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1889, George Harrison - Unfit For Publication
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George Harrison, 1887

Below also see: George Harrison, 1888,
George Harrison, 1889,
George Harrison, 1891,
Miss Carrie Swain – Actress, 1887,
Gordon Lawrence, 1888

 

Evening News, Wed 6 Jul 1887 1

A HORRIBLE ACCUSATION.
————
IMPERSONATING FEMALES.

    In the Central Police Court this morning two youths of very effeminate appearance, named George Harrison, otherwise known as “Carrie Swain,” and James Baker, otherwise known as “Mary Ann,” were charged with having no lawful visible mean of support. From the evidence of Detective Keatinge and Constable Weston, it appears that the prisoners were in the habit of patrolling the streets together after dark, painted, powered, and bedecked with jewellery, impersonating females. On the night of the 30th ultimo the constable watched them in Pitt, Gipps, and George streets jostling and accosting men. Attention had been called to the conduct of the prisoners through complaints made to the police authorities by respectable people, who had been subjected to their importunities. The prisoners were convicted, and Baker, who had been arraigned at the Water Police Court a few weeks ago on a similar charge, but acquitted, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment in Parramatta gaol; and Harrison was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment with hard labour.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Argus, Thu 7 Jul 1887 2

INTERCOLONIAL TELEGRAMS.
———◦———
NEW SOUTH WALES.
————
(BY SPECIAL WIRE.)
————
(FROM OUR CORRESPONDENTS.)
————

Sydney, Wednesday.


    Serious complaints have been made lately of the disgusting behaviour in the principal streets of Sydney of two supposed females, who have been in the habit of jostling men and using filthy expressions. The police watched the proceedings of the offenders, who were found to be two young men, named James Baker and George Harrison, dressed as females, and painted and powered as a further disguise. Baker and Harrison were charged with vagrancy at the Central Police Court this morning, and sentenced to six and three months’ imprisonment respectively.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Sydney Morning Herald, Thu 7 Jul 1887 3

POLICE.
———◦———

    Mr [James] Buchanan, SM, disposed of the business in the Charge Court at CENTRAL POLICE COURT yesterday.

    George Harrison, charged with having no visible lawful means of support, was sent to gaol for three months with hard labour. James Baker, an old offender, who was similarly charged, was sent to gaol for six months. George Harrison and James Baker were charged with having no visible lawful means of support. The prisoners had been arrested by Detective [Edward] Keating and Senior-constable [William John] West. The charge against the prisoners was insignificant compared with the offence they had been guilty of, as disclosed by the evidence of the police officers. It appeared that numerous complaints had been made against them, and they were watched by the police. It was found that they were in the habit of walking the streets at night, impersonating females, and having powder and pearl cream upon their faces. They were in the habit of jostling men in the streets, and making use of disgusting expressions. Baker, who had been convicted on a former occasion, was sent to the Parramatta gaol for six months, and Harrison, who is a youth, was sent to gaol for three months.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Evening News, Thu 17 Nov 1887 4

A DETESTABLE CHARACTER.
————

    In the Central Police Court, George Harrison, alias “Carrie Swain,” an effeminate youth, was charged with vagrancy. From the evidence of Senior-constable Sawtell and Constable Brown, it appeared that the prisoner was in the habit of frequenting Hyde Park and College-street, painted, powered, and bedecked so as to represent a female. In this state he perambulated the streets and parks after dark. When arrested, it was found that he was wearing stays. The prisoner was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment with hard labour.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 18 Nov 1887 5

POLICE.
———◦———

    Mr [Whittingdale] Johnson, SM, presided in the Charge Division at the CENTRAL POLICE COURT yesterday.

    George Cooper, Thomas Ryan, and George Harrison, alias “Carry Swain,” were each sentenced to three months hard labour for being idle and disorderly persons.

 



George Harrison
, 1888

 
The Sydney Morning Herald, Sat 21 Apr 1888 6

POLICE.
———◦———

    Mr [Cornelius] Delohery DSM, dealt with the Charge business at the CENTRAL POLICE COURT yesterday.

    George Harrison, alias “Carrie Swain,” 19, was sentenced to gaol for six months hard labour for improper conduct in Belmore Park at midnight.

