Elizabeth Adkins

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Elizabeth Adkins was a prominent figure in London's underworld during the early 18th century as a prostitute, pickpocket, thief, and Coffeehouse proprietress. Her aliases included "Mary"' or "Maria Godson," although she is best known as Moll King.[1] It has been speculated that she, among others, was the basis for the main character in Daniel Defoe's novel Moll Flanders.[2]

In 1718, she was apprehended stealing a gold watch from a gentlewoman at St. Anne's Church, Soho, and sentenced to seven years' transportation. She was caught while attempting to sneak back into the country from the American colonies and sentenced to death; however, while she later won a reprieve, she remained imprisoned in Newgate Prison throughout the autumn of 1721 where she may have met Daniel Defoe who had been visiting his friend, the journalist Nathaniel Mist.

She is most famous for being the joint owner of King's Coffeehouse with her husband Tom King. There many a famous man would sip coffee and discuss news. Much of this was relayed in a book published circa 1747.[3]


  1. ^ Ellis, Markman (2001). "Coffee-women, The Spectator and the public sphere in early eighteenth century". In Eger, Elizabeth. Women, Writing and the Public Sphere, 1700-1830. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 27–52. ISBN 0521771064. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Defoe, Daniel; George A. Starr (1971). The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders. London/New York: Oxford University Press. p. xiii. ISBN 0192553526. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  3. ^ The life and character of Moll King, late mistress of King's coffee-house in Covent-Garden, who departed this life at her Country-House at Hampstead, on Thursday the 17th of September, 1747. Containing A true Narrative of this well-known Lady, from her Birth to her Death; wherein is inserted several humorous Adventures relating to Persons of both Sexes, who were fond of nocturnal Revels. Also The Flash Dialogue between Moll King and Old Gentleman Harry, that was some Years ago murdered in Covent-Garden; and the Pictures of several noted Family Men, drawn to the Life. To the Whole is added, An Epitaph and Elegy, wrote by one of Moll's favourite Customers. And a Key to the Flash Dialogue. London: printed for W. Price, near the Sessions-House in the Old Baily. c. 1747 – via Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale. Brown University Library, accessed 6 July 2014.