Career of Thomas Brewer, 1826 and 1829

18 October 1826

BOW-STREET. – Yesterday a young man, of decent appearance, who gave his name Thomas William Brewer Montgomery, was brought to this Office, from Kensington, charged with an offence of the most repulsive nature.
          The prisoner was followed to the Office by an immense number of persons, whose indignation was excited so much, that the Officers had considerable difficulty to prevent them inflicting summary punishment on the prisoner.
          It appeared in evidence that the prisoner, on Monday last, was observed, in Kensington-gardens, walking about with a boy, about 14 years of age, under very suspicious circumstances, which led the Park-keepers to watch them, when they at length saw the prisoner act in the most disgusting manner towards the boy. They immediately proceeded towards them, and on showing their authority to the prisoner, and attempting to take him in custody, he made a resistance, and swore that they should not take him; on which he made a leap over the Garden-wall, and Hyde-park, and ran away. He was instantly pursued, and, being overtaken, he was taken in custody. The boy made his escape. The prisoner was carried before Mr. Sketchley, the Magistrate of Kensington, when he was recogniswed by R. Lyall, a lad, who was attacked by the prisoner in Kensington-gardens on the same day under circumstances of the most revolting description. It appeared that as he was returning home to his father's residence, Camden-hill, Kensington, the prisoner accosted him in the most indecent manner, and requested him to walk with him into the wood. Witness refused, on which the prisoner dragged him in a most violent manner about fifty yards from the footpath and offered him money. Witness refused, and ran away as fast as possible, when he extricated himself from his grasp.
          The further evidence was of so disgusting a nature that it cannot be explained.
          Mr. Sketchley, the Magistrate, here stated, that the prisoner was brought before him on the preceding evening, when he gave his name Thomas Brewer.
          The prisoner said that that was his real name, Montgomery was his monther's maiden name. – He denied the charge.
          Mr. Halls ordered him to find bail to appear at the Sessions, himself in 100l., and two sureties in 50l. each, to answer each of the charges. (Morning Advertiser)

31 October 1826

Thomas Brewer was indicted for commintting an indelicate assault on a youth, in Kensington Gardens. The evidence was conclusive, and the Jury interrupted the Chairman in his charge by finding the prisoner Guilty.
          The prisoner was arraigned upon a second indictment, for another assault, and was found Guilty upon that also.
          The Court sentenced him to one year's confinement in the House of Correction for the first offence, and to a further imprisonment of nine months for the second, and to be kept to hard labour during both periods. (Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser)

At the Clerkenwell October Sessions in 1826, Brewer was sentenced to 1 year 9 months for "committing sodomitical practices" (Prison Registers, HO26, pc. 32).

