Sodomy, 24th May 1694
An original trial report of a man who committed an act of sodomy and was sentenced to death, May 1694. (source:, reference number: t16940524-20, accessed 03/12/16

Featured image: a man receiving a flogging for committing an act of sodomy. (, accessed 03/12/16)

Homosexuality (or sodomy/buggery as it was known as in the early modern period), was a subject that was considered to be the shadiest of them all. Male homosexuality received a lot more attention than lesbianism, and was established as a felony in 1563[1]. As a Christian nation, the people of early modern England firmly believed in the teachings of the Bible that sexual intercourse was made to be between a man and a woman only.

It is no wonder that a crime as scandalous as this seemed to shock even the officer who had to write the trial account. The story really is a roller coaster from start to finish. First of all, the accused Mustapha Pochowachett lay with a boy of 14 years old. Which in this day and age would be a case of paedophilia and rape (judging by the fact that Bassa swears he was assaulted), there is no question about that. Before its redefining in the Oxford English dictionary in 1906, paedophilia was a term which referred to the violation of individuals under the age of 14[2], so we can infer that perhaps this term applied to the 1690s as well.

If that wasn’t enough to make your blood run cold, the case gets even worse when a surgeon is ordered to examine Anthony’s body and discovers that he has ‘two great Ulcers on both sides his Fundament’ and has been given Venereal Distemper, and yet the convicted still has the nerve to insist he didn’t assault the boy.

What is interesting about this case however, is why the convicted felt the need to plead that he was innocent when there was clear evidence held against him. Despite the fact that Islam was the dominant religion in the Ottoman Empire during this period, Christianity was still present. So, perhaps our sexual deviant was a Christian and seeing as the act of sodomy was a ‘Crime so grievous in the sight of God’ and was the ‘most Unnatural and Horrid Sin’, he hoped that by denying his crime he could deceive the law and continue living as a “faithful” servant of God.

[1] Sharpe, J.A., Early Modern England: A Social History 1550-1760. (Arnold, second edition, 1997). pp. 46-47

[2] Toulalan, S. “Is He a Licentious Lewd Sort of a Person?”: Constructing the Child Rapist in Early Modern England. From: Journal of the History of Sexuality, Volume 23, Number 1. (January 2014). pp. 21-52 ( accessed 03/12/16)


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