Emily J in the workhouse

04Feb11

Spanking in the workhouse always seems in bad taste somehow as a topic for exploitive eroticism. All those women locked up, sometimes naked, whipped morning noon and night… where were we?

However, a chance encounter on goggle books some months back threw up the story of Emily J Gauge, who may have also been known as Emily Jane Gage. This odd snippet was cast aside at a busy time and only this week taken up again.

Emily may be a fictional character or an actual person. In any case, she seems to have been a gentlewoman thrown into dire straights and the subject of much melodrama. The picture above is a real engraving of a workhouse pulled randomly off Google, but the woman does look well-dressed for the workhouse and what is that man holding?

Anyway this suggestive extract is all that is readily available, although note it mentions our old friend the EDM:

Much has already been said in the 1850s and 60s about suitable punishment for young women, the press at the time, even went so far as to advocate corsets and tight-lacing. In 1868, a large number of letters supporting the whipping of girls in workhouses and prisons began to appear in the press.

There was much correspondence on the morality and desirability of birching young in publications such as the Family Herald and The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine.

The prurient nature of such interests has to be considered since women in prison could already be subject to corporal punishment, as were those in the workhouse.

It was rarely discussed but widely implied that these whippings and birchings would be applied to their posterior. Not the bare bottom surely dear reader. Well it seems that our grandparents were not above even that if this quotation is to be our guide.

“He paid her out dreadfully and as heartedly as any great girl in his care. It was all I could to do to watch as weal after weal was laid upon her flesh until all that lay below her back was quite a sight.”

These were the words of a workhouse inspector of the time.

If such things were done openly, then what might have continued behind closed doors.

So what then of the fate of our fair heroine? We can but wonder, but Emily herself hints at such.

“My time in that place was so dreadful that I will not dwell on all that transpired. Suffice it said that I was never so rudely handled and intimately too under my chastisements. Never before had a man such intimate knowledge of my person and never after until I married.”

The extract above seems like it may be from a magazine in the early 20th century. The damn browser crashed before any more could be learnt and the original reference was too well buried to easily find it again.

A search for Emily Gauge or Gage throws up too many references to resolve this quickly. Was she the character in a penny dreadful or a historical figure? Anyone know?



One Response to “Emily J in the workhouse”

  1. Yes, those workhouses, and prisons in the so called ‘good olde days’, were most pleasureable to some men, who visited them on business matters. For many of them witnessed naughty and erring women, have their bottoms warmed most painffully on their naked derrieres. Some even paid a ‘good farthing’ in England, to see that delight.


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