Miscellaneous News Reports, 1849


Thursday 21 December 1848

INFAMOUS CASE. – A middle-aged man, who gave his name James Cooper, and said that he was a servant out of place, was charged with having indecently assaulted a young man, named Walter Houghton, with intent to incite him to the commission of an unnatural offence.
          The evidence which was gone into occupied the attention of Mr. Broughton upwards of an hour and a half, and the conclusion ultimately come to by the magistrate was, that it was a case which he felt bound to send before a jury.
          The prisoner, who asserted his innocence, was therefore committed for trial; but was given to understand that good bail would be accepted for his future appearance – himself in 40l., and two sureties in 30l. each, with twenty-four hours' notice. (Morning Post)

Tuesday 27 February 1849

MAGISTRATES' CLERK's OFFICE, Feb. 22. – Before T. Sanctuary, Esq., and C. S. Dickens, Esq.
          James Burstow, shoemaker, was charged with writing a letter to Pewter Harridan, also a shoemaker, threatening to accuse him of an unnatural offence, unless certian articles or tools used for the purpose of making shoes were given him to purchase his silence. The letter was written in June last, and a warrant at the time issued against prisoner, but he was not apprehended till this week. Evidence having been given tending to establish the charge, prisoner admitted writing the letter, and said he must have been out of his senses at the time.
          He was committed for trial to the next Sussex Assizes. (Sussex Advertiser)

Wednesday 21 March 1849

HEREFORDSHIRE ADJOURNED SESSIONS.
George Cooke, 19, labourer, was indicted for stealing, on the 26th January last, a silver watch, the property of James Jones. The facts divulged in the course of the tedious investigation of this case were of a most disgusting character, and may be very briefly disposed of. The prisoner admitted the charge, but attempted to justify his conduct on the ground that the prosecutor was indebted to him for maintaining secrecy with respect to a nameless offence which he (prosecutor) had committed when sleeping together some time previously; he had, however, he said, no intention to keep the watch. The Chairman said he had never known a more disgraceful case, and he should feel it his duty to disallow the prosecutor his expenses. After a few minutes consultation, the jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty. (Hereford Journal)

Friday 30 March 1849

LOUTH.
POLICE. – At the Police-office, on the 21st inst. (before J. B. Sharpley, Esq., Mayor), Benjamin Dawson, a bricklayer, was charged by William Dawson, a dealer in second-hand goods, of Eastgate, with stealing a sovereign, which he stated he had given to prisoner to fetch a quart of ale for dinner. The accused stated that the sovereign was given to him by the complainant to spend in drink, and that he had that morning committed an assault upon him in the yard of the Wheat Sheaf Inn, with intent to commit an unnatural offence. – Upon hearing this statement the complainant became so much agitated that he must have fallen to the ground but for his convulsively clutching the bar for support. An attempt had been made to compromise the matter, and the complainant would not have appeared in court, but was sent for by the superintendent of police. – Case dismissed, complainant to pay costs. – The parties were then made to change places, and William Dawson was charged by Benjamin Dawson with having indecently assaulted him, with intent, &c., in the yard of the Wheat Sheaf Inn. The ostler of the inn was called to prove that the parties were in the yard together, but said he did not see anything of an improper nature take place. The Mayor, after a most severe admonition to the prisoner, on the disgusting and disgraceful nature of his conduct, said that the court did not think the evidence sufficient to send the case for trial, therefore it must be dismissed; but still the court held its own opinion of the conduct of the prisoner on this and former occasions. (Hull Advertiser)

Friday 30 March 1849

LOUGH BOROUGH POLICE, March 15, before J. B. Sharpley, Esq., Mayor. – . . . Benj. Dawson, a bricklayer, was charged by William Dawson, a dealer in old books, second-hand goods, &c., of Eastgate, with stealing a sovereign, which he stated he had given him to purchase some ale for dinner. The accused, however, gave a very different version of the affair, and stated that the complainant had that morning indecently assaulted him in the yard of the Wheat Sheaf inn. Upon hearing this statement, the complainant became so much agitated that the perspiration poured from him in streams, his knees knocked together, he gasped for breath, and must inevitably have fallen to the floor had it not been for his convulsively clutching the bar for support. An attempt had been made to compromise the matter, and the complainant would not have appeared in court, but was sent for by the superintendent of police: the case was dismissed, and the complainant ordered to pay costs. – The parties were then made to change places, and Wm. Dawson was charged by Benj. Dawson with having indecently assaulted him in the yard of the Wheat Sheaf inn, with intent, &c. The ostler of the inn was called to prove that the parties were in the yard together, but he said he did not see anything of an improper nature take place. The Mayor, after a severe admonition to the prisoner on the disgusting and disgraceful nature of his conduct, said that the court did not consider the evidence sufficient to send the case for trial, therefore it must be dismissed; but still the court held its own opinion on the conduct of the prisoner on this and former occasions. (Stamford Mercury)

