Newspaper Reports, 1835

Monday 10 August 1835

These Assizes commenced on Monday last, the 3rd inst., at the County Hall, Lewes. . . .
John Sparshott, labourer, 19, was placed at the bar on a charge of a nature which the pen refuses to trace. The evidence wholly unfit to meet the public eye, was conclusive. The Jury unhesitatingly returned a verdict of Guilty.
          The Learned Judge then passed sentence of death, remarking that in the whole course of his life he had never met with so shocking a case. His Lordship could hold out no hopes of mercy to the prisoner. The prisoner appeared indifferent to his awful fate.
          Charles Elderton, labourer, 18, charged with a filthy misdemeanour, was found guilty. Eighteen Month's imprisonment.
          . . . The assizes terminated on Wednesday evening. The culprits Sheppard and Sparshott are left for execution. (Sussex Advertiser)

Tuesday 11 August 1835

. . .
          John Shakall, aged 19, was convicted of an unnatural crime, and sentence of death was passed upon him.
          Charles Elderton was convicted of a beastly offence, and sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment with hard labour. . . . (Brighton Patriot)

Friday 14 August 1835

CHESTER ASSIZES. – The commmission for this county will be opened to-morrow, . . . There are at present forty-four prisoners committed for trial: – . . . one for an unnatural crime; . . . (Chester Chronicle)

Saturday 22 August 1835

William Booth, a hoary headed sinner, 56 years of age, employed as occasional ostler by a publican named Stanney, at Macclesfield, stood indicted for an unnatural crime on 22d of June last, at Macclesfield. The circumstances attendant on the commission of this offence are of course unfit for publication; it must therefore suffice to state that the prisoner was seen by Mr. Wordsworth, jun. of that town, in such a situation as left no doubt of his having perpetrated the crime with which he was charged. After a cautious recapitulation of the evidence, and a luminous exposition of the law by the learned Judge, the jury, after a few minutes consultation, returned a verdict of Guilty.
          His Lordship then placing the coif upon his head, proceeded to pass sentence ofdeath upon the culprit. – Sentence of death was passed in the usual form, and the prisoner was led from the bar without exhibiting any emotion. (Staffordshire Advertiser)

