Lewd and Disorderly

14-16 October 1700   A while since a Constable in Fleetstreet going with some Assistants to a suspected house, seized upon two common women, and were carrying them to Bridewell; but as they passed by Salisbury Court, the women made a great noise, crying out, Rogues, Thieves, Informers, which soon allarm’d a crew of miscreants lurking thereabout, who coming out with clubs and drawn swords, near 100 in number, fell upon the Constable and his company, beating and wounding several of them, and rescued the Women; but two of these rakes being seized, one of them was indicted at the Sessions of Peace yesterday at Guild-hall, and found guilty of a notorious riot. [English Post]

12-14 May 1701   On Saturday last several Justices of Peace attended by a great number of Constables and Beadles, &c. went to May-Fair near Hyde Park, and sent away near 40 lewd women to Bridewel in Tutle-fields. [English Post]

8-10 July 1701   Since the Grand-Jury of Middlesex presented the Constables for their neglect in suppressing vice and prophaneness, several of the Constables of the City of London and Westminster have given proof of their diligence in taking up swearers in the streets and markets. And yesterday they took several coachmen belonging to persons of quality and others from their coach-boxes near Westminster-hall, St. James’s, &c. for that unaccountable crime, and carried them before Magistrates, which method, if duly followed, will, ’tis hoped, in a little time suppress that horrid sin of swearing, which is already manifestly abated by those commendable endeavours. [Flying Post]

20-22 August 1701   On Sunday last the Reverend Dr. Beveridge, one of the Prebends of the Cathedral Church of Canterbury, preached in the said Cathedral, and made an excellent discourse against Intemperance in Drinking, &c. and the next day there was divers victualers of the City of Canterbury convicted before the Major of the city and other worthy Magistrates for exercising their trades, and permitting people to tipple in their houses on the Lord’s Day; they being accused by several Gentlemen and others that came from London, and the Magistrates being persons of piety and great virtue, shewed a noble zeal and readiness to discourage the prophanation of the Lord’s Day and other immoralities, as swearing, drunkenness, &c. And ’tis not doubted but many sober people of that city and other places, will continue to promote so good a work, by assisting the Magistrates, in giving them notice of such offenders. [English Post]

3-5 December 1701   Last Wednesday a rude person coming into Mr. Burgess’s Meeting-House in Cove[nt]Garden, fell a swearing, cursing, and making an uproar, asking if they had a hoboy [a boy who fetches liquor] there, &c whereupon being seized he was conveied [sic] before a Justice of Peace, and having pai’d 20s. for so many oaths, was committed to Newgate, pursuant to the Act of Parliament, &c. [English Post]

19-22 March 1709   London, March 22. Last Friday night, Mr. John Dent, who has for several years signaliz’d himself in prosecuting and convicting disorderly houses, common night-walkers, profane swearers, drunkards, Sabbath-breakers, and such like, being call’d to the assistance of the Constable, was assaulted in Covent-Garden, and barbarously murder’d by three soldiers, who attempted to rescue a lewd woman out of the hands of the Constable and his Assistants. The aforesaid soldiers are all committed to Newgate. [Post Boy]

22-24 March 1709   London, March 24. The corps Mr. J. Dent, mention’d in our last, is, this day, to be carried from Exeter-Exchange to St. Clements Church, where it will be interr’d with great decency, about five in the afternoon; and the Reverend Dr. Bray, Minister of Algate, will preach the funeral sermon. [Post Boy]

26-29 March 1709   Last Thursday night the corps of Mr. John Dent (whom we formerly mention’d to have been murder’d by 3 soldiers in Covent-Garden) was carried from Exeter-Exchange in the Strand, to St. Clement’s Church, attended by a very great number of Gentlemen, to shew their respect to his person, and to the cause of suppressing prophaneness and debauchery; in which he had been very instrumental, almost ever since that design was set on foot, by the Societies for Reformation of Manners. First walked twenty beadles with their staves to clear the way; then about twelve Constables with their log staves; above 20 of the Reverend Clergy went immediately before the corps. The pall was bore up by 6 Justices of the Peace dwelling in or near the City of Westminster. After the corps came about a thousand persons, among whom were two Aldermen of London, and several Magistrates of the City of Westminster and County of Middlesex, and other Gentlemen of note. The Reverend Dr. Bray preach’d his funeral-sermon, from 2 Tim. 6. 12. [Post Boy]

5-7 May 1709   On Thursday last, three Foot Soldiers were try’d at the Old Baily, for the murder of Mr. Dent, the Constable, and the jury brought in their verdict Special. [Post Boy]

