Miscellaneous News Reports, 1844

Saturday 13 April 1844

James Haydon, schoolmaster, of Woodbridge, indicted for an unnatural offence, pleaded guilty to the minor charge of assault with criminal intent. – Mr. Gunning, for the prosecution, said, as the case had been left in his hands, and as there was some doubt as to proof of the capital offence, he thought it best not to offer any evidence on the capital charge, especially as the prisoner had pleaded guilty of the minor offence. – The Learned Judge directed an acquittal on the capital charge. In passing sentence, his Lordship observed that the prisoner ought to be very thankful, for most certainly had the capital offence been proved, it would have been his painful duty to leave him for execution. He hoped now he would repent of his sin to God, and endeavour to become a better member of society. The prisoner was sentenced to 2 years' imprisonment with hard labour. (Suffolk Chronicle) (The Cambridge Independent Press for 13 April clarified that Haydon "was arrainged on three counts; two of which were for committing unnatural offences upon boys placed under his care, and the third, to which he pleaded Guilty, was for assaulting another boy with intent to commit felony.")

Wednesday 1 May 1844

A respectably-dressed young man, named George Chaloner, who described himself as a clerk, residing in Swinton-street, Gray's-inn-road, was charged with attempting to incite another person, not in custody, to the commission of an unnatural offence.
          The prisoner was committed, but bail to the amount of 400l. was accepted for his appearance at the Old Bailey. (Evening Mail)

Friday 17 May 1844

NEWCASTLE. – . . . Emanuel Esscher, a hawker, was committed for trial at the sessions, for an attempt to commit an unnatural crime on the person of John Crako, a joiner. (Newcastle Courant)

Wednesday 3 July 1844

John Tanner, aged twenty-four, a sweep, and "one of the fraternity of ranters," was found guilty of assaulting John Simpson, a boy aged 13, with intent to commit an unnatural offence, and sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment. – The learned Recorder, in passing sentence upon him, said he had been found guilty of an offence at which humanity shuddered, but which was fortunately of very rare occurrence in this county, and was the first of the kind that had been tried before a Shrewsbury Jury, and he hoped it would be the last; it was fortunate for him he had not been tried at the Assizes for the capital offence, or his life would, most probably, have been forfeited. (Eddowes's Journal, and General Advertiser for Shropshire)

Friday 5 July 1844

JOSEPH MARSHALL (31), was charged with having, on the 19th of June, assaulted James Anderson, with intent to commit an unnatural crime; and being found guilty, was sentenced to 6 months' hard labour in the house of correction.
          EMANUEL ASSCHER (37), a foreigner, was charged with having, on the 16th of May, assaulted John Craig, jun., with intent to commit an unnatural crime. Mr INGHAM was for the prosecution, and Mr GRANGER for the defence. Craig is a young man, at lodgings with a Mrs Baxter, of Westgate-street, and had been requested by her to allow the prisoner to sleep with him on the night in question, and, consenting, he retired to rest. Early on the following morning he was disturbed twice, and thinking the latter time that he was assaulted by the prisoner, he went and got a policeman and had him taken into custody. A statement which the prisoner made to the policeman seemed to bear in favour of his plea that he was not guilty; for the jury returned that verdict, after it had been dwelt upon by the counsel for the defence. (Newcastle Courant)

Friday 26 July 1844

A case of a painful description has been the subject of investigation before the Hull Magistrates. A middle-aged man named Daniel Storey, house-servant for the last 24 yars to Lady Brignall, of Horkstow Hall, near Barton-upon-Humber, was on Monday, and again on Tuesday, examined in the Magistrates' private room, and on the latter day committed for trial at the next assizes, on a charge of having committed an unnatural offence. (Stamford Mercury)

Saturday 10 August 1844

COMMITMENTS. – To the County Gaol and House of Correction, in this town, Esau Keut, charged with having assaulted Jeremiah Godbold, of Metfield, with intent to commit an unnatural crime. (Suffolk Chronicle)

Saturday 17 August 1844

AN INCORRIGIBLE BEAST. – A man named Bartlett, a private soldier of the 55th Foot, was indicted at the last assizes for an unnatural offence of the most disgusting character, and had a very narrow escape, being acquitted, much to the surprise of many in the court. This day this fellow was committed for a similar offence. (Kentish Independent)

Thursday 22 August 1844

Edward Standing, 57, and James Taylor, alias William Starkie, 21, were indicted for having committed an abominable crime, at Bury, in May last. The Jury returned a verdict of acquittal for both prisoners. (Gore's Liverpool General Advertiser)

Friday 23 August 1844

At the Central Criminal Court on Tuesday, Geo. Middleditch, a private in the Coldstream Guards, was tried for endeavoring to extort money from Major General Thackeray, under a threat of charging him with an unnatural offence. He was convicted, and sentenced to be transported for life. (Stamford Mercury)