Wednesday 26 August 1835

BOW-STREET. – Yesterday Robert Swan, a private soldier in the Guards, was brought up before Mr. Halls, charged with having assaulted Mr. William Reynolds, a member of the Society of Friends, residing at Carshalton House, Surrey, and robbed him of a gold watch and a purse containing a sovereign adn a half and some silver. A young woman named Ann Bennett was also placed at the bar, charged on suspicion of having been an accessary after the fact.
          The prosecutor, who appeared to be a very young man, was attended by two Gentlemen of great respectability, and the investigation, which was a very long one, excited much interest.
          Mr. William Reynolds, upon solemn affirmation, stated the charge in the following words: – I had been dining at the Garrick Club, in King-street, Covent-garden, on Tuesday the 18th instant, and having drank freely of wine I was seized with a violent headache and sickness, and observed to a friend of mine that nothing but a walk and air would do me good. I went to the Park by the way of Piccadilly, and when I got into the Greek Park I stopped a minute. While standing there I was accosted by the soldier. I could not swear that the prisoner is the man. He said "Good night," and added "that's all I want," or "that's just what I want," and seized me by the coat skirts.
          Mr. Halls – Will you be good enough to state all that passed as accurately as possible. It is very necessary you should do so.
          Mr. Reynolds – I am bound to say that my memory is not sufficiently strong as to what passed upon the occasion to enable me to state precisely the very words.
          Mr. Halls – Then, Sir, to the best of your recollection, state what occurred.
          Mr. Reynolds – When the prisoner seized hold of me by the coat he said, "You are the sort of man that gets soldiers a bad name," or words to that effect; and added, "Come along with me." My impression was that he was gong to take me into custody, as he said I must come with him. I was at the time so excessively frightened that I cannot recollect all that occurred; but I know that he still lkept hold of me. At length he said, "What will you give me if I let you go?" or words to that effect. I told him I would give him every thing I had. He asked me for my money, and I gave some silver. He then demanded my watch, and I gave it to him, with a seal and key, that were attached. He then went away, and, to the best of my recollection, the last observation he made was "Are you content?" I do not recollect what answer I made.
          In answer to questions from Mr. Halls the prosecutor said he could not remember precisely how long the conversation lasted. He did not call out at all, but at first resisted the prisoner, who said, in a menacing manner, "You had better be quiet." (The prisoner is a tall powerful man, and the prosecutorsomewhat diminutive in stature, and apparently in delicate health.)
          Mr. Halls – Did the prisoner charge you with anything before you parted with your money and watch?
          Mr. Reynolds – I cannot recollect precisely, but my impression is that he charged me with some assault upon his person.
          Mr. Halls – Did he make use of any expression which might, by implication, be understood as conveying a threat of exposure, or of anything else?
          Mr. Reynolds – I really can't say.
          Mr. William Baker sworn – I am a jeweller and watchmaker in Long-acre. On Thursday afternoon last, the 20th instant, between four and five o'clock, the prisoner Swan came to my shop and said, "Those earrings that you sold me for my 'Missus' some time ago were good for little – they have worn right through." I said, "Then you had better bring them and have them repaired." He then took out the gold watch, &c., now produced, and asked me what it was worth, and I said about 25l. He said, "I suppose you wouldn't think this was a present to a Lady's maid, would you?" I replied, "Certianly not." He then said the watch was too good for him to have knocking about, and asked me to purchase it. I asked him what he wanted for it, and he said he would leave it entirely to me. I repeated that I thought that such a watch could not have been given to a Lady's maid, and he said he would satisfy me in every particular, and gave me his address. He asked me if I could gt a customer for it, and said if I could he would take another watch in part payment. I had my suspicions from the value of the watch (about 40l.), and from its having a crest and motto engraved on the back of the case, and I told the prisoner I would show it to a Gentleman, and begged him to leave it and call again in two hours. He consented, and in the meantime I had given iformation to Fletcher the officer, who was waiting in my shop when the prisoner came back, accompanied by the young woman at the bar, and he took them both into cusstody.
