Newspaper Reports, 1870–74

16 June 1870

CHARGES OF SODOMY AGAINST TWO ARBROATH MEN. – Two men, residing in Arbroath, the one a master flesher and the other a mechanic, have been apprehended, by warrant of the Sheriff, charged with having committed sodomy. Two criminal officers left Dundee on Saturday morning, and apprehended the men, who were brought here by one of the forenoon trains. There was quite a crowd of people at the Arbroath Station witnessing their departure. – Dundee Paper (Fife Herald)

5 August 1870

LIST OF PRISONERS SET DOWN FOR TRIAL AT THE ENSUING CIRCUIT COURT. – The following is a list of prisoners set down for trial at the ensuing Circuit Court of Justiciary in Dundee, which opens on Thursday, 1st September:– . . . John Kidd, Peter Rattray, from Arbroath – Sodomy, or attempt to commit sodomy. (Dundee Courier)

3 September 1870

John Kidd and Peter Rattray, residing in Arbroath, were charged with committing sodomy, or attempting to commit sodomy in the shop in High Street, Arbroath, on Sunday, the 29th May, occupied by the prisoner Kidd.
          Both prisoners pleaded not guilty, and were defended by Messrs Charles Scott and Watson as counsel, and Messrs William Smith, Arbroath, and Kyd, Dundee, as agents.
          After a new jury had been empanelled,
          The Lord Justice Clerk said – I have to mention on behalf of the Court, before proceeding with this trial, that this is a case that must be tried with closed doors, and none can be allowed to remain except those officially connected with the Court. Before proceeding the Court must, therefore, be cleared.
          The Court was cleared accordingly, and the trial proceeded with in private.
          The case lasted until half-past five o'clock afternoon. The jury unanimously returned a verdict finding the prisoners not guilty, and they were accordingly liberated. (Dundee Courier)

Friday, 23 December 1870

JOHN HINDS (30), sailor, was indicted for committing sodomy, at Sunderland, on September 16. Mr ABBS prosecuted; prisoner was not defended. The prisoner was found guilty, and sentenced to fifteen years' penal servitude. (Newcastle Courant)

28 April 1871

1810 Samuel Mounser, unnatural crime, Stanford-le-Hope.
. . .
1826 Isaac Smith, unnatural crime
. . .
1830 John Stammers, unnatural crime, Walton.
. . . (chelmsford Chronicle)

23 March 1872

Josiah Hotton, butler to Captain T. C. Maunsell, was charged with committing an unnatural crime, at Thorpe Malsor, on the 4th March. – Evidence was given by several witnesses, at the conclusion of which prisoner was committed to the next Northamptonshire Quarter Sessions, for trial. – Bail allowed. – Mr. Geck, of Northampotn, appeared for prisoner. (Leicester Chronicle)

30 April 1872

THE CHARGE OF CRIMINAL ASSAULT AGAINST A CLERGYMAN. – On Saturday, in the Court of Criminal Appeal for the consideration of Crown cases reserved, sitting at Westminster, before the Lord Chief Baron, Mr. Justice Willes, Baron Cleasby, and Justices Grove and Quain, the case of "The Queen v. Wollaston" came on for argument. The prisoner was tried at the last Assizes, at Lewes, before the Lord Chief Justice, on an indictment charging him with having committed an indecent assault on two youths, William Rickards and Douglas White, aged respectively 15 and 17 years, and he was further indicted for having incited them to commit an unnatural crime. He was then found guilty, and the learned Judge reserved for this Court the question raised by his counsel at the trial. Mr Serjeant Parry and Mr Webster now appeared for the appellant; Mr Barrow for the Crown. The Lord Chief Baron, on delivering judgment, said the Court considered there was nothing in the circumstances of the case which would bring it within the purview or compass of the law, and constitute it an assault within the meaning of the statute under which the indictment was laid, as the lads on whom the assaults were alleged to have been committed, were stated to be consenting parties. The conviction was therefore quashed. (Surrey Gazette)

14 May 1872

POLICE COURT. – At the Police Court on Saturday . . . Robert Jno. Hunt, labourer, 45, and John Sherman, 22, were charged with committing an unnatural crime. From the nature of the case the proceedings took place within closed doors. The charge rested principally upon the evidence of Sergeant Hutter, of the Ramsgate Police. Both prisoners were committed to take their trial at the next Quarter Sessions, at Sandwich. (Kentish Gazette)

6 July 1872

The Quarter Sessions for the borough of Sandwich and its liberties were held on Thursday last, at the Guildhall, by the Recorder, J. Deedes, Esq. . . .
          The calendar was not a heavy one, there being only two prisoners for trial – John Sherman, 20, waiter, committed on the 11th of May for attempting to commit an unnatural crime at Ramsgate; and Robert John Hunt, descried as a stoker, committed on a charge of aiding and abetting Sherman.
          . . . the Recorder, addressing Mr. Lilley [barrister for the defence], said that on receiving the depositions, and reading them, he made a communication to the Clerk of the Peace that the case ought to go to the assizes, and which intimation no doubt had been made to him (Mr. Lilley).
          . . . Whatever indictment was prepared – supposing it should be an indictment for the full offence – the party could still be found guilty of the lesser offence. He therefore proposed to send the case to the assizes, . . . and the witnesses would be bound over to appear at Maidstone.
          . . . The witnesses in the case then entered into fresh recognisances to appear at the Kent Assizes, and the sessions terminated.
          We may state that Police-sergeant Hitter, the principal witness against the two prisoners, has been highly commended for his conduct by the magistrates who heard the case in the first instance at the Ramsgate Police Court, and that it is probable he will received some other recognition. (Thanet Advertiser)

