Comparing Punishments for Sodomy: England and the English Navy in the Eighteenth Century

Comparing Punishments for Sodomy: England and the English Navy in the Eighteenth Century

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In the Bible, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by the Lord with brimstone and fire on account of the wicked and sinful natures of the men who resided in the cities. The wicked and sinful part of their nature was the fact that the men of Sodom would rather have sex with other men than with the virginal daughters that Lot had offered them. This is where the word sodomy comes from. Sodomy is defined as a person given to the sin of Sodom, in other words someone who engages in homosexual acts (Norton, 2013). In order to combat this kind of “detestable” and “unnatural” behavior the English government created laws which strictly prohibited homosexual acts between men, and also women. Although it should be noted that the church viewed sodomy as a sin and were against it long before the English court system formed laws addressing sodomy.
In this paper I will look at the similarities and differences in punishments of individuals convicted of sodomy or assault with sodomitical intent in England and in the English Navy during the eighteenth century. Similarities between the two can be found in the laws against sodomitical acts and the punishments if found guilty of committing sodomitical acts. (come back to this!!!!!)
Sodomy was a capital offense in eighteenth century England (Greene, 204). A capital offense simply means it is a charge which carries the death penalty. Between 1700 and 1800 many cases involving sodomitical acts came before the English criminal courts, and while the majority of the cases were charges of assault with sodomitical intent, there were a few cases of sodomy. Individuals convicted of sodomy were given the death penalty and sentenced to hang at the Tyburn gallows.
Just as there were laws and punishme...


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...." Eighteenth Century: Theory & Interpretation. No. 2/3 (2003): 203-232.
Hay , Douglas. "Crime and Justice in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century England." Crime and Justice. (1980): 45-84. http://www.jstor.org/ (accessed December 4, 2013).
Kalman , Harold D. . "Newgate Prison." Architectural History. (1969): 50-61. http://www.jstor.org/ (accessed December 5, 2013).
Norton, Rictor. Mother Clap's Molly House: The Gay Subculture in England 1700-1830. Gloucestershire: The Chalford Press, 2006.
Norton, Rictor (Ed.), "Homosexual Terms in 18th-century Dictionaries", Homosexuality in Eighteenth Century England: A Sourcebook, 13 May 2008, updated 15 July 2013 .
Norton, Rictor (Ed.), "The Buggery Statute", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, , 15 July 2013.

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