26-29 November 1709   Yesterday, being the last day of the Term, the 3 soldiers who were try’d for the killing of Mr. Dent, were brought up to the Queen’s-Bench-Bar, and the Lord-Chief-Justice declar’d, That upon the opinion of the 12 Judges, they were by the majority acquitted, as to the murder, but adjudged guilty of manslaughter; the Act of Grace pardoning that, an appeal was lodg’d against them by the widow of the deceased; upon which they were again taken into custody. [Post Boy]

29 November—1 December 1709   The Lord-Chief-Justict Holt, Mr. Justice Powell, Mr. Justice Powys, Mr. Justice Gould, Mr. Baron Bury, Mr. Baron Price, and Mr. Baron Lovell, were of opinion, that the 3 soldiers, who were try’d for the murder of Mr. Dent, were guilty of manslaughter; but the Lord-Chief-Justice Trevor, Lord-Chief-Baron Ward, Mr. Justice Blencoe, Mr. Justice Tracy, and Mr. Justice Dormer, were of Opinion ’twas murder. [Post Boy]

19 November 1720   Thursday an Order of the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen was affixed on the several gates and posts of the City, requiring the Church-Wardens, Constables and other Officers in their respective precincts to put in execution the law, for the punishing of vice and profaneness, such as tippling in ale-houses on the Lords Day, swearing, drunkenness, and to take care that all bawdy-houses, and other houses of ill repute may be suppressed, and such penalties inflicted on those who shall be taken offending as the law requires. [Weekly Journal or Saturday's Post]

Monday 24 August 1724   Last Wednesday night one Asgill was committed to the Gatehouse, Westminster, for extorting Money from several persons, (particularly 11s. that evening from the man that keeps the Mulberry Garden in the way to Chelsea) by telling them they were inform'd against in the Crown Office for keeping disordery houses, and on pretence of doing them service in stopping prosecution; and to carry on his design, shew'd them a Process, but on examination, it was found to be a counterfeited one. (Daily Post)

23 November 1728   Wednesday several of the inhabitants of Charing-Cross waited on the Board of Green-cloth with a complaint against an alehouse, called a nighthouse in that neighbourhood, in which some disorders have lately been committed, and their Honours have ordered his licence to be taken from him, to have one month to sell off his drink, &c. and to give security for his good behaviour during that time. The Ninepin-Yard in Spring-Garden in that Neighbourhood, is also put down by the same Authority. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer ]

21 February 1730   On Thursday . . . at the sittings at the Court of King's Bench, Westminster, before the Lord Chief Justice Raymond, a Woman who keeps a Warehouse for Masquerade Dresses in the Haymarket, was try'd upon an Indictment preferred against her by a Chymist her Landlord, for keeping a disorderly House. The Tryal lasted 4 Hours, when the Jury withdrew for about half an Hour, and brought in their Verdict Not Guilty of the Indictment. (London Journal)

30 April 1730   Thursday, April 23. On Sunday night 3 Bridewel boys were taken into custody for attempting to rescue 4 women of the town out of the hands of the Constable; but the rest of the fraternity in Bridewel having notice of it, a party of them, armed with sticks, came to their assistance, who beat the watch and Constables to such a degree that they were obliged to release them. [Grub-street Journal]

23 July 1730   Saturday, July 18. On Tuesd. morning 11 or 12 Justices met at Covent garden vestry, took a great number of examinations, and immediately issued out warrants against 10 disorderly houses, and sent the H. Constable with a great many Petty Constables, to execute the same. Several persons who keep those houses were apprehended, and brought before the Justices; some of which are bound over to the Sessions, some committed to the Gate-house for want of bail, and others fled. [Grub-street Journal]

30 July 1730   Wednesday, July 29. Information having been given to Sir John Gonson of a gang of pick-pocket boys, to the number of 30, who nightly infest the Piazza’s in Covent’garden, the Strand, Temple-bar, and other streets thereabouts, he issued out his warrant for the searching out several night-houses and night-cellars, which harbour and entertain them; and several of the gang being apprehended by the Constables, 8 of the most notorious were on Tuesday committed to Tothill-fields Bridewell, to hard labour: The oldest of these boys is not above 13, and most of them curs’d and swore in a dreadful manner as they were carrying them to Bridewell. [Grub-street Journal]

6 August 1730   Monday, Aug. 3. On Saturday morning the Chairman and Committee of Justices, appointed at the last Sessions at Westminster for the suppressing the night-houses, and other disorderly houses in and near Drury-lane, meet at Covent-garden vestry, and took the examination of several substantial house-keepers and shop-keepers in Bridges-street, concerning several night-houses and disorderly houses in that neighbourhood, who harbour thieves, pick-pockets, and other lewd and idle persons, whereby they are frequently disturb’d in the night-time; the Justices immediately issu’d out their warrants against the keepers and maintainers of these houses, and sent the High Constable, and a great number of petty Constables, to execute the same; some of the offenders were apprehended and brought before the Justices, who bound them over to the Sessions; and the neighbours who complain’d against them are also bound by recognizance to prefer bills of indictment against them at the next Sessions at Westminster. 13 men and women were at the same time brought before the Justices; but some of them being young sinners, and never in Bridewell before, were discharged, upon their seeming penitence and promise of amendment; and the remaining 4 were committed to Bridewell in Tothill-fields to hard labour: 3 of them were taken at 12 or 1 o’clock, exposing their nakedness in the open street to all passengers, and using most abominable filthy expressions; the 4th was the famous Kate Hackabout (whose brother was lately hang’d at Tyburn) a woman noted in and about the Hundreds of Drury, for being a very termagent, and a terror, not only to the civil part of the neighbourhood by her frequent fighting, noise, and swearing in the streets in the night-time, but also to other women of her own profession, who presume to pay or pick up men in her district, which is half one side of the way in Bridges-street. [Grub-street Journal, citing the Daily Post]

17 September 1730   Saturday, Sept. 15. Last night 12 disorderly men and women were taken out of several night houses by the informing Constables, and were this day examined at the vestry-room of St. Paul’s, Covent-Garden, before a Committee of Justices, who committed them to Tothill-fields Bridewel. [Grub-street Journal]

12 November 1730   On Thursday night Sir John Gonson was insulted and threatned in Fetter lane, by a soldier and another fellow wearing a cropt hat, on account of his committing to Bridewell some time ago, a notorious pick-pocket; but several of the mob, who were gathered about a bonfire, came to Sir John’s assistance, and beat them very severely, and would have laid ’em behind (o’ top of) the fire, if they had not prevented it by running away. – Its common for Justices to appear, in order to disperse mobs; but for mobs to come to the assistance of R.. Worshipful, is not so common; however, I hope a minute of the good harmony which appeared at this juncture betwixt Sir John and the mob, will be enter’d upon record. [Grub-street Journal]

29 April 1731   Yesterday [21 Apr.] began the Gen.Quarter Sessions for the City and Liberty of Westminster, when Sir John Gonson gave a very learned and excellent charge to the Grand Jury. Tho. Railton, Esq; made a report from the Committee appointed for suppressing of night-houses, &c. whereby it appeared, that the Committee had bound over to the Sessions 58 persons, commited to prison 16, and indicted 24 for keeping them; and that of the houses indicted and bound over, 26 are suppressed, and the persons who kept them gone away; that they have committed to the house of correction 127 rogues, vagabonds, &c. and convicted 11 persons for profane cursing and swearing. A petition was delivered to the Court by a great number of substantial inhabitants in and about Drury lane, Russell-street, Bridges-street, Catherine-street, &c. taking notice of the great service done by the Justices; and humbly praying they will continue their meetings till the remaining bad houses are suppressed.

On Saturday ended the Quarter-Sessions for Westminster, when the Court and the Grand Jury thank’d Sir John Gonson, the Chairman, for his eloquent and learned speech or charge, and desired him to permit the same to be printed. [Grub-street Journal]

5 August 1731   A few days since, 14 or 15 wild young fellows went about one in the morning to Nevill’s-alley in Fetter-lane, to pull down a house, under pretence that a woman which they wanted was concealed there; and they having begun to pull it down, the Constable and Watch were call’d, and a battle ensu’d, in which an attorney and a player were seiz’d, and bound over to the Sessions: they travers’d the indictment, and brought a Certiorari to harrass the Constable and Watchmen: but yesterday the Parish of St. Dunstan in the West unanimously resolved to stand by them. They also resolved, that all houses of ill fame, gin shops, and night-houses, (those receptacles of whores and pick-pockets) within the said parish, should be prosecuted at the parish expence. [Grub-street Journal]

16 August 1748   Yesterday ten loose and disorderly men and women were committed to Tothill-Fields Bridewell by Justice Trent to hard labour, being taken up in the Parish of St Martin's in the Fields, by a search warrant, granted for that purpose the night before. (General Advertiser)

Saturday, 20 August 1748   A few days ago, divers loose, idle and disorderly women of the women, were taken up by several constables about the Strand, Covent-Garden, and St Andrew's, Holborn; and being carried before John Poulson, Esq; were by him committed to Bridewell, who we hear, has within three months last past, committed upwards of 70 persons of both sexes to goal, for infesting the streets in the night. (General Advertiser)





(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "Lewd and Disorderly", 31 July 2004, updated 20 June 2008 <http://grubstreet.rictornorton.co.uk/disorder.htm>

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