Thursday 26 April 1849

UNNATURAL PRACTICES.
Donald Fraser, from the parish of Kilmonivaig, was accused of a series of unnatural offences, committed in that neighbourhood, and extending over a period of four or five years. The prisoner pleaded guilty to the 6th charge in the libel, that of an attempt, and
          Lord Mackenzie, in a few strong words, showing that had the confession been made to a major charge, the sentence must have been one of death, passed sentence of transportation for ten years.
          (The prisoner, an old and very grey-haired man of apparently between fifty and sixty, is known as a "Latter-day Saint," or Mormonite. He was in the habit of going about the country preaching, disguised somewhat like a Jew, with a long dirty beard, and it was only on a close inspection that the identity of the preacher and the prisoner could be discovered. He came into Court with a crouching gait, and scarcely raised his voice above a whisper while pleading. He has frequently held forth from Clachnacuddin stone.) (Inverness Courier)

Tuesday 24 April 1849

INVERNESS SPRING CIRCUIT.
Donald Fraser, from Glengarry, charged with sodomy, or attempt to commit sodomy, and with other libidinous and indecent practices, pled guilty to the attempt to commit the more serious offence, and was sentenced to ten years' transportation. (Banffshire Journal and General Advertiser)

Friday 8 June 1849

CHELMSFORD PETTY SESSION, JUNE 1.
A young man named George Jones was charged with an indecent assault on William Mansfield, a youth of rather weak intellect in Chelmsford union house, of which they were both inmates. – The prisoner was remanded for a week. (Chelmsford Chronicle)

Friday 15 June 1849

George Jones, who was remanded for the indecent assault on a youth in the union-house, was brought up. The Chairman said the witness was not thought of sufficient intellect to be examined in the case, and he was therefore discharged. It was stated the guardians had resolved not to admit the prisoner into the union-house again. (Chelmsford Chronicle)

Wednesday 18 July 1849

DUDLEY – DISGUSTING CHARGE.
PRESTON, William, 33, boatman, was indicted for the perpetration of an unnameable offence, at Dudley, on the 7th May last. Mr. Best prosecuted, and Mr. Huddleston defended the prisoner.
          Three witnesses, named Chilton, Holder, and Davis, gave evidence confirmatory of the charge, the two first having witnessed the unnatural act.
          Mr. Huddleston delivered a long and an ingenious speech for the prisoner, suggested of the improbability of the offence being committed, as in this instance, in a public situation, and the probability of the witnesses themselves having been deceived.
          His lordship, however, in summing up, told the jury that if they were to be guided by the evidence they could but be satisfied of the guilt of the charged party.
          The jury returned a verdict of guilty, and sentence of death was recorded against the prisoner. (Worcestershire Chronicle)

Thursday 26 July 1849

INDECENT ASSAULT. – On Tuesday, John Anthony, apparently a labouring man, was brought up before T. Henney, T. Pilkington, and G. Sehonswar, Esqrs. charged with an indecent assault upon a young man named Charles Dodwell. It appeared in evidence that the prisoner met Dodwell, to whom he was a perfect stranger, on the Tewskesbury road, the previous evening, and invited him into the White Lion public house to have some beer. The assault complained of was committed in the tap room, no other parties being present. The details are unfit for publication. The prisoner denied the offence, said he was in drink, and that the young man never complained of anything until they rose from their seat to come away. The magistrates considered a case of common assualt clearly proved, and they determined to find the prisoner in the full penalty of 5. In default of payment the prisoner was committed to Northleach for two months. (Cheltenham Chronicle)

Saturday 28 July 1849

KENT SUMMER ASSIZES. (Maidstone)
John Campbell, 46, and Henry Campbell, 15, were indicted for an unnatural offence, at Bexley. – Mr. Smith conducted the prosecution, and Mr. Charnock appeared for the prisoners. – Two witnesses were called who gave the prisoners a good character. – The jury returned a verdict of Guilty. – Sentence of death recorded. (Kentish Independent)

