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Newspaper Reports, 1885

NOTE: Some of the following newspaper reports are interesting for revealing some features of common legal practice. In one case, the Judge advised the Grand Jury that a man could not be convicted solely upon the evidence of a partner in the act, and the partner who admitted his participation in the act could not be convicted on the basis of his own evidence against himself; with the result that the case was dismissed. In another case, involving a blackmail letter in which one man charged another with committing a homosexual offence, the Judge advised the Jury that "it was absolutely immaterial in regard to the offence whether the charges contained in the letter were true or false"; that is, they were to consider whether or not the man who sent the letter did so to extort money, not whether or not his victim had committed homosexual offences. The reports also refer to the passing of the Labouchere Amendment, which introduced the misdemeanour of "gross indecency" between male persons.

7 March 1885

GRAVE CHARGE AGAINST A COLCHESTER MAN. – John Gocher, of no occupation, said to be independent, and living at No. 6, Manston Terrace, Albert Street, Colchester, was charged with having unlawfully solicited and incited W. C. Prime, sailor, of Exeter Street, Brompton Road, London, to commit an unnatural crime, in February last. – Mr. JONES appeared to prosecute on behalf of the Criminal Investigation Department, London, and in opening the case, siad that in all his experience, which had extended over nearly half a century, he had never met with a case of such enormity, the details being of a most abominable character. Proceeding to detail the circumstances, Mr. Jones said that in Feb. Prime inserted an advertisement in the Daily Chronicle, for a situation, stating that the advertiser had been in the Royal Navy, but had met with an accident and broken his arm, therefore, he was anxious to obtain, in consequence, some light employment until his arm got stronger. He was allowed a pension for six months. The prisoner answered the advertisement, but in consequence of the character of the prisoner's letters the matter was placed in the hands of the police. the prisoner had not signed his letters, and had asked Prime to reply by advertisement. The course taken by the Police resulted in the apprehension of the prisoner on Wednesday night, by the Colchester Police. Owing to the evidence not being at hand Mr. Jones asked for a remand for a week. – The prisoner protested against this. – Mr. Jones, therefore, put the Head-Constable (Mr. Coombe) in the witness box, and he proved the letters received by Prime were in the handwriting of the prisoner. In consequence of the prisoner having made an arrangement to meet Prime at Liverpool Street Station, witness went there and saw the prisoner walk about the station for over four hours. – The Bench remanded the prisoner for a week. (Essex Standard)

28 March 1885

REVOLTING CHARGE AGAINST A CLERGYMAN. – Rev. Joseph Ellis, clerk in holy orders, Claygate, was charged with attempting to commit an unnatural offence on Abel Waite, at Claygate, on the 19th inst. – Prosecutor stated the circumstances, and P.C. Bond proved taking prisoner into custody. – Mr. Lickforld (Messrs, Lewis and Lewis, solicitors) appeared for the defence. – after hearing the evidence, which occupied some considerable time, and was utterly unfit for publication, the prisoner was discharged, sufficient corroborative evidence not being forthcoming. The Bench also discharged the prisoner on a second charge for a similar offence with James Clarke, builder, of Esher, on the 18th of Feb., there being a lack of corroborative evidence in this case also. (Surrey Comet)

