Newspaper Reports, 1856

12 January 1856

CHARGE OF AN UNNATURAL CRIME. – At the Borough Court, on Tuesday, William Peacock, a tailor, was charged with having committed an unnaural crime on the person of another man, at the bottom of Salem-street, Manningham-lane. They were found in a position which left little doubt of the offence being committed, by police-constable Heaton, who captured Peacock, but the other person escaped. Corroborative evidence being wanting, the bench decided not to convict on the capital charge, but committed him for three months for having been at the place named for an improper and unlawful purpose. (Leeds Times)

11 March 1856

EXTRAORDINARY CHARGE AGAINST A GENTLEMAN. – The Bench was occupied a considerable time on Wednesday, in hearing a charge of unnatural offence against Frederick Peel Round, aged 38, a gentleman connected with one of the leading Brighton families, and Thomas Pettigrew, 35, a private in the artillery. They were committed for trial and the case came on at the Assizes on Saturday. The result was an acquittal as will be seen by a reference to our report of the trials. . . .

Frederick Peel Round, aged 38, gentleman, and Thomas Pettigrew, aged 35, private in the artillery corps, were charged with a nameless offence.
          Mr. Creasy and Mr. Waller prosecuted; Mr. James, Q.C., defended Round; and Mr. Hawkins defended Pettigrew.
          Joseph Fox deposed – I am a French polisher living in High Street, Brighton. I work for Mr. Martin, East Street. About a quarter to 12 on the night of Tuesday, the 4th instant, I left Gruby's beer-shop, accompanied by James Wymark, and we went up the lanes together to go home. In the first lane we saw prisoner Pettigrew, asleep and drunk on the ground. Wymark woke him up, and we stood him against the wall. He abused us and we left him. He then fell down on the ground and groaned. Wymark seemed to be acquainted with the prisoner, and we returned and helped him as far as the New road, past the theatre. Wymark said he would take him home. Just opposite the chapel he stopped, and prisoner Round came up. Another person had previously come up to us and given Pettigrew some winkles. When round came up, Pettigrew looked at him and said to me, “I neither want you nor your winkles.” We then left them and stood on the opposite side of the road. Prisoners remained in the same place for upwards of a quarter of an hour talking. They lit up a cigar each, and then, arm-in-arm, walked into Jubilee Street. Wymarrk lived in that direction of the town, and we walked together, following them. They had passed us as they went into Jubilee Street. The prisoner stopped on the side of Jubilee Street, at a place that appeared to me to be opposite a dead wall. We walked on and I halted on the oppositve side of the street, which is about 30 feet wide. Wymark walked on, and after he had gone out of the street, I heard one of the prisoners say, “Now then, now then, now then, it's right.” Just then Wymark came back; this was after the elapse of about two minutes. It was so dark I could not see him, but I heard him coming. When he came up to me I said to him in a low tone of voice, go on, and he continued to walk, and went into Church Street. The prisoner Pettigrew, then stood with his face towards what I thought was a wall, which I have since ascertained was a gate, and Round got behind him. (Witness here described the state of the prisoner's dress, and the manner in which the act was committed). A man walked up the street and passed me; he appeared to be in a great hurry, and went on. When Wymark came back I said to him, “Do you look across there.” Wymark laughed, and I said it was no laughing matter. I called out, “You, beasts, I will have you locked up.” Round then ran up the street, and arranged his dress as he was going. The other prisoner walked on and arranged his dress. We did not go to Pettigrew, but we followed Round across the enclosure up to the Pavilion, where I gave him into custody of a policeman.
          Cross-examined by Mr. James – Was not discharged from my situation in October for drunkenness. Was discharged on account of slackness only. Had been to a temperaance meeting on the evening in question. Was not in the habit of drinking. Came to Brighton on the 1st January. From the Temperance Hotel I went to a beer-shop. I met Wymark at the beer-shop. We had some stout to drink. I occasionally play at bagatelle. I don’t know of the game of “soldiers under the table.” My employers, Messrs. Otzman and Plump, asked me in October, before I was dismissed, what was the meaning of the game. I know a game called “Icodham.” I never said to Charles Denham, Messrs. Otzman and Plumb’s foreman, showing him some money, “this is the way to do it; your heads are not screwed on the right way.” I don’t know that Pettigrew lived at 26, Jubilee-street, which is near to the spot where I saw him and the other prisoner. I have heard that he lived there. I have not said that I heard the gates rattle as the prisoners stood against the wall. I did not see a woman named Scott near the place. I did not mention before that there was a man I did not know passed me as they were standing there.
          By Mr. Hawkins – When Wymark came down the street he stamped very much; his boots were heavy.
          By the Judge – I swear positively if there was a woman in the street, and more expecially if within two yards of me, I must have seen her. There was no woman near the place.
