Newspaper Reports, 1827

Saturday 24 March 1827

An ACCOUNT of the Number of Persons committed, in each County of England and Wales, for trial, in the years 1810, 1811, and 1812 and in the years 1824, 1825, and 1826; distinguishing the number charged with each particular offence in each year. . . .

1810 1811 1812 1824 1825 1826
Sodomy 12 12 8 13 9 7
Assault with intent to commit sodomy,
and other unnatural offences 41 22 37 27 40 30
(Berkshire Chronicle)

Saturday 31 March 1827

The King (on the prosecution of Robert Muskett) against Edward Taylor. The defendant, a gentleman living at Carlton Rode, was indicted by the prosecutor, who had been his servant, upon a charge of having assaulted him with intent to commit an unnatural crime. The prosecutor detailed the most disgusting particulars of the transaction, but so improbable did they appear, and so void of every circumstance entitling them to credit, that the Jury expressed their conviction of the defendant’s innocence, without calling on him to produce his witnesses to disprove the charge; and without one moment’s further consideration acquitted him. (Norfolk Chronicle)

Saturday 7 April 1827

Philip Newton, aged 27, charged with having used threats to accuse William James Bartlett, of Foulden, carpenter, with the commission of an unnatural crime, in order to extort money, was acquitted, the evidence adduced not satisfactorily supporting the charge.
          Wm. Rice, aged 24,, accused of having committed a similar offence against the same individual, was also acquitted for the like reason. (Norfolk Chronicle)

Thursday 25 October 1827

DAVID AUDSLEY stood charged with feloniously threatening to accuse Jonathan Denton of an abominable, infamous, and unnatural crime, with intent feloniously to extort money from him. The following are the facts of the case. On the 25th September, Denton was collecting money, and had obtained about 80. He called at a public house at Horbury Bridge, when a fellow workman of the name of Halstead came in, and after sitting together a short time they proceeded homewards. They had to go about a mile and a half, and preferred the public highway to a nearer way by the waggon road. Halstead had occasion to stop a short time, when Denton stood three or four yards from him. Audsley then rushed upon them all at once and said “you have been committing –– (here naming the offence) and if you do not give me money for three or four quarts of ale, I will disgrace you.” Denton immediately replied “I will not give you a farthing, and if you disgrace me by publishing such a statement as that, I will have recourse to the law for protection;” Audsley repeated – “then I will disgrace you.” The prosecuitor applied to a magistrate, and on his trial, Audsley had the audacity to persist in asserting that what he had said was correct. Denton was, however, confirmed in his statement by Halstead; and the prisoner was found GUILTY, and, very properly, sentenced him to be transported fourteen years. (Leeds Intelligencer)

Sunday 11 November 1827

AT the last General Quarter Sessions, for the West Riding of Yorkshire, a man of the name of Audsley was tried and found guilty of threatening to charge Jonathan Denton with an unnatural crime, for which ofrence the Court sentenced the prisoner to fourteen years’ transportation. The Rev. Chairman, in animadverting upon his crime, said “such a man ought to be cut off from society altogether,” and that “no part of the world was fit for such a monster.” On the same day that Audsley was convicted of threatening to accuse Denton of the horrible crime imputed to him, Shackell, the proprietor of the John Bull newspaper, was convicted – not of threatening to accuse, but of actually have accused, in language not to be misunderstood, a young gentleman of honour and character, of the same offence, without the slightest foundation in truth. The law, we believe, does not admit of Shackell, or of those of whom he is the tool, being transported; but certainly, if justice could in all cases be meted out with an even hand, these London libellers do not deserve more lenity than the Yorkshire delinquent. – Leeds Mercury. (The Examiner)

21 November 1827

John Morton, a young man who some time ago was in the service of a person named Salisbury, by whom he was chargedwith writing a letter, threatening to accuse him of an infamous crime, unless he received the sum of 50l., was placed at the bar, a true bill having been found against him. He was yesterday morning delivered himself up at this office to abide the trial, his master being determined to prosecute. The prisoner, it appears, persists in charging his master with abominable practices, but utterly denies any attempt toextort money from him.
          The evidence was about to be gone into, and the females who happned to be present were ordered to withdraw; but Mr. HALLS, conceiving that the disgusting details might well be spared, said it would be sufficient if the prosecutor would identify the prisoner as the person whom he was about to indict, and against whom a true bill had been found by the Grand Jury.
          Mr. Richard Anthony Salisbury, an elderly person, having an appearance of foppishness in his dress, and a rather sinister expression of countenance, was then sworn. He said he lived at No. 18, Queen-street, Edgeware-road, and deposed that the prisoner was the person whom he meant to indict.
          The prisoner, a very well-looking young man, who seemed burning with impatience to speak, exclaimed – "I'll indict you, as sure as you were born; you are a perjured man."
          Sir RICHARD BIRNIE, addressing the prosecutor, observed with a smile, that it required no mean exertion of mental courage tocome forward to prosecute in a case of this description.
          The prosecutor replied, that he had had many struggles within himself before he made up his mind to adopt the present course.
          The prisoner. – Oh, you old sinner!
          Mr. HALLS told the young man that he was doing himself no good. The case must go to a jury, and when he was on his trial he would have sufficient opportunity of defending himself.
          The prisoner was then taken from the bar, and the prosecuctor and his friends retired. (Evening Mail)