 



George Harrison
, 1889


Evening News, Mon 25 Feb 1889
7

A THOROUGH GAOL BIRD.
————

    At the Central Police Court on Saturday George Harrison, alias Carry Swain, an unpleasant-looking youth of 20 years of age, received a sentence of six months’ hard labor on a charge of having insufficient visible means of support. On the second charge of maliciously injuring a night-tub, value 3s, the property of the New South Wales Government, the accused was fined 20s, in default twenty-one days’ gaol. On a third charge of attempting to break out of No. 4 cell of the No. 1 Police Station by forcible removing an iron bar with intent to escape, he being then in custody on a charge of vagrancy, the accused was remanded until Monday next. The testimony of the police was to the effect that the prisoner was one of the most rascally lads in the city, and that there was a long list of convictions against him for various offences.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Sydney Morning Herald, Mon 25 Feb 1889 8

POLICE.
———◦———

    Mr [Whittingdale] Johnson, SM, presided at the CENTRAL POLICE COURT on Saturday [23 Feb 1889].

    George Harrison, 20, waiter, for having insufficient visible lawful means of support, was sent to gaol for six months with hard labour, and for maliciously injuring a night tub, valued at 3s., the property of the New South Wales Government, he was ordered to pay 3s. damages, besides 20s. fine, or 21 days in gaol. The same prisoner was also charged with attempting to break out of No. 4 cell at No. 1 Police Station by forcibly removing an iron bar with intent to escape, he being then in custody on a charge of vagrancy. On this charge the prisoner was remanded until Monday [25 Feb 1889].

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Evening News, Tue 26 Feb 1889 9

ATTEMPTED PRISON-BREAKING.
————

    An effeminate young man named George Harrison, alias Carrie Swain, was charged in the Central Police Court, yesterday, with attempting, whilst a prisoner of the Crown, to break out of No. 4 cell at No. 1 Police Station.

    The accused, who simpered, pouted, and fashioned his voice after the manner of the gentler sex, during the hearing of the case, is a well known character to the police. He was convicted on Saturday for being a common vagrant, and sentenced to six months’ hard labor. When arrested he was removed to the police station, pending the hearing of the charge, and it was whilst lying there that he attempted to escape.

    Constable George Evans said that the accused was placed in the cell in question at about twenty minutes to 11 o’clock on Friday morning last, where witness visited hm at frequent intervals. About twenty minutes past 5 o’clock on the evening of the same day witness visited the cell, when he found the accused in an excited condition, with his clothes covered with whitewash; his coat was off, and his boots were removed from his feet and tied together with a piece of linen. The guard-bed in the cell was standing up against the wall, and one of the strong iron bars was wrenched from the window, and some stone-work removed.

    Constable William Chambers gave corroborative evidence, and Mr O’Malley Clarke, SM, committed the accused for trial to the next Quarter Sessions, to be holden at Darlinghurst on next Thursday, the 28rh instant.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Sydney Morning Herald, Tue 26 Feb 1889 10

POLICE.
———◦———

    Mr G O’Malloy Clarke, SM, presided in the Charge Division of the CENTRAL POLICE COURT yesterday morning.

    George Harrison, charged on remand with attempting to break out of No. 4 cell at No. 1 police-station, was committed for trial at the next Court of Quarter Sessions.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Sydney Morning Herald, Thu 7 Mar 1889 11

METROPOLITAN QUARTER SESSIONS
WEDNESDAY.
(Before his Honor Judge McFarland.)

CASES FOR THURSDAY [7 March 1889]

    Robert Reid, Joseph Myers, Thomas Ryan, perjury; Geo. Harrison, attempting to escape; Peter William Rappeneker, shooting at with intent.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Evening News, Fri 8 Mar 1889 12

YESTERDAY’S QUARTER SESSIONS.
————
(Before his Honor Judge McFarland).

    Mr Herbert Harris conducted the prosecution for the Crown.

    ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE.—George Harrison pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with being in the lawful custody of George Evans, a police constable, on a charge of being an idle and disorderly person, he did unlawfully endeavor to escape out of the custody of the said person on February 22. In reply to the question as to whether anything was known of the prisoner, Mr Longford, the warder in attendance, said that Harrison was well known as a female impersonator. He had been previously convicted four times under the Vagrancy Act, and he was well known as a person in the habit of going about disguised as a woman and accosting men in the street. The prisoner was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment in Goulburn Gaol.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 8 Mar1889 13

METROPOLITAN QUARTER SESSIONS
THURSDAY
(Before his Honor Judge McFarland.)

ATTEMPTED ESCAPE.

    A young man named George Harrison pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to escape from the city lockup, and was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment in Goulburn gaol.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

George Harrison, Gaol photo sheet 14

SRNSW: NRS2138, [3/6050], Darlinghurst Gaol photographic description book, 1888-89, No. 4408, R5103, p. 160. Emphasis added.


Gaol Photo Sheet - 
Transcribed Details

No. 4408

Date when Portrait was taken: 26 Feb 1889

Name: George Harrison
alias Carrie Swain, the female impersonator.

Said to be a Pouftah 15

Native place: BC Parramatta

Year of birth: 1869

Arrived       Ship: —
in Colony }   Year: —

Trade or occupation
previous to conviction     } Groom or waiter

Religion: C o fE

Education, degree of: R&W

Height: 5' 6"

Weight       On committal: 132
in lbs       }   On discharge:

Colour of hair: Black

Colour of eyes: Brown

Marks or special features: Scar on inside left wrist; scar below right thumb; wart on back of right hand.

Where and when tried: Syd QS, 7 Mar 89

Offence: Attempt to breakout of lockup

Sentence: 12 months imprisonment Goulburn Gaol

Remarks: To be kept apart from other prisoners as much as possible.

Plead guilty

(No. of previous Portrait ... ) 

PREVIOUS CONVICTIONS

Where and When Offence. Sentence

CPO

ditto

ditto

ditto

  6

17

20

23

  7

11

  4

  2

1887

1887

1888

1889

Vagrancy

ditto

ditto

ditto

3 months hard labour

3 ditto

6 ditto

6 ditto

 



George Harrison
, 1891


The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 1 Jul 1891
16

POLICE.

    Mr Whittingdale Johnson, SM, presided at the ENTRAL POLICE COURT yesterday.

    Mr TK Abbott, SM, presided in the Charge Division of the WATER POLICE COURT.

    George Tremain, alias Harrison, alias Carrie Swain, was charged with stealing a quantity of plate and miscellaneous articles, valued at £15, from the dwelling-house of Richard Ansdell, Edgecliffe-road. The evidence showed that the prisoner had been employed at the house as butler. On the morning of the 20th instant a number of articles belonging to Messrs Brough, Cecil Ward, and Cox, boarders, were stolen. Some of the articles were found in the possession of the accused. He was committed for trial at the next Quarter Sessions.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Evening News, Fri 7 Aug 1891 17

THE ACTORS’ WARDROBE.
————

    Two young men named George Tremain and James Deward were found guilty at the Quarter Sessions yesterday on a charge of having on June 19 burglariously entered the dwelling-house of Richard E ansdell, and stolen 23 spoons and 20 forks, the property of Mr ansdell; two overcoats and a pair of trousers, the property of Cecil Ward; one pair of trousers, one coat, and two shirts, the property of Charles D Cox; and an umbrella, the property of Robert Brough. On the date mentioned, Mr Ansdell’s house was entered while the inmates were asleep, and the stolen articles, some of which belonged to Messrs Brough and Ward, the well-known actors, were traced to accused. Tremain, who had been previously convicted, had formerly been employed by Mr Ansdell, and was well acquainted with the premises. He was sentenced to seven years’ penal servitude, and Deward to five years.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 7 Aug 1891 18

METROPOLITAN QUARTER SESSIONS.
THURSDAY.
(Before his Honor Judge McFarland.)

JUROR FINED.

    William Pointing, butcher, 340 Riley-street, Sydney, and William Henry Warskitt, commercial traveller, Warren-road, Marrickville, were each fined £2 for non-attendance as jurors.

