Libels against the
Duke of Brunswick, 1840s

NOTE: The following reports concern Charles II, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1804–1873). He was deposed as ruler of the Duch of Brunswick in the July Revolution of 1830, when his palace was burned down, and he went into exile, living mainly in London and Paris. He never married, and there are no stories about him having a regular mistress, though he did have an illegitimate daughter, whom he disowned. He died in exile in Geneva. Following the sale of his fabulous collection of jewels, Appleton's Journal on 20 November 1875 remarked: “There are but few persons who have resided in Paris for any length of time who do not remember the late Duke of Brunswick, that painted, bewigged Lothario, whose follies, eccentricities, and diamonds made him the talk of Europe.” He took hours applying his make-up, and claimed to wear diamond-studded underwear. He sued several newspaper publishers for libel when they alleged that, amongst other things, he frequented Birdcage Walk to enjoy homosexual encounters, and that he appeared in a private performance of The Beggar's Opera in the role of Captain Macheath with his chamberlain and lover Baron d'Andlau in the role of Lucy. Several cases went to trial over two years, and a farcical situation arose as the publisher of the libel went into hiding. It is clear that “a morbid taste for scandal” used to generate increased newspaper sales was a motive, but the charge that he hoped to extort money from the Duke is not supported, and doesn't seem likely. Most of the following reports concern the libel cases of 1842–43. However, in 1849 the Duke of Brunswick won a libel case against a publisher for a defamation originally published in 1830. The Duke apparently bore a long grudge, and he arranged for his agent to the newspaper office and obtain a copy of the old newspaper from their files, and the Court ruled that this constituted a republication of the libel. (This very famous case became a precedent in libel law, and was used in 2009 to decree that an internet company [Google] who made historical libels available on their web pages can be sued for libel.) No copy exists of the issues of the newspaper that contained the defamation, The Weekly Dispatch for 19 eptember 1830, perhaps because all copies were destroyed when the Duke won his libel suit in 1849. This is exasperating, because it means we do not know precisely what the defamation was. However, contemporary newspaper reports suggest what may have been that defamation, and I begin with such an extract from 1830.

Saturday 18 September 1830

THE tyrannical proceedings of the Duke of BRUNSWICK have at length roused the patient population of his dominions to resistance, and the Ducal palace has been set on fire and consumed. The accounts are silent as to the causes of the insurrection; but from what we have heard of this Prince, the patience of the people must have been put to a severe trial. It would appear that the life of the Duke is in danger from the anxiety manifested that he should not escape.
          THE proceedings at Brunswick seem almost a fac simile of those at Brussels. The populace commence the disturbance, the military refuse to act, the citizens then form a Burgher Guard. No private property, however, has been injured.
          HOW dreadful to think that the people of a country should remain exposed to the tyranny of a man like this Duke, with no other means of relief than insurrection?
          SINCE the passing of the Holy Alliance, that legacy of Lord Castlereagh's infamous administration, it would seem that the people altogether were to be reduced to the abjectness and barbarism of the middle ages. The spirit which has been exercised towards them both in France, Holland, and Germany, fully justifies this conclusion; nay, we need not go so far as the continent; for in the Sister Kingdom particularly, and even in England, the fashion has of late years been too much encouraged, of treating all those who “earn their bread with the sweat of their brow” as something below the scale of common humanity.
          BUT to return to the Duke of BRUNSWICK. His oppressions seem of the most disgusting order. A respectable Morning Paper [the Morning Chronicle] says– “that in Germany they all agree that the Duke is not insane, but that he is excessively depraved, and a perfect NERO in disposition [i.e. homosexual]. The small territory of Brunswick is one of the most flourishing in Germany; and, though the population of the Duchy is only about 230,000, it contains a number of thriving and comparatively populous towns, the capital, Brunswick, having 32,500, Wolfenbuttel 6,800, and Helnstadt 6,259 inhabitants. The wretch who has at length exhausted the patience of the inhabitants, has been guilty of every sort of robbery and fraud. Letters were seized at the Post-office, their contents appropriated without ceremony, and he carried his effrontery so far as to give to an abandoned female a valuable gold chain, which he took out of a letter, and which she did not scruple to wear publicly. No functionary was safe under him; for he trampled upon all law, and all order, and all decency; and whoever refused to degrade himself, by the vilest subserviency to his crimes and vices, was treated with the utmost indignity. Personally he is described as an arrant coward; but those who incurred his ill-will conceived themselves in danger of assassination, or being poisoned, for he was supposed capable of any crime.”
          IT is rumoured that England is to be honoured with the reception of this base sovereign. Somehow or other, there is a presentiment in the minds of all the Continental tyrants, that they are quite safe in England – that here they will be quite secure from the fury of the people they have outraged and sacrificed. . . . (Leeds Patriot and Yorkshire Advertiser)
(The Examiner for Sunday 19 September 1830 repeats this extract, and identifies its source at the Morning Chronicle. Other papers also reprint it and give the Morning Chronicle as the source.)

Monday 21 November 1842

The Queen v. the Proprietors and Printer of the “Age” newspaper.
Mr. Serjeant Talfourd said he was instructed by the Duke of Brunswick to apply for a rule calling on the defendants, proprietors and printer of the Age newspaper, to show cause why a criminal information should not be filed against them for publishing a series of libels reflecting on the moral character of his Royal Highness. The tendency of the alleged libels was to accuse the Duke of unnatural crimes with which the name of Baron Anlau was mixed up. One of the libels contained, under the head of “Notices to Correspondents,” the following words:– “A. A.'s portrait of the scamp of Brunswick is faithful enough, but quite inadmissible in the columns of a newspaper. We much question if any unfortunate woman has been under this person's protection, unless it was for purposes any woman ought to be ashamed of.”
          Rule to show cause granted. (Freeman's Journal)