Saturday 24 August 1844

ATTEMPTED EXTORTION. – George Middleditch, aged 29, soldier, was indicted for accusing Major-General Thackeray with attempting to commit an unnatural offence, with intent to extort money. – On the evening of the 20th June the prisoner, who was dressed in uniform, being a guardsman, accosted the general in Hemmings row. He spoke in a whisper. The general desired him to go away, but he persisted in following, and after several turns the general found a policeman in the Regent circus, to whom he attempted to give the prisoner in charge. The prisoner, however, gave him in charge instead, alleging that the general had taken an indecent liberty with him. The magistrate dismissed the charge against the general, and the soldier was indicted for perjury, but subsequently the more serious charge was preferred. It appeared that the prisoner had made a similar charge against a person named Williams, in the month of July, last year. – Some witnesses, including a sergeant of the Coldstream Guards, gave the prisoner a very good character. – The jury instantly returned a verdict of Guilty. – The Recorder then sentenced him to be transported for life; at the same time informing him that the sentence would not be carried into effect until his counsel had had an opportunity of laying some technical objections before the judges. (The Examiner)

Saturday 7 December 1844

Lieutenant Stokes, of the Tartarus, was accused of an unnatural crime by a boy of the same vessel, and though the most convincing proofs that can be adduced in cases of this nature were brought forward, the captain and officers testifying to the moral and religious principles and gentlemanly bearing of the accused; the evidence of the surgeon being entirely in his favour; even the prosecutor admitting that there was a prejudice amongst the crew against him on account of his being a "smart" officer – a prejudice which the youth had openly given vent to by declaring he would "do for him;" and to crown all, the boy being proved to be a bad character, and unworthy of credit; yet, in the face of all this, the lieutenant was found guilty, and sentenced to be – dismissed the ship! "Most lame and impotent conclusion!" If there were any defect in the evidence, to the benefit of that the accused was entitled. If not, why hesitate to award the sentence in full? (The Examiner)

Wednesday 18 December 1844

The commission for this county was opened by the Worshipful the Mayor of Durham . . . The number of prisoners in the calendar is twenty-six . . . [including] two (one of whom is a gentleman possessed of considerable resources) with an unnatural crime . . . (Morning Post)

Friday 20 December 1844

(Before Mr. Justice COLERIDGE.)
Joseph Southwell Stokes, aged 54, and William Peters, aged 19, were severally charged with having, at the parish of Sunderland, committed an unnatural crime. Another indictment charged the former prisoner with having, at the same parish, assaulted William Baker, with intent to commit an unnatural crime.
          When the prisoners were placed at the bar and the case was about to commence, Stokes applied to his Lordship to have it postponed for a short time, as he expected additional legal assistance from London.
          Mr. Justice COLERIDGE asked him what legal assistance he expected.
          Stokes replied, that he had written to Mr. Woodroffe, his solicitor in London, directing him to engage counsel, but leaving the choice to his own discretion.
          Mr. Justice COLERIDGE asked if he had received any answer from his solicitor?
          Stokes replied that he had not; but he was convinced that he would be here by the next train.
          His LORDSHIP asked if the prisoner had instructed his solicitor to fee counsel? Was he aware that a counsel would not come from town for les than 300 guineas?
          Stokes said, he had instructed his solicitor.
          Mr. GRANGER said, that he held a brief for the prisoner Stokes, and that his learned friend, Mr. Otter, had been instructed to defend Peters.
          Stokes said that he had seen one brief for the defence, and that it contained a tissue of falsehoods. When he told his solicitor (Mr. Roberts) that he was determined to have such falsehoods erased, the only reply he could get was, that it was necessary for his defence.
          His LORDSHP said, that he could not allow the case to be delayed. The prisoner had no cause for complaint, as he had already obtained the services of two of the senior members of the circuit.
          The case was then proceeded with, and the first witness (Baker) was under examination by Mr. Temple, who conducted the prosecution, when Mr. Humfrey, of the Midland Circuit, accompanied by Mr. Woodroffe, the solicitor, entered the court.
          His LORDSHIP read over the evidence, which had up to this time been adduced, and after a short consultation between the counsel,
          Mr. HUMFREY said, that he would assist Mr. Granger with his advice, but that he would take no part in the case, as it could not be in better hands.
          The case then went on, but the facts that were elicited are of course unfit for publication. It depended principally upon the evidence of the man Baker himself, a person of infamous character.
          At the close of the case, and after the summing up,
          The Jury Acquitted the prisoners.
          Stokes, who it was said had been a lieutenant in the navy, and was possessed of a little property, addressing his Lordship, said, – I have to move, your Lordship, that the person who has prosecuted me (Baker) may be detained, that I may prosecute him.
          Mr. Justice COLERIDGE. – Go away, Sir! The less you say about that the better. Take the man away, officer.
          The other indictment was not proceeded with. (Evening Mail)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given. (Some 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.), "Miscellaneous News Reports, 1844", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 7 November 2016 <http://rictornorton.co.uk/eighteen/1844news.htm>.

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