Some Cross-Dressing Women

31 January – 2 February 1760

York, Jan. 29. Last Friday one Barbara Hill, born in this city, who, about 15 years ago, suddenly disappeared, leaving her cloaths behind her, enlisted here, by the name of John Brown, in Col. Careyís regiment of foot; and would have passed undiscovered, had not some person who happened to know her acquainted the Serjeant with the deceit; whereupon she was discharged. On her departure from hence [i.e.15 years ago] she went into the South, where she bound herself apprentice to a stone-cutter, whom she served five years, then left him and hired herself to a farmer, with whom she lived some time; afterwards she went to London, and drove a post-chaise; and then came to Pontefract, where she lived some time, and about five years ago married a woman at Bolton Piercy, with whom she has lived very agreeably ever since, acting sometimes as a farmerís servant, and at other times as a bricklayerís labourer. On her sex being discovered after her enlisting, her supposed wife came to town in great affliction, begging that they might not be parted. (London Chronicle) [For a more detailed account, together with images of historical documents, see The Story of Barbara Hill at the Borthwick Institute for Archives, York.]

5-7 February 1760

Salisbury, Feb. 4. Last Saturday Betty Blandford, of Pimperne in Dorsetshire, a young woman about twenty, dressed herself in manís cloaths, and inlisted in Gen. Elliotís regiment of light horse (a party being in this city) and was immediately sworn in; but soon after being discovered, she was discharged, and committed to Bridewell. (London Chronicle)

16-18 February 1764

A few days ago died at Hanwell in Middlesex, a woman that went by the name of John Chivy. She dressed always in manís apparel, and passed for a man; and notwithstanding she had been married upwards of 20 years, her sex [was] never discovered till her death. She followed the employment of husbandry; but had been separated from the woman she married several years before she died. Ledger. (London Chronicle, presumably quoting from the Public Ledger.)

17-19 June 1773

Friday, June 18.   Yesterday a woman, dressed in manís apparel, was carried before the Lord Mayor, charged with forging a draft of 100l. in order to defraud a tradesman in this city, and was committed to the Poultry Compter; she lately lived near the Mansion-house in good repute. (London Evening Post)

31 July–3 August 1773

Monday, Aug. 2.   A few days ago the wife of Mr. Slade, shipwright at Deptford, was delivered of a daughteer. It is remarkable that this gentlewoman is the same person who is not improperly stiled the Female Shipwright; for at the close of the last war, about the year 1759, on account of a love affair, when 15 or 16 years old, she left her parents, whose names were Lacy, dressed herself in manís apparel, and went down to Chatham, where the carpenter of the Sandwich man of war took her for his servant, with whom she assumed the name of William Chandler. After living some time in this capacity, she bound herself apprentice to a shipwright, served the whole term, and worked at the business two years afterwards; and during this long period no suspicion was had, or discovery of her sex made, notwithstanding the many surprising incidents, illnesses, and hair-breadth escapes that attended her. The above-mentioned person, who is now her husband, worked with her a considerable time in the yard, and observed that she always regularly went through, though sometimes with great difficulty and fatigue, her stated dayís labour with the rest of the men. Her obliging carriage in each of the before-named stations, engaged the esteem of every one, particularly of her fellow workman, who married her soon after it could be no longer concealed that she was a woman, from a wound she received in her thigh. – The Board of Admiralty, on hearing her extraordinary story, were pleased to allow her a pension of 20l. a year. (London Evening Post)

Tuesday, 8 July 1777

On Saturday last a Woman was convicted at the Guildhall, Westminster, for going in Menís Cloaths, and being married to three different Women by a fictitious Name, and for defrauding them of the Money and Cloaths: She was sentenced to stand in the Pillory at Charing-Cross, and to be imprisoned six Months. (Daily Advertiser)

Wednesday, 23 July 1777

Yesterday a Woman stood in the Pillory at Charing-Cross, for going in Mens Cloaths, marrying three Women, and obtaining a Sum of Money from each. (Daily Advertiser)

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton. Ed. "Some Cross-Dressing Women", Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. 6 December 2003, updated 15 January 20-14 <>.

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