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27 November 2010

Harry Lloyd (1836 – 1910) translator, newsagent.

Mary Le Roy, the daughter of a French army officer, lived with her widowed mother in Brussels, and then moved to England in the 1860s.

In the 1870s she was in the freethinking circle associated with Charles Bradlaugh, Austin Holyoake and John Stuart Mill. For three years she was a governess to Mrs Holyoake's children. She wore her hair short and was regarded as a 'new woman'. She lectured at the Freethinkers' Hall and earned her living by teaching French, German and Flemish, and by translating. She then started a passionate affair with another woman freethinker, and they lived together in Hackney.

Later as Harry Lloyd Le Roy became the husband of Eliza Condoit who gave birth out of wedlock in 1884.  They lived in Enfield. Lloyd worked giving language lessons, and also as an auctioneer in Edmonton, and then as the manager of a boarding house. When Eliza died in 1890, Harry was a newsagent. He raised their daughter, Elizabeth, alone.

In later years he delivered bills for local merchants, and sold refreshments in the local small-arms factory. They called him Joe Chamberlain as he wore a monocle in the style of the prominent politician of that name. Elizabeth became an elementary school teacher.

In 1910 Harry fell ill, and Elizabeth called the local doctor to the house. The doctor claimed that he had never seen a more feminine expression on a man's face. The subsequent physical examination and Harry's death established that Harry was female-bodied, to Elizabeth's total astonishment. There was an inquest, which returned a verdict of death from pleurisy, and the newspapers picked up the story.

*Not the Hollywood comedian
  • The News of the World. 26 June 1910:6.
  • People. 26 June 1910: 12.
  • "Woman Assumes Role of Husband and Father". The Washington Times, July 8, 1910.  Online.
  • Alison Oram. Her Husband was a Woman!: Women's gender-crossing in modern British popular culture. Routledge, 2007: 27-8, 41-2.

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