Newspaper Reports, 1830


3 April 1830

SUFFOLK LENT ASSIZES,
WEDNESDAY.
Samuel Wright, aged 33, was convicted on a charge of sodomy, committed on James Leggett, a little boy, nine years of age, residing at Claydon. The Jury after a short deliberation, returned a verdict of Guilty; and the Judge in the most solemn manner, immediately passed sentence of DEATH upon the prisoner, leaving no hope of commutation of punishment. The prisoner heard his doom with very little emotion. (Ipswich Journal)

Saturday 3 April 1830

Wednesday.
Samuel Wright, aged 33, was found guilty of Sodomy, at Claydon. The Learned Judge, in passing sentence upon him, said, "Samuel Wright, you now stand in the presence of God, and in the face of your country, convicted, by the unanimous verdict of an impartial Jury, of the horrible crime imputed to you in the indictment. A crime for which it is impossible that you should escape the punishment which the laws of the country compel me to inflict upon you. I will not pollute my lips by repeating the disgusting and nauseous details of the evidence, which the ends of justice required to be once brought before the public. If the crime was capable of aggravation, it was your selecting for your victim a little boy, a mere child 9 years of age. You have polluted his body and corrupted his mind, and I had almost said, attempted to ensnare his soul. Under such circumstances, it is impossible to hold out to you any hope of mercy on this side of the grave. If crimes like this go unpunished by a human tribunal, I should expect the judgment of Heaven would fall on a guilty land. From this moment you are dead to the world, and the world is dead to you." The Learned Judge then, in the most feeling terms, entreated him to prepare for the awful change he was about to undergo, and concluded by passing sentence of Death upon him in the usual forms. – The prisoner heard his sentence with perfect composure, and retired from the dock with a half smile on his countenance. – He will be executed at Ipswich. (Suffolk Chronicle)

Saturday 31 July 1830

Mr. Baron Garrow arrived at Chelmsford on Sunday, and Lord Tenterden was escorted into the town on Monday.
          On Tuesday morning, at 10 o'clock , the business commenced in both Courts – Lord Temberden presiding on the Criminal, and Mr. Baron Garrow on the Civil Side.
          Among the Prisoners was John Stammers, a labourer, aged 36, and convicted of an unnatural crime at Walton. The case rested principally upon the testimony of John Cook, who witnessed the actual commission of the crime but his evidence was so clearly corroborated in many circumstances as to leave no doubt as to the guilt of the prisoner. When called upon for his defence he denied the charge. His Lordship, in summing up the case, observed that the Jury could have no doubt as to their verdict, if they believed the witness Cook, and there did not appear, his Lordship said, reason to doubt his veracity. The Jury having returned their verdict, the Learned Judge put on the fatal cap, and addressed the prisoner as follows:–

You John Stammers, have been found guilty upon evidence most clear and satisfactory, after a patient and attentive investigation – testimony which must have convinced every person who had the misfortune to hear this case, that you have been guilty of the most abominable crime alike offensive to the laws of God and man – of a crime, by the commission of which man degrades nature – transforms and changes himself into a brute. The law of this, and, I believe, of all other countries, punishes the crime of which you have been convicted with death, and I cannot see any reason that the sentence of that law should not in your case be carried into effect. I cannot, I dare not, recommend you to the merciful consideration of his Majesty, and, therefore, do not expect mercy in this world from man. There are means, however great your crime, by which you may obtain mercy in the next world; but these means must be sincere – by prayer, through the intercession of our Lord and Saviour. Let me entreat you to employ the remaining portion of your time in this world in endeavouring to obtain pardon, (when, by an ignominious death you shall have expiated your crime,) and receive mercy from that tribunal before which you must shortly appear. Do not forget this admonition; let it sink deep into your heart. You will have the consolation of a Rev. Divine, from whom you may derive comfort if your conduct be of a nature to fit you to receive his instructions. Nothing further remains for me but to pass upon you the sentence of the law; and that sentence is, that you, John Stammers, be taken to the place from whence you came, and thence to a place of execution, there to be hanged by the neck until you be dead; and may the Lord have mercy on your soul.

