The Philanthropist, 1859

23 January 1859

Augustus Pechell, described in the police-sheet as a gentleman, aged 60, of No. 4, Temple-gardens, City, who has chambers at No. 4, Harcourt-buildings, Temple, and was called to the bar in November, 1817, was brought before Mr. Yardley, at the Thames Police court, on Monday, charged with unlawfully inciting Michael Collins, an Irish labourer, about 28 years of age, to commit an unnatural crime.
          Mr. Sleigh, barrister, instructed by Mr Lewis, jun. (from Lewis and Lewis, of Ely-place), defended the prisoner.
          The prosecutor stated that he met the prisoner between seven and eight o'clock on the previous Saturday night at the City end of Blackfriars-bridge. The prisoner came up to him and said he was going to take a walk towards Tower-hill, and would buy him a pair of trousers. The prisoner asked him to walk along wit him, to which he replied that he did not mind. On the way to Tower-hill the prisoner more than once pressed his arm, and put his hand on his shoulder. On reaching Tower-hill the prisoner stopped close to a pump, and went on feeling his arms and rubbing his face down with his hands. The prisoner then asked him if he would have something to eat, and he replied, "Very well, sir." The prisoner then took him to a shop, and bought a pair of trousers for him. The prisoner, on leaving the clothes-shop again asked him if he would have anything to eat, and took him to a hotel in Upper East Smithfield, where they partook of beefsteaks, bread, and five pints of 8d. stout. He ate two beefsteaks with the prisoner, who kept on handling him all the time they were at supper, and he frequently used words of endearment. (The witness mentioned the words addressed to him.) On leaving the hotel they went to Tower-hill, and the prisoner there began talking to him. (The language was quite unfit for publication.) The witness added that he refused to comply with the prisoner's solicitations, and told him he had got hold of the wrong person, and that he would give him in charge. The prisoner then ran away. He called out "Police!" and a City police constable collared him as he was running away.
          Cross-examined by Mr. Sleigh: I am a labourer. I have got no employment. The last place at which I worked was Coltton's Wharf, Tooley-street. I never called myself by any other name than Michael Collins. I am not a married man. I did not feel that it was very filthy and disgusting for the prisoner to press my arm and rub my face wth his hands, and I thought no harm of the man until he used nasty language.
          Mr. Sleigh: Why did you not repulse him on the way to Tower-hill if he acted in the way you have described?
          Witness: I wanted to see if he would do anything else. I did not accost him a few days ago, and tell him I wanted a meal. I did meet him before Saturday night. He accosted me, and took me to a public-house, and gave me something to eat and drink and paid for it. I had my working clothes on when I first met him. He asked me some questions, and I told him I was in want.
          Mr. Yardley: Stop. Then Saturday night was not the first time you met the prisoner?
          Witness: No, sir; I met him several times before.
          Mr. Hardley: Because you began your evidence in a way that led me to suppose that Saturday night was the first time he met you.
          In answser to questions by Mr. Yardley, the witness said he was dwelling at No. 5, St. Helens-court, Lower White-cross-street, Cripplegate. He met the prisoner for the first time in his life on Saturday night week. He met the prisoner by appontment at the foot of Blackfriars-bridge four nights last week. On the second night the prisoner asked him where he lived, and what his name was. He gave the prisoner a wrong name, and the address No. 6, Cox's-court, Snow-hill and West Smithfield. The prisoner went to that house, and inquired about him, and asked a man there if he was a decent and honest man. He now recollected that he met the prisoner every night last week, except Friday night. He met the prisoner at eight o'clock on the same night he called at Cox's-court. The prisoner gave him 5s. every night he met him. One night the prisoner took him to the Surrey Theatre, and another to the theatre in the Cut (the Victoria, in the New-cut, Lambeth). They were in the pit on each occasion. He thought the prisoner was going to be a friend to him, and that he was acting as a friend when he gave him 5s. every time he met him. The prisoner took no liberties with him, and made no detestable proposals until Saturday night.