          James Wymark sworn – I am a gilder, and live at No. 14, Brunswick-place North. I met the prisoner Pettigrew when I was with last witness. I had seen him recruiting at the Waggon and Horses, and seeing he was drunk I thought I would take him there, thinking that was his home. When Round came up Fox proposed to me to watch them. We followed the prisoners to the middle of Jubilee-street, and I walked on to the end of the street, and waited two or three minutes expecting Fox to come. He did not come, and I went back, and as I passed Fox he said inwardly “go on.” I went to the other end of the street, and waited there ten minutes. He did not tell me to wait that time. When I returned Fox told me to stop. I looked across the road and saw Round. He was in motion, but I could not see the other prisoner because Round had on a great coat, and his back was towards me. I noticed both prisoners stop when they first went to the place, and I did not obserrve Pettigrew when Round ran away at the time Fox called out. I saw Round arranging his dress as he was running.
          By Mr. James – I was in Lewes Gaol 10 months ago. I was detected, with a little boy, in stealing some pigeons, and sentenced to four months’ hard labour, and four weeks’ solitary confinement. Have been to night coffee houses in Brighton.
          The Judge – Was Round gone away before Fox called out to them?
          Witness – Yes.
          The learned Judge here stopped the case, and asked the Jury whether they thought it ought to be proceeded with. They were hearing the evidence of a convicted thief and a man of very disreputable character, and the question was, could they believe him?
          The Jury consulted, and expressed their desire, through their foreman, to hear more evidence.
          George Hobbs, policeman, deposed – About ten minutes past one, on the night in question, as he was on the Grand Parade, Fox gave the prisoner Round into custody. He told prisoner the charge, and he said “I know nothing about it,” and asked who was gong to prove it? Witness told him Fox saw him.
          P.C. William Stenning said – About 1 o’clock on the night in question, as I was passing through Jubilee Street, I saw Pettigrew leaning against a door post drunk. His dress was disarranged in front. I took him home, and at 5 o’clock in the morning, when I heard the charge, I took him into custody. He said he was the last man in the world to allow such a thing as he was charged with.
          The Judge – I suppose he could have gone home if he liked when you saw him against the door?
          Witness – There was nothing to prevent his going hom. He lived just opposite.
          The Judge – The case doesn’t seem at all probable. It is like “Dilly, dilly, dilly, come and be killed” (a laugh).
          George White, superintendent of police, deposed – After the examination at Brighton, a woman named Scott presented herself and wished to be examined. She was examined by direction of the magistrates. She was brought in destitute from the street. She is a woman of the town, and had heard the examination.
          Louisa Scott, a wretched loking woman, was then sworn, she said – I am a single woman, living in King William Street. Saw the prisoners together at half-past 11, walking arm in arm in New Road. Wymark and Fox were walking two or three yards gehind them. They went into Jubilee Street, and I went within a yard of Fox. The gentleman and the soldier turned into the stable yard behind the door post. The civilian (Fox) stood outside watching. I went into North Lane, and when I came back they were in just the same position as I saw them before. At the end the soldier walked into Church Street along with the gentleman. They were in a disgusting state when near the stable.
          The Judge – Did Wymark call out to them?
          Witness – Not till after they walked away together.
          The Judge (again addressing the Jury) – Really, gentlemen, do you wish –
          The Foreman said – I don’t think your Lordship understood the views of the Jury when they wished to hear more evidence. Their object was for the gentleman’s sake, so that the statements of the witnesses might be compared.
          This statement of the foreman called forth loud cheers from the body of the court.
          The Judge (addressing the foreman) – I am very glad to hear you say so (renewed cheering).
          The Foreman – We also wish to dismiss both the gentleman and the soldier with the opinion of the Jury that the case has not left the slightest stain upon their characters.
          The Court was now a scene of the most exciting nature. Tremendous cheering was poured forth from all parts, loud cries of “hurrah” given, and nearly every one present waived hats.
          These demonstrations, which were joined in by the Jury, lasted for several seconds, the gentleman and the soldier in the dock being affected to tears, the former weeping bitterly.
          When silence was again restored, the learned Judge, addressing the court, said that such scenes were very improper in a court of justice, but on that occasion he was very glad to witness them because it had a tendency to show the opinion the people entertained of the conduct of the witnesses that had been examined that day.
          Mr. Round then received the congratulations of several parties in court, among whom were several magistrates of the county. He shortly after took his departure for Brighton in a carriage and pair, which had been in waiting for him in the town.
          The three witnesses, Fox, Wymark, and Scott, were handed over to the police by the direction of Mr. Round’s counsel, for the purpose of being indicted on a charge of perjury. After they had been detained about a quarter of an hour in a room adjoining the court they were released. (Sussex Advertiser)

