Theresa Berkley (c. 1750 to September 1836) was made famous (or notorious) as an owner of brothels, centred on the famous 'White House' at 28 Charlotte Street (now Hallam Street), London.
Said to be a devout Christian, Berkley was very successful in her profession and amassed a considerable fortune, discreetly servicing prominent politicians and public figures as well as wealthy businessmen and nobles. After her death, her notebook of clients was discovered but destroyed after examination. She willed her entire estate to her brother's monastery but he, knowing the source of the money, refused it.
In an age of very restrictive sexual practices, Berkley went 'outside the box' to provide a wide range of services, especially those aimed at masochists. She was one of the few people in Europe to make extensive use of nettles. She is credited with being the originator, and possibly designer, of the Berkley horse whipping furniture in 1828; the original of which is now owned by the Royal Society of Arts, London. She funded the publication of the first 'Exhibition of Female Flagellants'.
Normally considered a Dominatrix, Berkley would also switch at times but only for clients not desiring to punish too severely, as she maintained that she would only flog as hard as she herself was willing to accept.
- The Complexity of Creativity by Åke E. Andersson, Nils-Eric Sahlin
- Mothers and Daughters of Invention: Notes for a Revised History of Technology by Autumn Stanley
- The Flogging Whores of Old London at The Deviants Dictionary.