          Abraham Fletcher, the officer, said that the male prisoner told him, when he took him into custody, that the watch was given to him by a young woman that he kept company with. He afterwards, however, said it was given him by a Gentleman, but he had a great objection to mention his name, as he (the prisoner) did not want it known that he (the Gentleman alluded to) associated with a common soldier. he said he wanted to dispose of it to purchase his discharge. He said also that he knew the Gentleman who gave him the watch perfectly well.
          Mr. Halls asked the prisoner if he had any questions to put to Mr. Reynolds?
          Prisoner – Yes. (To prosecutor) – Do you recollect what time it was when you were accosted by a soldier?
          Prosecutor – About nine o'clock.
          Prisoner – Did you give the soldier the watch?
          Prosecutor – Yes.
          Prisoner – Did you promise to meet him the next day at twelve o'clock?
          Prosecutor – I did not.
          Prosecutor – Why did you go awayi and not call the police?
          Prosecutor – Because I feared an exposure.
          Prisoner – What exposure had you to fear?
          Prosecutor – I was frightened and intimidated in such a situation.
          Prisoner – What did you do, or what had you done, to merit exposure?
          Prosecutor – Nothing in reality.
          Prisoner – You say you resisted the soldier at first – why did you do that?
          Prosecutor – Because he laid hold of the skirts of my coat, and I knew it was without cause, but afterwards I was alarmed.
          Prisoner – I ask you, did you ever see me before?
          Prosecutor – I have already said I could not declare that you were the man.
          Prisoner – I now say that I am the person.
          Mr. Halls – Having made that acknowledgment I will hear whatever you may wish to say, but I caution you that it will be taken down in writing.
          The prisoner then made the following statement: – On Tuesday evening I had been to Chesterfield-street to accompany a young lady – I mean a servant girl – home, and returned through the Park on my wayi to quarters. I saw the prosecutor, as I believe, against the gate leading into the Greek Park from Piccadilly. When I had got half way down the Park the prosecutor accosted me with "Good night," or words to that effect. He said "This is a nice place for girls." I said "Yes." (Here the prisoner went on to describe an alleged conversation which it is impossible to publish, and concluded by saying that the prosecutor exposed his person in a disgraceful manner, and that he took him into custody.) He begged I would not take him, and at the same time pulled out his watch and gave it to me. I took the watch, and thought at the time of making use of it afterwards as testimony against him. When we had got a little father towards the bottom of the Park the prosecutor fell upon his knees and begged for the sake of his family that I would let him go. After a long entreaty I pitied him, and let him go, on his promising never to insult a soldier in the like manner again. He said i was a good fellow, and, taking out his purse, gave it to me with the contents. He then promised to meet me the next day at twelve o'clock in the Park, when he wouldmake me a present, and I was to return the watch. I went to the spot appointed, and mentioned to a policeman, who was on duty near, that I expected a person to meet me there. I waited until a quarter to one, and the prosecutor did not come. He told me overnight if he did not come at twelve o'clock that I was to dispose of the watch as I thought proper. That is all I have to say for myself. The young woman by my side has nothing to do with it.
          Mr. Reynolds was called forward, and asked by Mr. Halls if he had anything to say after the prisoner's statement?
          Mr. Renolds (with great firmness of tone and manner), Nothing, Sir, except that it is utterly without foundation.
          Mr. Reynolds then identified the watch, seal, and key.
          The Prisoner was fully committed to Newgate for trial. The female prisoner was discharged, with an admonition from Mr. Halls to be more cautious in future as to what company she suffered herself to fall into. It appeared that she was a servant, and had fallen into the company of the male prisoner by accident.

