This is all getting slightly embarrassing because I've found another relative who lost his head...and it was displayed on Tower Bridge...pretty nasty altogether. The rest of him was buried in the grounds of the Tower of London...

The interesting story behind Walter Hungerford...1st Baron Hungerford of Heytesbury who married three times...is that he was the first person to be executed under the new Act...the Buggery Act of 1533. Walter was also accused of treason and witchcraft...

It is thought his third wife...to whom he had been very unkind, he'd tried to poison her several times and had kept her a virtual prisoner ...had plotted at least the charge of treason and maybe the witchcraft charge as well. No-one seems to know how the buggery charge arose though he was also vaguely accused of incest with one of his daughters...

The witchcraft arose because he and a couple of clergymen friends of his had 'read the cards' to try to divine when the King would die...the King being good old Henry V111...the treason charge was related to the fact he'd been close to Oliver Cromwell and as it happens Cromwell was executed on the same day as Walter...

Prior to the Act being passed, any so-called sexual deviation was dealt with by the Church who generally acted fairly leniently towards any wrong-doers...but once the Act came into force it included the rule that all lands and houses owned by the culprit would be passed over to the Crown rather than through the laws of inheritance. Henry V111 used this to his advantage when he sacked the Monasteries...he simply took all their lands after accusations of buggery were made against them and they too were executed. Under the Church rulings monks and priests were exempt from execution, even for murder.

You might be wondering why some people were beheaded and some were hanged...the higher born you were meant you were beheaded...it was considered a swift death. Providing the executioner knew what he was doing of course and not all did and had to take several swipes at the neck to sever the head...

Hanging was reserved for the middle and lower classes.

Although it was against the law to have a sexual relationship with another man, there were brothels which were well known about. Called Molly Houses, they employed young men as prostitutes...during the 1800's, those young men were often recruited from the messengers and post boys who were employed by the Telegraph companies. But again...the higher your rank in society the less likely you were to be prosecuted, so on the infrequent occasions when a Molly house was raided the customers were often let off scot free simply because they tended to be landed gentry or high ranking Army officers.

Lesbians were almost always left well alone in the Middle Ages...Church and State ruling had decided that sperm needed to be exchanged for a homosexual act to have taken place...as women didn't have sperm it was thought they weren't actually having sex.

But later on, in the 1800's, it was thought the height of fashion to have relationships with both men and women...much like buying the latest frock or hat, it was thought quite innocent and no-one paid any heed. This attitude had much to do with Victorian ideas on sexuality... it is said when Queen Victoria first heard about lesbians her reply was 'So long as it doesn't frighten the horses'...if you didn't see any evidence then it wasn't happening.

So Gay women escaped the punishments meted out to Gay men...

There are few records of hanging or beheading for sodomy...whether that was due to proving the act or because the research has never been properly conducted is not easy to ascertain. The thinking among modern historians is that the records are probably available but need to be properly studied and investigated...

The last hangings for buggery were in 1835....John Smith and John Pratt died in front of Newgate prison on the 27th of November. They were two young men who had been reported to the authorities by their landlord...he'd been peeping through the keyhole of their room...