Newspaper Reports, 1842

Saturday 26 February 1842

WILLIAM WHATOFF, of Vine-street, Shoe-maker, was placed at the bar, charged on seven different counts, with attempting to extort money from J. Lawton, sen., J. Lawton, jun., and J. Abell, threatening in case of refusal that he would accuse them of sodomy, was committed to the Assizes. (Leicestershire Mercury)

Wednesday 2 March 1842

CHARGE OF AN INFAMOUS ASSAULT. – An elderly man, of respectable appearance, who gave his name as Thomas Malone, and stated that he resided in Tallaght, was yesterday brought in custody of the police before the magistrates of this office, charged with having attempted to commit an unnatural offence upon the person of a young man, named John Smith. A warrant had been out since Wednesday last for the apprehension of the prisoner, who was arrested on Monday night.
          The prosecutor, a young man, aged apparently about 19, and who, though decently attired, appeared to belong to the humbler class, having been sworn, deposed that he resided in Chancery-lane. On the night of Tuesday week, as he was passing through Dame-street, near Crampton-court, he was accosted by the prisoner, who, pointing to a certain house in the court, asked him had he ever been in there. He (prosecutor) replied that he had not, whereupon the prisoner solicited him to enter the house (which is a tavern) and take some refreshment there; the prosecutor consented, and they accordingly both entered the house in company, and drank each a glass of porter. They left the house together, and the prisoner said to his companion – "Come, now, take up with me for this night, that I may not lose sight of you, and in the morning I will procure an employment for you." He (prosecutor) assented, and they both repaired to a tavern in Fleet-street, where, having drunk a tumbler of punch, they retired to bed in a room up stairs, it being at the time about eleven o'clock. It was in the course of the night, and while both parties were thus located that (as the prosecutor alleged) the infamous assault was attempted, the details of which are, of course, utterly unfit for publication. The prosecutor averred that as soon as he could effect his escape from the prisoner, who was very violent, he leaped out of bed, put on his clothes, and running down into the street, told all to the constable of the bate [sic], whom he requested to enter the hosue, and take the prisoner into custody; but the constable, considering that in doing so he would be outstepping hs duty, refused to take the charge. The prosecutor then went to the station-house, but the charge was refused there by the acting inspector, who told him that his only legal means of proceeding was to state the circumstances of the case to the police magistrates, and beg of them to grant a warrant for the apprehension of the prisoner. He accordingly applied as directed, upon Wednesday morning, and the magistrates granted a warrant, upon which the prisoner was arrested in his bed on Monday night.
          A man named Edward Hayden was next examined, and stated that he occupied a bed in the same room (which was a large one) with the prosecutor and the prisoner, who, however, had taken possession of the room before he entered, and of whose presence he was not aware until, after having lain for some time, he saw Smith leap out of the bed, and run to the window. Witness remarked to him that it was a fine night, and requested him to put aside the shutter. Smyth [sic] replied, hurriedly, "it is;" and, complaining that he had been ill used by the prisoner, he darted down stairs.
          Mr. Lorenzo Keogh cross-examined both witnesses, and raised a question as to the character of the boy Smith. He implored the magistrates to recollect how often it had happened that highly respectable men had been arraigned upon such an atrocious charge, but who afterwards were proved innocent; and reminded them that in London and Paris there were wretches who carried on an infamous traffic by accusing guiltless persons in this dreadful manner.
          The prisoner protested his innocence.
          The magistrates, after a long deliberation, considered it the better course to dispose of the case in a summary manner, and accordingly fined the prisoner in the largest sum permitted by the law.
          The fine was paid, and the parties left the office. (Freeman's Journal (Dublin))

Saturday 5 March 1842

Correction. – In our report of the Borough Sessions last week, it was stated that William Whatoff was charged with extorting and attempting to extort money from John Lawton, sen., J. E. Lawton, jun. and J. Abel, under a threat of accusing them of sodomy. This was incorrect, as referring to Mr. Abel, the letter which he received, having no reference to the crime above-named, but threatening personal violence, stating that unless he sent 2 addressed to the Post-Office before the following Sunday, he might expect to be robbed or murdered. (Leicestershire Mercury)

