Newspaper Reports, 1817

Monday 10 March 1817

The Assizes for the county of Dorset will commence on Friday next. The following are the names of the prisoners on the calendar for trial:– . . . John Barefoot, for an unnatural offence; . . . (Salisbury and Winchester Journal)

Thursday 17 April 1817

At Warwick assizes, thirty-nine persons were condemned, but were all reprieved except four, viz. Samuel Jacobs, for an unnatural offence; Charles Sanders, and Ann Hawtin, for murders; and William Stokes, for forging and uttering 54 counterfeit Bank of England notes. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

Saturday 19 April 1817

Condemned. – . . . Samuel Jacobs, for an unnatural offence, at chilver's Coton; . . . Of the above thirty nine persons, whose lives have become forfeited to the laws of their country, the four latter, viz. Samuel Jacobs, Charles Sanders, Ann Hawtin, and William Ttokes, were left for execution. . . . The Judge was so deeply affected that he could scarcely give utterance to his words. . . . (Northampton Merecury)

23 April 1817

The time of the Court was occupied the greater part of yesterday, in the trial of JOHN BYRON, for feloniously robbing —— M'Garel, Esq. a merchant, lately from Dominica, of 20l. in Bank notes, under a threat of charging him with unnatural propensities.
          The prosecutor stated, that on Monday, the 10th of March, he rode out, and afterwards dined at Slaughter's coffee-house, from whence he proceeded with a friend, a Mr M'Cammon, to Covent Garden Theatre. Witness felt the effects of the wine he had taken after dinner. He left his friend in the box to view the lobbies, as he was almost a stranger inLondon,and on his return his friend had shifted his seat, and he lost him. On his return to the lobby, the prisoner obtruded his conversation upon him about the play, Mr. Booth's acting, &c. The prisoner said he had two sisters in the house, and after they had walked about for some time together, the prosecutor called a coach to go home, and the prisoner asked him the indulgence to set him down, as he should return the earlier to his play party. In this the prosecutor acquiesced, but he had not gone the length of a street from the Theatre, before the conduct of his new acquaintance disgusted him. The prosecutor desired the coachman to stop, and on his alighting the prisoner dipped his hand into his waistcoat pocket, and took out some silver, and he also endeavoured to get his watch. The prosecutor followed him until near the play-house, when the prisoner told him he would tell the girls in the lobby what sort of a character he was, making use at the same time of some disgusting expressions. This threat induced the prosecutor to desist from further pursuit and rather put up with the prisoner's misconduct. On the 13th of March the prosecutor was assailed again by the prisoner in Oxford-street. He did not know him, until the prisoner introduced himself as the gentleman who took a seat in his coach from the theatre the other evening. The prosecutor replied, that he neigher knew him, nor wished to know him. The prisoner then pulled the prosecutor's card out of his pocket, which he must have got with the silver from the waistcoat pocket on a former evening. He vauntingly held out the card, and said, "It was fortunate that he had met the prosecutor, or he would have heard from him that night." the prisoner followed up Holles-street, with prosecutor's card in his hand, and desired him to look what money he had got in his pocket, and if he did not give him some, he would charge him with dragging him into a coach with unnatural designs. He said that a friend of his, who knew of the prosecutor's conduct, was in sight to prove the meeting which then took place, and also the one at the Theatre. After some disgusting allusions, the prisoner said he would follow Mr. M'Garel to the —— but he would have money, for he knew him to be a gentleman, and his character should be ruined. Witness gave the prisoner a 10l. note to get rid of him, but after getting it he insisted on more, and followed witness to his lodgings; he went in and brought him out another 10l. note. The fellow then demanded 50l. and said he would then never trouble prosecutor any more. This, however, was not all; he desired to see what description of persons they were in the house where the prosecutor lodge. The prosecutor here had sufficient strength of nerve to resist any further imposition, and however horrid the imputation which the prisoner false alleged against him, he told him he might proceed as far as he chose, as he (the prosecutor) was determiend to face his villainy, and the prisoner ran off. On the 17th of March the prosecutor received a letter by a young man, and the result of that letter was a conference between him and his friends, Messrs. Underwood, M'Cammon, and Serjeant Manly, which led to information at Bow-street. The prosecutor appointed a meeting in Holles-street, in answer to another letter brought by a woman, for the evening of the 20th March, at six o'clock. Here the prisoner and the young man who brought the first letter repaired, when the former was taken into custody by Smith and Bond, Bow-street patrole. The prisoner was crossing the street to Mr. M'Garel, when he saw the officers, and attempted to escape. In cross-examination the prosecutor swore that he did not take out his card book in the coach, nor did he give the prisoner one. The reason why he did not cause the prisoner to be apprehended for the robbery in the coach, was because he was a stranger in London, and did not know whether the prisoner might not belong to a gang who had watched him from home. He was following him to the Theatre to ascertain who he was, as he said his sisters were there; but the threat used by the prisoner relative to what he would say to the girls in the lobby, prevented him going in. The reason of his giving the 20l. in Holles-street, was the dread of losing his character, which was as dear to him as life, by an imputation of being addicted to unnatural propensities.
          Wm. Smith, the patrole, proved, that on his apprehending the prisoner, he waid he was mistaken in his person, and was sorry he had accosted him, as he had never seen him before.
          Mr. Wood, a clerk at Bow-street, corroborated Smith with regard to the prisoner, denying all knowledge of the prosecutor when examined at the office.
          J. M'Cammon, Esq. merchant, of Gloucester-place, stated the manner in which the prosecutor had represented the affair to him, in the part which he took at Bow-street for the prisoner's apprehension. Witness had known the prosecutor intimately 13 years. He was a gentleman of fortune of the highest respectability, of whose acquaintance and friendship he was proud.
          Henry Hiles Underwood, Esq. of Gloucester-0place, corroborated Mr. M'Cammon as to the plan to apprehend the prisoner, and he spoke in the highest manner of the respectability of the prosecutor.
          Bond, the officer, first knew the prisoner on being brought as a deserted to Bow-street office from the Tower Hamlets.
          Mr. ALLEY took an objection in point of law, which was replied to by Mr. Gurney.
          In defence, the prisoner aggravated his case, and did quite as much towards his own conviction as the evidence adduced. He had denied all knowledge of the prosecutor; but he contradicted such assertions in his defence.
          The Jury, without hesitation, found the prisoner Guilty – Death. (Morning Chronicle)
[NOTE: This seems to be about a blackmailer who begins by trying to have sex with the victim – so it really begins as prostitution. It's also interesting for the phrase "addicted to unnatural propensities", which suggests a conception of sexual orientation.]