Monday 21 November 1842

BAIL COURT. – SATURDAY [i.e. 19 November)
Mr. Sergeant Talfourd said that he was instructed to apply for a rule, calling on Thomas Holt, Frederick Brander, and — Brander, proprietors of the Age newspaper, to show cause why a criminal information should not be exhibited against them for a certain libel. The application was made at the instance of his Royal Highness the Duke of Brunswick, son of the late Duke of Brunswick, who fell on the eve of the battle of Waterloo in the cause of his country. He had been for a series of years excluded from the dominions of his father, and resided in this country for many years, where he was treated with kindness. – He (Mr. Sergeant Talfourd) thought that the recollection alone of his father, illustrious in his life, but more illustrious in his death, would have protected his son from the necessity of seeking the protection of the court from a libel so foul and so dreadful that no man, whether prince or peasant, could endure to live if he did not rebut it. The Duke of Brunswick, in his affidavit, stated that in the present year he saw in the Age newspaper a series of paragraphs, the purport of which was to hold him up to ridicule and contempt, but which did not impute any specific charge against him reflecting on his character or honour, and which were not on that account made the subject of any application; but these charges gradually assumed a more definite form, till at length, in the course of the last month, an article appeared which left no doubt of the meaning, not only of that particular article, but of the scope and extent of those which went before. Some of those paragraphs were beyond the time in which, in the ordinary exercise of its jurisdiction, the court would be entitled to take cognizance of; but in the present case the Duke of Brunswick stated that he was anxious to vindicate himself from the accusations made against him at the time, but was advised not to do so, as he could not affix a precise meaning to them. The article, the subject of the present application, appeared on the 16th of last month. The Duke of Brunswick in his affidavit swore that he believed the intent of those articles was to extort money from him. The first paragraph, which appeared on the 30th of January, contained some verses which were a parody on a song of Moore's. The second appeared on the 6th of February, in which the name of a lady was introduced, who was made to say –
“Yet there's something of ton which I cannot decline,
To say you've a DUKE in your train.”
          The next insinuation was contained in a paragraph of the 6th of March, under the head of the “D'Orsay Portraits,” which stated that “if they did not get a D'Orsay likeness they should only get the head of a jackass.” The next paragraph related to the retirement of Captain Curry from the service of the Duke of Brunswick as his equerry. It stated that they were glad to hear of the row between them, and that Captain Curry had left an office which could only have disgraced him. This and the next paragraph, which related to the same circumstance, appeared under the “Notices to Correspondents.” On the 8th of May an account of the fancy ball given by her Majesty at Buckingham Palace appeared in the Age and at the close of that article it was stated that the ante-rooms were set apart for particular classes of society who were not fit to enter the Royal presence, and that marquees having been erected for some who could not be permitted even to enter the house, the following quiadrilles took place during the evening;– “that the Beggar's Opera was played, in which a certain lady appeared as Polly, Baron Andlau as Lucy, and the Duke of Brunswick, as Captain Macheath, with the favourite song of 'How happy could I be with either.'” The next paragraph was in the “Notices to Correspondents:” – “If Fairbrother, who has been chasseed [sic] by Prince George, has taken up with the Duke of Brunswick, they both of them deserved to be taken up to Bow-street.”
]The reference is to the actress Sarah Fairbrother, mistress to Prince George, Duke of Cambridge; “chasséed” is the French for “danced”.] On the 19th of June, the 31st of July, and the 11th of September other paragraphs appeared, insinuating unnatural practices on the part of the Duke of Brunswick. In the month of September the duke was invited as a guest by the guild of Preston, and some person wrote an account in the papers, stating that he had been taken up as a pickpocket in mistake for some notorious robber. This was sworn to be mere invention by the duke; but on the 25th of September a paragraph appeared relative to it in the Age, under the head of “Brunswickiana.” It stated that it was not surprising that the Duke of Brunswick should be taken if he dressed like one of the swell mob, and then published a document, which they said they did in comon fairness to a woman whom they were in the habit of speaking freely, and that the Duke of Brunswick had rendered himself so notorious that he may be taken for anything but a [man]. The next paragraph was in verse, under the head of “The Great Unknown,” and the next was that for which it was deemed necessary to apply to the court. It was under the date of October 16, and contained, under the head of “Notices to Correspondents,” the following words: – “F.'s portrait of 'the scamp of Bunswick' is faithful enough, but quite inadmissible in the columns of a newspaper. We much question if any unfortunate woman has been under this person's protection, unless it was for purposes any women ought to be ashamed of.” It was for this, which in his affidavit he stated he believed was intended to apply to him, that the Duke of Brunswick sought the protection of the court. He stated that all the accusations made against him were false and groundless – that he was guiltless and free from the unnatural crimes imputed to him, and that he was never guilty of any unnatural crime – that he never visited the Birdcage-walk, as imputed to him, with the guilty design alleged; that he resided in this country for many years without giving any offence to any person, and mixed in respectable circles of society, where he was treated with regard; and that he believed the continued attacks made upon him in the Age were for the purpose of extorting money from him. There was also an affidavit of Baron Andlau, which set forth that he had been for eighteen years in the service of the Duke of Brunswick, and did not believe the Duke of Brunswick was guilty of any unnatural crimes, and was of opinion that the purpose of the article was to extort money.
          Mr. Justice PATTESON: You have the usual affidavits as to publication, and so on?
          Mr. Sergeant TALFOURD: Yes, my lord. – Rule granted. (Evening Chronicle.
[This report was widely printed nearly verbatim in other newspapers, such as the Cork Southern Reporter [Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier]. the Dublin Weekly Register, the Windsor and Eton Express, the Leeds Times, and the Reading |Mercury.])

