomy, forcibly committed upon the said John Paul, which was not tried until the last Christmas Sessions, upon which Paul and Eskritt were found guilty; but having preferred the bill for the capital offence, which had been found, previously to their conviction, judgment was respited until the next Sessions. Upon the examination of Paul and Eskritt, who were the only witnesses for the prosecution, the CONSPIRACY appeared so evident, that Mr. TOPPING, Counsel for Mr. Brown, declined exmamining any witnesses to facts, (although about thirty were in waiting beside all the most respectable characters in the Riding, who voluntarily attended to give testimony to Mr. Brown's character,) and only called about a dozen Gentlemen to character, and to impeach the credibility of Paul and Eskritt. The matter therefore rested upon the testimony of Paul and Eskritt, and the characters of the parties.
          The Judge summed up, in a very full, able, and clear manner; and the Jury returned a verdict of acquittal without a moment's hesitation.
          The court was very crowded, and much interested; and so congenial was the verdict to the feelings of the hearers, that they expressed their approbation in a loud burst of applause – a proceeding which was certainly highly improper, and much to be regretted on so solemn and occasion.
          It must indeed be allowed that this was a cause of much public concern, and great merit is due to Mr. Brown for his manly fortitude, in meeting this charge and prosecuting the Conspirators; for it is a fact well known, that the lives of several valuable characters have been shortened and rendered miserable by simply false and wicked charges, brought forward by designing villains, for the purpose of extorting money.
          We really feel sorry that such diabolical wrtetches, as the Prosecutors, cannot meet with the fullest punishment exercised in the criminal code of English Laws: This, however, they may rest fully assured of – they will be detested, despised, adn held in the utmost contempt by every human being for such a cool-blooded conspiracy! Their punishment will be equal, at the very least, to the CURSE denounced agains the first Murderer.
          Counsel for the Prosecution – Mr. SCARLET and Mr. NICOLL. Attorney – Mr. BENTLEY, Beverley.
          Counsel for Mr. Brown – Mr. TOPPING and Mr. SYKES. Attorneys – Mr. HALL, Beverley, and Mr. CONYERS, Driffield. (York Herald)

Monday 14 March 1808

The Assizes for this county began on Wednesday morning, and did not end till Saturday afternoon. – The following capital convicts received sentence of death:– . . .
          Edmund Catchlove, for threatening to accuse Thomas Fleet of an unnatural crime with a mare, and demanding of, and taking from his person the sum of ten pounds, in the parish of Chalton, under influence of such threat. . . . reprieved. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Monday 14 March 1808

At the Assizes at Salisbury the following prisoners are for trial, viz. . . .
          William Oram, for an unnatural intercourse with a mare. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Friday 18 March 1808

William Billey, 45, for committing an unnatural crime on Thomas Douglas, of Crayford, and for attempts on others. – Guilty. (Kentish Gazette

Tuesday 22 March 1808

[Sentences] . . . William Billey,45, for committing an unnatural crime on Thomas Douglas, of Crayford, and for attempts on others. &150; DEATH. . . . The Assizes concluded at Maidstone on Friday last, when eleven convicts received sentence of death, four of which, William Billey for an unnatural crime; . . . are left for execution on Thursday se'nnight; the rest were reprieved before the Judges left the town. (Kentish Gazette)

Friday 1 Aril 1808

Yesterday, pursuant to sentence, the four unfortunate men, viz.– Thomas Hawkins, for horse-stealing; William Billy, for an unnatural crime; John Snow, and John Pain, for burglary, were taken from Maidstone gaol, to the place of execution, on Penenden Heath, about eleven o'clock. On their arrival at the fatal spot, they had little to say, only cautioning the public against their unfortunate end:– they died with uncommon hardihood and indifference, declared they would not die in their shoes, and kicked them off amongst the numerous spectators; they have behaved themselves since their conviction in gaol, with the greatest propriety, the principal part of their time in fervent prayers. (Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal)

