Newspaper Reports, 1811

Thursday 24 January 1811

A monster, of unnatural propensities, of the name of JAMES MOORE, a paper-stainer, was committed for trial, on strong evidence. (Morning Chronicle)

Wednesday, 27 February 1811

          Yesterday DANIEL HARTSHORN, a respectable looking lad, was charged with stealing two metal cocks, the property of his master, Thos. Sherman.
          The Prosecutor is a plumber, and the Prisoner had only been in his employ a few days, when the theft was stated to have taken place. the female servant found one of the cocks under the Prisoner's bed, the other in his great coat pocket, and he was accordingly apprehended. The Prosecutor contradicted himself very frequently in his evidence, and acknowledged that he had been convicted lately of writing a letter to an innocent person, accusing him of an unnatural crime, with a view to extort money, for which offence had had stood in the pillory. — He denied, however, that he had ever offered to drop the present prosecution on the parents of the Prisoner giving him a sum of money; but he prevaricated very much in his evidence with respect to the number of times he had seen the Prisoner's parents since the charge had been made. The female servant acknowledged also, that she had quarrelled with the Prisoner during the short time he had been in the Prosecutor's employ, and was obliged likewise to confess that she could not procure a character from the last place she left.
          The Prisoner, in his defence, entered into a very minute detail of what had passed since he had been accused of this offence by the Prosecutor, and solemnly declared, that he knew not how the two metal cocks came where they were found. – He positively denied having himself placed them there.
          About a dozen of respectable witnesses gave the Prisoner and his parents most excellent character.
          The COMMON SERJEANT briefly recapitulated the heads of the trial of the Prosecutor, Sherman, for the offence stated above, and merely noticed the evidence conradictions in his own evidence on the present trial, upon which the Jury immediately acquitted the Prisoner.
          The Prosecutor was not, of course, allowed his expences. (Morning Chronicle, Issue 13043)

Monday 1 April 1811

LEWES, APRIL 1, 1811
At our Assizes, which ended at Horsham, on Wednesday last, sixteen prisoners were tried, . . .
          William Clarke, aged 77, for sodomy, with Stephen Pentecost, as Isfield. — And Richard Dougherty, aged 42, for a similar crime with William Parker, at Eastbourne, were severally sentenced to two years imprisonment. (Sussex Advertiser)

Monday, 4 November 1811

DUBLIN, Oct. 29. – James Byrne stood indicted on two separate cases; for having himself devised and published a libel, accusing the bishop of Ferns of an attempt to commit an unnatural crime, and for having joined in a conspiracy, whose object was to vilify the character of the Bishop by calumnies of that nature.
          Several witnesses were examined, who fully proved the charge, and among others the Lord Bishop of Ferns himself came into the Court on Wednesday, allowing the Counsel for the prisoner every advantage which they could wish to derive from cross-examination or otherwise; the noble and dignified manner of the Right Reverend Bishop seemed to impress every one with respect and awe. On his examination the Counsel for the prisone abandoned the cause; and after a charge from Mr Justice Day, in which he expressed the indignation of the Court, at the flagrant conduct which every circumstance seemed to render entirely evident, the Jury found a verdict of guilty without hesitation. The prisoner was then sentenced to be imprisoned for two years in Kilmainham, and to find securities, himself in L.500, and two others in L.100 each, before being released; and further, that her shall be publicly whipped three several times. (Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh))
[Byrne's accusation of sodomy against the Bishop was in fact true: see The Bishop of Clogher vs. James Byrne]