ALLEGED BURGLARY

    George Tremain [aka George Harrison, Carrie Swain] and James Denard were charged with breaking into and entering the dwelling-house of Richard Eden Ansdell, at Woollahra, at about 4 am on June 20 last, and stealing 23 spoons and 20 forks, the property of Richard Ansdell; two overcoats and a pair of trousers, the property of Cecil Ward; a pair of trousers, a coat, and two shirts, the property of Charles Douglas Cox; and an umbrella, the property of Robert Brough. The prisoners were also charged with receiving these articles.

    The jury returned a verdict of guilty against both prisoners. Tremain had a very bad record, and had been convicted on four different occasions for vagrancy of an objectionable character. Evidence was given that he was known by the name of “Carrie Swain.” Tremain was sentenced to seven years’ penal servitude and Denard to five years’ penal servitude.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


George Harrison, Gaol photo sheet 19

SRNSW: NRS2138, [3/6053], Darlinghurst Gaol photographic description book, 1891, p. 168, No. 5147, R5104.


Gaol Photo Sheet - 
Transcribed Details

No. 5147

Date when Portrait was taken: 1-7-91

Name: George Tremain alias Carrie Swain

Native place: BC Parramatta

Year of birth: 1869

Arrived       Ship: —
in Colony }   Year: —

Trade or occupation
previous to conviction     } Groom or waiter

Religion: CofE

Education, degree of: R&W

Height: 5' 6"

Weight       On committal: 142
in lbs       }   On discharge:

Colour of hair: Black

Colour of eyes: Brown

Marks or special features: see former photo

Where and when tried: Sydney QS 6 Aug 1891

Offence: Stealing in a dwelling

Sentence: 7 years penal servitude

Remarks:

(No. of previous Portrait ... 4408

PRISON HISTORY

Where and When Offence. Sentence

CPO

ditto

ditto

ditto

Sydney Q.S

  6

17

20

23

  7

  7

11

  4

  2

  3

1887

1887

1888

1889

1889

Vagrancy

ditto

ditto

ditto

Attempt to break out of lockups

3 months hard labour

3 ditto

6 ditto

6 ditto

12 months imprisonment
Goulburn Gaol

 



Miss Carry Swain
 20


Illustrated Sydney News, Mon 16 May 1887
21

MISS CARRIE SWAIN.

“Miss Carrie Swain. Now performing in the ‘Miner’s Daughter’ at the Criterion Theatre.” Image: Illustrated Sydney News, Mon 16 May 1887, p. 1. Reproduction: Peter de Waal
“Miss Carrie Swain. Now performing in the ‘Miner’s Daughter’
at the Criterion Theatre.” Image: Illustrated Sydney News,
Mon 16 May 1887, p. 1. Reproduction: Peter de Waal

ON our front page we present to our readers a portrait of the bright, vivacious, mercurial little lady whose rare talents as an actress and singer have secured for her, in the most emphatic way, the suffrages of Sydney theatre-goers. Miss Carrie Swain’s reputation had already preceded her, and when she appeared in the “Tomboy,” critical habitués of our Thespian temples were not slow to see that, astonishingly clever and versatile as were her character sketches, there was far more in the actress than could possibly find in a field in that marvellous medley. This belief was abundantly confirmed when, on the 9th April, she appeared at the Criterion with distinguished success as “Mab,” in the “Miner’s Daughter” of Bret Harte. The plot of that pathetic play is, it need hardly be said, well known, and Mab is an eminently original and bewitching personification, full of singular, captivating characteristics, racy and redolent of Californian habits and manners; and Miss Swain not only played Mab as if to the “manner born,” but scored so triumphant a success that the piece is running with unabated interest as we pen this sketch. In addition to her remarkable gifts as an actress, Miss Swain possesses a voice of phenomenal sweetness and range, which she uses with great skill and effect. It is now about nine years since she began her professional career in San Francisco; and about four years since, in the “Tomboy,” the “Miner’s Daughter,” and “Jack in the Box,” she came out as a full-fledged “star.”