Saturday 30 April 1808

Last week the daughter of a respectable farmer, near Wakefield, was apprehended on a charge of writing threatening letters to two gentlemen, at Sheffield. By the same post each received a letter, intimating that if a sum of money was not forthwith sent to a certain address, to be left at the Post-office, Wakefield, a charge of having committed an unnatural crime would be sworn against him. They both happened to consult the same professional gentleman, who advised them to address a letter, as ordered, and the Post-master was directed to detain the person who might call for it. Accordingly, when the supposed offender came, she was traced to a shop in the town, but before her apprehension she contrived by some means to get quit of the letter. Bail has been given for her appearance at the ensuing Sessions, when the parties are bound to prosecute. (Morning Chronicle

Tuesday, 3 May 1808

At the general quarter sessions of the peace for the East-Riding, held at Beverley on Tuesday last, the following prisoners were found guilty, and sentenced as under, viz: –
.   .   . John Paul and Robert Eskritt, found guilty at the last sessions of a conspiracy to obtain money from Francis Brown, of Driffield Greets, by charging him with an unnatural crime; to be confined for 12 months in the house of correction, and held to hard labour, and to stand in the pillory at Great Driffield on Thursday next.
.   .   .   .
          The West-Riding sessions were opened on Tuesday at Pontefract: – A bill was preferred and found by the Grand Jury, against the daughter of a respectable farmer of Normanton, near Wakefield, for having written certain letters under the signature of Frederick Delamare, to three gentlemen of Sheffield, charging them with the commission of unnatural crimes, with an intent to extort money. — A bill was also preferred and found by the Grand Jury, against a certain respectable farmer of Castleford, near Pontefract, for a conspiracy with a female, with intent to exonerate himself from a charge of bastardy: both traversed. – Much public curiosity was excited, and great disappointment experienced, that these trials were not brought on, from the singularity of the crimes, and respectability of the defendants. (The Hull Packet and Original Weekly Commercial, Literary and General Advertiser, Issue 1112)

Tuesday 3 May 1808

John Paul and Robert Eskritt, found guilty at the last sessions of a conspiracy to obtain money from Francis Brown, of Driffield Greets, by charging him with an unnatural crime; to be confined for 12 months in the house of correction, and held to hard labour, and to stand in the pillory at Great Driffield on Thursday next. (Hull Packet)

Wednesday 18 May 1808

Thursday, at noon, —— Pearce, convicted of an unnatural attempt, stood on the pillory at Charing-cross; the mob, indignantly abhorrent at his offence, pelted him most severely the whole time. (Bury and Norwich Post)

Wednesday 29 June 1808

BURY, June 29, 1808.
On Friday last Wm. Puttell and Geo. Cope were committed to our gaol, by C. Blomfield, Esq. Alderman, charged on a strong suspicion of an unnatural offence. (Bury and Norwich Post)

Saturday, 30 July 1808

Sarah Milburn was found guilty at Rotherham Sessions, last week, of having sent a threatening letter to a Gentleman at Sheffield, charging him with having been guilty of an unnatural crime, but judgment was deferred. (The Leeds Mercury)

Thursday 4 August 1808

QUEEN-SQUARE. – A young man, of respectable connections, was charged by John Andrews, a private in the Coldstream Guards, with an attempt to commit an unnatural crime. On Tuesday night, about 11 o'clock, the prisoner asked the soldier, who was on duty in the Bird Cage Walk, his way out of the Park; being informed, he remarked – "so the Guards have all got their ears cropped;" and, without further ceremony, attempted the crime. On this the soldier seized him, but he escaped and took to his heels; in his flight, however, he received the stick of a bayonet in the back part of his leg, and was again secured, and lodged in the guard-house. The prisoner did not attempt to deny the charge; he said he had been drinking, and did not remember any thing that passed. Two gentlemen gave bail for his appearance at the ensuing Sessions; adn the soldier, with two of his comrades, were bound over to prosecute. (Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser)

Wednesday 17 August 1808

No true bill was bound against W. Puttell and George Cope, for an unnatural offence. (Bury and Norwich Post)

Saturday 20 August 1808

Matthew Dexter was arraigned for assaulting Chas. Simmons, and also John Whall, with an intent to commit an unnatural crime. He pleaded not guilty, and traversed the two bills of indictment found against him. He was then remanded back to prison, there to remain until next assizes, unless he should find bail for his appearance, with two sureties of 100l. each, and himself in 250l. on each separate indictment. (Norfolk Chronicle)

