John Hoyle (died 1692)

John Hoyle (died 1692) was a bisexual lawyer in London and a lover of the writer Aphra Behn.[1][2][3] Behn's relationship with Hoyle was the "dominating one" in her life.[4]

The Temple Church is a late 12th-century church in the City of London located between Fleet Street and the River Thames, built by the Knights Templar as their English headquarters.


John Hoyle was the eldest son of Thomas Hoyle (baptised 29 January 1587 - died 30 January 1650) who was a member of the Parliament of England during the English Civil War (1642–1651) and became lord mayor of York when the city surrendered in July 1644.[5] Thomas Hoyle was among those who supported the execution of King Charles I (1649), and he hanged himself one year later.[5]

Career and personal lifeEdit

John Hoyle was a lawyer who received his training at Gray's Inn[2] and was a member of the Inner Temple,[6] London. He was openly republican and follower of Thomas Hobbes.[4]

While still a law student, in 1663, or possibly in 1665,[2] he stabbed an unarmed watchmaker, who died six days later.[4] Despite a number of witnesses against him, he escaped the murder charge with a verdict of ignoramus, i.e. there was not sufficient evidence to convict him.[4] Hoyle was arrested again in 1687, this time for the crime of "sodomy with a poulterer".[7] The grand jury returned again a verdict of ignoramus.[3]

Aphra BehnEdit

In the 1670s, he was an intimate of the pioneering woman writer and playwright Aphra Behn. Their relationship was tumultuous.[8][3] Tom Brown published a letter from Aphra Behn to John Hoyle in "Letters of Love and Gallantry",[9] Behn was asking Hoyle to exculpate himself in regards of the accusations made against him; she was upset about his behaviour, and asked him to try to restore his reputation.[10] He figures in much of Behn's writings[11] and is thought to be one of the two models for the promiscuous protagonist of Behn's 1677 play The Rover.[8] Behn died in 1689 and is buried in Westminster Abbey. It has been said that John Hoyle wrote her epitaph: "Here lies a proof that wit can never be / Defense enough against mortality."[2]


Around 1692, he was stabbed to death "after a drunken brawl in a tavern"[3] and is buried in the vault belonging to the Inner Temple Church.



  1. ^ Melanie McGrath (2 November 1996). "Restoration kerfuffle". The Independent.
  2. ^ a b c d Cynthia Caywood (1997). "A Tour of Aphra Behn's London" (PDF). (updated 2010)
  3. ^ a b c d Atchley, Amy Margaret, "Aphra Behn and Susanna Centlivre: A Materialist-Feminist Study." (1995). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 5940.
  4. ^ a b c d Todd, Janet (19 September 2013). The Secret Life of Aphra Behn. A&C Black. p. 169. ISBN 9781448212545. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Hoyle, Thomas (1587-1650), of St. Martin-cum-Gregory, Micklegate, York; later of Broad Sanctuary, Westminster"
  6. ^ "Sentence of John Hoyle of Inner Temple, Middlesex". The National Archives (United Kingdom). 8 July 1692.
  7. ^ Hersey, William Robert (1985). "A Critical Old-Spelling Edition of Aphra Behn's "The City Heiress"". University of New Hampshire, Durham.
  8. ^ a b Castle, Terry (2003). The Literature of Lesbianism: A Historical Anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall. Columbia University Press. p. 171. ISBN 9780231125109. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  9. ^ Letters of love and gallantry. And several other subjects. All written by Ladies. Vol. I. London : printed for S. Briscoe, over against Will's Coffee-House in Russel-sttreet [sic], Covent-Garden. 1693. OCLC 1121365550.
  10. ^ Bridget G. MacCarthy (1994). The Female Pen: Women Writers and Novelists, 1621-1818. NYU Press. p. 252.
  11. ^ Mary Ann O'Donnell. "Aphra Behn: the documentary record (excerpt from The Cambridge Companion to Aphra Behn)".

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