Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook compiled by Rictor Norton

Newspaper Reports, 1891

See separate pages for individual cases reported during 1891.

18 April 1891

John Reed, Blacksmith, Cowpen Quay, and Thos. Simpson, miner, New Delaval, were charged with feloniously committing sodomy and being drunk at Waterloo, on April 12th. – P.C. Metcalf and Inspector Robertson, and Sergt. Dagg each gave evidence connected with the case after the entire court had been cleared except the Press. – Defendants were sent to take their trial at the Assizes. (Morpeth Herald)

27 June 1891

A Revolting CHARGE. – William Woodhead, millhand, and John Wilson Wainwright, warehouseman, both of Bradford, were charged on remand with having committed an unnatural offence – "sodomy," according to the charge sheet. The evidence in the case was of a most loathsome charcter, and the magistrates' clerk directed that "all respectable people should leave the court." Constable Eke stated that on the 18th inst., at two a.m., he was on the canal bank at Thackley, when he heard taking. On going to the place he saw the prisoners, and witnessed the act alleged against them. He got hold of the prisoners, and took them to the police station at Idle. Neither of the prisoners attempted to get away. Woodland gave the name of Whitaker, and Wainwright that of Wilson, and said they both came from Shipley. These statements were proed to be untrue. – Srgeant Gracey having given evidence, Dr Nestead was caslled. He said he had examined both the prisoners, and he could not swear tht the act alleged against them had been committed. – The magistrates, in view of the medical evidence, said they did not think the evidence would be sufficient to carry a conviction at the Assizes, and they would give the prisoners the benefit of the doubt. The prisoners, who looked respectble, were then discharged. (Shipley Times and Express)

6 July 1891

Mr. Justice Grantham, at Newcastle Assizes on Saturday, in sentencing two men for unnatural offences, said it was the duty of the police to prevent crime,and not wait till they saw it committed, as in this case. If policemen prevented the commission of these cases, and belaboured the parties till they were black and blue, he would be inclined to reward rather than blame such officers. (Birmingham Mail

4 August 1891

William Taylor (50), draper, and Thomas Simpson (28), millhand, were indicted for having attempted to procure the commission of a gross act of indecency at Bradford. Mr. Walter Beverley prosecuted.
          The prisoners were discharged.
          Joseph Goss (64), labourer, and Joseph Arscott (15), mill-hand, were charged with an act of gross indecency at Bradford. Goss, who admitted the offence, was sent to penal servitude for five years; and Arscott was ordered to be imprisoned for four months with hard labour. (Yorkshire Evening Post)

24 November 1891

SERIOUS CHARGE AGAINST A LEEDS VOLUNTEER SERGEANT AT PONTEFRACT. – At the Town Hall, Pontefract, yesterday, James Holmes, a married man, of Leeds, and a sergeant-major in the Leeds Engineer Volunteers, was charged with having been guilty of an act of gross indecency along with another person named Jeremiah McEvoy, of Bradford, and until recently a sergeant in the 3rd Battalion Yorkshire Light Infantry. The alleged offence is said to have been committed on the 11th of October last at Pontefract Barracks. In the case of Sergeant McEvoy his case had been dealt with by a court-martial of the military authorities at Pontefract, and the sentence in his case was one month's imprisonment and dismissal with ignominy from the army. – Mr. Scholefield, of Pontefract, defended the prisoner Holmes. After hearing the evidence of Corporal Scarr, Private Townend, and others, in the 3rd Battalion Yorkshire Light Infantry, prisoner was committed for trial at the next Assizes, and bail refused. (Yorkshire Evening Press)

28 November 1891

An inquest was held yesterday before the Coroner for South Northumberland at the Moot Hall, Newcastle-on-Tyne, upon the body of Michael Baker. On Thursday, at the Assizes, Baker, who was a barman and waiter and George Conham, tram car driver, were convicted, before Mr. Justice Wills, of committing an unnatural offence, and they were both sentenced to ten years' penal servitude. Conham had been in custody awaiting trial, but Baker had been on bail. When asked if they had anything to say why sentences should not be passed, Conham made no reply,l but Baker said, "Only this, my lord, I am not guilty." After the sentence Baker waved his hand to some friends and prepared to go down the steps leading from the dock to the cells. Conham went down first, Baker followed, and the warder, George Finch, came last. As they were going down the steps the warder saw Baker put his hand to his mouth, and, seeing something glittering in his hand, he caught hold of him, and said, "What have you there?" Baker fell down and died in two minutes from prusic acid poisoning. The bottle which had contained the poison was found in hs pocket. The Court had risen when this was taking place. The warder Finch was asked why Baker was not searched before being tried. – He said it was no part of his duty to search the prisoners. It was usual to search those who surrendered at the moment the case was called, and there had been no oppostunity to search him. – Baker's fathere said he accompanied the deceased to the Court. He spoke confidently of being acquitted, and of being able to resume work once. Witness ceertainly knew nothing about the poison. – The jury found that the deceased feloniously killed himself by poisoning himself with prussic acid. (Birmingham Mail)

30 December 1891

GROSS INDECENCY. – George Walter Brown, 16, and Charles Farley, 22, a sailor, were jointly charged with committing an act of gross indecency in Hamburg-square, Portsea, last night. A woman named Thorpe saw the prisoners together, and went for the police. The sailor Farley ran away, and was apprehended this morning. The boy acknowledged the offence when charged, but the sailor declared he had never seen Brown before. – Dr. Lysander Maybury having given evidence, the case was remanded until Tuesday next. (Portsmouth Evening News)

5 January 1892

ALLEGED INDECENCY. – Charles Farley, 22, seaman, of H.M.S. Duke of Wellington, and George Walter Brown, 15, of Wellington-place, Buckland, were charged on remand with an indecent act. – On the night of the 29th ult. the prisoners were in the King's Arms, in Queen-street, where the sailor had a glass of ale and gave the boy a glass of whiskey. When they left the house Ada Thorpe followed them as far as Hamburgh square. She now gave evidence as to what she heard. The two prisoners were again subsequently seen together. When Constable Page arrived the boy admitted what had occurred, but Farley, who ran away, was arrested the next morning at a house in Albion-street. – The prisoners were committed for trial at the Assizes on the lesser count, but the Magistrates consented to accept approved bail, Farley in the sum of £20 and two sureties each of £10, and Brown on his father's recognisance of £20. The boy was releeased, but Farley was removed in custody. (Portsmouth Evening News)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1891quot;, Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 27 September 2021, updated 14 Jan. 2023 <http://rictornorton.co.uk/eighteen/1891news.htm>.

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