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September 13th

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Old Bailey Proceedings - Trial Accounts
London's Central Criminal Court


14th September 1785

Roger Sweetman

Sexual Offences - sodomy


883. ROGER SWEETMAN was indicted for that he not having the fear of God before his eyes, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil, with force and arms, upon the 5th day of September last, feloniously did make an assault upon one Henry Sansum, in the peace of God and our Lord the King then and there being, and then and there maliciously, wickedly, and diabolically, and against the order of nature had a venereal affair with the said Henry Sansum, and then and there feloniously, wilfully, and against the order of nature, carnally knew him, and with him did then and there commit, and perpetrate that abominable and detestable crime (not to be mentioned by Christians) called buggery, to the great displeasure of Almighty God, against the form of the statute in such case made and provided, and against his Majesty's peace.

[Verdict: Not Guilty]

* This prisoner being acquitted on this indictment, the Court ordered the evidence to be suppressed, as too indecent for publication.

Tried by the second London Jury before Mr. RECORDER.


14th September 1785

Roger Sweetman,

Sexual Offences - assault with sodomitical intent


884. The said ROGER SWEETMAN was again indicted for unlawfully assaulting Richard Read, on the 10th day of July last, with intent that most horrid, abominable, and detestable crime (not to be named among Christians) called buggery, with him to commit and do, against the statute, and against the peace.

A second count, For a common assault only.


Court. What are you?

O I work at sawing sometimes.

O How long have you been out of employ?

O A fortnight very near.

O Where do you live?

O In Lad-Lane, at the Crown.

O Have you any father or mother living?

O Yes, in the country.

O Do you know the prisoner?

O Yes, I have known him by sight above two years.

O Are you much acquainted with him?

O No, only I have drank with him.

O Did he behave in any improper manner at any time, and when?

O On the 29th of July, my landlady sent a young man to sleep with me, and she and I quarrelled, I lodged at the George at that time, I told her I would not sleep in the house, and the prisoner was there, and he said, go home along with me Dick, so I will says I, Sweetman.

O What time of night was this?

O Between twelve and one, when we went to the prisoner's we went up stairs, and went to bed just after the clock struck one, I went to sleep before the prisoner got into bed, I do not know that I heard him, and about two o'clock I awaked, and his arms were clenched round me, and he had turned me on my face, and he had got his instrument between my thighs, and I twisted myself and made him break his hold, I got my breast on the bedstead, and I took hold of him with my left hand, and gave him two or three good pelts over the head, I laid hold of him by his breast, the fleshy part;

then I asked what he thought of himself, and what he deserved, he said, do not tell, do not tell, my dear, do not tell, several times over; then I said, what do you deserve, says I, you take care for the future, never offer any such thing any more to any man, if you do you will get into a hobble: I laid till morning, and he laid on the other side, and never offered anything more.

O Why did not you leave him directly?

O I was disposed to go to sleep, and he laid very still afterwards, after I gave him a knock or two.

O How soon did you tell this to any body?

O I cannot tell exactly to the day, I told it to a porter that I knew, that I went house with him, and he wanted to serve me and so, and he said it was a nasty affair; I never made any complaint to any Justice till he was taken up.

O How was you found out?

O A man, an acquaintance of the prosecutor on the last trial, stopped me, and told me the prisoner was taken up for a crime I was talking of.

Prisoner. The prosecutor and me were both very much in liquor, that is all that I can say.


O I know nothing but apprehending the prisoner.

Prisoner. The landlady's house was terrible full, and I said, Dick, go home with me; and we went to bed, and we slept together all night, and three weeks or a month after, I heard what he should say about me.

GUILTY, on the first Count.

Court to Prisoner. You have been convicted on very clear evidence, which appears perfectly to have satisfied a very cautious and attentive Jury, of a crime only short of that which would have affected your life; a crime which all mankind justly hold in the utmost detestation, and which where the diabolical tendency is observed in any person, it is necessary for those concerned in the administration of justice, to repress with the utmost severity of punishment: under those circumstances, therefore the Court orders, that you be imprisoned in his Majesty's gaol of New. gate for the term of three years, and during that time twice publickly whipped; and it is recommended to the Sheriffs, to execute that sentence with proper severity.

[Verdict: Guilty - Punishment: Imprisonment at Newgate; public whipping]

Tried by the second London Jury before Mr. RECORDER.


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