Newspaper Reports, 1857

8 March 1857

One of the most hideous features in the conduct of the authorities in the penal colonies is, that while they punish any breach of their regulations with merciless severity – that while men have been flogged to death for no real offence – the rulers set the laws of God and man at defiance. Let me prove this declaration by two cases which came within my own knowledge. Every prisoner has what is called a police character; a record on parchment, or paper, of every offence of which he was convicted, before and after his transportation. To whatever part of the colony a prisoner may be sent, the police character follows him; and the magistrates in their decisions are influenced by the police character. A Point Puer boy was brought before the Supreme Court for trial, the judge asked for his police character; it filled a sheet of foolscap; the judge indignantly threw it down. "Pray look at it," said the boy; "you will find that the whole of the offences do not amount to one serious crime." The newspaper which contained this account reported the first five offences:– "Finding on him a needle and thread, twenty-five lashes." – "Finding on him a bit of tobacco, twenty-five lashes." – "Finding on him a fish-hook, twenty-five lashes." – "Finding on him a few potatoes, twenty-five lashes." – "A rude answer to a convict overseer, twenty-fie lashes." These were pretty offences, for which this lad received one hundred and twenty-five lashes! He was sent to Norfolk Island, to put the last finish to his character. Now let me show you how great crimes were treated. In the beginning of September, 1840, four men were brought to the office charged with crimes of the worst sort. I will describe the trial of two of them. On some future occasion I will lay before the public the trial of the other two, for it is well worthy of attention. When prisoners were brought before Captain Booth for trial, the witness stood forth and told the commandant what he could prove. The commandant then directed the police clerk what name should be given to the offence. The witness, on this occasion, was a very intelligent men. "What have you to say against these men?" – "We had heard that abominable practices were carried on in the carrying gang; myself and my companions were on Saturday in the bush, watching the gang; we saw the prisoners in the act of committing an unnatural crime." – "What name shall I give it? said the police clerk. "Gross misconduct," said the commandant. It was entered in the book as "Gross misconduct." The constable was then sworn: "Myself and my companions were watching the carrying gang; we saw the two prisoners in the act ——" – "Stop!" said the commandant, "you witnessed a disgusting scene." – "We," said the constable, "witnessed a disgusting scene." By the laws of God, of England, and of the penal colony, this crime is a felony, and punishable with death. No magistrate in England, or in the penal colonies, has a right to try summarily for such an offence. But Captain Booth did assumel he did exercise this power. In order to give a colour to such a proceeding he gave the offence a wrong name; he stopped the witness; he put words into his mouth in order to conceal the real offence; and the punishment inflicted was less than if the men had been charged with having a pipe in possession. Why did Captain Booth act in this manner? He knew, and well too, that if he had committed these men under the real charge he would have displeased his masters both in the colonies and at home. I am able to prove this. (Reynolds's Newspaper)

17 May 1857

AN UNWILLING VERDICT. – Thomas Anderbon, forty-five, schoolmaster, described as of superior education, was indicted for having committed an indecent assault upon a boy named Henry Drake. – The defendant, it appeared, kept a school at Islington, and the prosecutor, a sharp-looking and intelligent boy, nine years and a half old, had been in the habit of going to his school, after the regular hours, to learn sums. According to his evidence, which was given in a clear and unhesitating manner, the defendant had on several occasions been guilty of most disgusting conduct towards him; but, upon certain points in his statement, the assistant-judge left the case to the jury upon the question of consent. – The jury, after some consideration, found the defendant "Not guilty," stating that they did so with regret. – The defendant was detained in order that it might be ascertianed if he could be indicted under another form. (Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper)

18 July 1857

MAGISTRATES' OFFICE. – On Wednesday last, before R. W. Edgell, Esq., James Todman (alias Dolby), a native of Rowhill, Chertsey, was charged by police-constable Roser, with having committed an unnatural offence at Addlestone. The prisoner, a repulsive looking object, made no defence, and was fully committed for trial at the next assizes, to be held at Croydon, on the 3rd of Aguust next. (Windsor and Eton Espress)

18 July 1857

James Todman, alias Dolby, of Addleston, was charged before R. W. Edgell, Esq., with having attempted to commit an unnatural offence. Prisoner was fully committed for trial at the next assizes. We considered it unfit for publication; he has been suspected for a long time, and at last taken by P.C. Rosia. (West Surrey Times)