Thursday 24 November 1842

On Saturday, in the Bail Court, before Mr. Justice Patteson, Sergeant Talfourd applied for liberty to file a criminal information against the printer and two of the proprietors of the Age newspaper for a series of libellous paragraphs that had appeared in that paper reflecting upon the character of the Royal Duke. the rule was granted. The following are a specimen of the paragraphs complained of: On the 15th of May there appeared in the Age an article called 'The Court Ball,' which purported to be an account of a ball given by her Majesty at Buckingham Palace. This account was in the following words: “Thus far the solid splendouor of an entertainment unsurpassed probably by any on record. We have now to add some amusing details which have been exclusively furnished by our own reporter. Ante-rooms having been set apart for the reception of a particular class of society who could not be permitted to enter the Royal presence, the marquees having ben erected for some who could not be permitted to enter the house, the following quadrilles, &c. took place during the evening: The Beggars Opera Quadrille, Polly (a lady's name). Lucy, the Baron Andlau. Captain Macheath, the Duke of Brunswick, with the favourite song of 'How happy could I be with either,'” In the same paper there was another paragraph in the following words, and referring to the same subject – “Loose characters forming a gallopade,” “Delays and blunders,” “Paul Postpone, Duke of Brunswick; Privilege, his Equerry.”
[“Post”, in the sense of “back”, is an allusion to sodomy.] The next paragraph was contained in a paper of a succeeding date, and was in the following words – “If (a lady's name), who has been chasseed by Prince ——, has taken up with the Duke of Brunswick, they both deserve to be taken up to Bow-street.” The paragraph next in order was contained in the paper of the 19th of June, and was in the following words – “Dramaticuis: Price —— is a very good blind, but as the Prince is not the man who will not let Columbine go to Paris, the use of his name is a piece of theatrical impertinence. A woman who has been once seen at Epsom races, or anywhere else with the notorious Duke, is lost either in London or Paris.” On the 31st of July there appeared the following verses —
Where has Brunswick gone, at fete and ball
Who always was the first to revel;
And with the sex (men, women, all)
Was sometimes wont to play the devil?
          Echo – The Devil.

Upon the 16th of October, under the head of correspondence, appeared another of the paragraphs complained of, which was in the following words – “E. E.'s portrait of the scamp of Brunswick is faithful enough, but quite inadmissible in the columns of a newspaper. We very much question any unfortunate woman having been under this person's protection, unless it was for purposes a woman should be ashamed of. 'Moral's' reference to the same party, and the nightly visits to the Birdcage walk, will, with the assistance of our foregoing observation, speak for itself.” This paragraph concluded the series of publications. (Bradford Observer) [The Lincolnshire Chronicle for 25 Nov. 1842 gets the case slightly mixed up, and reports that one of the libels was “that the illustrious individual who now came before the Court, to vindicate his character from the foulest of all aspersions, had bern one of the number excluded from the presence of Royalty, and that he had consoled himself by promenading the Birdcage-walk with Baron Anlau, and a lady, with either of whom he could have been equally pleased.”]

Saturday 3 December 1842

The grand jury having returned a true bill against Mr. Barnard Gregory, for publishing an alleged libel in the Satirist newspaper upon the Duke of Brunswick, Mr. Bodkin applied to the Court to fix the amount of recognizances, and Lord Denman directed that the defendant should enter into his own recognizance in 100l., and find two sureties in 50l. each, to abide his trial. (Morning Post)

Wednesday 7 December 1842

THE QUEEN V. BARNARD GREGORY. – I give you notice that a True Bill of Indictment has this day been found by the Grand Jury now sitting at the Central Criminal Court, against the above-named Defendant for misdemeanour in printing and publishing a libel concerning his Highness the Duke of Brunswick and Luneburg, in the Satirist newspapers between the months of October, 1841, and September, 1842, wherefore I hereby expressly forewarn you that if any future number of the said newspaper shall be sold by you containing any libellous matter of or concerning the said Duke of Brunswick, an indictment will be preferred against you as the publisher thereof, and this notice will be given in evidence on the trial of such indictment.
        I am, your obedient servant,
                HENRY W. VALLANCE, Solicitor for his Highess the Duke of Brunswick.
20, Hatton-garden, London, Dec. 2, 1852. (Morning Post)

Thursday 1 June 1843

Mr. Sergeant Shea stated that this was a demurrer to plea of the defendants, upon an action brought by the plaintiff, Mr. Barnard Gregory, proprietor of the Satirist nespaper, for damages against the defendants. The declaration averred it to be an action on the case, that the plaintiff, intending to become an actor, made his appearance for the purpose, in the character of Hamlet, at Covent-garden Theatre, on the 13th of last February, on which occasion the defendant, with other persons, conspired together, and by hooting, hissing, groaning, and yelling at the plaintiff, prevented him from following the profession of an actor. The plaintiff avers damages to the extent of 5000l.
          To this declaration the defendants pleaded (upon which the present demurrer arose) as to the hissing, groaning, &c., that for five years last past the plaintiff was proprietor of the Satirist newspaper, which newspaper was publicly sold, and had a circulation of many thousand copies weekly, and that they contained indecent and disgusting articles, verses and anecdotes in violation of morality and of the law, and on some occasions the plaintiff had even published scurrilous and defamatory libels of her Majesty; and in general terms alleging that the plaintiff was in the habit of obtaining large sums of money from persons for suppressing articles in his newspaper, the Satirist, relating to them, and the plea further alleged on such occasion of the plaintiff appearing at Covent Garden Theatre in the character of Hamlet, it was to the scandal, nuisance, and outrage of the audience, and that respectable and virtuous females, if the plaintiff were suffered to appear as an actor, would be deterred from visiting the theatre.
          To this plea, the plaintiff having demurred, it now came on for argument, Mr. Serjeant Shea contending that the plea must be overruled, on the ground that it was not divisible into so many parts, that the allegations ought to be more particular and direct, and that specific charges should have been alleged that the plaintiff might know how to answer them, which as the plea now stood it was impossible he could do. The learned serjeant quoted several cases in support of his views, and particularly adverted to the case of “Clifford v. Brandon,” of O. P. notoriety, which was tried before Lord Mansfield.
          Mr. Serjeant Talfour, in support of the validity of the plea as to the last allegation, that the appearance of Mr. Gregory, from his connection with the Satirist newspaper, was an outrage on decency, adverted to the fact of the Gill's-hill murder (Mr. Weare's), that one of the parties, Probert, who had been admitted King's evidence, was actually engaged to make his appearance in a representation of the tragical occurrence at one of the minor theatres, but that so great was the manifestaiton of public displeasure, that the disgusting representation never took place.
          The Court stopped the learned serjeant, and said they considered the plea, from its generality, could not be allowed, but permitted it to be amended on payment of costs, upon the defendants undertaking to take short notice of trial. (London Evening Standard)

Friday 2 June 1843

Mr. Sergeant Talfourd applied to the court for a criminal information against Mr. Barnard Gregory, the proprietor and editor of the Satirist newspaper, for a series of libels published in that newspaper upon his Royal Highess the Duke of Brunswick. The affidavits on which the application was made set forth the nature of the libel, and a great number of paragraphs were read, the object of which was to insinuate that his Royal Highess was a party concerned in the murder of Eliza Grimwood, which took place some years ago in the Waterloo-road. His Royal Highess denied the truth of the statement, and swore that the crime attributed to him was utterly false and without foudation, and that the libel originated in malicious and corrupt motives.
          His lordship granted the application. (Freeman's Journal)

