Victorian London - Sex - Sexuality - Men posing as women

GUILDHALL - John Challis, an old man about 60 years of age, dressed in the pastoral garb of a shepherdess of the golden age, and George Campbell, aged 35, who described himself as a lawyer, and appeared completely equipped in female attire of the present day, were placed at the bar before Sir R.W.CARDEN charged with being found disguised as women in the Druids'-hall, in Turnagain-lane, an unlicensed dancing-room, for the purpose of exciting others to commit an unnatural offence.
     Inspector Teague said, - From information I received relative to the frequent congregation of certain persons for immoral practices at the Druids'-hall, I proceeded thither in company with Sergeant Goodeve about 2 o'clock this morning. I saw a great many persons dancing there, and among the number were the prisoners, who rendered themselves very conspicuous by their disgusting and filthy conduct. I suspected that the prisoners and several others who were present in female attire were of the male sex, and I left the room for the purpose of obtaining further assistance, so as to secure the whole of the parties, but when we got outside Campbell came out after us, and, taking us by the arms, was about to speak, when I exclaimed, "That is a man," upon which he turned round and ran back immediately to the Druids'-hall. I returned and took Campbell into custody and observing Challis, whom I have frequently seen there before, behaving with two men as if he were a common prostitute, I took charge of him also.

The Times, July 27, 1854

     John Bestow said he had the care of Druids'-hall for the Ancient Order of Druids, and he occasionally let it for meetings, lectures and dancing. On the evening in question there was a bal masqué, and admission was given by tickets issued by Harris, who took the room.
     Sir R.W.CARDEN - Is not money taken at the doors?
     Bestow - I never saw any. I believe Harris gives the balls and always loses by them.
     Sir R.W.CARDEN - There was music there on the night of the ball in question?
     Bestow - Yes, Sir. There were four musicians.
     Sir R.W.CARDEN -And the place is not licensed?
     Sir R.W.CARDEN - Certainly not, Sir.
     Madeleine Vincent said, she attended to the refreshment department in the ballroom, and saw the prisoners there, but saw nothing disguting in their conduct, and never told the police that she had. She had said their conduct was disgraceful because they made such a noise, but that was the only impropriety she saw or complained of.
     Joseph Brundell said, he was formerly in the city police and for 18 months he was on duty near Druids'-hall. Harris had got up several of these balls and the prisoners frequently attended them dressed in female attire. Witness on such occasions had noticed disgusting conduct on the part of other men towards the prisoners while in their company.
     Sir R.W.CARDEN  - Do you mean to say that you saw these things going on for 18 months and reported them to your sergeant.
     Brundell - I did, Sir, and he told me not to interfere unless I saw such conduct take place in the public street.
     Sir R.W.CARDEN - You are bringing a very serious charge against the sergeant, and one that ought to be investigated by the commissioner, for it is monstrous that a house of this character should be allowed to exist in the city of London for two years and no steps taken to suppress it.
     Inspector Teague - It is very difficult to catch them in the act, as they have men placed at every outlet to keep a lookout.
     Sir R.W.CARDEN - And so they have at the west-end gambling houses; but the police there always interfere.
     Inspector Teague - But the police go in with a force, and it is not safe to do so without proof.
     Sir R.W.CARDEN - And surely you can have force where it is required. If you always waited for direct proof, there would be very little chance of detecting or preventing crime.
     The landladies of all the different lodgings occupied by the prisoner during the last 12 months came forward and stated that they always considered his character irreproachable; but that he had a sort of mania for masquerades ...

The Times, August 1, 1854

     In the case of George Campbell and John Challis, who were apprehended at the Druids'-hall, attired in female costume, as alleged for immoral purposes, the prisoners wer ecalled on to appear yesterday ...
     Sir R.W.CARDEN -  I was informed by your own bail that your object in visiting Druids'-hall was to see vice in all its enormity, in order that you might correct it from the pulplit, and he said that was the excuse you made for going to such places.
     Campbell - It is a quite a mistake. I certainly did wish to see a little of London life without mixing with its abominations.
     Sir R.W.CARDEN - And you thought that dressing yourself in women's attire was the best way of avoiding those abominations? I must say it was a very imprudent course . . . . I certainly hope you now see the folly of indulging in such extraordinary freaks, as you term them, and that you deeply feel how degrading it is to a man of education . . . to be placed in such a position. . . . However, under the circumstances, I am willing to believe it was nothing more than an act of the grossest folly, and that you now sincerely repent your imprudent conduct.

