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06 April 2010

Eliza Scott (1838 - ? ) healer.

Scott was raised as a slave in the US, and ran away to the West Indies. She was a practitioner in an African spiritual tradition; Upchurch suggests the Jim Banndaa, in which male-bodied persons living as female had spiritual powers. Eliza made a living by cleaning and by attending the ill, especially those afflicted by rheumatism, whom she could cure by friction and with herbs.

In 1858 she was engaged by a sea-captain with such ailments, but he abandoned her in London and sailed without her. She took to walking about in the Fenchurch Street area, probably with the intention of earning some money.

Constables of the newly founded Metropolitan Police noticed her, and assumed that she was a woman. She was arrested on the complaint of a ‘respectable man’ who asked a constable to take her in charge. She resisted strongly, but was taken to the station house and charged with having ‘annoyed gentlemen in Fenchurch Street’. The case was weak in that she had made no advance or overt proposition. In the end she was convicted solely of having resisted the constable’s attempt to put her in charge.
  • Charles Upchurch. Before Wilde: Sex Between Man in Britain’s Age of Reform. University of California Press. 2009: 168-171.


  1. charged with having ‘annoyed gentlemen in Fenchurch Street’

    Good cause...

  2. I did a search for "Jim Banndaa" and the only search result was this page. Does this go by another name?

    1. That would be a question for Charles Upchurch.


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