Sydney Biddle Barrows (born January 14, 1952) is an American businesswoman who became known as an escort-service owner while using the nom de guerre Sheila Devin and later became known as the "Mayflower Madam". She has since become a management consultant and writer.
After her escort service was exposed and disbanded, she gained worldwide notoriety, in part because she is part of the Biddle family of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her father is Donald Byers Barrows, Jr. (born 1926) and mother is Jeannette Ballantine. Her grandfather Donald Byers Barrows (1898–1991) married Sydney Biddle (born July 1901), daughter of Alexander Mercer Biddle (born 1865), son of Charles John Biddle (1819–1873).
Her cousin twice removed, Charles John Biddle, was an aviator in World War I, and great-great-granduncle Edward Biddle (1851–1933) married the daughter of banker Anthony Joseph Drexel. She claimed to be a Mayflower descendant on her mother's side.
After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology, located in New York City, New York, followed by a short career in the fashion industry, 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. Cachet offered superior service for its time, focusing on delivering a classy and elegant experience to the wealthy and powerful who either visited or lived in New York City. Some of its clients included industrialists, high-powered business executives and lawyers, foreign diplomats and Arabian oil sheiks.
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 autobiography, Mayflower Madam – The Secret Life of Sydney Biddle Barrows (1986), in which she imparted the advice that made her service so exclusive and successful: "Hire good people and pay them what they are worth". A television film, Mayflower Madam (1987) – based on the book – stars Candice Bergen. Barrows has also written two subsequent books on modern sexual etiquette.
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 ran a consulting business with a focus on customer service and experience.
An expert on luxury lifestyle, high-end retail and exclusive service delivery in restaurants and professional services environments, Barrows consults with owners and managers and trains staff to improve brand experiences.