28 March 1885

Joseph Ellis, Clerk in Holy Orders, was placed in the dock at the Assize Courts on Thursday, and charged before a full Bench of Magistrates with unalwfully assaulting Edward Abel Wait, with intent to commit an unnatural offence. – Mr. Lickfold appeared for the defendant, who, it transpired during the hearing, had been doing temporary duty at Claygate, near Esher. The Courts were thronged.
          Wait having been sworn said on the 19th March, about eight o'clock in the evening he was in the Brewery Tap, Esher. He went out into the street and defendant patted him on the shoulder, and asked him what band it was. – The Clerk (Mr. J. Bell): Was there a band playing then? – Witness: Yes sir. I told him it was the Esher band. He then asked me why the Church bells were ringing, and I told him it was practice night. He next asked if I was a native of the place, and I replied I was born and bred there. He asked me what I did for a living, and I said, "Anything." Witness then described prisoner's alleged misconduct towrds him, which is of course unfit for publication, and went on to say that he drew back from him, when defendant caught hold of his arm, but he refused to go. He questioned witness as to his work, and also as to whether he was ruptured, and on othe rpoints, to which witness replied that nothing was the matter with him. Defendant again invited him to go with him, but witness said, "No." Defendant then went away, and witness went and found P.C. Bond, whom he told what had occurred. Defendant was apprehended, and while in the charge of the police, said, "I wish you had knocked me down and settled it." – In cross-examination by Mr. Lickfold witness said the defendant was arrested near Mr. Smelt's premises, Esher, about 100 years from where the alleged offence was committed. When charged, the defendant said he had not done such a thing. Defendant did not say, "If I did this to you did you not knock me down?! Witness did not knock him down, because he might have been charged with assault. He had never seen him before. He went outside the Tap to listen to the band. He lived at Park-road, Esher, and worked at anything. He had done nothing in the brewery for twelve months. He told the defendant that it was heavy work at the brewery, but did not complain to him of being in ill-health. He was grubbing now at Claremont Park. He never told the defendant he was hard up; in fact, the thing was not mentioned. Sometimes he earned 10s., and sometimes 15s. per week. The band was in the main street, but nobody passed while defendant was talking to him. – In reply to the Bench, witness said he stood with the defendant about five minutes after he touched him. Defendant almost begged and prayed of him to accompany him down the road. He was married, had been in his present house seven years, and paid 6s. perweek. He was now three weeks in arrear.
          P.C. Bond deposed to being in Esher about half-past eight o'clock on the evening in question in plain clothes, when Wait reported to him that a man had insulted him in the Brewery Tap. Wait gave him a description of the man. He said he was short, with drak clothes, had black whiskers, and a round felt hat. He ultimately found the defendant standing at the corner of the Claremont-road. As soon as he saw witness he walked away from the place. Witness followed, and having arrested him, took him to the police-station at Hersham. – In cross-examination witness said he knew now that the defendant was a clergyman doing temporary duty at Claygate. When arrested defendant said "I did not do it." At the police station at Heresham defendant said to Wait "If I did it why didn't you knock me down." Defendant's duties at Claygate ceased last Saturday.
          Mr. Lickfold said after the way in which the prosecutor had given his evidence he did not know whether the Bench wished him to address them.
          The Magistrates consulted for a few minutes, and then told the defendant he was discharged.
          Defendant left the dock, and was walking out of Court, when he was stopped and brought back charged with unlawfully assaulting James Clarke, with intent to commit an unnatural offence.
          James Clarke, the complainant in this case, deposed that on the 18th February, about 20 minutes to 5 in the afternoon, he was going from Claygate to Esher. When passing up the fields from Hare-lane to Esher he met the defendant, who stopped him. Witness then described the conversation with the defendant. The latter remarked upon the mildness of the weather, how nicely the birds were singing and said, "We shall soon have the cuckoo here." Witness replied, "No, sir; not for another three mnths." Defendant then remarked upon the Duchess of Albany's birthday, and witness said it was yesterday. Defendant then said it was "a shocking thing for her to be left a widow so early, a young woman like that, after they had begun to get used to each other and comfortable; she must miss him." He then asked if the mild weather suited witness's constitution, to which he replied "Yes." He asked him if he had good health. He said "No;" also if he had a pain in the chest, and if he had ruptured himself. Witness replied not that he was aware of, upon which the defendant said that some workmen strained themselves, causing a slight rupture, but did not know it, causing a lump on each side. Defendant then put his hands on him (described) and asked whether he had a family. He said he had seven living out of 24 (laughter, in which the defendant joined). Unfortunately, witness said, he lost his wife. Defendant burst out laughing when he said "twenty-four," and witness laughted too. In reply to his question he told the defendant he had lost his wife fourteen months ago, and also that he did not think anything now about it. He mentioned further conversation and other things unfit for publication. Ultimately, he said,he forced himself away. – In reply to the Bench, Clarke said he was a master builder, and lived in High-street, Esher. Wait and he were neighbours. – Cross-examined: He admitted he went with "Teddy" Wait to Hersham and identified the defendant, and on the road Wait made a few remarks as to what the man had done to him. Did not knock defendant down because perhaps the man might have knocked him down too (Laughter). Besides defendant would probably have given him in charge for assault. Was with the defendant from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour. At the first start he laughted, but he thought defendant's was a "funny game," and he became serious (laughter).
          Mr. Eastwood said where the offence was alleged to have taken place was perfectly open, and people continually passing to and fro.
          Prosecutor said on this occasion, much to his surprise, no one came in sight.
          P.C. Thomas Bond stated that on the 18th February, about 8.30 p.m., while off duty he looked into the Albert Arms, Esher, where he saw the prosecutor, who made a complaint. – Cross-examined: Had been looking for the defendant ever since. No summons or warrant had been issued.
          Mr. Lickfold said it was absurd to think that a powerful man like the prosecutor should be stopped in the manner described without offering any resistance. He urged that no credit was to be attached to the evidence of Clarke, who seemed to have treated whatever took place more as a joke than anything else.
          The Magistrates retired for ten minutes, and on returning into Court said the defendant would be discharged.
          The decision was received with applause, which was immediately suppressed. (Surrey Advertiser)

