22 February 1805
22 February 1805
The instances which they attempted to set up of the prosecutor's guilt are too shocking to be related. At length they produced a boy, who had been waiter at the Hummams, whom they took to Bow-street, and who charged Mr. F. of having assaulted him. On this charge the Magistrates issued their warrant, on which Mr. F. Was apprehended; but on a second examination, the boy exhibited marks of trepidation, and confessed that his accusation was false.
These facts being proved on the part of the prosecution, it was attempted to be proved in defence, that the accusations were true, and eleven witnesses came forward to impeach the character of the prosecutor, of whom two were clergymen; and, strange to be related, three young men were produced who declared that they had been repeatedly engaged in practices with the prosecutor, which if not legally, certainly in morals, amounted to unnatural crimes.
The Learned JUDGE tried the cause with the greatest forbearance and dignity; and the Jury, after giving the whole the most patient attention, at one o'clock in the morning, returned a verdict of Guilty against both the defendants. (Morning Post)
23 February 1805
In our Paper of yesterday we noticed a cause which was tried on the preceding day before Lord ELLENBOROUGH, the circumstances of which were of such a nature as precluded us from detailing them. As the trial, however, has become the subject of general conversation, we have deemed it necessary to insert the following particulars. The cause occupied the attention of the Court sixteen hours. The indictment charged Lieut.-Col. ROBERT PASSINGHAM, and JOHN EDWARDS, Esq. with a conspiracy, to procure the consent of the Prosecutor to a separation from his wife, and to compel him to allow here a large separate maintenance, charging him with crimes of the most unnatural kind. From the evidence it appeared, that the Prosecutor, GEORGE TOWNSEND FORESTER, Esq. of Elmly, in Worcestershire, was married to a Miss JONES, of Wales, with whom he lived for some years in the greatest harmony. The Defendants were near relations to her, by marriage. Great habits of intimacy and friendship subsisted between these parties for years, until the Defendant, Colonel Passingham, seduced the wife of the Prosecutor, and the latter gentleman found it expedient to issue a commission of bankruptcy against the other Defendant Edwards. From that time a conspiracy was formed to charge the Prosecutor with unnatural propensities. Reports first circulated, letters were then dispersed, which states various practices of the prosecutor's, and, lastly, persons were produced before the Magistrates at Bow-street, who gave such positive testimony on oath, as induced them to issue a warrant for the apprehension of the prosecutor. He was arrested on the coast of Kent; but upon further investigation, the principal witness retracted his assertion, and acknowledged it was false. On the part of the prosecution, a great number of witnesses were examined. The Prosecutor himself was near four hours under examination, in the course of which he was frequently so agitated as to be deprived of speech, particularly when the subject of his wife and children were called in question. His own evidence, and that of the greater part of his witnesses, established the facts of his having lived on terms of affection and happiness with his wife; and some of them, with whom he had been charged to have acted in a criminal manner, gave the most unequivocal testimony of his innocence; many of them adverting to expressions of the Defendants, by which it appeared they had persecuted the Prosecutor, for the purpose of compelling him to make a large settlement on his wife, who had violated his bed, and now lived with the Defendant Passingham. On the part of the Defendants, a great number of witnesses were produced, eleven of whom swore to acts of the greatest obscenity committed by the Prosecutor; but, upon their cross-examination, it appeared, that, though the majority of them swore to circumstances of some years back, yet they had never mentioned them, until called upon by the Defendants and their agents: two of them were Clergymen. The Jury, without a moment's hesitation, found the Defendants Guilty. (The Times, Issue 6264)
Saturday 23 February 1805
J. Hodges, S. Mayor, and J. Rumbold, were indicted for assaulting E. Lodge on the King's highway, putting him in fear, and taking from hius person a 10l. and a 5l. Bank note. Mr. Knapp stated, that this was a robbery not in the ordinary way of presenting a pistol, but it was for obtaining money under pretence of charging the prosecutor with an attempt to commit an unnatural crime.