Tuesday 20 September 1808

J. H. Betts, a master bricklayer at Woolwich, and a fellow, named Workman, were tried on an indictment, charging them with an attempt to commit an abominable crime. The Jury retired for some time, and on their return, pronounced the prisoners Guilty. (Kentish Gazette)

Saturday 8 October 1808

At the Sessions for this city [Norwich], held on Tuesday last, Michael Hill was convicted of an assault with an intent to commit an unnatural crime, and sentenced to six months' imprisonment, and to stand in the pillory, on Saturday se'nnight. (Norfolk Chronicle)

Wednesday 19 October 1808

NORWICH, Oct. 19, 1808.
On Saturday last Michael Hill, who was tried at the last quarter sessions for this city, for an assault with an intent to commit an unnatural crime, stood in the pillory for one hour in the Market-place, pursuant to his sentence. – The number of spectators was very great, but they were more lenient than usual on such occasions, as he received very little injury from being pelted. (Bury and Norwich Post)

Saturday 22 October 1808

Michael Hill, pursuant to his sentence, at the last Sessions, for an assautl with intent to commit an unnatural crime, stood in the pillory, for one hour, in the Market-place, on Saturday last – an unusually great concourse of people assembled on this occasion, whose indignation against the culprit, and abhorrence of his offence, were expressed by universal hootings, and a general, but not very severe, pelting. (Norfolk Chronicle)

Tuesday 25 October 1808

At the General Sessions of the Peace holden for the town of Faversham on Thursday last, Mr. Daniel Jemmett, jun. stood indicted on the oath of William Travis, a drumemr in the 6th Regiment of Foot, for an assault on him, with intent to commit an unnatural crime. W. Noland, esq. attended as Council, and made an elaborate and very ingenious speech in exculpation of the prisoner; but on the masterly summing up of the evidence by C. J. Lawson, esq. the Steward of the Corporation, and his judicious remarks thereon, the Jury after retiring for a short time brought in their Verdict – Guilty. The sentence of the Court was, that the culprit should be imprisoned three months in the gaol of the town of Faversham, and during that period stand two hours in the pillory on some market day. (Kentish Gazette)

Saturday 29 October 1808

BOW-STREET. – On Tuesday evenign the father of a lad, upon whom Richard Neighbour stands committed, for making an unnatural attempt, informed the attorney for the prosecution, that a person had been tampering with his son, to prevent his proceeding with the trial. In consequence of which, the lad was on Friday brought to this office, when he stated, that a Mr. Thwaites had offered to pay his passage to America, and give him a sum of money, if he would go there. Several of the lad's relations attended, but as they declined to give bail for his appearance to prosecute, he was ordered to be taken care of in the House of Correction, to ensure his appearance. (Oxford Journal)

Monday 31 October 1808

This day the Sessions commenced at the Old Bailey, when 14 prisoners were tried, six of whom were capitally convicted, viz. –
          Richard Neighbour, for having commited the crime of sodomy on the body of Joshua Archer. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Tuesday 1 November 1808

Yesterday the RECORDER and COMMON SERJEANT tried a few petty cases which remained from Saturday, and finished the business of the Sessions at an earky hour. The RECORDER afterwards proceeded to pass judgment, when the following capital convicts received sentence of Death: – . . . Richard Neighbour, for sodomy . . . – Several were sentenced to transporation, and lesser punishments, and the Sessions was adjourned.
          When the RECORDER passed sentence of Transporation upon the Women Convicts, before they left the Bar, one exclaimed "she cared not, for he had now done his worst," and the whole party left the Bar, and began singing "Big bow vow," which was heard in full chorus until they were out of ear shot. (Morning Post) [Another paper reports the song's title as "Pig wow wow"]

Tuesday, 1 November 1808

Yesterday 13 prisoners were tried at the Old Bailey, 5 of whom were convicted on felony, and 8 acquitted.
          Same day the Sessions ended, when sentence of death was passed on .   .   .   .   Richard Neighbour, for committing the crime of sodomy upon Joshua Archer; .   .   .   . (Morning Chronicle, Issue 12314)

