Image of two men kissingHomosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook compiled by Rictor Norton

James Dalton's Narrative


of all the
Street Robberies
Committed since October last, by
James Dalton,
And his Accomplices,
Who are now in Newgate, to be try'd next Sessions, and against whom, Dalton (call'd their Captain) is admitted an Evidence.

I. The Manner of their snatching off Womens Pockets; with Directions for the Sex in general how to wear them, so that they cannot be taken by any Robber whatsoever.

II. The Method they took to rob the Coaches, and the many diverting Scenes they met with while they follow'd those dangerous Enterprizes.

III. Some merry Stories of Dalton's biting [stealing from] the Women of the Town, his detecting and exposing the Mollies, and a Song which is sung at the Molly-Clubs: With other very pleasant and remarkable Adventures.

To which is added,
A KEY to the Canting Language, occasionally made Use of in this Narrative.

Taken from the Mouth of JAMES DALTON.

London: Printed, and sold by J. Roberts, at the Oxford Arms in Warwick-Lane, 1728.

As Dalton was seriously walking one Night to look out for his Prey, he met with an Adventure of a quite different Nature from any Thing we have hitherto taken Notice of, and which, for the further Entertainment of the Reader, we shall here insert, verbatim, as we had it from his own Mouth. Walking out, (as above) one Night, he met with one ——, alias [p.31] Susannah Haws, a Man who was what they call a Bug to the Mollies, and sometimes acting in that Capacity with those that were not establish'd in Clubs, picking 'em up, as if to commit that damnable Crime of Sodomy; and when they had got an Handle, or any Foundation to proceed upon, they would extort Money from them, before they parted, or dog them to their own Houses, and there, by daily threatning, they would make a considerable Advantage of them. This Susan Haws told Dalton, if he would go with him to his Wittles, in the Butcher-Row, near Temple-Bar, he would treat him: Accordingly Dalton consented, and coming there, he found this Aunt Wittle was a Man, and no Doubt a Molly, for the Company seeing Susan Haws come in with a Stranger, they doubted not but he was of their beastly and unnatural Community; and they therefore arose and made Dalton very reverend Courtesies, which they perform'd with a great Deal of Respect and Ceremony; one of them was call'd Lydia Gough, and another Garter Mary, a Man who sells Garters, &c. about the Streets; these severally complimented Dalton, and [p.32] one Moll Irons would needs offer him some sodomitical Civilities; but he being outrag'd at such effeminate Actions, took up a Quart Pot, and calling them a Pack of mollying Sons of B[itche]s, swore he would drive 'em all to the D[evi]l; so kicking one, boxing another, and flinging a third behind the Fire, he soon convinc'd them that he was not for their Purpose; D[am]n your sodomitical Sons of B[itc]hes Heads, said Dalton, I love a Whore as well as any Man in Christendom; but by G[o]d the first Man that comes near me to cringe, kiss or courtesie, I'll peg his Muns [face] as flat as a Pancake: Upon which they very obligingly ask'd his Pardon, and begg'd he would depart, since he was not of their Profession.

Dalton enrag'd at Sukey Haws, for bringing him into such Company, could hardly be persuaded from laying him on the Fire, and sacrificing him to his Fury; but Sukey protesting he was not one who acted such Things himself, but only kept them company for Advantage, and not Inclination, he forgave him.

Soon after this, ——, alias Susan Haws and Dalton went to another House in the Hay Market, where Sukey call'd the Landlord [p.33] Aunt Mug, alias Belzebub; but Dalton perceiving that this was likewise an House that harbour'd Mollies, and encourag'd a Crime, in Comparison of which, he accounted all the wicked Actions of his Life but as so many Virtues, he would not stay, and therefore propos'd to Susan Haws, that as they were both dexterous at picking Pockets, they had better apply themselves to that, and leave these Indorsers [i.e. sodomites, from boxing slang for pummelling the back] to their beastly Appetites: Accordingly going upon that Lay, Susan made a Dive into a Gentleman's Pocket in Fleet-street, and taking a Handkerchief, he handed it to Dalton, who finding it to be a good one, put it into his Pocket, and afterwards gave Sukey one of his own, not worth a Groat. This Bite [theft] of Dalton's so vex'd Sukey, that he told him the next Night he was a Villain, to bite a Brother of the Trade. But Dalton knowing him to be unsound in his Principles (that is, He was neither a downright Pick-pocket, a downright Sodomite, or a downright Bug, tho' a Part of every one of them) told him, There was no Faith to be held with Hereticks, and that if he would not stick honestly to some one Profession, he ought to be [p.34] discarded and banish'd from the Conversation of Men of all Denominations whatsoever. Upon this Susan Haws told him, he would, for the future live soberly and honestly, in the Employment of picking of Pockets. Whereupon Dalton gave him some Encouragement, hoping he might become a real Convert; but Sukey still continuing to practise among the Back-door Gentlemen [a common humorous term for sodomites, users of "the back door"], he dismiss'd him, saying, I could never look in the nasty Dog's Face, but I thought him neither a Man's Man, nor a Woman's Man, neither a Whore's Friend, nor a Rogue's Confident, but a Persecutor of the Party he falls in with, and a Traytor to both Sexes.