          Cross-examined by Mr. Sleigh: I have got a father and mother. I told the prisoner they were poorish. I took the prisoner to the wrong house. He did not relieve my father and mother. He gave money to my friend. He gave me 3s. 6d. on Saturday night before he asked me what he wanted me to do. I was quite stunned when he made the proposal to me. After he gave me the 3s. 6d. I asked him to give me 2s. more, which he refused, and I then called out "Police," and he ran away. The witness, in further cross-examination, again described the alleged revolting conduct of the prisoner in the same way as he had done before, and declared that he was at a loss to understand what the prisoner meant at first.
          Mr. Sleigh: And after all the revolting conduct you have described, you asked the prisoner for 2s. more?
          Witness: Yes, I did.
          James Scarborough, a police-constable of the City force, No. 541, said: On Saturday night I was in Barking Church-yard, Tower-street, and heard cries of "Stop him! stop that man!" I saw the prosecutor running, and as he came towards me, he said, "Oh, that villain! that villain of a man." I collared the prisoner, and the prosecutor came up and said, "I give him in custody for indecently insulting me." The prosecutor then informed him of what the prisoner had done. (The constable repeated the statement made to him by Collins, which did not differ from the prosecutor's evidence.)
          Mr. Yardley asked if the shopkeeper was present who sold the trousers and saw Pechell and Collins on Saturday night together? and on the reply being in the negative, asked why he was not directed to attend.
          Scarborough said he was on duty until six o'clock that morning.
          Mr. Yardley said there were abundant means of either confirming or contradicting the evidence of the prosecutor, and not the slightest pains had been taken to bring forward the tstimony of the people from Cox's-court, the landlord or waiter at the hotel, and the man who sold the trousers. He found that was an H division charge, and taken at the H division station house at Leman-street, Whitechapel. The case is neither corroborated nor contradicted, and must be remanded.
          Mr. Sleigh said the prisoner was a gentleman of the highest respectability, and of the highest connexions, and his business was that of a philanthropist, going about doing good. In the character of a philanthropist, the prisoner had met with the man Collins, and relieved him, and also relieved his friends. The prisoner had been with Collins several times, and inquired into his circumstances, and relieved him, believing him to be a deserving man.
          Mr. Yardley asked if any of the firnds and relatives of the prisoner were in attendance?
          Mr. Lewis, Jun.: They have been telegraphed for; they are in the country.
          Mr. Sleigh: The prisoner's brother, a clergyman, has been sent for, and will be in town this evening. It is a most awful thing for the prisoner to be accused of such a revolting offence, when he has only been acting as a philanthropist.
          Mr. Yardley said he was asked to discharge the prisoner forthwith, but he felt that he could not consistently with his duty accede to the request of the learned counsel. He hoped no one would imply the guilt of the prisoner until the whole case was investigated. He should take bail for the prisoner, but it must be very substantial bail.
          Mr. Sleigh: All his relatives and connexions are in the country.
          Mr. Yardley: I will accept bail – the prisoner in 1,000l., and two good sureties in 500l. each.
          Mr Sleigh urged that the amount of bail required was too high.
          Finally, the magistrate agreed to accept of two securities in 250l. and the prisoner in 1,000l..
          Prisoner was subsequently brought before Mr. Yardley to be bailed, and Mr. Lewis, jun. (of the firm of Lewis and Lewis, Ely-place), tendered Horace Robert Pechell, a clergyman, brother of the prisoner, and Samuel Broom, gardener of the Temple, who both swore they were worth 250l., after all their debts were paid, and were accepted as bail for the prisoner, and he was liberated. Augustus Pechell entered into sureties to the amount of 1,000l. (Reynolds's Newspaper)