11 April 1885

This session was held on Thursday, the 2nd inst., at the Town Hall. There was only one case on the calendar.
          John Gocher, 53, said to be of independent means, a native of Ipswich, but who has lived in Colchester for some time, was indicted for having in the months of January and February, 1885, within the borough of Colchester, falsely, wickedly, and unlawfully solicited and incited one William Charles Prime feloniously to commit an unnatural offence. – Mr. C. E. Jones (insutructed by messrs. Jones and Son, on behalf of the Crown) appeared to prosecute, and Mr. Wightman Wood (instructed by Mr. Vulliamy, Ipswich), defended the prisoenr. – There were eight counts in the indictment, and the Grand Jury found a true bill on each count. – The Recorder said the case could only be tried at the Assize. He should, therefore, remit the case to the Assize to be held at Hertford, and order the recognisances of the witnesses to be enlarged. He agreed to allow bail, the prisoner in 80 and two sureties in 40 each; but they were not forthcoming, and he was removed in custody. (Essex Herald)

28 April 1885

THE SERIOUS CHARGE AGAINST AN IPSWICH MAN. – At the Essex and Herts Assizes John Gocher, a middle-aged man, stated to be of independent means, and lately residing at No. 67, Manston Terrace, Albert-street, Colchester, was tried on the bill of indictment found at the last Colchester Borough Quarter Sessions for having solicited and incited William C. Prime, sailor, of London, to commit an unlawful crime in Februare last. – . . . After hearing the evidence Mr. Earle [for the defence] took severla technical objections; but his Lordship, while allowing some, refused to withdraw four counts from the Jury, whereupon the prisoner's counsel directed his attention to the merits of the case, and to the correspondence on which the prosecution mainly relied, putting it strongly to the Jury that the mind of the person, whoever he might be, who wrote the letters, could not be properly balanced at the tie, and he implored them, in the interest of society and of everybody, to take that view of it. – His Lordship said the handwriting was admitted to be prisoner's, and he had held that four of the counts were good in law, so the only question for the Jury was whether or not the contention as to the state of prisoner's mind was made out. If the Jury felt after the evidence of Dr. Chevallier and others, who had been called for the defence, coupled with the letters themselves, that prisoner was insane at the time he wrote them, they must say so by their verdict – they must, under the last statute, find prisoner guilty, adding that in their opinion he was insance at the time. – The Jury returned a verdict of guilty, adding that in their opinion prisoner was insane at the time he wrote the letters. – His Lordship thereupon directed prisoner to be kept in strict custody during her Majesty's pleasure. (Ipswich Journal)

27 June 1885

GROSS INDECENCY. – At the police-court on Tuesday – before Mr Bishop, Mr R. H. Rhys, and Mr D. E. Williams – Wm. Davies, collier, Philip-street, Mountain Ash, appeared in answer to an adjourned summons, charging him with having behaved indecently. He was ordered to pay a fine of 40s and costs, or go to gaol for one month with hard labour. (Cardiff Times)

6 July 1885

This morning a man named Isaiah Millership (45), labourer, of Birmingham Road, committed suicide by hanging himself in one of the cells at Oldbury Police Station. – It appears that last night, between 11 and 12 o'clock, POlice-sergeant Stanton arrested Joseph Tyler (19), of Birmingham Road, on a charge of attempting to commit an unnatural offence upon the deceased in a field at Langley. He arrested both the men and conveyed them to the lockup where they were placed in separate cells. Shortly after eight o'clock this morning Police-sergeant Stanton's attention was called to a noise which proceeded from the cell occupied by the deceased, and upon going there he found Millership suspended by a small pocket handkerchief which he had tied round his neck and attached to some ironwork in the cell window. Sergeant Stanton immediately cut the deceased down and Dr. Lydden's assistant was called in, but he expired shortly afterwars. Deceased leaves a widow and family. (Birmingham Mail)

