The Bisley Boy
by Yvonne Sinclair
At various times, many of us at the Group have found ourselves talking about transvestism in history; that is, known facts which have been recorded by histor
Just after the last war a headline in all the newspapers was the story of a GI who, for the same reasons, hid in skirts, and found fame as a fire-eating act, performing before the late Queen Mary, Grandmother to our present Queen. The whistle was blown by a spurned lover who knew that SHE was in fact a HE. Queen Mary,
History has many kings who did not keep to the straight road of sexual inclinations, marrying only to produce an heir to the throne, seeking the pleasures of the flesh with their own sex. Others seemed to en
Yet there is one person whose very sex is in question, which, if proven, would have caused the history books to be rewritten and have shaken the foundations of our own society. So much so that our Queen today would not be the Second but the First Elizabeth to sit on the British Throne. I have no wish to attack the Monarchy, or claim the throne, but leave you to read this strange tale which has persisted for over three hundred years.
Bram Stoker based his best known story, of Count Dracula, on the legend of a real prince of Transylvania who reputedly drank the blood of his victims - an example of how fact can be stranger than fiction. For his book "Famous Imposters", Stoker was told by the famous actor, Sir Henry Irving, the first reported beginnings of the story that the rest of
Bram Stoker delved into the past and discovered that there was a history that revealed something more than
At this very time, the King - Henry VIII - felt a need to see his younger daughter, after ignoring her for years. This was a disaster, as the King was short of temper and to break such grave news to him was a task which no-one was prepared to undertake - a lengthy so
The governess of the late Princess was fearful and in despair hid the body and rushed to the nearby
So it was decided to take an even greater risk. It was quite common practice in those days for young children to be brought up in households other than their parents', often the bastards of Kings were accorded new households perhaps to become Kings themselves, as William the Conqueror did. There was a youth, believed to be a bastard son of Henry VIII. A boy who had been a fellow pupil, friend and playmate of the Princess - Neville; said to be the son of Henry and Elizabeth Blunt, who later became the Duke of Richmond and Somerset. He seemed the perfect answer, having some of the King's features and colouring, notably the red hair to assist in the deception.
In the few days before the King's visit, the boy was dressed and taught the correct manners of a royal princess; the image of a young lady ready to greet a King and father. He was a King to reckon with; one who was shrewd, and not easily fooled.
If this is true, one can well imagine the immense pressure which existed in that manor house. Yet it is recorded that the King was indeed pleased to find his daughter well versed in Latin, French and Spanish; was a comely lass and "a wise head on young shoulders".
In Bisley Manor, the sigh of relief was surely the loudest ever gusted. But the actions of the governess had not passed unnoticed by the simple village souls and so began the record in the Boy May Queen, to continue, I believe, up to the late nineteen-fifties. I have no idea if this still happens as we so seldom see the Maypole on the village green, or the dance with coloured ribbons weaving their own special magic. Today the ‘May
But the story is by no means over. The boy's masquerade was only
History is made in the deaths of Kings and
Mary's health began to fail and she spent a summer at Richmond House with
Why may we believe that the Queen was not what she seemed? Let's look at our own views of transvestism; for here we may gain answers that seem to fit the puzzle. We can use our feelings to add fuel to the fires that down the passage of time can make some sense in our own understanding.
It is not up to me to draw conclusions, but Bram Stoker did, with much the same as you now read, yet without similar statements that, in the last twenty years, have become known to us from repeated press stories.
How similar these words are to those heard today from many a TS, "I am a woman trapped in a man's body". It's very close, isn't it?
While history can tell us much, we are not always told the complete truth. Even as late as the early fifties a request to exhume the body for examination was refused. The request to do so came from those who doubt the sex of the great queen who may have been a man. Even this little article helps to keep the rumour alive, the irony that "The Bisley Boy" may have factual grounding.
To end this, let me give you a later detail which Bram Stoker never knew. Around 1
The finder was a local churchman, who stated his belief in the story of the Bisley Boy. The fact that the same village has a Boy May Queen must have a reason, even if it is lost in the mists of antiquity.
Whatever view is taken, there are some who will believe and some who will not. Me? Well - I remember the Piltdown Man, and experts who are forever right - until a better expert proves them wrong!
I don't claim to be a histor