Wednesday 14 June 1843

Mr. Erle showed cause against a rule which had been obtained for a criminal information against the defendant, the publisher of a Sunday newspaper, for a succession of libels, published in that paper, against the Duke of Brunswick. He should first proceed to the affidavit of the duke, on which the rule itself had been obtained. That affidavit stated that the duke had resided for some years in England, and that for the two last years he had been the subject of continued abuse in this paper. For a long time it stated that the duke had not noticed those attacks, believing that their object was to induce him to purchase immunity from them by bribing the editor, and the best way to get rid of them seemed to him to be to appear to disregard them. On the 2d of December last the duke indicted the defendant for a libel, and that indictment had recently been removed into this court by certiorari, and since then the libellous articles had increased, both in number and maliciousness. He complained, too, that the insinuations contained in these libels were intended to fix upon him the charge of the perpetration of an atrocious murder. The affidavit then went on to set out sixteen libels, beginning with the 4th of December, and ending with the 28th of May, all of which, the duke asserted, showed the intention of which he had spoken. The answer to this application was, that the duke had appropriated to himself epithets and observations which were not intended for him.
          Lord Denman: But he swears that he believes them to apply to him, does he not?
          Mr. Erle answered that he did; but added there were no grounds for such an opinion. The first of these inculpated paragraphs was this:– “As many actions as the ape pleases; we care not for any such reptile; it is to be regretted that the provisions of the Alien Act are not oftener enforced.” This was a sentence among the notices to correspondents, and no one who read it could say to what foreigner it alluded. The same might be observed of almost all the other sentences of which the duke complained. There were a few of these notices in which the duke was alluded to, but they were not of a kind on which a rule like this could be supported. One of them, in the paper of the 8th of January, was to this effect:– “We cannot undertake to read half the letters received by us within the last few days on the subject of the deposed duke;” and it then went on to complain of the duke for having come into a court of law, observing that he was no sovereign in England, and that any attempt on his part to coerce the press would only end in his injury. Most of the libels were of this description, and there was no pretence for saying that the duke was charged with any connection with the murder of Eliza Grimwood. The phrase which the duke tried to distort to such a purpose was to be found in an article which warned Englishmen against the many depraved foreigners who were in London, and in which it was said that they were plentifully supplied from the “barren barony to the demolished dukedom,” and that “London is already a city of refuge for continental malefactors, from dukes to lazzaroni, at the threshold of which the avenger of blood must sheathe his sword and stop.” This general abuse was not directed against any particular individual, and there was no one who could truly say that it had any application whatever to the Duke of Brunswick. This was the sort of case for the prosecution.
          The first affidavit in answer, which was that of Mr. Barnard Gregory, stated that Mr. Vallance, the attorney of the duke, was introduced to him, and offered him a sum of money to discontinue some light and jocular articles on the duke and a certain lady. That he refused the money, and that the duke's equerry afterwards called on him for the same purpose and received the same answer. He denied that he had commented on the follies of the duke till he had received a direct personal insult from the duke. That he did then comment on the duke's conduct, for which he was brought to trial. The affidavit then went on to charge on the duke the riot got up at Covent-garden, when the defendant made his appearance there as an actor; it stated that Mr. Vallance did address the audience, urging the people to hiss the defendant off the stage, assigning as a reason for so doing that he was the editor of the Satirist. On the 21st of April he commenced an action against the duke and Mr. Vallance for a conspiracy in this matter, and this application was afterwards made. Now the defendant distinctly stated that he did not in, or by, any of the articles charge or impute that the duke had been, or was, guilty of the murder of Eliza Grimwood, or had been, or was, directly or indirectly, accessary or party to the said murder, or any other murder whatever. Under the circumstances of the defendant making this denial, and of the duke having, by his conduct at Covent-garden Theatre, taken the means of remedy or revenge into his own hands, this court would not, according to its established rules, interfere in his favour.
          Mr. Sergeant Shea, on the same side, commented on the absurdity of the duke assuming that the observations in the paper upon foreigners were directed against himself. Those observations charged foreigners with being brought up in such a state of civil and political slavery, that they dared not express their real opinions, and thus were wanting in that candid frankness which was the result of the free education of Englishmen. Could the charge of slavery be truly imputed to one who had within a few years been a reigning prince? It was absurd to say so. There could be no ground for granting this rule to a person who had, as it was distinctly sworn, taken part in that riot at Covent-garden Theatre, which was designed to prevent the defendant from following the occupation of an actor.
          Mr. Sergeant Talfourd (with whom was Mr. Wordsworth), in support of the rule, insisted that the affidavits put upon the file, and the course the defendant had instructed his counsel to pursue, materially aggravated the offence charged against the defendant. The court might now see what sort of dominion over persons in private life certain editors assumed to exercise – how reckless they were of the feelings of persons of the highest respectability and honour would be shown by the fact that the feelings of those persons were wantonly outraged in order to drive other persons from their society. What did these affidavits show? They showed that gross attacks had been made on persons of respectability and honour, and then, when application was made to them to desist from such attacks, the answer was such as to show the determination of the parties making these to persist or desist at pleasure. The learned sergeant was proceeding in his argument, when he was stopped by
          Lord Denman, who said: We think that it is for a jury to consider what was the intention of the party in making these statements. The denial here made is one of the modes by which this application is met. Another is said to be the conduct of the duke himself, in going with others to Covent-garden Theatre to attack a person in public there. Undoubtedly, if that was done it would be very improper. But that is to be subject of investigation elsewhere. The party assailed is entitled to some redress, and there does not appear, as to this case itself, that there is any reason why this rule should not be made absolute. – Rule absolute. (Evening Chronicle)
[In mid-June the case of Gregory vs. the Duke of Brunswick (regarding the Covent-Garden Theatre incident) came to court, and the jury found in favour of the Duke of Brunswick. Shortly afterwards, in a separate case, Mr Gregory was found guilty of libelling the Duke of Brunswick. Sentence was deferred.]

