Newspaper Reports, 1831

Tuesday 1 March 1831

It would be easy to show, in a thousand instances, that the outward profession of superior sanctity is often the cloak for the grossest vices. Lately a brothel keeper was employed in reading the bible at the moment that his wife was drawing into her snares an innocent femaleel servant from the country; and the records of our public offices have shown many cases in which the most horrid and unnatural crimes have been brought home to men having all the outward and visible signs of superior holiness. (Kentish Weekly Post)

Monday 14 March 1831

CROWN COURT. – (Before Mr. Justice PARK)
James Panting was placed at the bar under an indictment, which charged him with having threatened to accuse Thomas Banning of an unnatural crime, and with having, by means of such threat, extorted from him at different times different sums of money, amounting altogether to 11l.
          It appeared by the evidence of the prosecutor and another witness, that the prisoner at the bar and another man (who had escaped from custody), having succeeded in obtaining money from the prosecutor upon the 25th of June, by threatening to accuse him of an unnatural crime, had repeated the offence two or three times afterwards, when they were pressed for money. The prosecutor, who is the landlord of a public-house at the town of Highworth, in this county, complied with the first demand, through a horror of exposing himself, or being exposed by the prisoner in the event of a refusal; but finding that compliance with their demands afforded no security for his reputation, and being driven by mental distress to such a state that he was, as he said, "almost out of his mind, and ready to make away with himself," he at last consulted a neighbour, who advised him to procure the assistance of an attorney, who directed him to immediately arrest the prisoner. With this advice the prosecutor complied, after having procured a warrant.
          The case against the prisoner was made out by the most clear and satisfactory evidence, and the jury immediately found him Guilty of the offence.
          The learned JUDGE having, in his address to the prisoner, commented upon the peculiar enormity of the crime which he had committed, deferred passing the sentence until he should have an opportunity of speaking to Mr. Justice Taunton upon the subject. (Evening Mail)

Thursday 17 March 1831

On Saturday morning, the prisoner [i.e. James Panting] was again placed at the bar, when Mr. Justice Park addressed him to the following effect. – After consulting with my learned brother on your offence, and deliberately considering it, under the most favourable and merciful view, we have had great difficult in coming to the conclusion that your life ought to be spared. We have, however, come to that merciful determination; but you must make up your mind to leave this country for the remainder of your life. Your offence is one of the most shocking description – it is doubly enormous; because, supposing even, that the prosecutor had been guilty of the crime of which you threatened to accuse him, (and God forbid, I should for a moment think he was) it would have been yoour bounden duty, instantly, to have preferred the charge against him, instead of which you make an infamous traffic of the matter, and for a long time continue to extort money for your own base emolument. (Devizes and Witshire Gazette)

Tuesday 22 March 1831

. . . James Edwards, 29, soldier, for committing sodomy at Minster, in the Isle of Sheppy. Two years' imprisonment and hard labor. (South Eastern Gazette)

Tuesday, 5 April 1831

Joshua Gibson, (47), late of Elland-upon-Greetland, pleaded guilty to having committed an unnatural crime. To be imprisoned two years to hard labour in Wakefield house of correction. (The Hull Packet and Humber Mercury)

Saturday 28 May 1831

A clergyman of the establishment of the name of Prowse, late Chaplain of the Hulk at Devonport, and now Vicar of Bickleigh, has been charged at Union Hall, with an unnatural crime. It appears he was seen in company with a ragged beggar-boy, and from what afterwards transpired he was apprehended; his name and situation in life was discovered by a silver snuff box which was found in his pocket. The offence was bailable but whether he has procured bail or not does not appear. He has been for these many months past residing in London, holding a situation as Chaplain to the Hulks at Chatham. It is but justice to say, he denies the charge, & accounts for his attempting to escape, by saying he was fearful least he should be charged with the offence on which he was committed. Mr. Prowse is a native of Devonport, and maintained a very high character during the many years he resided in the neighbourhood. (Western Times)

Saturday 10 December 1831

THOMAS HAGUE, late of Rawcliffe, near York, was indicted for wilful and corrupt perjury, arising out of the following extraordinary circumstances.
          It appears from the evidence of the prosecutor, G. V. Drury, Esq., that he lived at Fairfields Willa, near Skelton [near York], which is near to the prisoner's residence. The latter had, under threats of accusing the prosecutor of an unnatural crime with his (prisoner's) brother, extorted at different times money to the amount of some thousands. This he had effected, in some instances, by writing to Mrs. Drury. He at length, however, applied for 500 more, and on being refused, went to London, sued out a writ against Mr. Drury, and made affidavit of debt to that amount. Mr. Drury now swore, that there was no debt whatever existing between him and the prisoner, and that he had no secret that witness was afraid of the whole world being acquainted with, if he told the truth. The prosecutor had paid all the sums he had parted with on the advice of his solicitor in the country, and under the fear of any one having the bare suspicion of his having been guilty of so horrid a crime as that imputed to him by the defendant.
          Some letters were put in and read in evidence, in which the defendant threatned to indict Mr. Drury and other persons.
          Mr. ALLEY, for the defendant, contended, that he had acted from honest and charitable motives; that the prosecuior ought not to have been believed; and that Mrs. Drury should have been called.
          The Jury returned a verdict of GUILTY.
          The RECORDER sentenced the prisoner to stand in the pillory for one hour, to be imprisoned to hard labour for six calendar months, and then to be transported for seven years. (Yorkshire Gazette; this case was widely reported in the northern newspapers.)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1831", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 23 February 2016 <>.

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