George Dawson Lowndes: A Case of ‘Monomania’

NOTE: The following newspaper reports from 1838 through 1846 record the extraordinary career of a repeat offender, a young, wealthy barrister, who was repeatedly arrested (and imprisoned) for making indecent advances to young men over a period of eight years before he left the country. His notorious case gave rise to public discussion of whether such a “monomania” or “mental aberration or morbid tendency in a particular direction” was “treatable” – making this one of the early discussions of homosexuality as a treatable mental illness. The court justly observed that Lowndes’s “propensity” appeared to be “quite habitual” – i.e. it recognized, in effect, that Lowndes was a man with a fixed homosexual orientation. Lowndes, for his part, acknowledged his “eccentricities”. After his last arrest, his only defence was to ask to be granted bail and he would leave London to reside henceforth on the Continent – thus he gave no further trouble to the courts. The newspaper reports reveal many interesting details, such as the criminal charge of “grossly indecent assault” in 1839, long before the Labouchere Amendment of 1885 made “gross indecency” a crime, and the common cruising technique of lingering in front of picture shop windows and the use of illustrations of Greek statues to seduce a youth in a shop. Although this can be seen as a typical case of an upper-class man pursuing poor young lads, we should keep in mind that Lowndes was himself a young man, only 23 years old in 1838, and thus only seven years older than the 16-year-old shopboy he accosted on that occasion.
          (The case of George Dawson Lowndes is discussed by Charles Upchurch in his excellent book Before Wilde: Sex Between Men in Britain’s Age of Reform (University of California Press, 2009). Upchurch notes that both of Lowndes’s parents died when he was a young boy, leaving him a substantial fortune of fifteen to twenty thousand pounds, and an estate providing him with a steady independent income. Upchurch uses Home Office and Queen’s Bench records, and newspaper reports from The Times and the Weekly Dispatch. The reports I transcribe below come from other newspapers not cited by Upchurch.)

Friday 29 April 1836

At the Congregation on Saturday, the 16th inst. the following degrees were conferred:– . . . Bachelors of Arts. – John Valentine Austin, William Nurse, George Dawson Lowndes, Trinity; Richard William Pierpoint, St. John’s; William Sherwood, Cath. Hall (comp.). (London Evening Standard)

Thursday 30 August 1838

A MISCREANT. – A fellow dressed like a gentleman,and who gave the name and address of George Lowndes, 46, Lincoln’s Inn-fields (which, however, are believed to be fictitious), was yesteday held to bail at Marlebone-office, himself in 200l. and two other persons in 100l. each, to answer a charge of contemplating an indecent assault on an intelligent youth, in the employment of a tradesman in Regent-street. (Morning Post)

Friday 31 August 1838

MARYLEBONE-OFFICE. – Yesterday, about a quarter of an hour previous to the commencement of the office business, a remarkably well-dressed young man was brought up in a hackney-coach, in custody of Williams, 51, D, on the charge of having committed a grossly indecent assault, with intent, &c., upon the son of a respectable person.
          The prisoner whose removal to the office in the vehicle alluded to was rendered necessary in consequence of a large assemblage of people around the station-house, was, after the disposal of two other night charges, placed at the bar. He gave his name George Lowndes, and described himself as a gentleman residing at 46, Lincoln’s-inn-fields.
          The offence was proved by the evidence of the complainant, a youth about 16 years of age.
          The prisoner declined to state anything in his defence; and
          Mr. SHUTT decided that he should be held to bail in 200l. personally, and by two sureties in 100l. each, for his appearance at the ensuing sessions of the Central Criminal Court. (Evening Mail)

Friday 4 January 1839

Mr. George Lowndes, a barrister-at-law, residing at 46, Lincoln’s-inn-fields, was brought up in custody by a police constable, charged with having committed indecent assaults upon two youths, named Alexander John Cochrane and John Hansell, the particulars of which are unfit for publication.
          The defendant, in answer to the charge, said that he laboured under the effects of opium, and he begged to assure the magistrates that he had no intention of committing the offence imputed to him. He then entered into a lengthened statement with respect to a similar charge which had been brought against him at Marylebone-office, and upon which he had moved for a certiorari, in order that the case might be brought before the Court of Queen’s Bench. The offence imputed to him on that occasion was also owing to the quantities of opium he was in the habit of taking.
          Mr. MINSHULL said that it would be his duty to commit him to Newgate for trial.
          The defendant, who appeared to be greatly agitated, said that he was a gentleman by birth and education, having been brought up at Cambridge, and being at present a member of the Hon. Society of Lincoln’s-inn. Should he be committed for trial, it would be the death of some of his family, and sooner than face the disgrace of such a charge, he would put an end to his existence.
          Mr. MINSHULL then called upon the defendant to put in bail, himself in 200l., and two sureties in 100l. each, to meet the first charge at the next sessions of the Central Criminal Court, and he would require him to find sureties in the same amount on the second charge also.
          The defendant was then removed in custody, and it was ordered that he should be searched and strictly watched. (Evening Mail)

