Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Female Shipwright: 18th century cross dressing

From the London Evening Post, 2 August 1773:

'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 man’s 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'.

(found at Rictor Norton. ed. "Some Cross-Dressing Women", part of his excellent Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. The National Maritime has recently republished Female Shipwright, the autobiography of Mary Lacy)

1 comment:

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