Thursday 17 March 1842

WEDNESDAY. – This morning Mr. Justice Erskine entered the Court at 9 o'clock, when John Froom, 21, was placed at the bar, charged with the commission of an unnatural crime, on the 4th of August last, at Colyton. The details of a trial of this nature are wholly unfit for the public eye; it must therefore suffice that on clear evidence he was convicted; and after an eloquent, feeling, and admirable address from the Judge, sentence of death was recorded against him. – The prisoner will be transported for life. – Mr. Elliott conducted the prosecution. – Attorneys, Messrs. Townsend and Stamp, Honiton. The prisoner, who wept bitterly and audibly as the Judge addressed him, was undefended. (North Devon Journal)

Saturday 19 March 1842

THREATENING LETTERS. – Richard Bates was placed at the bar under the following circumstances:– A gentleman residing in Newgate-street, deposed that he received a letter of a most disgusting nature, stating that a report was in circulation in the Borough respecting the character of a witness, and imputing to him an unnatural offence. The letter went on to state, that if the witness would communicate with the writer, he would devise means for the suppression of the report. In consequence of this, the witness sent for an inspector of police, and showed him the letter; and he advised witness to answer it, which he did, and addressed it, as directed in the letter, "to be called for at the Post-office, High-street, Borough." The letter was left at the Post-office, and directions given to the Postmaster to give the person who called for it into custody. On Monday evening, about a quarter past seven o-clock, the witness was sent for by the postmaster, and, on his proceeding to High-street, Borough, he found the prisoner in custody. The man was then taken to the station-house.
          John Green, an assistant at the Post-office, High-street, Borough, deposed that the prisoner came on Monday night and inquired for the letter in question, when witness gave him into custody.
          The prisoner, in his defence, said that he knew nothing about the letter; he had been requested by a person to call at the Post-office and ask for a letter that was lying there.
          The policeman who took the prisoner into custody, stated that several letters of the same nature as those received by the prosecutor were found upon him.
          The prisoner was remanded. (Reading Mercury)

Saturday 19 March 1842

WILLIAM WHATOFF, 19, charged on six different counts with writing letters to Mr. J. E. Lawton, Jr. and J. Lawton, sen., with a view of extorting money, threatening that if certain sums were not sent, he would accuse him of an unnatural crime. To five of the counts charging him with writing threatening letters to J. E. Lawton, saying that he would accuse him of an unantural crime, unless he sent certain sums therein mentioned, the prisoner pleaded Guilty. To an indictment charging him with writing a letter of a similar character to Mr. J. Lawton, sen., he pleaded Not Guilty, as also to one charging him with writing a letter to Mr. John Abell, Savoy-gate, threatening if he did not send 2 he would rob or murder him before Sunday night. The prisoner called W. Crextall, framework-knitter, who said that he had known the prisoner for ten years, and knew nothing against him; John Harris, shoemaker, also gave him a good character. Mr. W. Robinson, innkeeper, and Thomas Jeffries, and Joseph Hitchins, framework-knitters, also spoke to the prisoner's character. The Judge in addressing the prisoner, said that the testimony of the witnesses as to the previous character of the prisoner, he had no doubt was correct, as this matter had been carried on in secret, and if there had been the slightest doubt as to the prisoner's guilt, he must have yielded some little to the character which had been offered for the prisoner; but when he bore in mind the number of the transactions, in which he had been concerned; and that at no distant time, threats of this kind were deemed of so atrocious a nature that – by a sort of fiction of the law – it was entitled highway robbery; because it was thought worse to use threats of this kind that to rob a man by force. – When he thought of the effect such a charge as that threatened by the prisoner must have on the unhappy person who was threatened with it, he felt that he could not consistently with the performance of his duty, do otherwise than make an example of the prisoner, and punish him with the utmost severity the law would allow for, short of murder, he did not know a worse offence. It was the murder of character, which to a man of honor and fine feelings was dearer to him than life. He felt it his duty, notwithstanding the age of the prisoner, to transport him beyond the seas, for the term of his natural life. (Leicestershire Mercury)