Thursday 9 January 1840

GUILDHALL. – Yesterday, Mr. George Lowndes, of Lincoln’s Inn fields (the writer of some eccentric letters addressed to the Aldermen, which have recently appeared in a morning newspaper), was brought before Mr. Alderman Gibbs upon a warrant, charged with assaulting Alexander Scott, a City policeman.
          Mr. Humphreys attended on behalf of the defendant.
          Mr. Alderman Gibbs said, Mr. Lowndes had resisted the officer while he was strictly doing his duty, and that resistance was an assault in the eye of the law. If the policeman had acted improperly, Mr. Lowndes might have complained to the Magistrate, without interrupting the man. As a gentleman of education, Mr. Lowndes should have known better, and he convicted him, under the 19th clause of the Police Act, in the penalty of 3l.
          Mr. Humphreys said he should appeal.
          Mr. Lowndes begged to state that he did attend the first summons, but went away because the room was so full that he despaired of an early hearing.
          Mr. Alderman Gibbs allowed Mr. Lowndes seven days to pay the 3l. (or rather, to put in sureties and state the grounds of appeal); if not then paid, to be imprisoned one month.
          If this conviction had not occurred at a police-office within the City, Mr. Lowndes would not have had a right to appeal. (Morning Advertiser)

Sunday 26 January 1840

INDECENT ASSAULT. – George Dawson Lowndes, Esq., said to be an attorney, residing at No. 46, Lincoln’s-inn-fields, was placed at the bar, charged by Frederick Samuel Lea, a fine boy, 16 years of age, with an indecent assault. The prosecutor, being sworn, stated that about two months ago he was in the shop of his master, Mr. Henry Coxhead, book-seller, of No. 4, Newman’s-row, Lincoln’s-inn-fields, when the prisoner entered the shop and asked for a copy of “Pilkington’s Dictionary of Painters,” which witness produced, when the prisoner laid hold of his person in an indecent manner, and he afterwards left the shop without making any purchase. He called again on Tuesday se’nnight, and asked for “Hamilton’s Etruscan and Grecian Antiquities,” when he showed witness some figures in the prints, exhibiting naked persons, and asked him questions of an improper nature, and he repeated similar conduct as on the occasion of his first visit and he left the shop. On Thursday se’nnight the prisoner made another visit, and asked for the “Art of Tormenting,” and “Plates of Butterflies,” and ordered him to leave them at his chambers, No. 46, Lincoln’s-inn-fields, and he would have them. Witness informed his master, and he, witness, took the books to his chambers, when the prisoner entered the apartment to which witness was introduced in his shirt, and asked him if he was heavy, when he lifted him up, and said he was very heavy, and inquired how old he was, and, on informing him, he said “You will be a giant when you grow up to be a man,” and he took very improper liberties with him. Witness informed his master and father, having prior to that informed a constable of the F division. On Thursday se’nnight he saw the prisoner in company of a boy. He followed them as far as Charlotte-street, Bloomsbury, when the prisoner, on seeing witness, ran away. Witness spoke to a policeman, who pursued him, and took him into custody. Richard Etheridge, 163 E, corroborated this fact. He saw the prisoner running, and, on informing him of the nature of the charge against him, he said “I will make the young rascal know for making such an accusation against me.” –
          The prisoner made the following statement:– I had been writing on the day in question, when I put on my coat to take a walk, having ordered dinner to be ready on my return by 6 o’clock. I passed by Newman’s row, and proceeded as far as Great Russell-street, Bloomsbury, when I ran for the sake of exercise, when I heard a voice exclaim “Is it him?” I was then seized by the policeman around the waist, and the boy made the charge against me. The policeman said I was running away, but I positively state that I merely ran for exercise. Any magistrate or other person was liable to be apprehended on such a charge, and committed on prima facie evidence under similar circumstances. He protested his innocence. Mr. Combe then ordered him to find bail, himself in 200l., and two sureties in 100l. each, for his appearance to take his trial, for which he was detained. (Bell’s New Weekly Messenger)

Wednesday 10 February 1841

This was an indictment for an indecent assault. The defendant, who is a gentleman residing in chambers in or near Lincoln’s Inn-fields, defended himself. The Jury found him guilty.
          Lord Denman forthwith passed sentence upon him, and condemned him to be imprisoned in Newgate for twelve months. (Morning Advertiser)

Wednesday 10 February 1841

(Sittings at Nisi Prius, at Westminster, before Lord DENMAN and Special Juries.)
In this case the defendant, who was stated to be a gentleman living in chambers in Lincoln’s-inn-fields, was convicted of an indecent assault.
          Lord DENMAN immediately passed sentence upon him, stating that he had been convicted upon the clearest evidence of this most iniquitous offence, an offence which he (Lord Denman) was quite satisfied the defendant had not then committed for the first time – an offence which consisted in the seduction of the young in the first place, and afterwards in the scandalous attempt to impute perjury to those persons by whom it was brought forward. Upon the facts proved, there had been no discrepancy, no contradiction, no inconsistency, no imputation of any motive on any one of the parties. The sentence was, that the defendant should be imprisoned for 12 calendar months in Newgate.
          The Defendant was then removed in custody.
          Mr. Chadwick Jones and Mr. James conducted the case for the prosecution, and the defendant conducted his case in person. (Evening Mail)

Saturday 13 February 1841

The defendant in this case was again brought up.
          Lord Denman said it appeared that Court had not the power to commit to Newgate for the particular offence in question. The sentence must therefore be imprisonment in the House of Correction. (Morning Advertiser)

Saturday 13 Februry 1841

The defendant was brought up in custody that the terms of his sentence might be altered.
          Lord Denman said that he found that there was an order in Council which prevented his being confined in Newgate on a sentence in respect of the particular crime with which he was charged, and he was therefore ordered to undergo his sentence in Coldbath-fields prison. (Morning Post)