It appeared by the statement of Mr. Lodge, a gentleman of unstained character, and who hjolds an important situation in the Herald's Office, that as he was walking along the Duke's Road, on Whitsun Tuesday, he was accosted by the prisoner Hodges, and from his gentleman-like appearance he entered into conversation with him. The prisoner appeared to be lost, and the witness walked with him to russell-square, when he made a sudden stop, and laid hold of Mr. L. round the middle. Two men rushed upon them, and insisted on taking them into custody, saying they had been guilty of a heinous offence. Mr. L. was alarmed, but he made no resistance, as they called themselves Police Officers. Mr. L. and Hodges were conducted towards Gower-street, when one of them wished Hodges and the Prosecutor to do something in the money way before the business was made public. The other replied that he would do his duty. Mr. L. however, to save his character from so vile an imputation, gave the parties 30l. as they would not take less. Hodges, however, had no money, and a pretence was made to take a gold watch which he had in his pocket. On the evening of the next day Hodges and another person called at the prosecutor's house, and he went with them to the Russell Coffee-house, where Hodges's friend complained of the usage he and Mr. L. had met with, and obtained 5l. from Mr. L. in order to recover the watch, as it was stated Hodges had borrowed it of his father, and could not see him on the business. Mr. L. saw no more of them until the 17th of November, when Hodges met him in Piccadilly, soon after which Mayor and Rumbold came up, when it was stated that Hodges was reuined by the imputation that had befallen him, and that he had been the instrument of his ruin, and consequently he ought to advance a good sum to fit him out. Rumbold stated that he must either advance 50l. or go to Bow-street. Mr. L. again felt himself in an awkward situation, and advanced 5l. adding, that he would give them a 10l. note if they would go into the City with him, and he would make it 250l. the next day. They went into the city and received the 10l. Mr. L. sought advice from Sir R. Ford the next day, and he sent officers to meet them at the Herald's Office, where they were to receive the whole sum. The depositions of the prisoners before Sir R. Ford, fully proved that they have lived by his vile practice. One of them had, it appeared, extorted a gold watch and money from a Foreigner in the Park, by attacking him in this way.
The Jury, without hesitation, pronounced the prisoners Guilty Death. (Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser)
Friday 1 March 1805
Mr. Knapp stated the case on the part of the prosecutor; in the course of which he informed the Jury, the prisoners were indicted for compelling Mr. Lodge, a very respectable gentleman, to give the two bank-notes, to the amount of 15l. alleging, if he did not, that they would commence a prosecution against him, for committing an unnatural crime.
Edmund Lodge deposed, he belonged to the Herald's Office, Dictor's Commons; in the month of May last,, about ten at night, as he was returning to his house in Southampton-road, Bloomsbury, he met the prisoner Hodges, at the corner of Russell-square; the prisoner accosted him, and asked, whether he could get that way to Bedford square? he told him he could, and they walked on together; when they came to the corner of Bedford-place, the prisoner stopped, and made some observations on the beauty of the buildings; he then jostled up against him, and immediately two men rushed on them, and seized them both, alleging they were Bow-street officers, and that one of the purposes they were stationed there for was, to prevent such practices as they had detected them in. The prisoner seemed much agitated, and said, he was ruined and undone for ever. After a great deal of abuse, the supposed officers took them away; and as they were gong along, proposed to let them off if they would give 20l. each. The prosecutor agreed, and they proceeded towards his house, he not having so much money about him. He saw one of the men take the prisoner's watch, and heard him say, he would keep it until he should give his 20l. The men waited in the street until he went into his house for money, but not being above to make out 20l. he brought out a 30l. note, and gave it to them. The next day he was told a person had called on him, and