Newspaper Reports, 1812

Sunday 5 January 1812

[Letter to the Editor]
. . . The writer of this letter has known England upwards of twenty-eight years, had paid some attention to the Court of Justice, and is certain that the number of criminals among foreigners is below the due proportion. There are generally twelve or fourteen hundred prisoners tried, every year, at the Old Bailey, among whom I could seldom discover so many as ten or twelve foreigners; – calculating the population of London at one million, of which number forty or fifty thousands are foreigners; consequently the number of criminals among them is below the due proportion. But what can be more base that the false insinuation, that foreigners are most addicted to an unnatural vice, whilst among a number of odious men who have been brought to justice for such crimes, not one single foreigner is to be found.
          But, it is said, “these wicked foreigners corrupt our morals.” – What! the morals of the present time? The precious morals of London? Where there are fifty thousand public prostitutes. Probably a still greater number of private ones. – Where there are four or five thousand receptacles of infamy, and as many houses of drunkenness. – Where innumerable is the number of thieves, pickpockets, swindlers, cheats, and rogues of all descriptions! These are the precious morals which complain of foreign contamination! (The Examiner)

Friday 28 February 1812

On Wednesday was committed to the Castle, (by the Rev. Samuel Edm. Hopkinson,) Joseph Fletcher, shepherd to Mr. Seth Smith, of Deeping, charged by Samuel Crampton, a boy under 14 years of age, and in the employ of the same gentleman, with the commission of an unnatural offence. (Stamford Mercury)

Friday 20 March 1812

At our Assizes which commence on Monday next, before the Honourable Sir John Bailey, Knight; the following Prisoners confined in the County Gaol are to take their trials: – Thomas Smith and Thomas Watts, for unnatural crimes; . . . (Leicester Journal)

Saturday 21 March 1812

Thomas Slater, charged with having committed an unnatural crime.
          Hartley Blackburn charged with having committed an unnatural crime. (Manchester Mercury)

Friday 27 March 1812

The following prisoners took their trials – In the County Gaol. – Thomas Watts, for an unnatural crime in the parish of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, to be iimprisoned 2 years in gaol, and to ; Thomas Smith, charged also with having committed an unnatural crime, was acquitted; . . . (Leicester Journal)

Friday 3 April 1812

LEICESTER ASSIZES. – The following prisoners took their trials at these Assizes: – Thomas Watts, for an unnatural crime in the parish of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, to be imprisoned 2 years in gaol, and to bet set in the Pillory for one hour at Leicester, and once at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, for the same time; Thomas Smith, charged also with having committed an unnatural crime, was acquitted; . . .
          Advocates for the Prosecution, Mr. Torkington, Barrister; and Mr. T. Atkinson, of Peterborough. For the Prisoner, Mr. Redifer, of Stamford. (Stamford Mercury)

Saturday 4 April 1812

The following have been acquitted: . . . Thomas Slater, for an unnatural crime; (Lancaster Gazette)

Friday 10 April 1812

We are officially informed that Thomas Watts, who was convicted at the last assizes of an unnatural crime, and sentenced to stand one hour in the pillory here and at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, will make his debut in this town on Saturday the 25th inst. (Leicester Journal)

Tuesday 14 April 1812

At the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the Eastern Division of Kent, held on Friday last at St. Augustine’s, near this City, the following prisoners were tried and respectively sentenced:– . . . Henry Smith, for an attempt to commit an unnatural crime – To be imprisoned two years . . . (Kentish Gazette)

Saturday 23 May 1812

Monday, M. Eddell, late footman to a gentleman, was indicted, at the Middlesex Sessions, for sending threatening letters to his late master, to extort money, under pretence of charging him with unnatural habits. The prisoner in consequence of his riotous conduct at a late levee at Carlton House, was discharged by his master, who deducted from his wages some articles of his dress, which had been destroyed by his improper conduct. In a few days after, the prosecutor received a letter from him demanding money in ambiguous terms, and on this being unnoticed, another letter, in which he threatened to charge him with unnatural propensities on his refusal to advance him a sum of money. The prosecutor then applied to the police, and the prison was secured by the Foys. – Guilty.
          Mr. Mainwaring after animadverting on the atrocious conduct of the prisoner, sentenced him to seven years transportation. (Caledonian Mercury)

