Newspaper Reports, 1850s

15 March 1850

The assizes for the county and city of Lincoln will be opened on Saturday, . . . There are in the county-jurisdiction 34 persons for trial, who stand in the calendar as follows:– . . .
          Thomas Dredge, 56, charged with sodomy on the person of Wm. Johnson, at Holbeach, on the 24th August. (Stamford Mercury)

15 March 1850

MONDAY. – Before Mr. Justice Parke.
Sodomy at Holbeach.
THOS. DREDGE, 56, was charged with having, on the 24th Aug. Carnally known one Wm. Johnson. Mr. Miller conducted the prosecution. The horrible offence was most distinctly established, the details occupying the court for a considerable time. Very shortly after the commission of the crime, the perpetrators were accosted on the road by the parties who had been compelled to witness it: Johnson immediately asconded, and he has not since been heard of; and the prisoner, who is a travelling chair-bottomer, was apprehended two months afterwards, at the Bottle and Glass inn. In defence, he protested that he was drunk at the time, and knew nothing of the matter with which he was charged. – The Jury, after a very short consultation, pronounced him guilty. – In passing sentence, the Judge observed that the prisoner would understand by the intimation that judgment of death was recorded, that his life was forfeited: still he thought it consistent with his duty to recommend the case for consideration by the Secretary of State, so that his life might be spared, but undoubtedly he would be for ever removed from the country which he had disgraced by his horrible and wicked conduct. (Stamford Mercury)

20 December 1850

George Goddard and Thomas Whittaker were found guilty of sodomy, and sentenced to be hanged. (Hull Advertiser)

13 December 1851

Of the prisoner to be tried at the Yorkshire Winter Jail Delivery, commencing on Saturday, the 13th of December . . .
          Robert Armstrong charged with the commission of an unnatural crime at Wilsthorpe, near Bridlinlgton.
          . . . Thomas Beaumont, and William Garnett, charged with having, on the 5th inst., at Huddersfield, committed sodomy. . . .
          Wm. Wilson, charged with having, on the 19th of November, at Burton-cum-Walden, committed an unnatural offence. (York Herald)

13 March 1852

Two villainous looking scoundrels, privates in the Royal Marines, named William Simkin (35 impl,) and William Cartmel (20 imp.), were indicted for having committed an unnatural offence at Chatham. The charge was committed in their quarters at Chatham. The evidence clearly brought home the offence, and the jury almost immediately found the prisoners guilty.
          Mr. Petersdorff (with Mr. Rose), conducted the prosecution, and Mr. Charnock defended the prisoners.
          His Lordship said it would be waste of time to utter words to two such men, and after pointing out the enormity of their offence, directed sentence of death to be recorded against them, and if it pleased the crown to remit that portion of the punishment, the prisoners would be transported beyond the seas for the remainder of their lives. (Kentish Mercury)

16 March 1852

George Simkin, 35, Wm. Cartmell, 20, charged with an unnatural offence at Chatham. The evidence fully established the charge aainst the prisoners, who were found guilty: and sentence of death was ordered to be recorded against them.
          John Hadlow, 83, charged with an unnatural offence at Hern-hill. The jury found him guilt of an attempt, but recommended him to mercy on account of his age. Two years' hard labour. (Kentish Gazette)

12 April 1852

Henry Lee, 18, labourer, and Alexander Thompson, a very respectable looking man, who had been out on bail, were indicted for conspiring together for the purpose of committing an unnatural offence.
          There were several other counts in the indictment, charging the prisoners with indecent conduct in a public room.
          Mr. Bodkin prosecuted; and Mr. Serjeant Wilkins and Mr. Dearsley were for the defendant Thompson.
          Upon the indictment being read, Lee, with great alacrity, pleaded guilty to the whole charge, and Thompson, in a very calm and distinct manner, pleaded not guilty.
          Mr. Baron martin told Lee that as he probably was not aware of the seriious character of the charge against him, the better course for him to take would be to plead not guilty, and to be tried in the usual manner.
          After some slight hesitatin he pleaded not guilty.
          Mr. Serjeant Wilkins submitted that there was no evidence to support the first count in the indictment.
          His Lordship concurred.
          After some evidence unfit for detail, it was contended that the facts did not support the other counts, as it was not such a public exposure as the law required. It was a private room, and the two prisoners alone were present.
          The learned counsel for the defence cited "Rex v. Orchard," "Rex v. Webb," and "Regina v. Watson."
          After a short discussion, his lordship held the objection valid,a nd direct an acquittal.
          Mr. Serjeant Wilkins said that, had the case gone on, he was prepared to show most clearly that thompson was innocent, and that the affair was a plant between the police and the boy, his client that night having had too much to drink.
          The Mayor of Sumderland and nearly twenty other gentlemen were in attendance to speak to his high moral character. (London Daily News)