Saturday 24 June 1843

BAIL COURT. – THE QQUEEN, ON THE PROSECUTION OF THE DUKE OF BRUNSWICK, v. GREGORY. – Yesterday, Mr. Serjeant Shee addressed the learned Judge, and upon the part of the defendant requested permission to withdraw the plea of not guilty, and to plead guity to the indictment. The learned serjeant observed, that in taking this course Mr Gregory had acted in compliance with the advice of his counsel, and that he had distinctly authorized him (Serjeant Shee) to state in the most express terms and in the most unreserved manner, his regret for the annoyance and pain which had been caused to the Duke of Brunswick and his friends. Although Mr Gregory did not intend through the articles in qustion to convey any ipmutation that his Serene Highness had been guilty of any crime, yet he was now sensible that they were calculated to bring his Serene Highness into contempt and ridicule. Although his Serene Highness would in future have no cause to complain of the defendant, he would be at liberty, notwithstanding the present proceeding, to take any further steps which his advisers might recommend. – Mr Serjeant Talfourd said, that of course he could not make any objection to the application. He was, however, most anxious to state, that he had no isntructions whatever from the Duke of Brunswick to enter into any arrangement with respect to the future course of the proceedings. He had only within a minute or two been informed of the course which his learned friend proposed to adopt, and he could not hold out the smallest grounds for any expectation that the withdrawal of the original plea would produce any other consequence than that which was the natural result of the prosecution. – Mr Justice Wightman observed, that in the circumstances of the case, he thought it better not to give judgment at present, as the intermediate conduct of the defendant might have an effect upon the Court in the delivery of the judgment. (The Examiner)

Sunday 23 July 1843

FIVE POUNDS REWARD – Whereas a true Bill of Indictment was, on the fourth day of July instant, found by the Grand Jury at the Central Criminal Court against BARNARD GREGORY for misdemeanor in printing and publishing a Libel concerning his Highess the Duke of Brunswick and Luneburg, in the SATIRIST newspaper; and whereas a warrant has been issued for the apprehension of the said Bernard Gregory, but the officer holding the same warrant is unable to execute it, by reason of the said Barnard Gregory having, as it is believed, purposely absented himself from his usual place of abode, No. 15, North Audley-street, in order to avoid such arrest. The said Barnard Gregory is supposed to be secreting himself in the neighborhood of the Priory, Hampstead, formerly the residence of — Thompson, of whose alleged will the said Barnard Gregory claims to be executor. The Reward of Five Pounds will be paid to any person who shall give such information to the Superintendent of Police, Bow-street Station, Covent-garden, as shall enable the officer holding the said warrant to execute the same by apprehending the said Barnard Gregory. The said Barnard Gregory is about five feet two inches high, sallow complexion, about 55 years of age, generally without whiskers; his natural hair grey and scanty, wears wigs of different colors; has a projecting forehead, giving a lowering expression to the face; eyes darkish color, nose short and ill-shaped, face round; has an habitual satirical sneer; is high-shouldered and slightly knocknee'd; dresses shabbily in black; voice powerful, with a fawning style of speech; if not disguised, is in mourning; manner pompous and vulgar, walk embarrassed and uncertain. Is the son of a Mrs. Gregory, who kept a greengrocer's shop in Goswell-street; was formerly a schoolmaster and a local itinerant preacher. In the town of Brighton he kept a drug shop; was afterwards head clerk in Wigney's bank at Brighton; then went into partnership there with an auctioneer and brewer, as bankers, and was unfortunate in business. Is the registered proprietor, printer, and publisher of the SATIRIST newspaper, publisher at No. 334, Strand, Middlesex. (The Era)

Wednesday 16 August 1843

(From the Morning Post.)
It is well known that for some time back the Duke of Brunswick has been preferring a series of indictments against Mr. B. Gregory for libellous articles published in the Satirist. One of these was removed by a write of certiorari into the Court of Queen's Bench, when the defendant pleaded guilty, and judgment was deferred until Michaelmas term. Subsequently to this other indictments were preferred at the instance of the Duke of Brunswick, as also one at the suit of Mr. Vallance, solicitor to his Royal Highness, which the defendant unsuccessfully attempted to remove by certiorari. In order, therefore, to avoid the execution of the warrants issued upon these indictments, the defendant has been for some time keeping himself out of the way. In consequence of this, the following placard was issued, offering a reward of 5l. for the apprehension of Mr. B. Gregory:–
[Here the advertisement from The Era for 23 July is reprinted.]
          The reward was afterwards increased to 10l., after which information was given to Mr. Vallance which led him to suppose that Mr. Gregory was residing at 2, Groove-place, Southend, under a feigned name. On the morning of Saturday last he proceeded to the aforesaid place. Shortly after his arrival there, having discovered the house in which Mr. Gregory, under the name of King, was residing, and which he had taken for three months, he (Mr. Vallance) communicated with the inspector of police on the subject of the warrant. Several policemen, under the direction of Superintendent Low, kept watch on Mr. Gregory's house during the night, and one of them, stationed in the shrubbery at the read, plainly saw Mr. Gregory put his head out of his window before retiring to bed. In the morning the superintendent effected an entrance by stratagem, through one of the windows in the front of the house, he being at the time in disguise. Upon searching the house immediately upon his entrance, he found the alarm had been given by the servant in sufficient time to enable Mr. Gregory to escape to the top of the house. Miss Gregory, who, it appears, accompanied her father, at this moment met the officer on the stairs, and was not a little astonished to find herself accosted as Miss Gregory, where she [had] been known only as Miss King. A vigilant search was now instituted, but although every room was carefully examined, not a clue could be found of the fugitive. Constables were stationed on the roofs of the adjoining houses; but still he remained under cover, nor was it until five or six hours had elapsed that it was found he had taken refuge in a small press in the garret, from which he sprang upon hearing the carpenter's chisel applied to the panel (the door being locked at the time). He was secured, and in the morning conveyed before the magistrates at Rochford, one of them being the Rev. Dr. Chisholm, a relative of Dr. Chisholm, who on a recent occasion was so unfortunately mistaken for Mr. Gregory. He pressed the magistrates to remand him until Wednesday (this day), when he stated he should be prepared to put in the necessary bail. This the magistrates acceded to upon his reducing his request to writing, which he accordingly did. He was afterwards removed to the Ship Hotel at Southend, where he is closely confined, with a constable stationed outside his door, and every person, with the exception of his daughter and his solicitor, who arrived yesterday, is denied access to him. We understand that several other warrants will be executed against him, to which he will also have to give bail. (London Evening Standard)

