Marylebone Gang, 1818

Tuesday 22 December 1818

MARLBOROUGH-STREET. – DETECTION OF A HORRID GANG OF UNNATURAL MISCREANTS. – The following persons were placed at the bar, charged with unnatural propensities:– Harvey Tammas, John Ferguson, Henry W. Hatford, Chas. Oliver, Ed. Austin, W.H. Wastley, W. Isnell, Wm. Mitchell Wanslove, Chas. Limmer, Wm. Jemmett, James Howe, Wm. Kitchen, Thomas Simmons, James Nicholson, and John Trill.
          This prosecution was insituted by Marylebone Parish, and it was conducted by Mr. GREENHILL. It appeared by the evidence of a respectable young man, named John Percy, in the employ of Lee and Col, Nurserymen at Hammersmith, that he met Austin, whom he had known before, who told him that he had a very laborious situation at a school in the New Road, and he invited him to take tea at Wastley’s house, in High-street, Marylebone, where Isnell was introduced to him on Sunday se’nnight. Percy was soon disgusted with the vile company to whom he had been introduced, communicated what had happened to a friend, and subsequently to the Magistrates at this Office. His evidence involved the whole of the prisoners in guilt. They first met in a garret, and then came down to another room on the second floor, with the intelligence that the drawing-room was ready, and any new face was asked if he was a fashionable man. The landlord of the house, Wastley, had a cat on his knee decorated with red ribbons, and this fellow was proved to be a Dissenting Preacher. They are mostly Gentlemen’s servants. One fellow was designated the Russian Bear, and most of them were immoderately rouged. All the Magistrates presided, and the prisoners were severally committed to the House of Correction, to give 24 hours’ notice of bail. The avenues to the Office were crowded. (Morning Post)

Saturday 23 January 1819

At Middlesex Sessions, on Friday morning, 16 of an infamous & unnatural gang, detected lately in High-street, Mary-le-bone, and associated for a diabolical purpose, were severally convicted, and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in Newgate. They were all taken in a long cart to Newgate, and during the whole way they were pelted by an immense mob, till, by the time they arrived at Newgate, not a feature in their faces was discernible; they were literally neck deep in mud and filth; and several of them were nearly lifeless. (Norfolk Chronical)

Saturday 23 January 1819

MIDDLESEX SESSIONS, Thursday, Jan. 14.
This day came on the trial of sixteen wretches indicted for conspiring together to commit an abominable crime; in this part of the indictment there were five counts; besides these, there were two other counts, charging them with a misdemeanour, in assembling together for a criminal prupose. The Court was crowded at an eary hour.
          The prisoners were all well-dressed, and some of them had an appearance much above the common order. Three or four were working tradesmen; the others, as it appeared, were for the most part servants in or out of place. The first on the list, William Harvey Wasley, had been a methodist preacher, for which he obtained a certificate of licence at these sessions in the year 1804. It did not appear, however, that he had of late followed that mode of living, having, as we are informe,d kept a school for the education of young children for some years back. Two or three others of the prisoners appeared to be between forty and forty-five; and the rest, with the exception of two, who did not seem to have exceeded eighteen years, were between twenty and thirty.
          Mr. Adolphus, for the prosecution, (which, we understand, was carried on by the parish of Mary-le-bone,) addressed the jury. It was unnecessary for him to anticipate any of the detail which would be produced in evidence; they had heard enough from the indictment to explain its nature to them.
          Evidence was then called, and the facts proved.
          Mr. Alley, for the prisoners, said, that there was no proof of the conspiracy. A conspiracy, he observed, should be to bring injury to others; but the prisoners were only injuring themselves: and it would be a solecism in law, to suppose that any man, or set of men, could conspire against himself or themselves. As to the innocence of the prisoners on the two other counts, he had nothing to say.
          Mr. Arabin was retained for two of the prisoners.
          The Chairman (Mr. Const), fully concurred in the objection as the want of proof in support of the conspiracy; but said, there was sufficient if the jury believed it, to convict them of the offences charged in the 6th and 7th counts.
          The jury accordingly, without hesitated [sic], found them guilty of the offence in the 6th and 7th counts.
          It was understood that a capital indictment would be preferred against two of them at the next Session.
          The Chairman, after consulting for a short time with his brother magistrates, delivered the sentence of the court without comment. It was, that William Harvey Wasley, and James Howe, should be imprisoned in Newgate for 12 months, and all the others for 6 months. Few of the prisoners seemed conscious of the degraded state in which they appeared before their fellow men, and many of them betrayed the most hardened indifference throughout the trial.
          As soon as sentence was pronounced, and the prisoners were about to be removed from Court, the crowd set up tremendous shouts and hisses, and it was with great difficulty that the officers succeeded in conveying their charge from the Hall. As each prisoner descended the steps he was assailed with loud hootings, which seemed to be only a prelude to the dreadful storm which was about to burst upon them. From the hall they were, with difficulty, conveyed to the strong room [at the end of the Sessions-house]. Whilst the constables were making arrangements for the conveyance of the prisoners from the strong room to Newgate, the assemblage of persons outside, which was now immense, were not less busy in their preparations to receive them on their coming out. The streets near the Custom-house, which are at all times in a very dirty state, were at this time more so than usual; but they were soon cleared of their filth; and every thing more portable than a paving-stone was soon gathered up. The prisoners were handcuffed two and two, a strong iron chain connecting the whole. A large cart drawn by two horses drew up to the door[, and they were placed in it]. The moment the cart began to move, showers of filth descended on them from all sides. The constables were obliged to fly, in order to save themselves. By the time the procession reached Smithfield, it was impossible to distinguish the face of any one of them. It being market-day, there was, as usual, a large collection of every kind of offal. This was poured upon the wretches by those who stood on any elevated positions, and gve to the whole now shapeless mass, an appearance which could not be contemplated without the utmost horror, when it was conceived that sixteen human beings, chained together, were struggling to breath under it. In Newgate-street, a man filling a dust-cart powdered them as they passed him, with whole shovel-fulls of dust. On their arirval at Newgate many of them were apparently lifeless, which they would soon have been in reality, if they had not been speedily removed beyond the reach of their assailants. In turning the cart to draw up at the Felons’-door of Newgate, the preponderance of their weight tilted the cart, and they were allejected from the end of the vehicle. With difficulty they were got into Newgate from the infuriated mob, after they had lain on the pavement a considerable time, where they had fallen, having been nearly suffocated by the mud, garbage, dead cats, and bullocks’ blood, which had been showered upon them in their progress, was literally heaped above them. (Westmorland Gazette;
The passages in square brackets come from the shorter report in the Stamford Mercury for Fri. 22 Jan.)

[As of March 1819, all sixteen of these convicted men were being held in a single cell in Newgate Prison.]

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.), "Marylebone Gang, 1818", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 5 December 2014 <>.

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