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

The Trial of George Skelthorp


Skelthorp was a blackmailer of sodomites. See his Confession.

Rictor Norton

The Trial and Confession of GEORGE SKELTHORP, otherwise SKULTHORP, convicted of robbing on the Highway.

GEORGE SKELTHORP, otherwise SKULTHORP, was indicted at the Old Bailey, for assaulting William Hills upon the highway,and taking from him four shillings and six-pence, the 18th of February, 1708-9.

The prosecutor deposed, that as he was gong along the Strand, near Covent-Garden, he asked the prisoner the way to King-street, which [p.136] he undertook to shew him; but instead of that conducted him into a private place, where was a horse-pond, but dried up, and there took him by the collar, demanding satisfaction, saying he was a sodomite, and drawing his bayonet offered it at his breast, took from him four shillings and sixpence, pulled off his coat, and was endeavouring to get off his rings,but was prevented by some people coming up, who hearing him beg for his life, came to his assistance, and seized the prisoner with the coat and money upon him.

The prisoner, in his defence alledge, that the prosecutor would have committed sodomy with him, that what he did to him was by way of satisfaction for the affront, in tempting him to the commission of so foul a crime:but as he could not prove his assertion, nor produce any to his reputation,the Jury found him guilty of the indictment.

He was a second cimt indicted for assaulting one James Booker, and taking from him a gold ring, a muslin neckcloth, and ten-pence in money, the 17th of February, 1708-9. This fact was committed in the same place, under the same pretence, and in like manner; and having little to say in his defene, the Jury found him guilty of that indictment also; and he received sentence of death.

While he lay under condemnation, he gave the following account of hiimself to the Ordinary: That he was born at St. Edmundsbury in Suffolk, and had lived as a servant in several gentlemen's families both in the country and in town, and had, for above seven years last past, been in the Queen's service both in Ireland [p.137] and Flanders, in Col. Granfield's regiment, and Capt. North's company, and afterwards in her Majesty's regiment of foot-guards, in Brigadier Tatton's company; that he had but little education, and knew but very little of religion, and consequently had lived a dissolute and debauched life. As to the facts for which he was to die, he denied being guilty of them, but owned, that he, knowing the time when, and the places where some sodomites resorted about Covent Garden, was used to put himself in their way; and when any of them would (as he said they often did) carry him to a bye-place thereabouts to commit their foul acts with him, that he would then take hold of them, and threaten to carry them immediately before a justice, unless they gave him satisfaction; by which means he said he got a great deal of money at several times of such persons, who, rather than suffer themselves to be exposed (some of them being persons of a good appearance) gave him either money, rings, or watches, or what else they had about them; adding, that he new a certain house about Covent Garden, where those Sodomites used frequently to meet, and had several times seen some of them there, and was very sorry he had not then discovered them, as he ought to have done; acknowledging it was just with God to bring him to that shameful punishment, for concealing those vile practices for the sake of filthy lucre. He seemed to behave himself penitently, and persisted even at the gallows to deny the facts; speaking to the people to this effect. That he served the Queen several years, and had been in five campaigns, had been a wild young man, and would be rambling abroad [p.138] when he should have gone to church; that thought he was not guilty of those robberies for which he was going to suffer, yet as he had greatly offended God, so God had justly brought him to that shameful and untimely end.

He was executed at Tyburn, March 23, 1708-9, in the 25th year of his age.

SOURCE: SOURCE: The Bloody Register. A Select and Judicious Collection of the Most Remarkable Trials, for Murder, Treason, Rape, Sodomy, Highway Robbery, Pyracy, House-breaking, Perjury, Forgery, and other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. From the Year 1700, to the Year 1764 inclusive. Vol. 1. London: Printed for E. and M. Viney, in Ivy-Lane, near Pater-noster-Row, 1764.
CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "The Trial of George Skelthorp, 1709," Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. 14 February 2010 <>.

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