The Flash Mob: A singular act of female rebellion in Van Deimen's Land
2004 painting by Peter Gouldthorpe
A SINGULAR ACT OF FEMALE REBELLION IN VAN DIEMEN'S LAND
The Rev. Robert Crooke records in his diary an occasion in 1844, when the Rev. Mr Bedford, Chaplain of the Female Factory at Cascades near Hobart Town, conducted Governor Franklin and Lady Jane Franklin around the institution. The Governor, a humane and popular man, addressed the gathering of between 300 and 400 women and was accorded a good hearing, as was Lady Franklin. But when Mr Bedford, whose hypocrisy had earned him the ridicule and contempt of his female flock, and especially that of a group of hardened offenders known to Hobart Town as `The Flash Mob,' began to address the women from the dais, "on a sudden the three hundred women turned right round and at one impulse pulled up their clothes shewing their naked posteriors which they simultaneously smacked with their hands making a loud and not very musical noise. This was the work of a moment, and although constables, warders etc. were there in plenty, yet 300 women could not well all be arrested and tried for such an offence and when all did the same act the ringleaders could not be picked out. The feeling of the Governor and her Ladyship may well be conceived..." — although it was said that her Ladyship managed to restrain her mirth until she was safely homeward bound in the viceregal carriage.