Friday 4 November 1808

Monday, Oct. 31. – The Recorder and Common Serjeant tried a few petty cases, and finished the business at an early hour. The following capital convicts received sentence of death:– . . . Richard Neighbour, for an unnatural crime; . . . (Kentish Gazette)

Thursday 24 November 1808

RECORDER'S REPORT. – Yesterday the Recorder made a Report of the following cpaital convicts in Newgate:– R. Neighbour, for an unnatural crime; . . . When R. Neighbour was ordered for execution on Wednesday next. (Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser)

Saturday 26 November 1808

On Thursday night the wretched convict, named Neighbour, who was capitally found guilty at the last Old Bailey Sessions, of an abominable crime, by means of poison put an end to his existence, and was found dead in his cell yesterday morning. (Morning Post)

Wednesday 30 November 1808

Yesterday the corpse of the man who lay in the cells of Newgate, under sentence of death, for the commission of an unnatural crime, and who poisoned himself with arsenic, was removed from the prison in a cart, and thrown into a hole, previously dug to receive him, in the cross-road, at the top of the Old Bailey. He was buried with his cloaths and irons on, in the same state in which he died, and as is customary on such occasions, no divine service was performed, and the earth was filled in, and the stones replaced as before. The practice of driving a stake through the body was dispensed with. (Morning Advertiser)

Tuesday 6 December 1808

Friday, Dec. 2. Thomas Cannon was indicted for a highway robbery, by extorting sums of money from Joseph Rutter, under a threat of accusing him of unnatural practices.
          The evidence, as given by Butler the prosecutor, was as follows: – That he was a shopman to Mr. Wergman, the jeweller. On the evening of the 9th of August inst he took a walk in the Park, between nine and ten in the evening; having seated himself on one of the benches, the prisoner Cannon came and set himself beside him; he addressed him in conversation, which the witness wishes to decline, but he became more obtrustive; he told him he was a gentleman's butler, and invited him to go home and drink a glass of wine with him; the witness declined and rose to walk away. The Prisoner followed him some little way, and then he told the witness that he saw enough of him to know he was guilty of unnatural propensities, and that the prisoner was Sayers, the Bow-street Office, and must take him into custody. The witness began to expostulate, but the other said he had better behave handsome and give him something to be quiet. He would take 50l. and say no more about it. The witness said he was not worth 50l. He then lowered his demand to 40l. 30l. 20l. and at length to 10l. He said if he had not the latter sum he might pawn something to make it up, and induced by this threat, the witness pawned his gold watch and made up 10l. which he gave the prisoner. During this conversation the witness had disclosed his residence. The next day the prisoner came to him with another man, whom he said was Wilkinson, and told him that the affair was known at Bow-street, and he had been obliged to divide the 10l. among the officers and therefore he must give him another 10l. This the Prosecutor also complied with. He came again on a third day, and got two guineas more. At length he went to Bow-street, to know whether he was really Sayers, the officer, or not; he then learnt that the whole was a fiction. He was directed the next time he came to detain him in conversation till he sent to the Office; he did so, and by that means the prisoner was apprehended: – The Jury found him Guilty.
          He was tried on a second indictment with James Coddington, the person whom he had represented as Wilkinson, and they were both found Guilty. (Kentish Gazette; the Morning Advertiser for 3 Dec. published the same report and added that "There were two other indictments against Cannon for similar extortions practised on other individuals, which the Judge refused to try him upon." Click here for full details)

Tuesday 6 December 1808

Yesterday a Medical Gentleman, of great respectability in his profession, was indicted for an assault with an intent to commit an abominable offence. A private soldier, of the 3d regiment of Foot Guards, named Alsop, was the prosecutor.
          The offence was alledged to have been committed when he was on guart in St. James's Park, about half past eleven o'clock on a rainy night in the month of July inst; but in his testimony he exhibited to many instances of prevarication, and the Defendant having adduced a character for the most unimpeachable morality and respectability, from a long list of professional and other gentlemen who had known him for many years, the Jury found him Not Guilty. (Kentish Gazette)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1808", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 5 May 2008; enlarged 25 Oct. 2014, 9 Jan. 2016 <>.

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