A Mania for Masquerades, 1854

27 July 1854

John Challis, an old man about 60 years of age, dressed in the pastoral garb of a shepherdess of the golden age, and George Campbell, aged about 35 years, who described himself as a lawyer, and appeared completely equipped in female attire of the present day, were placed at the bar, before Sir R. W. Carden, charged with being found disguised as women, in the Druid's-hall, in Turnagain-lane, an unlicensed dancing-room, for the purpose of exciting others to commit an unnatural offence.
          Inspector Teague said – From information I received relative to the frequent congregation of certain persons for immoral practices at the Druid's Hall, I proceeded thither, in company with Sergeant Goodeve, about two o'clock this morning. I saw a great many persons dancing there, and among the number were the prisoners, who rendered themselves very conspicuous by their disgusting and filthy conduct. I suspected the prisoners, and several others who were in female attire, were of the male sex, and I left the room for the purpose of obtaining further assistance, so as to secure the whole of the parties; but when we got outside Campbell came out after us, and, taking us by the arms, was about to speak, when I exclaimed, "That is a man," upon which he turned round and ran back immediatley to the Druids' Hall. I returned and took Campbell into custody, and observing Challis, whom I have frequently seen there before, behaving with two men as if he was a common prostitute, I took charge of him also.
          Sir R. W. Carden – What kind of place is this Druids' Hall? Inspector Teague – It is a dancing room that is let for the same purpose it was being used for when I interfered.
          Sir R. W. Carden – Do they have music there? Inspector Teague – Oh, yes, Sir; and it was a fancy dress ball that was held there last night.
          Sir R. W. Carden – Is the place licensed for music and dancing? Inspector Teague – No, Sir, it is not licensed, and we have had a great deal of trouble with the place. We succeeded in driving the parties away from the neighbourhood some time since; but, after six months' absence, the old gang returned.
          Sir R. W. Carden – Then why did you not apprehend all you found in the room, as it is an unlicensed place? Inspector Teague – I had not sufficient assistance.
          Sir R. W. Carden – How many were there in the room? Inspector Teague – There were about a hundred persons present, and from eight to ten men were dressed as females. I should have secured all so disguised, but they locked the door against me and escaped by a back way.
          It was here intimated that Campbell had bene identified as having robbed a person under cover of a similar disguise.
          Isaac Somers said – I am a journeyman baker, and have used the White Hart, in Giltspur-street, for the last twety years. About seven weeks ago I met a female dressed in muslin, and wearing a white veil. She took me to the Druids' Hall, and I had a glass of brandy and water and a cigar, for which I paid 1s. I changed a sovereign, and while in company of that female I felt her arms close round my waist, and shortly afterwards I missed the 19s. I had received in change. I believe that peson whom I took for a female was the prisoner Campbell in woman's clothing.
          Sir R. W. Carden – I have no intention of taking bail for Campbell, as I intend to remand him on the charge of felony; and with regard to the other offence, as it is one of misdemeanour, I shall remand Challis, and accept bail for him in two sureties of 25l. each and his own recognizance of 50l.
          The prisoners were accordingly remanded, and on being conducted to the prison van it was found necessary to have a posse of police constables in attendance to keep off the crowd, who greeted the prisoners with shouts of laughter and derision. (Globe)

1 August 1854

Geo. Campbell and John Challis, who were charged a few days ago with being found, disguised in female attire, in an unlicensed dancing place called the Druids' Hall, and conducting themselves in a manner to excite others to commit an unnatural offence, were again brought up before Sir Robert W. Carden, for further examination relative to that charge.
          The prisoner Campbell cross-examined the inspector and sergeant with great adroitness, with the view to shake their evidence, and succeeded in showing a discrepancy in their statements with regard to certain portions of the disguise he had on at a particular hour in the evening, and which he urged was an important point established in his favour, as he should prove that the inspector was mistaken in his identity.
          Sir R. W. Carden – After all, Campbell, it is entirely a question of character, and if you can show me that you are a respectable person, it will have more weight in my mind that anything you can elicit from the officers.
          The landladies of all the different lodgings occupied by the prisoner during the last twelve months came forward, and stated they always considered his character irreproachable; but that he had a sort of mania for masquerades, and they had seen him dressed for every one he had attended since they knew him, and on no occasion did he ever wear a muslin dress or a white veil. He always kept very regular hours except when he went to such places, and he always let them know where he was going.
          Sir R. W. Carden – You have not satisfied me yet that you are the respectable person you wish me to believe. Your own witnesses know nothing of you beyond your having lodged with them for the last twelve months; and it is my intent to remand you again, but I will take bail for your re-appearance. – Bail was subsequently put in. (Globe)

