Founded in London its aims are the suppression of profanity, immorality, and other lewd activities in general, and of brothels and prostitution in particular.
One of many similar societies founded, it reflects a change in the social attitudes to a more moral and censorious attitude of respectability and seriousness. Inspired and fed by the moral excesses of London, branches have been set up in other towns and cities, though the societies
never flourish in rural areas.
The Society is arranged in four tiers, with the “Society of Original Gentlemen” at the top. Eminent professionals lawyers, judges and along with the original founders, provide the expertise and financing to enable prosecutions to proceed. The next tier was the “Second Society” which consists mainly of tradesmen, and whose role it was to suppress vice. Among other methods, the “Second Society” employed a blacklist which they published annually to shame the alleged offenders. Below the tradesmen was the “Association of Constables” who take a more active role in arresting the miscreants who offended the public morality. Finally the fourth layer consisted of informers: a network of “moral guardians” throughout the City of London, with two stewards in each parish, to gather information about moral infractions. The central committee of “Original Gentlemen” collects the information , so the malefactors could be prosecuted and punished. The Society also pays others to bring prosecutions, or commits “punishments”on its own account.
There was a series of raids on “molly houses” (homosexual brothels) in 1725. One prominent victim of the Society was Charles Hitchen, a “thief-taker” and Under City Marshal. He acted as a “finder” of stolen merchandise, negotiating a fee for the return of the stolen items, while extorting bribes from pickpockets to prevent arrest, and leaning on the thieves to make them fence their stolen goods through him. His business may have been undermined by the success of his competitor Jonathan Wild. Hitchen was accused of sodomitical practices, and tried for sodomy(a capital offence) and attempted sodomy. He was sentenced to a fine of 20 pounds, to be put in the pillory for one hour, and then to serve six months in prison. He was badly beaten while in the pilory, and died soon after being released from prison.
Jonathan Swift is a critic of the societies, arguing that while the project began with excellent intentions, it had grown into a means of enriching corrupt informers.
This Society is secretly
lead by Carnivean.