Merely a Misdemeanor, 1840

Monday 28 September 1840

The Honourable Mr. justice Burton sat in Chamber on Saturday to hear motions.
The Queen v. Thomas Hosier.
Mr. M'Donogh applied on behalf of the prisoner, that he should be admitted to bail. The prisoner was charged by a policeman with soliciting to commit an unnatural crime; and as the offence, if even true, was merely a misdemeanour, there could be no objection to his application, and he considered the only question was as to the amount of the bail. He thought it right also to mention that his client had made an affidavit, negativing in the most sufficient manner the charge which was brought against him. He was ready to give sureties, himself in 200l. and two sureties in 50l. each.
          Mr. Monaghan, Q.C., thought the sureties too small.
          His Lordship said it would be more to the credit of the prisoner to give high security.
          Mr. M'Donogh said he has no objection to give two sureties in 100l. each, and the prisoner in 200l.
          His Lordship said he considered that quite sufficient. (Freeman's Journal, Dublin)

Tuesday 27 October 1840

Thomas Hosier was placed at the traversers' bar, charged with having indecently assaulted Bartholomew Reilly, and solicited him to commit an unnatural crime. The indictment contained several counts.
          Bartholomew Reilly, 26 B, was examined by Mr. MONAGHAN, and deposed that on the 17th of September last he was on duty in Brunswick-street and Sandwith-street, where he was about eleven o'clock at night accosted by the prisoner. The prisoner asked him was he to be on duty during the entire night, and the witness replied in the affrimative. (The witness then detailed the facts connected with the charge, which are quite unfit for publication.) He then took Mr. Hosier into custody, and was bringing him to the station-house when he offered half-a-crown to be let go. Witness refused to let him escape, but allowed him to walk beside him towards the station-house; when at the passage leading to Fleet-market the prisoner effected his escape, but was arrested in Poolbeg-street by police-constable 37 B; witness pursued him, crying stop, and the prisoner also cried out stop.
          Cross-examined by Mr. MACDONAGH. – I never saw the prisoner before the night when he asked me to commit a capital felony. I told the magistrates the principal part of this story. After the prisoner offered me half a crown to let him go away I permitted him to walk alongside of me. I would not have taken 5l. to let him go. I would have refused any money, even 10,000l., to release him. It was not my duty to have struck the man when he used such disgusting language to me, but if I had not been a constable I would. I am about ten months in the police, and was previously a car-owner. I was born in Kells, and was a good while in London. Three or four years ago I was on private business in Liverpool for two days.
          Judge JOHNSON. – Now, is all this material?
          Mr. MACDONAGH. – The prosecution entirely depends on the credit of this witness.
          The informations were read, and some omissions noticed in it by counsel.
          Judge JOHNSON. – The question, is, are there any omissions inconsistent with the informations?
          Mr. MACDONAGH. – That will be a question for the jury.
          Patrick Keegan, B 37, examined by Mr. M'Kane. – I was on duty in Poolbeg-street a little after eleven o'clock at night on the 17th of September. I heard a cry of "stop, stop," and saw the prisoner running through Shoe-lane, and arrested him in Poolbeg-street. He was running from towards the market. The prisoner denied that any constable was pursuing him. 26 B then came up, and said that he would not let him get away so soon from him. He took Mr. Hosier towards the station-house in College-street, and in Hawkins'-street I asked, in the hearing of Mr. Hosier, what was the charge against him, and the constable said he wanted to take indecent liberties with him. The prisoner begged to be let go and not to be exposed. When charged before the inspector, he gave his name, I think, as Hennessy.
          Mr. MACDONAGH. – Do not say so, unless you are sure.
          Judge JOHNSON. – At all events he did not give his real name.
          Witness. – He did not.
          Patrick Power, 54 B examined. – I was in College-street ofice when Mr. Hosier was there, on the 18th of September. I was present when he was asked qustions, after having been properly cautioned. I produce a paper containing the examination of the prisoner, as taken down by the chief clerk. The prisoner was asked to sign the paper, but he refused to do so.
          Cross-examined. – He refused at the sugggestion of his counsel, Mr. Walsh.
          Mr. MACDONAGH submitted that the document could not be read, or proof of its contents given.
          The COURT concurred in the objection.
          Alderman Fleming was produced, and was about being examined to prove some circumstances connected with the examination of the prisoner, when
