Green’s Dictionary of Slang

abbess n.

also lady abbess, mother abbess
[ironic use of SE]

a brothel-keeper, a madame, ‘of the highflyer sort’ (Bee).

[[UK]‘P.R.’ Whores Dialogue 6: A reverend Matron of our profession whom the vulgar do Icleap a Bawd].
[UK] ‘Upon the Beadle’ in Lord Poems on Affairs of State (1968) I 175: The Cyprian convent they attempt by storm, Which held out [...] Though kept but by the abbess and one maid.
[UK]Whores Rhetorick 128: The lady Abbess took leave of her young Probationer.
[UK]‘On Good Canary’ in Ebsworth Merry Drollery Compleat (1875) 179: Though an Abbesse he court / In his high shoes he’ll have her.
[UK]N. Ward Compleat and Humorous Account of Remarkable Clubs (1756) 270: The Lady-Abbess of the Brothel-Monastry never wanting among the Salacious Quality of her old Acquaintance [...] Ready-money Chapmen for any of her Punchable Nuns.
[UK]Johnson Caelia III i: This is our College, Madam; and these are the students: or rather, Madam, this is a Nunnery, and I am Lady Abbess.
[UK]Cleland Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1985) 24: Who should come in but the venerable mother Abbess herself!
[US] ‘Hot Stuff’ in Silber Songs of Indep. (1973) 146: If you please, Madam Abbess, a word with your nuns! / Each soldier shall enter the convent in buff, / And then, never fear, we will give them Hot Stuff!
[UK]Foote Lame Lover in Works (1799) II 60: Who should trip by but an abbess, well known about town, with a smart little nun.
[UK]Nocturnal Revels I Dedication: The treachery, perfidy, and stratagems of what are stiled Lady Abbesses, are depicted in their genuine colours.
[UK]Nocturnal Revels I 26: A most implicit faith in the Mother Abbess, whose decrees were irrevocable.
[UK]Nunnery Amusements 23: My Lady Abbess too is not forgot, / For oft they enter her salacious spot.
[UK]Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies 37: She has assiduously avoided any connection with the mother abbesses, and trades entirely on her own bottom.
[UK]‘Peter Pindar’ ‘Odes to the Pope’ Works (1794) III 366: So an old Abbess, for the rattling rakes, A tempting dish of human nature makes, And dresses up a luscious maid.
[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795) n.p.: Abbess or LADY ABBESS, a bawd, the mistress of a brothel.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Aug. II 307/2: Mother Johnson, the King’s-place abbess, and one of the most notorious purveyors of that celebrated flesh-market.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Mar. XV 317/1: Mrs. Johnston, the Jermyn St. abbess, died in the beginnng of March [...] which occasioned much confusion among her fair inmates.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Oct. XVII 41/1: The Lady Abbess shews her well-drawn plan, / And tells each pupil how to know her man.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: Mother [...] a bawd; mother abbess, the same.
[Ire]Spirit of Irish Wit 48: A celebrated abbess named Peg Plunkett with a few of her nymphs.
[UK]Egan Life in London (1869) 204: So an old abbess, for rattling rakes, / A tempting dish of human nature makes, / And dresses up a luscious maid: / I rather should have said, indeed, undresses.
[UK]‘A Sporting Surgeon’ Waterfordiana 6: The revels, which consist of chaunting and chaffing, are under the direction of the ‘Lady Abbess,’ Mrs. J., and her lovely daughter Rachael.
[UK]‘The Blowing’s Catalogue’ in Funny Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 45: Mother Cummins [...] ‘Cock of the walk’, as abbess lived, / In Dyott Street for years.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]W. Kidd London and all its Dangers 36: Lady Abbesses [...] the Infernal wretches who traffic in the souls and bodies of their helpless victims.
Sun. Flash (NY) 19 Sept. n.p.: Louisa established herself in the house at No. 35 Warren srteet, as a Lady Abbess.
[UK]New Sprees of London 28: [I]t will be seen that the women are seldom—indeed, we may say never, out of the debt and power of the old abbesses.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 5 Dec. 1/2: It was not long e’er our hero was joined by the frail trio, who inhabit a respectable mansion hard by the inn, bearing the venerable and virtuous cognomen of ‘Beddek’s Nunnery,’ over which the blooming Mrs. Griffiths presides as the Lady Abbess.
[UK]E.V. Kenealy Goethe: a New Pantomime in Poetical Works 2 (1878) 335: Gibcat, She-dog, Mother-abbess.
[UK]Peeping Tom (London) 39 154/3: The Lady Abbess of St Giles’s, Mother Cummins, began life as a street-walker .
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 13 Oct. 2/7: A neighbour, familiarly known as the ‘Lady Abbess,’ paid Nelly a morning call.
[UK]‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) VI 1200: The Abbess of this open-thighed nunnery spoke bad French, but enough for me.
[Scot]B. Stuart Adventure in Algeria 49: The ‘disengaged’ ladies kept together at one corner of the bar, and one had to go to the Mother Abbess to pay one’s money before taking one’s choice.