The Role Of Class And Wealth During The Trial And Execution Of James Pratt And John Smith

1338 WordsApr 10, 20176 Pages
The Role Class and Wealth Played in the Trial and Execution of James Pratt and John Smith On September 21, 1835 two men, James (also known as John) Pratt and James Smith faced trial for buggery. This act was illegal and punishable by death under section 15 of the Offences against the Person Act 1828, which had replaced the 1533 Buggery Act. James Pratt and John Smith were refused “royal mercy” for their crime and were the last men executed for sodomy in England . These two men may have been spared had they had the money to rent out a private space rather than a simple room in a lodging house. The court records of the trial of John Smith and James Pratt state that each man had “feloniously, wickedly, diabolically, and against the order of…show more content…
Bonill’s knee and then moving to Mr. Smith’s. When he told his wife what he had seen over tea she laughed and went to the room herself, spying through a keyhole. Mrs. Berkshire then went back to her husband and told him that she had seen two of the men, Pratt and Smith, engaging in sexual acts, or “criminal connexion” as the court report called it. After hearing about the sexual acts occurring in Mr. Bonill’s room, Mr. Berkshire busted the door open, interrupting Mr. Pratt and Mr. Smith. At this point William Bonill returned to the room with a jug of ale and tried to calm Mr. Berkshire unsuccessfully, who then went to seek the police. George and Jane Berkshire’s testimony suggests that William Bonill was running what was called a Molly-House . He would meet couples, men, interested in engaging in sexual activities in a public place, taverns, coffee houses, public houses, and allow them to use his room at the Berkshire lodging house. From what Mr. Berkshire described it would appear that Bonill was returning with ale for his guests after he expected them to be finished with their quick sexual encounter. Robert Howard Valentine, a local policeman, arrived and arrested Pratt, Smith, and Bonill. At the trial Officer Valentine said that he found Pratt and Smith’s clothes to be dirty. He said that Smith’s shirt appeared dirty from the fundament; Smith said that it was a result of a bowel disorder. The officer also found “a

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