A Gay Meeting-Place in London, 1845

Monday 15 December 1845

MARLBOROUGH-STREET. – In the early part of the week a charge was brought to this court, and fully established, against two wretches named Thomas Lane, alias Brown, pretending to carry on the business of a tailor, at No. 119, Titchfield-street, and William Fletcher, a footman in the service of a respectable family. The daily papers, which were furnished with a short notice of the committal of the prisoners, omitted to publish the circumstance, in the belief that such a publication would not serve the cause of morality; but as there are circumstances connected with the charge which give reason to believe that many other parties ought to be included in the case, it may perhaps serve the cause of morality more advantageously if some particulars are given to the public. The prisoner Lane, under the name of Brown, has rented for some months a room in the upper part of the house, No. 119, Great Titchfield-street. Some of the lodgers having entertained suspicion against Lane, from noticing that persons of very respectable appearance called on Lane, and that six or seven men slept in the room, when there was only one bed, gave information to the police, and accordingly police-constables Morris, E 78, and Fowler, were set to watch the suspected party. The observations made by the constables induced them to take effectual means to arrive at the truth. The adjoining room was taken, and a portion of the partition cut away, so as to leave only the canvass wall between the two rooms. The constables were then enabled to hear the conversation between Lane, his lodgers, and his visitors; and there was evidence sufficient to show that the wretches assembled in the room for the most abominable purposes; and that in fact there was a regular gang resembling in its main features the notorious Vere-street gang. The constables on Saturday cut so much away of the wall as to afford them the means of immediate entry as soon as such a step became advisable. The other prisoner called in the evening, and after remaining a short time the constables were convinced, from the actions and words of the wretches, that the time was come to make their appearance. The canvass was instantly cut, and the police burst into the room, and captured them under circumstances that would admit of no doubt of their guilt. The constables searched the room, and found a quantity of women's wearing apparel. There were bonnets, gowns, false hair, ringlets, and other paraphernalia, which gave rise to the worst suspicions. The constables ascertained that Lane was in the habit of going out at night dressed as a woman. They also contrived to get hold of the names and addresses of many of Lane's visitors. Some of these were found to be of persons of station and property; one in particular, an independent single gentleman living in Bryanstone-square; another, a retired tradesman, living now at Brompton.
          It is needless to say that the prisoners were committed on the clearest evidence, and that the gang is, for the present, dispersed. (Evening Mail)

Sunday 28 December 1845

The following is a complete and correct return of the result of all the cases contained in the calendar of the recent Session:–
          To be imprisoned, and kept to hard labor for three years, and afterwards enter into recognizances for five years. – Thomas Lane, alias Brown, for a nameless offence. (The Era)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "A Gay Meeting-Place in London, 1845", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 22 November 2016 <http://rictornorton.co.uk/eighteen/1845meet.htm>.

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