Tilly Devine became infamous in Sydney, initially as a prostitute, then later as a brothel madam and organised crime entrepreneur. The NSW Vagrancy Act 1905 prohibited men from running brothels; it did nothing to stop women with criminal gangs’ support and briberies to police sectors from controlling and running criminal enterprises.
Historian Larry Writer has noted that the Devines ran diversified operations. Elite “call girls” were available for state politicians, prominent business figures and visiting overseas guests of significance, while “tenement girls” were young working class women who resorted to casual prostitution to supplement their drug spendings, clothings and meagre earnings. Later, older female prostitutes, “boat girls”, were older sex workers who catered to itinerant sailors or working class men who wanted to use their services.
Devines’s funeral service was poorly attended and her death went virtually unnoticed by Sydney’s media and population and it was said that very few people openly mourned her death. The only public eulogy offered to Tilly was given by the then police commissioner Norman Allan who said: “She was a villain, but who am I to judge her?”
From the wikipedia enry, accessed 30/12/2011 11:37am