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

Newspaper Reports, 1892

18 February 1892

HARGREAVES BROWN, a schoolmaster, residing at Itchingfield, was charged with indecently assaulting James Sadler, at Horsham, on the 6th inst. – Mr. T. Bedford appeared for the accused, and asked the bench, after hearing sufficient evidence, to remand the case for a week. Prisoner was not arrested until the previous day, and he (Mr. Bedford) did not hear of the charge until seven o'clock on Friday evening. – Jas. Sadler, a drayman, residing in the Bishopric, stated that about seven o'clock on Feb. 6th he was walking in the Bishopric towards West-street. On reaching the machinists' yard, which adjoins the market, the prisoner sprang upon him and seized him round the waist with his left arm, and behaving indecently towrds him. Witness forced himself free, seized prisoner by the collar, and asked what he meant. He also asked prisoner his name, but he refused to give it. Prisoner had been drinking, but he was not drunk. – Miss Fanny Summerfield stated that she heard a disturbance outside her house in the Bishopric on the night in question. She went out to see what was the matter, and saw Sadler and a man, whom she felt sure was the prisoner. She heard one of the men say he would hit the other "under the ear-hole." – P.C. Webling deposed that on Friday afternoon he saw the prisoner at his residence at Itchingfield. Witness read the warrant to him, and prisoner said "I don't know anything about it – really I have not the leat recollection of it at all." As they were leaving the house, prisoner said, "This is a very serious charge to make against one; it means ruin." – Prisoner was then remanded until Saturday. – The bench offered to accept bail in two sureties of £25, and the prisoner in £50. (Sutton Journal)

25 February 1892

HARGREAVES BROWN, schoolmaster, of Itchingfield, was charged, on remand, with indecently assaulting James Sadler, at Horsham, on the 6th February. – Mr. T. Bedford appeared for the defence. – James Sadler, a drayman, residing in the bishopric, stated that on the night of February 6th he was walking in the Bishopric, when the prisoner sprang out and committed an indecent assault upon him. – In cross-examination, witness admitted that, although the offence was committed on a Satdurday night, he made no complaint to the police until the following Tuesday. He could have given information on Saturday night if he had liked. – Miss Summersell, residing in the Bishopric, stated that on the night of the 6th February she heard some noise in the street, and on looking out she saw two men quarrelling. She believed the prisoner to have been one of the men. – John Smith Bickerstaff, a painter, of New Town, Horsham, stated that he was in the prisoner's company in Horsham on the night of the 6th February, for about half an hour. – P.C. Webling stated that he arrested the prisoner on the charge. In answer prisoner said, "I don't know anything about it; really I have not the least recollection of it at all." On going to the police-station prisoner said, "This is a serious charge to make against any one; it means ruin." – Charles Chandler, a brewer's labourer, stated that he saw the prisoner at 7.30 on Saturday evening, February 6th, coming from Horsham and going towards Itchingfield. – Prisoner was further charged with attempting to procure the commissin of an act of indecency with Walter Bourn, about the month of December last. – Walter Bourn, a labouring man, residing at 9, Worthing-road, Horsham, sated that about a week before Christmas he saw the prisoner near the Black Horse. Prisoner treated him with something to drink at the Black Horse Hotel, and when they got outside the hotel prisoner took hold of witness and made an improper proposal. Prisoner was the worse for drink. – A third charge was preferred against the prisoner with acting in a similar manner towards William George Evans, at Horsham, on the 16th January. – Willliam George Evans, an agent, of Park-terrace, Horsham, alleged that on the day in question he was in the Hurst Arms, where he saw the prisoner. Witness left the public-house by the back-way, and he saw the prisoner in the yard. Prisoner made indecent observations towards him. – For the defence, in the first case, Thomas Cramp, grocer, of Horsham, was called. He statedthat on the evening of February 6th, prisoner came to his shop and purchased some articles, and these were made up into a parcel, which weighed about seven or eight pounds. – Frank Hrgreaves Brown, son of the prisoner, stated that on the 6th February his father left the house between one and two o'clock in the afternoon. He was at home when he father returned in the evening. He had a brown paper parcel in his hand. – John Septimus Brown, brother to the last witness, also gave evidence. – Prisoner, who reserved his defence, was committed for trial at the assizes. He was admitted to bail in two sureties of £25 each, and himself in £50. – The Rev. J. Moses, rector of Itchingfield, and Mr. Pennington Leigh were the sureties. (Sutton Journal)