Saturday, 15 May 1852

A court martial was held on Wednesday, May 5, Colonel Bury, Royal Marines, president, for the trial of Alexander Hunter, privte 76th company, Royal Marines. First charge: For disgraceful conduct in his barrack room at Woolwich, on or about the 6th of April, 1852, in having attempted to commit an unnatural crime on the person of private James Grant, 68th company of Royal Marines, who was asleep in his bed next to him. Second charge: For highly insubordinate conduct, in having in the aforesaid barracks, on the day named in the first charge, refused to obey the lawful command of his superior officer, corporal Thomas Squire, 57th company of Royal Marines, when ordered by the said corporal to come out of private James Grant's bed, and at the same time having used most abominable, detestable, and disgusting language to the said corporal, then in the execution of his duty: such conduct being subversive of good order and military discipline. (Kentish Merchury and Home Counties Advertiser)

8 January 1853

Stowe. – CHARLES BLISS and JOHN GREEN were charged wiht an unnatural offence. Mr. Maunsell was for the prosecution, and Mr. Cockle and Mr. Flood for the defence. The case broke down, the evidence being insufficient to carry it to the jury. (Northampton Mercury)

26 May 1853

At the Borough Court, on Tuesday, a young man named John Holland, a joiner employed at the Phoenix Foundry, was brought up on suspicion of having, with another man who had escaped, committed an unnatural crime in the tunnel beneath the railway about one o'clock that morning, but as the legal proof was not sufficient to warrant the magistrates in committing the prisoner for trial for the offence, they imposed a penalty of 40s. and administered a suitable reprimand. (Bradford Observer)

8 July 1853

Joseph Joyce, a dwarf, an inmate of the Coton House of Industry, was brought up in the care of Mr. Church, Governor, when he stated that J. Wilcox, another inmate, had attempted to commit an unnatural crime upon him, on the 27th June last. –' The Court considered there was insufficient evidence to send him for trial, and he was committed to Coventry Gaol. (Coventry Herald)

30 July 1853

HENTLAND. – FELONY. – Joseph Wood, aged 31, labourer, was charged with having committed an unnatural offence on the 18th of June last. – Mr. Skinner appeared for the prosecution, Mr. Cooke for the prisoner. – The case, which was of a nature unfit for publication; rested upon the testimony of a man and a woman of doubtful character, who had gone to the place where the offence was alleged to have been committed, for an improper purpose; and nothing was said about the prisoner#'s conduct until certain reports had been raised about themselves. Their evidence was also of a very contradictory character, and his Lordship stopped the case, saying that he should be sorry to see a man convicted upon such evidence. – The prisoner was consequently acquitted, and the expenses of the witnesses were disallowed. (Hereford Times)

23 August 1853

ATTEMPTED SUICIDE. – On Monday morning, 15th instant, when Crispin Jessop, gaol keeper, went into the cell of a prisoner names Jones, he found him lying on the floor weltering in his blood. Jessop, with the utmost promptitude, procured medical attendance, and it was then discovered that the prisoner had made an attempt upon his life by lacerating his throat with a piece of flint. Although the wounds were not of a fatal character, the loss of blood was very considerable, and he being 76 years of age, doubts were entertainment at his recovery. He is in custody charged with an unnatural offence, and was to have been brought up for examination before the Bench on the morning of the attempt upon his own life. He has been an inmate of the Rye Union Workhouse for the last four years. (Sussex Advertiser)

30 August 1853

At the sitting of the Magistrates on Monday, the 22nd inst. William Jones (the man noticed in last week's Advertiser as having attempted self-destruction), was committed to take his trial at the next Assizes at Lewes, for an unnatural offence. (Sussex Advertiser)

11 Novembeer 1853

GUILDHALL. – Charles Humphreys, an old man of sixty, was charged with endeavouring to extort money from the prosecutor by threats of a most heinous character. Mr. Simpson said he was managing clerk to a warehouseman, and lodged at 49, Baldwin's-gardens, Leather-lane. Yesterday morning the prisoner came into his room, and said he would notgo away until prosecutor became security for him, or got some friend to advance him 5l. Prosecutor declined, adn having dressed hiimself to go out, he came down stairs, followed by the prisoner, who continued to ap;ly the most offensive epithets towards him, until at length he called upon an officere to remove the prisoner. The officer, however, refused to interfere, and the prisoner still followed the prosecutor, accusing him all the time of having committed an unnatural crime, and otherwise abusing him, until they arrived in Newgate-street, when prosecuitor gave the prisoner into custody. The officer said he both saw the prisoner following the prosecuitor, and heard the language made use of as described by the latter. – The prisoner said that, about twenty-five years ago, the prosecutor was charged with a most disgusting and unnatural offence, and he (prisoner) became bail for him to the amount of 100l. – Sir P. Laurie said he would not act precipitately in this case, but remand it for further consideration; and as for that degraded man, the prosecutor, he hoped he would never show his face in that Court again, for it was impossible for any man to be guilty of a worse crime that that for which he had suffered. The prosecutor, who was apparently between the age of 60 and 70, buried his face in his hands during the agove revelation, and seemed plunged in the deepest affliction, but did not in the slightest degree, either by word or gesture, attempt to deny the prisoner's statement. (Globe)