Wednesday 1 July 1812

A Court Martial was holden on Thursday, on board the Gladiator, on J. Jewel and F. Terrel, seamen, belonging to the Princess Caroline, for an attempt to commit an unnatural crime; which being proved,the former was sentenced to receive 200 lashes, and the latter 50, round the fleet. (Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser)

Sunday 12 July 1812

[The reformer William Cobbet holds a celebration dinner on the occasion of his being released from prison for a libel, and gives a speech.]
          On Thursday, Sir Francis Burdett, Major Cartwright, . . . with many other persons, assembled at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, to celebrate the liberation of Mr. William Cobbett from Newgate. . . . Mr. Cobbett then drew a picture of imprisonment in Newgate for what is termed a libel. – “In the first place,” said he, “it was two years imprisonment; but it is not mere confinement in a house, but imprisonment with the most degraded felons, unless you can redeem yourself rom their society at an enormous price; two years’ imprisonment means being shut up for that time in place, with a yard of 35 feet one way, and about 25 feet the other, to which belong a number of rooms, having the appearance of and being in reality cells, in each of which are four or five beds, with as many persons as they will hold, consisting, not of persons guilty of libels, or of similar offences, but of persons convicted of felony and misdemeanours, even those who have been found guilty of unnatural crimes. – Such is the situation in which I was destined to be sent by the Court of King’s Bench, and where our venerable friend, Major Cartwright, first visited me. Here were also to be found Hazlett and a man who was transported in Botany Bay the ensuing morning: so that had I not redeemed myself from this society by my purse, I should for two years have been confined with the most abandoned felons. – (Loud applause.) It is not, therefore, absolutely a bed of roses to which they send a man when he goes to Newgate. – (Laughter.) – Mr. Eaton is now confined there. He is sentenced to be there imprisoned for 22 months, and to stand once in the pillory. In the same place, since I was in Newgate, was a man found guilty of an unnatural crime, whow as sentenced to stand once in the pillory, and to be imprisoned only 12 months. – (Reiterated shouts.) – Such is the quality in the distribution of justice. . . . ” (The Examiner)

Monday 26 October 1812

W. COX was convicted of attempting to commit an unnatural crime on a young man named Mitchell, and was sentenced to 12 months hard labour in the House of Correction. – J. Taylor was convicted of a similar assault on a gingerbread baker, on Lisson-green, and was sentenced to the same punishment. (Public Ledger and Davily Advdrtiser)

Monday 16 November 1812

On Friday, —— Simmonds, indicted by the name of M’Donald, pursuant to his sentence stood in the pillory, for an unnatural crime, opposite Shoreditch Church. At elevent a.m. the crowd began to assemble, and while they were waiting for the exhibition of the culprit, an over-driven ox made his appearance, and created much diversionn to the surrounded multitude. At one p.m. he was placed in the pillory, and in the course of a few minutes the beast returned to the crowd, and upset a number of individuals with whom he came in contact; fortunately no serious injury happened. During the pressure which now occurred, a cart broke down and precipitated the whole of the contents, amounting to about twenty persons, into the mud, and the poor animal which drew the cart was completely buried in the confusion of those who were overthrown in the disaster. The poor wretch was pelted with mud and other filth until the pillory was completely covered. After standing the usual time, he was conveyed back to Newgate. (Sussex Advertiser)

Friday 4 December 1812

Prisoners committed to the County Gaol, Maidstone. – . . . Geo. Godfrey, charged on the oath of Henry Greethurst, with having feloniously committed the unnatural and detestable crime of sodomy, with, and upon the body of the said Henry Greethurst, about eight months ago, and at several days and times since, in the parish of Lee. (Kentish Gazette)

Monday 14 December 1812

. . . [have] this week been committed to the County Gaol, by G. H. Rose, Esq; . . . Patric Camron and Robert Hean, for an unnatural crime. (Hampshire Chronicle)

Tuesday 15 December 1812

Prisoners committed to the County Gaol, Maidstone. – Friday last, Henry Church, charged on the oath of Henry Greethurst, with having between three and four months since, in the parish of Lee, assaulted him, with an intent to commit the detestible [sic] crime of sodomy. This is the second miscreant who has been committed for this offence, during the last ten eays; a third has been committed to Dartford Bridewell, and a fourth is at large on bail; and Greethurst, the evidence against the whole, is also in custody in the House of Correction at Maidstone. (Kentish Gazette) [NOTE: This seems to be a network of homosexuals, and one of them has been persuaded to give evidence against the others in order to escape prosecution himself.]

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1812", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 31 October 2014 <>.

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