18 July 1857

(Before R. W. Edgell, Esq.)
James Todman, alias Dolby, residing at Row-hill, a most repulsive looking object, was charged with having committed an abominable offence on the person of a lad named Watts, aged 11 years, at Addlestone, on the previous day. The prisoner has long been a terror to females and children in consequence of his vile conduct, and was consequently strictly watched by the police, and on the morning above named was detected committing an unnatural offence by P.C. Roser, No. 13, to whom great praise is due for ridding the neighbourhood of such a pest. From the officer's statement there can be no doubt of the guilt of the fellow who had by means of threats and promises decoyed the boy into a field in order to perpetrate the offence. – The prisoner, who had nothing to say in his defence, was fully committed to take his trial at the next assizes at Croydon. (West Middlesex Herald)

11 August 1857

James Todman, 33, labourer, an individual with a most forbidding countenance, and who might have sat to any delineator of character for the picture of an idiot, was charged with committing an unnatural offence at Chertsey.
          The evidence, which was, of course, totally unfit for publication, left little doubt as to the perpetration of the offence; and the main question was, whether the prisoner was in such a state of mind as to be responsible for his actions.
          The Jury acquitted him on the ground of insanity; and,
          His Lordship ordered him to be detained in custody till Her Majesty's pleasure should be known. (Sussex Advertiser)

20 July 1857

CHARGE OF EXTORTING MONEY. – This day Henry Wood, aged 22, but who did not look so old, was charged, before Mr. Beadon, with attempting to extort, and with having extorted, various sums of money from Mr. James Ware, proprietor of the Bury (formerly the Albert) coffee-house, No. 20, Berwick-street, Soho.
          Mr. Lewis, jun., who attended for the complainant, stated the circumstances of the charge, which was to extort money from his client by accusing him of having committed an indecent assault upon him, as was subsequently detailed in evidence. He observed that the conduct of the prisoner he would show was of a very serious character, and that it was necessary a stop should be put to it.
          The complainant stated that about two years ago the prisoner first lodged in his house. He continued to do so frequently after that. About a year since he applied for a bed. Complainant told him that his beds were all occupied. After some conversation with the prisoner, who remarked that he did not know where to go to, he (complainant) offered him (prisoner) half his bed. In the course of the following morning complainant was awoke by the prisoner, who accused him of having taken indecent liberties with him, and he demanded 2l., observing that unless he did so he would raise up the whole house. Complainant gave 2 sovereigns, and he has given him since altogether 7l. The prisoner has not slept in his house since, but he (complainant) has received some threatening letters demanding money. Mr. Lewis produced the letters, the last of which was dated July 16 last, which came into the hands of Mr. Gouldstone (complainant's parter) and which led to the present proceedings.
          Mr. Gouldstone stated that on Friday in consequence of the information contained in the letter, fetched a constable and arranged with him as to the course to be taken for the apprehension of the prisoner. It was agreed to mark a sovereign. This was done in the presence of Wooller A 401. On the Sunday morning witness and the constable went to No. 24, Baldwin-street from which house the letter was directed. Witness saw the prisoner in the street. He observed to him (the prisoner) that he had a sovereign from Mr. Ware. He knew the prisoner, and had previously mentioned to him about having demanded money from the complainant. The prisoner took the sovereign, upon which witness called the constable Wootten, who took the prisoner into custody.
          The prisoner, in his defence, reiterated the charge. He added that, on the night in question, the complainant said, "If you will not expose me, you shall never want for anaything while you are out of work."
          The prisoner was committed for trial. (The Sun)

21 July 1857

EXTORTING MONEY BY THREATS. – Henry Wood was brought up for final examination, charged with having obtained oney from James Ware, at various times, by means of certain threats.
          The complainant stated that, when first threatened with exposure by the prisoner, who slept in his bed one night, at no. 20, Berwidk-street, he gave him £2, and in consequence of receiving letters at various times, he sent more money. When he received a letter recently, he communicated the circumstance to his partner, who took a marked sovereign, gave it to the prisoner, and then called a constable and had him conveyed to the station. Complainant gave the money, although innocent of the charge, because he was afraid of the exposure.
          The prisoner would not retract the accusation.
          Mr. Beadon sent him for trial. (Morning Post)

[Henry Wood, age 22, was tried at the Old Bailey, Tenth Session, 17 August 1857, charged with "Feloniously sending to James Ware a letter threatening to accuse him of an infamous crime, with intent to extort money." "The evidence was unfit for publication." He was found Guilty and sentenced to Penal Servitude for Life.]