Tuesday 5 April 1842

Daniel Schofield, 21, was given in charge for having, at Middleton, falsely accused one Henry Moores of having committed an unnatural crime, with intent to extort and gain a new suit of clothes from the said Henry Moores.
          Dr. BROWN conducted the case for the prosecution; Mr. WILKINS defended the prisoner.
          The details were unfit for publication, and, after part of the evidence had been gone through,
          His LORDSHIP said that mere vulgar abuse seemed to have been used, and that there did not appear to be any distinct effort made to extort.
          The prisoner was thereupon acquitted.
Thomas Cheatham was given in charge for having committed an unnatural crime with John Hilton.
          The prisoner was acquitted. (Liverpool Mail)

Friday 8 April 1842

Jacob Stack, 48, was indicted for the commission of an unnatural crime at Stockport, with a person unknown in the month of February, 1841. The Attorney-General and Mr. Townsend, were for the prosecution, and Mr. Trafford for the defence. The case was one of the most revolting character, but not being clearly proved the prisoner was acquitted. (Chester Chronicle)

Saturday 9 April 1842

Daniel Scholefield [sic], aged 21, was charged with having, at Middleton, accused Henry Moore of having committed an unnatural crime, with intent to extort property from him.
          Dr. Brown prosecuted; Mr. Wilkins defended.
          The details of this case are totally unfit for publication. The prisoner, it was alleged, had accused Moore, and declared he would press the accusation unless a suit of clothes were given to him.
          It was stated by Dr. Brown in his opening, that a person named Cheetham, who was named by the prisoner as a participator in the crime against Moore, had been taken into custody since he had been before the grand jury, on charge of having really committed such a crime some time ago.
          His Lordship said, according to the state of the law, it did not matter whether the offence alleged had been actually committed or not. If there were any charge to be made, it should be made before a magistrate, and not urged with the intent of extorting money.
          It appeared that the accusation had been mere vulgar abuse. Under the direction of his lordship the prisoner was acquitted.
          Cheetham was subsequently placed at the bar charged with the abominable offence alluded to. The case broke down, the evidence being insufficient to sustain the charge. The jury acquitted the prisoner. (Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser)

Saturday 9 April 1842

Abel Ashworth, an old man aged 74 years, was charged with having committed an unnatural crime. The evidence was unfit for publication, and the prisoner was committed for three months. (Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser)

Wednesday 13 April 1842

William James Leatherdale, a man respectably dressed, was charged with an unnatural offence; and was found guilty of a misdemeanour. There was another charge of a similar nature against the prisoner; of this he was also found guilty. Sentenced to 2 years' imprisonment. Leatherdale was the proprietor of one of the larget general shops in Blakeney.
          Edmund Rocked, aged 19, charged with an unnatural offence, was also convicted, but recommended to mercy on account of weakness of mind, and was sentenced to 6 months' imprisonment. (Bury and Norwich Post)

Saturday 16 April 1842

William James Leatherdale, charged with having committed an indecent assault on a lad named Parker, with intent to commit an unnatural crime, and with another like assault upon another lad, was convicted and sentenced to two years' hard labour. (Norfolk Chronicle)

Thursday 28 April 1842

On Sunday evening a prisoner in the county gaol, named Henry Wood, under sentence of two years' imprisonment for an unnatural offence, died in a state of great debility and mental suffering. An inquest was held on Monday, before W. S. P. Hughes, Esq., when, from the evidence of Mr. Woodward, surgeon to the gaol, it appeared that the deceased's debility had been induced by feelings of extreme remorse at his crime. Deceased was a labourer, aged 34, and had resided at Bengeworth, near Evesham, previously to his committal. Verdict, "Died by the visitation of God." (Worcester Journal)

7–9 May 1842

The defendants in this case were convicted of having committed an unnatural offence in Kensington-gardens about noon in the most public part of the grounds and in the view of numerous persons. The defendant Rowed having now been brought up for judgment.
          Mr. THESIGER and Mr. CLARKSON, in arrest of judgment, took some objections to the technical form the indictment.
          The ATTORNEY and SOLICITOR-GENERAL, with Mr BONKIN, appeared upon the part of the Crown.
          The COURT were unanimously of opinion that the allegations of the indictment were not sufficiently precise, and the judgment was therefore arrested and the defendants discharged. (Evening Mail)