24 July 1885


ATTEMPTED UNNATURAL OFFENCE AT OLDBURY. – Thomas Tyler, on bail, charged with attempting to commit an unnatural offence at Oldbury, on the 5th inst., was found guilty and sentenced to twenty months' hard labour. A man who was apprehended with the prisoner committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell. (Birmingham Daily Post)

7 August 1885

Mr. Labouchere moved after Clause 9 to insert a clause which dealt with outrages on public decency, and which provided that any male person who in public or private committed or procured the commission by any male person of any act of gross indecency with another male person, should be guilty of a misdemeanour, and, on being convicted, should be liable to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding one year
[This is an error: the term was two years.], with or without hard labour.
          The clause was accepted without a division, and was ordered to stand part of the bill. (Pall Mall Gazette)

8 August 1885

A REMARKABLE CHARGE DISMISSED. – John Godfrey Gray, a tailor living at Tooting, was charged at the Epsom Police Court on Monday, with intent to commit an unnatural offence, at Sutton Common-road, on August 4th, upon the person of Egbert Fox Weller, a young gentleman, aged 17, residing with his step-father at Woodside, Sutton Common-road. From the evidence it appeared that the prisoner called upon Weller in reference to a suit of clothes. Some conversation took place about the fit of the clothes, and subsequently the prisoner committed the assault for which he was now charged. – Evidence was given by the prosecutor and other witnesses in support of the charge, and Inspector A. Gilham deposed that when charged prisoner exclaimed "Oh, my God, if I committed the offence I must have been drunk." Mr. G. W. Dennis, of Croydon, who appeared for the prisoner, addressed the magistrates on a point of law affecting the case. He urged that it was not a legal offence for a man to place his hand upon the person of another if there was no objection. There had been no evidence to show that the prosecutor had offered any objection. – The magistrates having differed from Mr. Dennis, the latter then addressed himself to the question of fact, and submitted that the prisoner had only acted in the manner intimated in order to ascertain what allowance he should allow for the fit of prosecutor's dress. – After consideration, the Chairman stated that the magistrates were of opinion that the evidence was not such as would lead a jury to convict. The prisoner would therefore be discharged. – The decision was received with applause, which, however, was instantly checked. (Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter)

8 August 1885

SERIOUS CHARGE. – John Godfrey Gray, tailor, of Tooting, was charged with assaulting Egbert Fox Weller, at Sutton Common-road, on the 4th August, with intent to commit an unnatural crime. The prosecutor is a young gentleman residing with his step-father at Woodstock, Sutton Common-road. The allegation was that on Monday prisoner called upon him, and after talking for some time committed the assault complained of. – The complainant, Young, a gardener, and Mr. Meados gave evidence in support of the charge. – Inspector Gilham stated that when he apprehended the prisoner, he said, "If I did this I must have been drunk." – Mr. Dennis appeared for the defence, and contended that no offence had been committed, and that it was all a mistake. – The Chairman said the evidence was such that they did not thiunk a jury would convict, and they dismissed the case. (Surrey Advertiser)

8 August 1885

John Godfrey Gray, tailor, Tooting, was charged with assaulting Egbert Fox Weller, at Sutton Common-road, on the 4th August, with intent to commit an unnatural crime. – The Magistrates were of opinion that the evidence was not such as that on which a jury would convict, and therefore they dismissed the case. (Applause, which was nstantly suppressed.) (Surrey Mirror)

4 September 1885

At the Liverpool Police Court to-day, Frank Caney, butler, was charged with sending threatening letters to Arthur Ashton, stock and share broker, London and Liverpool Prisoner had been in prosecutor's employ, but owing to a disagreement with Mrs Ashton he left. He then wrote letters to the prosecutor demanding 20, under threat of exposure. Prosecutor also received a letter from a solicitor demanding compensation for prisoner on the ground that he had left his situation because of the prosecutor's attempts to commit unnatural offences and threatening proceedings. Prisoner denied the allegations, but admitted that he went with the prisoner to bathe, but he did not indulge in any improprieties. He did ask prisoner to kiss him. He also denied the improprieties alleged by prisoner to have taken place in the bath-room. Prisoner was committed to the assizes. Counsel applied for bail, ashe wished to make out a warrant against Mr Ashton, but the magistrates refused. (Edinburgh Evening News)

