Abraham Adams, Executed for Sodomy at Newgate (1762 – 1815)

Abraham Adams was born in May 1762 at Mr Hardesty’s Bear and Ragged Staff, Mayfair, St George Hanover Square, London. He was born in an apartment rented by his father Abraham Adams Senior for the purpose of his illicit affair with an Elizabeth Burton. Abraham Senior was at the time married to a Priscilla Craister and the couple divorced in February 1765. The divorce trial was well documented. Abraham Senior was a joiner and carpenter by trade and his main residence was French Gardens, Mayfair. He eventually moved back here after he evicted his wife Priscilla from the property.

Abraham Adams the Younger was baptised on the 26th May 1762 in the parish church of St George, Hanover Square as mentioned by Mary Hardisty during the divorce trials.

On the 18th October 1778, Abraham Adams began a five-year clerkship with a Thomas Eccles an apprenticeship towards a career as a Solicitor.

On the 2nd July 1787 he married Sophia Downing at Saint Mary’s Parish Church, Lambeth. His record of marriage records his status as a Batchelor of Paddington and his wife a spinster of Lambeth.

Abraham and Sophia had issue; four children.

(i) Abraham George Isaac Adams (1788 – 1868)

(ii) Samuel Adams (1789 – )

(iii) Elizabeth Adams (1792 – 1823)

(iv) Harriet Adams (1794 – 1844)

Abraham also had one illegitimate child with an Elizabeth Gray, The child’s name was Beth Gray born on the 23rd May 1806 in Marylebone, London.

On the 22nd January 1799, Abraham was committed by the King’s Bench to serve time in Fleet Prison for an accumulation of debt, monies he owed George Downing. He was discharged from prison in 1801.

In January 1803, Abraham rented property at 65 Oxford Street at a huge cost of £120 PA. which equates to about £11,981.15 today. In comparison the cost of a property along Oxford Street in 2018 would cost far more than the average inflation.

On 8th November 1803, he again was committed before the Kings Bench for accumulation of Debt, he was discharged on the 1st January 1804.

Abraham Adams certainly lived an interesting and frugal life, off cause what interests me most about him is what happened right at the end of his life. His sexuality, who he really was as a person and the life he led hiding from a world that had no acceptance of a persons sexuality.

Off all the records that exist about Abraham Adams and his family, of which there are many, very little exists regarding his crime of Sodomy, his life amounted to no more than a few words inscribed into a few pages of old trial and prison documents.

ABRAHAM ADAMS was indicted for an unnatural crime .

GUILTY – DEATH , aged 51.

First Middlesex Jury, before Lord Ellenborough


On the 5th April 1815 Abraham was arrested and brought in front of the First Middlesex Jury, before Lord Ellenborough at the Old Bailey for an unnatural crime, the crime of Sodomy. He was aged 51 years.

The verdict was Guilty and his punishment Death.

He was respited on the 20th July 1815, and his execution at Newgate followed 6 days later on Wednesday 26th July 1815 by simple hanging.

His burial is recorded on the 28th July 1815, two days after his Execution at St Giles in the Fields, Holborn, Camden, England. So his family paid the fee to collect his corpse from Newgate Prison. St Giles in the Fields Burial transcripts usually includes the abode of those being buried. Abraham Adams ‘Abode’ is empty, his last recorded residence was Newgate Prison and his family must have chosen to leave it blank. A cold reminder of an Executed man.



(i) Trials for Adultery, or, the history of Divorces: Being Select Trials at Doctors Commons, for Adultery Fornication, Cruelty, Impotence, &c. from the Year 1760, to the Present Time, Including the Whole of the Evidence on Each Cause: Together with the letters &c. that have been intercepted between the amorous parties, Volume 7 – Published 1 January 1780 / S. Bladon

(ii) The National Archives of the UK (TNA); Kew, Surrey, England; Court of King’s Bench: Plea Side: Affidavits of Due Execution of Articles of Clerkship, Series I; Class: KB 105; Piece: 1

(iii) The Times London, 22nd July 1815

(iv) Web: London, England, Proceedings of the Old Bailey and Ordinary’s Accounts Index, 1674-1913

(v) London Metropolitan Archives, Saint Mary At Lambeth, Register of marriages, P85/MRY1, Item 391

(vi) London, England, King’s Bench and Fleet Prison Discharge Books and Prisoner Lists, 1734-1862

(vii) London Metropolitan Archives; London, England; Reference Number: P82/GIS/A/04/008

(viii) London, England, Deaths and Burials, 1813-1980

(ix) England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935 / Source; Newgate Prison Calendar / Series; H077 / Piece Number; 22

(x) Capital Convictions at the Old Bailey 1760-1837

(xi) Old Bailey Proceedings 1740-1913

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