Newspaper Reports, 1816

Thursday, 14 March 1816

The Assizes for the County of Devon will commence at the Castle of this city, on Monday next, before the Hon. Sir Robert Graham, knight, and the Hon. James Allan Park, esquire. – The following prisoners are for trial: – . . . Wm. Woodcock and Wm. Oatway for an unnatural crime; Joseph Glover for beastiality; . . . (Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post or Plymouth and Cornish Advertiser)

Thursday 28 March 1816

ASSIZES. – At Exeter, Wm. Woodcock, and Wm. Oatway, for an unnatural offence, were sentenced, the former to 4 years, and Oatway to 3 years, imprisonment; . . . (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Friday 5 April 1816

Among the criminal trials, at the Devon Assizes, that of the Rev. William Woodcock for an unnatural crime, excited sensations which cannot be described. – He was found guilty, and the impressive speech of the Judge in pronouncing his sentence of four years imprisonment, shook the nerves of every one who heard it, except those of the prisoner, who, on his return to prison, declared he had been prejudged! William Oatway, his colleague, a boy of about 16, was also convicted, and sentenced to three years confinement. – The prisoners were not indicted capitally. (Cambridge Chronicle and Journal; this report appeared in many newspapers.)

Tuesday 18 June 1816

The filthy letter of an unnatural monster, signed “CHIURGICUS,” is not impregnated a tittle less with guilt, than the base writer, with fiend-like depravity, – a character, we are convinced, worthy of as awful a visitation of the laws of his country, for unnatural practices, as the most ignoble wretch that ever atoned at the gallows for a crime that the laws of God and man denounce against. We are aware from whence the detestable letter comes, and shall probably at a future opportunity, drag the guilty animal before the public bar, and disclose his foul intentions. It will not be matter of great surprise to us, if, ere long, we hear that his misdoings ahve subjected him to be whipped by the common hangman, –
          Till, like (!!!) a BOY! we see him cringe his face,
          And whine aloud for mercy!

                    (Chester Courant)

Monday 15 July 1816

Saturday John Attwood Eglerton, a waiter, was indicted for committing an unnatural offence. The prosecutor was a boy, who is a groom in the service of a Gentleman. He first became acquainted with the Prisoner at Tunbridge Wells, where he used to attend the Prisoner with a horse, which he hired from the boy’s then master. The Jury retired for ten minutes, and returned with a verdict of Guilty. – Death. When the Prisoner heard the verdict pronounced against him, he fell into tears, and begged the Judge to recommend him to mercy on account of his family. (Morning Post)

Thursday, 19 September 1816

RECORDER’S REPORT. – Yesterday the Recorder made a Report to the Prince Regent of the following Convicts under sentence of death in Newgate, viz: –
. . . John Attwood Eglerton, for sodomy; . . . when John Attwood Eglerton was ordered for execution on Monday next; the others were respited during pleasure. (Morning Chronicle)

Thursday 26 September 1816

This morning John Attwood Egerton [sic], for an unnatural crime, was hung in the Old Bailey. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette) [See contemporary comments on this case by William Beckford.]

Friday 27 September 1816

EXECUTION. – On Monday morning John Attwood Eglerton, underwent the awful sentence of the law in the Old Bailey, for an unnatural crime. The wretched man conducted himself with becoming fortitude and resignation. (Cambridge Chronicle and Journal)

Friday 29 November 1816

The Recorder of London was afterwards admitted into the Council, and made his report of the convicts capitally convicted at the last September Sessions in the Old Bailey, amounting to upwards of thirty. The report occupied the attention of the council about three hours; when the following were ordered for execution on Monday next:– John Warren, for highway robbery and cruelty; R. Townshend, for forgery; R. Yandall, for an unnatural crime; and Thomas Rawlinson and H. Pegg, for highway robbery. (Cambridge Chronicle and Journal)

Thursday 5 December 1816

H. Pegg and T. Rawlinson, for piracy on the river Thames; J. Warren, for a highway robbery; and R. Yandell, for an unnatural offence; were this morning executed in front of Newgate. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Friday 6 December 1816

EXECUTION. – The execution of H. Pegg and T. Rawlinson, for piracy on the river Thames; J. Warren, for highway robbery; and R. Yandell, for an unnatural offence; took place on Monday morning, in front of the Debtors’-door, Newgate. R. Townsend, convicted of forgery, who was also to have suffered, in consequence of exhibiting strong proofs of mental derangement, received a respite. The four unfortunate men had, from the time of hearing the fatal mandate for their execution, evinced the most perfect resignation, and the sincerest piety. Each was attended for the last few days by several religious friends. On Sunday, as usual, they all attended the condemned sermon, preached by the Ordinary, and partook of the Sacrament. Their conduct was truly devout and penitent, and they individually acknowledged the justice of their sentence. (Stamford Mercury; the Ipswich Journal has the same report on 7 December, but adds a comment about the hanging: “Three of them scarcely exhibited a motion, but the death of Warren seemed to be more tedious, and acocmpanied with convulsions of the whole frame.”)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given. (Many reports were repeated verbatim across several newspapers, but I have not included them all.)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1816", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 12 November 2014 <>.

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