bathsheba

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FEMALE CROSS DRESSING SAILOR  MANUSCRIPT 1807
FEMALE CROSS DRESSING SAILOR  MANUSCRIPT 1807
FEMALE CROSS DRESSING SAILOR MANUSCRIPT 1807
[JOHNSON, Marianne Rebecca]“Report of Proceedings at the Lord Mayor’s Court, on Wednesday the 11th November 1807, relative to a girl found dressed in sailors clothes in the vicinage of Bishopsgate Street the preceding morning.”
Unpublished manuscript1807
[JOHNSON, Marianne Rebecca] “Report of Proceedings at the Lord Mayor’s Court, on Wednesday the 11th November 1807, relative to a girl found dressed in sailors clothes in the vicinage of Bishopsgate Street the preceding morning.” 118 lines in ink in a readable hand on five sides of two folded folio sheets, watermarked 1803; original folds. This is a rare and extraordinary original manuscript account of Marianne Rebecca Johnson, alias William Johnson, who was discovered in a state of distress and destitution on Dunnings Lane, Bishopsgate, London in November 1807. Discovered by a passing Master Bricklayer, the young sailor was taken to a nearby public house, the Bull’s Head, whereupon Marianne fainted: “On opening his neckerchief and bosom to give air and free circulation for aiding his recovery the true sex was discovered. The hostess immediately rendered every aid and comfort in her power, took her into a private room, interrogated her as to the cause of her assuming such an appearance, when the poor girl disclosed her perverse fortunes ...” Apparently she had been abducted by her abusive stepfather, forced to don sailor’s clothing and bound to an apprenticeship with the “ May Flower “Collier from Sunderland, then lying off Woolwich. She had served four years before running away because of a flogging with a rope’s end. She disclosed that she had lately learned that her stepfather had treated her mother in a similar fashion, sending her by force on to a man of war on which she served seven years, before being mortally wounded in the attack on Copenhagen. Her mother” preferred under a concealment of her sex to brave all the dangers and hardships of a naval life, rather than by disclosing herself to risk a transmittal to Whitby and again meet her unnatural monster of a husband” whose acts against wife and child “would be infamous amongst even the savage Slave Drovers of Africa”. This report is full of compassion for the young girl who, despite all that she had experienced in her “uncouth floating boarding school” was a “well turned person, middle sized, her chest and shoulders obviously enlarged by the laborious exertions of her rough avocation, her eyes black and countenance intelligent, and marked by an air of civilized modesty and submissiveness”. Marianne was taken under the protection of the Lord Mayor with the intention of passing her to the Parish as a pauper. “But surely such a daughter deserves a better destiny than the association of profligates and beggars in a parish work house”. This folded document is inscribed on the verso “to be returned” and is accompanied by a contemporary wax sealed paper wrap, with the title: “female sailor. Wm. Johnson. Revd. D. Clarke. This is a very good manuscript account of a woman’s oppression by her abusive father and consequent non conformity, even though dressing in men’s clothing seems to have been illegal with accounts of women being charged for having “assumed male attire”.

£1200.00   



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