Short biographies of some crossdressers

{See also Cross dressing women}

{See also Female soldiers}

{See also Female sailors}

{See also Cross dressing women press cuttings I}

{See also Cross dressing women press cuttings II}

Thomasina Clark (discovered ca. 1665) The Parish Register of St. Botolph's, Aldgate, has this entry for 17 July 1655. 'William Clark, son of John Clark, a soldier and Thomasina his wife who herself went for a souldier and was billeted at the Three Hammers in East Smithfield about seven months and after was delivered of this child. [...] She had been a souldier by her own confession about five years and was sometime drummer to the company.'

Christian Welsh nee Kavanagh. aka Mother Ross aka Christian Davies, Mrs Davi(e)s (1667-1739). Daughter of an Irish maltster, married Richard Welsh, had two children. Husband was inveigled on board a vessel in 1693, so she donned male attire and went to find him. She worked on board a ship to Holland, fought at Leiden and was wounded. While invalided for two months she fought a duel over a woman, wounding her rival, and was dismissed. By then she was to attached to military life that she forgot why she was there. She entered Lord John Hayes's dragoons. After a battle the regiment disbanded, but 'her mind was thoroughly unsexed' and she did not wish to return to a woman's life. The regiment reformed and she fought at the battles during the wars of the Spanish succession. At the Battle of Donavert in 1704 a musket ball penetrated her hip; later her skull was fractured by a shell and the doctor discovered her sex. She stayed in the service but as cook and sutler, got back with her husband, was widowed, remarried a Mr Jones, was widowed again. Heavily pregnant, she petitioned Queen Anne, setting forth that she had served her country as a soldier for 12 years, had received several wounds and had lost two husbands in Her Majesty's service. The Queen ordered £ 50 to be given to her and a pension of a shilling a day. She then married a Mr Davis and settled in Chelsea. She died on 7th July 1739 and was interred with military honours in the burying ground of the Soldiers' Hospital. Read more here and here.

Jane Meace (enlisted in army 1762) 'Uttoxeter, Nov. 25.--On Thursday, the 12th instant, in the evening, a young girl in men's cloaths, came to a recruiting party of Marines at the Plume of Feathers, and inlisted; she wanted the whole bounty-money in hand, but being in want of cloathing and other necessaries, they would give her only one shilling till morning, but had the bowl of punch in, and the point of war beat; the party lay that night in one bed with her; and in the morning, one of the men laying hold of her coat over the breast, to see how it fitted, her sex was discovered. She inlisted by the name of John Meace, but her proper name is Jane Meace, and is well known in this country.' Lloyd's Evening Post and British Chronicle 1 Dec 1762.

Barbara Hill

Mary Anne Talbot (February 2, 1778 - February 4, 1808)

As John Taylor and served in both the army and the Navy. Born in London, the youngest of sixteen illegitimate children which her mother bore to Lord William Talbot. Her mother died in childbirth and she was raised by guardians, presumably at his lordship's expense, first at Chester, then at Newport, Shropshire. In 1792 Captain Bowen, entrusted with the task of taking her to London to put her 'under the care of a female friend', made her his mistress. When he was ordered to the West Indies he forced her to take the name of John Taylor and to accompany him, dressed as a footboy. No sooner had they arrived in the West Indies than Bowen was ordered to join the Duke of York's army in Flanders. He decided to enrol his protegee in the army as a drummer boy, and overcame her objections by threatening to sell her as a slave. She 'was immediately equipped in the dress of a drummer, and learnt the art of beating the drum from the instructions of drum-major Rickardson'. Duly prepared, she travelled to Europe with Bowen, in time to be at the siege of Valenciennes, where she was twice wounded. After the fall of Valenciennes she witnessed the hanging of a deserter. Shortly afterwards she received the news that Bowen had been killed during the final assault. She decided to desert, and made good her escape dressed as a sailor. Her secret was uncovered when a surgeon came to dress further wounds which she had sustained. She underwent a good deal of treatment at various hospitals, petitioned the Duke of York for assistance, and went on the stage. By about 1800, she had become a minor celebrity. She died in 1808, at the age of 30. Autobiography appeared in 1809 as Life and Surprising Adventures of Mary Anne Talbot in the name of John Taylor, Related by Herself'.

Wkipedia entry: An Englishwoman who wore male dress and became a sailor during the Napoleonic wars. Mary Anne Talbot was born in London. Later she claimed that she was one of the sixteen illegitimate children of Lord William Talbot, Baron of Hensol. Her mother died in childbirth and she spent her childhood in the care of different guardians and boarding schools until she fell in the hands of a man she called Mr Sucker who was also in charge of her inheritance from her sister. In 1792 Talbot ended up as a mistress of captain Essex Bowen who enlisted her as his footboy with the name of John Taylor when he sailed for Santo Domingo. She served as a drummer-boy in the battle for Valenciennes, where captain Bowen was killed. She was also wounded and treated the wound herself. From Bowen's letters Talbot found out that Sucker had squandered what was left of her inheritance. She decided to go on working as a male sailor. She deserted and became a cabin boy for a French ship. When the British captured the ship she was transferred to the Brunswick where she served as a powder monkey. Talbot was wounded the second time in June 1794 during a battle against French fleet when grapeshot almost severed her leg. She never recovered the full use of it but later rejoined the crew. Later the French captured her and she spent the following 18 months in Dunkirk dungeon. Talbot managed to return to London in 1796. Next year she was seized by press-gang and was forced to reveal her gender. Next she went to the Navy to get the money due to her because of her service and wounds and finally found a sympathetic magistrate. At the same time her leg wound got worse and she continued to wear male clothing. She also visited Mr Sucker who told her that all her inheritance was lost. Sucker apparently died of heart attack the same day. Talbot continued to use sailor's clothes, worked in menial jobs and even tried her luck on stage but eventually was arrested and taken to debtor's prison at Newgate. When she was released she became a household servant for publisher Robert S. Kirby who included her tale in his book Wonderful Museum. Later he published a book Life and Surprising Adventures of Mary Anne Talbot (1809). Talbot's tale aroused some sympathy and even a case of imposture when a woman in a Light Horseman's uniform tried to use a name John Taylor to solicit money in London. Talbot spent her later years with a close female friend. Mary Anne Talbot died on February 4, 1808.

BBC website: The case of Mary Anne Talbot (1778-1808) tells us why a girl might end up fighting for king and country. Mary bore the great stigma (of the day) of being illegitimate and was sold by her guardian to a Captain Bowen of the 82nd Foot. He took her with him on his campaigns, disguised as a drummer boy, and her subsequent adventures found her as a castaway, as a powder-monkey on HMS Brunswick, being held prisoner by the French, and serving as a junior officer on a merchant ship.

William Brown A newspaper report in September 1815 mentioned 'a female African who had served as an able seaman in the Royal Navy for upwards of eleven years' before being discovered. She held the responsible position of Captain of the Foretop. In spite of the press reports Brown rejoined her ship later that year. Served on the Queen Charlotte (100 guns) and as captain of the foretop, highly to the satisfaction of the officers. She was described as being about 32 years old and 5'4" tall, 'a smart figure, possessed of considerable strength and great activity'; 'exhibits all the traits of a British tar and takes her grog with her late shipmates with the greatest gaiety'. Said she was married.

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