28 July 1857

George Sargent, a respectably dressed, intelligent-looking young man, was indicted for feloniously accusing and threatening Henry Temple Waldy and Charles Richard William Waldy, of having attempted to commit abominable crimes, with a view of extorting money.
          Mr. Stock and Mr. Kingdon conducted the case for the prosecution, and Mr. Edwards defended.
          Mr. Stock having opened the case, called the Rev. Charles Richard William Waldy, who stated that he had been in holy orders nealy four years, and was now Vicar of Gussage-all-Saints. On the 26th March last, his father, the Rev. R. Waldy, Rector of Affpuddle and Turnspuddle, had a family party at his house. The prisoner was in his father's service as footman, and assisted the servants on that occasion. He was in an excited state, and somewhat intoxicated before the party had left. Witness desired him to remain quiet, and he did so until after the party had left. He then became very excited, and loudly exclaimed, "I will do for Mr. Temple," meaning his brother, Temple Waldy. Heard him holloaing in the kitchen, and he went out of the parlour, and prisoner ran into the road. He returned at witness's earnest solicitation, and he then took him into the parlour, and asked him what he meant by exclaiming that he "would do for Mr. Temple?" Prisoner declined to reply for some time, but continued uttering oaths towards witness's brother. Having told him that if he did not tell what he meant he (witness) would acquaint his father, the prisoner made the accusation against his brother with which he was now charged. Witness immediatly said that he did not believe it. Prisoner asserted that it was true, and that Mr. Temple had given him things "not to tell." Witness said, "You can never mean anything so wicked as this accusation. Do you know you have made yourself liable to be transported, if it be true?" Prisoner, with a smile, retorted, "How can they transport me?" Witness replied that if he had indeed seen anything of the kind he ought to have gone to his master or a magistrate, as the law did not allow him to make money by other persons' crimes. Prisoner was then alarmed, and said that his story was false, and was to be attributed to his bad temper. He solemnly swore that what he had said was a lie, and requested and implored witness not to mention it, as it might ruin him. He assured him that he would comply with his request, as he had said it was false. Prisoner then left the room. He talked with him upon the subject on the 1st April. Having been conversing with his brother Temple, the prisoner expressed to him a hope that he had not told his brother, as it was false. On Friday the 12th June, the prisoner entered his bedroom in his father's house, whilst he was preparing to go to the parish of Gussage All Saints, the living of which he had just accepted. Prisoner was very insolent, and said that it was a shame of his father to discharge him, after he had asked him to remain. He added, "I s'pose I must go and starve! but I know how to get money to stop that!" Upon asking him what he meant he replied, "If you don't give me money, I shall tell Mr. Waldy about Mr. Temple and Courtney. I said, "What, that old story?" He retorted "Yes, and worse than that!" I asked him what could be worse, whereupon he said that Mr. Temple had committed certain crimes uon persons whose names he mentioned, and others in the parish. Witness then said that "He must now tell his father of such a monstrous charge." Immediately he retorted, "If you do, I shall say that you did the same thing." Witness said, "If you do you will not be believed. My character is too high, and I have not been much in company with any one!" He replied, "My word is as good as yours! Unless you give me money, I will say the same of you?" Witness was much grieved, and offered him a sovereign, upon which there was a black mark, and he was reluctant about taking it. He then offered him another, which he had drawn a pair of scissors across while he was scraping the other. Told him that was all he could spare as he was going to pay his lodgings at Gussage; and that he would return next week, or at any rate before he left his father's service. He having taken the sovereign, witness said he now hoped he should hear no more of the matter, and prisoner said, "I will not tell!" He had been induced to give the prisoner money, in order that he might now be able to show that he had made or threatened to make these accusations against his brother and himself for the purpose of extorting money. Witness remained at Gussage for nearly three weeks, having been detained partly on account of ill-health. At the expiration of that period Daubeny, his father's coachman, came for him, and made a communication with him respecting his brother Temple, and he subsequently communicated with his brother. The prisoner was apprehended, and brought before S. Serrell, Esq., at Wareham, on the 7th of July, on a similar charge to the present. He was then discharged, but on the 10th of July was committed for trial on the charge with which he now stood indicted.
          Cross-examined by Mr. Edwards: Was not more friendly wth the prisoner than masters generally. Not more so that he had been with his other servants. Prisoner behaved himself properly whilst in his father's service. His brother Temple had not quarrelled with the prisoner, but observed that about the 26th March last he kept very shy of him. Learned from his brother that there was something the matter. On that day witness gave prisoner his own likeness [i.e. a photograph], but did not hear that he had one of his brother's.
          Re-examined: It was the habit of his family to be friendly with their servants. Gave them presents sometimes, always at Christmas. Gave his likeness to prisoner under the following circumstances: About the latter end of May prisoner came into his room at his father's house and made a disturbance by taking something out of his pocket, (he believed keys,) and placing them upon the mantle-piece. Asked him if he were looking at his photographs, of which six or seven were lying near, and what he thought of them. He replied that the likenesses were ugly things. Witness said he should break them up. Prisoner asked him for one as a "remembrancer?" Witness said: You will only laugh at it; but he importuned him and he let him have one. On the 26th March, prisoner in denouncing his brother Temple, as before referred to, said "I'll do for him!"
          George Daubeny stated that the prisoner had made similar statements to him, and that he wanted to get £15 or £20 to keep the secret.
          Joseph Lock, gardener, in the employ of the Rev. Mr. Waldy; and Louisa Fletcher, servant of the same gentleman, were also examined.
          S. Serrell, Esq., corroborated Mr. Waldy's evidence as to what transpired at the examination of the prisoner.
          Henry Temple Waldy stated that about 18 months since he gave the prisoner a gold chain; he gave 18s for it. That was the only thing he had given the prisoner in the shape of jewellery; believed he might have given him some brass waistcoat studs; never gave him his likeness, neither did he know that he had it. There were many photographs "kicking about." Had just passed as an attorney.
          The Rev. R. Waldy deposed to the discharge of the prisoner, and that it was because of his disagreeing with the other servants and their refusing to stay.
          Mr. Edwards made a very able defence, contending that the prosecution had entirely failed to prove their case, and calling upon the jury to acquit the prisoner.
          The Judge having summed up and explained the legal bearings of the case, the jury consulted for a few minutes, and returned a verdict of Not Guilty. (Sherborne Mercury)

