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

Newspaper Reports, 1893

11 March 1893

William Ray Clarke (48), described as an ironmonger, of Effra-road, Brixton, was charged on remand, before Mr. Hopkins, with having committed gross acts of indecency with another male person – to wit, one Henry Blows. Mr. Blanchard Wontner prosecuted on behalf of the Treasury. The prisoner, a prominent member of tke Wesleyan body at Brixton, appeared to feel his position very acutely, and buried his face in his hands. Mr. Wontner, in opening the case, said Blows was a young man, 19 years of age, who had been in the service of the prisoner as an assistant. It appeared that on the very day that Blows entered his service the prisoner committed an indecent assault upon him. Blows appeaed to have resisted somewhat vigorously, but nevertheless the prisoner repeated his conduct on subsequent occasions. Blows, who was attending the chapel of which the prisoner was an officer, called upon the Rev. Enoch Salt, and told him what had happened. Thereupon the prisoner asked Blows to retract, and he very foolishly agreed to do so; but the matter appeared to have preyed upon his mind, and he again went to Mr. Salt, and told him that his first statement was correct. Subsequently both Blows and the prisoner called upon Mr. Salt, and the prisoner then
and signed it. There were two other young men, one about 19 and the other about 16 years of age, in the service of the prisoner, upon whom similar assaults were committed by the prisoner. Henry Blows, a well-spoken young man, gave evidence bearing out Mr. Wontner's opening statement, and stated that when he remonstrated with him and asked him why he acted in this way the prisoner replied, "Because I love you." (Laughter.) Detailing the circumstances under which he retracted his original statement to the Rev. Enoch Salt, the witness said the prisoner appealed to him to do so in order to save the work at the Dulwich-road mission. The witness proceeded to say that the prisoner subsequently made a confession to Mr. Salt. Mr. Wontner put in the document, in which the
at what had occurred, and promised to do his best to become a purer and more Christian man. In cross-examinaation, Mr. Slack, who appeared for the defence, elicited that the prisoner was very ill when he signed this statement. The Rev. Enoch Salt, the superintendent of the Brixton Hill Wesleyan Circuit, said he had known the prisoner two or three years. The prisoner held the position of "leader," and, with others, was in charge of a mission hall. Witness identified the written statements made by the parties. Cross-examined: He sent the documents on to Mr. Wontner, accompanied by a letter. Mr. Slack read the letter, in which the witness said he believed Clarke was a truly penitent man, and expressed the opinion that a prosecution would do no good to him or toany one else. In further cross-examination, the witness said Clarke had some kind of a fit when he signed the last document. Mr. Hopkins committed the prisoner for trial, but admitted him to bail – one surety in £200. (South London Press)
[At his trial at the Old Bailey in April, he was sentenced to six months' imprisonment with hard labour.]

15 March 1893

GROSS INDECENCY. – John Donohue, 22, soldier, pleaded guilty to an act of gross indecency with James Saunders, at Portsea, on Februiary 26th. – The Judge said he would not waste words on him, and sentenced him to six months' hard labour. (Portsmouth Evening News)

17 March 1893

SHORT SHRIFT. – John Donohue (22), soldier, pleaded guilty to committing an offence of gross indecency, at Portsea, on February 26th. – Mr. Giles, who prosecuted, said that pisoner stated when before the magistrates that he was drunk. – His Lordship (to prisoner): You are not worth wasting words upon. – Six months, with hard labour. (Western Gazette)

16 May 1893

PETTY SESSIONS. – Earl Winterton had anything but a pleasant task at the Town Hall on Saturday. He was occupied for several hours in investigating five charges of gross indecency with male persons against Mr. John George Bruzzand, a gentleman farmer, of Coldwaltham. Mr. Boxall prosecuted on behalf of the Treasury, and Mr. J. P. Grain appeared for the defence. The case was under section nine of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. He was committed for trial at the Assizes on all the charges. – There was a charge from Pulborough against a young man for committing, or attempting to commit, an unnatural offence. Mr. Boxall appeared for the defence, and after the case had been thoroughly investigated it was dismissed. (Sussex Agricultural Express)

10 July 1893

At the Newcastle Assizes on Saturday, before Mr Justice Bruce, Lionel Hans Hamilton (45), late factory inspector, and Henry Dady (22), clerk, were jointly and separately charged with offences of gross indecency, and with having conspired to induce others to commit offences. Mr Waddy, Q.C., and Mr Joel were for the prosecution; Mr John Strachan represented Hamilton, and Mr Blake defended Dady. – Hamilton, by the advice of his counsel, pleaded guilty to the first indictment preferred against him. – Dady pleaded guilty to conspiracy but not guilty to the felony, and the case against him was gone into. – The jury found Dady guilty, and Hamilton was sentenced to ten years' penal servitude and Dady to five years' penal servitude. (Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette

18 July 1893

His Lordship, alluding to the calendar, said it contained two cases and six prisoners. The second case was one in which two men, in the washhouse at the back of the Brecon Barracks, were charged with committing an abominable crime. It was a great pity, he thought, that medical inspection was not had, especially as the alleged crime was committed where medical inspection could have been had. He advised the grand jury to scrutinise attentively the evidence in this case, as in cases of this description, above all others, it was not right that such charges should be made the subject of public investivation unless there was really a case upon which it was reasonably supposed that a petty jury would come to an adverse conclusion. His Lordship pointed out that he had thought it proper that not only should a bill be laid before them, charging these men with the felony to which he had referred, but that a charge of misdemeanour should be brought against them under the Criminal Law Amendment Act (1885). Now this was all the business, and it must be a subject of congratulation for all of them, he was sure, that the county was free, or almost free, from anything in the form of serious crime.
The grand jury found a true bill for misdemeanour against Pryce Lewis (27), collier, and George Henry Daniells (20), collier, who were charged with committing an abominable offence in the washhouse at the Brecon Barracks on June 24th last. The prisoners were recruits in the 3rd Battalion the South Wales Borderers. Mr Ifor Bowen (instructed by Mr D. N. E. Thomas, Brecon) was for the prosecution; and Mr J. Plews (instructed by Mr Daniel Evans, Brecon) for the defence. – After hearing the evidence of Lance-Corporal Rowland Ridge, Lance-Corporal Frederick Thomas, Corporal Batt, the addresses of the advocates, and the judge's summing up, the jury retired for about a quarter of an hour, and returned into court with a verdict of guilty, with a recommendation to mercy. Asked for the grounds, the foreman (Mr W. Smith) said the jury considered it an act of gross indecency, but thought the prisoners may have been playing. – His Lordship, addressing the prisoners, said they had been found guilty on the clearest possible evidence of an act of gross indecency. He entirely concurred with the view the grand jury took of the graver charge against the prisoners, and he rejoiced they did not decide to put them on their trial on the graver charge. But still the charge on which they had been tried was one which he could not possibly pass by without pronouncing the statutory sentence of imprisonment. He had carefully considered the recommendation to mercy from the jury-box, and prisoners would be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for five calendar months. (South Wales Daily News)

27 July 1893

At Bow Street, to-day, Frederick Sharp, assistant labour master at Poplar Workhouse, and Fredk. Chapman, described as an insurance agent, were committed for trial, on a charge of gross indecency, in a public building, near Waterloo Bridge. The police stated that Chapman, whilst in the cells, attempted suicide by tying a piece of shoe lace round his neck. (Shields Daily News)

30 July 1893

SHOCKING CHARGE AGAINST A WORKHOUSE OFFICIAL. – At Bow-street Police Court, on Thursday, Frederick Sharp, assistant labour master at Poplar Workhouse, and Frederick Chapman, who described himself as a Prudential insurance agent, were charged with gross indecency near Waterloo Bridge. The alleged offence was committed on Wednesday night, information being given to the police by William Venus, a house decorator, who informed the police of what was going on. The evidence was totally unfit for publication. On Thursday morning the prisoner Chapman attempted to commit suicide in the cells. Police-constable 133 E, found him with a shoe-lace and piece of string round his throat. His tongue and eyes were protruding, and the constable was only just in time to save his life. Prisoners were committed for trial. (Reynolds's Newspaper)

13 September 1893

INDECENCY AT BLACKPOOL. – On Saturday morning at Blackpool, John Walker, and William Holgate were charged with an act of gross indecency at a public urinal in Springfield-road, on Wednesday night. – Mr. W. J. Read appeared for Walker, and Mr. R. Banks defended Holgate. – The Chief Constable explained that the prisoners were charged with committing acts of indecency upon other males. – P.C. Sharrock said he and P.C. Davidson stood on a box at the west end of the urinal and saw the offence committed through the perforated iron screen. When charged with the offence, the same night Walker said, "I am not addicted to it, I have friends who will tell you so." Holgate merely asked him to let his father know. – P.C. Davidson and Captain Maurice supernumerary inspector in the Blackpool Police force, gave evidence. – Both prisoners pleaded "not guilty" and reserved their defence. – Prisoners were committed to take their trial at the next assizes, bail being allowed. – The case occupied the Bench two hours. – Herbert Butcher and Joshua Porter were charged on remand with similar offences at the same place on Thursday night. – Mr. R. Banks defended Porter, and Mr. T. W. Kay appeared for Butcher. – P.S. Squires proved watching the commission of the offence. – Captain Maurice corroborated. – Prisoners were committed for trial at the assizes. (Preston Herald)

1 November 1893

At the Lancaster Assizes, yesterday, before Mr. Justice Day, John Walker (42), overlooker, and Wm. Holgate (38), weaver, were indicted together for having at Blackpool on September 6th, committed acts of gross indecency. – Mr. McKeand prosecuted. – Mr. Jordan defended Holgate, and Mr.Mellor defended Walker. – For the defence Mr. Mellor called Walker, who said he lived at Keighley, and had been married seventeen years. He denied the whole of the evidence. He was a Primitive Methodist Sunday-school teacher, and held offices in connection with that denomination at Keighley. Evidence as to good conduct was given by the Rev. J. Reveley, minister of the denomination, and a number of other gentlemen. In defence of Holgate, Mr. Jordan called the prisoner himself, who denied the story of the police. He had lived in Barrowford, near Nelson, and had never seen the other prisoner. Evidence as to character was given by Mrs. Heaton Butterfield, of Barrowford, and Thomas Hey, grocer, of Colne. – The prisoners were acquitted without a stain on their character. (Burnley Express)