This made Dalton shun his Company; yet, that he might discover something of the Intrigues between these Beasts in the Shape of Men, he once went with him to Billingsgate to buy Eels (but what was previous to that, they were first obliged to haul a Cly [snatch a pocket-book] for Money) where they fell in amongst a Company of Sodomites, who bullied Dalton; one cal'd Nurse Ashcraft, and another call'd Fish Hannah, two Fishmen, told Dalton he wanted to debauch Susan Haws, and that such an Action would be encroaching upon their Property; but as [p.35] they were not willing to expose themselves in the Street, if Dalton and Susan Haws would go to such a Place, naming a noted Molly-House, near Billingsgate, they would come to them. This, Dalton said, vex'd him to the Soul, to go under the Imputation of a Sodomite, when he was endeavouring to detect them; but knowing that as those Villains have not the Hearts of Men, any more than manly Affections, he readily went to the Place appointed, thinking to give them some Marks of his Manhood, for thus scandalizing him, but they did not come near him: This made Dalton urgent with Sukey to discover what they did together, and in what manner they behav'd themselves, when in their most private Meetings: But, good God! the Relation was so astonishing, and so shocking to human Nature, that it is impossible any Man should hear it (that is not abandon'd to all Manner of Vice,) without shuddering, and his Blood running chill at the very Thoughts of it: Therefore as the Relation exceeds all Bounds of Modesty, and is too shocking to appear in publick, it is hop'd the Reader will excuse the Author's not exposing the [p.36] damnable, unnatural, and beastly Appetities of these Wretches, whose Filthiness exceeds more than Imagination can conceive: Yet, that some of them may know that their Actions are not so private as they may imagine, Haws has discover'd, that there is a Meeting of them at a Cellar in Marygold-Court, over against the Fountain Tavern in the Strand; and tho' they have given themselves fictitious Names, in order to be conceal'd, yet they are so far known, that 'tis hop'd the Intelligence that is here given, will be a Means to have some of them detected.

Sukey Haws, being one Day in a pleasant Humour, inform'd Dalton of a Wedding (as they call it) some Time since, between Moll Irons, and another Molly, a Butcher; and that one Oviat, (who sometime since stood in the Pillory) and another Molly, a Butcher of Butcher-Row, near Temple-Bar, stood as Bridemaids, and that Oviat went by the Name of Miss Kitten, the Butcher by the Name of the Princess Saraphina; and that one Powell, who was call'd St. Dunstan's Kate, pretended to be deeply in Love with Madam Blackwell, the Person who was Evidence against [p.37] John Potter, convicted last Sessions for stealing the D[u]ke of
M[ontag]u's rich Hangings.

With these and several others, Haws was so intimately acquainted, that he was let into their secret Intrigues; and where he found one that he could bully, he frequently made an Advantage of them; particularly once of a Taylor, whom he pick'd up in Covent-Garden-Piazzas; and the Prick-louse, tho' a Man of sixty or seventy Years of Age, offer'd such beastly Actions to Sukey Haws, as would not only astonish the Reader, but scarce gain Credit, the Profuseness was so unnatural; however, Sukey to be in the Way of his Trade, made the Taylor give him a broad Piece, and Three-Half-Crowns, otherwise he threatened to expose him.

At one Sukey Bevell's in the Mint, there is a Club of these Mollies, who, if possible, run into greater Extravagancies than the former: The Stewards are Miss Fanny Knight, and Aunt England; and pretty Mrs. Anne Page officiates as Clark [i.e. clerk]. One of the Beauties of this Place is Mrs. Girl of Redriff, and with her, (or rather him) dip Candle-Mary a Tallow Chandler in the [p.38] Burrough, and Aunt May an Upholsterer in the same Place, are deeply in Love: Nurse Mitchel is a Barber of this Society; but those which are call'd the topping Beauties of the Place, have no Occasion for Men of his Occupation.

