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) and her mother is Jeannette Ballantine.[5] She is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, located in New York City. After graduation, she worked in 1975 as an assistant to Alan Snyder, bath buyer for Abraham & Straus.[6] 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 and lawyers, foreign diplomats and Arabian oil sheiks.[7]

In October 1984 her escort service was shut down, and she was charged with promoting prostitution by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. The name "Mayflower Madam" was coined by a New York Post reporter, Peter Fearon, who broke the story of her Mayflower connections. After her guilty plea, she 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 played the role in the 1987 made-for-TV movie Mayflower Madam. 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][8] She is divorced from the late Darnay Hoffman, a high-profile lawyer.[9]


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. ^ "East Meets West as Buyers Shop Bath, Bed Show", Home Furnishings Daily, 21 May 1975, p 25.
  7. ^ Hornblower, Margot; Tsiantar, Dody (2 November 1984). "The Case of the 'Mayflower Madam'". Washington Post. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  8. ^ "Sydney Biddle Barrows - From Mayflower Madam to Magnificent Mentor". BlogTalkRadio. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  9. ^ Harris, Elizabeth E. (12 May 2011). "Darnay Hoffman Dies at 63; Lawyer With Notorious Clients". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 January 2016.

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