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08 March 2008

Two female transvestites in Elizabethan England

Sometimes all we can see is a snapshot recorded in the proceedings of a court. The motivation and the context are unknown. Here are two such:

Margaret Wakely
In 1601, Margaret Wakely, the mother of a 'bastard' child was convicted by the Bridewell Court in London of going about in 'man's apparell'.

Dorothy Clayton
On 3 July 1575, Dorothy Clayton, spinster, was convicted by the Alderman's Court in London: she 'contrary to all honesty and womanhood commonly goes about the City apparelled in man's attire. She has abused her body with sundry persons and lived an incontinent life. On Friday she is to stand on the pillory for two hours in men's apparell and then to be sent to Bridewell until further order'.
  • Jean E Howard. “Crossdressing, The Theatre & Gender Struggle In Early Modern England”. Shakespeare Quarterly. 39,4 1988: 420

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