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My Lady’s Hole was an English card game popular during the 18th century.

This article is about the card game; the term could also be used to refer to Trou Madame (also known as nine-holes), as well as being used in its obvious vulgar sense — in 1754 it was denounced (alongside Laugh and Lie Down) as seeming “compos’d on Purpoſe to ſhock the Modeſty”.A[p. 13]

It also has apparently been called simply “Hole”, as that name appears in a list of card games in Taylor’s Motto (1621).B

Some references, such as that in the song (Commodities of) The New Exchange from c. 1615, must obviously refer to the bowling game:C[p. 4]

Here is a set of kitle pins,
 & boules at them to roule ;
& if you like such thundering spourt,
 Here is my ladys hole.


The sexual nature of the name is punned upon in The Mysteries of Love & Eloquence, or, the Arts of Wooing and Complementing; As they are manag’d in the Spring Garden, Hide Park, the New Exchange, and other eminent places (1685), although this could be a reference to the bowling game:

Q: What game do men love best?

A: My Ladies-hole.

Q: What sport doth women like best?

A: Push pin.

An early definitive reference to the card game is in 1708:

For if an earneſt Look, an amorous Ogle, or a familiar Smile, are but mutually adminiſter’d by any Gentleman and Lady to each other, ſhe will certainly ſuſpect, and as readily report, that a Game at my Lady’s Hole, in a little Time, will be play’d between them ; for that ſhe could ſee, by their Eyes, they were both ready to lift for Deal the very firſt Opportunity.E[p. 24]

Mary Pendarves mentions playing the game in a letter of October 27th, 1732:

We got early into our inn, played at my lady’s hole, supped, and went early to bed.F

As does Fanny Burney in her journal entry referring to 29th March, 1770 (although she later self-censored the name of the game).G[121]

In 1784, it was already being referred to as “old-fashioned”,HThis is a later adaptation of the piece in [I]/[J]. but also appears that year in a humorous tract.K


There are very few clues to how the game was played, and as far as I know, no explicit lists of rules anywhere. The sole clue to the identification of this game is in a footnote in a 1792 pamphlet on the game of Put, which states that Ladies’s Hole is “Vulgarly called Whehee”.L[10] (The rules to Whehee are described on that page.)

There are other vague allusions to the rules which also support this identification. Henry Seymour Conway reference the game in a letter to Horace Walpole dated January 19th, 1741 (OS):

For I seem to be playing at the noble amusement of my Lady’s hole, where I always have the good luck to get a king for an ace.M[p. 86]

According to this, cards would be exchanged. However, the rank of the cards is not a counting feature in Whehee — unless rank is perhaps used to break ties — so the metaphor here may not be entirely accurate.

The other clue is in the 1692 book The Post-Boy Robbed of his Mail, which contains a letter “From a Bawd that desires a Habitation for the Exercise of her Profession”:N[278]

The women also have their dispatches, and to speak the Truth to a Man that understands […]rap, a double Card plays best at my Lady’s Hole.

Having a double card would indeed be an advantage for Whehee, as the holder would only need to obtain one more card of the same suit to win.

The 1734 book A Tryal of Skill between a Court Lord, and a Twickenham Squire (5) also includes — again in a footnote — another term related to the game:

Sipping, or the Word Sip, is used when the Person wants but one Moveal to get into My Lady’s-Hole.

This might have worked similarly to the announcement in the modern game of “last card”.


  1. (). ⁨⁩. London, England, UK.

  2. (). ⁨⁩. Edward Allde⁩: London.

  3. Farmer⁩, ⁨John S. (editor) (). ⁨⁩ volume 5; National Ballad and Song.

  4. (). ⁨⁩ (3rd edition). London.

  5. (). ⁨⁩. J. Woodward and A. Bettesworth⁩: London.  Originally published in 1708 under the title The modern world disrob’d: or, both sexes stript of their pretended vertue.

  6. (). ‘⁨⁩’ [archived], edited by Augusta Hall. CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts. University College Cork⁩.

  7. Troide⁩, ⁨Lars E. (editor) (). ⁨⁩ volume 1: ‘⁨1768–1773⁩’. McGill-Queen’s University Press⁩: Kingston & Montreal. ISBN: 0-7735-0538-5.

  8. Anonymous (). ‘⁨⁩’. The Weekly Entertainer vol. 3 (58), : page 133.  This is a later adaptation of the 1750 piece included in the bibliography as “A Letter from a Lady”/“A Letter from Mrs Midnight”.

  9. ( [OS]). ‘⁨⁩’. The Ladies Magazine; or, the Universal Entertainer vol. 2 (9), . Edited by Jasper Goodwill.

  10. (). ‘⁨⁩’. The Midwife; or, The Old Woman’s Magazine vol. 1 (5): page 193.

  11. Anonymous (). ‘⁨⁩’. The Rambler’s Magazine vol. 2, : page 180. London.

  12. (). ⁨⁩. A. Cunningham⁩: Southhampton.

  13. Lewis⁩, ⁨W. S., Lars E. Troide, Edwine M. Martz, and Robert A. Smith (editors) (). ⁨⁩ volume 37: ‘⁨Horace Walpole’s Correspondence with Henry Seymour Conway, Lady Ailesbury, Lord and Lady Hertford, Mrs Harris: I⁩’. Yale University Press⁩: New Haven. ISBN: 0-300-01668-9.

  14. (). ⁨⁩. London.

  15. (publisher) (). ⁨⁩. J. Dormer⁩: London.  Contains a list of games.


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