Friday 1 September 1843

THE SATIRIST. – At the Central Criminal Court, on Monday, Barnard Gregory, the editor of the Satirist, pleaded guilty to the charges against him of libelling the Duke of Brunswick and Mr. Vallance. Mr. Bodkin, the Counsel for the prosecution, stated that no sort of compromise had been entered into by his clients and the prisoner, to induce him to take this course. He was liberated on bail to appear at the next Sessions of this Court, when he will present affidavits for mitigation of punishment. (Coventry Herald)

Wednesday 25 October 1843

It is expected, on the arrival of the judges to-morrow morning (Wednesday) that Mr. Barnard Gregory, editor of the Satirist, will appear to receive the judgment of the Court for libels on the Duke of Brunswick. The sentence, it will be recollected, was postponed last session until the present, and during the period that has elapsed we understand a number of additional affidavits have been filed on both sides. Yesterday no less than eight new affidavits were sworn in aggravation of punishment. (Morning Post)
[But the case was again postponed because of the large number of additional affidavits that had been submitted.]

Saturday 2 December 1843

The Court having ordered the cases of the Queen, on the prosecution of the Duke of Brunswick and Mr. Vallance, for libels published in the Satirist, to which indictments the defendant had pleaded Guilty, to be called on,
          Mr. Bernard Gregory, on his name being called, answered, and was placed by the officers of the court in the witness-box.
          Mr. Justice Coltman. – My brother Parke and myself have looked carefully over the affidavits which have been placed upon the file of the court in the cases of the two indictments, to both of which you, Barnard Gregory, have pleaded guilty; and we are of opinion that the affidavits which have been given in by you contain matter that is altogether irrelevant to the subject under investigation, and which has highly aggravated the original offence; and for which you ought to be committed for contempt of court. However, in the case of the Duke of Brunswick, it does appear to the Court that there is also matter introduced of very considerable aggravation on his part, which may in a measure partly extenuate your offence; but, under all the circumstances of the case, we can do no more than order such affidavits to be removed from the file of the court. Barnard Gregory, you have pleaded guilty to the indictment –
          Barnard Gregory. – Before your lordship passes sentence, I wish to say a few words –
          Mr. Justice Coltman. – You have filed affidavits, and we cannot now hear you.
          Barnard Gregory. – I pleaded guilty under circumstances –
          Chief Justice Denman. – You have pleaded guilty to the charges contained in both indictments, and the Court have carefully read your affidavits in mitigation of punishment; we cannot, therefore, now hear any observations from you.
          Mr. Justice Coltman. – Your affidavits have been very carefully read by Mr. Baron Parke and myself; and we do find in them any matter that at all tends to show a mitigation of the offence which you have committed; but, on the contrary, they tend greatly to aggravate the libel. The offence of which you have been convicted is the offence of libel, in the first instance, against the Duke of Brunswick – an offence committed, apparently, for the purpose of ministering to that morbid taste for scandal, by which you hoped to give increased circumlation to a paper of which you were the proprietor. It also appears to the Court that there is good ground for suspicion that you had, likewise, a further motive (here Barnard Gregory shook his head, as if intimating a disclaimer) than the mere increase in the sale of your paper; because in your own affidavit you make allusion to a certain brilliant belonging to the Duke of Brunswick; and though you assert that the allusion was only made in a jocular way, yet it is difficult not to suppose that you had some end to answer of a far more heinous description than merely to further the sale of your paper. The sentence of the Court, therefore, is, that you be imprisoned in her Majesty's gaol of Newgate for the space of four calendar months for the libel on the Duke of Brunswick.
          Barnard Gregory. – I pleaded guilty under the mistaken notion that the jurisdiction of this Court was assimilated to that of the Court of Queen's Bench.
          Mr. Justice Coltman continued. – As to the other charge, to which you have also pleaded guilty, that of a libel on Mr. Vallance, it is an indictment of a far more heinous character than that against the Duke of Brunswick, deeply affecting the character of Mr. Vallance, tending to fix upon him a stain and a blot, which, if true, would have deeply injured him in his future career. It is impossible that anything can be more aggravated than an attempt to ruin the character of a young man, who, it appears clearly from the affidavits, is a person apparently of the greatest respectability in his profession. For this your offence, therefore, the sentence will be, that you be imprisoned in her Majesty's gaol of Newgate for eight calendar months, the time to commence and to run from the expiration of your former sentence.
          Barnard Gregory. – As it regards the affidavits, they were filed under the direction of counsel. I pleaded guilty uder peculiar circumstances –
          Chief Justice Denman. – You must not go on – you are now in custody. We must now proceed with the other public business.
          Barnard Gregory was then removed in custody into the gaol, by Mr. Cope, the governor of Newgate, apparently under the greatest excitment, declaring that he was an injured and persecuted man. (London Evening Standard)

Sunday 3 December 1843

In the Court of Queen's Bench, yesterday, Mr. Holt and others, the proprietors and publishers of The Age newspaper, were tried on a criminal information charging them with having published in the columns of that paper a series of libels, imputing to the Duke of Brunswick propensities of a horrible character. The publication of the libels was proved, and an attempt was made to impugn the criminal construction alleged. The jury, however, after a short deliberation, found the defendants Guilty. The Duke of Brunswick was himself examined, and gave his evidence in a mannere to reflect the highest honour upon him. In his cross-examination he utterly repudiated all attempts to excite prejudice against him. The defendants will be brought up for judgment next term. (Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chroncle)