The Times, August 2, 1854

BOW-STREET - A young man in petticoats, who gave the name of Smith, but who, on being subsequently held to bail, described himself as Thomas Francis Druce, a brewer, of Chelsea, was charged with visiting the Holborn Casino in female costume.
    The appearance of the defendant created no little amusement in court, for the delusion was almost perfect. He had been to the expense of providing himself with a wig of long black hair, dressed in the approved style of the period, and surmounted by the popular "roll," or crescent curl, a fashionable bonnet being suspended in the rear. He was also supplied with rouge, and other articles of the toilet, and, although the effect of a night's confinement in the cell, coupled with the returning beard of morn, had somewhat marred the feminine aspect of his face, as exhibited in court, it was stated that the defendant's "make up" on the previous night was such as to defy detection.
    It appeared, however, from the statement of Inspector Walsh, the chief officer on duty at the Casino, that it was the manner, rather than the appearance of the defendant that suggested a suspicion as to his being a real woman. Unlike the ladies who frequent the gay saloon in question, there was a certain coyness and awkward reserve about the defendant which made him, her, or it, and object of special remark; and when the inspector observe that it took no part in the dance, and scrupulously avoided the society of gentlemen, the experienced officer came to the conclusion at once that it was no woman. He accordingly adopted some pretext for addressing the defendant, and having after some difficulty - a circumstance in itself suspicious - elicited an answer in an ill-disguised masculine voice, he felt perfectly assured of the imposition, and consequently took him into custody.
    The defendant pleaded "Guilty" to the soft impeachment, and said he had only done it for a lark.
    Mr. HENRY lectured the defendant in strong terms upon the impropriety of his conduct, and reminded him that persons often assumed women's attire for felonious and other still more disgraceful purposes, although there was no reason to suppose that anything of the kind was designed in the present instance.
    The defendant assured his worship that he never did such a thing but once before, and that was in consequence of a wager, which eh won. He meant no harm, and promised never to repeat the offence.
    Mr. HENRY ordered the defendant to enter into his own recognizances in 100l., and find two sureties of 50l. each, to keep the peace, &c., for 12 months.
    The requisite bail having been found, the defendant was discharged.

The Times, April 11, 1855

At Bow-street, ERNEST BOULTON, 22, residing at 23, Shirland-road, FREDERICK WILLIAM PARK, 23, of 13, Bruton-street, Berkeley-square, law student, both of whom were in female costume, and HUGH ALEXANDER MUNDELL, 23, of 158, Buckingham Palace-road, were brought before Mr. Thomas, charged with frequenting the Strand Theatre with intent to commit felony. The prisoners Boulton and Park were defended by Mr. Abrams. When placed in the dock Boulton wore a cherry-coloured evening silk dress trimmed with white lace; his arms were bare, and he had on bracelets. He wore a wig and plaited chignon. Park's costume consisted of a dark green satin dress, low necked and trimmed with black lace, of which material he also had a shawl round his shoulders. His hair was flaxen and in curls. He had on a pair of white kid gloves. Mr. Superintendent Thomson, of the E Division was called, and stated that at half-past 10 o'clock on Thursday evening, he went to the Strand Theatre and saw the prisoners in a private box. Boulton and Park being in female costume. He noticed their conduct and saw one of them repeatedly smile and nod to gentlemen in the stalls.  When they left the theatre all three prisoners got into a cab. They were then accosted and taken to Bow-street Police-station. . . . 
         Serjeant Kerley, detective, E Division, corroborated what had been stated, and added that while he was in the cab with the prisoners on their way to the station, Boulton and Park begged of him to let them go, as it could do him no good to take them to the station. If he would listen to them, he should have any sum he required. They never said anything about "having a lark" . . . For the defence Mr. Abrams argued that the charge of felony was not made out, and that prisoners were only guilty of a "lark." Mr. Flowers said they had indulged in the so-called lark for a very long time. The question was were the prisoners without any other and more serious purpose? Did they entice gentlemen to their apartments to extort money from them? Mr. Abrams said he thought not.

