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09 June 2018

Evan Burtt (1900-?) servant

Eva Mary Burtt, a domestic servant in Tisbury, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, came to doubt her sex in the late 1920s. Burtt wrote to the Salvation Army in London seeking help.

This led to an examination by a doctor in Salisbury. Following this the Salvation Army solicitors appealed to the legal authorities, and the Registrar General of Births, Marriages and Deaths agreed to change the registration of Burtt’s birth from female to male.

Evan Montague Burtt, as he now was, announced his engagement to Sarah Edwards, a friend since childhood, and they were married Saturday 30 March 1930.

The case was much reported in the local and national press, almost all accounts quite positive and mentioning that both medical and legal authorities had approved the change. The Wiltshire News reported:
“But on Friday last she bought an outfit of masculine clothing, and to-day she may be seen wearing a smart lounge suit, trilby hat, and carrying a walking stick as though to the manner born. Her bobbed hair has been cropped short, and she speaks in the deep voice of a man. The metamorphosis is complete!”
This was very different to how Victor Barker had been reported only the previous year.

There was no further mention of Evan Burtt subsequent to the wedding, not even in the local register of electors. However in 1939 Sarah Edwards was listed again at her parents’ home and using her maiden name.
  • “Amazing Mystery of a Man-Woman”. Daily Express, 24 March 1930: 1.
  • “Man’s Twenty-Nine Years as a Woman”, Daily Mirror, 25 March 1930: 1.
  • “A Wiltshire Man-Woman”, Wiltshire News, 28 March 1930: 2.
  • “Evan Burtt Married”. Sunday Pictorial, 30 March 1930: 2
  • Clare R. Tebbutt. Popular and medical Understandings of Sex Change in 1930s Britain. PHD Thesis, University of Manchester, 2014: 19, 21, 86, 89-92, 100-111, 170, 204-5. Online.


Tebbutt lists 37 articles in the press about Evan Burtt.

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