Newspaper Reports, 1840

Saturday 21 March 1840

CHARLES BROWN (52), a very deaf man, was indicted for a diabolical offence, against the order of nature, with Frederick Haselm, a boy about ten years of age, at Hull, on the 5th August last.
          Mr. BAINES and Mr. BAIN were Council for the prosecution.
          The Jury retired for about ten minutes and then pronounced the prisoner GUILTY, but recommended him to mercy.
          His LORDSHIP in a very impressive and solemn manner sentenced the prisoner to be hanged, and held out no hope of mercy. (Leeds Intelligencer)

Saturday 21 March 1840

FRIDAY, March 20.
Mr. Justice ERSKINE sat at eight o'clock.
CHARLES BROWN (52), was charged with having on the 5th of Aug. last, at Hull, committed an unnatural crime on Frederick Haselm, ten years of age. Mr. BAINES and Mr. BAIN were for the prosecution. The prisoner was undefended. There was great difficulty in getting him to plead, he saying that he was as deaf as a post. A piece of paper desiring him to plead was handed to the prisoner, and he pleaded Not Guilty. The prosecutor, his father and mother, and the prisoner, lodged in a Mr. Wilson's public-house, when the offence was committed. The prisoner, in a long rambling speech in defence, vehemently declared his innocence. The Jury retired and after an absence of ten minutes, they found the prisoner guilty, but recommended him to mercy.
          On being asked if he had anything to say, why judgment of death should not be passed upon him, he said that he would throw himself on the mercy of the Court. He never was charged with anything in his life, and he was as innocent as a lamb in this concern. The usual proclamation was then made, and the Judge put on the black cap.
          His LORDSHIP said, – Prisoner at the bar, you have declared yourself to be unable to hear what has been addressed to you: and therefore I fear what I may say may not altogether be understood by you. But I have observed that you are not so deaf as you pretended to be, because I saw that when an answer was given from a witness in a much lower tone than that in which you had been previously addressed, you understood what was uttered, and you made a reply to it. Nay more, you yourself most unconsciously in your defence showed that you were only pretending that you were deaf to the extent you now maintain, by stating that when you were before the magistrates the boy made use of one term to the magistrate, instead of writing down that word which you heard he wrote down another; and therefore for that you have been attempting to practice deception on the court, in order to avoid the consequences of that crime of which you have been convicted. The jury have found you guilty upon evidence which can leave no doubt – the only circumstance upon which the slightest question could rise was the consequence of your own wickedness, in having led that unhappy youth, who stood at the bar, to be a willing accomplice in your detestable offence, and to attempt to conceal it from his mother, because you had tempted him by money to consent to submit his body to your brutal lust. The offence of which you have been guilty is one equally denounced by the laws of God and man, and by the laws of your country your life has become forfeited, for although the legislature has relaxed the penalty of death in many other crimes, it has still left that fearful consequence as a punishment for offences like yours, and I grieve to say that I for one see no circumstances in your case that would justify me in recommending a relaxation of that punishment on this occasion. My duty is to award the punishment which the law attaches to your crime, unless I could see in the facts of the case something which mitigated your offence. I have been able to see nothing, for you have not only defiled your own body by your brutal assault – you have not only defiled the body of that child – but you have polluted his mind, and his eternal death hereafter may be the consequence of the corruption of which you have been guilty. And therefore as you have set this wicked example to him, it is due to him that he should see what the fatal consequences are of an offence like this which you have committed – that as you have corrupted his mind by your temptation, so he should be warned from following your example by your untimely end, and as this fact should also become known to the public – the public should also be warned by the consequences attached to such a crime, and to see what must be the consequence when men are led astray by lust as unnatural and brutal as that which has placed you in that situation which has led you from hence to the scaffold, to expiate the crime of which you have been guilty by a violent and untimely death. But this is not all; you will still have to stand before the law of of God – before a God of purity and holiness, who cannot bear the slightest taing of sin, and who has threatened that he will by no means spare the guilty. But I have reason to be thankful that a time is yet given you to prepare for that awful day, and that even for such as you, mercy is still offered, through the sacrifice of that Saviour, who has shed his blood in order that he might redeem even the worst of sinners from the heinousness of their crimes. But he tenders this mercy only to the penitent. He offers no mercy to the hardened man who swears by God Almighty that he is innocent of a crime, which his conscience tells him he has been guilty of. He will extend his mercy only to those who confess their guilt – who feel their guilt – and who cry for mercy in the name of that Saviour who has died for them, and who has taught the sinner to look at his own sin in the way in which God himself looks at it with abhorrence. Although he looks at no creature he has made with feelings of hatred, even the most sinful, yet he hates the sin that reduces those creatures to a state he never made them for. Therefore I implore you now to turn your thoughts inwards in that Saviour, for the wicked deed which you have done. You have not brought your mind to commit this crime suddenly, but that your mind has been polluted by many a wicked act. You must repent not only for this crime, but for all the offences you have ever committed in your life. Search into your heart – look at every crime – think of the Saviour who waits to be merciful – turn to him and apply to the throne of mercy above for that mercy which cannot be safely allowed to you here. My painful duty is to pass upon you the awful sentence of the law and which this Court doth adjudge and that is that for this your offence, you, Charles Brown, be taken hence to the place from whence you came, and from thence to the place of execution where you shall be hanged by the neck until you shall be dead and may God Almighty, for Christ's sake, have mercy on your soul. (York Herald)

Saturday 28 March 1840

Monday, March 23.
James Hogarth, 25, was found guilty of a misdemeanor in having on the 6th of January attempted feloniously to commit an unnatural offence.
          The learned Judge in passing sentence, said that he regretted he could not send defendant out of the country; he could not even give him hard labour; the sentence was two years' imprisonment in Lancaster Castle. (Westmorland Gazette)

Friday 3 April 1840

Brown, under sentence of death at York, for an unnatural crime, has been respited for a few days. It seems that on returning to Hull Mr. W. Ayre found that the character of a material witness was somewhat questionable, and on a representation having been made to the Judges, a respite has been the consequence. (Hull Packet)

Monday 6 April 1840

On Saturday last, a respite during her Majesty's pleasure was received for Charles Brown, under sentence of death in York Castle, for an unnatural crime at Hull. The other comdemned prisoner, Bardsley, for the murder of his father, at Quick, is to be executed on Saturday first. (Caledonian Mercury)

Friday 24 April 1840

John Kew, aged 14, charged with assaulting Thos. Babington, at Tumby, with intent to commit an unnatural offence, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 9 months' imprisonment at Louth. (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, 1840", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 12 July 2016 <>.

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