Sunday 14 February 1841

THE QUEEN V. LOWNDES. – This was an indictment against the defendant for an indecent assault on a young lad. The evidence was fully heard, and the jury returned a verdict of guilty. – Lord Denman commented with severity on the nature of the offence, and sentenced the defendant to twelve calendar months’ imprisonment in Newgate. (Bell’s New Weekly Messenger)

Sunday 14 February 1841

Mr. LOWNDES, who was stated to be living in chambers in Lincoln’s Inn-field, was on Tuesday convicted at the Court of Queen’s Bench of an indecent assault, and sentenced to twelve months imprisonment. The unnatural ruffian conducted his own defence in person, and imputed perjury to witnesses, without the shadow of a ground. (Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle)

[NOTE: Charles Upchurch in his study establishes that Lowndes, a couple of months after his imprisonment, wrote to the Home Office, giving his version of the story in such a way as to discredit his lower-class accuser, and asking that the sentence be commuted to a fine, payable either to the Crown or to some charity. The Home Secretary did not grant his request, and Lowndes remained in prison until the expiration of his full sentence. However, it was not long before he returned to his usual practices after his release.]

Thursday 20 April 1843

George Dawson Lowndes, a person said to be of independent property, was fully committed for indecent conduct towards a boy named Martin, on Saturday evening.
          The prisoner is notorious for practices of an infamous character. (Morning Post)

Friday 21 April 1843

MARLBOROUGH-STREET. – George Dawson Lowndes, who was on Monday last charged with most indecent conduct, and the particulars of whose case appeared in our police-columns on Tuesday last, was yesterday brought before Mr. MALTBY for final examination.
          Mr. Chambers and Mr. Wontner apepared for the prisoner.
          Mr. Fitzpatrick (the chief clerk) read over the depositions taken on the formst examination.
          The chief witness, Martin, then underwent a most strict cross-examination by Mr. Chambers; the result did not, however, shake his previous statement.
          The only additional evidence was that of Mr. Riley, the person who, having witnessed the prisoner’s filthy conduct, gave him into custody.
          In answer to a question from Mr. Fitzpatrick,
          Mr. Riley said, he would relate what he knew of the affair as well as he could recollect.
          Mr. Riley then said, that having been to Skinner’s, at the corner of St. Martin’s-court, to purchase a cigar, he saw the prisoner and the boy Martin together; suspecting his object he followed them to Coventry-street, and on the road there he had witnessed most disgraceful conduct; seeing a policeman, he told him what he had witnessed. The policeman, C 66, watched the prisoner, and there being sufficient proof of his disgusting conduct took him into custody. He had been detained on business on the previous hearing of the case, otherwise he should then have been in attendance. He did attend afterwards, but the prisoner had then been remanded.
          Mr. Chambers, looking round the court and seeing some females present, wished they should be removed before he commenced his defence. This wish having been complied with, the learned gentleman then inquired the reason why his client had not been at once been summarily dealt with instead of being again brought before the public?
          Mr. Fitzpatrick explained, that in consequence of statements made to the magistrate on the previous examination, he had ordered hm to be remanded.
          Mr. Chambers then contended, at some length, that this was not a case to be sent for trial, but rather one in which, on such testimony as he been produced, a summary punishment might be inflicted.
          Mr. MALTBY said, that looking at the whole of the evidence, he should, undoubtedly, send the prisoner for trial.
          The witnesses were then bound over in the sum of 80l. each to attend at the next Westminster sessions.
          After the prisoner was removed from the bar, Mr. Chambers applied that he might be admitted to bail. This Mr. Maltby assented to, on condition that he should enter into his own recognizance of 500l. and two sureties in 250l. each.
          The amount required was objected to, and a smaller amount requested. On this point the worthy magistrate was inexorable, observing that he had yielded sufficiently in fixing so low an amount of bail as he had. (Evening Mail)

Saturday 22 April 1843

INDECENCY. – At Marlborough street George Dawson Lowndes was on Monday charged with most indecent conduct. . . . The prisoner has the appearance of a gentleman, and is well-known, having been twice charged and once convicted before. (The Examiner)

Saturday 6 May 1843

CLERKENWELL. – Yesterday George Lowndes, who a few days ago was charged at Marlborough-street Police Court with an indecent assault, and bound over in the sum of 500l., and two sureties in 250l. each, to appear at the sessions to take his trial, was brought before Mr. Greenwood, charged by Henry Lowton, a respectably dressed young man, residing at No. 4, Bainbridge-street, St. Giles’s, with having committed an indecent assault.
          The prisoner, who was fashionably dressed, and of forbidding countenance, was represented as being a barrister-at-law, and of fortune, residing at No. 65, Poland-street, Soho. The particulars of the case were of such a revolting description, that we forbear mentioning them.
          Mr. Greenwood said that, under the circumstances, he was bound to commit the prisoner to take his trial at the Old Bailey; but he would accept responsible bail. (Morning Advertiser)

