disorderly house

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disorderly house

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Feb 11, 2017 5:08 am

<1994 “Well, it’s just that the average whore who works a disorderly house knows more ways to shake down a mark than I could probably list . . .”—The Alienist by Caleb Carr>
Below I’ve listed a few synonyms and I’m sure there are many more, but I had never come across ‘disorderly house’ before:

brothel, bawdy-house, bordello, cat-house, bagnio, sporting house, knocking-shop, house of ill repute.

The Alienist takes place in the late 19th century and it must have been common then, although it is still used today.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say that gives some background on the word:
<In English criminal law a disorderly house is a house in which the conduct of its inhabitants is such as to become a public nuisance, or outrages public decency, or tends to corrupt or deprave, or injures the public interest; or a house where persons congregate to the probable disturbance of the public peace or other commission of crime. To persistently or habitually keep a disorderly house is an offence against the common law, punishable by fine or imprisonment.[1]

A charge of keeping a disorderly house is the typical charge against one accused of maintaining a brothel, and as brothel-keeping is one of the most common causes for the charge of keeping a disorderly house, ‘disorderly house’ is something of a euphemism for brothel in the English legal community. The laws on the subject of brothels as disorderly houses are found under statutory offences under sections 33 to 36 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956.[2]
So, disorderly house can mean a brothel, as it does in The Alienist, but in searching through archives it is more often used to describe a house that is a public nuisance such as one where there are loud parties, use of drugs, promiscuity, etc. and there are legal definitions for it depending on where you live (e.g. “Violating public order or morality, constituting a nuisance, etc.”)

It is sometimes difficult to say which meaning of disorderly house is meant. The following are some examples of its use:
<1877 “The following houses are disorderly houses, that is to say: common bawdy houses, common gaming houses, common betting houses, disorderly places of entertainment.”—Digest of Criminal Law (1883) by J. F. Stephen, page 122>

<1987 “ Although her male clientele walked away free and remained unnamed, she was found guilty in 1980 of keeping a disorderly house. In 1987, after another arrest, she was found not guilty of aiding and abetting prostitution.”—The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts), 12 June>

<1989 “. . . maintaining premises occupied for lewdness, assignation or prostitution; keeping a bawdy or disorderly house; . . .”—Washington Post (D.C.), 28 August>

<1993 “. . . .misdemeanors, including engaging in unnatural and perverted sexual practices, lewdness, operating a bawdy and disorderly house, . . .”—Washington Post (D.C.), 27 August>

<1996 “They cleared manager Martin Church, 36, of running a disorderly house - a decision hailed by civil rights campaigners as a victory for free choice.”—Daily Mail (London), 20 March>

<1997 “ She was jailed for six months for running the biggest disorderly house in history, but says she hopes to re-open the ‘House of Cyn’ before she dies.”—Sunday Mirror (London, England), 16 November>

<2009 “Homosexuality was not illegal in New York City in the 1960s; it just seemed that way. The New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) had long insisted that merely by serving drinks to homosexuals a bar was maintaining a ‘disorderly house, which the SLA could (and would) then close . . .”—All Hopped Up and Ready to Go: Music from the Streets of New York 1927-77 by Tony Fletcher, page 273>

<2016 “Juan Perez, 21, of Everett, and Andrew Jucket, 21, of Bridgewater, were arrested and charged with keeping a disorderly house, disturbing the peace, furnishing alcohol to persons under 21, and obstruction of justice, according to police...”—The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts), 22 February>

Ken Greenwald — February 10, 2017

Re: disorderly house

Post by tony h » Sat Feb 11, 2017 10:44 am

Ken: the most famous example in the UK is the case of Madam Cyn. My wife met her after she, Cyn, had retired.

Cynthia Payne, 64, was born in Bognor. In 1980, she served four months in prison for running a disorderly house. She has been the subject of two films, Personal Services and Wish You Were Here. In 1988, she stood unsuccessfully for Parliament as a candidate for the Payne and Pleasure Party.
Signature: tony

I'm puzzled therefore I think.

Re: disorderly house

Post by Bobinwales » Sun Feb 12, 2017 12:10 am

To me both, 'disorderly house' and 'bawdy house' mean nothing more nor less than a knocking shop.
I think that you will guess that a knocking shop is a brothel.
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: disorderly house

Post by trolley » Sun Feb 12, 2017 2:33 am

Get thee to a knockery!

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