History of Sex and Sexuality from 1680 to 1724

About the history of sex and sexuality from 1680 to 1724 A.D. including trivia about personal ads, prostitutes, and a transvestite governor.

UNCENSORED HIGHLIGHTS IN THE HISTORY OF SEX

1680 A small street in New York, just beyond Wall Street, earned the name Maiden Lane because it was the street where so many maidens lost their maidenheads.

1684 The first sensible printed sex manual was published in London under the title Aristotle's Masterpiece, or the Secrets of Generation Displayed in All Parts Thereof. A deserved bestseller, it advised extensive sexual foreplay and emphasized the value of clitoral massage, saying "blowing the coals of these amorous fires" pleased women.

1686 According to a passenger on board an English ship headed for Carolina, 12 of the 60 women traveling to America as "brides for sale" were prostitutes.

1695 The world's first lonely-hearts advertisement was published in John Houghton's Collection for the Improvement of Husbandry and Trade. It read: "A Gentleman about 30 years of age, that says he has a Very Good Estate, would willingly Match Himself to some young Gentlewoman that has a fortune of pond 3,000 or thereabouts, And he will make settlement to content."

1698 Homosexuality was relatively commonplace throughout England. In a letter to a friend, Elizabeth, Duchess of Orleans, wrote that "Nothing is more ordinary in England than this unnatural vice."

1702 A Transvestite, Lord Cornbury, became governor of New York and New Jersey. He performed most of his official duties in women's clothes. He was recalled in 1708 after landing in jail for debt.

1708 Read, an English publisher, was arrested and tried for printing Fifteen Plagues of a Maiden-Head, deemed obscene but not punishably so by the Queen's Bench Court. It was the first trial prompted by the publication of allegedly obscene literature. Shortly thereafter, the court reversed its stand and indicted publisher-bookseller Edmund Curll for selling Venus in the Cloister, or the Nun in her Smock, a blasphemous tale of lesbian nuns, first published in France in 1682.

1709 In Women's Diseases, Misitanus advised against passionate lovemaking "as it is unfruitful," and attributed the widespread infertility of Spanish women to their practice of singing during coitus.

1714 The Roman Catholic Church banned the confessional requirement that men name their partners in fornication when it was discovered that priests were making carnal use of the information.

1723 French police in Montpellier raided a meeting of the Multiplicants, a sect devoted to orgies. (Their members married, but for only 24 hours; the marriage was consummated publicly on the altar.) The leaders were hanged, the remaining men were sentenced to life in the galleys, and the women-after having their heads shaved-were placed in nunneries.

1724 Daniel Defoe wrote an essay entitled "Conjugal Lewdness, A Treatise concerning the Use and Abuse of the Marriage Bed, and Marital Whoredom." In it he outlined a popular custom amongst cads of the day-kidnapping likely heiresses and forcing them into marriage, thereby enjoying the fruits of the nuptial bed and not infrequently securing a large dowry. Defoe wrote: "It seemed a little hard that a gentleman might have the satisfaction of hanging a thief that stole an old horse from him, but could have no justice against a rogue for stealing his daughter." Just after the essay's publication, "stealing ladies" was made a capital offense.

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