Miscellaneous News Reports, 1848

Saturday 8 January 1848

The undermentioned prisoners were sent from the Greenwich Police Court:–
          Two fellows named Jenkins and Wells, the former a butler and the latter a blacksmith, residing at Lewishman, charged for a nameless offence were tried. Wells was acquitted on account of its appearing the police held out a promise if he stated certain things, but the scoundrel Jenkins was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment. (Kentish Mercury)

Saturday 11 March 1848


William Baker, 71, labourer, was charged with having on the 27th of July, at Chenies, unlawfully committed an unnatural crime. The principal witness in this case was a young man 26 years of age, of Broadwater-bridge, near Chesham. The particulars are too disgusting for publication. His Lordship stopped the case, and directed the jury to acquit the prisoner.
          James Farrall committed on the 26th of February last, charged with felony. The principal witness in this case was a lad named Brooks, of Wycombe, 17 years of age, a prisoner in Aylesbury gaol; and the prisoner at the bar, who was respectably dressed, at the time the offence was stated to have been committed, was one of the warders at the New Gaol. The particulars which transpired are disgusting and totally unfit for publication. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty. (Windsor and Eton Espress)

Saturday 18 March 1848

The Court again opened this morning at nine o'clock. It had been arranged that to-day should be set apart for the trial of offences, the particulars of which are unfit for publication, and, owing to the great number of these upon the calendar, they occupied the attention of the Court until it broke up. Sentence of death was recorded against a young man, named John Brooks, who was found guilty of an unnatural crime, committed at West Bromwich, in September last; but in most of the other cases of a similar nature the bills were either ignored, or a verdict of not guilty was returned. (Birmingham Journal)

Saturday 18 March 1848

Mr. Justice Cresswell took his seat at nine o'clock this morning, and nearly the whole of the day was occupied with cases of an abominable and most disgusting nature [some of which seem to involve bestiality], the details of which are totally unfit for publication. The first was that of
          FRANCIS BENNETT, indicted for an unnatural offence on the 29th of August last, at Henbury. Mr. KYNNERSLEY conducted the prosecution; and Mr. WOOLRYCH defended the prisoner. Direct testimony was given by an eye-witness of the commission of the offence. The prisoner received a good character from two individuals; but the evidence being conclusive and indisputable, the jury returned a verdict of guilty, and the learned Judge ordered judgment of death to be recorded against the prisoner.
          BENJAMIN AUSTEN was indicted for an abominable offence upon the person of William Smith, on the 26th of February, at the parish of Whittington. He was defended by Mr. WOOLRYCH; Mr. HUDDLESTONE conducting the prosecution. The offence was stated to have been perpetrated at the house of the prisoner's master, Mr. Greenough, a farmer and blacksmith; the prosecutor, a boy 15 years of age, having been sent there a few days previously to look after the cows. Medical evidence was adduced to prove the injuries received by the prosecutor. The learned JUDGE, in summing up, referred to some discrepancies in the evidence, and the jury, after a lengthened consideration, acquitted the prisoner.
          JOHN BROOKS (on bail) was indicted for an unnatural offence on the 7th of September last, at Westbromwich. Mr. HUDDLESTONE conducted the prosecution: Mr. KETTLE defended the prisoner. A policeman, named Denston, positively deposed that he saw the offence committed in a field near the old church at Westbromwich, about half-past eight in the morning, and he immediately took the prisoner into custody. Mr. KETTLE addressed the jury, and called three witnesses, whose evidence tended to impugn the veracity of the policeman. Mr. HUDDLESTONE then addressed the jury in reply to the evidence for the defence: and after a very clear summing up by the learned JUDGE, the jury found the prisoner guilty, and judgment of death was recorded against him.
          GEORGE WALKER, charged with an unnatural offence, on the 11th of October last, at Wigginton, was acquitted.
          JOHN MYLAN was charged with an unnatural offence on the 6th of October last, at Bushbury. Mr. KETTLE conducted the prosecution; Mr. COOKE EVANS defended the prisoner. The evidence offered on the part of the prosecution, appeared conclusive as to the prisoner's guilt; nevertheless the jury were some time in considering their verdict, and eventually retired, another jury being empanelled to proceed with the trial of prisoners. After the lapse of 20 minutes they again came into court, and returned a verdict of guilty, when the learned Judge, in the usual form, ordered judgment of death to be recorded against the prisoner. (Staffordshire Advertiser)

