December 20th, 2013 Headsman
Hepburn Graham, masters’ mate aboard the HMS St. George, was tried by Admiralty court-martial in early December on a charge of sodomy forwarded by the ship’s captain, Thomas Bertie.
We excerpt from the trial record via Gay Warriors: A Documentary History from the Ancient World to the Present:
George Parr, a boy of fourteen years of age belonging to His Majesty’s ship, St. George, called in and sworn:
Capain Bertie asked:
Q. Do you know the prisoner?
Q. Relate to the court what the prisoner was guilty of with you on the twenty-first of November last, the day after the St. George arrived in Torbay, and also n the twenty-seventh of November last.
A. On the twenty-first of November last, Mr. Graham took me into his hammock. He got me on a stool and got hold of me, telling me I must be a good boy. He got hold of my hair, and pulled me into his hammock in his berth on the starboard side, forward on the lower gun deck. It was between eight and nine o’clock in the evening of the first watch. He told me to put down my trousers, and he put them down himself. He pulled his yard out, and put it into my backside. He kept doing backwards and forwards, and made my arse wet. I was laying on my side in his hammock when he committed the act, and immediately afterwards he said you may go to your hammock now, and told me I must not tell any one, and if I did he would get me flogged …
On the twenty-seventh of November at night, between eight and nine o’clock in the [illegible] watch, I was in his berth attending him as his servant. He told me I must be a good boy. He would make me a good boy. He got hold of me and pulled me into his hammock. I did not want to get into it and he kept hitting me on the head while I was in the hammock. I wanted to get out, and he kept hitting me and asked me to stay in and said if I did not, he would get me flogged, he would get me three dozen [lashes]. He had made me unbutton the buttons before, and he them pulled down my trousers and pulled out his yard and put it into my backside. It went into my backside. He kept moving backwards and forwards, and made my backside wet. He then told me to go to my hammock and get up in good time in the morning and I went away. On the following morning early, I was again in his berth. It was before breakfast, before the hammocks were up. He pulled a hole in my trousers behind with his fingers and told me he would get them mended. He then pulled his yard out, and put it through the hole of my trousers to my backside, but did not enter it, but kept moving backwards and forwards and made my arse wet.
Q. Did he ever make any more attempts than what you have related?
A. Yes, he has attempted it five times in all, but only entered me twice.
A second boy on the same ship gave similar testimony.
John Sky, a boy about fifteen years of age, belonging to the St. George, called in and sworn.
Captain Bertie asked:
Q. Relate to the court what the prisoner was guilty of with you on the twenty-ninth of November, last.
A. On the twenty-ninth of November last I was down between decks talking to one of the boys whose name is Taylor. Mr. Graham, the prisoner came to me and [illegible] me he wanted me in his berth. I went in and he told me he would give me a bed. He then took me round the deck and set me down on a stool [illegible] of him. He began kissing me and told me he must feel my cock. I told him to leave it alone. If he did not, I would sing out. He was at this time going to unbutton the flap of my trousers. Mr. Miller, a midshipman, came in and he asked Mr. Miller to take down a great coat that [illegible] on the gun to give him more light. He said it gave him light. Whilst Mr. Miller was taking down the coat, he took me by the arm and hoved me out of the berth. I told the boy, George Parr, if he did not complain, I would. He then said that he would complain, and I told him to mention my name. He did complain to the first lieutenant, and mentioned my name. I told Mr. Graham that I could not stand it, and would complain. About a fortnight before, Mr. Graham [illegible] me in his berth and had my trousers down and pulled out his private parts. He tried to get these into my backside, but could [illegible], but got them between my thighs. Before he had had his turn, someone came in and disturbed him. I told him I would go out of the berth, and he put me out of the berth. He never succeeded with me in what he wanted to do.
George Parr’s rape claim was vouched by the ship’s surgeon.
Mr. Hugh Hughes, surgeon of the St. George, called in and sworn:
Captain Bertie asked:
Q. On the twenty-ninth of November was the boy, George Parr, sent to you to undergo a certain examination?
Request: Relate to the court the result of your examination.
A. About seven o’clock in the evening of the twenty-ninth of November I was sent for by Lieutenant Caulfield on the quarter deck, and when I appeared, he said that Captain Bertie desired that I should examine the two boys, Parr and Sky. I immediately took them down to the sick bay accompanied by my two assistants, and there examined them immediately and found the anus of George Parr inflamed and not excoriated at all. I also examined Sky, and found no appearance of inflamation in the anus, as in the former boy. In order to corroborate what I have now stated I requested both my assistants to examine them also and begged that they would give me their opinion, and it corresponded with my own.
The court asked:
Q. Did you ask the boy, Parr, what had occasioned this appearance in his anus?
A. I did. He answered that two nights before, the twenty-seventh, that Mr. Graham had connection with him and gave him an infinite deal of pain. I asked him whether the anus was very painful at the time he was examining. He said, no, not very painful just then.
Q. Was it your opinion that the apperance was occasioned by the insertion of an instrument similar to a man’s yard?
A. I could not ascertain that.
Q. Would such an insertion cause a similar appearance in your opinion?
A. I think it would.
Q. As a professional man, do you think that the crime of which the prisoner stands charged could be committed upon a boy so young as George Parr.
A. Yes, I do.
Q From your knowledge of instruments could you imagine that the crime could be committed with a passive obedience on the part of that boy?
A. I do think he must have been placed in a particular position and he must have been a passive instrument.
One of the surgeon’s assistants testified to like effect. At this point, the Graham gave a scanty defense, merely describing his service since 1793 without addressing the charges against him.
The court was cleared and agreed that the charge had been proved against the said Hepburn Graham, and did adjudge him to suffer death by being hanged by the neck onboard such ship of His Majesty and at such time as the commissioners for executing the Office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, etc. or any three of them for the time being should direct.
The court was again opened, the prisoner brought, [illegible] audience admitted, and sentence passed accordingly.
Deputy Judge Advocate of the Fleet
Just a few weeks before he’d been wetting the arse of boys on the St. George. Now, only King George III stood between Graham and the noose.
Admiralty, 16 Dec 1806.
Mr. Grenville has the honour to lay before your Majesty the minutes and sentence of a court martial held on Mr Hepburn Graham, master’s mate on board the St George for an unnatural crime.
Mr. Grenville humbly submits to your Majesty that the sentence of the court martial may be put into immediate execution.
This petition was transmitted simultaneously with a like appeal from a seaman condemned for a Caribbean mutiny. Mr. Grenville endorsed a pardon in that case; King George endorsed both recommendations.
The King’s reply, Windsor Castle, 17 Dec.
The King upon consideration of what is stated in Mr Grenville’s letter in regard to the case of Naiad Sware, consents to remit the sentence of death pronounced by the court martial. Under the circumstances which attend the crime of which Mr Hepburn Graham has been found guilty, his Majesty is under the painful necessity of directing that the sentence of death may be carried into immediate execution.
Accordingly, that same day the Admiralty issued a warrant to hang Hepburn Graham on the upcoming Saturday, December 20.
Also on this date
- 1704: John Smith, peruke-maker and highwayman for a week
- 1961: Robert McGladdery, the last execution in Northern Ireland
- 1946: A triple execution in Washington, DC
- 1974: Mun Segwang, errant assassin
- 1786: Hannah Ocuish, age 12
- 1882: Guglielmo Oberdan