The Times, April 30, 1870


Yesterday afternoon the Bow-street Police-court and its approaches were again literally beseiged by the public, owing to the re-examination of the two young men, ERNEST BOULTON, aged 23, of 43, Shirland-road, Paddington, and FREDERICK WILLIAM PARK, aged 23, of 13, Bruton-street, Berkeley-square, under remand upon the charge of having been found in women's clothes at the Strand Theatre, in the company of a Mr. Hugh Alexander Mundell, on the night of 28th of April last, for a supposed felonious purpose.
         The prisoners appeared in male apparel on this occasion, much to the disappointment, apparently, of the crowds assembled to see them. The case excited unusual interest, probably owing to the notoriety acquired by certain young men who, for years past, have been in the habit of visiting places of public resort in feminine attire, and who have been occasionally turned out or compelled to retire to avoid the consequences of the public indignation excited by their presence when detected.
         Mr. Flowers, having taken his place upon the bench, which, with the entire court, was inconveniently crowded, Mr. Poland conducted the prosecution on the behalf of the Solicitors to the Treasury; Mr. Straight and Mr. Besley (instructed by Mr. Abrams, for Mr. Goatley) defended the prisoners Boulton and Park. The Hon. Mr. Chandos Leigh appeared for Mr. Mundell, the third defendant; and Mr. Collette attended to watch the case on behalf of the Society for the Suppression of Vice.
         . . . The police had received a great many communications respecting the prisoners Boulton and Park, but none of them affected the third defendant, Mr. Mundell, who appeared to have been the dupe rather than the ally of the other prisoners. His share in the matter having been the result of indiscretion rather than criminality, it was proposed to withdraw the charge against him, with the permission of the Court, and to place him in the witness-box to give evidence against the prisoners Boulton and Park. The inferences to be drawn from the proceedings of the latter were very different, and whether their conduct was of the most heinous description, or of a lesser degree in point of criminality, it was the object of the present inquiry to determine. In addition to the statement of Mr. Mundell, he should be in a condition to produce a large number of photographs exhibiting the prisoner Boulton, attired as a woman, in certain attitudes with different men, while others presented Park, and occasionally both of them, in similar positions with one or more men. One or two of the photographs had been taken in Paris and the Court would draw its own conclusions after seeing these pictures and hearing the further evidence to be adduced as to what were the real motives of the prisoners. If, as had been suggested, they were merely acting in this way for "a lark", it must be said that the lark was one of a very long duration, extending over years and carried on with a degree of systematic arrangement unusual, to say the least of it, when harmless diversion was alone in contemplation. . . . 
         . . . The witness [Mr. Mundell] deposed as follows:- I live at 158, Buckingham Palace-road, and am 23 years of age. I was taken into custody with the two prisoners at the Strand Theatre on Thursday night last week. I am willing to state how I came to know them, and all I know about them. I first met them at the Surrey Theatre of 22nd of April. They were in the dress circle, and were attired as gentlemen. My attention was drawn to them as women in gentlemen's attire. My curiosity was excited, and I followed them when they left the theatre during an interval in the performance. They went to a publichouse, and returned to the theatre. They went out again after the next act of the play, and I followed them. They said in a joking manner. "You are following us." I was in company with a gentleman and we replied. "Yes, we are." They did not return to their seats, but leant over the back of the circle. I got into conversation with them, and eventually asked them if they would like to go behind the scenes. I obtained the permission of Mr. Shelley, the lessee, and took them behind. We remained there about a quarter of an hour. They said as they had lost the thread of the story of the play (Clam) they should like to see it again. I said I should be very happy to accompany them, and we fixed to go together on the Tuesday following. We talked together as far as Waterloo-bridge, and