11 September 1885

At a private sitting of the Norwich magistrates at the Guildhall yesterday, Richard Frary of Upper Goat Lane, and Mark Knights of Magpie Road, a lad, were charged with feloniously, wickedly, and against the order of nature, committing a certain abominable crime. The magistrates present were W. J. Utten-Browne, Esq. (chairman), C. R. Gilman, and T. Wells, Esqs., and the Town Clerk (H. B. Miller, Esq.), appeared to prosecute on behalf of the police. Upon Mr. Miller's application the prisoner Knights was allowed to leave the dock and give Queen's evidence against Frary. Medical evidence was also submitted, after which the further hearing of the case was adjourned until Tuesday, and the prisoners removed in custody. At a second special sitting this morning, before the May (J. Hotblack, Esq.) and C. R. Gilman, Esq., James Daynes landlord of the Nelson public-house, Bedford Street, St. Andrew's, who had been apprehended upon a warrant the previous evening, was placed inthe dock charged with being concerned in conjunction with the other prisoners in the committal of a similar offence. The Town Clerk prosecuted. Prisoner Knights again gave evidence, and was cross-examined by Daynes, who was also remanded in custody until Tuesday next. (Eastern Evening News)

12 September 1885

Francis Webb and John Goddard, Floore, charged with an abominable offence at Brockhall, on the 30th August, were committed for trial at the next assizes. (Northampton Mercury)

19 September 1885

At a second special sitting on Friday morning, before the Mayor (J. Hotblack, Esq.) and C. R. Gilmlan, Esq., James Daynes, landlord of the Nelson public-house, Befrord Street, St. Andrew's who had been apprehended upon a warrant the previous evening, was placed in the dock charted with being concerned in conjunction with the prisoners Richard Frary and Mark Knights, who were before the bench on the previous day, in the committal of a certai abominable offence. The Town Clerk prosecuted. Prisoner Knights again gave evidence, and was cross examined by Daynes, who was also remanded in custody until Tuesday.
Richard Frary, Upper Goat Lane, and Mark Knights, Magpie Road, grocer's porter, were charged with committing an unnatural offence. The evidence gifven on the last occasion was read over, and Dr. Mills added that from a further examination of Knights the theory he first formed that Knights had acted as a passive agent in the committal of this offence several times was supported. Alfred Barker, 17 years of age, and living in St. Benedict's Street, said he had known Frary and Nights some time, and on a Sunday evening, about nine months ago, he went for a walk with them. They turned up a lane on the Earlham Road, and whilst Knights walked away Frary attempted to indecently assault him, and he ran away. Evidence was given by Mr. Rackham, chemist, that last May he treated prisoner, at his request, for a veneral disease. When taken into custody on the present charge by Inspector Mason, he said "It is preposterous, it is all spite on the part of Knights. He has contracted a disease I know, as I have bathed it for him. He said Dr. Matthews told him he got it by sitting on a seat, but I don't believe that. I am willing to be examined. I have got no disease about me." This was the case for the prosecution, and the Magistrates having deliberated in private, the MAYOR committed prisoners for trial.
          The charge against James Daynes, the landlord of the Lord Nelson, was then proceeded with, Knights against giving evidence. He was discharged. (Lowestoft Journal)

3 October 1885

SERIOUS CHARGE AGAINST A HAWKER. – At the Borough Police Court, Chesterfield, on Monday, Richard Oliver, hawker, St. Mary's Gate, was brought up in custody charged with committing an act of gross indecency on Edward Bernard, labourer, Ashton-undeer-Lyne, on the 26th inst. – After hearing the evidence, which was unfit for publication, the magistrates committed the prisoner for trial. (Derbyshire Courier)

23 October 1885

George Henry Jelfs surrendered to his bail on a charge of attempting to commit an unnatural offence at Weston-sub-Edge. – Mr. Probyn prosecuted and Mr. Morton Brown defended. – The case rested on the evidence practiccally of one policeman. – The Rev. Canon Bourne and the Rev. F. Neville gave the prisoner an excellent character. – The jury acquitted the prisoner, and he was discharged. (Gloucester Citizen)

23 October 1885

AN ABOMINABLE CRIME. – Thomas Jolliffe (49), labourer, and William Boatswain (23), mason, were charged with attempting to commit an abominable offence at Portland on the 26th of August. Mr. Udal prosecuted, and Mr. Willes defended. The jury found Jolliffe guilty and Boatswain not guilty. Jolliffe was sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment with hard labour. Boatswain was discharged with a caution. (Southern Times and Dorset County Herald)

