Newspaper Reports, 1833

Monday 4 March 1833

Winchester, . . . Tuesday. – William Edwards and Abraham Warner were indicted for robbing Martha Abraham, the wife of Philip Abraham, by threats, in the parish of Batley, on the 13th Nov. last. – Mr. Missing opened the case, stating that the money was extorted from the wife, under a threat of accusing the husband of an unnatural crime. – Mr. Justice Littledale, after looking with great attention into the books, said, that this was an entirely new case; that the idea of the Legislature was, that the threat operated so strongly upon the party accused, as to throw him off his guard, and that he then gave the money, to prevent such an accusation; but, in his opinion, that did not extend to a threat made to the wife to accuse the husband. His Lordship, therefore, directed the prisoners to be acquitted. (Salisbury and Winchester Journal)

Thursday 21 March 1833

TUESDAY. – This morning the business commenced in both Courts at 9 o'clock, when Wm. Hele, 79, was placed at the bar, charged with an unnatural crime [subsequently called "beastiality"] at Moretonhamstead, on the 30th of October last. The prisoner was a miserable looking, decrepid, and apparently very infirm old man, and stated to have been in the Hospital from the time of hs committal to prison in Nov. last. He was so deaf also that the Judge directed his removal to the witness box, in order that he might be near the witnesses and correctly hear the nature of the evidence against him. Mr. Tyrrell was for the prosecution, but it must be evident that the details of a case like this are wholly unfit to meet the public eye. The prisoner it appeared is a Pauper maintained by the parish of Moreton, and stated himself that he should be 80 years of age on the 6th of May next. The jury returned a verdict of not Guilty; and a bill was immediately preferred for a misdemeanor.
            Thomas Morrison, 50, and Wm. Frederick Mandry, Paupers in the workhouse of Stoke Damarel, were charged with the commission of an unnatural crime at that place, on the 11th of Feb. last. – The jury returned a verdict of Guilty against the prisoners: upon which Mr. Oxnam took an objection to the form of indictment as regarded Mandry, as being so drawn as to give the appearance of variance with the finding of the jury, and cited the case of Lord Castlehaven. The Judge said it did not strike him in the same way as it appeared to do the learned counsel, but he would give it his consideration, and in the mean time would say nothing about the sentence of the prisoners, whom he ordered to be taken back.
          The old man, Hele, was now again placed at the bar, charged with the minor offence, adn a verdict of Guilty was returned, but the Judge has not yet determined what his punishment shall be. (Exeter Flying Post)

Saturday 23 March 1833

THOMAS MORRISON, 50, and WM. FREDERICK MANDRY, 36, paupers in the workhouse of Stoke Damerel, were charged with the commission of an unnatural crime at that place, on the 11th of February last. The jury returned a verdict of guilty against the prisoners; upon which Mr. Oxnam took an objection to the form of indictment as regarded Mandry, which was over-ruled by the learned judge. The prisoners were sentenced to death on Thursday morning. (Western Times)

Saturday 23 March 1833

Wm. Hele, a decrepid old man, aged 79, was charged with having committed an unnatural crime at Moretonhampstead, on the 30th of October last, but acquitted; he was afterwards tried for a misdemeanour, and found guilty. – 18 month's imp.
          Thomas Morrison and William Frederick Mandry, pauper in the workhouse of Stoke Damarel, were charged with the commission of an unnatural crime at that place, on the 11th of Feb. last. The jury returned a verdict of Guilty against the prisoners, upon which Mr. Oxnam took an objection to the form of indictment as regarded Mandry, as being so drawn as to give the appearance of variance with the finding of the jury, and cited the case of Lord Castlehaven. The Judge said it did not strike him in the same way as it appeared to do the learned counsel, but he would give it his consideration. His Lordship the following day passed the awful sentence of the law upon both the prisoners, and told them he could hold out no hopes of mercy to them in this world. – DEATH. – These wretches are to be executed on Friday next. (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette)

