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

A Frolick on Saffron Hill

The Trial of David Hall

DAVID HALL of St. James's Clerkenwell, was indicted for assaulting John Hart in a certain Field or open Place near the Highway, putting him in Fear, and taking from him a Coat, Waistcoat, Hat, Peruke, Sword and Neckcloth, the 10th of October last.

The Prosecutor depos'd, That he had been playing at Whist, and had lost his Money, and was much in Liquor, and going home two Men came to him, of which the Prisoner was one, pretending to conduct him home the best way, and carried him into a Publick House or two, and afterwards they carried him to the Ducking-Pond, near the London-Spaw, and they ask'd him to change Clothes; which he could not say but he might consent to, being in Liquor, and supposing it to be a Frolick; that they took off his Coat and Waistcoat, and Hat, and Sword, and put a Handkerchief before his Face to blind him, and were going to pull off his Shirt, having pull'd off his Stock; upon which, he seeing that they took all his Clothes from him and gave him no other, having taken his Hat, Wig and Sword, he cry'd out, and some Persons came to his Assistance. That this was about One of the clock in the Morning.

James Whitmore depos'd, That he saw the Prosecutor at Saffron Hill, very much in Liquor, and the Prisoners with him; and the Prosecutor said to them, Gentlemen, I beg of you let me go home, I am much in Liquor. And one of them reply'd, Sir, we have got a clever Girl for you near Hockley in the Hole. And he dogg'd them, to see what they would do with the Gentleman, he suspecting them; and they went by Mr. Cross's Brew-house, and turn'd towards Black Mary's Hole, and went towards the House of one Colchester. And he heard them coaxing the Prosecutor; and one of them said, Sir, let me buss [kiss] you. That thinking they were Molleys, he still dogg'd them. That meeting with a Watchman, he inform'd him, and they went towrds them, the Gentleman beginning to cry out; and they perceiving the Watchman and himself coming towards them, they ran away. That the Prisoner fell down, and the Clothes were taken up near the Place where he was, and he was apprehended, but he could not say which of the two had the Clothes; but the other ran up the Hill, and got clear off, carrying with him the Gentleman's Sword.

John Betts the Watchman confirm'd the latter part of the former Evidence; that the former Evidence would have had him put out his Light, but he said he could not answer that; but he putting his Lanthorn under his Great Coat, that the Light might not be seen, made towards the Prisoner, and apprehended hm, as has been before deposed.

Mr. Gill the Constable depos'd, That when the Prionser was brought to him, he said, I know you, Mr. Gill; it was not I that strip'd the Gentleman, it was Michael Nichols.

But it not appearing [that] the Prosecutor was put in Fear, which is necessary to make it a Robbery on the Highway, and his owning his tacit Consent to the changing Clothes, the Jury acquitted him.

SOURCE: The Proceedings at the Sessions of the Peace, and Oyer and Terminer, for the City of London, and County of Middlesex; on Wednesday the 13th, Thursday the 14th, and Friday and 15th of October 1731, London: Printed for T. Payne, at the Crown, in Pater-noster-Row, 1731, p. 9.
CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "A Frolick on Saffron Hill, 1731" Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. Updated 25 April 2000 <>.

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