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Sydney Biddle Barrows

Sydney Biddle Barrows
Born (1952-01-14) January 14, 1952 (age 67)
Other namesSheila Devin
Mayflower Madam
Alma materFashion Institute of Technology
OccupationMadam, management consultant and writer
Spouse(s)Darnay Hoffman (1994–?)(divorced)[needs update]
RelativesBiddle family,
three Mayflower passengers

Sydney Biddle Barrows (born January 14, 1952) is an American businesswoman who became known as an escort agency owner under the name Sheila Devin; she later became known as the Mayflower Madam. She has since become a management consultant and writer.[1]

In October 1984, her escort service was disbanded, and after pleading guilty for promoting prostitution, Barrows wrote a 1986 autobiography, Mayflower Madam: The Secret Life of Sydney Biddle Barrows.[2] A TV movie based on the book starring Candice Bergen was broadcast in 1987 under the title Mayflower Madam.[3]

Early life, education and career

Barrows comes from the Biddle family of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is descended directly from Mayflower passengers William Brewster, John Howland, and Thomas Rogers.[4] Her father is Donald Byers Barrows, Jr. (born 1926) of Rumson, N.J, and her mother is Jeannette Ballantine,[5] who is now married to Felix Molzer, a musician and director of the Monmouth Arts Center in New Jersey.[6]

Barrows attended Stoneleigh-Burnham, a girls' boarding school in Greenfield, Masschusetts, and is an alumna of Fashion Institute of Technology ("FIT") in New York City. She worked in 1975 as an assistant to Alan Snyder, the bath buyer for Abraham & Straus.[7] She was introduced to the world of high-class prostitution and started her own escort service named Cachet, which existed in New York City from 1979 to 1984. Some of its clients included industrialists, high-powered business executives, lawyers, foreign diplomats, and Arabian oil sheiks.[6]

In October 1984, Cachet escort service was shut down, Barrows was arrested, and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office charged her with promoting prostitution. When arrested at her home office on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Barrows identified herself as Sheila Devin; one report describes her as the CEO.[8]

The name "Mayflower Madam" was coined by a New York Post reporter, Peter Fearon, who broke the story of Barrows' Mayflower connections. After her guilty plea, Barrows published a best-selling[2] autobiography, Mayflower Madam: The Secret Life of Sydney Biddle Barrows (1986). Barrows appeared in 1987 on the late-night television series Saturday Night Live with a parody of her book; the sketch included Candice Bergen, who portrayed Biddle Barrows in the made-for-TV movie Mayflower Madam (1987). Barrows subsequently wrote two books on sexual etiquette.[2]

In late 2008, Barrows finished Uncensored Sales Strategies: A Radical New Approach to Selling Your Customers What They Really Want - No Matter What Business You're In, co-authored with marketing expert Dan Kennedy. Since the mid-late 1990s, Barrows has run a consulting business with a focus on customer service and experience.[1][9]

Personal life

Barrows is divorced from the late Darnay Hoffman, a high-profile lawyer.[10]


  • Mayflower Madam: The Secret Life of Sydney Biddle Barrows (1986). With William Novak. New York City: Arbor House. ISBN 0-87795-722-3, ISBN 0-8041-0150-7.
  • Mayflower Manners: Etiquette for Consenting Adults (1990). With Ellis Weiner. New York City: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-26245-0.
  • Just Between Us Girls: Secrets About Men from the Mayflower Madam (1996). With Judith Newman. New York City: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-13993-4, ISBN 0-312-96047-6.
  • Uncensored Sales Strategies: A Radical New Approach to Selling Your Customers What They Really Want – No Matter What Business You're In (2009). With Dan Kennedy. Entrepreneur Press. ISBN 1-59918-193-2, ISBN 978-1-59918-193-6.

See also


  1. ^ a b Hays, Charlotte (27 February 2013). "The Mayflower Marketer: Sydney Biddle Barrows is Up to New Tricks". Observer. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Fried, Joseph P. (28 October 2001). "Following Up". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  3. ^ Mills, Nancy (12 November 1987). "Bergen: Call Her 'Madam'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  4. ^ Berry, Melissa (2016). "Pious Pilgrims and Mayflower Misbehavior". Genealogy Magazine. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  5. ^ Haden-Guest, Anthony (10 December 1984). "The Story of the Mayflower Madam". New York. pp. 36–43.
  6. ^ a b Hornblower, Margot; Tsiantar, Dody (2 November 1984). "The Case of the 'Mayflower Madam'". Washington Post. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  7. ^ "East Meets West as Buyers Shop Bath, Bed Show". Home Furnishings Daily. 21 May 1975. p. 25.
  8. ^ "The "Mayflower Madam," Socialite Sydney Biddle Barrows, on Trial". UVA Law School Archives. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Sydney Biddle Barrows - From Mayflower Madam to Magnificent Mentor". BlogTalkRadio. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  10. ^ Harris, Elizabeth E. (12 May 2011). "Darnay Hoffman Dies at 63; Lawyer With Notorious Clients". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 January 2016.

External links

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