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30 September 2018

William Seymour (184? - ?) cab driver

Seymour was raised with the name of Mary in Taunton, Somerset, with a father who was a land agent for the local nobleman.

At age 14 Seymour was married to an army surgeon, by the name of Honeywell. However the marriage was unbearable and Seymour ran away to London.

There Seymour met a woman who had previously been a farm servant on the estate in Taunton. She was married to a cabman, and with his example Seymour took a haircut and with a ‘judicious use of clothing’ was able to pass as a man, and make a living as a cab driver.

After three years, in 1869, Seymour relocated to Liverpool, where he continued in his trade. By this time he had a wife, Agnes, who would bring his dinner to the cabstand. They were recorded as married in the 1871 census.

In February 1875 Seymour was committed for trial for stealing 30lbs of meat from a butcher on Leece Street Liverpool. In the detective office suspicions were aroused in that Seymour was almost 30, and there was sign neither of a beard nor of the use of a razor. Seymour was persuaded to confess his original gender and was indicted under his male name, his girl name and his married name of Mrs Honeywell. He was found guilty and imprisoned for two months in Walton Jail.

  • “A Woman as a Cabdriver for Ten Years’. The Liverpool Mercury, 13 February 1875. Reprinted in Alison Oram & Annmarie Turnbull. The Lesbian History Sourcebook: Love and Sex Between Women in Britain from 1780–1970. Routledge, 2001: 31-2.
  • Billie-Gina Thomason. “William Seymour: The ‘Female Cabdriver”. Museum of Liverpool, January 2018. Online.
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There is no information of what happened to Seymour after his release from jail.  Hopefully he was able to continue as a cab driver.  

Of course there are some cis men with no apparent beard.

This is a hansom cab from the 1870s. which is possibly what Seymour drove:

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