Sunday 7 Mary 1843

LOWNDES, AGAIN. – On Friday, at Clerkenwell Office, George Dawson Lowndes, describing himself as a barrister at law, and residing at 65, Poland street, Westminster, was charged with having committed an indecent assault on a peson named Henry Abraham Lawlor, of No. 4, Buckeridge street, St. Giles’s. The accused, it would appear, ia a man of independent fortune, and was about three weeks ago committed to the Westminster sessions for trial on a similar charge from Marlborough street, but was permitted to be at large on bail. He is the person who has been long observed to mingle in the crowds which are congregated before the windows of picture shops in the Strand and elsewhere; and it was stated on Friday that he has been convicted three times of a similar offence – namely, once at Bow street, when a pecuniary fine was imposed on him; again at Union Hall, and again at Queen Square, whence he was sent for trial about three years ago. On that occasion he had the proceedings removed by certiorari to the Queen’s Bench, and was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment, which sentence he underwent at the Cold Bath fields prison. After hearing the evidence on the prosecutor in this case (which is wholly unfit for publication), Mr. Greenwood asked the prisoner what he had to say, reminding him that he was not bound to say any thing. The prisoner said that the complainant first accosted him and asked hm for money for beer, and on his refusing and saying that he would give him into custody for attempting to extort money, the complainant gave him into custody. Mr. Greenwood (to the prisoner): I am bound to tell you that you are fully committed to Newgate to take your trial for this offence; but I am bound to tell you also that you are entitled to give bail, and that it will be accepted if you satisfy the magistrate in that respect. The prisoner, who did not ask what amount of bail would be required, nor was it mentioned by the magistrate, was then removed. (Bell’s New Weekly Messenger)

Saturday 13 May 1843

Mr. George Lowndes, the barrister, of Poland-st. London, is committed from Clerkenwell, for an indecent assault upon Henry Lawlor, at St. Giles’s on Thursday night. He is under bail of 1000 to next Westminster sessions, for a like charge. (Tipperary Free Press)

Saturday 20 May 1843

CRIMINAL ASSAULT. – George Dawson Lowndes, 28, described in the calendar as a gentleman, was placed in the dock to enter into recognizances to attend at the next session of the court, and take his trial for a criminal assault upon a young man named Lawlor. This fellow, it will be recollected, was committed from Marlborough street Police office for a similar offence a short time back, and he was liberated upon bail. He had only been at large a few days when he repeated the offence, and stood committed to take his trial upon both charges at these sessions. The first, however, was removed to certiorari to the Queen’s Bench, and on the second he exercised his right of traversing until the next session. Having entered into his recognizances in 500 and two sureties in 250 each, the “gentleman” was set at liberty. (Kentish Independent)

Saturday 27 May 1843

GEORGE DAWSON LOWNDES. – At Clerkenwell, on Monday, George Dawson Lowndes, a barrister-at-law, residing at No. 65 Poland street, who, it will be recollected, was charged, about three weeks ago, with an indecent assault, and ordered to find heavy bail to appear to take his trial at the Old Bailey, was again placed at the bar, charged by William White, sixteen years of age, with having indecently assaulted him. – Mr G. Lewis, the prosecutor’s master, stated that the witness had repeated the circumstances to him which he detailed in Court. – The prisoner reserved his defence, and was fully committed for trial. (The Examiner)

Monday 5 June 1843

CLERKENWELL. – On Saturday evening, precisely at five minutes before 5 o’clock, the legal hour for the closing of police courts, Mr. Wontner, a solicitor, drove up in a cab, and had a private communication with the magistrate, which, from subsequent circumstances, appeared to have been an application for bail for George Dawson Lowndes, who, it will be remembered, was committed to Newgate, from this Court, on the 23d ult., charged with an indecent assault on a lad, 16years of age, named William White apprentice to Mr. George Lewis, an auctioneer, residing at 7, Cumming-street, Pentonville. He is the same George Dawson Lowndes, a barrister-at-law, who already stands in recognizances to the amount of 2,000l. to answer to charges similar to the present.
          When Mr. Wontner had concluded his prevate conversation with the Magistrate, his worship ordered Waddington, the gaoler, to take a cab directly and bring the prisoner, Lowndes, from Newgate. In the meantime, two persons of entlemanly appearance presented themselves as the proposed bail.
          The usual course at this, as well (we believe) as at the other police courts, is publicly to question persons proposed as bail, regarding their names, residences, and qualifications.
          Mr. Wontner, however, in this instance handed in a written communication which we presume contained the requisite information, but as the substance was kept secret the names of the sureties did not transpire.
          Mr. COMBE (to one of the sureties). – Are you the first person named in this paper?
          Respondent. – I am.
          Mr. COMBE. – What rent do you pay? – 100l. a year.
          Mr. COMBE. – Are you worth 250l. above your just and lawful debts? – I am Sir; my stock in trade. I am an upholsterer and cabinet-maker.
          Mr. COMBE). – You need not state what you are. That will do. (To the second sureties) – What rent do you pay?
          Respondent. – 70l. per annum.
          Mr. COMBE. – Are you worth 250l. above your just and lawful debts? – I am.
          Mr. COMBE. – Then let these sureties be taken.
          Shortly after the prison was conducted into the Court through the clerk’s office by one of the turnkeys of Newgate and the jailer of the Court. He looked fresher and was better dressed than at the time of his committal.
          The form of placing the prisoner in the felon’s dock was omitted. He stood beside the witness box. The securities having been entered into, Mr. George Dawson Lowndes was once more set at liberty, having been bound over to answer any charge which may be preferred against him at the ensuing sessions of the Old Bailey. The whole amount of recognizances for the above-mentioned three cases in which the prisoner is bound is 3,000l. (Evening Mail)

