Indecent Print used as Evidence, 1845

Saturday 13 December 1845

At the Borough Police Court on Thursday morning last, Mr. Wm. Sharpe, M.A., (a gentleman well known in Cambridge, and of whose perfect sanity some serious doubts have been entertained) and a young man named Henry Long, were charged by Henry Green, parish constable, with creating a disturbance.
          CLERK: I hear you have a charge to make against Mr. Sharpe; is that true, Long?
          LONG: I have no charge to make against Sharpe. We are both charged with creating a disturbance.
          HENRY GREEN, examined: Last night I was sent for to go to Mr. Sharpe's residence, at Mrs. Hewitt's, in King-street; I went with several neighbours, and found the two defendants quarrelling. Mr. Charpe charged Long with having struck him, and Long admitted he had done so, and justified himself by saying, that Sharpe had been taking indecent liberties with him; he had done so two years ago; likewise a week back, and also that very evening had incited him to commit an unnatural offence, and showed him an indecent print. Long told him (Green), in the presence of Sharpe, that if he (Long) went last night, Mr. Sharpe said he would pay him some money for a widow: Long went for the money, when Sharpe again attempted the offence.
          SHARPE: I am in an unfortunate position. I have put my case in Mr. Justinian Adcock's hands, and he is not here to defend me.
          Mr. BAYS). – Why, have you not put your case in my hands?
          SHARPE: You know nothing about it.
          Mr. BAYS: I don't want to defend you.
          Sharpe then placed himself against the witness (being rather deaf), the better to hear him.
          Examination contined: Long said, "I have to settle a reckoning for your conduct towards me two years ago, when I was not able to defend myself;" he said Sharpe had attempted the crime a week ago, and he had a good mind to thrash him then, only he thought he had better wait until he got the money for the widow.
          Lond: Have you the print in your possession which told you Mr. Sharpe showed me?
          Green: Yes, I have it here.
          Long: Show it to the magistrates.
          Mr. SKRINE (looking at the print): Do you consider this an improper print, Long?
          Long: I do.
          Mr. SKRINE: So do I; I never saw a worse.
          Sharpe: Did you, Mr. Green, go and take that print from my house after I was gone?
          Green: I went and took it from your room, when you were locked up at the Station-house.
          Sharpe: Very well – that suffices – you are subject to an action at law, and I shall certainly enter one.
          Long: About two years ago –
          Sharpe: Really, two years ago! what can that have to do with the present case?
          Long then gave a detail of the case, which was very disgusting, and the recital of which Mr. Sharpe treated with great levity, and frequently laughed. "But," said Long, "I do not wish to gain an unenviable notoriety by appearing as prosecutor in such a case; I have shewn him up in his true character, and my purpose is answered."
          Sharpe: You have stated your facts, and I wish them to stand as they are.
          Long: If I were in your case I should not like them to stand as they are.
          Sharpe then asked for his picture, but
          The CLERK interposed, saying "the showing of such a print was an indictable offence."
          Green: Then I shall keep it, seal it up when I get home, and produce it upon being called upon to do so.
          The BENCH: Quite right.
          Mr. SKRINE: Long, you were perfectly justified in your conduct – any man with common feeling would have done as you did. The case is dismissed.
          There was a crowded Court to hear the above disgusting details, and at the conclusion of the examination, Mr. Sharpe very wisely did not leave the Hall, but hid himself in the Aldermen's Parlour, while the crowd, with wonderful patience, waited a considerable time on the Market-hill to greet his appearance. About two o'clock the self-made prisoner, tired of his loneliness, determined to adopt a ruse, and prevailed upon a person to supply him with a ladder, and he was about to descend at the back; but the huntsmen had kept a sharp look out, and seized the ladder, and he had just time to jump into the window again; at length he rushed from the back way, and the view halloa being given, off flies the crowd: finding himself hard pressed, he darted into the shop of Mr. Creek's, but he kicked him out, and the chase was again renewed, and poor Sharpe having arrived at the front of the hall, dashed into the Boar's Head, and was once more safe under cover. He was there carefully locked up, and the crowd after waiting round the door, hooting and groaning till nearly four o'clock, quietly dispersed, and when darkness came on, Sharpe took an opportunity of returning to his home, and from thence we hear proceeded to the railway station, and went off by the seven o'clock down train. (Cambridge Independent Press)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Indecent Print used as Evidence, 1845", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 18 December 2016 <>.

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