Saturday 2 August 1817

This was an action to recover a compensation in damages for a very atrocious slander. The Plaintiff and Defendant were both farmers resident near Colchester. On the 20th May last, they met at the Red Lion, in Colchester, when the Plaintiff accused the Defendant of unfair dealing in selling of his cattle by commission, and cheating his employers. Upon this the Defendant said, "You had better be quiet, or I shall tell something of you," and at length told the company that about five years before, the Plaintiff had made an unnatural attempt upon him, and entered into particulars not fit to be detailed.
          The words being proved, the Jury found a verdict for the Plaintiff – Damages 100l.
          The Assizes concluded early this morning. (Morning Post)

23 August 1817

Price 2s.
THE TRIAL and CONVICTION of JOHN CHURCH, the Preacher of the Surrey Tabernacle, Borough-road, at the Assizes at Croydon, on Saturday the 16th instant, for an Assault, with intent to commit an Unnatural Crime. Taken in SHORT-HAND by a BARRISTER.
          This publication will contain a Copy of the Indictment, Speeches of the counsel, verbatim Copy of the Evidence, Lord Ellenborough's Charge, and an Original Letter. The profits will be given to the Prosecutor to assist in defraying the expences of the Prosecution.
          Also, the infamous LIFE of the above Hypocrite, from his Infancy to his Trial and Conviction; with his Confession, sent in a Letter to the Rev. Mr. L——, two days after his Attack on Adam foreman, at Vauxhall; with Remarks on it by the same Gentleman. Price 4d.
          Published by Hay and Turner, 11, Newcastle-street, Strand; W. Wright, Lambeth Marsh; and may be had of all booksellers in town and country. – N.B. Ask for Hay and Turner's Edition. (Morning Chronicle)

Thursday 28 August 1817

ASSIZES. – Thursday, the two convicts left for execution at the late Kent Assizes, viz. William Morgan, for a burglary and cruelly beating JANE SMITH, at Erith, and George Siggins for an unnatural crime, at Chatham, suffered the awful sentence of the law at Penenden Heath. Since his conviction Morgan has made a full confession of his guilt; and has also confessed to havie committed a great number of other robberies in Kent, Essex, and Cambridgeshire. (Morning Post)

4 September 1817

Summer Assizes – Croydon, August, 16. – John Church, the preacher, of St. George's-fields celebrity, was indicted for an attempt to commit an abominable offence upon Adam Foreman, an apprentice of Mr. Patrick, a respec5table potter near Vauxhall. After an interesting trial of four hours, and an emphatic charge from Lord Ellenborough, he was found guilty. He will be brought up the first day of next term to receive judgment in the King's Bench. –
          Mr. Holland and Mr. Marriott were the Counsel, adn Mr. Harmer, Solicitor for the prosecution, and Mr. Gurnmey, for the prisoner, who made a most eloquent appeal to the Jury to exculpate the prisoner from the charge alledged against him, observing at the same time, that if he was guilty, scarcely any punishment was adequate. (Manks Advertiser)

Tuesday 25 November 1817

The Defendant, (the St. George's Field Preacher,) was convicted of an attempt to commit an unnatural crime. He now put in an affidavit, complaining that much calumny had gone abroad against him; he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, and to find sureties for his good behaviour, for five years, himself in 500l. and two sureties in 100l. each. (Morning Post)

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, 1817", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 17 November 2014, updateed 18 April 2020 <>.

Return to Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England