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


22nd June 1796

Edward Major

Theft - extortion


457. EDWARD MAJOR was indicted for that he, on the 1st of June, unlawfully, did send to Augustine Rayner, a letter, threatening to accuse him of an unnatural crime, as follows: addressed,

"Mr. Rayner, No. 81, Aldersgate-street.
"I received the letter respecting the bill which
"I gave you when we parted, and you know I
"I have it not in my power to pay it, and if I
"had it is an unjust demand; and I have only to
"observe, if you do not immediately return it to
"me, as an acknowledgement for that obscene
"offence of sodomy, attempted on Saturday the
"22d of August last, I am advised to prosecute
"you with the utmost rigour of the law; that
"that which is done in secret, may be revealed
"upon the house tops. E. Major."

(The case was opened by Mr.Knapp.)


* I am one of the Marshalmen of the City.

Q. Look at that letter.

A. I got it from Mr. Alderman Glynn.


* I follow the business of copy-book-making; I entered into partnership with the prisoner about two years ago; we continued in partnership about a twelvemonth, when there was a balance due to me, from the prisoner, of fifty pounds; the prisoner being a man of no property, I agreed to take a fun of money for which he gave me a promisory note for 9£. 10s. 10d. which was due in December last.

(Produces it).

Q. How soon after this did you receive a letter from the prisoner?

A. About six months after, the first of June, by the penny-post.

Q. Look at that letter; is that the letter you received?

A. It is.

Q. Do you know the prisoner's hand-writing?

A. Yes; I believe it is his writing; I have not a doubt of it.

(The letter read).

Q. Had you paid the note away?

A. No, I had not; I gave it to another person.

Q. Did any other person lodge in the house at the time that you did?

A. Yes, two or three other persons; the prisoner and I slept together for the time of our partnership.

Prisoner's defence. It is about two years since we first entered into partnership; the agreement was not a written agreement; I said, we had better have an attorney; he said, that would be an expence; I said, if he was willing to take my word I would take his, as he was a professor of religion; he kept the books, I did not know how things went on; he went out of town for a week and locked up the books, I was obliged to have the place broke open; and when he came home he slew at me, and I said, I was determined to part with him; and in the night, as we were in bed together, he attempted this soul crime upon me.

For the prisoner.


* I have known Mr. Rayner and Mr. Major almost ever since they commenced partnership; one morning Mr. Major came in to me, and said, he would not sleep with such a nasty fellow as he was, and begged I would let him sleep with me; I told Rayner, and he said, I thought he would report this of me, as I found myself near him in the morning; Mr. Rayner declared to me, that he made a parting in the bed in case he should find himself as men are apt to let their seed fly, left he should get near him.

Court Q. When was this?

A. I cannot say; it may be six months from this time, or nine months; it is impossible for me to tell.

Q. Do you think it was so late as September or October?

A. I cannot form an idea.

The Jury gave in the following verdict:

[Verdict: Guilty]

We think there is no foundation for the charge of the prisoner against the prosecutor.

Case referred to the opinion of the Judges.

Tried by the London Jury, before Mr. Justice BULLER.



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