Newspaper Reports, 1879

7 January 1879

George Edward Honeycombe and James Blake, two young men, were indicted for attempting to commit an unnatural offence on December 19th. Mr. Murch, the prosecuting counsel, in opening the facts to the jury, said he did not remember a similar case at Bristol sessions during his experience of 23 years. Prisoners, when detected in the attempt at the Pelican tavern, Old Market-street, did not deny their guilt, and offered money to be let off. Honeycombe, who gave a false name and address, had a certificate of character as a member of a Christian society. The jury having without hesitation returned a verdict of "Guilty," the prisoners begged for leniency. The Recorder sentenced Honeycombe to eighteen months' and Blake to twelve months' hard labour. (Bristol Mercury)

9 January 1879

The Bristol Quarter Sessions were held on Monday, before Mr. Kingdon, Q.C., recorder. – . . . George E. Honeycomb (21), insurance agent, and James Blake (18), labourer, were charged with attempting to commit an unnatural crime. Honeycomb was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, and Blake to 12 months. (Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette)

5 April 1879

William Allen, aged 58, and Thomas Berry, 17, were indicted for an attempt to an unnatural offence in February last, but the grand jury returned no bill, and the accused were liberated. (Hampshire Advertiser)

14 July 1879

Augustus Kran-hopffe, a respectably-dressed young man, and Edward Duncan, an artillery-man, were remitted to a higher court from the City Police Court, on a charge of committing an unnatural offence. (Edinburgh Evening News)

31 July 1879

UNNATURAL CRIME AT CLAY CROSS. – Yesterday, at the Clay Cross Petty Sessions, two young men, colliers of Pilsley, named John Farrington [or Purrington] and Josiah Orridge, were committed for trial at the next Assizes, and bail refused, on a charge of committing an unnatural offence on July 18th. (Sheffield Daily Telegraph>)

3 August 1879


[E X T R A C T]
In the following year [i.e. 1810] a terrible tragedy, in which his Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland was deeply implicated, shocked and terrified the kingdom. The mysterious death of Sellis, the duke's valet, need not be gone into at length here. Sellis is alleged to have detected his royal master in the commission of an unnatural and beastly crime, and, to prevent him from causing mischief, a cunning scheme was contrived, in which it was pretended that the Duke was murderously assaulted by Sellis, who immediately afterwards cut his own throat. The cleverly-laid plot, howeve,r failed to convince, and there can be no reasonable doubt that the unfortunate valet was cruelly murdered by his master, who, after the commission of the crime, so arranged the body, &c., as to lead to the impression that Sellis had committed suicide. Some years afterwrds, when the Duke was smitten wth the charms of Lady Graves, who reciprocated her lover's attentions, Lord Graves also committed suicide in the most convenient manner, and at a most convenient time, and the disconsolate widow went out riding with her royal friend very shortly after the said affair took place. By a most singular dispensation of Providence, any man whom the Duke desired "out of the way" was immediately possessed by a suicidal mania, which had the required effect. (Reynolds's Newspaper)

2 September 1879

SERIOUS CHARGE. – Joseph Powell, a youth, of near Blakeney, was charged on remand with having committed an unnatural offence. Mr.. Gilbert, of Newnham-on-Severn, defended. The witnesses for the prosecution were Adam Rowles, and police consables Williams and newport, of Blakeney, Rowles swearing that Powell on being caught threatened to cut his own throat. He was fully committed for trial at the next assizes. (Gloucester Citizen)

15 October 1879

JOSHIAH ORRIDGE and JOHN PERRINGTON pleaded guilty to attempting to commit an unnatural offence at North Wingfield, on the 18th of July. – Mr. Tonman Mosley was instructed for the prosecution. – Prisoners were each sent to gaol of six months. (Derby Daily Telegraph)

1 November 1879

Joseph Powell, a lad, pleaded guilty of attempting the commission of an unnatural offence, at East Dean, and was sentenced to three months' hard labour. (Western Daily Press)

5 November 1879

Edward Christian, 27, seaman R.N., and William Sansom, 17, seaman R.N., were indicted for attempting to commit an unnatural offence at Devonport on the 25th October. Mr. St. Aubyn prosecuted; prisoners were undefended. – The evidence was perfectly clear, and a verdict of guilty was returned against both, coupled with a recommendation to mercy "on account of his youth and inexperience." Christian had an excellent character, and his lordship said that in consideration of this he should not sentence him to penal servitude. Nevertheless, the sentence must be a severe one, and he could be sentenced to years' imprisonment with hard labour. Sansom would be sentenced to fifteen months' imprisonment. – Christian, who had ascribed his position to drink, on hearing his sentence burst into tears; Sansom was unmoved. (Western Morning News)

6 November 1879

Thomas Hunt, a pilot, was chargedwith having used obscene language at Ilfracombe on the 30th September. – P.C. Stentiford deposed that on the day in question, in consequence of information that men were fighting on the Strand, he went there and found the defendant on board his boat using the most disgusting language, and mentioning the name of an unnatural crime, as fast as he could utter the words, and so loud that people must have heard him on the Quay. – Fined 10s. and costs, a week being allowed for payment, that Mr. Ben-Fox, who entered a plea of guilty, might communicate with the defendant. (North Devon Journal)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1879", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 18 June 2019 <>.

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