Image of two men kissingHomosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook compiled by Rictor Norton

Trials of Thomas Vaughan and Thomas Davis, 1707


The following trial is interesting not only for documenting a well organized blackmail ring at the beginning of the eighteenth century, but also for revealing the existence of the first recorded "glory hole" (a hole cut in the partition between stalls in a public urinal). For reports of the conviction and pillorying of Vaughan and Davis, see Newspaper Reports for 1707. The trial of the two men was held at Hicks's Hall. Further details about Vaughan, who allegedly was still active in 1719, are given in Footpads and Sodomites.

The TRYALS, &c.
Thomas Vaughan and Thomas Davis.

THE 16th of October 1707. Thomas Vaughan and Thomas Davis were indicted for Conspiring in a notorious and villainous Manner, with John Knight and Edward Knight (fled from Justice) to extort Money from Mr. Barker an Apothecary, and Mr. Guillam a Tallow-Chandler, by swearing Sodomy against them. Mr. Barker deposed, that on the 20th of July before, pretty late at Night, a Messenger came to him, from one Mr. David, a Person he knew not, nor had any Acquaintance with, to tell him he being indisposed desired to speak with him; that thereupon he sent word by the Messenger, that if Mr. Davis had any business with him he might come to his House, for he would not go to any body that Night, but whom he knew; upon which Davis came himself the next Morning to his Shop, and calling him aside, told him he had something of Privacy and Moment to impart to him, but he did desire his Servants to withdraw, which accordingly by his (their Master's) Order they did; whereupon Davis told him that as he was drinking at a Coffee-House in Chancery-Lane, in the next Box to him there were some Persons drinking, who said they had a Warrant against him for Buggery, and that he as a Friend came to acquaint him with it; that then he (Mr. Barker) reply'd, he cared not a Farthing for what any Man could swear against him, for he was innocent of any such Matter; that Davis finding but little encouragement, and that he could not accomplish his Ends, he designed, goes to his Confederates Vaughan and the two Knights, and tells them how (he Mr. Barker) had received him: That upon this they resolved to make Affidavit before a Justice of the Peace, and get a Warrant to Apprehend him (the said Mr. Barker) which accordingly they did, going to Justice Ellis, where Mr. Vaughan made Affidavit that Mr. Barker did actually Bugger him: But that before they served the Warrant, Vaughan came to him (Mr. Barker) and told him, that unless he would give him Satisfaction, he would serve the Warrant upon him, but gave him till the next Morning to consider of it; in the mean time he telling it to a Friend of his, his Friend advised him to make his Case known to Justice Ireton, which accordingly he did, who hearing the Matter, immediately suspended the Warrant, so he (Mr. Barker) went home and heard no more of them, being resolved to prosecute any of them he could find. But as he was gong the Sunday after to Covent-Garden Church, Vaughan came to him and asked him why he would prosecute him and Davis, telling him he was now going to a Linnen-Drapers, where if he would come, they would agree the Business: Upon this he readily consented, and considering that the Recorder's Warrant would reach Vaughan, went immediately and made his Complaint, and came with the Warrant and served it upon him, and likewise secured Davis, who was with him, and had them both before the Recorder, who hearing the Matter, and it plainly appearing to be only a piece of Villany [sic] to get Money, committed them to Newgate. Another Evidence to corroborate Mr. Barker's was one Capt. Linhere a French Gentleman, who deposed, that the same Vaughan did about 8 Years before swear the same Fact against him, for which he was try'd for his Life at the Old Baily, but honourably acquitted. Another Evidence deposed likewise, that they would have had him swore against Mr. Barker, that he would have Bugger'd him, but he reply'd he would not do it for the World, knowing he never was in Mr. Barker's Company in his Life. They were indicted a 2d time for extorting from Mr. Guillam a Tallow-Chandler 20 Shillings in Money, and 20 more upon a Note under the same pretence: Mr. Guillam deposed, the he having had occasion to go to the Burrough of Southwark, to a Customer of his about some business, in his return took Water, and Landed at the Temple Stairs, but having occasion to untruss a Point, went down to the Temple Bog-House, where he had not been long before a Boy in the adjoyning Vault put his Privy-member through a Hole, which he perceiving was so surprized that he immediately went away; but he was no sooner come out, but the Boy follow'd him, and cry'd out stop him; saying he would have bugger'd him, upon which Vaughan meeting him stopt him, and said unless he would give him an account where he liv'd he would have him secured; that he thereupon being surprized, and knowing his Innocence, did tell Vaughan where he liv'd, and his Trade, that afterwards Vaughan, Davis and the two Knights came to him, and told him if he did not make immediate Satisfaction for the thing offered they would have a Warrant for him, and gave him no longer time to consider of it, but till the next Day, when they order'd him to meet them at a certain Brandy-Shop, where they appointed, that then after they were gone, he considering of the Matter, and whereas he lived in Credit, and had a Wife and Children, being fearful of the Disgrace, not knowing what to do, went to a Neighbour's who kept a Publick-house, and advis'd with him about it, and withal desired him to go along with him to meet the Villains, which his Neighbour did, but the Boy did not appear, at which time the Prisoners with their two other Accomplices, after they had drank pretty plentifully, bean to demand a great Sum of Money from him, threatning that if he did not forthwith produce it they would prosecute him with the utmost Severity, but he would not consent to give them any Money; but his Friend telling him the Scandal these notorious Fellows might bring upon him, advised him to give them a small matter, to which he consented, and offer'd them 20s. but Vaughan immediately objected to that Proposition, and made him give them a Note for 20s. more, which he had no sooner receiv'd but he swore Damn him, he would have 5 l. more before he had done with him, and that they afterwards shared the 20s. among them.

The Matter being so plainly proved against theem, the Prisoners had little to say in their Defence; Davis indeed called some Persons to his Reputation but they gave him but an indiferent Character, whereupon the Jury found him guilty of both Indictments; and as to Vaughan he was known to be a notorious Villain, and had made his brags that he had received 50l. at a time upon the same Account, (particularly of a certain Merchant). The Bench upon the whole being fully satisfied with the innocence of the Persons, and the Villany of Vaughan, he was found guilty of both the Indictments.

And the Court pass'd Sentence on them to stand in the Pillory, at Temple-Barr, and Charing-Cross; to be Whipp'd from Temple-Barr to Charing-Cross, and to pay a Fine of 5l. each, and to remain in Prison till paid.

SOURCE: A Compleat Collection Of Remarkable Tryals Of the most Notorious Malefactors, at the Sessions-House in the Old Baily, for near Fifty Years past, London: Printed by J. Phillips, and Sold by J. Brotherton and W. Meadows at the Black Bull in Cornhill, and J. Roberts in Warwick-Lane, 1718 (2 vols), Vol. 2, pp. 120-126.
CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Trials of Thomas Vaughan and Thomas Davis, 1707," Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. 29 April 2007, updated 15 June 2008 <>.

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