‘The Female Cabdriver of Liverpool’ who was arrested for stealing meat

Liverpool is famend for its well-known and ground-breaking names from The Beatles to Cilla Black and it appears centuries in the past was no totally different.

In 1875, town made the headlines of reports publications up and down the nation after it was found cabdriver, William Seymour, was arrested for stealing meat. Nevertheless, as historian Dr Billie-Gina Thomason factors out, though this will likely start like a standard story of a lowly man struggling to offer for his household, there’s extra to the story than meets the attention.

William Seymour was remanded in custody and charged with stealing “22 lbs. of beef and 5 lbs. of veal” from a butcher’s on Leece Road, beside the Bombed Out Church. He was later charged with theft with the Liverpool Mercury, an English newspaper which stopped publishing in 1904, reporting that “upon the arm and breast of his coat were traces of suet which proved incontestably that he was guilty of the crime.”

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Regardless of this, when it was reported within the information on the time, the main focus was diverted onto his private life as WIlliam was a gender passing particular person who was assigned feminine at delivery however recognized as male in levels all through his life. Historian Dr Billie-Gina Thomason, who accomplished her PhD at Liverpool John Moores College by exploring the lives of working-class gender passing people, shared her findings with the ECHO.

The 29-year-old Liverpudlian informed the ECHO: “William actively rejected their predetermined life as a biological female and being assigned female at birth in favour of committing to their preferred gender identity. They fulfilled the role of a provider and breadwinner for their family and were deemed as a hardworking man. They were resilient and continued to forge their own path. Not only did they escape from an abusive marriage at a young age but they also socially transitioned during a time when binary gender roles were the norm and were a hardworking and successful individual.”

William Seymour was a gender passing particular person: a historic time period for an individual whose biology was opposite to their gender id. He appeared visibly masculine, labored as a cab driver, introduced as male and was married to a different organic feminine. Because of this, William was dubbed as ‘The Female Cab Driver of Liverpool’ with newspapers specializing in his gender passing id versus the theft for which he was initially arrested for.

William lived at Back Ashton Street, which is now part of the University of Liverpool.
William lived at Again Ashton Road, which is now a part of the College of Liverpool.

William was born ‘Mary’ and lived in Taunton, Somerset in 1850. On the age of 14, Mary married a military surgeon who was recognized by the title of ‘Honeywell’ and collectively the couple endured an sad marriage based on the Liverpool Mercury. Simply over a decade later, Mary escaped their abusive marriage and commenced a brand new life in London the place they established the alias of ‘William Seymore’ and remained presenting as a person for no less than the following 9 years.

Billie-Gina claims in the identical area of time, William grew to become a cab driver and drew males’s wages, becoming into the group as a person. She added that William’s workmates claimed they had been unaware of William’s organic id however continued to assist him regardless even when he was launched from jail. Nevertheless, newspapers reporting on William’s case on the time recognised he appeared seen masculine. They learn: “Her face being of a masculine type, her complexion florid and she having an impediment in her speech caused by a defective pallet, conspired to render the illusion perfect.”

After dwelling in London for 3 years and dealing as a cab driver, William’s title appeared within the 1871 census and indicated he lived in Again Ashton Road, which is now a part of the College of Liverpool. There, he was labelled as ‘head of the household’ regardless of dwelling together with his new spouse, Agnes, and her brother.

Whereas dwelling within the metropolis, Billie-Gina defined, William was amongst “professionals including teachers, a pianoforte maker, a pilot” and he rented rooms off a landlady often known as Mrs Ellis. She added: “Perhaps living in plain sight offered him security in passing successfully as male. Mrs Ellis occupied 65 Back Ashton Street for at least three years and had a good repertoire of lodgers during that time. She remained landlady at the property even after William’s identity was publicly exposed, which suggests that this revelation did not affect her reputation.”

HMP Prison Liverpool, Walton, was known as Walton Gaol when William spent time there
HMP Jail Liverpool, Walton, was often known as Walton Gaol when William frolicked there

In February 1875, William was dedicated for trial for stealing meat from a butcher. Within the detective workplace, suspicions aroused over the shortage of William’s facial hair regardless of nearly being 30-years-old. William was persuaded to admit his unique gender and was indicted below his male, feminine and married title.

After William’s arrest, he was held at what is thought as we speak as Her Majesty’s Jail Liverpool. Whereas finding out the lifetime of William, Billie-Gina learnt not solely did the case make native information in Liverpool however nationwide information, with the Pall Mall Gazette protecting the story and a nod to his case in Punch journal. Each of those targeted on the truth that William was a organic feminine who was a cab driver.

The Pall Mall Gazette raised the query of whether or not ladies would really feel safer understanding the ‘driver on the box of the vehicle they engage with was a “woman and a sister” instead of simply being a “man and a brother”. Billie-Gina said: “What is interesting about the Pall Mall Gazette running an article on William is that his criminal conviction was not discussed. Instead, the article focused on having a progressive conversation about the safety of women using public transport, and William’s gender passing id sparked that dialog.”

Following a brief listening to, William was discovered responsible of theft and sentenced to 2 months laborious labour to be carried out HM Jail Liverpool, which on the time was often known as Walton Gaol. Initially, the jail housed each female and male criminals however William was housed within the feminine wing. After finishing his sentence, William disappeared from the document and Billie Gina has been unable to find him additional. She believes he might have returned residence to his spouse below a brand new title or continued to stay dwelling as a feminine.

She added: “William Seymour was pioneering not only for identifying and living as a gender contrary to their biological identity but also in the employment that they undertook. Newspapers that first commented on Seymour’s story in 1875 were not interested in their gender identity nor that they had been arrested for theft, but that they were a ‘cab driver’. Nineteenth century women would not have been engaged in such demanding or dangerous work so the fact that Seymour, being assigned female at birth, was in such a public facing role and working with members of the community was quite something.”

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