Saturday 23 March 1833

THURSDAY. – MANDRY, MORISON, & HILL, were brought up for sentence this morning. The two former were convicted of an unnatural crime at Devonport, on the most conclusive evidence and their conduct in the gaol since their apprehension, has it is said shown that their horrible propensities were too deeply rooted in them, to be eradicated even by the awful situation in which they found themselves, with death staring them in the face. His Lordship passed sentence of death on those wretched beings, in a very impressive manner, and left them no hopes of mercy in this world. They are both men of very unprepossessing appearance, and the sentence that was passed on them appeared to excite neither pity nor emotion in the breasts of the auditory.
          The wretched old man, Hele, who was convicted of beastiality, was then put to the bar. The appearance of a human being on the verge of forescore years of age, being called up to receive sentence, for an offence of this monstrous character, excited a thrill of disgust through the court. In consideration of his age and infirmities, he was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and hard labour. From the appearance of the wretch, it is probable that he will end his days in gaol. (Western Times)

Sunday 24 March 1833

At the Exeter Assizes, on Tuesday, Thomas Morison, 50, and William Frederick Mandry, 36, were tried for having committed an unnatural crime. The facts were clearly proved, but were not fit for the public eye. They were both found Guilty. The Learned Judge proceeded to pass sentence of death upon them, stating that it would be useless for them to entertain the slightest hope of mercy, as the nature of their crime prevented the possibility of such being extended to them. (Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle)

Saturday 30 March 1833

A respite has been received from Mr. Justice Littledale, postponing the execution of Thomas Morison, and William Frederick Mandry, from Monday week, to Friday, the 10th of May. (Western Times)

Saturday 27 April 1833

Morrison and Mandry, who were sentenced to death at our late Assizes, and subsequently respited till the tenth of May, are to be transported to life. (Western Times)

[In May 1833 Charles Baring Wall, M.P. was charged with making a sexual advance towards a policeman. This interesting case is covered on a separate page, 'The Policeman and the M.P.'.]

Friday 17 May 1833

(We have received the following communication from a respectable gentleman. We fear that there is an organized system in this metropolis among the needy and unprincipled who abound in it, to extort money by trumping up charges of unnatural crimes.)
          "MISCREANTS. – We publish the following as a warning to individuals whose pursuits may keep them from home at late hours, to hold no conversation with any would-be acquaintances. A gentleman was passing through Covent-garden market between twelve and one o'clock on Sunday night when two men came up to him, one of whom said, 'A fine night, master'; to which the person accosted rejoined some off-hand civil answer. One of the men then left, and the other continued in the path of the gentleman at a distance of two or three yards. He turned up a passage (his usual way home) leading from King-street to Long-acre, when the man who had previously left came suddenly up and seized him by the collar, saying hurriedly, "I saw you do it – I'll swear to it." In an instant the other man, who had never left his path, seized him also, saying, "Yes, you did it," or something to that effect. The gentleman instantly turned on the wretches, and being rather a powerful man, succeeded in giving one a terrible blow, and striking the other left-handed, so as to throw him down. He then instantly jumped upon the fallen coward, and smashed his face and stomach with his heels – a mode of defence in any other circumstances most cowardly and malignant, but in this perfectly justifiable. The other wretch made off at once, and the gentleman having disabled, and we are led to believe nearly killed his other wretched antagonist, made off too. This affair proves that there is to be a regular system in these disgusting endeavours at extortion – that two witnesses are to be brought forward instead of one, and so crush an honest citizen for ever. Let every man furnish himself with a stout knotted stick, and on every such attempted as this use it well (for in these cases breaking every bone in a fellow's body is perfectly justifiable); use it so that the accuser shall never speak again, and this race of miscreants, of cowards, and of wretches, will soon be extinct in England. – Chronicle. (Freeman's Journal)