12 April 1892

Hargraves Brown, schoolmaster, of Itchingfield, formerly of Staplefield, was indicted for attempting to procure the commission of gross indecencies and also for an indecent assault at Horsham, between December and February last, but was found not guilty and discharged. Prisoner received an excellent character from the Rev. John Moses, Rector of Itchingfield. (Mid Sussex Times)

29 March 1892

HENRY CUMMINGS, a blackguardly looking fellow, 6ft. 4in. in height, and HENRY FALCONER, who did not appear, were summoned for being drunk and disorderly, in Seaside, on the 21st March. – All females having been ordered out of court, Sergt. Burr said on the night in question, about ten p.m., he was on duty in Seaside, near the Leaf Hall. He heard some shouting,and going in that direction, in company with P.C. Peckham, he saw six men who were more or less drunk. Cummings and Falconer were amongst them, and they had just returned home from the Plumpton steeplechases. On reaching the new St. Leonard's road the other four men walked on in front, and the two defendants stayed behind, and close to a large Sugg's lamp were guilty of gross indecent acts. Witness afterwards saw the men home, and reported the incident to the Chief-constable. – Chas. Wm. Horne, waiter of the albion Hotel, corroborated, and said two ladies passed on the other side of the road, and Cummings called out to them. – Cummings, whose behaviour in court was of the most flippant description, made some allegations against the sergeant, whom he accused of striking him. He (the sergeant) was very cunning at that game. On a record of previous convictions being handed up, Cummings said, "I have been up five or six times, and every time that man has had me. It seems a funny thiung that one man should have me every time. – Mr. Graham: You are only damaging your own case, and we shall only have to punish you more. You don't seem to know how to behave in court. – Sentenced to a month's hard labour. – Defendant (looking surprised): Give us a chance. Just put it to yourself. – On being taken below, defendant called out to a young fellow named Welfare, a licensed victuallers' son, "Goodbye, Wally." (Sussex Agricultural Express)

31 March 1892

George Farley, 22, seaman, of the Royal Navy, and George William Brown, 15, labourer, were charged with committing an act of gross indecency at Portsea, on December 29th. – Mr. C. Mathews (instructed by Mr. G. H. King) prosecuted. – Brown pleaded guilty, but Farley denied having been in the boy's company, as alleged by the witnesses for the prosecution. The Jury found that he was guilty, and the Judge passed the maximum sentence of two years' imprisonment with hard labour. There being no Portsmouth policeman present to give information as to Brown's antecedents, the Judge deferred sentence in his case until the following day. (Portsmouth Evening News) ("when the lad was handed over to the care of his father", Hampshire Telegraph, 2 April 1892)

21 July 1892

Henry Plummer and Owen Ellis were indicted for committing an act of gross indecency in the Castle Drive at Budock, on the afternoon of April 18l. – Mr. McLeod prosecuted. – Prisoners were caught in the act by P.C. Keast. They pleaded not guilty, but practically admitted the offence, and urged, in extenuation, that they were in drink at the time. Plummer stated he had had seven pints of ale during the afternoon. – Both prisoners were sentenced to six mnths' hard oabour. (The Cornish Telegraph)

