Markham project era punishments


Strictly speaking, nothing new on the Markham project but here is more information from the same era, some of it has been provided by David Roman.

Along side corporal punishment, there were additional techniques employed by governesses and disciplinarians to augment the correction of young women during the late 19th and early 20th century.

Here is an extract from a memoir probably published during the 1930s about one woman’s experience as a young woman in the Victorian era and later as a mother.

“When I was a girl, no more than 17, my father having died, I became quite a handful for my mother. I used to go scrumping [stealing farm and garden produce] apples and pears with my friend Dora from down the lane. We used to sneak into the doctor’s garden and I think we began to be a real problem.

He complained to mother many a time but she only spanked us and sent me to bed. Then one day after a visit from my aunt, I was given a great lecture on how scrumping was stealing and I was old enough to know better.

I took no notice being young as I was and went on scrumping. I think we also took some plums and that caused the doctor to complain again.

Mother finally lost her patience and said that she would teach me a family tradition learnt from her grandmother.

I was led into the kitchen and made to stand and face the corner while mother and cook started making something behind me. I hated standing in the corner like a small child but grudgingly obeyed, as I could tell that mother was quite vexed with me. I was also curious, but unconcerned about what they were doing.

I found out soon enough. At last mother turned her attention back to me and pinned my skirts up behind. I protested that it was shameful but it soon got worse, I can tell you. She removed my draws, a thing not done, to leave me bare for mother, cook and her girl to see.

Then she began to rub a cold mix of a paste made from mustard and vinegar onto my bare flesh. At first it was just shaming but it soon began to work its way and it quite burned me until I cried a little.

I was made to stand so for an hour or more, by which time I promised to be good. But it did not end there as mother spanked me hard over her knee on the bare before cook until my behind was on fire.

I never did go scrumping again, but mother used this method many times after until I was quite grown and married off.

Years later when my husband was away at the war, both my daughters became a trial and no amount of spanking would tame them, being both above school age and the eldest bigger than I.

I remembered my mother’s family tradition and one night when they came home having been out with some independent girls from the munitions factory I decided to share it with them.

There was much protests about being a grown girl and too old and such from my eldest but after threatening to call our maid, I soon had them down to their singlets and bent over the kitchen table with the linen raised.

I coated their bottoms with the cold mustard paste as had been done for me not 20 years earlier and then set them to stew facing the kitchen wall for an hour or more. I can’t say I had any sympathy for their weeping or smouldering behinds, as I had had it as bad for much less than they.

They were quite docile when I finally allowed them to wash their behinds so I could spank them both soundly on the bare with a brush. I knew it hurt so on their tenderised flesh, but that was to the good.

I can’t say that they were always as good as gold ever afterwards, but the mustard and the brush kept them much better girls. The youngest was married after her man came home form the war, but when it was needed my eldest was dealt with in this way until she was quite 30.”

Preparing the bottom for a spanking by applying household spices was not the only trick available, there were others much less mild.

A ladies magazine from the 1890s recommended a “thorough application of pepper oil to the welted flesh of an incorrigible girl” to reinforce the lesson after she had been whipped. The girl should be made to stand face the wall or the corner after her punished bottom had been “quite coated with the properly prepared concoction” and “no carrying on or wild fidgets are to be tolerated.”

A later article went still further, suggesting that mustard enemas “were quite the thing to get a wild young woman’s attention prior to a good sound spanking.” That would do it every time.

More on this.

3 Responses to “Markham project era punishments”

  1. 1 Elly

    Mustard enema – ouch!

    I wonder if any girl ever got a mustard plaster on her bottom before and a pepper oil coating after a good spanking.

    Its no surprise that girls were much better behaved when my grnadmother was a girl as she always told me.

    E x

  2. 2 gail

    I don’t often enough express my appreciation to writers for their effort and the interest and, might I say, excitement, that they generate. Thank you Damian for pulling this all together and keeping it so vibrant.
    kind regards

  3. Damian,
    I read your post today and wanted to commend you on putting this piece together. The use of household condiments for the purpose of enhancing not the taste of food, but rather the enhancing of the burning sensation of a recently given spanking is quite incredible.

    The use of this mustard paste for this purpose seems like a waste of such a wonderful flavouring enhancer for food, but back in the 1930’s the world was indeed a different place. The ingredients Seeds & Spices mixed with Vinegar & Water used in the making of mustard causes the release of enzyme myrosin which is the ‘heat’ we all know of. I could only imagine what some homemade versions of this could end up like.

    From my experience of using English mustard on toasted cheese sambo’s, I know it can cause the eyes to water, sting my mouth and burn my nasal passage, so it ‘must’ have some effect on a recently spanked bottom!! I await the first spankee’s report on their first experimentation here 🙂


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