On This Day in History: November 11
An Act for the Punishment for the Vice of Buggery
On November 11, 1634, the Irish House of Commons passed An Act for the Punishment for the Vice of Buggery. It was done following much pressure from Anglican bishop John Atherton. Six years later, Bishop Atherton was executed. For buggery.
--On This Day in History, Shit Went Down: November 11, 1634--
Not every political leader or churchman who promotes the persecution of gay people is secretly gay. But holy shit it seems like a lot of them are. Case in point: this fuckin’ guy.
John Atherton was born in 1598 in Somerset, England, attended Oxford University, then joined the Anglican clergy, rising to the rank of Bishop of Waterford and Lismore in the Church of Ireland. England had brought in a buggery act in 1533 under Henry VIII, and there was a famous case of its employ against English nobleman Mervyn Tuchet, the Earl of Castlehaven, in 1631. Mervyn got his head chopped off for sticking his penis in the bums of his servants. Atherton, upon realizing that the “let’s execute people for sodomy” act didn’t actually apply in Ireland, set to rectify such rectal oversight. His campaign was successful, and the act was passed three years later. Continues below …
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Under the act, all penis-in-bum action, regardless of gender, was outlawed. While they were at it, they decided no sex with animals either. So the act wasn’t all bad. Then Atherton went and did the exact same thing that got Earl Tuchet executed. Allegedly.
In 1640 Bishop Atherton was accused of buggery with his steward, John Childe. Again, with ass-fucking the help. Anyway, both were convicted and condemned to die. The bishop was not the most popular of fellows, which is why the crowd cheered as the sentences were read. They hated the fucker so much he was almost lynched on the way to his execution. Atherton and Childe were hanged in Stephen’s Green, a public park in central Dublin, on December 5.
Ironically, they were the first victims of the act Atherton had pushed to pass. Seems like some motherfuckin’ karma, but it’s possible they weren’t actually guilty. There is a hypothesis that Atherton had a lot of enemies because of his efforts to enrich the Protestant Church at the expense of wealthy landowners. And so, it could be that the rich hatched a plot to waste his ass by saying he’d been putting his penis in ass. Atherton certainly denied being guilty. A conflicting report is that, immediately before his execution, Atherton confessed his buggery to the priest ministering to the stretching of his neck.
I mean, guilty or not, he was still a piece of shit for bringing the act in. Same-sex sexual activity would not be decriminalized in Ireland until 1993.
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