Saturday, 6 July 1833

          A bill was found against E. P. Benezet, esq. of Bungay, and —— Burton, for an assault with intent to commit an unnatural crime. Both defendants were on bail, and the recognizances of themselves and sureties estreated.
          Edward Preston Mend, a member of the Birmingham Political Union, was convicted of assaulting two boys, at Bungay, named Smith and Spilling, with intent to persuade them to permit an unnatural crime, and sentenced to two years imprisonment. This defendant conducted his own defence, and addressed the Court at great length.
          James Browne, a very old man, was convicted of an indecent assault upon Hannah Fiske, a child aged about 12 years, and of imbecile mind, and sentenced to three months imprisonment. (Ipswich Journal)

3 August 1833

ABRAHAM WRIGHT, aged 45, and JOHN JOHNSON, aged 23, stood cpiatlaly charged with a nameless offence. – John Payne, is a labourer at Over; knows the prisoners; Wright resides in a house directly opposite Mr. Simon's garden; saw the prisoners in the garden, and perceived them retire to Wright's stable, near the house; witness watched them, and peeping through a hole in the stable door saw them in an improper situation. – For the defence several witnesses were called, who said they knew Payne, the witness, to be a man who would not scruple taking a false oath, that he was not worthy to be believed. The Jury returned a verdict of Guilty, but owing to some midundrstanding, which the learned Judge explained to the, they reconsidered their verdict and then returned – that the prisoners had been Guilty of a misdemeanour, but Not Guilty of a felony. They were ultimatey discharged on their own recognizances to answer any further indictment for the misdemeanour that might be preferred against them. (Huntingdon, Bedford and Peterborough Gazette)

Saturday 10 August 1833

John Rees, for an unnatural crime, two years imprisonment, the last four months of which, to be solitary confinement, (this fellow was not tried upon the capital charge). (Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian)

13 June 1833

Capt. Henry Nicholl, who absconded at the time of the apprehension of Lieut. Beauclerk, who committed suicide in Horsemonger Lane Gaol, was brought before the Union Hall Magistrates on Wednesday, charged with an unnatural offence. The officers had experienced great difficulty in apprehending him; he was committed to the County Gaol. (Bath Chrnicle and Weekly Gazette)

Friday 16 August 1833

Execution of Capt. Nicholls. – At nine o'clock on Monday morning, the full penalty of the law was carried into effect on the above individual, who was tried and convicted at the late Surrey assizes of an unnatural crime. Upon being taken back from Croydon to Horsemonger-lane, he devoted nearly the whole of the time left him in making his peace with his Creator. On the Sheriff going to demand his body, he was in chapel, with the Rev. Mr. Mann, the chaplain of the gaol, and in a firm voice he informed that gentleman he was satisfied with his sentence, and was fully prepared to die. Upon seeing Mr. Walters, the governor, he took that gentleman by the hand, and said, although an unfavourable impression existed against him in the prison, he had to thank him for his kindness and humanity, as well as those connected with the gaol. On walking through the yard he heard the bell tolling, on which he begged it might be stopped, which was accordingly done. He then proceeded with a remarkably firm step to the drop, and in a few minutes he ceased to exist. The culprit, who was fifty years of age, was a fine looking man, and had served in the Peninsular war. He was connected with a highly respectable family, but since his apprehension not a single member of it visited him, and we understand it is not their intention to demand his body. Under those circumstances it will be sent to one of the Hospitals. – There is no doubt but that Nicholl meditated self-destruction, as will appear from what occurred after his condemnation. As soon as the trial was over, which took place on Friday, the 2d instant, and lasted from nine o'clock in the morning until eight at night, he was conveyed from the Court House, at Croydon, to Horsemonger-lane, and on his arrival at the gaol he was questioned by Elmes, the head-turnkey, as to whether he had any instrument in his possession. In reply to this question Nicholl energetically declared that he had not. The turnkey, however, suspected this declaration, and insisted upon a strict search before he was placed in the condemned cell, and immediatly commenced it. Nicholl on finding the turnkey was determined, then began himself to turn his pockets inside out, in order to convince him of the truth of his assertions, but the turnkey, on a minute inspection, discovered concealed in the lining of the collar of coat, a long nail, which was sharpened at the point like a lancet, and with which there was very little doubt he intended to destroy himself. How he became possessed of this instrument there is no means of ascertaining; at all events, it was impossible that he could have sharpened it in the manner it was found, and the supposition is, that it was conveyed to him in some way or other by the other prisoners. (Cambridge Chronicle and Journal)

