Molly house  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A Molly house is an archaic English term for a tavern or private room where homosexual and transgender males 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 trials are the main documentary evidence of such establishments that survive today. On the 9th of May 1726, three men (Gabriel Lawrence, William Griffin and Thomas Wright) were hanged at Tyburn 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.

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