Saturday 29 August 1835

COMMITTED TO THE CASTLE. – George Naize, charged with having committed an unnatural crime at Scarbrough. (Yorkshire Gazette)

Friday 4 September 1835

RESPITES – On Saturday last, the Constable of our Castle received a respite during his Majesty's pleasure, for the wretched man, William Booth, now under sentence of death for an unnatural crime. (Chester Chronicle)

Monday 28 September 1835

(Before Mr. Justice Williams.)
Robert Swan, aged twenty-eight, was indicted for feloneously, and with menaces, demanding of William Reynolds, one gold watch, a gold seal, of the value of 10l., and some money, with intent to steal the same.
          Mr. Sergeant Andrews stated the case on the part of the prosecution to the Jury.
          Mr. Reynolds – I am a member of the Society of Friends. On the 18th of August I had been dining at the Garrick Club-house, and had taken after dinner two or three glasses of brandy adn water, adn which place I left about a quarter to eight o'clock, with intent to go with Mr. Prout, a friend of mine, to the English Opera House. We, however, did not go in, and I accompanied him to Greek-street, Soho. Mr. Prout went into a billiard-room, which I declined doing, and then went to the Green-park, but instead of going along the footpath, I struck across the Park fromt he Duke of Sutherland's house towards the Park. Having occasion to go on one side I did, but had not been there a minute before some person came behind me and said, "Good night." I replied, "Good night," and turned my head, when I observed a person in a light dress behind me. He then seized hold of my coat and said, "You are persons which we want. It is such gentlemen as you who brings us soldiers into disgrace." I then became so agitated as to be unable to say what I did, but I believe I struck the prisoner, who said, "You had better be quiet, or you shall be further exposed." Finding myself to be quite in the prisoner's power I suffered him to pull me on one side, and he drew me towards the Palace, and asked of me "What I would give to be let go?" I replied anything which he demanded. He then asked me for my purpose, which I gave him; it contained a sovereign, a half-sovereign, and some silver. He then asked me for my watch, which I gave him. The prisoner then said, in a loud tone, "Are you contented?" I made no reply, and he then left me. I afterwards returned to the Garrick Club-house, adn had some coffee, and then went to my friend's (Mr. Prout's) chambers, in Lincoln's Inn, and slept. I said nothing of what had happened until the Monday, when I spoke of it to a Mr. Richards, a friend of mine; that arose in consequence of an officer from Bow-street coming to me and enquiring about the watch. I saw, when he called, in the act of going to Carshalton to my father, who is a gentleman of fortune. I afterwards went to the police-office, and found a charge against the prisoner.
          Mr. Chardwick Jones cross-examined the prosector, but elicited nothing material in favour of the prisoner.
          William Baker – I am a watchmaker and jeweller, residing at No. 25, Long-acre. On Thursday afternoon, the 20th of August, the prisoner called at my place, adn producing a gold watch, inquired the value of it. I said when it was new it cost 25l. The prisoner then said, "You would hardly think it was made a present to a lady's-maid." I replied I should think not; when he said it was too good for him to have knocking about; that he had had it in his possession about three weeks; but that he had not shown it to any of his comrades, and that he wished to dispose of it. He then said he would take another watch in exchange, adn would make it worth my while. I again remarked that I did not think it had been given to a lady's-maid, when he replied, "What I have said is correct, for I am always to be found. My name is Robert Swan, and I am of the Scotch Fusileer Guards." He then asked if I thought I had a customer for it. I replied I thought I knew one, and if he liked to leave it I would show it. He inquired how long it would occupy, when I said I could give him an answer in the course of two hours. He then went away. On examining the watch and seeing a crest, I went to Bow-street, and stated what had occurred. Fletcher, the officer, acocmpanied me to my house, and at the end of two hours the prisoner came back, and asked me if I had sold his watch? I again inquired of him how he came by it. He had a female with him, and said "I have told you." I replied, I was not satisfied, adn would not give him the watch until he gave a better account. He then said, "I am not going to be swindled out of it." Fletcher then came forward and took him into custody.
          Fletcher, the officer, corroborated the principal part of the evidence of the last witness, and in addition said, on examining the prisoner I found 1l. 17s. in money. At the station-house, the prisoner informed that the watch was given him by a gentleman whom he well knew; but he would not state his name for ten times the amount. I afterwards went to the Elephant and Castle, and saw the prosecutor, who was going out of town. He appeared surprised and agitated when I spoke about the watch.
          Mr. Prout, at whose chambers the prosecutor stopped, was cross-examined by Mr. C. Jones. His evidence went to confirm the statement of Mr. Reynolds in all the material points.
          The statement of the prisoner which he made before the Magistrate, was put in and read: it went to criminate the prosecutor.
          The prisoner's defence was a repetition of what he stated when at Bow-street.
          The prisoner received a good character from two sergeants belonging to the same regiment.
          One of them of the name of Forster was cross-examined at considerable length, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the prisoner had not been punished by the regiment for a similar offence. Forster stated that a sentry had said that a gentleman had made such a complaint, but he did not come forward, and consequently nothing was done to the prisoner.
          Mr. Justice Williams summed up, and the Jury found the prisoner Guilty. (Morning Post)

Monday 28 September 1835

Robert Swan, aged 32, a private soldier of the Scotch Fusileer Guards, was indicted for feloniously, and with menaces, demanding a gold watch and appendages, value 10l., from William Reynolds. – Guilty. (London Standard)