Tuesday, 20 August 1833

On Monday morning Henry Nicoll, late Captain of the 14th Infantry, was executed at Horsemonger-lane goal [sic]. He was found guilty of an abominable offence, at the Surrey Assizes, it was proved in evidence, that he belonged to a gang of which Beauclerk, who committed suicide some time since in the same goal, while under a capital charge for the same offence, formed one of the parties. Nicoll also meditated self-destruction himself. The trial was over, which lasted from nine o'clock in the morning until eight at night, on Friday, the 2nd, he was conveyed to Horsemonger-lane, and questioned by Elmes, the head-turnkey, as to whether he had any isntrument in his possession. Nicoll energetically declared that he had not. The turnkey insisted upon a strict search, finding the turnkey determined, Nicoll himself turned his pockets inside out, but the turnkey, on a minute inspection, discovered in the lining of the collar of his coat, a long nail sharpened at the point like a lancet, with which there was little doubt he intended to destroy himself. How he became possessed of this instrument there is no means of ascertaining: it was impossible he could have sharpened it himself; the supposition is, that it was conveyed to him in some way or other by the other prisoners. Nicoll entered the army early in life, and belonged to the 72nd, from which he exchanged into the 14th Foot, and with this regiment has seen a good deal of service abroad. From his conviction up to his executio, he paid the utmost attention to the devotional exercises performed by the Chaplain, to whom he had acknowledged the justness of his sentence. The night previous to his execution he slept soundly for some hours, and on awakening and inquiring the hour, appeared anxious for the arrival of the Sheriff and executioner. At nine o'clock precisely he was led from his cell to the place of execution, which is immediately over the entrance into the goal, and after a short time spent in prayer the drop fell, and he soon ceased to exist. A large concourse of people assembled to witness the execution. The body having been suspended the usual time was taken down and delivered to the suirgeons of one of the Borouigh Hospitals for dissection. (Manks Advertiser)

Tuesday 20 August 1833

Colonel EVANS presented a Petition from Huddersfield, respecting the case of Joshua Dobson, of Huddersfield, who had been convicted of publishing a penny unstamped Newspaper, called The Voice of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and thrown into prison in default of paying a penalty of 20l. He (Colonel Evans) had before had occasion to state respecting this individual certain facts, which he now found were corroborated by this Petition. His hair had been cut off, he was compelled to wear the prison uniform, and he was refused (though in bad health) to be allowed the assistance of his friends, or that they should send him food into the prison. He had also been subjected to great indignity by being classed with felons and persons convicted of unnatural crimes. All this he (Colonel Evans) had the authority of the Hon. and Learned Solicitor-General to say was contrary to law, and he hoped that some inquiry would be instituted into it.
          The SOLICITOR-GENERAL said from what had passed on a former day he had caused an inquiry to be instituted into the subject, the result of which had not yet been communicated to him. As soon as it was he would communicate it to the House. He had, however, seen a Gentleman this morning who had had a letter from one of the visiting Magistrates, in which it was stated that so far from Mr. Dobson having had his hair cut off he had as fine a head of hair as ever he had. – (Laughter.)
          After a few words from Sir S. WHALLEY which were inaudible in the Gallery.
          The SOLICITOR-GENERAL said he should be glad if the law could be altered, but no one could be permitted to set the law at defiance. This person had infringed the law by publishing an unstamped Newspaper, and it would be wrong to allow him to go on with impunity, as it would be unfair to those who were obliged to pay the stamp duty.
          Mr. COBBETT read a letter which had been received from a person who had visited Wakefield prison, in which Dobson was confined, and which corroborated the statements contained in the Petition. It further stated that Dobson was put to hard labour. He contended that it was a most improper punishment for a man merely because he refused to pay a penalty.
          The SOLICITOR-GENERAL said he rather thought the Hon. Member must have mistaken the Petition. It referred to a Mr. Dobson.
          Mr. COBBETT rejoined by saying that it was not a case calling for hard labour, and he therefore called upon the Solicitor-General to interfere, and prevent a repetition of such conduct.
          After some further observations from Colonel EVANS, Sir E. KNATCHBULL, and Mr. COBBETT, the Petition was laid upon the table. (Morning Post)

