Hell-Cat Maggie

Hell-Cat Maggie (fl. 1820–1845) was the pseudonym of an American criminal and early member of the Dead Rabbits. She was a well-known personality in Manhattan's Five Points district and a noted fighter, her teeth reportedly filed into points and her fingers adorned with long, claw-like brass fingernails.[1] She fought alongside the Dead Rabbits and other Five Pointers against rival nativist gangs from the Bowery, most especially the Bowery Boys, during the early 1840s. Although there is little information about her life, she is one of the earliest female criminals of the "Gangs of New York" era and has been compared to other female criminals such as Gallus Mag and Battle Annie, the latter leading the female auxiliary of the Gopher Gang during the 1870s.[2][3]

Hell-Cat Maggie
Bornc. 1820
Died1845 (aged c. 25)
Other namesHellcat Maggie
OccupationStreet gang member
Known forFive Points personality and early member of the Dead Rabbits.

A composite character based on Hell-Cat Maggie, Sadie the Goat (whose historic existence has been in doubt) and Gallus Mag was played by Cara Seymour in the 2002 film adaptation of Herbert Asbury's Gangs of New York directed by Martin Scorsese. She was also featured in the 2003 historical novel A Passionate Girl by Thomas J. Fleming.

Additionally, an Irish whiskey known as Hell-Cat Maggie is now sold through the Phillips Distilling Company to advertise the famous street fighter's life and ferocity.


  1. ^ Burrows, Edwin G. and Mike Wallace. Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. (p. 634); ISBN 0-19-514049-4
  2. ^ Asbury, Herbert. The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the New York Underworld. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1928. (pp. 27-28, 47, 236) ISBN 1-56025-275-8
  3. ^ English, T.J. Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. (p. 19) ISBN 0-06-059002-5

Further readingEdit

  • Botkin, B.A. New York City Folklore: Legends, Tall Tales, Anecdotes, Stories, Sagas, Heroes and Characters, Customs, Traditions and Sayings. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1976. ISBN 0-8371-9310-9
  • Penhaligon, Tom. The Impossible Irish. London: George Routledge & Sons, 1935.
  • Petronius. New York Unexpurgated: An Amoral Guide for the Jaded, Tired, Evil, Non-conforming, Corrupt, Condemned, and the Curious, Humans and Otherwise, to Under Underground Manhattan. New York: Matrix House, 1966.