The Worst of Crimes
Publication Date: 1998-12-01
In the eighteenth century homosexuality became an issue, especially in London with its fast growing population. No one dared to say publicly that it should be tolerated, yet the reactions of men and women to the homosexuals in their midst were varied and complex. Moving from the Old Bailey to the court of King's Bench, the author discusses the anomalies, inconsistencies and miscarriages of justice that arose as our ancestors decided what to do with defendants accused of the so-called 'worst of crimes.' By studying original trial documents and other manuscript sources Netta Murray Goldsmith has discovered hitherto unsuspected facts about some cases, including one important instance in which a prosecutor, aided by members of the judiciary, was able to pervert the course of justice. She also shows a how reactivated Sodomy law put all eighteenth-century male homosexuals in fear and suggests it led to a distorted concept of masculinity.