23 February 1829

Thomas William Brewer, an athletic fellow, aged 29, was indicted for sending a threatening letter to John French, Esq., with a view to extort from him the sum of 10s., and also with a view to charge the said John French with the commission of a crime punishable with death.
          The prosecutor stated himself to belong to the legal profession, and as he does business generaly through the medium of agents, whom he named, he had not a particular necessity for a clerk. The prisoner had been for a considerable time his messenger and occasional servant, since the year 1822, for which he paid him regular wages, and in addition made him presents for extra services. The prisoner had latterly been in distress, and he had relieved himwith small sums of money to pay his rent, &c.; but at length he became more and more frequent in his demand, and ultimately had recourse to threats, some of which are included in the letter now in court, and upon which the indictment is founded. In the early part of last month witness went to Bow-street with the letter just alluded to, when the magistrate advised him to consult with one of the officers and lay a plan to apprehend the prisoner. He went to Ruthven, and the plan adopted was to send a letter to the prisoner's lodgings appointing a meeting in James-street, Covent-garden, on a certain evening at six o'clock, containing a promise that he should have the money he wanted, at the same time defying his threats. At the appointed hour he went, the officer having previously marked four half crowns, which were wrapped in a paper. The agreement was, that so soon as the prisoner had taken the money witness was to touch his hat as a signal; when the prisoner met witness he said, "I will not take the money before a third person," and he turned into Long-acre, when he took it and put it into his pocket; the signal was given, and the prisoner was captured.
          The prosecutor was then cross-examined by the prisoner at great length, the object of the latter being to insinuate that both himself and Mr. French had been guilty of abominable practices at different places, but every imputation was denied in the most positive manner, and the prisoner admitted that he had no witnesses to prove his allegations.
          The prisoner then said that he had accompanied him to Brighton, that he had introduced him as Captain Doyle, – that he had been his familiar friend, and not a servant, and that he had made him presents of new clothes.
          Mr. French said, that he had on one occasion taken him to Brighton, but it was at a time when he was afflicted with a dislocated ancle and a fistula, when a male attendant was essential: on such occasions the prisoner might have taken dinner in his presence, but in the regular way: he never made him his familiar. The other part of the previous statement he denied, and several other odious insinuations thrown out by the prisoner, excepting the admission that on his birthday it was his practice to give a dress to his man and female servant, and this was what the prisoner alluded to.
          The prisoner then inquired whether he could deny sending him money during his confinement in the House of Correction.
          In reply to the COMMON SERJEANT, the prosecutor said, that the prisoner had been sentenced to a long imprisonment for assaulting a boy in an indecent manner, in or near Kensington-gardens. At this time witness owed the prisoner 18l. odd in arrears of wages and money deposited with him for care. This money was paid over to him through the medium of his (prisoner's) landlord.
          The prisoner proceeded with his inquiry, but his conduct was so irregular, and at the same time his acknowledgments of his own criminality so disgusting, that he was frequently rebuked by the Court.
          George Ruthven, the Bow-street officer, confirmed a great part of the original statement of the prosecution. He said, that upon searchiung the prisoner he found the letter now produced, and which he had caused to be sent to him, in reply to that sent to Mr. French. The prisoner stoutly refused to give it up, as he said it would perhaps cost him his life. He said going along on the way to the office, "All this ought to have come out before now," but he never attempted to recriminate in the manner he had done to-day. The money found on the prisoner was the same as had been previvously marked by witness.
          The threatening letter and the reply were here put in and read as evidence, – the former was of a very disgusting nature.
          The prisoner, on being called upon for his defence, reiterated the disgusting details before alluded to. He denied having written the letter, and said that he was entirely innocent of the charge. He had been convicted of another, and punished for it. He owed his ruin to Mr. French, who had caused him to leave the Foot-Guards.
          To a question by Mr. ADOLPHUS. – The prosecutor denied that he ever knew the prisoner as a soldier.
          John Goodhall, who stated himself to be a gentleman's servant both out of livery and of place, deposed, that he had known the prisoner for three years past, and his conduct was correct.
          Mr. ADOLPHUS. – Well, we'll see how that is. As you have knwn this correct young man for three years, pray tell me where he lived during that time?
          Witness (much confused.) – I suppose you know where he was part of the time?
          Mr. ADOLPHUS. – Never mind what I know; I want your information. Now man, upon your oath, has he not, during that time, been confined 21 months in the House of Correction?
          Witness (faltering.) – That's where I thought you knew him. He was ordered to stand down.
          The COMMON SERJEANT summed up the evidence with great perspicuity, and the Jury, without hesitation, returned a verdict of Guilty.
          The COMMON SERJEANT said, thzt every one who had heard the case must coincide in the decision to which the Jury had come, for, indeed, it was quite impossible for men of common sense to arrive at any other. Supposing that there had been any doubt in the case, the conduct which the prisoner had exhibited in court, the language he had uttered, and the disgusting admissions he had made of his own criminality, were quite sufficient to obliterate such doubt. Indeed, the prisoner, by the course he had adopted, had aggravated rather than mitigated his case. Charges and threats of this abominable nature must be suppressed, or where would be the safety of any man's comfort and reputation in life? Until lately the crime of which the prisoner had been convicted was punishable with death, but the legislature had thought fit to reduce the penalty. The Court, however, would exercise all the power with whch it was vested by inflicting the severest sentence by law, and that sentence was, that the prisoner be transported for the term of his natural life. (Evening Mail)

[NOTE: Now, age 29, Brewer was tried and convicted on 19th February 1829. He was put aboard the Leviathan prison hulk on 13 March 1829 (Newgate Prison, Register of Prisoners, PCOM2, pc. no. 200, p. 148), where he was still aboard the hulk on 13 May 1829 waiting to be transported to Norfolk Island (Convict Hulks registers, HO8, pc no 20). He was eventually transported, along with 199 other convicts, aboard the Sarah which departed on 22 August 1829 and arrived in New South Wales on 27 December 1829. (HO11/7, p. no. 184), where he was sent to reside in Minto, now a suburb of Sydney.]

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Career of Thomas Brewer, 1826 and 1829", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 4 March 2023 <>.

Return to Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England