Tuesday 31 July 1849

JAMES RILEY, 20, seaman, pleaded guilty to a charge of having committed an unnatural offence, at Sholden. – Sentence of death was recorded. . . .
          JOHN CAMPBELL, 46, and HENRY CAMPBELL, 15, tailors, for an unnatural offence, at Bexley. – Mr. Smith prosecuted, and Mr. Charnock defended the prisoners. – Sentence of death was recorded. . . .
          JAMES LEE, 18, was charged with an unnatural offence, at Orpington. – Bill ignored. (South Eastern Gazette)

Thursday 16 August 1849

MARLBOROUGH-STREET.
SHAM REGISTER OFFICES. – William Jenkins, the keeper of an office, No. 2, Saville street, Marylebone, for the ostensible purpose of supplying servants out of place with situations, was charged with having indecently assaulted a German lad, named Gaspar Bochaton.
          The complainant said he advertised in one of the morning papers for a situation as page. He received a letter in reply, requesting him to call at the office kept by the prisoner, when he would be informed of a place that would suit him. He went on Tuesday afternoon to Saville-street, and there saw the prisoner, who took him into a back room. The prisoner told him he must pay half-a-crown down, and half-a-crown more when he got the place. Witness said he would prefer paying the five shillings when he obtained the situation. The prisoner then approached him, and conducted himself in a manner so as to excite witness's disgust. Witness was leaving the place, when the prisoner followed him into the passage, and acted so grossly, that witness opened the door and ran into the street. The prisoner came after him and told him to call the next morning and he would give him the address of a gentleman who wanted a servant. Witness seeing a policeman, gave the prisoner into custody.
          The prisoner denied the charge, and said there were persons in the shop all the time who must have witnessed everything that passed in the back room between himself and the lad. The charge was trumped up against him because the lad was not satisfied with the terms on which he did business.
          The prisoner then called a witness, who said he was present in the shop all the time. The back room was entered by a door which had a window in it. Witness saw the prisoner and the boy in conversation, but did not hear what was said. He did not see any act of indecency towards the boy.
          Horsford, one of the Mendicity Society's officers, who happened to be in court, came forward and recognised the witness.
          Inspector Hannant, of the D division, said the prisoner had formerly been deputy-gaoler at Brixton, and had been sentenced to 7 years' transportation for robbing his master. The prisoner had also suffered 12 months imprisonment for an indecent assault. The prisoner had recently opened a register shop in Great Titchfield street, but had afterwards removed to Saville-street. The office was a sham office. In two instances witness knew that money was obtained from servant girls, and they received directions to call for situations at houses which turned out to be uninhabited.
          The inspector also made further disclosures of the purposes to which sham register offices were applied.
          Mr. Hardwick fined the prisoner 5l. or two months imprisonment for the assault, and in addition directed the police to look after the goings-on of a gang of persons in the neighbourhood of Marylebone-street. (London Daily News)

Thursday 16 August 1849

CHELTENHAM POLICE NEWS.
CHARGE OF INDECENT ASSAULT. – On Friday, a man named William Wood was brought up before T. Henney, T. Pilkington, and G. Schonswar, Esqrs. charged with indecently assaulting a youth named Stephen Page, on the previous night. The details are unfit for publication; but it may be stated that the parties were drinking together at the Shakespeare public house, and that Wood paid for the beer. When they left, at Wood's request, Page accompanied him towards Lower Alstone, and the assault complained of was committed on the road side. Page attempted to hold the prisoner with a view to call a policeman, when the latter struck him and ran away. Page then went for a policeman, and after finding the prisoner, gave him in charge. The prisoner's defence was that the complainant had overstated the case, that he was equally guilty if anything wrong had taken place, and that he (prisoner) had previously befriended him by giving him money and clothes. The magistrates considered the case too serious to be dealt with summarily. The prisoner was therefore committed for trial to the sessions. It was agreed to accept bail for his appearance at the sessions, himself in 100 and two sureties in 50 each. (The prisoner, it appears, during the night, while confined in the station house, made two attempts on his life, but was prevented by the officers on duty.) (Cheltenham Chronicle)

