Birching Foot Note


_1 governess

Google reader has so many random publications. If you have the patience just about every newspaper and magazine ever published must be there somewhere.

This little snippet was in a small corner of The West Country Advertiser in 1886: No big story, no big scandal. Sadly the headline and the date were too blurred.

Mrs C Whitman, 38-year-old widow from Bristol, was ‘acquitted of cruelty’ after birching her servant, Miss G Gilmore, 19, whom she employed as nanny to her three children.

It seems that Mrs Whitman had repeated scolded the girl for coming home late and ‘walking out with gentleman friends.’ Then after a row Mrs Whitman ‘upended the girl’ and after baring her bottom set about giving the girl a ‘good sound beating’ with a birch rod.

Neighbours who were alerted by the screams testified that although the girl ‘looked good and sore’ no real harm had come to her and agreed with the defence that it had been no more than ‘reasonable chastisement.’

Miss Gilmore had argued that as a nanny she was a professional person and not a ‘mere maid,’ but the court rules that she was a dependent and being under 21 still subject to Mrs Whitman’s authority.

Picture above courtesy of Asa Jones.

3 Responses to “Birching Foot Note”

  1. Thanks for using one of my photos, from it is Lucy in my studio

  2. I suppose this was one of the situations hired help had to accept if they wished to stay employed. It only hurts for a few days, though the humiliation might last for weeks.

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