Tuesday 13 June 1843

George Dawson Lowndes, barrister, who has been so often in custody upon charges of a disgraceful character, surrendered to take his trial upon one of the indictments on which he had been held to bail.
          No counsel was engaged for the prosecution, but, at the request of the Common Sergeant, Mr. Ballantine examined the witnesses for the prosecution; Messrs. Prendergast and Doane defended the prisoner.
          The prosecutor swore positively to the disgusting conduct of the defendant, but, upon his cross-examination, he made such admissions as induced the Common Sergeant to inquire of the Jury whether they could place any reliance upon his testimony?
          They replied in the negative, and a verdict of Not Guilty was accordingly returned. (Morning Post)

Wednesday 14 June 1843

. . . The prosecutor [Henry Abraham Lawler] in his examination in chief detailed the nature of the assault, which is of course totally unfit for publication.
          On cross-examination, however, he gave such a very unsatisfactory account of himself, that the Jury expressed an opinion that they could not place any reliance upon his evidence.
          Mr. BALLANTINE said, that upon looking over the depositions, he did not find there was any witness to confirm the prosecutor’s statement.
          The COMMON SERJEANT said it would be very unsafe to convict upon such evidence; and
          The Jury, therefore, immediately acquitted the defendant. (Evening Mail)

Thursday 22 June 1843

George Dawson Lowndes, the barrister, was acquitted of unnatural crimes at the Old Court, London, on Monday, the prosecutor having broke down on his cross-examination. (Clare Journal, and Ennis Advertiser)

Wednesday 9 August 1843

MARLBOROUGH-STREET. – George Dawson Lowndes, barrister, the individual who had been three times committed from different Police Courts for infamous assaults on boys – who has at this moment two prosecutions pending over him – and who has very recently regained his liberety owing to a verdict of acquittal recorded in his favour by a Jury a short time ago, was yesterday brought up on a fourth charge of indecent assault to this Court, and placed at the bar before Mr. Maltby, the sitting magistrate.
          The prisoner, when asked to answer the charge, said he was aware that it would not avail him anything to make any statement at present, and therefore he should say nothing.
          He was then fully committed. (Morning Post)

Saturday 12 August 1843

INDECENT ASSAULT. – George Dawson Lowndes, a person of independent property, residing in Poland-street, who was a short time since committed from this office for trial for an indecent assault, and who has twice since then been committed from Clerkenwell, and who has at the present time two prosecutions hanging over his head, was charged by a young man with assaulting him three times, while he was looking into the window of a jeweller in Oxford-street, about eleven o’clock that morning. The details of the case are unfit for publication. The complainant, on looking at him, recognised him as the person who some time since assaulted him at a print-shop; and he followed him to Devonshire-place, where he gave him into custody. He then wished to prefer a counter-charge against the complainant, for “following and annoying him,” which the constable first and the inspector subsequently refused to entertain. – He was fully committed for trial, and the complainant and the constable bound over in 100l. each to prosecute. (Bell’s Weekly Messenger)

Sunday 13 August 1843

INDECENT ASSAULT. – George Dawson Lowndes, barrister, the individual who has been three times committed from different justice courts for infamous assaults on boys, who has at this moment two prosecutions pending over him, and who has very recently regained his liberty owing to a verdict of acquittal recorded in his favour by a jury, a very short time ago, was brought to a fourth charge of indecent assault to this court, and placed at the bar before Mr. Maltby, the sitting magistrate. The complainant, Thomas Thomas, of Broad-street, Golden square, said he was looking in at a picture shop that morning, when he was accosted by the prisoner, who, after a few remarks, placed his hand on his person in a filthy way. Complainant told the prisoner to go about his business, but the prisoner repeated his vile assault, and the complainant walked on, and meeting with a D division policeman, gave hiim into custody. The prisoner, who was very particular in having all the witnesses out of court during the examination, asked police constable D 28, if he did not give the complainant in charge likewise? The police constable said the complainant gave the first charge, and then the prisoner also made a charge, but his charge was not taken. At the station-house the complainant said the prisoner had assaulted him once before in Regent-street. The complainant, when questioned, admitted this to be the fact. His reason for not giving the prisoner into custody on that occasion was because he was in service. The prisoner, when asked to answer the charge, said he was aware that it would not avail him anything to make any statement at present, and, therefore, he should say nothing. He was then fully committed. (Bell’s New Weekly Messenger)

Wednesday 16 August 1843

. . . The repetition of these charges [against Lowndes] seems to indicate that the offender must rather be a “dangerous lunatic” than a responsible being: a confirmed insanity of the kind, if proved, would more than any other point at confinement as a proper restriction. (Eddowes’s Journal, and General Advertiser forShropshire)

Saturday 19 August 1843

George Dawson Lowndes (who has described himself to be a barrister) was yesterday again brought up in custody of the gaoler of Tothill fields Prison, before the Hon. Mr. Justice Coltman, at his chambers, for the purpose of putting in bail to answer a certain charge of misdemeanour. The bail, who were described as George Minter, of 33, Gerard-street, Soho, upholsterer, and Benjamin Ball, of 10, Duke street, Portland place, Esq., were then taken, each in the sum of 250l., for the appearance of the said G. D. Lowndes, and the said G. D. Lowndes himself in 500l., to answer the charge at the next Westminster October Sessions, and the Learned Gentleman was thereupon once more set at liberty. (Morning Post)