          Mr. MACDONAGH witndrew his objection to the document. It contained a declaration by the prisoner that he was innocent of the charge against him; that he wished to get home to his family that night, but he declined answering any questions as to the offer of the half-crown.
          The case for the prosecution closed here.
          Mr. MACDONAGH addressed the jury, and observed that he never rose under feelings of deeper embarrassment to defend a respectable gentleman charged with attempting to commit a crime which was unmentionable among Christians. The imputation of the crime was, unhappily, too frequent in England (not the crime itself). It had become quite a trade in England for wretches to prefer such charges against individuals for the purpose of plundering them of money. Happily, whetever guilt might be laid to the Irish people, the offence now under investigation was unknown to them, and he hoped to God would continue unknown to them. He would read to the jury a number of cases, now made history, to show that judges and juries had repeatedly found wretches guilty of robbery for preferring accusations against the timid of committing unnatural offences, with a view of getting money; and in many instances the innocent, alarmed at the name of such an accusation, had been known to offer money to conceal the charge. Counsel then referred to several authorities, and contended that a weak, agitated man, like Mr. Hosier, might very naturally have run away to avoid exposure. He would establish the fact that his respected client, the newphew of Lord Ventry, was a man of the most pious character, the purest morals, an affectionate husand, and a tender parent – Not a Sunday during his life did he neglect his attendance at church; and upon one occasion, when at a dinner table, some indecent expressions were used by a gentleman, he got up and said he would leave the apartment if such language is repeated. To prove the danger of fixing guilt upon an individual from the fact of his running away, he (Mr. Macdonagh) would mention a case in which he had been concerned. and tried by his lordship, (Judge Johnson). A man was charged with the murder of his wife, and it was proved that they had been in the habit of quarrelling. They were seen at night going along the North-wall, and soon after a splash was heard in the water. A cry of stop was made by some persons at a little distance, and the prisone ran away from the spot, also crying out stop. These appearances were very suspicious; but it was proved on the part of the prisoner by a washerwoman that she saw him and the woman before her on the North-wall, and that just before the splash in the water she heard the deceased say that she would drown herself if some demand of hers was not complied with.
William White, Esq., deposed that he knew the prisoner for seven years. He bore the rank of a gentleman, and witness never heard anything against his character. If he did not entertain a high opinion of his character he would not have admitted him as a visitor to his family.
          Charles Durdon, Esq., barrister, deposed that he knew Mr. Hosier for fourteen yars, and always considered him highly religious and moral. Had been often on a visit with him, and never knew him for a single Sunday to neglect attending at church. The prisoner was married two years. Nothing could be more affectionate than his conduct to his wife and young child. He never was in London.
          Mr. Thomas M'Carthy stated that he knew the prisoner for twenty-five years. No man could bear a better character, he was remarkly modest, and a constant attendant on Divine service. If anything improper was said in company he was the first to put it down.
          Thomas F. Kelly, Esq., a magistrate of Henry-street-office, swore that he knew the prisoner for fourteen years, and believed him to be of remarkable probity, of bashful manners, and of the strictest morality and purity.
          To the jury. – That belief in his character continues to the present hour.
          Mr. MACDONAGH said that he had twenty other witnesses to character, but after Mr. Kelly's evidence it was unnecessary to call them.
          Mrs. Mary Wooldriche was examined, and stated that on the day in question she dined with the prisoner's family. She left the house of Mr. Hosier a quarter after ten, and he accompanied her home to Sandwith-street. He did not go into the house with her.
          Cross-examined by Mr. MONAGHAN – Always considered him to live happily with his wife.
          Dr. Samuel Clendinning also gave the prisoner a high character.
          The CHIEF BARON charged the jury in a clear manner, and aftter being absent for ten minutes, they returned with a verdict of not guilty.
          The verdict was received with some demonstrations of applause, which were instantly checked.
          Judge JOHNSON said the Court entirey coincided in the verdict of the jury, and the Court was glad of it, as the verdict was justified by the evidence. (Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Merely a Misdemeanour, 1840", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 12 July 2016 <>.

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