1 August 1857

Henry Hurricks was charged with assaulting William Pells, in an indecent manner.
          On the 22nd instant, as complainant was standing at Mr. Barker's door, Old Butter Market, speaking to Mrs. Barker about a job, defendant passed and indecently assaulted him.
          Defendandt was fined 20s. and costs, to be paid forthwith; in default, one month's imprisonment. (Suffolk Chronicle)

8 August 1857

Daniel Foley, a pensioner, living at 2 Cook Yard, was charged with the attempted commission of an unnatural offence. The evidence of a marine named Henry Doggett, and another witness proved the offence, and Mr. Traill remanded the prisoner for a week. (Kentish Independent)

15 August 1857

The old man named Daniel Foley, living at 2, Cock Alley, was charged on remand with a nameless offence. Another case of a similar nature was proved against the prisoner, and Mr. Traill, who stated that from the improper conduct pursued by the witnesses themselves, he could not as he should have wished, commit the prisoner for trial, but he should order him to find bail in £40 for his good behaviour for six months. (Kentish Independent)

22 August 1857

FRIDAY. – Two tradesmen of Plumstead, named Daly and Mulligan, appeared to offer themselves as bail for the prisoner Daniel Foley, committed on the previous Wednesday for six months, charged with a nameless offence. On being informed by Mr. Traill of the serious nature of the charge, both declined to become the required sureties. (Kentish Mercury)

16 October 1857

LOUTH. – A young fellow named Edw. Waite, living in Crow-tree-lane, Louth, was placed in the dock on Wednesday morning, charged with an unnatural offence of too infamous a character even to be named. Although no doubt whatever existed as to the man's criminality, yet, as it was considered possible legal evidence sufficient might be wanting, he was sent about his business. (Stamford Mercury)

24 October 1857

A soldier named Mc'Finn, of the 25th Regiment, was brought up on a warrant charged with a most henious [sic] offence. The enquiry satisfied the Bench that the abominable crime with which the accused was charged had not been committed, but that he had been guilty of impropriety of a most disreputable character. (Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General Advertiser)

