Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 52.djvu/336

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of twenty-five, to be executed ‘for the dread and example of others.’ The severity of the punishment was unexpected, and the ‘pardon of Maynooth,’ as it was called, became a proverbial expression for the gallows. Having accomplished his immediate object, Skeffington repaired to Dublin to prepare for a parliament which Henry had ordered to be summoned. Notwithstanding his ill-health, he succeeded in detaching Con O'Neil, first earl of Tyrone [q. v.], from the Earl of Kildare, and in July he proceeded to Drogheda to receive his personal submission. While there he became so ill that his death seemed inevitable. Nevertheless he managed to drag himself back to Maynooth, now his headquarters, and, though seldom able to leave his bed much before noon, he recovered sufficiently to concert measures for an attack on O'Conor Faly, Kildare's sole remaining ally. His resolute attitude, coupled with the treachery of O'Conor's brother Cahir, brought that chieftain to his knees, and on 15 Aug. Kildare, finding his case desperate, submitted. Skeffington's services were gratefully acknowledged by Henry, who, disregarding the clamour for his recall, continued him at his post, advising him, however, to act more by the advice of the council than he had hitherto done. Meanwhile the quarrel—a quarrel of old standing—between the Butlers and the Munster Geraldines had assumed the dimensions of a rebellion on the part of the latter, and in September Skeffington advanced with his artillery against Dungarvan. The place was stormed, and Skeffington, having handed it over to Lord James Butler, entrusted the further settlement of affairs in the south to him, and returned to Maynooth. But his sickness growing upon him, he removed to Kilmainham priory, where he breathed his last on 31 Dec. 1535. He was buried in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, on the north side, before the steps ascending to the altar, in close proximity to the grave of Archbishop Richard Talbot (d. 1449) [q. v.]

Skeffington married, first, Margaret, daughter of Sir Everard Digby of Drystoke, by whom he had a son Thomas, his heir, who married Margaret, daughter and heiress of Edmund Stanhope of West Markham, Nottinghamshire; and, secondly, Ann, daughter of Sir John Digby of Kettleby in Leicestershire, by whom he had apparently a son Leonard, ‘sometime lieutenant of the Tower,’ and the inventor of an instrument of torture, known as ‘Skevington's irons’ or ‘Skevington's daughter,’ by which the body of the victim was completely doubled up until the head and feet were drawn together, the invention of which has been erroneously ascribed to his father, Sir William. A grandson, also William, is mentioned as having obtained an appointment as gunner in the Tower in July 1527, which would give Sir William Skeffington's age at the time of his death as considerably over seventy.

According to Sir William Brabazon, Skeffington, despite his age, was ‘a verie good man of warre,’ but ‘somewhat covetous.’ Perhaps he owed the disagreeable addition to his character to his wife, who for a considerable time after his death continued to pester government for some equivalent for the pecuniary loss she and her family had thereby suffered.

[Chapman's Skeffingtons of Tunbridge in Arch. Cantiana, x. 39–45; Hasted's Kent, ii. 333–4; Lodge's Peerage, ed. Archdall, iii. 57; Fabyan's Chronicle, ed. Ellis, p. 700; Cal. State Papers, Hen. VIII, ed. Brewer and Gairdner, i–x. passim; State Papers, Hen. VIII, printed, il. 147–297; Cal. Carew MSS. i. 41–90; Ware's Annales; Stanihurst's Chronicle; Monk-Mason's St. Patrick's, notes, p. lviii; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. viii. 381; Tanner's Societas Europæa, p. 18; Jardine's Use of Torture, ed. 1837, p. 15; Bagwell's Ireland under the Tudors, i. 153–247; Froude's Hist. of England, chap. viii.]

R. D.


SKELATER, JOHN FORBES- (1733–1808), general in Portuguese service, [See Forbes.]


SKELTON, BEVIL (fl. 1661–1692), diplomatist, born in Holland, was the second son of Sir John Skelton, lieutenant-governor of Plymouth in 1660, by his wife Bridget, daughter of Sir Peter Prideaux. On the Restoration Bevil was appointed a page of honour, with an annual pension of 120l., which, however, he sold within the year (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1661–2 pp. 137, 154, 535, 1668–9 p. 127). On 27 July 1666 he received a commission to serve as cornet to the Earl of Rochester, and on 20 Nov. 1668 was promoted to the rank of captain in the 1st foot-guards (ib. 1665–6 p. 582, 1667 p. 181, 1668–9 p. 70). In 1669 he obtained the post of registrar to the Charterhouse (ib. 1668–9, p. 562), and in 1671 he was quartered with the foot-guards in York, and received a grant of a portion of the fines levied on the conventicles in Yorkshire (ib. 1671, pp. 108, 397). On 8 Jan. 1671–2 he was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the ‘new English regiment raised for service in France,’ and shortly after was made a groom of the bedchamber.

Two years later he was despatched as an envoy to Vienna, and from this time he embraced the diplomatic career, for which his character was hardly suited. He is de-