Newspaper Reports, 1821

Saturday 20 January 1821

The master of a Shields collier was charged with an unnatural offence, but the testimony of the witness, a cabin boy, was so inconsistent, and the character of the prisoner so good, that the jury immediatley returned a verdict of not guilty. (Durham County Advertiser)

Monday, 5 February 1821

Wednesday morning, another melancholy proof of the depravity of the times, was exhibited in the execution of five unhappy persons in the Old Bailey. Their names were Tobin, Davis, Martin, Johnson, and Reeves. Another, named White, was originally included in the final mandate, but was subsequently respited during pleasure.
          The unhappy culprits, with the exception of Tobin, were all convicted of street robberies, accompanied by circumstances of great creuelty and aggravation. The frequency of this species of offence within the last few months has excited much attention; and the necessity of an awful public example was very generally felt. But that these scenes are viewed with almost total indifference by those who attend them, was never more strikingly exemplified than on the awful occasion of this morning. The crowd, which was great, consisted chiefly of very young persons of both sexes, whose countenances exhibited a degree of hilarity more suitable to a scene of amusement. The youthful appearance of most of the prisoners appeared for a moment to excite a strong feeling of commiseration in the crowd; and there were some murmurs of indignation, but the feeling was but transient. When brought into the press-room this morning to have their irons displaced, they appeared quite resigned, and extremely penitent. Tobin was convicted, upon the most satisfatory testimony, of extorting money from a respectable tradesman in Thames-stereet, by threatening to charge him with an unnatural crime; and the audacity with which he several times repeated his extortions has seldom been equalled. He was a young man of genteel appearance and insinuating manners, and possessed talents, which, if well applied, would have rendered him an ornament of society. He displayed an uncommon degree of ingenuity upon his trial. His family, we understand, is respectable. He prayed very fervently both in the prison and on the scaffold, and conversed cheerfully and earnestly with his fellow sufferers upon religious subjects. Reeves, Johnson, and Davis were not more than 16 or 17 years of age, and did not evince so much fortitude as the others, but behaved with propriety. Davis was so much affected as to be scarcely able to stand when he came upon the scaffold. Martin was a Jew, and was attended in his last moments by a Priest of that persuasion. He conducted himself in a becoming manner. It was remarkable that he had lost a leg and an eye. He was a man well known about the metropolis, and stood daily for some years in Cheapside with a box of trinkets, by the sale of which he obtained a lifelihood. About eight o-clock the signal was given, and the unhappy criminals died almost without a struggle. – We can state as an absolute fact, and it is a circumstance well worthy of remark, that the greater part of those spectators who were nearest the scaffold, were old and practised thieves; and some of them of the most desperate character. (Glasgow Herald)

Thursday 7 June 1821

Offences for which there have been Capital Executions in England, from 1814 to 1820 inclusive, arranged according to their number (from the official Summary at the Home Office):–
Murder .... 161
Forgery ... 111
Burglary... 111
Robbery ... 107
Sheepstealing ... 44
Rape, &c. ... 28
Larceny ... 20
Sodomy .... 15
Horse stealing ... 9
High Treason ... 8
(Cheltenham Chronicle)

Tuesday 3 July 1821

Of the nature of the CRIMES of which the persons were convicted, who had sentence of death passed upon them; and of the number who were EXECUTED in England and Wales, from the year 1805 to year 1820, both inclusive.
. . .
Sodomy ... 48 Convicted, 33 Executed
. . .
Total number in the sixteen years [for all felonies] ... 10,971 Convicted, 1,250 Executed
(Chester Courant)

Friday 6 July 1821

Six wretched men were executed on Wednesday morning at the Old Bailey, amidst an immense concourse: their names were, Driscoll, Blakeney, Quested, Holding, Wade, adn Snape. Driscoll's offence was that of extorting money from a servant of the Duke of Norfolk, under a threat of charging him with unnatural propensities; . . . (Stamford Mercury)

Saturday, 7 July 1821

OLD BAILEY. – Yesterday morning the following unfortunate malefactors were executed, pursuant to their several sentences, viz.:– . . . Mathias Driscol, for extorting money under a threat of prosecution for an unnatural crime; . . . The unhappy men conducted themselves with becoming resignation. (Jackson's Oxford Journal)

Saturday 18 August 1821

JOHN RICHARDSON, aged 20, for an unnatural offence at Appleby, was sentenced to be imprisoned two years. The principal witnesses against the prisoner were Hayward, the Jack Ketch [i.e. hangman] of the County, and his brother. (Leicester Chronicle)

Saturday 1 September 1821

We are extremely happy in being enabled to congratulate our readers on only 53 prisoners being committed for trial at our Assizes, which commence on Saturday next. The following are their names and offences:– . . .
West Derby and Leyland Hundreds.
. . . Wm. Worthington, 34, for an unnatural crime, at Wigan. (Lancaster Gazette)

Saturday 15 September 1821

. . . Wm. Worthington, 34, for an unnatural crime, at Wigan. – No bill. (Lancaster Gazette)

Friday 14 December 1821

Yesterday Samuel Ellington, schoolmaster, of Crowland, underwent a second examination before the magistrates of this borough, charged with an assault at a public-house in Stamford on Tuesday night, upon Jno. Jibb, with intent to perpetrate an unnatural crime. He was committed for trial. (Stamford Mercury)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1821", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, amended 29 December 2014 <>.

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