3 November 1893

In September last half-a-dozen men were charged at the Blackpool Police Court with committing gross acts of indecency, and after the evidence had been heard the whole of the parties were committed for trial at the Lancaster Assizes, where they were arraigned on Tuesday last before Mr. Justice Day. Out of the six cases, however, only one was sustained. John Walker (42), overlooker, and William Holgate (38), weaver, were both indicted for an offence on September 6th, but evidence as to their former good character was given by the Rev. J. Reveley, of Keighley, and others, and both men were acquitted without a stain on their charcter. In the cases against Herbert Butcher (42), of South Shore, boarding house keeper, and Joshua Porter, the latter was acquitted, but Butcher, who was found guilty, was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment; whilst Albert Edward Green (30), clerk, and George Healy (40), farmer, were acquitted. (Blackpool Gazette & Herald)

17 September 1893

At the Old Bailey, on Thursday, before the Common Serjeant, Edward Walter, 47, and a lad named Gamble, district messenger, were indicted for having committed acts of gross indecency. The accused were arrested on August 23, and were committed from Clerkenwell Police Court by Mr. Bros, the presiding Magistrate, but sere subsequently admitted to bail.
          The elder defendant when arrested gave an address at Chester-terrace, Regent's Park, and described himself as a journalist. It transpired, however, that his real profession was that of a clerk in holy orders, and he was entitled to place the prefix reverend to his name. He was a clean-shaven man, and bore the general appearance of his calling, although the clerical collar was missing, one of the ordinary "stand up" pattern taking its place.
          Mr. C. F. Gill andMr. Partridge conducted the prosecution on behalf of the Metropolitan Railway Company. Mr. F. Lockwood and Mr. Geogheghan defended Walters, and Mr. Paul Taylor appeared for Gamble.
          Both defendants pleaded "Not guilty."
          Mr. Gill, in opening the case, said the acts which the defendants were carged with having committed took place in a railway carriage at Portland-road Railway Station. On the night of August 23 while an underguard named Day was getting into his van he noticed the elder defendant behaving in a manner that aroused suspicion. Both the man and the boy were previously seen on the platform. Day kept a watch on the pair; and when between Portland-road and Gower-street other acts of indecency were witnessed, which caused the officials to enter the compartment at Gower-street. From what was there noticed the carriage door was locked, and at King's Cross Station a constable was called, and Walters and Gamble were given into custody. Mr. Gill said there might be some excuse for the boy, but there could be none for the elder defendant. The latter, however, would have an opportunity of going into the box, if he cared to do so, and giving his own version of the affair.
          James Day, Metropolitan Railway, corroborated the counsel's opening statement. His compartment was close to that of the defendant's, and by stretching out his body through the window he could watrch thei movements. He shouted to Walters "What game are you up to?" The man made some confused reply, and witness got on the footboard and locked the door. At King's Cross Walters tried to escape through the offside door, but he was caught and handed over to the police.
          Witness was then subjected to a long and severe cross-examination by Mr. Lockwood.
          Other evidence was adduced, including that of Inspector Radley, G Division, who entered the charge against the defendants at King's Cross Station. Walters gave his address as 12, Chester-terrace, Regent's Park. Gamble made certain admissions, but Walters denied the charge. They were brought before the Magistrate, and Walters was told he could give evidence, but he did not go into the witness-box.
          A statement made by Gamble was next produced. In this the boy stated that he first met the man Walters in Regent-street. He gave him 1s. and made an appointment with him for another evening (August 23). Walters than gave him 6s., and they went to Portland-road Station. They entered a carriage there, and Walters commenced to behave improperly when the guard entered the compartment.
          Mr. Lockwood, in the course of a powerful speech for Walters, said that a charge of this kind should be established on the most conclusive testimony, and he denied that the story narrated to the jury was in any sense conclusive. The only witness of any seeming importance was the Guard Day, and he had contradicted himself. True there was the statement of the boy Gamble, but that could not be taken as evidence against the other defendant. The jury should remember that when once an accusation of this kind had been brought against a man it meant a lifelong stigma to him, even when a verdict of acquittal was recorded. The breath of suspicion would always hang round a man so accused. To his own mind there occurred the case of a statesman, who when a like charge was brought aginst him, preferred to meet his God rather than face the trial of men. Therefore but little weight, if any at all, should be placed on the supposed attempt of Walters to escape from the railway carriage at King's Cross. In conclusion Mr. Lockwood repeated that no man ought to be convicted of such a crime on the evidence of a person like Day, who by his own admission set out with a strong suspicion against Walters.
          Mr. Taylor having addressed the Court for Gamble, his lordship summed up.
          The jury found the prisoner Walters "Guilty," and the Common Serjeant sentenced him to one year and ten months' hard labour. Gamble was acquitted. (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, 1893", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 3 January 2023 <http://rictornorton.co.uk/eighteen/1893news.htm>.

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