Saturday 2 September 1843

MARLBOROUGH-STREET – George Dawson Lowndes, barrister, the individual who has been three times commited from different police courts for infamous assaults on boys – who has at this moment two prosecutions pending over him, and who has very recently regained his liberty, owing to a verdict of acquittal recorded in his favour by a jury a short time ago – was yesterday brought up on a fourth charge of indecent assault to this court, and placed at the bar before Mr. Maltby, the sitting magistrate.
          The prisoner, when asked to answer the charge, said he was aware that it would not avail him anything to make any statement at presennt, and therefore he should say nothing – He has been fully commited.
          (Is not this a case of monomania, and treatable as such?)
          Our readers will take the trouble of remarking that English brutalities generally proceed from monomania, and Irish crimes from Popery! (Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier)

Saturday 14 October 1843

George Dawson Lowndes, who has been repeatedly charged and convicted at several Police Courts, for indecent assaults on boys, was placed at the bar, charged with committing a similar assault upon William Holton, a youth, seventeen years of age, and with violently assaulting the constables who were called to take him into custody.
          Mr. Jardine said he would treat the assault on the constables in a summary manner, and order the prisoner to pay a fine of 5l. or one month’s imprisonment; and for the other offence, to enter into his own recognizance in the sum of 300l., and two sureties in the sums of 150l. each, to answer the charge at the sessions.
          The prisoner was then removed from the bar. (Morning Post) (Bell’s New Weekly Messenger for 15 Oct. adds: “and in the course of the evening [he] was conveyed to Newgate in the prison van.”)

Monday 16 Octobe4 1843

George Dawson Lowndes, whose name haas so very frequently of late been brought before the public in connexion with assaults of a disgusting nature committed upon boys, and who is already under recognizances to appear at the sessions, was again placed at the bar charged with an indecent assault upon William Houlton, a lad 17 years age. He was also charged with violently assaulting the police when they attempted to take him into custody.
          It appeared from the evidence, that on Thursday afternoon the prisoner met the prosecutor (who resides with his parents in Ray-street, Clerkenwell, but is in the service of Mr. Berry, surgeon, of James-street, Covent-garden) in the neighbourhood of Long Acre, and entered into conversation with him; whilst talking he laid hold of him in an indecent manner, and asked him to meet him when he left his employment, at 10 o’clock the same evening, at the corner of Long Acre and Drury-lane. The prosecutor immediately informed his mother of what had occurred, and begged that she and his father would meet him at the time and place appointed, as he was afraid if he went home alone the prisoner would molest him. The prosecutor’s father and mother waited at the end of Long Acre, and shortly after 10 o’clock, when the prosecutor passed, the prisoner crossed the road and accosted him, and they walked together as far as Holborn, when the prisoner, observing the prosecutor’s father and mother following them, said, “What do those old people want? If they follow us any further I shall wish you good night.” He, however, walked with him part of the way down Gray’s-Inn-lane, when, meeting with a constable, the prosecutor’s father went up to him and gave him into custody. The prisoner then denied having made any appointment with the lad, and became so exceedingly violent that it was found necessary to obtain the assistance of several other constables in order to convey him to the station-house.
          The prisoner cross-examined all the witnesses at great length, but did not in the slightest degree shake their testimony.
          In answer to the charge the prisoner did not make any substantial defence, but, in alluding to the other charges of a similar nature which had been preferred against him, said, it was in all probability in consequence of his, what he might be pardoned for calling, “eccentricities,” that the present charge was brought against him.
          Mr. JARDINE said, there were two specific charges against him, one for the assault upon Houlton, which he should certainly send to another place for further investigation, and the assault upon the officer, which he should deal with in a summary manner.
          The prisoner begged that, as the assault upon the officer arose from the previous transaction, that might also be dealt with in another place.
          Mr. JARDINE refused to do so.
          The prisoner was then ordered to pay a fine of 5l., or one month’s imprisonment, for the assault upon the constable; and to enter into his own recognizances in the sum of 300l. with two sureties in 150l. each, to take his trial at the Central Criminal Court upon the other charge.
          At the closing of the court the prisoner was conveyed to Newgate, but he previously gave a check upon the London and Westminster Joint-stock Bank for the amount of the fine. (Evening Mail)

Saturday 4 November 1843

MARYLEBONE. – Yesterday, soon after the commencement of the business, George Dawson Lowndes, described on the police sheet as a “Gentleman,” residing at 65, Poland-street, Oxford-street, and whose name in connection with cases of a most disgusting nature has been so frequently before the public, was brought up in custody and placed at the bar before Mr. Rawlinson, on the charge of having committed an indecent assault upon Charles Cotton, a respectable-looking youth, with intent to incite him to the commission of an unnatural offence.
          Complainant, who is an apprentice, and lives at 33, Frederick-place, Hampstead-road, detailed the particulars of the assault; they were of so gross and infamous a description, as to render them totally unfit for publication.
          Another youth named Sympson, an acquaintance of complainant, and to whom the latter communicated all that had taken place, said that the prisoner met him about five months ago, and then made overtures to him of an improper character. It farther appeared that, at the station-house in Marylebone-lane, to which place the prisoner was followed by the complainant and his witness, he (prisoner) wished to charge both of them with annoying him. The inspecting serjeant, Brown, who was on duty at the time, heard the various statements of the parties, and caused the prisoner to be locked up upon the charge preferred against him by the lad Cotton, whom he had, as alleged, assaulted by striking him on the ear, while on the way to the station.
          The prisoner (who was unprepared with any legal advice) was asked by Mr Rawlinson what he had to say? – He then drew from his pocket a paper, upon which he had, as he asserted, written his defence while in confinement; he then, in a somewhat embarrassed manner, read the following statement:–

