William Stephens: "Sodomy," August 7, 1743

A Sunday entry in the journal of William Stephens, the Secretary and President of the Province of Georgia, records: 

The Ordinary Service of the day, which was performed in the usual manner was all I had to take notice of; unless a Story I had from Mr. Spencer be worth mentioning, which was a little Surprizing, of one Male being convicted of Sodomy, and executed for the same a little before he [Spencer] left Frederica. He [the man executed] was by profession a Surgeon Apothecary, and said to be born of reputable Parents in Dublin, where his Father had been Chief Magistrate.1

If this report is accurate it is the fifth documented execution for sodomy in the 18th century, in the American colonies or new United States. "Sodomy" at this time might refer to human intercourse with human or human with beasts.2 


1 William Stephens, The Journal of . . . : 1741-1743, ed. by E. Merton Coulter, Wormsloe Foundation Publications Number Two (Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1958), vol. II, p. 3. Jonathan Ned Katz thanks Stephen W. Foster for informing him of this document. 

2 DeathPenaltyInfo.org, accessed December 13, 2013 at: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/ESPYyear.pdf  See also: Donald E. Wilkes, Jr., "Lawrence v. Texas: An Historic Human Rights Victory. Published in Flagpole Magazine (October 15, 2003), page 9. Accessed December 13, 2013 from: http://www.law.uga.edu/dwilkes_more/47lawrence.html  Wikles is listed as Professor of Law, University of Georgia School of Law.