had left word for him to be at Russell-place Coffee-house in the evening; he accordingly went there, and saw Jodges with another man, who said he was his cousin; that he had told him the whole business, and was convinced they were both innocent; but that Hodges had been walking along the streets the whole night, as he was afraid to go home without the watch the men had taken from him, which, he said, was his father's. After some conversation, he said he was sure, a gentleman, like Mr. Lodge, would not refuse a few pounds to make up the 20l. which the men demanded for the release of the watch. In consequence of this he was induced to give 7l. On the 16th of August he went to the country, and on the 17th of November, soon after he returned, he met Hodges in Piccadilly. Hodges with great familiarity came up to him, and asked him whether he knew him? Immediately afterwards the other two prisoners came up; and having told a long story that Hodges would be obliged to go to America, they demanded 250l. from him to equip him for the voyage. When he asked what right he had to pay so much for him? they said he was the first who brought him into bad practices, and if he did not give the money he would take him before Mr. Townsend, at the same time saying they were Box-street officers. They then got into a coach, and drove to a lodging he had in St. Paul's Church-yard, near his office; he then gave them a 10l. note and a 5l. note, and appointed a day or two after to give the remainder of 250l. In the mean time he communicated his situation to Sir Richard Ford, who sent two officers on the morning the prisoners appointed to come. The officers, waited in an adjoining room and secured the prisoner. Taunton and Baker the officers, deposed that they heard the prisoner say they had got some money, but if he did not give more, they would take him to Bow-street; they also said none of the prisoners were Bow-street officers.
Sir Richard Ford proved the examinations of each of them, which were signed by him; but said that he thought some favour was held out to Rumbold, on which account his examination was not read.
Nothing material as to this case appeared in their examination; but Mahon acknowledged he had got a gold watch from a foreign gentleman, in Hyde park, by threatening to accuse him of an unnatural crime.
Baron Sutton charged the Jury, with great accuracy, who, in a short time, pronounced them all Guilty. Death.
They were all servants out of place. Hodges was 22 years of age, Rumbold 30, and Mahon 17. (Saunders's News-Letter)
Saturday, 2 March 1805
At the Old Bailey on Friday [25 February], . . . John Hodges, Edward Mahon, and John Rumbold were capitally indicted for making an assault on Edmund Lodge, and taking from him one bank note, value 10l. and one value 5l. This money they compelled him to give them, alledging, if he did not, that they would commence a prosecution against him, for committing an unnatural crime. They were all found guilty Death.
21 May 1805
COURT OF KING'S BENCH, Monday, May 20.
THE KING v. PASSINGHAM AND EDWARDS.
Our readers will recollect these Defendants were convicted of a conspiracy, after a trial which occupied 16 hours in Westminster Hall.
27 June 1805
COURT OF KING's BENCH, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26.
THE KING v. EDWARDS AND PASSINGHAM.
This is the second appearance of these Defendants on the occasion of the proceedings in mitigation of punishment. Several affidavits were read in favour of the character of the Defendant, Mr. Edwards, after which Mr. ERSKINE addressed the Court in behalf of these persons. He said, that with Mr. Passingham he was personally acquainted, and until the time of this conviction, he had the highest opinion of his character. His history was most affecting: he was the illegitimate grandson of a person of great distinction, Williams Wynne, Esq. of Merionethshire, and in consequence of a recommendation he received to a Noble Lord at the head of the law, he was permitted to enjoy his inheritance. At that period both this gentleman and his brother were eminent examples of benevolence and generosity, and of every quality which could adorn the human mind. The Learned Counsel said, that he could give no vindication, he could make no apology for the offence, but he left the fate of his client in the hands of their Lordships, in the full confidence that in the exercise of justice they would remember mercy.