Wednesday 6 December 1843

Few culprits have passed form the bar of the Central Criminal Court to the adjacent prison – there to suffer the loss of personal liberty as a penalty for their offences against society – followed by less public sympathy than the individual who was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment at the sitting of the Court on Saturday morning. We scarcely need say that we allude to Mr. Barnard Gregory, the editor of the Satirist. That journal had acquired an enduring notoriety by the foul traffic in reputation its proprietor had long pursued, in which he seemed to have become bolder by practice, and spared neither age nor sex in his revolting pursuits.
          The Duke of Brunswick and his solicitor, Mr. Vallance merit the public gratitude for the courage and perseverance with which they have prosecuted this offender against public and private decency. The sentence upon the Court upon the foul slanderer, which dooms him to an imprisonment of twelve months, though severe, is salutary. To Mr. Barnard Gregory it will be so, if he employ it in reviewing the course he has pursued as a public writer, and the purposes to which he has prostituted powers that might have procured for him the respect of his fellow-citizens, instead of causing his name to be associated with infamy, and rendering him a fit companion for the wretched as the vile – many of them respectable and virtuous when compared with him – in a common jail.
          The conductors of the public press have especial reason to congratulate themselves and the public on the result of the prosecutions against the editor of the Satirist. The conviction of another confederacy of a similarly disgraceful character, in the Court of Queen's Bench on Saturday – the details of the trial illustrated the baneful venom of which the columns of such journals are the channels – will also tend to abate and eventually to destroy the nuisance. On this subject one common feeling of satisfaction pervades the respectable portion of the press.
          The salutary changes effected in the Libel Law by the bill brought in by Lord Campbell, and, with some alterations, passed by the legislature, will effect, to a greater extent, a purification of the public press from these pollutions. Private character will no longer by systematically attacked with impunity. Professed calumniators, who have gratified the malignity of their patrons, or who have pandered for the base curiosity of the multitude, will no longer drive their dishonest trade with the security in which they formerly trusted. Journals which have been carried on upon the avowed plan of purveying slander for the prurient appetite of the vulgar in every rank of life, must cease to ply their professions, and their conductors must betake themselves to some pursuits which, at least, if not more honest, will be less vile and less mischievous to society. (Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser)

Wednesday 6 December 1843

Barnard Gregory, the proprietor of the infamous Satirist, has been sentenced to four months' imprisonment for libelling the Duke of Brunsiwck, and to eight months' imprisonment for libelling Mr. Vallance, his solicitor. (Western Courier)

Chronicle for December 1843

CONVICTION FOR LIBEL. – In the Court of Queen's Bench, — Holt, H. Brander, and G. Brander, were tried under a criminal information for libels on the Duke of Brunswick, published in the Age newspaper. The libels were contained in a number of articles which were described by Mr. Sergeant Talfourd, who appeared for the Duke, as conveying a very abominable imputation in a dark and dastardly manner: it was imputed to the Duke that he was insensible to feminine charms and a particular meaning was given to common words by the use of italic type and small capitals. With one of these libels was associated the name of Captain Currie, the honorary Equerry to the Duke. Another appears to have hinted that the Duke went to the house of a member of Parliament, during the absence of the master, for some immoral purpose. The Queen gave a state ball at the Palace in May, 1843; and the libeller described the Duke as not admitted beyond the servants' hall, but as being one to make up a quadrille in which Baron Andlaui and a lady danced as Polly and Lucy, the Duke dancing as Macheath, and singing “How happy could I be with either.” “Billy my Lord,” supposed to mean Lord William Lennox, was represented as having refused to meet the Duke at dinner. The Duke was also said to have an “unfortunate woman,” under his protection; and this was made the vehicle for a still more atrocious insinuation. The Duke of Brunswick was examined. He stated, that in consequence of what had appeared in the Age in April, 1842, Captain Currie had left his service. He dnied going to the house in Park Street, except to make the usual calls; and he believed that he had never called without seeing the master of the house. He denied that there was any ground for imputations respecting Mrs. ——, (this seems to be the wife of the gentleman in Park-street); but all acquaintance with that lady had been broken off through the paper. He could not have been excluded from the Palace, for he had never sought to go there. When he first came to England, he was on such bad terms with his relations, that he never sought to go to the Palace. On the part of the defendants, Mr. Platt, Q.C., after some disparaging remarks ont he Duke's absence from the Palace, as a blot on his escutcheon, contended that a strained interpretation had bene put upon the papers which formed the subject of the proceedings. Mr. Justice Wightman left it to the Jury to determine what meaning the papers bore, and after retiring to consult, they returned a verdict of “Guilty.” (Annual Register, 1844, Chronicle for December 1843, p. 175)

Monday 29 January 1844

The defendants in this case, the Publisher and one of the Proprietors of the Age newspaper, were brought up this morning to receive judgment for a series of libels published in the Age newspaper, reflecting on the character of his Serene Highess the Duke of Brunswick. The arguments of counsel in mitigation and aggravation of punishment, occupied the whole morning, which precludes us giving a detailed report to-day.
          At the conclusion, the Court sentenced the defendant Holt to be confined in the Queen's Bench prison for 12 calendar months, and the defendant Brander to be imprisoned three calendar months. (London Evening Standard)