“Some time ago a person fired off a pistol at the Queen of England, and intelligence of the fact, with comments, was conveyed through the country by the ordinary channels of the public press. After a time another person, quite unconnected with the first, acted in a similar manner. The intelligence was again communicated as before. After a time another person, quote unconnected with either of the preceding, acted in a similar manner. When the conductors of the press found out the iniquitous results – when they discovered that a wish for notoriety was the chief stimulus, and that publicity actually propagated the crime, and multiplied the criminals, they quickly lent their powerful aid to reduce the matter to its proper level, and thenceforth the Sovereign was unmolested. The persons and circumstances here are widely different, but the analogy is true as regards the monkey principle of imitation. Persons who have sustained at my hands neither injury nor insult – who know nothing of me of their own knowledge – who entertain no disrespect towards me as an individual, will come forward and perjure themselves in preferring accusations of this sort. They reckon upon success in proportion as they themselves are unmindful of decency and truth. Whatever may have been my errors or the irregularities of my conduct, I have the proud satisfaction, if satisfaction it be, of knowing that, in every instance in which my name has been before the public, I have been much more sinned against then sinning. The magistrates who have heard other charges have, doubtless, acted according to the best of their judgment and ability; but whatever may be the present impressions of the magistrate who presides over this matter, I submit to him the propriety of dismissing it, unless, as a jury-man, he would say that I have done injury, and that a party making the complaint has suffered wrong. The reporters who have reported other cases cannot have made any intentional mis-statements, but I do most respectfully request that those gentlemen who are here now representing the public journals, will, in the report furnished by them give only a simple narrative of what is brought before the Court. To the trumpery charge of common assault, the box on the ear, or whatever it is, I say nothing; but this I say, that if murder is ever justifiable, that justification would ensue in the eyes of God and man when perjury is committed in charges of this kind. If the spirit of revenge formed any part of my character, it would devise support from the assurance that in a civilized country, when injury is done to an individual, under the cover of administering justice, that injury afterwards repays itself in some form or other ten-fold and ten thousand-fold upon the community at large. I have entered upon this statement, which otherwise might not have been made, from the remembrance, that it was in this Court five years ago, when I was three and twenty, that the first charge was made against me.”

          Mr. Rawlinson committed the prisoner to Newgate for trial.
          It may here be marked that the prisoner when brought to this Court, as referred to by him in his defence, five years ago, was charged in a name different from his own. (Morning Advertiser)

Wednesday 8 November 1843

A wretch named George Dawson Lowndes was charged, at Marylebone, London, on Friday last, with an attempt to commit a namelss offence. This fellow is already bound in recognizances of several thousand pounds to answer charges of a similar nature. (The Vindicator)

Tuesday 28 November 1843

George Dawson Lowndes, the fellow who has been so often in custody upon charges of a peculiar description, was indicted for assaulting a boy [i.e. Houlton] with a felonious intention.
          Mr. Prendergast and Mr. Doane defended the prisoner. No Counsel appeared to prosecute.
          The charge was clearly made out; and the Jury returned a verdict of Guilty.
          The prisoner was ordered to be taken back to Newgate, and judgment was respited. (Morning Advertiser)

Saturday 2 December 1843

George Dawson Lowndes, the person so often charged with attempts to commit unnatural offences during the last few years, was tried at the Central Criminal Court on Monday, and convicted. (Manchester Times)

Wednesday 6 December 1843

George Dawson Lowndes, aged 28, was indicted for unlawfully assaulting, &c., Charles Cotton, a boy age 17, with intent, &c.
          This was the second indictment of the same description against the prisoner during the present session; on the former one he was found guilty.
          Mr. Prendergast and Mr. Doane defended the prisoner.
          Previous to the examination of the witnesses, the RECORDER said that a letter had been handed to him by the Under Sheriff from the prisoner; he mentioned it for the purpose of discouraging such a practice, and letting persons understand the great impropriety of it; he had not read one word of such communication, nor did he intend to do so until the trial had terminated, and then it would be read in court.
          The prisoner attempted to address the Court in explanation, but was stopped by the Recorder.
          The evidence in this case, which consisted of the testimony of the prosecutor and another lad, was of that abominable description usually given in charges of this nature, and therefore totally unfit to be made pbulic.
          The RECORDER summed up at considerable length, and
          The Jury, after a short deliberation, found the prisoner Guilty.
          The RECORDER here stated that there were two convictions now against the prisoner in this court, and then asked the prisoner’s solicitor if he were a person capable of paying a heavy fine if inflicted; he wished to know that with reference to the former conviction, as of course there was no intention of inflicting such a mild penalty on the last conviction.
          The solicitor for the prisoner intimated that his circumstances were such as to admit of his paying a fine.
          The RECORDER then proceeded to pass sentence upon the prisoner, and told him that no warnings whatever seemed to have the slightest effect in curbing his beastly propensities, and said that he was only surprised his friends had not before interefered to deprive him of the management of his property and his person, as he had shown such utter inability to do either for himself; and that he considered it a step quite necessary to protect the public against his gross violation of all decency, and himself against the indulgence of such an unnatural appetite. The sentence of the Court, therefore, was, for the first offence, that he pay a fine of 100l. to the Queen, and be imprisoned until such fine be paid; and for the last conviction that he be imprisoned in the House of Correction, and kept to hard labour, for the space of two years; and further, that at the expiration of such term of imprisonment he enter into his own recognizances of 500l. to be of good conduct to all Her Majesty’s subjects for five years, and be imprisoned until he enter into such recognizance. (Evening Mail)