12 March 1856

EXTRAORDINARY CASE. – At Oxford, on Friday, before Mr. Justice Cresswell, Oliver Washer surrendered to take his trial upon a charge of writing several letters, threatening to accuse one Charles James Kilpin of an unnatural offence, with a view to extort money. Mr. Huddleston and Mr. Hill appeared for the prosecution, and Mr. Williams defended the prisoner. The prosecutor, who was formerly a gentleman commoner of Worcester College, and who had become possessed of a large property by the death of his brother, was in the Red Lion public-house, at a wake at Steeple Aston, in Oxfordshire, on the 5th July, 1854, in the company of the prisoner Washer and two others, with whom he played a game at whist. On that evening he was induced by the prisoner to accept a bill of exchange for 30l. payable in two months, but when the bill was about to become due he expressed his intention not to pay it, on the ground, as was suggested, that he had not received any consideration for the amount. the prisoner, apprehensive that he would not be paid, wrote several letters to the prosecutor, and to one of his (the prosecutor’s) friends, a man named Louch, in which he threatened that if the prosecutor did not pay the bill he would expose his “abominable actions,” intimating that on the night of the wake at Steeple Aston the prosecutor and a young man named Hemming had been guilty of an unnatural offence. At the March assizes in 1855 Mr. Kilpin preferred an indictment against the prisoner, charging him with threatening to accuse him of an unnatural offence, with a view to extort money. The prisoner, who was a bootmaker and seller of cigars at Oxford, immediately absconded, and was not seen again till lately, when he was arrested at Swansea. Several witnesses were examined in support of the charge, and clearly established the above facts against the prisoner. The young man Hemming was also called. He denied that anything improper had taken place between him and the prosecutor, though he admitted that he had been found by the prisoner and another man in the stable at the Red Lion, in company with the prosecutor, at one o’clock in the morning. He also said the stable-door had been fastened by the desire of the prosecutor, when he heard somebody coming, and that it was forced open by the prisoner and the other man. It was stated by counsel that the prosecutor himself would be put into the box; but when he was called he did not answer; the case consequently concluded without his evidence. The jury found the prisoner guilty. Mr. Justice Cresswell, in passing sentence, expressed his abhorrence of the conduct of the prisoner in making such a charge. Whatever might have been the cause of the prosecutor’s absence – whether he was kept away by carelessness or by folly, his lordship said he felt it to be due to the witness Hemming to say that after the evidence which he had given he thought there was no foundation for the charge made against him. It was impossible to say what motive had induced the prosecutor to ask the boy to go with him to the stable, as he had done, but it might have been to protect him against the prisoner, who almost immediately followed. His lordship sentenced him to penal servitude for six years. (Worcestershire Chronical)