Thursday 10 February 1848

NISI PRIUS. – Before Mr. Justice Kyle, and a Special Jury.
THE DUKE OF BRUNSWICK v. PEPPER. – LIBEL. – This was an action to obtain compensation in damages against the defendant, the printer of the Satirist newspaper, for alleged libel. The noble plaintiff conducted his case in person, and addressed the jury at some length, but from the position he occupied it was impossible to hear distinctly any observation which fell from his highness. There were two libels complained of, one of which was inserted in the Satirist on the 3rd of November, 1844, and which stated that Barnard Gregory would give to the world a statement of all the facts connected with his extraordinary case (alluding to his prosecution and conviction for libel by the plaintiff), “extraordinary as being from its commencement sustained by strong truth,” thus alleging in fact that the libels published by Gregory were true. The second libel was published on the 9th March, 1845, and was appended to a long article on the subject of the murder, at Hampstead, of Mr. Delarue, by Hocker. The paragraph which applied to the plaintiff was headed “congeniality,” and the article having alluded to Hocker being also guilty of unnatural practices as well as murder proceeded to say that the newspapers stated that the Duke of Brunswick was accommodated with a seat on the bench at the Marylebone police office on the examination of Hocker, but it did not appear whether he had also been accommodated with a pinch of snuff from the box of the prisoner, which was handed about in a most affable manner. The damages were laid at 10,000l. The defendant pleaded that the plaintiff had already obtained satisfaction for the same cause of action, and it appeared that an action had been brought by the plaintiff for the same libels against Mr. Pearson, the proprietor of the Satirist, which was tried by a common jury, and a verdict for the plaintiff given with only one farthing damages; it further appeared that a similar action was now pending against the publisher of the Satirist. – Mr. Cockburn, Q.C. (with whom was Mr. H. Hill), addressed the jury for the defendant in a powerful speech, contending that the plaintiff had already had full satisfaction for the alleged injury by the verdict given in his action against Pearson, and this was nothing but a vindictive and malignant act of persecution, the plaintiff having brought three actions for the same libels, when one ought to have satisfied him if he had only sought to vindicate his character and obtain justice; but the fact was that he hoped to obtain damages to reimburse him for the sum which he admitted it had cost him to prosecute Barnard Gregory by criminal information and indictment, and which he had said amounted to 10,000l. The first libel, which was a mere notice to correspondents, in reply to a communication on the subject, was not worthy of the notice of the plaintiff after the vindictive manner in which he had prosecuted Gregory to conviction. The second libel, he contended, was not intended to bear the construction which the plaintiff had put upon it, it being merely intended to hold up to public condemnation the morbid sympathy with great criminals which induced the aristocracy to haunt police courts and crowd courts of justice when heinous offences were to be inquired into. – Mr. Justice Erle, in summing up, said the declarationn contained two counts, in which each libel was alleged. The defendant had pleaded that the plaintiff had already had satisfaction for the same cause of action of a person of the name of Pearson. Each publication of the libel was a distinct cause of action, the only question for the jury being whether the matters complained of amounted to a libel; and, if so, what damages his highness was entitled to. Anything published by one person of another tending to degrade him in public estimation or bring him into contempt would amount to a libel. The plaintiff had a perfect right to bring this as an independent action notwithstanding that which he had brought against the proprietor of the Satirist for the same libel. If, however, in that case, the jury had given the plaintiff any compensation, he (the learned judge) might have been inclined to think that this second action would have looked like an attempt at persecution; but that was not so, the damages having been nominal. He thought there was little doubt that the statement complained of as the first libel intended to assert the truth of the libels of which Barnard Gregory had been convicted, and which charged the plaintiff with being the murderer of Eliza Grimwood, &. With regard to the second libel, he was at a loss to put any other construction upon it than that the plaintiff was said to be a person whose feelings and practices were “congenial” with those of Hocker, who was stated to have been guilty of unnatural crimes, and was known to have committed murder. Upon the question of damages, it was for them to say what their own feelings would have been if such charges had been made against them, and what would have been their reception in society? If a former jury had not given his highness the plaintiff more than nominal damages, it might be presumed that there was not the same evidence before that jury which had been adduced to-day, and there was no reason why the matter should not be considered upon entirely independent grounds. The jury retired, and after an absence of about half an hour, returned into court with a verdict for the plaintiff. – Damages, 1,000l. It is right to state that several special jurymen who had been summoned on this cause were fined 10l. for not being present when it was called on. (London Daily News)

Monday 14 February 1848

(Nisi Prius Sittings at Westminster, before Mr. Justice WIGHTMAN and a Special Jury.)
This was another action for libels upont he plaintiff, published in the Satirist while the defendant was the publisher of that newspaper. The case had been directed to stand over until this morning, to afford the parties an opportunity of coming to a private arrangement.
          The Plaintiff said the attorney for the defendant not having assented to the proposition he made on Thursday to withdraw the action, provided the defendant would pay the costs, he now begged to withdraw that proposal. His object in bringing these actions was solely to vindicate his honour, and he had therefore to complain that on the trial on thursday last, before Mr. Justice Erle, the defendant's counsel (Mr. Cockburn, Q.C.) had conducted the case in a manner which was plainly intended, either to bully him out of court, or to excite him to commit a breach of the peace.
          Mr. Justice Wightman. – I hardly understood the meaning of this.
          Mr. Cockburn. – It is a piece of gross impertinence.
          The Plaintiff. – I withdraw my proposal.
          Mr. Cockburn. – The duke knows perfectly well that we do not mean to accpet it.
          The Plaintiff then addressed the jury in a speece, which occupied three hours and a half in delivering, in the course of which he read between 40 and 50 articles from the Satirist and Age newspapers, charging him directly or by implication with murder, unnatural crimes, and other offences of an infamous and horrible description. The present action was brought against the defendant as publisher of the Satirist, for two libels which appeared in it, one on the 7th December, 1845, the other on the 23d January, 1846.
          Mr. Cockburn addressed the jury in a very long and able speech for the defendant, in which he stated that this action savoured less of a desire to vindicate his character (which the plaintiff had sufficiently done) that it did of vindictiveness. He trusted the jury would, therefore, tell the Duke of Brunswick by their verdict that he should be satisfied with the reparation he had already received, and with the penalties he had enforced, and should no longer seek to gratify his revenge by converting the law into an instrument of oppression.
          Mr. Justice Wightman summed up the evidence.
          The Jury retired for about half an hour, and then returned with a verdict for the plaintiff – Damages, 200l. (London Evening Standard)

Sunday 25 June 1848

“THE SATIRIST.” – THE DUKE OF BRUNSWICK v. CISLEN – This was another action brought by the Duke of Brunswick to recover compensation in damages from the defendant, the publisher of the “Satirist,” for the publication of two libels – the first on the 3rd of November, 1843, and the second in March, 1848 – imputing “congeniality” with the notorious murderer Hocker, that he was in the habit of committing a nameless offence, and that he had something to do with the murder of Eliza Grimwood. The same libels have been repeated from time to time, and Barnard Gregory, and persons named Pepper and Pearson have from time to time been punished for them, either in the shape of imprisonment or verdicts in money. – The Duke of Brunswick, who, as usual, conducted his case in person, read a long speech to the jury, in which he went through nearly all the libels that have appeared on him in the “Satirist,” and stated that although he had recovered large damages he had never received a halfpenny, either in damages or costs. – Mr. H. Brown appeared for the defendant. He admitted he published the papers, but denied that he was the proprietor. Considering that so many parties had been punished, he thought the smallest amount of damages would be sufficient. – The jury found a verdict for the plaintiff – Damages, 1,500. (Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Libels against the Duke of Brunswick, 1840s", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 5 August 2016, expanded 8 November 2016 <>.

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