Monday 20 June 1842

Henry Johnson, aged 29, a shipwright, was found guilty of an unnatural offence, and sentence of death recorded against him.
          This is the second conviction for crimes of this nature during the present session. (Evening Chronicle)

Saturday 25 June 1842

John Gray Hudson (52), for assaulting and attempting to commit an unnatural crime against John Scales, a boy between 12 and 13 years of age. – Guilty. – The Learned Recorder said, as the prisoner had been at the bar 30 years before on a charge of assaulting a girl of tender age, he should commit him to the gaol of this borough for 18 months' hard labour. (Suffolk Chronicle)

Tuesday 5 July 1842

HENRY WATSON, 17, WILLIAM LANGRIDGE, 16, for attempting to commit an unnatural crime at Leigh. – Fourteen days' hard labour. (South Eastern Gazette)

Saturday 16 July 1842

Thomas Mitchell, aged 16, labourer, charged with having, on the 4th July instant, at Stoke Poges, committed an unnatural crime, was found Guilty, and Death recorded. (Bucks Gazette) (For his fate, see report below for 1 October.)

Friday 15 July 1842

MATTHEW ASHLEY was found guilty of an unnatural offence at the union workhouse, Oundle, and sentenced to 3 years' imprisonment and hard labour. (Lincolnshire Chronicle)

Saturday 16 July 1842

Mr. Justice ERSKINE took his seat in the Crown Court precisely at eight o'clock this morning, when the first case was that of
FRANCIS HAZELL, 51, charged with having, on the 30th of April last, at the parish of Chieveley, committed a certain felony.
          The disgusting nature of the facts deposed to in this case, renders them totally unfit for publication. The prisoner was clearly, convicted on the evidence of a man named Webb, of an unnatural offence, of the most revolting character.
          His LORDSHIP then said:– Prisoner at the bar. If the object of human laws was, that offenders should be visited with punishment for mere punishment's sake, in a spirit of vengeance for the crimc committed, there could be no reason why the extreme sentence of the law should not be carried into effect with respect to you. But that is not the object of human punishment. God has said, "vengeance is mine," and it is to Him that you will have to answer for the dreadful offence of which you have been convicted. The object of human laws is to prevent in others a repetition of the offence for which the culprit is to be punished, and were the crime that you have committed of an ordinary description, it would have been necessary, for the purposes of justice, to hold you out as an example and a warning to others, by inflicting upon you the punishment of death – the penalty of which the Legislature of the land still attaches to offences such as your's; but, happily for you, they are held in so much abhorrence and disgust by the community at large, that it is hardly requisite to take steps to prevent their recurrence. It is only necessary, therefore, that I should record sentence of death against you; but, though your life will be spared, you will be sent out of this country to work hard for the remainder of your days in chains and slavery, and while there you will have an opportunity of looking into the foul state of your own heart, and imploring the pardon of that God whose mercy is extended even to such wretched sinners as yourself, where penitence and contrition really exist. The learned Judge then sentenced the prisoner to transportation for life. (Reading Mercury)

Saturday 23 July 1842

          Robert Lovell was indicted for attempting to commit an unnatural crime. He was detected in the mist of the morning committing the offence. He was seized and led away to the magistrate, who immediately committed him. A bill was prepared without delay, and preferred to the grand jury, who were not discharged, and who closed their labours by finding a true bill. Upon this indictment he was then arraigned, tried, and found guilty, and sentenced by the court to two years' imprisonment. This is a somewhat rare example of speedy justice. (The Examiner)

