Born at Bailieborough, Co. Cavan and the son of a doctor. A well known figure in Dublin he was educated at UCD and was a friend of James Joyce. Skeﬃngton worked as registrar of the college for two years, during which time he married Hanna Sheehy, a member of a Co Cork nationalist family. As a token of his commitment to the equality of the sexes, he adopted her surname, thereafter calling himself Sheehy-Skeﬃngton.
Francis played a leading part in the women’s suffrage movement and acted as editor of The Irish Citizen.
During the 1913 lock-out he was a member of the Peace Committee which was established to reconcile the two sides. A dedicated paciﬁst he became a vice-chairman of the Irish Citizen Army on its foundation in 1913, but left when it adopted a political and military stance.
On Easter Monday he put his life at risk by helping a wounded soldier while the next day, concerned at the scale of looting that was taking place, he tried to organise a citizens’ police force to maintain law and order.
That evening, he was arrested at Portobello Bridge in Rathmines and detained in Portobello Barracks. The following morning he was summarily shot on the orders of Captain J.C. Bowen-Colthurst, from Co Cork. He was wearing a ‘votes for women’ badge when arrested.
As a result of the controversy the Simon Commission was set up to inquire into the circumstances. Bowen-Colthurst was found guilty of the murder but criminally insane. Francis’s wife Hanna emigrated to New York after her husband’s killing, refusing monetary damages from the royal commission.