Wednesday 6 December 1843

After the prisoner had been removed, the Recorder addressed Mr. Wontner [Lowndes’s counsel], and said that if the prisoner’s friends thought right to do so, and could apply for any remission of the sentence on the ground of the state of the prisoner’s mind, that application must be made to the Secretary of State; and he at the same time said he thought some steps ought to have been taken before this to have had him placed under some restraint. He added, that it might be relied upon that if ever the prisoner was again convicted of a similar offence, the most severe penalty of the law would be inflicted, the prisoner’s station in society rendering such a course absolutely necessary, for the sake of example.
          Mr. Wontner intimated that his Lordship’s suggestion should be attended to. (Morning Advertiser)

Saturday 9 December 1843

GEORGE Dawson Lowndes, convicted of unantural offences at the Central Criminal Court, has been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and hard labour in the House of Correction. (Sheffield Iris)

Saturday 9 December 1843

. . . The case for the prosecution having closed. . . . The RECORDER then asked the counsel for the prisoner whether they were aware of the contents of the letter sent to him (the Recorder)?
          Mr. P said he did not know what the contents were, but he believed they related to the well known fact that the prisoner being a marked man, had been set upon by [an] unprincipled person, who had on several other occasions extorted money from him, or endeavoured to do so. . . .
          [As the Recorder was passing sentence,] The prisoner interrupted, and begged to be permitted to offer a few observations.
          The RECORDER said that he had no right now to make any observations.
          The prisoner said it was with respect to the charge of which he had just been convicted. He denied, totally, the truth of the charge made by the boy. He, however, acknowledged that he had accosted the lad.
          The RECORDER said that he could not now hear anything from him. If he had any point of law to suggest in arrest of judgment he would take a note of it; but that was all he could listen to.
          The prisoner said he had no point of law to raise.
          The RECORDER then said that for the abominable and horrible offence of which he had been found guilty, and which appeared to be quite habitual with him, he should be sentenced on the first indictment to pay a fine of 100; and on the second, the one just disposed of, he should be imprisonefd and kept to hard labour in the House of Correctionn for two years . . .
          His LORDSHIP . . . then said that the friends of the prisoner would now have an opportunity, in applying to the Secretary of State for a remission of the sentence, to lay before him such statements as might form the foundation of an inquiry into the state of the prisoner’s mind, and if satisfactory or sufficient evidence oculd be given of his mental aberration or morbid tendency in a particular direction, some arrangement might be made by which he could be subjected to such proper restraint as would keep him from being a public nuisance and disgrace. (Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier)

Sunday 10 December 1843

HORRIBLE MONOMANIA. – . . . on Tuesday, George Dawson Lowndes, a person who has the reputation of being a barrister, but who, we believe, never practised in that profession, and against whom charges have been repeatedly made, for crimes abhorrent to the principles of nature, was found guilty, for the second time during the present session, of an assault upon a boy named Poulton. . . . (Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle)

Saturday 16 December 1843

CRIMINAL ASSAULTS. – In the Central Criminal Court, on Tuesday last, George Dawson Lowndes, a barrister, aged 28, who has been several ltimes before the Metropolitan Police Courts on similar charges, was indicted for unlawfully assaulting, &c., Charles Cotton, a boy aged 17, with a criminal intent. . . The jury, after a short deliberation, found the prisoner Guilty. . . . On the same day, Tuesday, in the Bail Court of the Queen’s Bench, before Mr. Justice Wightman, Patrick Leith Steachan, a gentleman in a very respectable station of life, was found guilty of having assaulted, with a similarly indecent intention, a young gentleman named Scott, of Harrow School, on the 1st of Nov. Sentence was deferred. (Leeds Intelligencer)

Sunday 8 March 1846

INDECENT ASSAULT. – MR. LOWNDES AGAIN. – Mr. George Dawson Lowndes, the barrister, and whose name has so frequiently been before the public, in connection with these disgusting and revolting charges, appeared before Mr. Alderman Kelly, at the Guildhall Police-court, yesterday, charged with indecently assaulting a young lad, an errand boy, of the name of James, who had been sent out on an errand into the city. (We omit the disgusting particulars of the assault.) Mr. Donne, the barrister, who had attended the previous examination on the part of the prisoner, and who had characteised the charge as a fabrication, and trumped up to extort money, stated that he was bound to admit, upon inquiry, that the lad was found to bear an irreproachable character, and there was no ground for making any charge of doubt as to his veracity, and therefore he withdrew his former observations; but he put it to the worthy Alderman, as no jury would convict upon the unsupported statement of the boy, whether, as Mr. Lowndes was leaving London to reside continually on the continent, the justice of the case would not be answered by his entering into his own recognizances. Alderman Kelly, after considerable hesitation, finally consented to that course, and the prisoner was ultimately discharged on entering into his own recognizances in 100. (The Era)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "George Lowndes: A Case of ‘Monomania’", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 17 July 2017 <>.

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