Saturday 30 July 1842

JOHN GOULD, a servant of R. Peake, Esq., of Horley Court, was charged with committing an unnatural crime, at Instow, on the 10th June. His Lordship, observing there was no prosecutor in this case, said it was quite impossible that he could be expected to prosecute in cases of this description. The prisoner was charged with a capital crime, and it was more particularly his Lordship's duty to watch the evidence in order to determine what degree of credibility could be attached to the testimony of the witnesses, as against the prisoner; he was, therefore, determined not to conduct the prosecution. The prisoner was defended by Mr. Rowe. The details are of course unfit for publication. The only witness was Jas. Champion, a fellow servant. The prisoner was a married man, with two children. The evidence was very strong, clear, and direct: the offence was alleged to have been committed on a Friday, but the witness did not give information until the Monday following. After a very ingenious and able defence from the learned counsel, and a most careful and elaborate summing up by the learned Judge, the jury desired to be allowed to retire, and they were locked up accordingly.
          Another jury was then empanelled, but they had not been sworn in when the former jury returned. The foreman being challenged in the usual manner, prounced a verdict of not guilty. (Western Times)

Saturday 30 July 1842

Mr. William Thos. Elder, who holds a high official situation in the Ordnance Department at the Tower, has been held to bail in 1200l., for an unnatural offence. (Gloucestershire Chronicle)

Saturday 13 August 1842

William Smith and Henry Jenkins were, on the clearest evidence (which is of course wholly unfit for publication), convicted of an unnatural offence, committed in the parish of St. Philip and Jacob, in the city of Bristol. His lordship, after dwelling upon the horrible and disgusting nature of the crime, said, that though the lives of the prisoners would be spared, they would be transported to one of her Majesty's most penal settlements, and would pass the remainder of their lives in a state of dreadful slavery. (Bristol Mercury)

Saturday 27 August 1842

JOHN CAMPBELL (30,) was charged with having, on the 17th Day of June last, at Bradford, committed an unnatural crime. Mr. HARDY was for the prosecution; the prisoner was undefended. Two of the witnesses were absent, and their recognizances were estreated. The prisoner was acquitted.
          ROBINSON TAYLOR (37,) was charged with having, on the 2nd of July last, at Great Driffield, committed an unnatural crime. Mr. ARCHBOLD appeared for the prosecution; and Mr. WILKINS for the defence. – Guilty. Death recorded. (Sheffield Independent)

Friday 16 September 1842

Yesterday a commission of lunacy, which occupied several hours, was opened before Mr. Commissioner F. Barlow, and a jury of fifteen gentlemen, . . . to inquire into the state of mind of Major Andrew Michell Campbell, of the East India Company's Service.
          . . . Mr. Charles James Beverley was first sworn, and said he was a surgeon residing at the Grove, Hackney, and was the medical attendant at Whitmore House, Dr. Warburton's Lunatic Asylum. He first saw Major Campbell there on the 23d of December, 1841. He was brought by his brother, Dr. George Gunning Campbell, and Dr. Andrews, and placed in the asylum as a patient udner a proper certificate. Since that period he had seen and been in the habit of conversing with Major Campbell daily, and had ample opportunities of judging of his state of mind. He is occasionally excited, and very violent, and entertains various delusions. His principal delusion was, that there were automaton figures all over the place worked by wires, and which pinched and worked up the muscles of his face, and compelled him to swear. That he was under the influence of invisible agents, situate in the ceiling of his apartment, up the chimney, and elsewhere, with whom he held constant conversation. He also believed himself under the influence of galvanism.
          . . . By the direction of the Commissioner, the unfortunate gentleman was introduced to the jury. He is apparently about 50 years of age, of very tall and dignified appearance, and walked to the seat which had been appointed for him without the slightest embarrassment.
          Mr. Commissioner Barlow – Major Campbell, you probably have been informed of the nature of the present inquiry?
          Major Campbell (with slight hesitation) – Oh, yes. It is for the purpose of ascertaining if I am in a sound state of mind and capable of managing my own affairs; and I beg to inform you that I consider myself perfectly capable of doing so.
          . . . Examination of Mr. Beverley resumed. – In conversations I had with Major Campbell, he would declare that his invisible agents informed him that I had the power of setting him at liberty, and when I informed him that I had not, he said the invisible agents told him to say it was a —— lie. Major Campbell paid a visit to his brother, Mr. Alexander Campbell at No. 55, Devonshire-street, Portland place, on the 16th of July. On his return he told me he had not seen his brother, but an automaton. I informed him on the 8th of this month of the present inquiry. I have two or three notes from him on the subject.
          The three notes were here put in and identified as the handwriting of Major Campbell; they were written in a very unintelligible manner, and declared that he was not mad, but had been guilty of a most horrid offence in India, and was condemned to be burnt for it. That the automaton figures compelled him to swear, and that he hoped they would take him before a magistrate. Whilst these were being read,
          Major Campbell said these were mere memorandums from himself to Mr. Beverley, and were not intended for the inspection of the public eye.
          Mr. Beverley resumed – He would frequently declare that he had been condemned to death for an unnatural crime, and wished me to bleed him to prevent his being burnt. Sometimes he would admit Dr. Campbell was his brother, and at others call him a swindler and a coachman. That morning, in a conversation with Major Campbell, he said that he had seen all that I had been saying written in gold letters in the shop windows. It is my opinion that Major Campbell is incapable of managing himself or his affairs, and has been so from the 23d of Sept., 1841.
          By Mr. Jennings – Major Campbell is not so violent as he was, but his delusions are as great as ever.
          Major Campbell – What do you call the house I have been placed in?
          Witness – A lunatic asylum.
          Major Campbell – Had you ever seen me before I was brought to that lunatic asylym?
          Witness – Never.
          Major Campbell – You never saw me act as a lunatic, nor had I any feelngs of lunacy about me until brought into that house. My state of mind has been induced by being placed in a mad-house. . . .
          [After further evidence and discussion,] The Court was cleared for the jury to consult, and in about ten minutes the Court was again opened, when the foreman, Sir J. T. Hasler, delivered a verdict – "That Mr. Andrew Michell Campbell is of unsound mind, and incapable of managing his affairs, and has been so since Dec. 23, 1841."
          The jury added that they entertained strong feleings as to the Major's opinion that his state of mind was the consequence of confinement in Whitmore House; . . . they did not intend by the verdict to cast any imputation on the character of Witmore House. (Morning Post)

