The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Fourteen – Historical Tidbit

Chapter 14’s Historical Tidbit is in reference to a character who ends up becoming instrumental in Tom’s success at being a king. Today’s Historical Tidbit is about the role of….


Humphrey Marlow was Edward’s whipping boy. From Chapter 14 on, Humphrey helped Tom learn all about the people and customs of the palace, which helped him to survive as a king for as long as he did. Keep reading or watch the video below to learn about the historical context of this role!

When Tom first meets Humphrey, he is confused and later shocked to learn about the role that he plays within the palace. Below you will find a part of that conversation.

“‘Of a surety thou must remember me, my lord. I am thy whipping-boy.’
‘My whipping-boy?’
‘The same, your Grace. I am Humphrey—Humphrey Marlow.’
‘…None may visit the sacred person of the Prince of Wales with blows; wherefore, when he faulteth, ’tis I that take them; and meet it is and right, for that it is mine office and my livelihood.’” (p. 81-82)

What is a whipping boy?

1. a person who is made to bear the blame for another’s mistake; scapegoat.
2. (formerly) a boy educated along with and taking punishment in place of a young prince or nobleman.

Did Edward VI really have a whipping boy?

  • Barnaby Fitzpatrick
  • Sent as hostage by his father
  • Later became a baron
  • Some think this was a myth (their tutor wrote of beating Edward with a staff)

Whipping Boys, a myth?

  • Little contemporary evidence of whipping boys
  • Some historians think whipping boys are completely mythical
  • Others believe they were only for boy kings, not princes
  • Term possibly coined by Samuel Rowley (playwright)

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