    Five months have elapsed since Miss Swain landed in Adelaide on her professional engagement, and after playing in Melbourne, she opened here at the Theatre Royal with the result we remember; a success which, judging from all that is viable, need fear no abatement. One interesting fact about Miss Swain is not generally known. We refer to her exceeding skill as a swimmer. The spirited lady, at Atlantic City, swam two miles in the ocean in fifty-eight minutes; no bad achievement, it will be admitted, and she hold two gold medals from the New York Humane Society, having actually rescued four persons from certain drowning. What do you think of that, Professor Cavill? Or of this? Miss Swain offers to swim any woman in the world for £1,000 a side; clearly indicating in the most unmistakable way her proficiency and prowess in the extremely useful and much-neglected natatory art.

    It only remains to be said that this captivating artist seems to appreciate the city which has so lavishly bestowed its favours upon her, and is now stying for a forthcoming opera, the libretto of which is by Mr Leopold Jordan, and the music by that admirable composer and pianist, M Henry Kowalski.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Pets of the Public, 1888 22

Pets of the Public, 1888. Photo: Peter de Waal
Pets of the Public, 1888. Photo: Peter de Waal

MISS CARRIE SWAIN.

“She sings like one immortal, and she dances
As goddess-like to her admired lays.”

    Nature has been very bountiful to Carrie Swain, who on her part shows her gratitude by keeping nature always before her as her model. Hence comes her power over her audiences an her popularity with the public. She has the voice of a bullfinch, and she sings as the birds sing in the sunshine, full-throated and full-hearted; she has the ease of a butterfly, and she dances as the ripples dance on a rivulet, from sheer impulse and lightness unconfinable. In all her moods, and they are many, their manifestations are just those which nature dictates, and consequently just those which the hearts of the people instinctively recognise. You do not trouble yourself about any rules of art when you are watching her performances any more than you would calculate the curves of a roseleaf by the rules of geometry. The rose is right as it is, being a rose, and Carrie Swain is right as she is being herself.

    The wonderful energy and earnestness she displays have also a great deal of influence upon her audiences. When she gets into a rage, you feel that her opponent will have a very rough time of it, when she starts to do a thing you have an inmate consciousness that it will be done. Thus in the Tomboy when it is the case of a mere street waif against the world, you back the waif for all you are worth and feel quite sure she will win, not because heroines always do win, but because Miss Swain herself goes about all she undertakes in a perfectly irresistible manner. When she overcomes and binds Mrs Disbrow, you think it very lucky for the excellent artist who represents that character that the struggle is only stage play, for the Tomboy would evidently succeed if they were in earnest. When she swings herself out by the telegraph wires you do not tremble for her neck just because she manifestly never thinks about it, and when she dashes into the water after the child you forget all about the tank and the advertisements and the theatre, and realise the situation as if it were actually happening.

Miss Carrie Swain. Source: Pets of the Public: ..., by Edward Ellis, 1888, p. 59. Photo: Peter de Waal
Miss Carrie Swain. Source: Pets of the Public: ..., by
Edward Ellis, 1888, p. 59. Photo: Peter de Waal

    In the Miner’s Daughter Miss Carrie Swain succeeds in bringing a glimpse of Californian mountain life upon the stage as fully as Bret Harte brings it before the mind’s eye in his book. The neglected, uncared-for child of the tipsy miner is as free from a personage among the people by whom she is surrounded, and this attribute of her part is precisely the one which Miss Swain best knows how to individualise. Whether she is engaged in comforting her father, joking with the driver, defying her schoolfellows or rescuing the imprisoned schoolmaster makes very little difference. She is always the centre of observation, not merely by the dramatist’s intention, but because there is an attractive power in all she does which is almost magnetic in its force and influence.

    Miss Swain has only played a short range of parts in Australia, and she is to leave us at an early date. But she will always be remembered here as a charming singer, a fearless gymnast, and a bright, vivacious actress. It has been her fortunate lot by means of her powers as a swimmer to save several lives. It is also her still more lucky fate to bring brightness and fun and merriment into the commonplace lives of tens of thousands of the people of Australia.