Saturday 1 October 1842

On Monday morning last, the 26th Sept., the following convict was removed from Aylesbury Gaol on board the Justitia Hulk at Woolwich, viz., Thomas Mitchell, convicted at the Summer Assizes, 1842, of committing an unnatural crime. Transportation for life. (Bucks Herald)

Saturday 1 October 1842

At the Bucks Summer Assizes [see report for 16 July above] a youth, only sixteen years of age, named Thomas Mitchell, who was convicted of committing unnatural crime at Stoke Poges, and had sentence of death passed upon him, which was afterwards commuted to transporation for life, was on Monday last removed from Aylesbury gaol and conveyed to the Justitia convict hulk at Woolwich. (Windsor and Eton Express)

Saturday 3 December 1842

The number of capital sentences in the last year [1841], including one for returning from transportation, which was not capital at the time of conviction, were 80, viz., Murder, 29; attempts to murder, 6; sodomy, 7; rape, 26; burglary,5; robbery,8; riot and felony, 7; and feloniously returning from transportation, 1. Of these 80 persons sentenced to death, 10 were executed, 9 of them for murder, and 1 for an attempt to murder, where life was seriously endangered. Three executions for one offence took place in Yorkshire, two in Middlesex, and one in each of the counties, Chester, Norfolk, Salop, Stafford, and Wilts. By an act passed in 1841, but which did not take effect until after the conclusion of the assizes, capital punishment was abolished for two of the above offences – rape and felonious riots, which will reduce the probable future number of capital sentences annually to between 40 and 50. The magnitude of the recent changes in the criminal laws will be strongly exemplified, when it is stated that, had the offences tried in 1841 been tried under the laws of 1831, the 80 capital sentences which were passed last year would have been increased to 2172. (Sheffield Independent)

Saturday 24 December 1842

Previous to the customary business of the court being gone into, a case of unnatural crime was heard in private, or rather at the upper end of the court, from which the public were excluded. The details, if heard, would of course be unfit for publication. The prisoner, John Gillis, was fined 5 for a common assault, and in default of payment committed for two months. (Sheffield Iris)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1842", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 29 July 2016 <>.

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