“A discovery of a singular nature was made, it is said, in Stafford gaol a few days ago: A prisoner who was convicted and condemned for horse-stealing, but since reprieved (under the name of James Burroughs) proves to be a woman; she has lain in the dungeon with near 50 male prisoners since the 18th August, without any kind of suspicion arising among them of her sex. She now says her name is Mary Etticks.”
Throughout history men and women have dressed in clothes associated with the opposite gender for a wide variety of reasons. Personal expression, political act, security and economics all play a part in the decision. The example above is of a woman dressing as a man in 1791 which came to light following her arrest for stealing.
This report comes from Aris’s Birmingham Gazette for 1791 from 5th September. You can read more articles from Aris’s Gazette here:
although not this edition (the British Library do not hold a complete set of local newspapers) so you’ll need to wait until September to read this one.
More information and links about cross dressing here: