Tom King's Coffee House (later known as Moll King's Coffee House) was a notorious establishment in Covent Garden, London in the mid-18th century. Open from the time the taverns shut until dawn, it was ostensibly a coffee house, but in reality served as a meeting place for prostitutes and their customers. By refusing to provide beds, the Kings ensured that they never risked charges of brothel-keeping, but the venue was nevertheless a rowdy drinking den and a favourite target for the moral reformers of the day.
Tom King was born in 1694 to Thomas King, a squire from Thurlow, Essex, and Elizabeth Cordell, the daughter of Baronet Sir John Cordell. He was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge but was expelled (for reasons unknown) and eventually drifted to Covent Garden where he worked as a handyman, and met Moll (real name Elizabeth Adkins) in 1717.
Moll had been born in Vine Street in the slum district of St Giles in 1696; her father was a cobbler and her mother a fruit and vegetable seller in Covent Garden. She had gone into service at the age of fourteen, but found the work boring and so began hawking fruit and nuts around the Covent Garden area. Tom and Moll were married in 1717, but did not live together long. Tom began an affair, neglecting Moll, and when he eventually started to beat her, she left him and took up with a man named Murray (sometimes identified as William Murray, later Earl of Mansfield and Lord Chief Justice: this identification is erroneous, as William Murray was aged only 13 in 1718). However, Tom amassed some money from working as a waiter, and, around 1720, he and Moll reunited and opened a coffee house in one of the shacks in Covent Garden which they rented from the Duke of Bedford at the cost of £12 a year.
The coffee house was an immediate success. Moll, who had been befriended by many of the leading courtesans of day while running her stall, made connections with fashionable society during her dalliance with Murray, and Tom had aristocratic connections of his own. The patronage of these groups, coupled with hard work and a policy of remaining open all night, meant that Tom and Moll were soon able to afford to rent out a second and third shack. A pretty black barmaid named Black Betty (also known as Tawny Betty) provided another attraction. The shacks can be seen in many of the contemporary depictions of the piazza and features prominently in William Hogarth's Four Times of the Day (although it is rotated from its true position for the artistic effect of contrasting it with Inigo Jones' Church of St Paul).
By 1722, Tom King's Coffee House was already famed as a place where anybody from the highest to the lowest could find a willing partner, and was frequented by many notables of the day: "all gentlemen to whom beds were unknown". Hogarth, Alexander Pope, John Gay, and Henry Fielding were all visitors. Fielding mentions it in both The Covent Garden Tragedy and Pasquin and Tobias Smollett in The Adventures of Roderick Random . Of the three shacks, the largest and most famous was known as the Long Room, while the two smaller ones were reserved for gambling and drinking, respectively.
Despite the role of the coffee house as a meeting place for whores and their clients, Moll insisted that there be no beds in any of the shacks other than the bed she and Tom shared (which was in the roof and accessible only by a ladder which they pulled up behind themselves). This avoided the danger of prosecution for brothel-keeping, which could result in a whipping and a term in prison. The proximity of many well-known brothels made the provision of beds unnecessary anyway; customers were encouraged to stay until they were too drunk to go home, at which point they would be escorted to one of the nearby bagnios. Nevertheless, many of the moral campaigners of the time were keen to shut down the establishment. Sir John Gonson, a fervent supporter of the Society for the Reformation of Manners and renowned raider of brothels, regularly sent informers to the coffee house to try and uncover some offence. To counter this, Tom, Moll and their cronies developed their own secret language, Talking Flash, to render their discussions impenetrable to outsiders, and if they were discovered and charged, they bribed witnesses liberally.
Although Tom would drink with the customers, Moll always remained sober, looking out for trouble from the drunken patrons. While Moll, with the assistance of the hired bouncers, managed to curb the worst of the behaviour, there were still frequent fights on the premises and occasionally the violence spilled out into the surrounding area. In 1736, four men who had just left the coffee house disrupted a mass in the chapel of the Sardinian Ambassador, and in 1737, two of the bouncers, Edward and Noah Bethune, were charged with assault.
By 1739, the Kings had acquired an estate at Haverstock Hill, close to Hampstead Heath, and had built a villa and two houses. Tom King died the same year from alcoholism.
On Tom's death, the coffee house became known as Moll King's Coffee House, but business continued much as before. Moll, however, took to drinking and became more quarrelsome, and the reputation of the shacks for bad behaviour and violence worsened. Moll would also occasionally fleece inebriated patrons by littering their tables with broken crockery and then presenting them a bill for the damages, confident that they were too drunk to realise that they were being taken advantage of. The patronage of fashionable society continued though: on one occasion, even George II paid a visit, accompanied by his equerry Viscount Gage, but having been challenged to a fight for admiring the companion of one of his neighbours (who had not recognised him), he left immediately.
Eventually, in June 1739, a riot erupted in the Long Room and spilled out in the piazza. Moll was charged, found guilty, and fined £200, sentenced to three months in prison and required to find sureties for her good behaviour for three years after her release. Moll refused to pay the fine on the grounds that it was both excessive and unwarranted and managed to get it reduced to £50. She suffered little from her stay in prison: her nephew William King took over the running of the coffee house and, by bribing the guards, Moll managed to enjoy many of the comforts of home. She continued to run the coffee house until around 1745, when she retired to live in her villa at Haverstock Hill.
She died on 17 September 1747, leaving a large fortune.
Charles Dibdin was an English composer, musician, dramatist, novelist, singer and actor. With over 600 songs to his name, for many of which he wrote both the lyrics and the music and performed them himself, he was in his time the most prolific English singer-songwriter. He is best known as the composer of "Tom Bowling", one of his many sea songs, which often features at the Last Night of the Proms. He also wrote about 30 dramatic pieces, including the operas The Waterman (1774) and The Quaker (1775), and several novels, memoirs and histories.
A bouncer is a type of security guard, employed at venues such as bars, nightclubs, cabaret clubs, stripclubs, casinos, hotels, billiard halls, restaurants, sporting events, or concerts. A bouncer's duties are to provide security, to check legal age and drinking age, to refuse entry for intoxicated persons, and to deal with aggressive behavior or non-compliance with statutory or establishment rules. They are civilians and they are often hired directly by the venue, rather than by a security firm. Bouncers are often required where crowd size, clientele or alcohol consumption may make arguments or fights a possibility, or where the threat or presence of criminal gang activity or violence is high. At some clubs, bouncers are also responsible for "face control", choosing who is allowed to patronize the establishment. In the United States, civil liability and court costs related to the use of force by bouncers are "the highest preventable loss found within the [bar] industry", as many United States bouncers are often taken to court and other countries have similar problems of excessive force. In many countries, federal or state governments have taken steps to professionalise the industry by requiring bouncers to have training, licensing, and a criminal records background check.
Coffee and Cigarettes is the title of three short films and a 2003 feature-length anthology film by independent film director Jim Jarmusch. The feature film consists of 11 short stories which share coffee and cigarettes as a common thread, and includes the earlier three short films.
A Rake's Progress is a series of eight paintings by 18th-century English artist William Hogarth. The canvases were produced in 1732–1734, then engraved in 1734 and published in print form in 1735. The series shows the decline and fall of Tom Rakewell, the spendthrift son and heir of a rich merchant, who comes to London, wastes all his money on luxurious living, prostitution and gambling, and as a consequence is imprisoned in the Fleet Prison and ultimately Bethlem Hospital (Bedlam). The original paintings are in the collection of Sir John Soane's Museum in London, where they are normally on display for a short period each day.
Elizabeth Adkins, who was also known as Moll King, Moll Bird, Mary Godson, Mary and Maria Godson (1696–1747), was a prominent figure in London's underworld during the early 18th century. She owned King's Coffeehouse with her husband Tom King and she also allegedly worked in the sex trade and as a pickpocket.
Four Times of the Day is a series of four oil paintings by English artist William Hogarth. They were completed in 1736 and in 1738 were reproduced and published as a series of four engravings. They are humorous depictions of life in the streets of London, the vagaries of fashion, and the interactions between the rich and poor. Unlike many of Hogarth's other series, such as A Harlot's Progress, A Rake's Progress, Industry and Idleness, and The Four Stages of Cruelty, it does not depict the story of an individual, but instead focuses on the society of the city in a humorous manner. Hogarth does not offer a judgment on whether the rich or poor are more deserving of the viewer's sympathies. In each scene, while the upper and middle classes tend to provide the focus, there are fewer moral comparisons than seen in some of his other works. Their dimensions are about 74 cm (29 in) by 61 cm (24 in) each.