there parted. I had "chaffed" them about their being women, and told them that they ought to swing their arms a little more to look like men. (A laugh.) I knew Boulton by the name of "Stella," but I don't remember if either of them gave any address. I saw nothing improper in their conduct. I do not know what became of the person who first directed my attention to them. I arranged to join the prisoners in their private box the next Tuesday, and I went to the theatre on that night accordingly. I had not any communication with them during the interval. I arrived at the theatre first. The prisoners came shortly afterwards in female costume. Park invited me into his private box, and we all walked in together. I had taken some flowers with me, and I presented one to each defendant. I then went out to fetch some pins, to enable them to pint the flowers to their dress. When I returned Boulton gave me a letter. It was too dark to read it in the box. Boulton told me to go and read it outside. When I returned I said it was a good joke, but I did not believe it. I referred to a statement in the letter that they (defendants) were both men. The letter appeared to be in a woman's handwriting, but it has been since torn up. I am not in the habit of corresponding with ladies, but I know their style of writing. I did not notice how the letter was signed. They said, "It is true; we are men." After this we went into the saloon, and while we were having refreshment Park got into conversation with a young fellow. I did not notice what they said. I asked Park if he had seen the young man before. He said he had not. Up to this time, I had only known Boulton by the name of "Stella." Park went by the name of "Jane." We waited till the end of the play of Clam, and then Boulton asked me to send after his man "Jack" - meaning the driver of their brougham. I ordered the carriaeg to be brought up. I asked for "Mrs. Graham's carriage" that being the name Park went by. . . .
         Mr. Poland. - Tell me, did you treat the defendants as women of the town.
         The question was objected to.
         Mr. Poland. - Well, how did you treat them?
         Witness. - I treated them as women and made certain advances to "Stella" (Boulton) which were repelled. I might have gone further, but the arrival of the other man kept me off. I had repeatedly asked them where they lived. . . .
         . . . The defendants soon after arrived and were dressed in ladies' attire. We remained in the box until the piece Sir George and a Dragon was over. The gentleman made some excuse to go, and left before the entertainment was over. The defendants left the box once; I believe some portion of Park's train had come down. When they returned they asked me to fetch a cab for them, and I as I was alone I did so. They gave me an address to drive to, and as it was in my direction, I told the cabdriver to go by Pall-mall, where I intended getting out. I believed Boulton to be a woman, and observed I had never been taken in so in all my life. I had some doubt about Park. I thought they had done this twice for a lark. I asked the man Gibb if he knew who they were. He said they were men. I think Gibb said he resided in Bruton-street. I saw no other man besides him at the theatre. The defendants behaved like ladies at the Strand Theatre. There was no impropriety; there was nothing wrong there. A policeman told me at the theatre that I might go off. I said I had done nothing wrong. I did not like to leave the defendants there, as I had been with them all the day, and I thought I could help them to get bail. There was a great deal of confusion and I hardly know what occurred, but I found myself in a cab on the road to Bow-street. (Laughter) . . .
      . . . Mr. Besley, on behalf of Boulton, courted the fullest inquiry, and would not object to a dozen remands if his client were admitted to bail, which would be simply an act of justice. He had sought in vain to learn what was the charged preferred against these young men. They had been very foolish and very indiscreet, but beyond this there was not an atom of evidence to convict them. There was talk about "extorting money" but where was the slightest proof of it. On the contrary, the witness Mundell was invited to their private box, and had never been asked for a farthing. There was also another insinuation, so filthy that he did not like even to name it, and yet it had been named without even the shadow of a pretence, in the way of evidence, to support it.