Tuesday, 12 November 1811

DUBLIN, October 1. – The public indignation was never at a higher pitch in a court of justice than on Tuesday last, by the dedvelopment of the basest conspiracy to sully the lustre of a family so long ennobles and revered, by the foulest defamation of one of its most dignified and exemplary ornaments.
          James Byrne stood indicted, first, for having devised and published certain libels, accusing the Lord Bishop of Ferns of an unnatural crime; and, secondly, for having entered into a conspiracy with other persons unknown, to vilify the character of the said Bishop.
          The Solicitor General then stated the case as follows:
          Gentlemen of the Jury,
          the indictment you have jsut heard read, will inform you of the general nature of this atrocious transaction; it will be my duty more minutely to detail to you all the facts of this profligate and horrid offence, which, I dare say, some amongst us never heard of – an offence which, to the honour of this country, is very little known; the very idea of which suggests horror and disgust to every human heart, and every manly mind. The law, with emphatic force, terms it a crime not to be named amongst Christians. Unfortunately it is better known in a neighbouring isle, because that country is exposed to the contagion of an intercourse with the continent of Europe. – Here, as I have already said, we are strangers to the crime – there is scarcely a trial of the kind in the recollection of any public man who hears me; but we are altogether strangers to a crime of a deeper die, which has grown out of it, and which is still more horrid and humiliating to human nature, the shocking criminality of falsely imputing to an innocent person, the guilt of that disgusting and unnatural offence.
          The Solicitor General proceeded to detail a tissue of artifice, and a development of vice, which proved the prisoner's heart and head formed alone for deeds of baseness. His only motive, it appeared, for iputing so foul a crime, was the hope of thereby compelling the Bishop's brother, with whom he had lived as coachman, to purchase his silence, by giving him a better discharge than his services entitled him to. The turpitude of the prisoner, and the total falsehood of hsi assertionsk having been proved on the clearest evidence, his own counsel threw up his defence, when the following charge and sentence were delivered from the Bench:
          Judge Day charged the jury, and after recaptulating the indictment, his Lordship proceeded to observe, that it was their duty to endeavour to suppress the indignant feelings which the occurrences of the day had so powerfully excited in the Court. His Lordship said, it was not his practice to anticipate what the conduct of juries under the obligation of a solemn oath would be; but as the Counsel for the prisoner themselves had felt it their duty to abandon the case, it surely could not be deemed irregular for the Judge to express his opinion; and really the walls of a Court of Justice were never assaulted or insulted by such horrid profligacy before. He said he rejoiced that it was unnessary to go into the disgusting detail, and he would delay them no longer than while he expressed the gratitude which is due by the public to the Right Rev,. Prelate, who had come forward to combat such a charge in his sacred person, to see if any thing could be had from him to benefit the prisoner. The charge had been most fully made out before his appearance; and he came forward unnecessarily, solely for the purpose of giving the able Counsel employed for the prisoner an opp9ortunity, if by any possibility or ingenuity they could make it useful to their cause. Under those circumstances, they would find their verdict, which, ikn the first step of its march, he trusted would put a stop to all atrocious calumnies of this nature. The Jury immediately found a verdict of Guilty.
          Mr. Justice Fox then proceeeded to pass sentence to the following effect:–
          James Byrne, You have been found guilty of a libel agianst the Bishop of Ferns, imputing to his Lordship an attempt to commit what is emphatically called an Unnatural Crime. You have also been found guilty, that, not confining to your breat the horrid malignity of your mind, you did conspire with others unknown, to impute to the said Right Rev. Prelate the horrid charge. I really am obliged to pause for words to express in any adequate degree the feelings impressed on my mind – feelings which are painted upon the countenances of every person in the Court, at the extreme audacity of hardened guilt, that could induce you to impute a crime of this nature to su8ch a man. I speak not to you for the purpose of exciting contrition, for it is impossibled but that a heart which could imagaine, a mind which could mark for destruction a character of such santified purity, must be utterlky impenetrable to shame. You have caused an exposure in this Court of a crime which can scarcely be thought of without horror and amazement – you have sought to asperse a Clergyman of the Established Religion, raised by his Sovereign to the highest station in our Church, elevated still higher by those virtues which are not made known by the casual ebullitions of a day or of years, but by the whole period of a life devoted to the uniform exercise of every duty which becomes a man and a christian, elevated by religion and education, and by those prindciples, which, if he departed from would have made his guilt greater than the guilty of ordinary men. It remains for me to pronounce the sentence of the law which your crime is to be visited with; I regret I cannot make it more adequate to your guilt, but it is necessary that you should feelo, for the purpose of deterring others from following so baleful an example.
          Your sentence is, that you James Byrne be imprisoned in the gaol of Ilmainham for two years from this date; that you are to be whipped three times at such periods as I shall appoint; and that at the expiration of the two years you enter into security for your future conduct, yourself in 500l. and two sureties for 200l. each; and that you be further imprisoned until the security is given. (The Hull Packet and Original Weekly Commercial, Literary and General Advertiser)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1811", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 29 June 2008, updated 6 April 2012, 12 September 2014, 12 Jan. 2016 <>.

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