23 January 1859

Augustus Pechell surrendered with his bail, on Friday, at the Thames Police-court, to answer a charge of inciting Michael Collins, an Irish labourer, to commit an unnatural crime.
          The evidence taken on the first examination [reproduced above] having been read over by the chief clerk,
          Mr. Hardley asked the prosecutor if he wished to add to it, to which he replied in the negative.
          The prosecutor was again cross-examined at great length by Mr. Sleigh. He had been in a police-court once before; he was at the Thames Police court. The witness, who prevaricated very much, admitted that he had been at various police-courts,and imprisoned for assaults and rows; and he was imprisoned once for stealing a gentleman's gold-headed cane, but he was innocent of that.
          Emily Falbrook, servant at an eating-house, No. 57, Farringdon-street, said the prosecutor and an old gentleman, the prisoner, came there on the night of Saturday, the 8th instant, and had supper. They came in together and went out together. They partook of alamode soup, for which the old gentleman paid one shilling. She had seen the young man Collins before that.
          By Mr. Sleigh: The old gentleman asked the young man what he would have for supper.
          Mr. Sleigh: Just as a kind old gentleman would do who met wiht a poor man?
          Witness: Yes, sir.
          Patrick Tobin, an Irish labourer, of 3, Cock-court, Snow-hill, said: The prisoner came to my house by himself last Sunday week. He first paid for some drink, and said, "Are you Patrick?" I said, "Yes, Sir." He said, "No, you are not; Patrick is stout – much stouter than you are – and has black whiskers, and wear's a white smock-frock." I said, "I know who you mean; but Patrick is not his name. His name is Michael Collins – that is who you mean." The prisoner said, "Is he a deserving young man?" and I said he was. The prisoner said, "Where is he? I want him." I told him he had gone to a funeral at Bow. The gentleman had half-a-pint of stout out of the first pot he paid for, and then sent for another pot of stout, and then took me to a public-house and gave me brandy and soda-water, and bread and cheese. On Tuesday night he called on me again. Michael Collins was there before him. The prisoner was very generous and sent for two gallons of beer, a shilling's worth of oranges, a shilling's worth of tobacco, and some pipes. All my relatives and a fiddler partook of the beer, tobacco, and oranges. He then invited Mike to have supper with him, and he asked Mike if his friend Pat, meaning me, would like to come and have supper; and I went with him and Mike to Long-lane and had supper, and we sat down at table together.
          Mr.Yardley: What did you have for supper?
          Witness: Well we had pork and taties, and all nice rich gravey over the same (laughter), and the old gentleman said, "You shall have whatever you like my boys; but I should not like to see you drunk." He gave me 1s. 6d., and he gave an old woman, who was delicate, in the house in Cock-court, sugar, and tea, and coffee, and bread; and he gave the ould [sic] fiddler in the house sixpence, and we had a dance – I and Mike, and two young women, and the ould fiddler played a tune, and for that tune the gentleman gave him sixpence. (Laughter.)
          John Tobin said: I am father to the last witness. I saw the prisoner one night. He was good, generous, and gentlemanly, and treated the destitute of the place with bread, sugar, tea, and coffee; and I had some.
          George James Pearce, a tailor and outfitter in the City, said: I knew the prisoner. Yesterday week he came to my shop with Michael Collins, and bought him a new reefing jacket and a waistcoat. I thought it rather strange that the old gentleman should be buying things for the young man. Collins wanted the prisoner to buy him a new pair of white moleskin trousers. The prisoner refused to do so, and said, "I will buy you a pair next week; they are white, and no use to you." Collins said they would wash, and whispered in the prisoner's ear. The prisoner said, "No, I won't; don't aggravate me." When the prisoner left the shop, I asked Collins what he was, and he replied, "Why, he is an old ——, and is always wanting to handle me about.! He then left the shop.
          Thomas Hooper, waiter at the St. Katherine Dock Hotel, Upper East Smithfield, said: I attend on the gentlemen who use the hotel. I attended on the prisoner and Collins on Saturday night last. They had two steaks, five stouts, two breads, two pickles, and two brandies. (Laughton.) The old gentleman paid for all. They came in about half-past eight o'clock, and remained until ten mnutes to twelve. They were both sober.
          Bridget Collins, mother of the prosecutor, said she had received 9s. of her son since he had known the prisoner.
          In cross-examinatino by Mr. Sleigh, the witness said she was in very distressed circumstances, and lived in St. Helens-court, Lower Whitecross-street. Her son was a working man, and all he had was his character; and he had been tempted by the old gentleman Pechell. Her son had work every day, and some days he earned 5s. Her son was a steady man, and was only put into prison for defending his rights. Her son had been in prison for the drop taken; but he had not been in prison twelve times, as she knew of.
          Mr. Sleigh said he was about to ask the magistrate, when the last witness got into the box, whether it was necessary to address him at all. It was manifest that the magistrate ought, as he hoped he would, discharge the prisoner without a stain upon his character. Mr. Pechell was a gentleman of respectability, of wealth, of a liberal profession, for he was called to the bar forty-one years ago, and was now in his 70th year. Mr. Pechell was a gentleman of secuded habits, but exceeding benevolent. He would admit the accused gentleman was guilty of extraordinary eccentricity and foolishness in his benevolence; but it must be recollected he was old and weak, and that was the reason of his acting with so much want of caution and wth so much eccentricity. He hoped the accused would be discharged without any imputation on his morality. If the accused was committed for trial, it would be on the evidence of a man who, by his own admission, had been in prison several times, and told lie upon lie.
          Mr. Yardley said: The question was could the prisoner be convicted on the evidence as it stood? He should never have thought of committing the prisoner for trial on the unconfirmed evidence of Collins, both as regarded his own inconsistency and the many times he had been in prison. The last bit of evidence did not add the laest additional weight to the case. If he was to send the case for trial on the unconfirmed evidence of such a person as Collins, no jury would entertain it. There was no confirmation of the main fact; but there was a full confirmation of all that had preceeded the alleged revolting act of the prisoner. He meant that there was a confirmation of the intimacy that existed between the parties, the purchase of clothes, and visits to hotels and eating-houses. How could he (Mr. Yardley) account for the extraordinary intimacy which existed between the parties? I will not make any remarks on the case. I am not satisfied any jury will ever convict the prisoner. That being so, I should show a very weak disposition if I evaded the responsibility of discharging the prisoner, and I do discharge him.
          A burst of applause and clapping of hands followed the decision of the magistrate, from the friends of the prisoner in court. (Reynolds's Newspaper)

SOURCE: Reynolds's Newspaper, 23 January 1859.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "The Philanthropist, 1859", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 19 October 2020 <>.

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