31 October 1857

For two or three weeks Chester had been filled with rumours that a man, holding a good position amongst his fellows, was guilty of having committed an offence not nameable amongst Christians. So common were the reports that Mr. Thos. Topham, a small, well-dressed man, living in Castle-street, and frequenting the public resorts in this city, was looked upon by many respectable people as unfit for the society of either men or women. At last the matter was brought before the police authorities, and on Monday an application was made to the magistrates, by Mr. S. J. Roberts, for a warrant to apprehend Thomas Topham, on a charge of having, on Sunday night, the 27th September, attempted to commit an unnatural offence with Simon Foulkes, coachman to E. L. Richards, Esq., of this city. The application was made in private, but the warrant was granted.
          On Tuesday, Thomas Topham was brought before the magistrates, when Mr. Edwards appeared for the prosecution, and Mr. John Hughes, landlord of the Black Bear Inn, appeared as legal adviser for the prisoner. Mr. Hughes wished to have the proceedings private.
          Major FRENCH – Certainly not. The whole case is notorious.
          Mr. EDWARDS – I have no objection that the hearing be in private.
          Major FRENCH – It was private yesterday, and it ought not to be so to-day.
          The prisoner was then brought in, and Mr. Edwards charged him with an indecent assault on Simon Faulkes.
          In consequence of the absence of counsel for the prisoner, the case as remanded until the following day, bail being put in, the prisoner in £200, and two sureties of £100 each. Mr. Hughes, of the Black Bear, and Mr. Gregg, plasterer, Handbridge, entered into the required recognizances, and the parties left the Court.
          On Wednesday morning the court was densely crowded, and shortly before the time for commencing the business, Thomas Topham entered the room, and falsified the current rumours that he had absconded in spite of his recognizances.
          The magistrates present were the Mayor, Major French, Dr P. Jones, W. Wardell, C. Potts, and J. Rogers, Esqrs.
          Mr. Edwards appeared for the prosecution, and Mr. Robert Scott, of the Northern circuit, instructed by Mr. John Hughes, defended the prisoner.
          The question of privacy was again mooted, and the magistrates retired to deliberate on the point, but in a few minutes entered the court and the proceedings were conducted in public.
          Simon Foulkes stated that on Sunday evening, the 27th of Sept. he was at the Saracen's Head Inn, and the prisoner and a person named Chadwick were there. Prisoner treated witness to two glasses of porter, and about 11 o'clock they all three left the house to go home. At the Cross Chadwick left them, and went down Eastgate-street, the prisoner went along Bridge-street, and witness started for Crook-street, where he lodged. He had gone three or four yards when the prisoner called after him, and presently overtook him, when he laid hold of witness's arm and fingers, which he squeezed, and so walked with him to his lodgings. At that spot, witness wanted to go home, but the prisoner induced him to go to some stables in back Stanley Place, and outside these stables prisoner solicited the witness to allow him to commit an abominable offence. Witness refused, and then the prisoner took him on to the Walls as far as the Museum, where he repeated his overtures, and on being again refused he made a further exposure of himself, and conducted himself in a lewd and loathsome manner. The prisoner and witness then returned by Stanley-street to Nicholas-street, and on the way the solicitation was again made and refused as before. In Nicholas-street the prisoner put a shilling into witness's hand, and ran off home.
          Cross-examined – Witness said he tried to loose the prisoner's hold of him but could not.
          Mr. Jones, landlord of the Saracen's Head, deposed that the witness came to him on the night after the occurrence, and made the same statement to him as had been made to the court.
          Mr. SCOTT, for the prisoner, urged that the charge had not been made out, inasmuch as Foulkes, by going from place to place, had evidently been a willing party, and the assault of being held was not made out, when it was seen that he was a stronger man than the prisoner, and could have released himself if he had chosen. The conduct of the prisoner was that of a drunken man, and the case ought to be a warning to him to keep out of the Saracen's Head and other public houses if he was unable to bear much drink.
          The magistrates retired for deliberation, and in about 25 minutes they re-entered the court, when
          The MAYOR said – Mr. Topham, after a very serious deliberation the magistrates find that the evidence is not sufficient to commit you for trial; but they hope that the present case will be a caution not to commit such offences in future. – (We understand that the committee of the proprietors of the Commercial News-room have held a meeting, at which it was agreed to request Mr. Topham to withdraw from that society.) (Chester Chronicle)

20 November 1857

POLICE CASE. – On Wednesday last, two men, named James Ryan, a shoemaker, and James Mullin, a navvie, were charged before W. and R. Pilkington, Esqrs., with having committed, on the previous night, an unnatural crime. Part of the evidence was gone into, but it was unfit for publication, and the case was remanded to the petty sessions. (Liverpool Mercury)

27 November 1857

SERIOUS CHARGE. – James Ryan and James Mullin were brought up on remand, charged with having committed an unnatural crime. The only witness was Michael Mellon, and from what the magistrates had heard respecting him, they considered that reliance was not to be placed on his evidence. The prisoners were therefore discharged. (Liverpool Mercury)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1857", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 6 October 2020 <>.

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