13 November 1853

On Thursday, at Guildhall, Charles Humphreys, a man about 60 years of age, was charged with endeavouring to extort money from the prosecutor by threats of a most heinous character. Mr. Simpson said he was managing clerk to a warehouseman, and lodged at 49, Baldwin's-gardens, Leather-lane. On Wednesday morning, the prisoner came into his room, and, after complaining of the severity exercised in the poor house, where he had recently been staying, said he wanted money, adn wished prosecutor to assist him. Prosecutor told him it was not in his power to do so, and prisoner then said he would not go away until prosecutor became security for him, or got some friend to advance him 5l. Prosecutor declined, and having dressed himself to go out, he came down stairs, followed by the prisoner, who calle dhim a rogue and a vagabond, and accused him of being guilt of the msot unnatural practices. Prosecuitor walked some considerale distance, still followed by the prisoner, when the prosecutor gav ehim into custody. The prisoner said that, about twenty-five years ago, the prosecutor was charged with a msot disgusting and unantural offence, adn he (prisoner) became bail for him to the amount of 100l. The prosecutor got discharged, he believed, through strategem, and by feeing the parties prosecuting. But he was afterwards taken up again, and charged with another offence of the same abominable character. On that occasion he was convicted, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment in the House of Correction. Knowing these circumstance,s and feeling his own reduiced position, the prisoner applied to the prosecutor to become security for the loan of 5l., which he (prisoner) wanted to set him up again in the world. But as the prosecutor appeared unwilling to be security, prisoner reminded him of what he had done for him, and as he still refused to oblige him, he deteermined to make his character known to his employer. Sir Peter Laurie said he supposed the prisoner through himself an honest man; but he had acted a very dishonest part, adn nothing could justify him in raking up offences against a man, for which he had suffered the penalty of the law. It was not because a man had been guilty of the most enormous offence though outrage human nature that he should be therefore pursued through life; and he (the worthy alderman) could not countenance any attempt to extort money, particularly when such an accusation was made the groundwork of that attempt. Sir Peter Laurie said he would not act precipatetely in this case, but would remand it for further consideration; and as for that degraded man, the prosecuitor, he hoped he would never show his face in that court again,, for it was impossible for anmy man to be guilty of a worse crime than that for which he had suffered. The prosecutor, who was apparently between the age of 69 and 70, buried his face in his hands during the above revelation, and seemed plunged int the deepest affliction, but did not in the slightest degre,e either by word or gesture, attempt to deny the prisoner's statement. The prisoner was then removed, and the prosecutor, who seemed thoroughky enervated by the exposure, was assisted from the witness box, and ultimately left the court. The prisoner wass subsequently discharged. (Reynold's Newspaper)

13 November 1853

INFAMOUS ASSAULT. – Charles Beckenham, a well-dressed man, stated on the police-sheet to be of no occupation, and residing at 29, Tachbrook-street, Westminster, was placed at the bar before Mr. Long, charged with having indecently assaulted John Reynolds, a carman, wiht Intent to incite him to the commission of an unnatural offence. Complainant deposed that at one o'clock on the same morning, as he was proceeding with his master's waggon along the New-road with a load of hay, which he had brought from the railway station at Paddingotn, the prisoner came up to him, and thrusting his arm round his neck, kissed himseveral times, accompanying the act with indecent insinuations. He (complainant) went on with hiw aggon, when the prisoner, who kept up with him, took liberties with his person and gave him a shilling. In Praed-street complainant went into a coffee-shop, and prisoner entered also. They sat down together and had some coffee; and prisoner, while there, gave him other money, making in all 3s. 5d. When they came out prisoner repeated the kissing, and complainant then gave him into custody. A policeman proved seeing the prisoner kissing complainant. The prisoner denied the charge, and alleged that prosecutdor had robbed him of 12s. in a public house, and because he could get no more out of him he handed him over to the police. Mr. Long consdiered that the complainant had, according to his own showing, acted exceedingly wrong in suffering the disgusting behaviour to go on so long; and had the matter rested upon his evidence only he should have acquitted the prisoner. The act of kissing complainant had, howeve4r, been sworn to by a constrable, and he should therefore fine prisoner 5l. or two months. The penalty was speedily paid. (Reyunolds's Newspaper)