Saturday, 29 June 1805
Wednesday in the Court of King's Bench, . . . The King v. Passingham and another. The judgment of the Court was moved against Robert Passingham, Esq. and John Edwards, for a conspiracy to force George Townsend Forrester, Esq. to settle a considerable sum of money on his wife, and, to accomplish their design, threatening to accuse him, and actually accusing him, of unnatural propensities and practices. It is as painful as difficult to describe the circumstances of a transaction so infamous. The Noble Judge before whom they were tried could not pollute his own tongue, or the ears of the Bar and the auditors, by detailing the whole of the evidence. Suffice it then to say, that it appeared, from what his Lordship did read, that Mr. Forrester was a Gentleman of large fortune, married to an agreeable, and, up to a certain period, a virtuous and good woman; that they had several children, and, with the exception of those occasional disputes which the happiest of married people have, lived upon terms of reciprocal affection; that the defendant Passingham married the sister of Mrs. Forrester; that the strictest intimacy and friendship subsided between the two families thus related; that Mrs. Passingham died, and that, after her death, the defendant seduced and debauched Mrs. Forrester, his deceased wife's sister; that various acts of criminality passed between them; that she finally eloped with him, and that, in order to compel and terrify Mr. Forrester to appropriate a great part of his fortune to the support of his guilty wife and her infamous paramour, the defendants had him taken before different Magistrates upon charges too abominable to be mentioned; that witnesses were suborned to prove the charges; and that, after an investigation of them the prosecutor was acquitted. The trial, which occupied near 20 hours, was communicated by the Lord Chief Justice to the other Judges in private; but so much as could with decency be stated, was publicly read by his Lordship. The defendants then put in very long affidavits, which were read by the Officer of the Court: they went to a general denial of the facts sworn to by the prosecutor and his witnesses; but, at the same time, they contained passages which distinctly admitted the conspiracy. The court seemed to consider these affidavits as a great aggravation of the offence. There were also several affidavits made by persons of the highest respectability in the county of Chester, describing Colonel Passingham as a person who had uniformly born the best of characters, and also speaking of the other defendant as a respectable man. It appeared from the affidavits of the defendants themselves, that they had infant families dependent on them for support; and that their pecuniary affairs were greatly embarrassed. Lord Ellenborough said, that the Court must take some little time to confer on the proper punishment of this most atrocious and malignant offence. In the present case he was at a loss to say what was fit to be imposed in the way of punishment. His Lordship ordered the defendants to be recommitted, and brought up on Tuesday next. (The Ipswich Journal, Issue 3764)
3 July 1805
COURT OF KING's BENCH, TUESDAY, JULY 2.
THE KING v. PASSINGHAM AND EDWARDS.
Mr. Justice GROSE, after stating the charges in the Indictment, and the Conviction, in the usual form, delivered the Sentence of the Court nearly in the following terms:
"You are to receive Judgment this day, for wickedly and maliciously conspiring to force the Prosecutor, Mr. FORRESTER, to live apart from his wife, and to allow her a large sum for her maintenance, during her separate. The success of this scheme was to be produced by a serious of scandalous letters, by words and speeches; by the testimony of Law, Windle, and others, all tending to charge the Prosecutor with having committed an unnatural crime. A boy, of the name of Collyer, was one of the instruments of this project, and by his means a warrant was acquired, the Prosecutor was arrested, and with difficulty afterwards he obtained his release. There are various counts, charging the like conspiracy, and on all of them you have been both of you found guilty, by the verdict of an English Jury; guilty of one of the most abominable and diabolical combinations [i.e. conspiracy] against the peace, the fortune, and the reputation of an individual. It will be unnecessary for me to repeat the particulars of evidence so offensive: I shall rather follow the example of my Lord and the Counsel, considering it sufficient to say, that we have all of us reluctantly, but carefully perused the testimony adduced on the trial, in order to enable us to apportion, in the degree the law will admit, the punishment due to your crimes. The truth is conspicuous from the depositions of two witnesses of Wells, of the boy, and by the most unquestionable of all evidence, one Magistrate of Worcester, and of two others, sustaining the same character in the country of Middlesex. The Jury had no option, they were bound by their oaths to find you guilty, and they have performed that melancholy but important duty. This conspiracy was intended, not only to reward the adulterer, by conveying into his arms the wife of the Prosecutor, but it was to seize his property, and by the charge of an unnatural crime, under which more than one person has suffered a capital punishment.
