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

"He loved a soldier as he loved his life"

The Trial of John Twyford
July 1745

John Twyford, of St. Clement Danes, was indicted for that he not having the fear of God, &c. upon one John Mullins, wickedly, unlawfully and feloniously did make an assault, and the detestable sin of buggery did commit and do, which is not fit to be named among Christians, against the form of the Statute, &c.

John Mullins. Some time in June I was going along near the Fleet Market, there was a press gang coming along, and the Gentleman at the bar stood looking at them: Said he, Brother soldier, they will not press any Irishmen; Yes I said, I believe they will press any thing; he said he loved a soldier as he loved his life, and that he was a sea officer, and asked where there was a pot of good beer, and desired me to go and drink with him. We went to Plough by the Fleet Market, and he would not let me pay any thing: he said he was going to the Talbot Inn in the Strand to a particular acquaintance of his, and desired I would go with him; after much persuasion I went; he asked me to lie there; I told him I must go home, but he pressed me to stay, and he agreed for a bed for one shilling; he persuaded me to go to bed; I was very uneasy, and pretty much in liquor, and growing sleepy, I went into bed, and when he thought I was asleep he began his tricks upon me; I am almost ashamed to tell — he put his —— into my fundament, and pushing so hard it awaked me. I asked him what he was at, and said he was not a Gentleman; then we began to quarrel, and I being stronger than him turned him off, and then fell o' beating of him, and we were both carried to the watch-house. In the morning he said, Brother soldier, you had better make this up: he said he had not much money about him, but he would give me half a crown, and he told me I must say that I was in liquor, and did not know what I said.

Q[uestion]. Did you say before the Justice that you was in liquor?

Mullins. Yes.

Q. And did you say to the Justice that the complaint you had made to the constable was false?

Mullins. No; I said it was not all true.

Q. Did not you declare of your own accord that you was sorry for what you had done, and that you was drunk?

Mullins. No, I did not, I said I was in liquor.

Robert Duck. I lay in the next room; Mullins refused to go to bed, but at the persuasion of the Prisoner he did go to bed: when they had been in bed about a quarter of an hour, Mullins cried out very loud, What are you for?, and made a great oath, and said, You are in my fundament, and then they fell o' fighting: then my master and mistress and five or six Gentlemen who were drinking in the house came up.

Q. When they came into the room, did he complain to them of what the Prisoner had done?

Duck. Yes; very much.

Q. Were not they fighting before?

Duck. No — the prisoner was very much beat, Mullins was beating him upon the bed when the company went into the room.

Q. Were they drunk or sober?

Duck. The prosecutor was the drunkest of the two.

Oliver Pen. I don't know the prisoner, I should know the soldier if I was to see him — that is he. They paid me for their lodging, that's all I know of the matter.

Q. Was there any complaint made when you went up?

Pen. Yes: the soldier said the prisoner wanted to do so and so to him, and so they fell o' fighting.

Q. What was the occasion of their quarrelling?

Pen. Because the prisoner wanted to be concerned with him.

Q. Who did he say that to?

Pen. To all the whole room for what I know. I asked the soldier, and said, As you are a man of maturity, how could such a thing be acted to you, (for you are not a boy) without you was as willing as the other? And then he said he had not entered his body; then said I, You assaulted one another, and must leave it to the Court; then I found they were both forsworn, for they must both of them be willing alike, or else there could not be any such thing done.

In order to convict a person upon an indictment for sodomy, the act of parliament requires that the emission should be proved as well as the penetration, so the Jury acquitted the prisoner; and he gave bail for his appearance next sessions at the Old Bailey, in order to take his trial for an assault with an intent to commit sodomy.

SOURCE: The Proceedings on the King's Commissions of the Peace, Oyer and Terminer, and Gaol Delivery for the City of London; And also the Gaol Delivery for the County of Middlesex, held at Justice-Hall in the Old-Bailey, on Wednesday the 10th, and Thursday the 11th of July, [1745], London: Printed, and sold by M. Cooper, at the Globe in Pater-noster Row, 1745, pp. 186-7.


The trial for sodomy (which was a capital offence punishable by death) collapsed due to the technical requirements in the law, and perhaps also because the Jury was very reticent to send men to the gallows for such acts. But no further trial for the misdemeanour of "attempted sodomy" took place. Twyford may have just skipped bail and disappeared, though if he were an Officer that may be unlikely. Probably Twyford offered more money to Mullins and persuaded him to abandon the prosecution.

Rictor Norton

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "The Trial of John Twyford, 1745," Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. 26 January 2001 <>.

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