A Molly house is an archaic English term for a tavern or private room where homosexual males and transwomen could meet each other and possible sexual partners. Found in most of the larger cities, Molly houses were a precursor to the modern gay bar.
The most famous of these was Mother Clap's Molly house in the Holborn area of London. In the 18th century, homosexual males in England were prosecuted under sodomy laws, for which the penalty was death by hanging. The court records of their users' trials are the main documentary evidence of such establishments that survive today. On 9 May 1726, three men (Gabriel Lawrence, William Griffin, and Thomas Wright) were hanged at Tyburn, London for sodomy. Charles Hitchen, the Under City Marshal (and crime lord), was also convicted (in 1727) of attempted sodomy at a Molly house.
Patrons of Molly houses (who were called "Mollies") often dressed in women's clothing, took on female personae, and affected effeminate mannerisms and speech.
- Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. Retrieved on 2006-12-27.
- Kaplan, Morris B. (2005). Sodom on the Thames: Sex, Love, and Scandal in Wilde Times. Cornell University Press, 314 pages. ISBN 0801436788.
- The Gay Subculture in Early Eighteenth-Century London
- The Trial of Thomas Wright
- City of Vice on Channel 4 featured Molly House in Episode 2
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