Image of two men kissingHomosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook compiled by Rictor Norton

Bristol Gaol Delivery Fiats

NOTE: Gaol delivery "fiats" are official orders issued by the court of assize, signed by the judges. They can range from a summary of a trial and sentencing, to a confirmation that someone is still in prison. The records of the actual trials do not survive in the Bristol archives.

Monday 19 August 1751

James Morgan. Tryed for an Attempt to commit the detestable Crime of Buggery. Acquitted.
     The same James Morgan A Bill of Indictment preferred against him for feloniously committing the above detestable Crime. Returned no true Bill. Let him be discharged.

31 August 1753

William Cottle. Convicted of an Assault on Henry Tracey with Intent to commit the detestable Crime of Buggary. To pay a Fine of Six Shillings and Eight Pence. To stand in the Pillory for one hour on Saturday the twenty second of September between the Hours of 11 & 1. To be imprisoned 12 Calendar Months And at the Expiration of that time, to find Suretys for his good behaviour for 2 years, himself in 40 & Suretys in 20 each, to the Approbation of the Mayor and Alderman of this City or any Three of them whereof the Mayor for the Time being to be One. [Cottle was among a number of prisoners brought before the court on Saturday 7 September 1754, when the judges ordered "Let them remain upon their former Orders." This happened again in the court review of Friday 15 August 1755, so he served his two-year prison sentence, though it is not recorded if he found the sureties necessary for his release.]

William Critichett otherwise Critchard, Richard Arnold. Severall convicted of the detestable Crime of Felony and Buggary. Let them be severally Hanged by the Neck until they shall be Severally Dead. [Their arrest was reported on 19 September 1752. See Newspaper Reports, 1752.]

Saturday 19 August 1758

Michael Nevil Davell. Convicted of having Assaulted John Bryant with intent to commit the Horrid Crime of Buggary. To stand on the Pillory One Hour between the Hours of Twelve and Two, To stand committed to the Gaol of Newgate in the said City four Calendar Months. Then to find two Suretys for his good Behaviour for Twelve Calendar Months more, himself in Forty Pounds and his Suretys in Twenty Pounds each, And to stand further Committed 'til the whole shall be performed.

Thursday 7 May 1761

William Dillon Sheppard. Convicted of the Horrid Crime of Felony and Buggery. Let him be hanged by the Neck until he shall be dead.

Saturday 24 May 1766

David Cummings, John White. Convicted of a Misdemeanor, having attempted to commit the detestable Crime of Buggery with each other – Let them severally stand committed to his Majesty's Gaol of Newgate in the said City & County for Twelve Calendar Months, Let them within that Time stand in and upon the Pillory for One hour, and at the Expiration of the said Twelve Months enter into Recognizances themselves 50 each, and Two Sureties for each of them in 25 each for their good Behaviour for Seven Years.

Wednesday 6 April 1774

Thomas Farley. Convicted of an Assault on Benjamin George with intent feloniously to commit with him the detestable Crime of Buggery. Let him pay a Fine of One Shilling and stand committed to his Majesty's Gaol of Newgate aforesaid for Two Calendar Months and then let him be discharged.

Monday 24 September 1781

John Burke, Benjamin Loveday. Convicted of Felony and Buggery. Let them be severally Hanged by the Neck until they shal be severally Dead.

Joseph Giles, James Lane. Severally convicted of a Misdemeanor. Let them stand severally Committed to the said Gaol of Newgate for Three Years and Let them severally find Security for their Good Behaviour for Seven Years themselves respectively in One Hundred Pounds and Two Sureties (to the Satisfaction of the Mayor of the said City and County for the Time being) in Fifty Pounds Each. [The precise "misdemeanor" is not specified, but the pattern of sentencing perhaps suggests "assault with attempt to commit sodomy".]

SOURCE: Georges Lamoine (ed.), Bristol Gaol Delivery Fiats 1741-1799 (Bristol Record Society, 1989). Many thanks to Paul Taylor for bringing these fiats to my attention.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton. Ed. "Bristol Gaol Delivery Fiats," Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. 24 February 2005, updated 2 July 2011 <>.

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