The Writing on the Walls, 1843

Saturday 29 July 1843

William May, 30, threatening to accuse George Allen of having committed an unnatural offence. Acquitted. (Kentish Mercury)

Saturday 29 July 1843

William May was indicted for accusing George Allen of Broadstairs, with an unnatural offence, for the purpose of extorting from him the sum of 7s.
          Mr. Bodkin and Mr. Horn prosecuted; and Mr. Jones defended the prisoner.
          George Allen examined. – I am a builder, and also use a small portion of land at Broadstairs. Prisoner has been in my employ for five or six years, and was discharged in November last. About two years ago, I lent him 2, which he was to repay me in the following harvest, but did not do so. At the conclusion of harvest, last year, I stopped seven shillings from his wages in part of payment, and he now owes me 1 13s. On the 11th March last, prisoner called at my storehouse, between four and six o'clock in the evening, and I said to him "You villain, are you not ashamed to shew your face to me, after what you have said at the public house about me?" Prisoner replied, that he had never spoken disrespectful of me in his life, and had not been at the public house. Prisoner asked me if I would pay him the balance of his harverst money. I said that I would do no such thing. Prisoner then said, if I did not pay him, he would open his mouth. I replied that he might say what he pleased, but to speak the truth, and nothing but the truth. Prisoner stayed two or three minutes, and appeared to be sober. On the 15th I was taken into custody, and conveyed to the Margate station-house. On the Saturday I appeared, with others, before the magistrates, and was discharged. I know a person named Lawrence, who keeps a public house at Broadstairs, and who made a communication to me the day before I was taken into custody.
          Cross-examined. – I have lived at Broadstairs above thirty years, and have never been married. I have now two females in my establishment, and have always had one for twenty-five years, since I have been a housekeeper. I stopped the 7s., when I paid prisoner his wages, last harvest, at the latter end of September. He never complained of the stoppage until he was discharged from my service. He never asked me for the 7s. between September and November. While prisoner was in my service, I have seen my name chalked on the walls in Broadstairs, in the winter of 1841. I did not say to him, "Bill, can you keep a secret," nor any thing like it. I told him to rub off the writing from the walls, and I would pay him for it. He was to do it at night and early in the morning. I paid him 2s. a week, rubbing out the writing. I had a pony which the prisoner looked after, but the 2s. a week I will swear was not for that. I tried to discover who had written on the walls, but could not succeed. My name has been posted on the walls, at Broadstairs, for some years, and it may have been since 1818. I employed a person named Hill, a lawyer, in London to bring an action against a person named Fagg, but it was referred to some friends.
          Re-examined. – I had mentioned about my name having been written on the walls to my brother-in-law, Mr. Collard, and other persons. I have continued to live at Broadstairs since my name has been on the walls.
          Richard Lawrence examined. – I keep the Prince Albert public-house, at Broadstairs. Saw prisoner there on the 10th March, when he told me he had been to Mr. Trecothick, a magistrate, about Allen, and would do for him on Wednesday, if he did not pay him; he (prisoner) had been out of work for 15 or 16 weeks, and he could not stand it any longer. I have heard prisoner say several times that he could hang Allen, John Forwod, David Morris, James Wood, and Daniel Brown. Have heard prisoner repeatedly say if Allen had kept him in his employ he would not say anything against him.
          Cross-examined. – I told Allen what the prisoner had said on the following Monday or Tuesday. I carry on business as a stone-mason, in connection with my public-house. I have done work for Allen, and sometimes we had a dispute about the bill, but have not done so for the last twelve months. I had a dispute with him two years ago, about Fletcher's house. I never heard any person, except the prisoner, say that they ever saw Allen behave improperly.
          Mr. Boys, clerk to the magistrates, proved the signature of the Rev. Mr. Hodgson, the magistrate before whom the prison made a charge against Allen, of having assaulted a person named Brown, on the 12th June; and stated, in examination, that when Allen was brought before the magistrates in custody, the hearing was adjourned until the following Monday, when the evidence in support of it was gone into before the Rev. Mr. Hannam, — Hannam, Esq., W. Cooper, Esq., and Rev. G. W. Sicklemore; and at the conclusion of the examination Allen was discharged. Allen then preferred the present charge against the prisoner, who was committed for trial.
          Mr. Jones addressed the jury for the prisoner, and his lordship having summed up, they immediately pronounced a verdict of not guilty, and the prisoner was ordered to be discharged. (Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers' Gazette)

Tuesday 1 August 1843

[The summary of the case in another paper gives a somewhat fuller account of the cross-examination of George Allen:]
I have lived at Broadstairs above 30 years. I am a single man and have always been so. Have two females in my establishment – have never been without a female servant. The prisoner was a labourer in my employ. I have seen my name chalked up on several walls and houses in Broadstairs. I have never said to the prisoner "Bill can you keep a secret." I have given him orders to rub the chalk and the writings off the walls, and have told him to do it at nights and mornings, and I would pay him for it. He was about 3 or 4 months employed in rubbing them off. Have paid him 2s. a week for keeping the town clear of my name. The writings on the walls charged me with unnatural offences. They were written – "Adams the ——" and mentioned the names of four others. I tried by means of my friends to find out who wrote such things on the walls. I don't recollect now that I ever did employ any one at all to find out who wrote them. My name has been posted all over the town for some years – I think ever since 1818. I know Dick Hill, lawyer of London, whom I employed to see Richard Tagg, for charging me with such offences in 1819. I brought an action against Tagg at that time, which was never tried. I paid my own costs, which were under 199, I did not pay Tagg's. I did not charge Tagg with any thing till he was taken into custody. (Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given. (Many reports were repeated verbatim across several newspapers, but I have not included them all.)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "The Writing on the Walls, 1843", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 23 September 2016 <>.

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