Tuesday 29 September 1835

. . . The Recorder then ordered Robert Swan for robbery, with threats, &c. [against a Mr. Reynolds]; John Smith and James Pratt, for a nameless offence, to be brought up.
          On being asked what they had to say why sentence of death should not be passed, Swan said, "My Lord and Gentlemen, I am certianly satisfied with my trial, and I am also fully convinced that the Jury did their duty; but the statement of my prosecutor, Mr. Reynolds, is false, and I am as innocent as a child. Although death is to be passed on me, I can assure you that he pressed the property on me, and through his intreaties I accepted it. With respect to my statement to the police that I wanted him to take a person into custody is false, for I told Mr. Reynolds that I would not say anything about what had transpired, adn when I saw him before the Magistrate I then said nothing, although I could do so. I have a wife, my Lord, who has been ill for the last two years, seven months of which time she has been an inmate in St. George's Hospital. She knows not I am here, and God forbid she should be made acquainted with my fate. On my trial an attempt was made to charge me with having accused a Gentleman before of a similar offence, which is false. I have been in the army ten years, and never was punished for a dishonest action. Until within twenty minutes of my trial I did not know I was to have the assistance of counsel. Mr. Chadwick Jones offered to defend me gratuitously, for which I am very thankful, and I do trust that God will reward him for his humanity, it being out of my power to do so. I freely forgive Mr. Reynolds for what he has sworn, and I hope God may also forgive him; but his conscience will not. I, therefore, hope that that mercy which is shown to Mr. Reynolds will be shown to me."
          The Recorder – The Learned Judges who tried you have assured me that they are equally satisfied with the verdict of the Jury, as well as with the innocence of Mr. Reynolds. If there is a crime which in the eye of heaven can be more aggravated than another it is one of those false and horrid charges which you have made against an innocent individual. Under these circumstances I cannot hold out any hope to you. This I will do – every minute circumstance shall be brought under the particular attention of hius Majesty and Privy Council, and on the facts so adduced you must stand or fall. Sympathy towards persons for such offences cannot be expected to be shown, for they are offences which, in a British country, mercy can never be extended to. The Learned Recorder, in a most solemn manner, then proceeded to call on the unhappy prisoners to apply the short time they had to live to God for that mercy which they could not expect to receive from the hands of man.
          Swan then bowed to the Court, and the three prisoners were removed from the dock. (Morning Post)

Saturday 10 October 1835

James Jackson, late parish clerk of sundon, was charged with attempting to commit an unnatural crime. – Fully committed for trial. (Huntingdon, Bedford & Peterborough Gazette)

Friday 18 December 1835

An inquest was held on Monday evening last at the Saracen's Head in this city, before Mr. John Hayward, coroner, on the body of Mr. T. W. Thompson, of Hull, who had been found dead in his bed-room that morning, having hanged himself the preceding evening. It appeared in evidence that the deceased arrived by the Express coach from London on Sunday morning, and not being a commercial traveller, was shown into the room called "the Wellington," where he wrote a letter, adn then went out for 2 or 3 hours. On returning, he went to the same room, rang the bell for the landlord, Mr. Stephenson, and said to him, "My name is Thompson, of Hull; have you heard of an unnatural crime being laid to my charge?" The landlord said "No." The deceased then said, "A plot has been formed against my character – all without foundation. Unfortunately I went to London at the time; and during my absence, my trunk, which was left at my brother's office in Hull, has been opened, and some beastly pictures found in it, which seems to confirm my enemies' statements. I have seen some gentlemen in the street whom I know, and I thought you might hear of this, and turn me out of your house; but I hope you will allow me to remain to have some refreshment and to sleep?" Mr. Stephenson replied, "Yes, Sir, to be sure." The deceased then ordered his dinner and a pint of wine. In the course of the afternoon he was observed walking in the inn-yard, apparently in a dejected manner. He went to bed about 9 o'clock. About 12 next day (Monday), the deceased not having been observed to leave his room, and no answer being given to the repeated calls of the waiter, the door was tried, adn was found to be fastened on the inside. Mr. Stephenson then ordered a ladder to be placed atthe chamber window, and the waiter having entered the room, found the deceased lying on his face at the foot of the bed. Mr. Alderman Hett, surgeon, was sent for, but pronounced that the man had been dead for some hours. Part of his braces was fastened round his neck so tight that it was with difficulty it was removed without cutting: the other end of the brace was tied to the sleeve of a night-shirt which the deceased had with him: a napkin that was in the room had also been used, as it was found near the body, very much stretched; it appeared as if he had suspended himself from the top of the bedstead, and the napking after some time had come untied. the deceased was a stout, full-bodied man: he had not been in bed, as hs coat and waistcoat only were off. He had about 40l. in money in his coat-pocket. Verdict, "died from strangulation, committed by the deceased in a state of unsound mind." (Stamford Mercury)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1835", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 12 September 2014 <>.

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