T R Y A L
EXAMINATION and CONVICTION
Of several Notorious Persons call'd
At GUILD-HALL on Monday the 20th of October, 1707. With a List of the Names of those that were Try'd & Convicted.
On Monday the 20th of October, 1707, the Tryals of Will. Marriot, Ben. Buttler [sic], Thomas Lane, William Hubbins, John Williams, & W Hd, & others who were upon Bail, came on at the Queens-Bench Bar at Guild-hall; where their several Indictments were Read, setting forth the Loathsomness [sic] of their Wicked Crimes of Un-natural [sic] Leudness with their own Sex, contrary to the order of Humane Nature, & that not having the Fear of God before their Eyes, did Commit, or attempt to Commit, very filthy & unseemly Actions, not fit to be named in a Civilized Nation; to which Indictments most of them pleaded not Guilty, and thereupon put them selves upon their Tryal. Where-upon several Evidences Deposed, that about the latter end of August last, having information that many Leud & Scandalous Persons, frequently held unlawful Meetings and wicked Conversation in the Dusk of the Evening near the Royal Exchange, Leaden-Hall-Market, Moorfields, White-Chappel, and several obscure Places, in and about this City; agreed & consulted with the Consent of the Magistrates, to use their Endeavours to detect, discover and bring to Legal Punishment, such as should be found Guilty of those Abhominable Practices, in order to suppress the same, & accordingly they went with Constables & other suitable Assistance, where some of the Prisoners were taken in the very Act of Assaulting Innocent Peresons, in a very violent & loathsome manner, & were thereupon carried [before] several Magistrates & Committed to Prison, and the said Prisoners themselves, did not deny the Fact they were then Charged with, only endeavoured to excuse themselves, by alledging they were in Drink or the like.
Other Evidence further said, that Lane & Williams in particular, were so very Impudent that they put their Hands into their B[reec]hes, taking hold of their
Y[ar]ds, using many Leud, Obscene & immodest Words at the same time: And that Marriot was so notoriously addicted to this sort of Leudness, that none could set quietly in the Royal Exchange, even in Change time, without being disturb'd by his Obscene & Loathsome Actions; & that he told one of the Evidence, that it was much more pleasure to him than the use of a Woman, with other Loathsom Discourse not fit to repeat; all this & much more, were prov'd against them, by Persons of unspotted Reputation.
The Prisoners in their own defence, Especially Marriot alledged that he never had the least thought of Committing the wicked Act of Sodomy as the Indictment seem'd to set forth, but only used a Foolish Custom as he had got, of handling Young Mens Flesh, & that was all he ever was Guilty of, only with his hand, without attempting any thing further, which he owned was very unseemly & blame-worthy, & was heartily sorry for it, desiring the Mercy of the Bench. Hubbins made partly the same Appology, only refused to acknowledge any attempt of the like Nature, but when he was in Drink, endeavouring also to insinuate, that the Evidence against him, was known to be his inveterate Enemy, but could not prove it.
As for Williams & Butler, they said very litty [sic] for themselves, only Williams humbly desired the Court to consider his tender his tender [sic] Years (he being a Youth) was more easily drawn away to such Leudness for the Lucre of Money. Lane did not at all deny but he had too much comply'd with the Lacivious Humour of some Wealthy Men in the City.
The rest of the Prisoners offered several things in their Defence, & also produced several Persons to speak in their Favour, so that the Court after having carefully sum'd up the Evidence, for & against the Prisoners, & given their Charge, the Jury withdrew for a small time, & then return'd & brought them in Guilty, of Loathsom Crimes & High-Misdemeaners.
GOD Save the QUEEN.
SOURCE: A one-page broadside, as titled above.
NOTE: This trial is interesting for showing that literal sodomy or anal intercourse is not the sole objective of sodomites, but some of them are quite content with masturbating their partner. The reductive theory which analyses sexual agents solely in terms of active vs. passive or penetrator vs. receptor does not adequately encompass the varieties of homosexual experience, not even in 1707. For another account of this trial, see The Tryal and Conviction of Several Reputed Sodomites, and also see the newspaper reports.
CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Trial of Sodomites, 1707",
Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 26 February 2003, updated 15 June 2008