29 July 1872

John Sherman, 20, waiter, and Robert John Hunt, 44, stoker, were indicted, the former for attempting to commit an unnatural crime, at Ramsgate, on the 11th May; and the latter with aiding and abetting Sherman.
          . . . The details of the case were not such as could be reported.
          The jury retired to consider their verdict, and after a few minutes' consultation they acquitted both prisoners.
          The Judge said that if they had been found gulity the least sentence he could have passed upon them would have been one of ten years' penal servitude. (Maidstone Journal and Kentish Advertiser)

4 January 1873

Archibald McBean, described as a gentleman, and who at the time of his apprehension was living at Bedford Lodge, Windmill-road, Croydon, was indicted for indecently assaulting David Garnett, a bricklayer, living at No. 6, St. Peter's-place, Croydon, with intent to commit an unnatural offence, in Croham-lane, on the 28th November.
          The prisoner pleaed "guilty," and was sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labour. (Croydon Advertiser)

5 February 1873

At the Thames Police-court, yesterday, Andrew Bassotti, lodging at the Sailors' Home in Well-street, was charged with committing an unnatural offence upon Francis Birth, a Sailor boy, aged 16 years, who is also staying in the same Home. Mr. Lushington committed the prisoner for trial. (Shipping and Mercantile Gazette)

4 December 1873

Hugh Collins, 30, labourer, and James Harrison, 24, striker, were indicted for committing an unnatural crime at Leeds on the 15th September. Mr. Wheelhouse prosecuted, and Mr. Vernon Blackburn defended Collins. The prisoners were found guilty of an attempt, and sentenced to 10 years' penal servitude. (Huddersfield Chronicle)

9 December 1873

WM. TOWN, 17, labourer, was charged with an abominable crime at Botolphs, on the 17th of October. – Mr. Merrifield prosecuted and Mr. Willoughby defended.
          The jury found the prisoner guilty of the attempt.
HENRY. HARMAN, alias HENRY HARMER, 67, bricklayer, labourer, was charged with inciting James Peters to commit an abominable offence at Battle, on the 13th of November. – Mr. Merrifield prosecuted. the jury having enquired whether the prisoner was supposed to be of sound mind, and the answer being in the affirmative, they found him guilty. He expressed a desire to go to the Penitentiary. His Lordshup said the most charitable construction they could put upon the prisoner's act was that he was not in his right mind. The sentence would be 18 months' imprisonment. (Supplement to the Local Journal, Epsom Journal

1 May 1874

George Lloyd, of Felsted, labourer, was summoned by Thomas Legerton, of the same place, schoolmaster, to show cause why he should not be bound over to keep the peace, and find sureties for his good behaviour. – As complainant did not appear the summons was dismissed. – Thomas Legerton, the last-named complainant, was then charged by George Lloyd, the defendant int he former case, with attempting to commit an unnatural offence. – Defendant not appearing, a warrant was issued for his apprehension. (Chelmsford Chronicle)

14 July 1874

A very low type of fellow named Geo. Orchard, described as a drover, and being 35 years of age, was indicted for committing an unnatural offence, not to be particularised, with a boy named Stephen Knight, at Romford, on the 17th ult.
          On being formally charged, he pleaded guilty.
          His Lordship: I have read the depositions, and I know that in point of law you are not guilty of the offence charged, but you are guilty of something which I won't shock people by describing.
          Prisoner then changed his plea to one of not guilty, and the judge directed the jury to acquit him, telling them he was very sorry it was so and that he wished the man could be adequately punished.
          His Lordship further admonished the prisoner on him leaving the dock. (Essex Herald)

17 July 1874

A Narrow Escape.
George Orchard, 35, drover, was indicted for an unnatural offence at Romford on the 27th June.
          Prisoner pleaded guilty.
          His LORDSHIP, however, pointed out that although he was morally guilty, he was not guilty in point of law, and would have to be discharged.
          Mr. WARTON quite agreed with his Lordship, and notwithstanding the plea of guilty, he should jnot offer any evidence against the prisoner.
          Prisoner, after the point had been further explained, withdrew his plea of guilty, and substituted one of Not Guilty.
          His LORDSHIP told the Jury they must acquit prisoner, as he could not be legally convicted. He was sorry for this, and wished the man could be punished.
          Prisoner was then formally acquitted, and after being cautioned by the Judge as to his future conduct, he was discharged. (Essex Standard)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1870–74", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 17 December 2018, updated 3 Oct. 2023 <>.

Return to Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England