As an aside, and not one of the most decadent things that I’ve written about, this type of story is alarmingly common in nineteenth century newspapers. The crime relates to the village of Margaretting, which is a few miles to the south of Chelmsford, but which was tried in the city’s courts. The exact nature of the crime it’s best to leave to the imagination, although it was one punishable by the death penalty.
The Chelmsford Chronicle reported this in January 1860:
“George Brazier, labourer, was charged with committing a disgusting offence at Margaretting on the 23rd December. The evidence not being sufficient to support the capital offence, the case was dismissed. Brazier was then charged upon the same evidence, with cruelly treating a donkey, and was convicted in a penalty of £2 10s and 8s costs, or six weeks’ imprisonment”.
£2 10s is worth around £150 in today’s money, so George got off quite lightly given what the potential punishment could have been.