The Times, May 7, 1870

Yesterday the two young men, Ernest Boulton and Frederick William Park, charged with personating women at places of public resort for unlawful purposes, were for the third time placed at the bar of Bow-street Police-court, before Mr. Flowers, for further examination.
         There was the usual rabble outside, but ample provision had been made by Superintendent Thompson to prevent the inconvenient crowding of the court. Nevertheless, the small area of the building was quite full, the audience including many persons of rank, besides many literary and theatrical celebrities, who were probably admitted by special application to the authorities.
         The ordinary night charges were taken at the police-station opposite.
         Mr. Poland conducted the prosecution as before, instructed by Mr. Pollard, from the office of the Treasury solicitor; Mr. Bealey (instructed by Mr. Abrams for Mr. Gratley) appeared for the defendant Boulton; and Mr. Straight attended as counsel for the defendant Park.
         Mr. Poland, without any preliminary remarks, at once proceeded with the examination of witnesses.
         Henry Holland examined - I live at 5, Torrington-mews, Torrington-square, and am a driver in the service of Mr. Yeoman, Guildford-street, Russell-square, a livery-stable keeper. I know the two prisoners. I first saw them on the 6th of April last - the day of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat-race. My master had given me directions to take a brougham, at 10 o'clock in the day, to 13, Wakefield-street, to a Mrs. Park's. On arriving there, the prisoner Park came out, dressed as a woman. He, or she, said "My sister is not ready," and desired me to drive to a restaurant in Newcastle-street, Strand. Park got into the brougham and I drove her to the place as directed. She got out and went in, and presently returned with a gentleman. I did not know him, and should not know him if I saw him again. They both got into the brougham. I was directed to drive to Bruton-street. Here the gentleman got out of the brougham and entered a house. He returned to the brougham in a few minutes and ordered me to drive back to the restaurant, where both of them got out and went inside. The gentleman brought back a small hamper, which was put inside the brougham. Shortly after this Mrs. Park came out and gave me a glass of ale and re-entered the brougham, telling me to drive back to 13, Wakefield-street. I left the gentleman in Newcastle-street. Mrs. Park got out of the brougham and went into the house for five minutes. She then returned with another lady. The prisoner Boulton was the other lady. They both entered the brougham and I was ordered to drive them to Hammersmith-bridge to see the boat-race. I could not get on to the bridge, and could not get near enough to see the boats pass. When the race was over I was ordered to turn round and I drove them to South Kensington where we stopped at a publichouse. One of the ladies asked me to take some refreshments, which of course I did. I had some beef, bread and ale. I did not see them take anything. They remained about a quarter of an hour at the public-house and then they came and spoke to me, telling me to follow them when I had finished my refreshments. I think it was Park who desired me to follow them on the road towards London. I overtook them about 200 yards down the road, and saw them in a confectioner's shop, where they told me to look for them. They were in the shop a few minutes only.
         Mr. Straight - Surely you are going to tell us what they had to eat there? (A laugh.)
         Examination continued - After this I drove them, at about 7 o'clock, to Haxell's Hotel in the Strand. The ladies went in, Park returning presently and discharging me. Park went back to the hotel, and I drove back to my stables. I saw nothing more of them that night. On Tuesday, the 26th of April, I saw them again. I went to Park's, 13, Wakefield-street, by order of my master, at half-past 6. The defendants came out dressed as ladies. They got into the brougham and ordered me to drive them to Kuhn's restaurants in Hanover-street. They went in, and afterwards I drove them to the Surrey Theatre. Boulton told me to fetch them at the time carriages were ordered, and to answer "Mrs. Graham's carriage." They went to the theatre, and I returned for them at a quarter to 11. Mrs. Graham's carriage was called for, and I was told by a gentleman to drive up to the door. The ladies came out of the theatre, each being escorted by a gentleman and I was ordered to drive them to the Globs restaurant in Coventry-street. They remained there an hour, and when they came out one gentleman went away and the other got into the brougham. I drove them to Buckingham Palace-road, where the other gentleman got out and left them, desiring me to drive on. This was about half-past 12. After the gentlemen had left the ladies desired me to stop at a public-house for refreshment. The ladies went in with me and we all had some drink. I then drove them towards home.  We stopped at a publichouse near the Army and Navy Club. They had pulled the check-string. They got out, and asked me if I would have if I would have more refreshment. We all went in, and were there some minutes. We all had more drink. They did not speak to any one there. They returned to the brougham. After a time they pulled the check-string again, and asked me to stop at the next public-house that I saw open. I pulled up at one in Oxford-street, where we stopped about a couple of minutes. I was next directed to stop at the corner of Guildford-street, Gray's-inn-road, where they discharged me. I left them in the public street. This was about 20 minutes past 1.
         Mr. Poland. - What did you take them for?
         Mr. Besley and Mr. Straight objected to this question.
