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

A Blackmail Conspiracy


John Lewis and John Jones, for a Misdemeanor. December 1730.

JOHN LEWIS and JOHN JONES, were indicted for a Misdemeanor, in conspiring to charge John Battle with Sodomy, in order to extort Money from him.

John Battle. On the 6th of November I was at the Castle in mark-Lane, when the Prisoner, Jones, came to my House, and enquired for me, as I was inform'd, and my Apprentice offer'd to go with him and shew him where I was, but he said he would go by himself. He accordingly came to the Castle, and I being call'd out to him, desired to know his Business. He asked me if I did not know one John Lewis, a Bridewell Boy? I answered No. He reply'd, But he knows you, and he is hard by, if you'll have him call'd. I went with Jones into a Room, when presently in came the other Prisoner, Lewis, leaning on a Broomstick. The poor Fellow is very ill, says Jones, he has got a Fistula: I have carried him to a Friend of mine, a Surgeon, who says it came by buggery; and Lewis tells me that you have been concern'd with him. The Surgeon will have Ten Guineas for curing him, and insists upon Six Guineas down; and if you don't pay the Money directly, we'll expose you. I was in a great Surprize at so unexpected an Accusation, and told him I had not got so much Money. Why then, says he, you must borrow it. I desired them to stay 'till the next Day. Well, says Jones, if we do, you must give Lewis something to bear his Expences, and meet him to Morrow Morning at the Globe-Tavern at Stocks-Market; for I cannot come myself, because I am obliged to go to Woolwich. Thereupon I gave Lewis half a Guinea, and next Morning, being in great Confusion, at having such a Crime charged upon me, for fear it should come to the Earns of my Neighbours, and blast my Reputation; and my Attorney not being in the way, I went by myself to the Globe at Stocks-Market, where, contrary to my Expectation, I found both the Prisoners, I gave them 5 Guineas and a half more. But then Jones said I must make 'em up Ten, and that would pay for the Cure; and he promised me that if I complied I should hear no more of them. As I was unwilling to be scandalized, and hoped I should have no further Trouble with them, I went Home and fetch'd 4 Guineas more, which I gave them, and desired a Receipt, Jones wrote one, and Lewis sign'd it, and Jones witness'd it. This was on Saturday the 7th of November. And on the Monday following, Jones came to me again, and said he must needs drink a Glass of Wine with me, we went to a Tavern, where he told me that Lewis had been Gaming, and lost all the Money; and his Mother was a turbulent Woman, and would come to my House and make a Riot, unless I gave him 20 Guineas, and if I did he would go away to Holland, and never trouble me more. Upon this I appointed to meet him next Day at the Sun-Tavern by the Monument. I went accordingly, and found Jones there, and asked him where Lewis was? Jones answer'd, He's such a shabby Dog that I was ashamed to bring him hither. From thence we went to the Bell-Tavern in Nicholas Lane. Jones went and fetch'd in Lewis, and they proposed as before, to have twenty Guineas. Lewis promised to go to Holland and trouble me no more, if I would advance the Money, and Jones told me that he would put him on Board and see him part of the way. Upon my making some Hesitation, Jones assured me if I did not do as they desired me, Lewis's Mother would come and be very riotous, and Lewis himself could be a Witness for the King. I told them I had had not so much Money, and they must have a little Patience. At last it was agreed that I should pay the 20 Guineas on the Saturday Morning following. But instead of that I went to my Attorney, and by his Advice got a Warrant from Sir Richard Brocas, to apprehend them. We took a Constable with us, and went to the Tavern at the Time appointed, and enquiring for the Prisoner, we heard they were both above. My Attorney and the Constable staid below, and I went up by myself. Lewis enquired if I had brought the Money, I said no; but I have a Friend below Stairs who will lend me as much. And so stepping down I call'd up the Constable and Attorney, and immediately charged the Constable to take care of the Prisoners. Lord! Mr. Battle, says Jones, what have you done? I did not think you would have served us so. They both fell a trembling, and begg'd and pray'd that they might not be carried before a Justice: They offer'd to do any Thing, or give me any Thing I could desire, if I would not prosecute them: They own'd that they never knew any Harm by me; and press'd the Attorney to interceed for them. We call'd a Coach, and they begg'd for Mercy all the way as we went; and when we came before Sir Richard Brocas, they confess'd they had never seen me in their Lives, before the Day that they came to me at the Bell Ale-house, and that what they had done was only to get Money.

Their Confessions were confirm'd by Mr. Harrison and the Constable.

The Jury found the Prisoners Guilty.

Their Sentence was to stand twice in the Pillory, once at the Exchange, and once in Crutched-Fryers, near the Prosecutor's House; to suffer a Year's Imprisonment, and give Security for their good Behaviour for three Years afterwards.

[See newspaper reports for their treatment in the pillory.]

SOURCE: Select Trials, for Murders, Robberies, Rapes, Sodomy, Coining, Frauds, And other Offences, London: Printed for J. Wilford, behind the Chapter-House, in St. Paul's Church-Yard, 1735, vol. 2, pp. 396-8.
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