Saturday 15 September 1849

GRAVESEND POLICE COURT.
Robert Randall was placed at the bar, charged with attempting to commit a felonious assault on Benjamin Cooper. Both parties were strangers in the town. Police-constable Marsden stated that on Tuesday morning a person named Cooper came to the station house and laid an information that he had been indecently assaulted at Rowe's lodging house during the night, and requested that an officer would go there and take the offender into custody. He (Marsden) went to Rowe's, but found the man had left. The complainant and witness then went to the Ferry-house, and the complainant pointed out a man in the ferry boat as the offender; witness then went to the Town Pier, hired a boad, and crossed to the Essex side, and there took the prisoner into custody; and on his bringing the prisoner to the station house, Cooper preferred the charge against him. The defendant had a black eye, which it appeared he had received from the complainant, who administered to him a sound thrashing for his beastly conduct. The complainant was not present to prefer the charge, but it was believed he was deterred through fear from attending, he having been assaulted by the prisoner's brother. The bench remanded the case until Friday, and directed the officer to endeavour to find out the complainant, and assure him that he might depend upon the bench rendering him every protection from the violence of the prisoner's friends, if he would come forward and substantiate the charge against the prisoner. (Kentish Independent)

Saturday 27 October 1849

GREENWICH POLICE COURT. – TUESDAY.
Mr. Hugh Mill, of Dane Park, Lee, was charged with indecently assaulting William Preddy, a shoemaker, of church Street, Deptford. It appeared that the assault complained of took place in London Street, Greenwich, about eight o'clock on the previous evening; the prisoner who was tipsy at the same time, using most disgusting language. The prisoner, through his solicitor, expressed the utmost contrition for his conduct, alleging that he was so drunk that he did not know what he was about. It appeared that the pristoner had been six times before the court since April last. – Mr. a'Beckett said that after the many times the prisoner had been convicted for drunkenness, it would be absurd to inflict a penalty upon a person in his situation of life, he should therefore commit the prisoner to the House of Correction for seven days, and was sorry the law would not allow him to give a longer term of inprisonment. The prisoner pleaded hard for an alteration in the sentence, but without avail. (Kentish Independent)

Saturday 8 December 1849

Correspondence.
THE CHURCH ESTABLISHMENT.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE VINDICATOR.
Sir, – Permit me, through the columns of your influential and widely-circulated journal, to unmask a few specimens of this costly and pernicious aristocratic institution of the country – the state church. . . .
          The cases of clerical criminals have become rather plentiful of late. The Rev. J. Jones, the adulterer; the Rev. Dr. Bowes, who seduced his gamekeeper's wife; the Rev. Mr. Marsh, son of the late Bishop of Peterborough, whose affair with the prostitute will be fresh in the memory of the readers of trials in the courts of justice; the Rev. Arthur Loftus, another extensive dealer in prostitutes. The Banner of Ulster, of 23d November, 1849, gives us another specimen of a rev. adulterer, &c. &c. These do not speak well for the morality either of the church which breeds them or of the system which tolerates their continuance as ministers of the Gospel. The next is no less a personage than the Right Rev. Father in God, Percy Jocelyn, Bishop of Ferns, uncle to the present Earl of Roden. According to Cobbett, we find, in 1811, James Byrne, a coachman in the Jocelyn family, asserted that this Protestant bishop attempted to commit an unnatural offence on him. Byrne was imprisoned and brought to trial as a criminal; that at this trial the aforesaid bishop declared, on his oath, that Byrne charged him falsely. Byrne was sentenced for this alleged libel, proved on the oath of this bishop, to two years' imprisonment, and three times publicly whipped, and to give bail for life in 500 himself, and two sureties in 200 each. This bishop was, after this, promoted to be Bishop of Clogher, and made a Commissioner of the Board of Education. This same Protestant bishop, in the year 1822, again stood charged, on the oaths of seven witnesses, of an unnatural offence. 500 was taken as bail for this reverend father in God, with two sureties in 200 each (charged on the oaths of seven witnesses with such an enormous offence). The bishop finally fled from trial. This bishop's income was about 15,000 a year; and yet are we to believe that it is a holy religion the fruits of which we behold in these worthy sons of the church. Certainly the people owe no love to the bishop class. Whenever a hard law is to be devised for the poor, the bishops are always ready to support it. When the bill for the abolition of negro slavery was proceeding through the House of Lords, the bishops gave it all the opposition they could. . . . (Weekly Vindicator)


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, 1849", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 24 Octobder 2017 <http://rictornorton.co.uk/eighteen/1849news.htm>.


Return to Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England