Saturday 1 April 1848

BEDWELLTY. – George Miller, aged 30, was charged with "a nameless offence," on the 19th Dec., in the parish of Bedwellty. – Mr. Richards prosecuted, and Mr. Skinner defended the case. The details were of a most disgusting nature, and wholly unfit for publication. The Grand Jury ignored the bill for the capital offence, and returned a true bill for a misdemeanour. The jury returned a verdict of guilty against the prisoner, who was sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment, with hard labour. (Hereford Times)

Saturday 5 August 1848

Samuel Gregson (aged 31, and a quiet-looking man) was charged with having wickedly and feloniously, on the 27th of June last, at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, committed an unnatural crime. – Mr. Denison conducted the prosecution, and Mr. Flowers the defence. – This case occupied the Court a considerable period, but the particulars of the evidence were unfit for publication, being of a most disgusting character. The witness, on whom the proving of the case rested, (a man named Hood,) gave his evidence in a very loose manner, and refused to answer several questions put by his lordship and the learned counsel for the defence. Witnesses were then called for the defence, who deposed that Hood had stated in their hearing, that he would unsay all he had said for 5 – that he would not hurt a hair of prisoner's head "if they would come out well" – and that "he would go for that side by which he could get the most money, as he must get enough to keep him during the next winter." – His lordship, in summing up, commented very severely on the conduct of Hood, but said that the jury could not acquit the prisoner without convicting Hood of a much more serious offence than even the one with which he (prisoner) was charged. It, however, rested with them to consider if they could believe a single word that witness had stated. – After deliberating a few minutes, the jury acquitted the prisoner. (Leicestershire Mercury)

Saturday 5 August 1848

This was an action for defamation, by imputing to defendant an infamous action.
          Mr. Evans opened the case. His client was a farmer, at Hempnall, and defendant was a labourer. In May last defendant made the charge, in which he persisted. The action was brought to recover compensation in damags for defamation of character. The report was traced to defendant, who had inputed to plaintiff an unnatural offence; he refused to give up any author, to offer any apology, or make any retracation [sic], and he now asked the jury for damages, not that defendant could pay them, but to shew their sense of the innocence of plaintiff.
          William Riches, innkeeper, at Hempnall, proved that the plaintiff, whom he had known 30 years, was a respectable farmer in Hempnall, and had filled several parochial offices. On the 28th of May last, defendant came to my house and told me he had heard that morning that plaintiff had been guilty of an unnatural crime, the character of which he named. Defendant said it forty times, and always said he had it from Mr. Doyley, his master, and that he would swear it before 100 magistrates.
          Mr. Palmer for defendant offered to make the most ample apology.
          The Judge said the evidence did not support the first count in the indictment.
          Witness said he asked defendant if he would put his charge into writing. He assented, and a Mr. Thrower, his brother in law, wrote it, and defendant put his mark to it.
          Cross-examined by Mr. Palmer – Defendant came into my house about five o'clock, and remained till nine or ten o'clock. I went and told Riches what defendant said, and he asked me to get him to write it, and then I got Thrower to write it. I told Mr. Riches of it some time in the course of the week.
          Isaac Thrower, labourer, in the employ of plaintiff, residing at Hempnall, said – I know defendant. On Sunday, the 28th of May last, I saw him at the Swan public house, where he made the charges before mentioned.
          By Mr. Palmer – Defendant said his master, Mr. Doyley, had told him of it that morning.
          By the Judge – He did not always say Doyley had told him so: sometimes he omitted the name of Doyley.
          James Thrower, carrier – I was sent for one Sunday evening to the Swan, at Hempnall. A book was brought out, and Roberts asked me to write. I don't know who told me. There was a muddle, and I wrote what I was told. I won't say positively if the writing now produced is in my hand; it is very much like it. All were talking. I never remember reading over the paper to defendant, nor explaining to him what was in it. Can't say if Goose was drunk or sober. He talked more like a drunken than a sober man.
          Mr. Mendham, attorney for the plaintiff, said he had called on defendant in June last, and asked him to give up his author. He denied that her had ever used Doyley's name.
          By Mr. Palmer – Did not write to defendant.
          Mr. Palmer offered the most ample apology, which was refused by Mr. Evans, who required 40s. damages and costs, which the former would not assent to. He then proceeded to address the Jury in imitigation of damages. He wuld not for a moment impute any thing to Mr. Riches. What was said took place at a public house on a Sunday night, and there was but one witness who could say what was the state of the house. They were in a disorderly state. No imputant whatever attached to the chacracter of the plaintiff.
          Verdict for plaintiff, 40s. damages. (Norwich Mercury)

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, 1848", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 30 April 2017 <http://rictornorton.co.uk/eighteen/1848news.htm>.

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