21 July 1892

George Bagott, draper (36), and Lewis Peckett, baker (48), were each charged with committing an act of indecency on Knavesmire on the 6th June. Both prisoners pleaded not guilty. Mr. Yarborough Anderson (instructed by the Town Clerk) prosecuted, and Mr. Kershaw and Mr. B. G. Wilkinson (instructed by Mr. William Wilkinson) defended the prisoner Bagott. Mr. Leng, of York, spoke as to Peckett's character, and said that Peckett had been in his employ for fifteen years. He had always found him to be well conducted, and of a quiet, harmless disposition, but of weak intellect. The jury found both prisoners guilty, but recommended Peckett to mercy. His Lordship, taking into consideration the statement by Peckett's employer, and the jury's recommendation, sentenced him to one month's imprisonment with hard labour. Bagott was sentenced to twelve months' imprisonmkent with hard labour. (York Herald)

4 August 1892

LEEDS ASSIZES. – At the Leeds Assizes yesterday Arthur Lomas, 41, greengrocer, and Frederick W. Hall, 24, weights and measures inspector's assistant, were indicted for gross indecency at Sheffield on the 19th May. George Grown, 27, clerk,and William Smith, 54, saw smith, were indicted for a similar offence. Prisoners were acquitted. – William Henry Long, 21, mill hand, and James Lawson, cooper, were indicted for a disgraceful offence at Guiseley on the 13th June. Both prisoners produced evidence as to good character, upon which his Lordship remarked that everyone had a good character until found out. The fact of such evidence was not of any avail in disproof of a charge. The jury were absent for three hours, and eventually returned a verdict of "Guilty," recommending prisoners to mercy. His Lordship sentenced them to three years' penal servitude. (Sheffield Daily Telegraph) [Such a sentence was unusually severe.]

20 December 1892

William Whiutworth (58), a cork cutter, and Thomas Ward (21), an iron brazier, pleaded guilty to committing acts of gross indecency at Wolverhampton on August 3. The elder prisoner, who had a very bad character, was sentenced to two years', and the younger to four months' imprisonment. (Birmingham Daily Gazette)

25 December 1892

At the Southwark Police Court, the other day, a well-dressed man named Charles William Norton, residing at 156, Great Dover-street, Borough was charged, before Mr. Fenwick, with inciting a boy of thirteen, named Nathanial Dawson, to commit an act of goss indecency.
          Mr. Kerwood, barrister, defended.
          Police-constable White, of the M Division, said that, in consequence of a communication, he went the previous night with the boy Dawson's employer t Great Dover-street. Shortly after eight o'clock he saw the boy meet the accused, and he watched them until close upon nine o'clock. He saw the accused leave the boy and go into a urinal, and after being in there a few moments he called the boy in. A little later witness went into the urinal and struck a light, and found the prisoner's clothing so disarranged and the boy in such a position as to leave little doubt that a gross act of idecency was about to take place. When he spoke to the acused, he said, "You will have to prove itl."
          The boy Dawson then detailed to the Court how he first made the acquaintance of the prisoner. He said earlier in the day he was walking along Great Dover-street, when the prisoner stopped him and asked him if he was in a hurry. He replied, "No," whereupon the accused said, "You can earn a little if you like." The prisoner then took hm up to a newspaper shop, and said, pointing to a picture entitled "Sweet Seventeen," "Would you like to have a girl like that?" After some further remarks, he agreed to meet the accused later in the day. He communicated with his employer, and, acting under his directions, he met the accused, who gave him a shilling, and then took him into the urinal. The witness then detailed certain acts unfit for publication.
          Cross-examined: He was quite sure the prisoner exposed himself. It was dark, but he felt something. No one had ever assaulted him before. He did not tell the prisoner he knew all about it. He was acting under his master's directions. He did tell the accused to go into the urinal first in order to remove suspicion. He used the word suspicion.
          The evidence of the boy's employer bore out the statement of the constable.
          Mr. Fenwick intimated his intention to commit the accused for trial, and Mr. Kerwood said the defendant would reserve his defence.
          When asked if he had anything to say, the Prisoner said: There have been a lot of untruths.
          Mr. Fenwick committed the accused for trial. (Reynolds's Newspaper)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Newspaper Reports, 1892", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 22 August 2022 <http://rictornorton.co.uk/eighteen/1892news.htm>.

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