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

Two Kissing Girls of Spitalfields


The following Lines are made on two Kissing Girls of Spittlefields.

That one's a Man is false, they've both been felt,
Tho' Jolly swears, Bess is, or sh' has been gelt.
She bullies, whistles, sings, and rants and swears
Beyond the Plyers at St. Katern's Stairs;
She kisses all, but Jenny is her dear,
She feels her Bubbies, and she bites her ear:
They to the Garret or the Cellar sneak.
Play tricks, and put each other to the Squeak.
What Pity 'tis, in such a case as this,
One does not pass a Metamorphosis,
Then they'd not stop the flowing Breach of Dagnum
With Digitus vel instrumentum magnum.


Spitalfields Market in east London was noted for a high number of foreign immigrants, working mostly in the weaving trade. Dagenham Breach was a thousand-acre lake next to the Thames resulting from a repair to its walls from 1714 to eliminate a 400-foot mudbank that was a danger to shipping. It was near St Katharine's Dock, where men plied for work as porters unloading ships. The last line says that these women will have to plug up the hole with a finger ("digit") in the absence of any larger instrument, alluding of course to the fact that women lack a penis, which is one reason why most men cannot even imagine women having sex together ("gelt" means castrated, i.e. lesbians are conceived as men without a penis, i.e. masculine women).

Rictor Norton

SOURCE: Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer, Saturday, 10 August 1728; updated 2 February 2003.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Two Kissing Girls of Spitalfields," Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. Updated 10 April 2000 <>.

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