Saturday 31 August 1833

UNNATURAL CRIME. – Two young men, named John Noble, and — Smith, the former a moulder, and the other a weaver, were apprehended on Monday, charged with an unnatural crime. They were taken before a Magistrate, and remanded for further examination. – Blackburn Gazette. (Lancaster Gazette)

Tuesday, 1 October 1833

LISBURN PETIT SESSIONS, SEPT. 24. – Magistrates present – R. Williamson, H. Black, E. Johnson, Esqrs. A complaint was heard from Bernard Ferris against Adam Gillespie, for an attempt at an unnatural crime. The complainant is between 60 and 70 years of age; the accused is under 20. The investigation had been partially gone into on the 3d, but as the accused, from indisposition, could not be brought forward for his defence, the investigation was postponed till Tuesday last, when it took place with closed doors. When the doors were opened, the Bench expressed their entire conviction of Gillespie's innocence, and the complainant, Ferris, was committed to Carrickfergus Gaol to stand his trial for perjury. (The Belfast News-Letter)

Friday 25 October 1833

Abraham Wright (45) was charged with attempting the commission of an unnatural crime at Over. He was found guilty, and sentenced to two years' hard labour. – John Johnson was afterwards arraigned as his accomplice, but acquitted from informality of the indictment. (Cambridge Chronicle and Journal)

Thursday 19 December 1833

ARTHUR GARTON, millwright, 53, charged with having on the 26th day of October last, at Bramder, attempted to commit an unnatural crime. – Two years' imprisonment to hard labour. (Brighton Gazette)

Saturday 28 December 1833

On Thursday morning, William Allen, aged 25, labourer, who had been convicted of a rape on Ruth Roffe Austin, wife of a baker at Lydd, in Kent; and George Cropper, aged 27, a soldier, also convicted at the last gaol delivery of an unnatural crime at Deptford, were hanged in the usual place before the county jaol [sic], Maidstone. An immense crowd attended, of which, perhaps, one-fourth were women, amounting to at least 7,000 or 8,000. By an order from the Home Office, Cropper was executed before the other, at ten in the morning, and Allen at noon, the usual time. Cropper's offence, and the clearness of the evidence on the trial, precluded him from all hope of mercy. After his trial he appeared sincerely penitent, and attended to the exhortations of the Chaplain of the jail with great earnestness. Some strong manifestation of public feeling respecting the nature of his offence was expected to be exhibited at this execution, and this was probably the reason for the hour being in this case anticipated. A few persons had assembled, and no exclamations escaped them. He walked to the gallows with a firm step, and was kept in view for a few minutes alive. On the drop falling he struggled very violently, but the executioner soon ended his mortal agony. Both prisoners had received the sacrament the day previously. Allen was a married man with three children, and his wife in confinement. After his sentence, at which he was most violently convulsed, he admitted its justice, and passed the few remaining days of his existence in an apparent endeavour to obtain future forgiveness. He was of great muscular strength, and large stature. Religious consolation seemed to have prepared him for the awful change, and he approached the scaffold without any apparent show of fear. He was but a few seconds on the drop, and died without a struggle. He had previously left a letter for his wife, who is unconscious of his fate, requesting that certain acquaintances should bear him to the grave. His coffin arrived when he had been turned off but a few minutes. This sad exhibition seemed to have very little effect upon the crowd, the greater part of whom left it as if they had been assisting at a village fete.
          The young man Turner, who was also convicted [of rape], has been reprieved. (Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1833", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 5 Feb. 2016; updated 31 May 2019, 15 April 2020, 11 Dec. 2022, 12 Aug. 2023< <>.

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