Newspaper Reports, 1860s

Wednesday, 13 June 1860


We noticed this painful matter very briefly in yesterday's Daily Post. Today the case was fully gone into, before T. Phillips and William Gough, Esqurs., and occupied upwards of two hours in its hearing. Of course from its nature – charges of capital offence and criminal assault upon youths – we cannot give the details, adn the first or more serious charge [i.e. sodomy] was not substantiate [i.e. there was no proof of penetration and ejaculation]. As to the second – the indecent assaults – the lads gave detailed evidence. The defendant is a young man, the Rev. Henry Hatchard Coward, and he has for some time past officiated as a minister in what is called the Free Church, situate in the Grange Road, Small Heath. He is not married, and has apartments at a respectable house in Muntz Street, near his church. The witnesses were George Turner, 17, George Alcott, 16, William King, 17, and Herbet Johnson, 16. It seems that the accused was assiduous in attending to a school attached to his chapel, and took advantage of this to appoint Turner to come to his lodgings, and in a room where he professed to display some chemical experiements (the place being darkened by the shutters being closed) the indecent assault took place. As to Alcott's case, this youth was enticed by a promise orf some cast-off clothes to go into the room just referred to, and he was there also indecently assaulted by the prisoner. The case of King was one of strange character. Defendant met him accidentally in Heath Mill Lane, and after telling him that he was a doctor, recently come from London, went with him to where he worked, in Trinity Street, and appointed a place to meet him in the evening at nine o'clock; but Coward did not come till the next afternoon, when he fetched the youth, and took him to the Fountain, in Heath Mill Lane. Here, after treating him with ale, the indecent assault took place, but immediately upon its occurring, King left the place and went to his work. The last case, that of Johnson,w as of sad character. The defendant had got this youth to sleep with him on three several nights, and the indecency took place in bed. This youth, on being asked if he resiste,d answered in the negative, as on the two first occasions of sleeping together, Coward frightened him by talking of committing suicide with a pistol. After a lengthened consultation, the Magistrates were of opinion that they could only commit for trial in the cases of Alcott and King; but from what fell from Mr. Powell in Court, he being engaed for the prosecution, the charge as regards Johnson will also have the attention of a Jury. Finally the defendant, who, by the advice of Mr. Hemmant, his solicitor, reserved his defence, was committed to the Sessions for trial. The Bench, in answer to Mr. Hemmant, said that bail would be accepted for the prisoner, two sureties in 100 each, and himself in 200. The defendant, who maintained much self-possession during the painful details, was dressed in the costume of a minister, and is of short stature, pale complexion, dark hair and eyes, and apparently about thirty years of age. One of his brothers was in Court, and it is said that Coward is respectably connected. He was apprehended at Leamington on Sunday last, where he had been just before preaching a sermon in one of the chapels. To inspector Horsewill, of the Leamington police, who took him, he said, "They cannot, however, charge me with sodomy." (Birmingham Daily Post, Issue 653.

Saturday, 23 February 1861


The bills against the following prisoners were all cut: – . . . John Blenkinsop Bagley, provision dealer, 32 (imp.), indicted for committing the crime of sodomy, at Blackburn, on the 16th December, 1860. (The Preston Guardian)

Friday, 28 June 1861

CHARGE OF SODOMY. – Gillyatt Sumner, and old man with white hair, who has resided at Woodmancy, near Beverley, and a young man named Crabtree, from Bradford, were charged with committing sodomy. The charge was made by a boilermaker in the employ of Messrs Samuelsons, named Jones. Holgate, who with prisoners and some others, had occupied beds on Wednesday night in a room at the Regatta Tavern, High-street, with several witnesses were examined, and the case was adjourned until to-morrow (Friday). (The Hull Packet and East Riding Times; issue 3989.)

Saturday, 15 February 1862

PETTY SESSIONS [Portsmouth], Saturday. – John Phillips, keeper of the "Evening Star," beerhouse, was summoned by Superintendent Cook, charged with keeping a disorderly house, and allowing persons to meet together therein for immoral purposes. Mr. Field conducted defendant's case. The evidence is unfir for publication. The defendant was convicted in the penalty of 2l. 10s., and costs.

COMMITTED TO THE HANTS COUNTY PRISON. – . . . Sodomy – Charles Winfield and Samuel Gobey, 330 days. (Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle; Issue 3254)

Friday, 16 May 1862

SODOMY. – William Normanton, a resolute looking fellow, was brought up on a charge of attempting to commit sodomy upon a youth named Ralph Oliver, residing with his parents in Church-street, Drypool. After the hearing of the prosecutor's evidence, which was of a very disgusting character throughout, his worship expressed himself dissatisfied with the evidence, adn therefore discharged the prisoner on the ground that the charge was not substantiated. (The Hull Packet and East Riding Times; Issue 4034)

Saturday, 5 August 1865


WEDNESDAY.   Thomas Manuel, 23, was arraigned for having, at Wrexham, committed an unnatural crime with one William Williams, on the 10th of July, 1865.
          Prisoner pleaded not guilty.
          Mr. Swetenham prosecuted.
          John Bonnor, a hawker, residing at Chester, John Lueas [?] Watson, P. C. Huffrens, and Wm. Williams, were calle dupon to prove the case. The evidence at Prisoner's request, was interpreted into Welsh, by Mr. Isaac Clarke.
          The jury found the prisoner guilty of an attempt to perpetrate the offence.
          The judge, addressing the prisoner, said – You have been found guilty of an attempt to commit the abominable offence of sodomy. I am afraid that anything I might say to you would be thrown over. [i.e. ignored] Therefore I shall content myself with passing a sentence upon yo of 18 months' imprisonment, with hard labour. (North Wales Chronicle, issue 1972)

Friday, 13 November 1868

POLICE – On Thursday, the 5th insatant, at the Magistrates' Clerk's office (before the Rev. J. R. Hill, James Mitchelson, and S. H. Loy, Esqs.) – Thomas Williamson and jonathan Goodwill, both young men from the village of Sinnington, were brought up in custody, charged witih committing the unnatural offence of sodomy in a plantation at Sinnington, on the 1st of November. From information given to the police they were apprehended by P. C. Jackson, Wrelton, on the 3rd instant, and remanded until Monday, the 9th inst, when they were again brought up before the Rev. J. R. Hill, and finally committed to York Castle, for trial at the next assizes. (The Hull Packet and East Riding Times; issue 4371)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1860s", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 24 June 2012 <>.

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