         Mr. Poland. - Had you any idea that they were men?
         Witness. - I had not. These were the only occasions on which I drove them out. I did not notice if the defendants had bonnets on, or whether they were in evening dress. They had veils on.
         Mr. Straight thought it would be rather difficult for a coachman to identify a bonnet now-a-days.
         . . .
         John Reeves said, - I live at 61, Frith-street, Soho, and am staff superintendent at the Alhambra, in Leicester-square. I know the defendants by sight. I have known Park for three years, and the other nearly as long. I have seen them repeatedly at the Alhambra. My attention was first drawn to them about two years ago, when they were dressed as women. They were both there together. I requested them to leave, on the ground that they were men dressed in women's clothes. A person in their company told me not to interfere with them, as it was a mistake. I told the gentleman that it was no mistake, and I must desire them to leave, as they were known, and their presence had caused a disturbance. I then marched them out of the place, and their friends followed them out. I knew the gentleman by sight, but I do not know his name. I should know his photograph. Before this I had seen them walking about as women, looking over their shoulders to men as if enticing men, and behaving in a suspicious way. When they were turned out three or four men followed them. I only saw one gentleman speak to them; he was their companion. I saw them there again three or four months afterwards in the lower part of the building. My attention was called to them directly they entered by visitors who surrounded them. I told them they must leave directly, for the public believed they were men, and they did so. I saw several men leaving in their company on that occasion also. They were only there about five minutes. About six months later, I saw them at the Alhambra again, dressed as men. Their faces were painted. They had low shirt collars, and open. They walked about in an effeminate way, and people gathered round them, saying they were two women dressed in men's clothes. I spoke to them and desired them to leave. I told them they had created so much disorder in the establishment that I must insist on their leaving. They had been walking about looking at men offensively, and had excited indignation. I marched them out and desired them never to come again. I next saw them in March of the present year in a private box at the Alhambra. They were dressed as men, but their faces were painted up and powdered, and they were got up effeminately as before. They were with a third person, but I did not know him. It was not the same gentleman whom I first saw in their company, although I had seen him with them before. He was not painted up, but had also an effeminate appearance. I saw the people looking up at the box, and rising from their seats to get a better view of them, and they were playing all sorts of frivolous games with each other. They were handing cigarettes to each other, leaning over the box and flicking them in the gas. When I saw that they were attracting general attention and making peculiar noises with their lips, I went up to the box and spoke to them, desiring them to leave. The noises were such as I have heard females make in the streets. They hung their hands and pink gloves over the box. When I went to the box, I recognized them at once as the person who had visited the place on former occasions. I desired them to leave at once. They asked for some soda and brandy. I said they should have nothing there, and that I desired them before not to come to the Alhambra. I walked them out, and I desired the box-keeper to return them the guinea which they had paid for the box and never to admit them again. I could never quite make up my mind about them. Sometimes I thought they were men and sometimes that they were women. Whenever they appeared in male costume their faces were painted. I did not know their names or who they were. . . .
         George Smith examined - I was formerly beadle of the Burlington-arcade. I have known the defendants for a long time. I have known Boulton about two years as visiting the Burlington-arcade; painted very thickly with rouge, and everything else on. I noticed him because he always caused such a commotion when he entered the Arcade. He spoke to me on one occasion when he was leaving the Arcade in company with a man named Cumming. He (Boulton) said to me, "Oh! you sweet little dear." I communicated this fact to policeman on duty in the Arcade, Holden, C 5S. Boulton was not then in sight. Cumming's face was also painted thickly. On another occasion when they were together, I saw Boulton wink at men and make a noise with his mouth, as women would to entice them (imitating the sound). 

The Times, May 14, 1870

At Marlborough-street, when the assistant gaoler Scott called out "Ernest Cole," a person looking like a well-dressed woman stepped into the dock and gravely faced Mr. Denman, the presiding magistrate. No one would have imagined that the prisoner, who was attired in a black fur-trimmed winter mantle, large black feathered hat and veil, and carried a muff and neat hang-bag was a man. It was alleged that the prisoner was a suspected person loitering in Oxford-street presumably for the purpose of committing a felony. Detective Gittens, D Division, deposed that, while in company with Detective Dyer, he saw the prisoner in Oxford-street on Monday evening. The prisoner was behaving like a disorderly female. He went up to the prisoner, and told him that he believed him to be a man. The prisoner endeavoured to escape by jumping on to an omnibus. He was, however, caught and taken into custody. Mr. Denman remanded the prisoner for inquiries, as it was mentioned that it was believed he had been previously convicted.

The Times, January 2, 1901