Saturday 8 December 1827

JOHN MORTON, a good-looking young man, was indicted for endeavouring to obtain from Richard Anthony Salisbury the sumof 50l., by threatening to accuse him with a diabolical crime.
          Richard Anthony Salisbury stated, that he was 68 years of age, and resided at No. 18, Queen-street, Edgware-road; some years since he was accused, by a man named Tomes, of an uttemmpt to commit an unnatural offence; last summer he had the misfortune to break his arm; it was in the early part of the month of June; he found it necessary to have an additional servant, and hired the defendant, whom he had seen repeatedly before, employed as a gardener, at Jenkins’s nursery ground; as his health recovered he occasionally went out of town; he went to Malvern Wells, and took the prisoner with him; on Sunday morning, the 9th of September, he went up into his bed-room, and, to his surprise, he found the prisoner dressed for travelling; he said, “Sir, to be plain with you, I want to be off; if you’ll give me 50l., I’ll go to Liverpool, & give you no further trouble; but if you do not, I will accuse you of an unantural offence; he (witness) was completely overpowered by the alarm the prisoner’s accusation occasioned him; the prisoner left his house soon after; witness ordered his horses to be got read, intending to go to town immediately; on putting on his coat, he found the following letter in his pocket; it was in the hand-writing of the prisoner:–
                             Holywell House, Sept. 11, 1827.
SIR – I have to leet you know, that owing to the treatment I have received from you since I left London, I am compelled to take an opportunity of vindicating my character, and declaring your character to the world at large. I leave this with the intention of proceeding to London, and from thence to a gentleman’s residence, who will vindicate my cause. You may depend upon hearing from me by letter on your arrival in London, until which time I intend to exercise my faculties to the utmost, in making an appeal to the Tribunal of Justice of my country, where I doubt not I shall have justice done me, as I cannot consent to –– being committed on ––. I find it useless stopping longer in your service.
          I am, your injured Servant,
                    J. MORTON.
N.B. I intend to prosecute, as far as the laws of my country will allow me, so that you have very little to expect, and the sooner you proceed to London the better for you.

          Witness came to town, and drove to an hotel, and consulted his attorney upon the subject; the next morning another letter, in the prisoner’s hand-writing, was presented to him by his servant; it was to the following effect:–
SIR – If you will send a certain person 50l. as soon as you return, he will go directly to Dublin. You will repent if you don’t. – Your sincere friend.

          This letter had no signature.
          Cross-examined by Mr. CLARKSON; He did not know when the prisoner was taken; did not know that he was taken at all; he might have rendered; he walked about the street nearly all night after he came to town; he returned home about five o’clock in the morning; he had coffee with his servant, Scott, at a public-house; before the prisoner came into his service he gave him 5l.; he ordered him a waistcoat like his own; he gave him a brooch like his own and a watch, chain, and seals; the prisoner was a very amusing man; he could tell tales like Denizaid in the Arabian Nights; he was a great mimic, he could mimic you, Sir (laughter); he had several companionable qualities; the prisoner asked witness to let him pass for a gentleman; he consented, and they walked arm in arm together in the gardens of the Duke of Dorset (as we understood near Seven Oaks). “I treated him as my companion and friend at different inns where we staid; we slept together in a double bedded room;” when they slept at the Crown he never desired the prisoner to come into his bed; he took the prisoner to the Bank on the 20th of August, and afterwards to Blackwall, where they dine off white bait, and drank punch together; he gave him a gold ring that day, and said that he would treat him like a gentleman; when they went to Worcester he told the prisoner to ride behind the carriage until they got a short distance from town, as he did not wish the neighbours to see them inside together; he introduced the prisoner at Oxford as a gentleman studying botany.
          The COMMON SERJEANT said,t he msot extensive familiarities had, no doubt, passed between the parties. He did not think the Learned Counsel need pursue this line of examination any further.
          Examination continued: He had passed by the name of Marcomb; he had never cited passages from Virgil and Homer to the prisoner; he had given him lessons in the Latin tongue; he (witness) would declare to God, on his solemn oath, that he never took any liberties with the person of the prisoner; he had always been ready to meet this and all the former charges.
          Scott, and another servant of the prosecutor, partly corroborated his testimony.
          The prisoner, when called upon for his defence, called one witness, who said he had known him five months, and that he was a decent man.
          The COMMON SERJEANT summed up the case. He observed it was strange, that after the prisoner had been only a few days in the prosecutor’s service, he sould provide him with clothes made like his own – make him presents of watch, rings, and brooch – allow him to ride in the carriage with him – introduce him to his acquaintance as an intimate friend, and above all, allow him to sleep in a double-bedded room with him.
          The Jury, having consulted together about forty minutes, the Foreman, addressing the Court, said, “We find the prisoner Guilty. Having discharged that part of our duty, which we hope we have done conscientiously, we proceed to the more pleasing part of our duty, and that is, most strongly to recommend the prisoner to mercy, on account of the debased character exhibited this evening by the prosecutor. (Morning Chronicle) (He was sentenced to seven year's transportation according to the Bury and Norwich Post, 19 Dec. 1827.)

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, 1827", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 16 February 2015, updated 10 June 2021 <>.

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