On this day February 17: boys lashed at Pentridge


consenting adult male sex boys lashed Archibald Allen george williams february 17
Image: State Library of Victoria

George Williams and Archibald Allen, both just 16-years-old and convicted of a consensual sex act, waited to hear their fate on February 17 1884. Following their trial the previous day, Justice Holroyd remanded them for sentence. He would eventually have the boys lashed and imprisoned.

On the morning of February 2, police apprehended George Williams and Archibald Allen in Melbourne’s Royal Lane, off Bourke Street, for ‘attempting an unnatural offence’.

Royal Lane was a right royal shithole. The Herald called it ‘the most dangerous place in Melbourne’. A door from the Gaiety Theatre opened onto the back alley and men snuck out to relieve themselves. In 1892, a writer complained about hordes of men pissing in the lane, “who instead of trying to hide their beastliness, seem to glory in it.”

Justice Holroyd called up George Williams and Archibald Allen for sentencing in late February. He gave both 3 months in jail and also ordered the boys lashed.

“Two whippings of 15 lashes each with a cat-of-nine-tails.

“His Honour said that he would recommend that the prisoners should be kept apart from other prisoners.”

Prison sexual assaults

Holroyd did not make that recommendation to protect other prisoners from George Williams and Archibald Allen. They were kids. Then, as now,  authorities knew of the risk to young men and boys placed in all-male penal institutions.

George de Thouars entered Pentridge as a 22-year-old in 1880. He wrote that despite attempts at segregation, older inmates inevitably gained access to juveniles and ‘corrupted’ them.

Another prisoner writing about his time in Pentridge in 1920, commented on the irony of sending men to prison for an act that was commonplace there.

“For committing an unnatural offence a judge would sentence a man to three to ten years. Yet the same offence is committed every day in Pentridge.”

And a journalist imprisoned in Brisbane’s Boggo Road in 1922, spoke later of the particular danger to juveniles in the prison system.

“If I had the misfortune to have a son — a boy in his teens — convicted, I would shoot him in the dock.”

Society knowingly inflicted an additional extrajudicial penalty on young men and boys convicted of consensual sex, ie: non-consensual sex — prison rape.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so f_cking sick.

Less ironic, but also disgusting, the still widespread acceptance of prison sexual assault as ‘karma’, a stupid f_cking concept as per the usually incorrect modern usage of the term.

The boys lashed

On February 28, prison authorities had the boys lashed for the first time. The Telegraph reported on their punishment.

“Inside the walls of Pentridge yesterday, a most painful scene occurred…

“Williams, who is 17 years of age, was the first brought from his cell. With a swaggering gait, he walked to the entrance of the flagellating yard. Noticing the triangles, and Upjohn in his skull cap, he turned deathly pale.”

George Williams turned 17 in jail. Prison guards stripped him naked ahead of his ordeal. The image illustrating this article shows a prisoner still wearing his trousers following a whipping at Pentridge in 1876. However, the artist gifted his subject pants out of a sense of decency. In reality, guards stripped prisoners stark naked before tying them to the triangle.

The Telegraph reported that George begged Upjohn not to hit too hard this first time. But to no avail.

“I must do my duty same as other Government men. You should have thought of this before you got into trouble. It’ll be a caution to you.”

Whipped as an 11-year-old

Upjohn volunteered for the job of public hangman and ‘flagellator’ a few years before. In 1880, he conducted his first execution — that of Ned Kelly. The old drunk knew the taste of the lash himself. As an eleven-year-old in England, he was imprisoned for 3 months and whipped twice for stealing a pair of trousers. At 16, he was transported as a convict to Australia for the theft of a pair of shoes.

Newspapers noted George’s ‘strong and well-nourished body’. However, according to the Telegraph, he still felt the sting of the whip.

“At every stroke the recipient screamed fearfully, calling upon God to assist him. His cries could be heard all over the prison.”

Following George William’s whipping, guards brought 16-year-old Archibald Allen into the yard. Papers described him as being a respectable looking boy of a ‘weak constitution’. The Telegraph said he presented a pitiable spectacle.

“On entering the yard, his appearance was anything but that of a boy belonging to the criminal class. He cried piteously and bemoaned the way he had got into bad company.

“He writhed about in such a manner that two warders had to hold the triangle, and Upjohn could not bring the strokes on one place. The prisoner’s screams were terrible.”

After two months to recover, the prison authorities had the boys lashed for the second and final time.

This time, George Williams placed a piece of cloth between his teeth and bit down on that, enduring the whip in silence. However, Archibald Allen began sobbing violently even as his clothes were stripped from his body.

Striking across the loins

Again, he writhed in pain on the triangle, twisting his body away from the lash.

A journalist witnessing the whipping protested that the drunken old flagellator was striking the boy ‘across the loins’.

No one cared. Notably, Robert Molesworth, whose presence the Argus documented, didn’t care.

“His Honour Judge Molesworth, who was desirous of witnessing the operation of flogging, was present.”

Why?

Why would anyone want to see two teenage boys stripped naked and flogged until the skin peeled from their bodies and blood pooled at their feet?

The judge told journalists he was sure the punishment would deter criminals ‘of this class’.

“He also thought it would be well if magistrates had the power to order whippings, to be summarily applied in the vicinity of courts…

“A little more solitary confinement with bread and water, His Honor thought, would also be judicious.”

What an old #$@!.

Read more: February 16 <— On this day —> February 18

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