Sir Hugo Baskerville was a notorious squire and member of the Baskerville family who was the owner of Baskerville Hall during the English Civil War of the mid-17th century. His wicked, debauched, and cruel conduct made him infamous throughout the region. The mysterious circumstances surrounding his death were the origin of the legend of the Baskerville Curse.
According to the 1748 account of his descendant Hugo Baskerville II, around the time of the Great Rebellion, Sir Hugo became enamored by the young daughter of a yeoman farmer who held lands near Baskerville Hall. However, the girl, knowing Sir Hugo's reputation, made to avoid him. He therefore organized a group of friends and kidnapped the girl one Michaelmas, locking her in an upstairs room. While Sir Hugo and his friends drank below, the girl managed to escape from her room through a window and climbed down the ivy to attempt to return to her father's house, three leagues away.
When Sir Hugo realised that the girl had escaped, he swore that he would give his soul to the powers of evil if he could overtake the girl. He set hounds after the girl, then gave chase himself, with thirteen companions following after him. The thirteen tracked him to a small hollow bordered by ancient standing stones, with Sir Hugo's hound dogs cowering at the entrance. Now terrified, only the three boldest would descend into the valley. There they discovered the body of the young girl, and nearby it, that of Sir Hugo. However, standing over Sir Hugo, and ripping out his throat was an enormous beast in the shape of a dog with blazing eyes. The three fled the hollow screaming: it was said one of them died of fright that very night, while the other two were ever after broken men.
Sir Hugo's dark legacy would afterwards haunt the Baskerville family. His villainous tendencies would occasionally crop up in his descendants: Rodger Baskerville II, for example, bore a close resemblance to Sir Hugo in both appearance and reprobate nature. The story of the Hellhound was also passed down after his death, and the curse was blamed for a number of terrible disasters in the family. This legend became particularly important again when it was linked to the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville, leading Dr James Mortimer to seek Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson's help in protecting his last known descendant, Sir Henry.
- As Sherlock Holmes refers to him in his portrait as a cavalier, it is likely that Baskerville sided with the Royalists during the Civil War.