The Women-Hater's Lamentation


In 1707 a group of at least forty gay men (or "sodomites") were arrested in London. They were described as a "gang" and frequented a "club" located near the Stock Exchange, and were apparently rounded up as the result of investigations initiated by the Society for Reformation of Manners, the prototypical moral-reform movement which was organized during the closing years of the seventeenth century. Three of the men killed themselves while being imprisoned in the Compter; a man named Jones hanged himself, a woolen draper named Grant hanged himself, and a man named Jermain, Clerk of the church of St Dunstan's in the East, cut his throat with a razor. A fourth man, cryptically named "Ber--den", also seems to have hanged himself. One contemporary account is John Dunton's The He-Strumpets: A Satyr on the Sodomite Club. The following is the complete text of a broadside ballad printed at the time. The ballad is on a single sheet of paper (a "broadside"), at the top of which are three illustrations showing one man cutting his throat while another man hangs from the prison window beside him, one hanged man being cut down, and two men embracing one another. (For fuller details, see my book Mother Clap's Molly House.)

It is worth noting that certain gay stereotypes were already well in place as early as 1707, notably the linking of homosexuality with brutal and "unnatural" lust, and the characterization of a homosexual personality type as a misogynist. These men (who incidentally are not called sodomites in this poem) are specifically described in terms of sexual orientation: i.e. they are said to despise women and admire their own sex. This contradicts the Foucauldian view that before modern times people simply focused on sodomy as a sexual act, rather than an identity or orientation. It is also worth noting that these men seem to have been bachelors (as also indicated by other evidence discussed in my book), which suggests that they did in fact possess a gay identity, that is, they were not bisexuals or pansexual libertines indulging in undifferentiated sexuality rather than homosexuality. Cruising grounds and special taverns where such men gathered, to socialize as much as to make assignations, are known to have existed at least since 1700 in England (and much earlier in continental Europe).

Rictor Norton

The Women-Hater's Lamentation:

A New Copy of Verses on the Fatal End of Mr. Grant, a Woollen-Draper, and two others that Cut their Throats or Hang'd themselves in the Counter; with the Discovery of near Hundred more that are Accused for unnatural dispising the Fair Sex, and Intriguing with one another.

To the Tune of, Ye pretty Sailors all.

Ye injur'd Females see
Justice without the Laws,
Seeing the Injury,
Has thus reveng'd your Cause.

For those that are so blind,
Your Beauties to despise,
And slight your Charms, will find
Such Fate will always rise.

Of all the Crimes that Men
Through wicked Minds do act,
There is not one of them
Equals this Brutal Fact.

Nature they lay aside,
To gratifie their Lust;
Women they hate beside,
Therefore their Fate was just.

Ye Women-haters say,
What do's your Breasts inspire,
That in a Brutal way,
You your own Sex admire?

Woman you disapprove,
(The chief of Earthly Joys)
You that are deaf to Love,
And all the Sex despise.

But see the fatal end
That do's such Crimes pursue;
Unnat'ral Deaths attend,
Unnat'ral Lusts in you.

A Crime by Men abhor'd,
Nor Heaven can abide
Of which, when Sodom shar'd,
She justly was destroy'd.

But now, the sum to tell,
(Tho' they plead Innocence)
These by their own Hands fell,
Accus'd for this Offence.

A Hundred more we hear,
Did to this Club belong,
But now they scatter'd are,
For this has broke the Gang.

Shop-keepers some there were,
And Men of good repute,
Each vow'd a Batchelor,
Unnat'ral Lust pursu'd.

Ye Women-Haters then,
Take Warning by their Shame,
Your Brutal Lusts restrain,
And own a Nobler Flame.

Woman the chiefest Bliss
That Heaven e'er bestow'd:
Oh be sham'd of this,
You're by base Lust subdu'd.

This piece of Justice then
Has well reveng'd their Cause,
And shews unnat'ral Lust
Is curs'd without the Laws.

Licensed according to Order.
LONDON: Printed for J. Robinson, in Fetter-Lane, 1707.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "The Women-Hater's Lamentation, 1707", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. Updated 1 Dec. 1999 <>.

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