25 June 1856

                                                  PARIS, MONDAY.
          I regret to inform you that the Roman Catholic Grand Vicar of Aix, in Provence, was yesterday detected in the perpetration of an unnatural offence with a soldier. The priest has been requested to resign his functions, and to spare the Church the scandal of persisting in retaining his office. (Morning Advertiser)

3 October 1856

On Tuesday night a lecture upon “Transportation and its Effects” was delivered at the Temprance Hall, Broadway, by Mr John Frost, who was the hero of the Chartist demonstration on Monday,the 15th instant, and who has recently returned from Van Dieman’s Land, after an exile of fifteen years.
          Mr Nash occupied the chair, and introduced Mr Frost to the meeting.
          Mr Frost stood forward and was very warmly greeted by the audience. He began his address by saying that it was his duty to his country and his God to reveal the atrocities which were committed in his sight by the agents of this country upon the unfortunate wretches who were condemned to transportation. . . . He would long have caused most of the details of the horrors of the convict life in Van Diemen’s Land to have been published in England, but he was assured by a friend that the Government would have procured his death whilst in Van Diemen’s Land if he should publish them. But now that he had gained his liberty, he would publish those horrors as long as he could procure a pen and a printer. (Applause.) The state of the convicts in Van Diemen’s Land was like that of the inhabitants of the cities of the plain, who were consumed by fire from heaven. The tyrannies inflicted upon those convicts were such as no fear of persecution would prevent him from making known in England, in order that the voices of millions of his fellow-countrymen might demand that an end should be put to them. He had himself seen two men executed for unnatural crimes in Van Diemen’s Land, and there was scarcely a convict boy there who was not subjected by violence to the brutal and unnatural lusts of the elder male convicts. The depravity of our convicts in Van Diemen’s Land was unparalleled by any country on the fact of the earth. All of this horrible state of things could be remedied by the Government and the Legislature of this country. The magistracy of Van Diemen’s Land was composed of men of the violest character. He knew one instance in which a magistrate, who owed a ticket-of-leave shoemaker a bill for some shoes, gave a hint to the police, who falsely accused him of breaking the convict’s regulations, upon which charge he was carried off to Port Arthur for two years. That was the way in which the magistrate paid the poor shoemaker his bill. (Shame.) He knew another instance in which a Van Diemen’s Land police magistrate removed a ticket-of-leave man, on a false charge, in order that he might cohabit with that man’s wife, and he did publicly cohabit with her, even after the return of that convict from Port-Arthur. In fact Port-Arthur was the place to which poor convicts were sent whenever the cupidity or lust of the police magistrate was to be served. For smoking or possessing tobacco, convicts were punished more severely than if they had committed the most abominable crimes. For putting their hands in their pockets, convicts were flogged. There was nothing in sacred or profane history at all equal to what might with truth be stated as to the horible immorality of the convicts of England. . . . He called upon every Englishman to do his uitmost to procure a reform of the convict regulation, and thus save many of their unfortunate brethren from falling into that gulf of horrible iniquity and cruelty into which so many thousands had fallen under that transportation system. (Cheers.) (Elgin Courier)

26 October 1856

THE CHARGE OF INDECENCY IN THE BOROUGH-ROAD. – John Marsh, an elderly gentleman, who has been more than twenty years in the Customs, surrendered 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 Fell, and Chappell, their brother-in-law. One of them said he left the other drinking in the Ship public-house, about nine o’clock 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 brothers, who also said they witnessed similar conduct. The other man ran away, and they followed the prisoner a long way 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. (Reynolds’s Newspaper)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1856", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 14 December 2018 <>.

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