    Miss Carrie Swain began her stage career as a child actress under the famous John McCullough, of the Californian Theatre, San Francisco, some few years back. She could not have had a better school, for John McCullough’s company was one of the very best ever gathered together in modern times. He always engaged every star of the first magnitude who could be got for love and money, and many of his company have become stars themselves as the time has rolled along. But Miss Swain has to a great extent formed her own style. She owes little of her success to any school of art, but most to the assiduity and intelligence with which she has cultivated and applied the gifts of nature.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Evening News, Mon 23 Jan 1905 23

CARRIE SWAIN.
————

    LONDON, January 22.—The action brought in Paris against Mr Frank Gardner, well known in West Australian mining companies, by a woman to establish the validity of her marriage to him, or, if it is invalid, to recover £40,0000 compensation, has again been postponed. The woman, who was formerly known as Miss Carrie Swain, an actress, went through the form of marriage with Mr Gardner in San Francisco in 1886, and was acknowledged as his wife till 1901.

    (Miss Carrie Swain made her first appearance at the Theatre Royal, Sydney, on February 5, 1887, under the management of Messrs Williamson, Garner, and Musgrove. Her opening play was “The Tomboy,” in which she made a big hit with her singing, dancing, and acting. Among her “changes” was a messenger boy, and she was universally admitted to be the most perfectly-figured “boy” seen on the stage up to that time. Miss Swain was a fine swimmer, and one of the sensations of the play was a dive into a tank of real water. She was supported by Mrs George Gordon, Miss Jenny Watt Tanner, Miss Nellie Mortyne, Miss Powys, Miss Edith Drury, and Messrs BN Jones, JR Greville, RE Watson, Hans Phillips, WH Seagrave, C Burford, F Dark, and Sam Nelson. A feature of this performance was a double song and dance, “We are going to be married next Sunday,” by Miss Swain and Mr Watson, which was whistled all over Sydney for years afterwards. Miss Swain next appeared in “The Miner’s Daughter,” in which she was supported by Messrs G Leopold, HN Douglas, JG Joyce,, GP Carey, D’Orsey Ogden, John Forde, Miss Virginia Vivienne, and others. In this she sang “Beauty Sleep” (Arditi), which was specially arranged by Signor Hazon, and “Polly, the Cows are in the Corn.” She subsequently played a season at the Criterion Theatre, and her manager on both occasion was Mr Frank Gardner.)

 


 
Gordon Lawrence, 1888


Detective MF Sexton’s report, Mon 1 Oct 1888
24 & 25

[page 1]

VICTORIA POLICE.—(47.)

Offender Gordon Lawrence
Impersonates woman

Melbourne Police District.
1-10-1888

Exhibition Station, Melbourne.

    REPORT OF: Detective M[ichael] F[rancis] Sexton.

    RELATIVE TO: Gordon Lawrence arrested at the Exhibition on the 29th ultimo dressed in female’s attire.

    In company with Detective G West — I was on duty at the Exhibition on the 29th ultimo. At 8.45 pm we noticed two persons apparently females promenading the Exhibition. One of them whom I subsequently recognised as Gordon Lawrence was behaving in a very imprudent manner. He would make faces at different respectable gentlemen, wink at them and by using his feminine voice attract them to follow him about the Exhibition. His companion was a woman apparently 50 years of age whom I subsequently traced to be a Mrs Broughton of 274 George St, Fitzroy. We kept them under surveillance for about 20 minutes when we acquainted Inspector Swale of the matter. At that officer’s request we brought Gordon Lawrence to the Police Office 26 in the Exhibition. It was with the greatest difficulty that we brought him to the Police Office

[page 2]

as when I asked him to accompany me to the Police Office he declined and I therefore had to pull him along with me which caused the False hair he was wearing to partly fall off and expose his own natural hair. When the spectators saw or assumed that he was a male through his false hair partly falling off they exclaimed “Kill the Bugger”, drown him, and shoot him and other obscene assertions and most probably would have malltreated Gordon Lawrence had it not been for the intervention of the Police who luckily were coming on the Relief at 9 pm.