30 October 1885

FRANCIS WEBB, 16, and JOHN GODDARD, 15, were convicted of a wicked offence at Brockhall, Northamptonshire, and sentenced Webb to 12 months' and Goddard to 6 months' hard labour. (Luton Times and Advertiser)

7 November 1885

UNNATURAL OFFENCE AT BROCKHALL. – Francis Webb (16), labourer, and John Goddard (15), labourer, were found guilty of an attempted unnatural offence at Brockhall [Northamptonshire], on the 30th August, and was sentenced to 12 and 6 months' imprisonment respectively. Mr. E. H. Chambers defended. (Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press)

11 November 1885

His Lordship, in his charge to the Grand Jury, said there were ten prisoners whose cases would come before them, and he had some observations to make on most of them. . . . The next case to whic his Lordship referred was a charge of the most disgusting and horrible character imaginable. It affected three persons; but his Lordship would only mention the name of one, an infamous wretch by his own confession on oath, named Mark Knights, who appeared first, to have been accused of unnatural crimes, and by some proceedings, which appeared to his lordship to have been very singular, he was examined upon his oath as to the particulars of the offence, and then he accused two others persons, whose names he did not think it necessary to mention. However, Knights admitted that he had committed this horrible crime, and mentioned two other persons as having been partners in his guilt, and as having co-operated with him in his own hateful propensities and habits. There was no corroboration against either of the two persons whom he accused. In the case of one man he said nothing about him until after three months, but with regard to the other man he entered a little more into detail, and there was no doubt that there had been here more opportunity for the offence, although his lordship would not say that there was any corroboration in either case. According to law a Jury could not convict a man upon the evidence of an accomplice. He would not say asolutely could not convict, because the Grand Jury and the Petty Jury are supreme in such matters, but it was the duty of the Judge to warn them that they ought not to convict upon the uncorroborated evidence of an accomplice. If the Petty Jury ought not to convict, the Grand Jury ought not to return a bill. There was no corroboration whatever of what Knights stated, and he did not think the Grand Jury could find a true bill against the others, whose names he would not mention, because he did not wish to inflict upon them a disgrace which could do no good, and which might be, for what he knew, undeserved. As to Knights, His Lordship did not think there was any evidence against him, except the evidence which he gave himself upon oath before the Magistrates. Although that evidence was quite sufficient to justify his Lordship to speak of him as he had spoken of him, and was amply sufficient to drive him out of the society of all persons who knew what he had sworn about himself, yet for reasons which the Jury could well appreciate, when a man had given evidence of being an accomplice to an act, the fact that he had done so could not legally be given in evidence against him. His Lordship, therefore, thought that the Grand Jury should not return true bills against Knights and the other man. Should the Jury not find a true bill this would not stop proceedings should evidence at any time be adducible to bring the offence home to the men. . . .
          The Grand Jury ignored the bills against Richd. Frary (43), musician, and Mark Knights (18), porter, charged with abominable offences. (Norwich Mercury)

12 November 1885

His LORDSHIP, in charging the grand jury, said the business before them was serious, both in amount and in character. . . . The next case to which he would allude was that of Frank Caney, who was accused of attempting to extort money by sending a letter to a person in Liverpool charging him with the committal of a disgusting and abominable offence, and threatening to set the Criminal Law Amendment Act in motion against him. There was one feature in the case which the grand jury must regret with him. They would find that a person who professed to act as solicitor for the prisoner put forward in a letter to the prosecutor demands which, in his judment, left that person no reason of complaint if the magistrates had taken the course of putting him in the dock by the side of the prisoner. The only thing he could tell the grand jury was that it was absolutely immaterial in regard to the offence whether the charges contained in the letter were true or false. The gist of the offence was attempting to extort money by threatening to put the criminal law in motion against the prosecutor. He might add that the accusations contained in the letter were promptly and sharply repudiated, and the prisoner and his adviser were told that they might do their worst. . . . (Liverpool Mercury)

19 November 1885

Frank Caney, butler, pleaded guilty at the Liverpool Assizes on Tuesday to sending a thretening letter to his employer, Arthur Ashton, stockbroker, Liverpool. The prisoner had been dismissed from Ashton's employ, and wrote letters charging him wth an abominable offence. He also got a solicitor to write a letter to Ashton demading money. The judge said the crime was the most dreadful and cruel that could be committed, and sentenced the prisoner to five years penal servitude. (South Wales Daily News)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1885", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 12 July 2019, updated 9 Aug. 2019, 14 Jan. 2023 <>.

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