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File:Whipping Tom.jpg

Whiping Tom and Skiping Ione (Joan), c. 1681[n 1]

"Whipping Tom" was the nickname given to two sexual attackers in London and the nearby village of Hackney. Both would attack women walking alone and beat them on the buttocks.

While there is some evidence that an earlier attacker in around 1672 was also nicknamed "Whipping Tom" and carried out similar attacks on women, the earliest recorded attacker of this nature was active in central London in 1681. He would approach unaccompanied women in alleys and courtyards and spank them on the buttocks, before fleeing. The inability of the authorities to apprehend the offender caused complaints about the ineffectiveness of London's police force, and prompted vigilante patrols in the affected areas. A local haberdasher and his accomplice were captured and tried for the attacks.

A second attacker nicknamed "Whipping Tom" was active in late 1712 in Hackney, then a rural village outside London. This attacker would approach lone women in the countryside, and beat them on the buttocks with a birch rod. Around 70 attacks were carried out before a local man named Thomas Wallis was captured and confessed to the attacks.

Earlier Whipping Toms

Although no record exists of any similar attacks prior to 1681 or of the nickname "Whipping Tom" existing prior to this date, a publication of 1681 mentions "the Generation of that Whipping Tom, that about Nine years since proved such an Enemy to the Milk-wenches Bums", implying that a similar attacker with the same nickname had operated in around 1672.[1]

Whipping Tom of 1681

Template:Quote box The Whipping Tom of 1681 was active in the warren of small courtyards between Fleet Street, Strand and Holborn.Template:Sfn He would wait in the narrow and dimly lit alleys and courtyards.Template:Sfn On seeing an unaccompanied woman, he would grab her, lift her dress, and slap her buttocks repeatedly before fleeing.Template:Sfn He would sometimes accompany his attacks by shouting "Spanko!".Template:Sfn

He attacked a large number of women,Template:Sfn and while he would often use his bare hand, occasionally, he would use a rod.Template:Sfn Some of his victims were left badly injured by the attacks.Template:Sfn He would appear, carry out his attacks and vanish with such speed that some people attributed supernatural powers to him.Template:SfnTemplate:Sfn

There was a great public outcry in response to the attacks, which prompted complaints about the ineffectiveness of London's policing arrangements at the time.Template:Sfn Women would carry "penknives, sharp bodkins, sizzars and the like",Template:Sfn and male vigilantes would dress in women's clothing and patrol the areas he was known to operate.Template:Sfn

A haberdasher from Holborn and an accomplice were captured in late 1681 and tried for the attacks,Template:Sfn although no record now exists of the trial or of their identities.Template:Sfn In 1681, Whipping Tom Brought to Light and Exposed to View, an anonymously written book about the attacks, was released.Template:Sfn

Whipping Tom of 1712

Between 10 October and 1 December 1712 a string of further attacks took place in fields near Hackney. This attacker, also nicknamed "Whipping Tom",Template:Sfn would approach lone women and beat them with "a Great Rodd of Birch".Template:Sfn Around 70 women were assaulted before a local man named Thomas Wallis was captured and confessed to the attacks.Template:SfnTemplate:Sfn According to Wallis, he was "resolved to be Revenged on all the women he could come at after that manner, for the sake of one Perjur'd Female, who had been Barbarously False to him".Template:Sfn He claimed that his plan was to attack a hundred women before Christmas, cease the attacks during the Twelve Days of Christmas, then resume the attacks in the new year. Template:Sfn

See also

Notes and references

  1. It is not known who "Skiping Ione" represents, and no other references refer to her; it is likely that she was invented by the artist as a partner for Whipping Tom.[1]
  • Ashton, John (1937), Social Life in the Reign of Queen Anne, 2, London: Chatto & Windus
  • Bondeson, Jan (2000), The London Monster (3rd ed.), Stroud: Tempus Publishing, ISBN 075243327X
  • Burg, Barry Richard (1995), Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition, New York: NYU Press, ISBN 0814712363
  • Loth, David (1931), Royal Charles: Ruler and Rake, London: G. Routledge & Sons
  • Luttrell, Narcissus (1857), A Brief Historical Relation of State Affairs from September 1678 to April 1714, 1, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Shoemaker, Robert Brink (2004), The London mob: violence and disorder in eighteenth-century England, London: Continuum International Publishing Group, ISBN 1852853735
  • Toulalan, Sarah (2007), Imagining sex: pornography and bodies in seventeenth-century England, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0199209146
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