Newspaper Reports, 1854

24 February 1854

A surgeon named Whitehead, formerly practising in Sheffield, and just returned to that place from Australia, has been taken before the magistrates charged with attempting an unnatural crime upon Mr. Jas. Ironside, with whom he had been drinking dry brandy at the Railway hotel. Mr. Ironside beat his friend over the head with a brass candlestock until the blood flowed and the candlestick was bent, as he alleged, in defending himself from the attempt. The evidence presented such discrepancies that the magistrates could not commit upon it, but declared the entire affair to be disgraceful to all the parties. (Hull Packet)

18 March 1854

JOHN THOMAS (23, WELL) and WILLIAM HODSON (20, IMP.,) were charged with committing an unnatural crime at Lidford, on the 9th of September. Mr. Phinn prosecuted. The prisoners were convicts at the Dartmoor prison, and on the day in question a warder named Moorshead saw them in a position which led him to believe that the alleged offence had been committed. They were ordered to be placed in separate cells, and upon the governor going to them and taxing them with the offence Hodson asked him to have mercy upon him, for he was a guilty man. Thomas however, said he was innocent. They were found guilty and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. (Western Times)

1 April 1854

His Lordship in his address to the Grand Jury, said it would not be necessary to detain them long upon the present occasion, but . . . there were certain cases to which he must beg their attention. . . . There were two cases of lads, one 16, and the other 17 years of age, who were committed on a charge of an unnatural offence; and justly and wisely so, as it appeared to him. But after reading the depositions it seemed that there was nothing more than an attempt to commit the act. His Lordship then spoke of the impolicy in returning bills in such cases, for the grave offence, if the evidence only went to prove the attempt. With regard to the case of a schoolmaster, charged with acts of the most odious description to his scholars, he had put some directions in writing, thinking the provisions of the law, with regard to the difference of the attempt and the act, ought not to be promulgated publicly in that court. His Lordship having handed over the paper referred to, the Grand Jury retired to their room. . . .

Henry Bailey, 17, and Thomas Thatcher, 16, laborers, were indiced for unlawfully attempting to commit an abominable crime, on the 13th March last, in the parish of Lambeth. The jury returned a verdict of guilty. – Sentenced to two years' hard labour.
          . . . Charles Coombes, 42, schoolmaster, pleaded guilty to assaulting one William Bastard, by perpectrating an abominable crime, at Esher, on the 16th November, 1853, and was sentenced to be kept to hard labour for two years, at the expiration of which time to find sureties himself in 200l. and two sureties of 50l. each for seven years. (Kentish Mercury)

20 May 1854

Two lads, named Oliver Price and George Wright, aged respectively sixteen and fourteen years, were charged with an unnatural crime. The case was heard in a separate room, before J. Harvey, Esq.; and they were committed for trial at the spring assizes. Bail was refused. (Staffordshire Sentinel)

3 August 1854

SOUTHWARK. – Thomas Wilmot was charged with attempting to extort money from John Roe, a warehouseman in the City, and Swan-street, Dover-road.
          Mr. Solomon appeared for the prosecutor, whom he stated to be a respectable tradesman. On the previous evening he went into the gallery of the Surrey Theatre, and the place being very crowded he was compelled to stand on the benches. He then saw the prisoner alongside of him, when they entered into conversation, and the prosecutor stated that he should leave the theatre and go home. The prisoner told him he lived near St. George's Church, and as the prosecutor resided in Swan-street he consented to accompany him that way. They stopped at a coffee-house, and the prosecutor treated him with refreshment, after which, they proceeded along towards Swan-street, when the prisoner stopped him and said, "What are you going to give me, you old ——?" Prosecutor looked upon him with disdain, and attempted to enter his house, when a policeman came up, and the prisoner seeing him first gave his client into custody for attempting to commit an unnatural offence. Mr. Roe was taken to the stationhouse, and when they arrived there, the prisoner was identified by the police as an old offender, having been convicted of a similar offence. Mr. Roe was accordingly released from custody, he then, as in duty bound to the public, charged the prisoner with attempted to extort money from him.
          The prosecutor was then sworn, and he substantiated the stateent made by Mr. Solomon. Before the constable came up the prisoner said, "You are not the first I have had to deal with, and I have suffered for. You are an old ——, and you are not going in that way."
          Mr. Combe said, whatever might be the character of the prisoner, he considered the conduct of the prosecutor very indiscreet. Here was a young fellow of not very respectable appearance, and the prosecutor gets into conversation with him, and actually treats him and invites him out of the theatre, and afterwards gives him some coffee. They remain together for some time, and the fellow asks for some money, that's very natural for a person of his description.
          Mr. Solomon: But he made use of an improper threat towards my client.
          Mr. Combe: Very likely; but your client begins the conversation with him, and carries the intimacy out by treating him. Under the circumstances, I must discharge the prisoner, but I warn him to mind what he is about for the future. (Morning Chronicle)

26 August 1854

One George Hanson has been committed for trial at Newark, charged with an unnatural offence committed with the Rev. Charles Manners sutton, rector of Averham, Notts. His "Rev." accomplice has absconded. (Hereford Times)

21 October 1854

Edward Bodger, 24, a draper's assistant, dressed in a respectable suit of black, was charged with an attempt to commit an unnatural offence, and on a second count with an indecent assault, on J. Hodgman Taylor, a policeman at Ramsgate. The evidence was painfully explicit. The prisoner was defended by Messrs. Horne and Barrow, and witnesses were called to character, from which it appeared that the prisoner was apprentice and shopman at a house in Regent-street, and subsequently lived with a draper in St. Paul's churchyard. – The Chairman, in summing up, cautioned the jury against being led away by the speech of the advocate, and pointed out the parts of evidence which were corroborated. – The jury returned to consider their verdict, and after the lapse of half-an-house, returned a verdict of Not Guilty; and he was forthwith discharged. (Canterbury Journal, Kentish times and Farmers' Gazette)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1854", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 27 November 2018 <>.

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