– The prisoner's countenance remained unchanged at the address of his Lordship, which was delivered in a most impressive manner. His frame was, however, much agitated, and he trembled exceedingly during the trial. (Suffolk Chronicle)

Saturday, 31 July 1830

John Stammers, a labourer, aged 36, was convicted of an unnatural crime at Walton. When called upon for his defence he denied the charge. The Jury having returned their verdict, the Learned Judge passed sentence of Death upon the prisoner, leaving him no hopes of mercy in this world. . . .

SUFFOLK SUMMER ASSIZES.
The calendar of prisoners for the Eastern division of the county contains offences of a most heinous character, [including] one with sodomy . . . The Learned Judge then briefly adverted to the case of Carsey, charged with sodomy, respecting the late alteration made in the law. (Ipswich Journal)

Friday 20 August 1830

Execution at Chelmsford. – On Friday morning, Thos. Stammers, who was convicted at the last Essex assizes of a nameless offence, was executed in front of the county gaol. The wretched man was in his 36th year, and father of three children. He appeared to be scarcely removed from idiotcy, but acknowledge his guilt. When led to the scaffold he trembled to such excess as to require support. The only expression he used was, "Lord have mercy upon me." The plan of a ring chain, suggested by Sir P. Laurie, for humanely facilitating the preparation, was in this instance productive not only of delay, but of pain to the criminal. The rope being too short, the executioner had to join another to it, and this made the fall too great. (Cambridge Chronicle and Journal)

