Journal article

A Sodomy Case in Colonial Melbourne: The Prison Letters of George Bateson

John Waugh

Journal of Australian Colonial History | University of New England | Published : 2018


In February 1861 a newly arrived prisoner in Melbourne's Pentridge prison began a long series of letters in which he tried to clear his name. Both the prisoner and his case were unusual. George Bateson was entrapped by the police, who found him in bed with a young man. After his trial for sodomy, his death sentence was commuted to fifteen years imprisonment. Bateson feared that his letters, confiscated by prison authorities, would 'be absorbed in the Vortex of Oblivion'. But their confiscation has preserved the letters and, through them, his account of the events leading to his imprisonment. The growing volume of research into sex between men in the nineteenth century is leading to an increa..

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University of Melbourne Researchers