Thursday, December 23, 2010

Some swishes sorts the slander

From the Auckland Star, 21 January 1885.

Ever since the days of Lola Montez, and perhaps prior to the advent of that strongminded female on this mundane sphere, it has been the practice of women of a certain class, when maligned or otherwise injured by persons of the opposite sex, to wipe out the insult by an application of the lash to the back of the traducer. Mrs Fredericks, the wife a nigger minstrel well known in this city, disturbed the staid respectability that usually rules supreme at the Clarendon Hotel, Queen-street, on Monday night last by severely horsewhipping a young man named Edward Prentice, who, she believed, rightly or wrongly, had circulated scandalous reports concerning her, one of them being that she was about to establish a house of ill-fame. 

Mrs Fredericks has been residing at the Clarendon Hotel, having come to Auckland on a visit, and Prentice has been in the habit of dining at the same hostelry. The lady, hearing that these reports were being industriously circulated, and being informed that Prentice was one of her traducers, determined upon inflicting summary punishment on him, acting, we understand, on the advice of some theatrical friends who were staying in the same hotel, and who, at the time of the assault, were present to see the fun. On Monday evening, shortly after the doors of the Clarendon had been closed, the lady came into the passage leading to the private door, and observing Prentice seated on a table, observed to a bystander, "Do you see that thing sitting on the table? I am going to horsewhip him to-night." 

She then invited the young man into a private room. He complied, quite unconscious of the treat that was in store for him, when she with considerable alacrity produced a silver mounted lady's horsewhip, which she had kept concealed in the folds of her dress, and proceeded to castigate him over the head and shoulders. Prentice offered no resistance, though with his hands he succeeded in warding off many of the blows aimed at his face. The flogging was continued for upwards of a minute, during which time Prentice strongly denied that he had circulated the scandal. 

Mrs Fredericks, somewhat out of breath, and perhaps mollified at the young man's passive demeanour, declared a truce, and the flogger and the flogged "had it out" verbally, the result of the convention being that the lady was half induced to believe that she had acted somewhat hastily. Prentice is considerably marked about the shoulders, and there are a few slight bruises on his face. The flogging was conducted so quietly that persons seated in an adjoining room, though they heard the "swish" of the whip, had no idea of the dramatic incident proceeding on the other side of the partition.


  1. The reference to Lola being that she horse whipped someone in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia?

    The wife of a nigger minstrel? That sounds interesting. White wife?

    Good on Mrs Fredericks.

  2. Apparently the Ballarat incident was one of a fair few such incidents involving Lola and whips.

    A nigger minstrel in those days was a white guy wearing blackface. One such troup of players is shown here. In this case, the husband was C S Fredericks, who performed in America in the 1870s, before touring around in these parts. Strangely, after his wife's incident, he disappears from Papers Past.

  3. LOL
    The 'passive demeanor' leads to me to suspect he was involved somehow, good on her :)

    Check out Trove newspaper archives in Oz, there were a fair few minstrels touring here, Fredericks may have liked having the ditch between him and his whip-wielding missus ;)

  4. Found a sheetmusic cover in the Aussie catalogues, dating from the 1870s. He was touring, so flicked all around Australasia, so it seemed, working on the popularity here from the 1860s of Christy's Minstrels. Having a whip wielding spouse might not have done much good to his rep in NZ, perhaps.