His Lordship concluded with ordering, that the two defendants be imprisoned in the gaol of Newgate for the term of three years, and then be discharged. Both of them bowed respectfully to the Court, and withdrew. (The Times, Issue 6375)
Wednesday, 3 July 1805
COURT OF KING'S BENCH, JULY 2.
THE KING v. PASSINGHAM AND EDWARDS.
Mr. Justice GROSE, having recapitulated the heads of the indictment under which the Defendants were found guilty, enlarged on the enormity and diabolical complexion of the case, aggravated as it was in every feature, by the consideration, that to gratify the lust and avarice of the Defendant Passingham, they had selected as the object of their abominable conspiracy, a person under whose roof they were protected, and of whose liberality they were the daily sharers. If any thing could enhance such guilty it was the justificatory affidavit which had been filed, and which shewed a hardened and unrepentant mind. In these circumstances the Court would have felt themselves called on to inflict the extremest punishment which the law allowed, were they not afraid that if they sentenced the prisoners to stand in the pillory the popular indignation, which it was natural to suppose must be high against an offence so abominable as their, should subject them to a punishment not in the contemplation of the law. Therefore, although in many instances a capital punishment was assigned to offences of a less heinous nature than that of which the Defendants had been found guilty, the Court was desirous to inflict a punishment by which the children of the Defendants might as little as possible be affected. They must, indeed, be filled with shame and confusion when they learned the guilt of their parents as it stood on record. The Court hoped, however, that it would serve as a warning to the sons to avoid the guilt of their father, and to the daughters to shun the ways of the Lady who had been referred to in the course of this abominable transaction. The sentence of the Court was, that each of the Defendants be imprisoned in the Jail of Newgate for the space of three years. (Morning Chronicle, Issue 11271.)
Friday 19 July 1805
At the general quarter sessions of the peace held in Peterborough, on Wednesday last, John Parkinson, a private in the Westminster militia, was tried for sodomy and acquitted. (Stamford Mercury)
Mondaya 2 September 1805
At the [Gloucester] Assizes, a gentleman of an irreproachable character was indicted for assaulting a labouring man, with an intent to perpetrate an unnatural crime, which he charted to have happened in an unfrequented place, about ten o'clock at night, upwards of three years since. The gentleman was struct wiht astonishment at first hearing the accusation, and thought himself in a very awkward situation, as no evidence could be produced to rebut the charge; but the prosecutor having twice positively sword to the day, it gave the gentleman an opporunity (and the only chance he had) of producing an alibi, as he was on that very day, and for several days before and after, at Southampton, about 150 miles from the place sworn to; and two very respectable characters with whom he was on that day, were ready to prove the same. After the Bill was found, the kprosecutor, conscious of his guilt and wickedness, offered to go down on his knees in the public Court, and suffer his name to appear in the public papers, contradicting the charge, if the gentleman would forgive him, and not prosecute him for what he had done; but the defendant, conscious of his innocence, and abhorring even the idea of such a crime, was determined to bring the matter before the public, and to be honourably acquitted by, and in the face of, his country. Accordingly the traverse came on, and the prosecutor, on his examination, gave such contradictory accounts of the transaction at one time saying he knew the gentleman well, and immediately after that he never saw him before that the Court were fully convinced of the nefariousness of the charge, and would proceed no further therein, but directed the Jury to acquit the gentleman, observing, that if prosecutions of this kind were countenanced, a person ought to have a guard with him every time he went about his lawful business, as otherwise no man would be secure from such a charge. The Court directed a proseuction against the accuser; but the gentleman has declined proceeding for the present, as he has reason to believe other persons are implicated with the prosecutor, who, he hopes, will be discovered, that the affair may undergo a legal invetigation; for it was the opinion of the whole Court, that a more wicked accusation was never brought before a tribunal of justice. The gentleman had received two anonymous letters by the post, appointing a meeting in a certain wood, and to bring with him five guineas; but having on receipt with indignation burnt them, he was prevented producing these documents of guilt. (Gloucester Journal)
SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.
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