    At the Police Office Lawrence when asked by Detective West and me why he had personated a Female indignantly replied “That he wished to God he was a Woman” as he could make plenty money then. He also admitted to us that he is a Sodomite and had practised that vocation in New South Wales and Victoria. We then took him to the City Watch House and locked him up on a charge of Insulting Behavior. On the 30th ultimo in company

[page 3]

VICTORIA POLICE.—(47.)

with Sergt Love I searched his lodgings at George St, Fitzroy where I found a number of bottles of Medicines and Syringes which are used by Sodomites. There was also a lot of lady’s underclothing, Dresses, Fans, Scents and other requisites used generally by males who personate females, there were also indecent Photographs. Sergt Love and I took charge of the aforesaid articles and medicines and produced them in Court this morning when I entered a charge of Vagrancy against Gordon Lawrence and he was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment. Lawrence is well known to Detective Greaves of Sydney who is doing duty at present at Melbourne Exhibition and who described him at the City Court this morning as a Sodomite from New South Wales. In conclusion I must state that Gordon Lawrence acted imprudently but not indecently during his stay


[page 4]

at the Exhibition on the 29th ultimo. I beg to refer you to the Brief which I prepared for the prosecution and which can be obtained at the Office of the Criminal Investigation Branch.

[Signed] MF Sexton,
CIB Const 3884.

Forwarded to the Sup[erintenden]t of Police Melbourne. I understand the Chief Commissioner requires this report at once.

Exhibition
1/10/88

[signed] W Thomas
Sub Inspector

For the C[hief] Commissioner’s inf[or]m[ation]
[two illegible initials]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Gordon Lawrence gaol photograph, 1888
27

Central Register of Male Prisoners, VPRS 515: Unit 40, Entry no. 22736. Public Record Office Victoria.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


The Age, Mon 1 Oct 1888 28

STRANGE SCENE AT THE
EXHIBITION.
———◦———
ARREST OF A PSEUDO-WOMAN.
————

    Loungers in the Avenue of Nations on Saturday evening found the monotony of the “block” somewhat varied by the conduct of two ladies—one middle aged, the other seemingly yet in her teens—whose appearance was sufficient to excite the interest of the whole promenade. The elder—portly, buxom and grave, as befitted her years—extended the countenance of her matured age to her companion, whose slender figure, set off to advantage by a stylish costume, and aided by an occasional coy glance, made her the object of a good many admiring glances. Unfortunately an unexpected incident disturbed that harmony of the scene. Detective Sexton, whose curiosity had been aroused by the little gathering which followed the ladies on their way, tapped the younger on the shoulder and suggested that she should accompany him quietly to the police office. The damsel, however, was not disposed to accept this friendly advise with a good grace. She expostulated, and protested amid murmurs of sympathy from the crowd that she was being insulted, and flatly refused to budge. It became necessary to use stronger arguments, and something like a struggle occurred, in the midst of which the young lady’s fashionable hat was knocked off, carrying in its fall an ample coiffure of golden locks and disclosing to view a remarkably masculine looking head covered with close cut black hair. This unexpected discovery changed the feeling of the crowd in a moment, and, finding the spectators disposed to become aggressive, the elder lady arrested a favorable opportunity to vanish, while Detective Sexton took his prisoner to the police office. This was not an easy matter. The crowd was every moment increasing, and as it became known that a man had been masquerading in woman’s attire there was a very marked inclination to do the offender personal violence. Still, with a good deal of trouble, the officer reached the office, which was immediately blockaded by a throng of over 1000 people, who demanded the man should be handed over to them. Fearing personal violence for their prisoner, the police pretended to take him out by the back door, and when the crowd had rushed to the spot hurried him out by the front entrance, took him in charge of an escort of constables to a cab, and lodged him safely in the city watch house, where he gave his name as Gordon Lawrence, an actor, residing at 274 George-street, Fitzroy. Up to this time the police had been unable to satisfactorily settle the question of sex. Lawrence’s make up was so perfect that it was impossible to detect the deception. He looked like a woman, he spoke like a woman; even Detective Sexton’s assurances that he knew his prisoner perfectly failed to convince his colleagues that a serious mistake had not been made, and a gross outrage perpetrated upon an innocent girl. Lawrence’s confession that he had been indulging in a freak by dressing as a woman came to everyone as a surprise. According to his statement he had but lately come from Sydney, and had been lodging for the last month with a Mrs Broughton, who, he admitted, was his companion at the Exhibition. On the following day Detectives Lovie and Sexton went to the house in George-street, and after cross-examining Mrs Broughton, seized the prisoner’s effects, which included, among a large collection of toilet requisites, some articles of a more suspicious nature. There is reason to believe that Lawrence is no novice at masquerading as a woman, and that there are circumstances in the case not dissimilar to those of the notorious Bolton-Parkes affair. It seems that Lawrence was well known to Detective Sexton, who only last week arrested him on a charge of being concerned in a diamond robbery in Sydney. Lawrence turned out not to be the man wanted, though, curiously enough, he is said not only to bear a striking resemblance to him, but to be his chosen associate. It is probable that additional light will be thrown on the case by the prisoner’s appearance before the City Police Court to-day.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Argus, Mon 1 Oct 1888 29

