Resource: RN punishment for "unnatural crime" (oh buggery…)
Yes, I’m still reading… and I came across a very interesting excerpt from Lt. Graham Moore’s journal regarding the punishment of two seamen who were found to be “guilty of an unnatural crime”.
14 Jan 1788
“(…) I must except two fellows who were guilty of an unnatural crime, and who were detected very soon after the ship was put in commission and were kept in irons upwards of a month and at last punished with a dozen lashes each, they were then put in one of the boats and an opportunity given them to desert which (in consequence of frequent broad hints that such a step would be highly satisfactory to the Officers) they accordingly did. This was a most disagreeable affair, there was no doubt of the fact as they themselves confessed, mutually accusing each other of enticing. Had I been Captain of the ship I would have turned them both ashore. (…)”
Footnote by the author, Tom Wareham: “Unfortunately, a page has been cut from the diary at this point, seemingly just as Moore was about to expand his thoughts on this issue.”
I have to add here that the men were not thrown in a boat and left to die at sea. They were close to the shore. According to the author, it was not uncommon to have men caught breaking AOW 27, 28 or whatever the number currently was, punished and then giving them the chance to “desert” – which saved both parties a lot of trouble and the officers the embarrassing task of writing a detailed report…