2 August 1854

George Campbell and John Challis, who were apprehended at the Druids'-hall, attired in female costume, as alleged, for immoral purposes, were called on to appear, but only Campbell surrendered to his bail.
          Sir R. W. Carden said – I shall estreat Challis's recognizances, which I was induced to accept from motives of pity for his age and apparent exhaustion.
          Campbell – Although I don't know anything of him, I can assure your worship he was in such a wretched condition in prison, that another day's confinement would, I think, have killed him. With regard to myself, I should wish all witnesses to be excluded from the Court while the fresh evidence is being given.
          Inspector Teague – The only additional evidence I have to give is that the prisoner has given a false name, and that, instead of being a lawyer, he is the "Rev. Edward Holmes," a member of the Scotch Independent Church.
          Campbell – I am aware I gave a wrong name, but I did it to avoid exposure. My right name is Edward Holmes, but I deny being a member of the Scotch Church. What I stated before is correct; I belong to the profession of the law.
          Sir R. W. Carden – I was given to understand from your own bail that you were the Rev. Edward Holmes, as stated by the inspector; but if such is not the case, I am happy to hear it.
          Campbell – There has been no concealment on my part from the first, and my only object is to elicit the truth.
          Inspector Teague – I propose calling a policeman to prove that Miss Smith, who gave the prisoner an excellent character on the last occasion, has been herself in the habit of frequenting the Druids'-hall, and that her father was formerly checktaker at the same place.
          Campbell – I assure you, sir, the inspector's statement is not true, for Miss Smith never was in Druids'-hall in her life, and her father holds a situation in the Board of Trade, and they are highly respectable people.
          Sir R. W. Carden – I was infomed by your own bail that your object in visiting Druids' Hall was to see vice in all its enormity, in order that you might correct it from the pulpit; and he said that was the excuse you made for going to such places.
          Campbell – It is quite a mistake. I certianly did wish to see a little of London life, without mixing with its abominations.
          Sir R. W. Carden – And you thought that dressing yourself in woman's attire was the best way of avoiding those abominations. I must say it was a very imprudent course.
          Campbell – I dare say it was, and I am extremely sorry for my folly; but if you had not discharged the case of felony I should have shown you that there was no ball at the Druids' Hall seven weeks ago, and that this man Somers was not even robbed at all.
          Sir R. W. Carden – I hope you now see the folly of indulging in such extraordinary freaks, as you term them, and that you deeply feel how degrading it is to a man of education – whether you belong to the church or to the law it matters not – to be placed in such a position. Your own witnesses were only able to speak of you for the last twelve months; and although you had no visible means of obtaining a livelihood, it was evident those means were very limited from the small amounts you paid for your lodgings; so that where character was most at stake and most required you came before me accused of one of the most loathsome offences a man could be charged with, without even that to assist you. However, under all the circumstances, I am willing to believe it was nothing more than an act of the grossest folly, and that you now sincerely repent your imprudent conduct.
          Alderman Carter – As the sitting magistrate, I can only express my utter disgust at the prisoner's conduct in attiring himself, and had it not been for Sir R. W. Carden's concluding remarks, I should have felt inclined to commit you to prison as a rogue and a vagabond. You may go now, and I hope I may never see your face here again.
          Sir R. W. Carden – I may mention here that if, on the last occasion, any observations fell from me prejudicial to the character of Inspector Teague, I must beg to retract them. I never intended to utter anything against him beyond a little want of judgment in the present case – as I know that for the last twenty years he has borne the highest character for honour and integrity. – Campbell alias Holmes was then discharged. (Globe)

3 August 1854

Mr. Edward Holmes, a member of the Middle Temple, attended before Alderman Carter with reference to the report of the case of Holmes alias Campbell, who was charged with being dressed in woman's clothes for immoral purposes. Campbell alias Holmes, when descibed as a clergyman, said he was connected with the law. Now, he (Mr. Edward Holmes) said that he was the only person of that name connected with the law, and he begged to state that he was in no way connected with the man Campbell alias Holmes. (Globe)

SOURCE: Various newspapers, dates as given.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "A Mania for Masquerades, 1854", Homosexuality in Nineteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 27 November 2018 <http://rictornorton.co.uk/eighteen/1854masq.htm>.

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