Sally Salisbury, real name Sarah Pridden and also known as Sarah Priddon, was a celebrated prostitute in early 18th-century London. She was the lover of many notable members of society, and socialised with many others.
The Bagnio is the fifth canvas in the series of six satirical paintings known as Marriage A-la-Mode painted by William Hogarth.
Strolling Actresses Dressing in a Barn is a painting from 1738 by British artist William Hogarth. It was reproduced as an engraving and issued with Four Times of the Day as a five print set in the same year. The painting depicts a company of actresses preparing for their final performance before the troupe is disbanded as a result of the Licensing Act 1737. Brought in as a result of John Gay's Beggar's Opera of 1728, which had linked Robert Walpole with the notorious criminal Jonathan Wild, the Licensing Act made it compulsory for new plays to be approved by the Lord Chamberlain, and, more importantly for the characters depicted, closed any non-patent theatres. The majority of the painting was completed before the Act was passed in 1737, but its passing into law was no surprise and it was the work of a moment for Hogarth to insert a reference to the Act itself into the picture.
Jane Douglas, commonly known as Mother Douglas, was a brothel-keeper in mid-18th century London. Known at the time as "The Empress of the Bawds", her house in Covent Garden attracted customers from the higher echelons of society.
Carpenter's Coffee House was a coffee house in Covent Garden, London, established by George Carpenter some time around 1762.
Elizabeth Needham, also known as Mother Needham, was an English procuress and brothel-keeper of 18th-century London, who has been identified as the bawd greeting Moll Hackabout in the first plate of William Hogarth's series of satirical etchings, A Harlot's Progress. Although Needham was notorious in London at the time, little is recorded of her life, and no genuine portraits of her survive. Her house was the most exclusive in London and her customers came from the highest strata of fashionable society, but she eventually ran afoul of the moral reformers of the day and died as a result of the severe treatment she received after being sentenced to stand in the pillory.
The Covent-Garden Tragedy is a play by Henry Fielding that first appeared on 1 June 1732 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane alongside The Old Debauchees. It is about a love triangle in a brothel involving two prostitutes. While they are portrayed satirically, they are imbued with sympathy as their relationship develops.
Betty Careless or Betsy Careless was a notorious prostitute and later bagnio-owner in 18th-century London. Probably born Elizabeth Carless, she adapted her name to better suit her profession. Her name, beauty and reputation made her, like Sally Salisbury before her, something of an archetypal courtesan for the popular culture of the day.
Charlotte Hayes was a highly successful brothel keeper in early Georgian London, and the owner of some of the city's most luxurious brothels in and around King's Place, in St James's.
English coffeehouses in the 17th and 18th centuries were public social places where men would meet for conversation and commerce. For the price of a penny, customers purchased a cup of coffee and admission. Travellers introduced coffee as a beverage to England during the mid-17th century; previously it had been consumed mainly for its supposed medicinal properties. Coffeehouses also served tea and hot chocolate as well as a light meal.
Artaxerxes is an opera in three acts composed by Thomas Arne set to an English adaptation of Metastasio's 1729 libretto Artaserse. The first English opera seria, Artaxerxes premiered on 2 February 1762 at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden and continued to be regularly performed until the late 1830s. Its plot is loosely based on the historical figure, Artaxerxes I who succeeded his father Xerxes I after his assassination by Artabanus.
Dorothy Josephine Baker, also known as Big Dorothy, was an American madam in Helena, Montana in the mid-20th century. She ran a brothel officially known as "Dorothy's Rooms" on Last Chance Gulch in Helena from the mid-1950s until it was shut down in a police raid in 1973. While running the brothel, she also donated to many charities, including churches and law enforcement programs, making her generally popular among the local citizens.
Tavern Scene or The Orgy is a work by William Hogarth from 1735, the third picture from the series A Rake's Progress.