And here it will not be amiss, to give a List of the Names of the Chief of these Mollies, that they may be terrified from proceeding in their abominable Practices, lest the Person who has found out thus much, should still discover more, and bring them to such Punishment as the Law directs for such Offenderes. Some of their Sirnames are collected right, others will be sought after with the utmost Diligence; and if a compleat Discovery can be made by the Author of these Sheets, they may depend upon receiving the just Reward of their Demerits.

Their chief Names are as follows.

Ellinor Roden,
China Mary,
Flying Horse Moll,
Smal Coal Mary,
the Ox-cheek Woman,
Tub Nan,
Sukey Pisquill,
Garter Mary,
Hardward Nan,
Prety Criss,
a Soldier of the 2d Regiment,
Aunt England, a noted Soap Boyler,
Pomegranate Molly,
Orange Mary, an Orange Merchant near London-Bridge,
Old Fish Hannah,
Kate Hutton
an old Man that never wears a Shirt,
Thumbs and Waste Jenny, [p.39]
Queen Irons,
alias Pippin Mary,
Hanover Kate, spouse to Pippin Mary,
Miss Kitten, (Oviat,)
Rose Gudger,
Black Moll,

To make themselves as ridiculous as Extravagance and Effeminacy can render them, they sometimes have a Lying-inn, when one of them is plac'd in a Chair, and the others attending with Napkins, a Bason of Water, &c. Susan Guzzle, a Gentleman's Servant, is the Midwife, and with a great Deal of Ceremony, a jointed Baby [i.e. wooden doll] is brought from under the Chair he sits on.

Mrs. May was sometime since brought to Bed of a Pair of Bellows, and Aunt Grear was brought to Bed of a Cheshire Cheese, Madam Blackwell and Aunt England, standing Gossips. Sukey Haws further told Dalton, That H——n the late C——y M——l [i.e. Charles Hitchin, the late City Marshall] once pick'd him up, and carried him to a Bowling-Green-House at Islington, where he sent for young Miss Glade, a File [pickpocket], whom he had under his Command, he not daring to refuse coming, knowing if he did, H[itchi]n would send him to [p.40] the Compter. When Miss Glade came, H[itchi]n was very liberal in calling for Drink, Cheescakes, &c. and presently took Miss into the Vault, as it were by Instinct, that they should resort to a filthy Place, to commit filthy Actions.

Thus Sukey Haws told Dalton of the Intrigues that are and have for some Time been carried on amongst these abandon'd Wretches; and 'tis a Pity, that he who knew and was accessory to their Beastiality, was not secured, till he brought out the Criminals: But this, Dalton says, was not his Business; however, 'tis hoped that they will be detected, through the Information that is given of them, and the Diligence of some, who have resolv'd to search into their most intricate Actions, in Hopes of doing a publick Justice to such, who, with the Appearance of Men and Christians, have degenerated to Devils incarnate.

But before we quit this Subject, as an Amusement to the Reader, it may be some Entertainment to hear one of their Songs, which is sung at the Club by that charming Warbler, Miss Irons; besides which, there are several others, but they are too [p.41] ludicrous and filthy to admit of a Publication.

But Among Our Own Selves We'll Be Free
[This song is published on a separate page.] [pp.42-43]


Susannah (Susan) Haws: In The Life and Actions of James Dalton (May 1730) he is identified as Bartholomew Nichols, who also used the alias Fish Moll. 'Sukey' (the lower-class diminutive for Susan or Susannah) was a 'maiden' nickname commonly used among homosexual men to pick up men in the street.
Aunt Wittles: Perhaps George Whittle, though his pub-cum-molly-house was at the corner of St James's Square, not near Temple Bar. 'Aunt' was a common molly 'maiden' name.
Moll Irons: John Irons alias Hyons or Hyon, who went by the 'maiden' name Queen Irons, and who together with Thomas Coleman was pilloried, fined and briefly imprisoned for attempted sodomy in late October 1726.
Nurse Mitchel: John Mitchell, who stood in the pillory later in 1728 and again in 1729 for falsely charging a man with attempted sodomy. At James Dalton's trial in April 1730 (when he was capitally convicted) he asked that Mitchell (who was in prison for some other offence) be allowed to testify on his behalf, but the judge refused because of Mitchell's record for lying.

SOURCE: A Genuine Narrative of all the Street Robberies Committed since October last, by James Dalton, London: Printed, and sold by J. Roberts, at the Oxford Arms in Warwick-Lane, 1728, pp. 31-43.
CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Dalton's Narrative, 1728," Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. 10 April 2000, updated 3 March 2005 <>.

Return to Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England