Brothel keeper Sarah Prendergast was best remembered for an amusing scandal involving the Earl of Harrington in 1778.
“Known as a person of the most exceptional immorality, the Earl was nicknamed “Lord Fumble” because of his sexual preferences. At one stage he had a harem in his mansion which comprised a Negress in a feathered turban, a young girl in pseudo-classical dress, another dressed as a country wench as well as a mandolin player.
On the evening in question he rejected the three resident whores Sarah offered him, so she sent out for a couple of “fresh country tits” from another establishment, Mrs Butler’s.
The doddery old Earl indulged in manual dalliance to his satisfaction but only gave the girls three guineas each which was rather less than they expected. When they returned to Mrs Butler’s she demanded her share of the money, taking the girl’s clothes off them when they refused to pay up. Police were called and both Mrs Butler and her husband were arrested.
The Earl was furious as details of his thrice weekly visits to Sarah’s seraglio where he partook of two whores at a time were leaked to the press. The sensible Mrs Prendergast bought up all copies of the papers and paid the whores £5 to drop all charges.
To cheer everyone up she held a grand ball at which the finest women in all Europe would appear “puris naturalibus”. Lord Fumble, in an expression of gratitude, started the ball rolling with a subscription of £50 towards the cost. The ball was a great success. Aristocratic ladies flocked to join professional beauties and danced nude for hours while an orchestra played facing the wall so as not to embarrass them.
Mrs Prendergast made a profit of £1000. Lord Fumble died a few weeks later.