Saturday 23 October 1830

BUCKS MICHAELMAS SESSIONS.
Thursday, October 21.
Sir T. Fremantle took his seat on the bench at half-past nine o'clock this morning, and the trials of the prisoners were proceeded with.
          A respectable looking elderly gentleman, named Francis, a schoolmaster in Marlow, was indicted for having assaulted an individual named Hatch, a baker, of the same place.
          Mr. Munro appeared for the prosecution, and stated the facts deposed to by the witnesses. He said it would appear that the defendant, in addition to the assault, bestowed on the complainant an opprobrious epithet, which was an aggravation of the offence with which the defendant was charged. It would appear, perhaps, that the complainant had felt very indignant at the conduct the defendant had pursued, and had a last retaliated on the defendant th blows the latter had been the first to strike: but the defendant would be found to have been in all respects the individual who first committed a breach of the peace, and the only question to be tried by the jury was, whether or not the defendant had been the originator of the violence. The following witnesses were then called.
          The complainant said he knew the defendant, who was schoolmaster of a charity school at Marlow. On the 14th of July, he was going down West-street, Marlow, with Gardner and Jemmets, when he stopped to speak with Mr. Harman. The defendant cried out, "Holloa, sod!" Witness said, what do you mean by that? The defendant staggered up to witness, being in liquor at the time, and striking witness on the breast, said, "Get away from me, you sodomite!" Witness kept defendant off as well as he could. Had not struck defendant, nor struck at him before defendant struck witness. A person of the name of Webb endeavoured to keep defendant off. Gardner and Jemmets both returned. Gardner picked up witness's hat, and said, "Don't strike him – there will be a piece of work," and witness was going away, but Mr. Francis commenced fighting again, repeatedly calling him a sodomite, which witness not choosing to put up with, he struck again.
          Mr. Taylor. – You are a great electioneerer, are you not?
          Sir T. Fremantle begged that the learned counsel would not go into any electioneering matter, not necessary to the elucidation of the question at issue.
          Mr. Taylor said he had a right to put the question, as it affected the credibility of the witness; and he hoped the court would not throw any obstacle in the way of the performance of his duty to his client.
          Sir T. Fremantle said he was not complaining of the question at present as improper, therefore there was no occasion for Mr. Taylor to take offence at the interruption. He simply meant to make the request, which he repeated.
          Mr. Taylor having pressed the question,
          The witness said he did not think he was bound to answer it.
          Sir T. Fremantle. – You are bound, sir, to answer all questions the counsel shall put to you, except when the court interferes, which it will do when improper questions are put, and except also when you are asked as to a matter, your answers to which would tend to criminate yourself.
          Witness then went on to say he did not take a very active part at the elections. He was more copper than blue; he voted for Mr. Williams. There was not more brass  than copper about him. He did not since the election, and before the assault, insult the defendant by word or action. He did not grin at him, nor use any insulting expression prior to the assault. He did not say "You d––d old rogue, you robbed the Dumb Bell, and I can prove it." He neither used these words, nor words to that effect. A person had applied to him the obnoxious epithet before, and witness had brought an action, and recovered damages.
          M. Monro objected to this course of examination.
          Dr. Scobel said from his knowledge he believed the imputation was altogether false. He knew the walls had been chalked with the epithet, but there was no foundation for the charge.
          Examination continued. – Perhaps he had been in other quarrels with other persons. Mr. Reid on that occasion came out to fight witness. His strength was very superior to that of the defendant, who was an old man. Witness perhaps hit defendant pretty hard when obliged to fight, and Reid saved defendant, perhaps, from witness's violence. He persisted in swearing the offensive epithet was used prior to the violence. Did not recollect that the defendant threatened, on the occasion, an action for civil damages. Witness had been served with a copy of a writ. Would not swear the defendant did or did not threaten a civil action. Dared to say he had been drinking, and eating, too, that day; but took no more than did him good. He took two, perhaps three, he would swear he did not take more than four pints of beer in the course of the day. Would swear that he had not taken more than that after dinner. Could not swear where he had taken the pints. Perhaps he had taken more than one pint at the Chequers, which was a copper public-house. Would swear he had never been prohibited from going into any public-house on account of violence of conduct. Would swear that he had never brandished a dangerous weapon – a dagger – at any one during the last election.
          A man named Webb was present on the occasion in question. This witness confirmed the testimony of the former.
          Cross-examined – Witness was close to the parties, and could hear what was said. He heard "Holloa, holloa," and a word followed it, but he could not say what. He was near enough to hear what was spoken loud, but did not hear the other word. Mr. Francis was very drunk, and reeled up against complainant. Could swear the reeling was not occasioned by a blow from complainant. Could not say he had not spoken with complainant since this affair. They did not speak of this business. They kept clear of the subject altogether.
          Thomas Gardner corroborated the foregoing testimony.
          Cross-examined – Could not say he had taken any beer that day. Had not taken more than a pint. The people of that neighbourhood were not shy of talking about beer. The beer of that place was pretty good; not much improved by the new Beer Act. Had been employed by the complainant since, but had never spoken to him about this affair.
          This having closed the case for the prosecution,
          Mr. Taylor addressed the jury for the defence. He said he had witnesses to call who would directly contradict those for the prosecution; and where there was conflicting testimony, the jury would exert themselves to discover which party was most entitled to credit. . . . He [i.e. counsel] was sorry the obnoxious word referred to had been used at all; and he was ready to take the testimony of the highly respectable magistrate who had declared they were without foundation, and believe, that they were the result of a popular error. The fact was, however, that the only way in which they were used, was by the complainant enquiring. Do you mean to say I am so and so? and the defendant answering "You are." This affair, after all, was an election squabble, and it was certainly lamentable to observe that men, after the exercise of that great privilege of electing, should be found engaged in such bitter personal feuds, and entertaining feelings of such extreme exasperation. Let them next look to the probabilities of the case. The complainant stood more than six fee thigh, and was evidently a man of great physical power; the defendant, on the contrary was old, and his strength as well as stature was below the average. . . . [The evidence presented by the defendant didn't amount to much.]
          . . . Sir T. Fremantle in summing up, said this was one of those distressing cases, in which two on one side, and two on the other, had sworn so contradictorily, and to leave no doubt but that one party of the other had perjured themselves. It was much to be regretted that party feeling could lead to such gross indecency. The question was, who struck the first blow. He was guilty who first broke the public peace, not he who first used offensive language.
          The Jury, after about a quarter of an hour's deliberation, returned a verdict of Guilty.
          Dr. Scobell enquired of Mr. Francis whether he had lost his situation in consequence of this transaction. The object of the court was to ascertain whether his circumstances had been at all impaired.
          The defendant replied, that he continued to hold the place of schoolmaster.
          The court then delivered its judgment. The defendant had been convicted of the assault, and there could be no doubt but that he had been properly convicted. They hoped that he would not again allow an electioneering spirit, or any other, to induce him to break the peace which it was the duty of the court to protect. The sentence was that he be fined 5, be imprisoned one week in the house of correciton, and that he find, before his release, two sureties to keep the peace towards the complainant for one year, of 25 each, and enter into his own recognizance to the amount of 50.
          This case terminated the business of the session, and the Jury were discharged. (Bucks Gazette)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1830", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 23 February 2016; enlarged 18 August 2016 <http://rictornorton.co.uk/eighteen/1830news.htm>.


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