Mohocks

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The Mohocks were allegedly a gang of violent, well-born criminals that terrorized London in the early 18th century, attacking men and women alike. Taking their name from the Mohawks,[1] they were said to kill or disfigure their male victims and sexually assault their female victims. The matter came to a head in 1712 when a bounty of £100 was issued by the royal court for their capture.

According to Lady Wentworth, "They put an old woman into a hogshead, and rolled her down a hill; they cut off some noses, others' hands, and several barbarous tricks, without any provocation. They are said to be young gentlemen; they never take any money from any." (Wentworth Papers, 277)

Historians have found little evidence of any organized gang,[2][3] though in spring 1712 there was a flurry of print accounts of the Mohocks, their lawlessness, impunity and luridly violent acts. In response there was also some derision from satirists at what they perceived to be sensationalism by the Grub Street press.[2][3] John Gay's first drama, The Mohocks, was written that year but was not performed for political reasons.[4] It was, however, published as a pseudonymous pamphlet.[5]

Various other gangs of street bullies are alleged to have terrorized London at different periods, beginning in the 1590s with the Damned Crew and continuing after the Restoration with the Muns, the Tityré Tūs, the Hectors, the Scourers, the Nickers, and the Hawkubites.

Further reading[edit]

Meshon Cantrill, "Who has not trembled at the Mohocks' name?" Narratives of Control and Resistance in the Press in Early Eighteenth-Century London University of Saskatchewan 2011, (Thesis)

References[edit]

Jonathan Swift "Journal to Stella", 1712, March 9th

  1. ^ A visit to England by certain Native American chiefs in 1710, 'the Four Kings of Canada', led to street gangs giving themselves names reminiscent of American tribes, such as 'Mohocks' (Mohawks).
  2. ^ a b Statt, Daniel (1995). "The Case of the Mohocks: Rake Violence in Augustan London". Social History (20.2): 179–199.
  3. ^ a b Guthrie, Neil (1996). "'No Truth or Very Little in the Whole Story'? A Reassessment of the Mohock Scare of 1712". Eighteenth-Century Life (20): 33–56.
  4. ^ Calhoun Winton, “The Mohocks”, ch.2 of John Gay and the London Theatre, University of Kentucky 2015, pp.11-25
  5. ^ The Mohocks, a tragic-comical farce, London 1712