26 October 1856

THE CHARGE OF INDECENCY IN THE BOROUGH-ROAD. – John Marsh, an elderly gentleman, who has been more than twentuy years in the customs, surrendered at the Surrey sessions on Tuesday to take his trial for unlawfully and indecently inciting another man, whose name is unknown, to commit unnatural acts and practices. – The evidence entirely rested on the statement of two young men, named Fey, and Chappell, the brother-in-law. One of them said he left the other drinking in the Ship publoic-house, about nine at night, while he went to a place in the Borough-road. He said he saw the prisoner in an indecent position with another man, and he went and called his brothes, who also said they witnessed similar conduct. The other man ran away, and they followed the prisoner a long waiy round, and gave him into custody. – These witnesses were all severely cross-examined by Mr. Lilley, and their evidence was so contradictory and prevaricating, that the jury got up and stopped the case. They could not believe either of the witnesses. The old gentleman was at once discharged, and left the court with his friends. It is stated that it is his intention to proceed against the witnesses for attempting to extort money. (Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper)

21 April 1857

GUILDHALL. – Mr. Henry Jarvis, aged 50, who described himself as a bookbinder, of Red Lion-street, Clerkenwell, and Frederick Scott, aged 19, described as a labourer, were brought before Sir Chapman Marshall, charged with unlawfully committing an assault with intent to excite each other to the commission of unnatural acts and practices.
          Mr. Lewis, jun., attended on behalf of Mr. Jarvis, who was on bail.
          Robert Harper, 371, of the City police force, said he was on duty about one o'clock on the morning of Sunday last, when he heard a noise in the urinal in Bride-lane, Fleet-street, which induced him to proceed to the spot, when, with the assistance of his lantern, he saw the prisoners standing in a position which left no doubt on his mind that they were committing the offence they stood charged with. Mr. Jarvis' dress was disordered, and Scott, upon seeing wittness, separated from Mr. Jarvis, and unfastened his own dress as if for the purpose of using the place in the manner it was intended for. Witness stopped them as they were coming out and took them into custody. Scott readjusted his dress before leaving, but Mr. Jarvis did not do so until he arrived at the police-station.
          The witness underwent a most searching cross-examination by Mr. Lewis, who, however, failed in shaking his testimony in the slightest degree.
          Mr. Lewis then addressed the magistrate upon the merits of the case as it stood, and said this was one of those charged which was so easy to make and so difficult to rebut; and the position in which Mr. Jrvis was placed was one of the most awkward that any man could be placed in. In this case the policeman was the only witness, and as that which he had described as having taken place was only of momentary duration, it was more than probable that the policeman was therefore mistaken by the accidental contact of the clothes of the accused. At all events, he was sure the magistrate would observe the greatest caution in acting upon the unsupported testimony of one witness, and not convict Mr. Jarvis upon what was, to say the least of it, such a doubtful case. Much depended upon character in matters of this kind, and he was therefore prepared with witnesses of the highest rspectability to bear testimony to the good moral character of Mr. Jarvis.
          Sir Chapman Marshall said the officer had a good character during three years' service in the force, and he could not reject his evidence. He had decided upon committing both prisoners for trial.
          Mr. Lewis said perhaps the alderman would alter his decision if he heard Mr. Jarvis' witnesses.
          Mr. Martin, the chief clerk, said if they were examined, that evidence could not be returned with the depositions to the Central Criminal Court.
          Mr. Lewis said, under any circumstances, he would like the alderman to hear them.
          Mr. John Virtue, the managing clerk to Mr. James S. Arthur, publisher, of the City-road; Mr. John Bartholomew, a bood-edge gilder, of Red Lion-street, Clerkenwell; Mr. George Penston, an ironmonger, of the Walworth-road and Manor-road; and Mr. Edward Bliss, a goldsmith, of Clerkenwell, bore testimony to the high moral character of Mr. Jrvis, whom they had known for the last 18 or 20 years, and during that time had had ample opportunities of observing his conduct.
          Mr. Lewis asked the alderman if, after that evidence, he was still inclined to commit Mr. Jarvis?
          Sir Chapman Marshall said certainly, but he would accept bail for the prisoners in two sureties each of 50 each, and their own recognisances in 100 each.
          The prisoners were then formally committed to take their trial. Mr. Jarvis tendered bail, which was accepted, and he left the court with his friends. Scott was conveyed to Newgate in default of bail. (Morning Post)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1850s", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 17 August 2018, updated 11 November 2018 <>.

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