EXTRAORDINARY CASE OF
IMPOSTURE.
———◦———
A MAN IMPERSONATES A WOMAN.

    On Saturday night, at the Exhibition, Detective Sexton arrested a man names Gordon Lawrence, who statews that he is 21 years of age, and an actor by profession, on a charge of insulting behaviour. Lawrence was dressed in woman’s clothes and was most admirably made up. In company with a woman named Mrs Broughton, who resides at 274 George-street, Fitzroy, he was conducting himself in a somewhat peculiar manner in the Avenue of Nations, about 9 o’clock. Detective Sexton was so much struck with the extraordinary resemblance between this soi-disant woman, and Lawrence, whom he had detained a few days previously on suspicion of his being concerned in a robbery of a diamond ring at Sydney, but found he was not the man wanted, that he went up to him to obtain a closer view. Lawrence had by this time attracted a number of men around him, and they were jostling him about. This rough play disturbed the fair wig which he wore, and disclosed a portion of his close-cropped natural black hair. This convinced the detective that it was really Lawrence impersonating a woman, and he arrested him. The story spread rapidly, and such was the curiosity of the crowd to see the individual that it was with greatest difficulty that Lawrence was taken to the police offices in the building. Here it was found that the detective’s surmise was correct. Lawrence was dressed in a red skirt with a blue and white body. His hat was of a fashionable shape, and was entirely trimmed with red. A fan and sunshade coquettishly carried completed his outfit. His cheeks and lips were painted, and his eyebrows neatly pencilled. His slight figure, small feet and hands, and feminine voice completed the illusion, and with his fair curly wig carefully fixed on, it was difficult to believe that he was a man.. The crowd that had assembled outside the police offices was so great that it was impossible to get through with Lawrence in order that he might be taken to the city watchhouse, and for a time the place remained in an actual state of siege. At last the rumour was spread that Lawrence had been taken out the back way, and the crowd at once rushed in that direction, and Lawrence was then transferred to the city lock-up. He is known to have arrived from Sydney about six weeks ago, and has since then been boarding with Mrs Broughton, who asserts that she did not know that he was a man. He will be brought before the City Court to-day, charged with vagrancy and with insulting behaviour in a public place.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Argus, Tue 2 Oct 1888 30

EXTRAORDINARY CASE OF
IMPOSTURE.
———◦———

    At the City Court yesterday the young man Gordon Lawrence, who was arrested at the Exhibition on Saturday, where he was impersonating a woman, was charged with vagrancy. Evidence was given by several of the detectives that he was known to belong to a gang in Sydney who were suspected of most abominable practices. He was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. Since his arrest several of the articles of female attire which were found in the room which he occupied in the house at 274 George-street, Fitzroy, have been identified by Dr Henry, of Brunswick, as Mrs Henry’s property. Lawrence was for some time employed as page at Dr Henry’s, and though the articles were missed while he was there, no suspiciong alighted on him. A charge of larceny will probably be preferred against him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Age, Tue 2 Oct 1888 31

A STRANGE CASE OF
PERSONATION
———◦———
LAURENCE SENTENCED TO SIX MONTHS’
IMPRISONMENT.
————
EXCITING SCENE IN COURT.
————

    The young man Gordon Lawrence, who was arrested in female disguise at the Exhibition on Saturday night, was presented before the City Court yesterday on charges of insulting behaviour and vagrancy. Public excitement ran high, and from before 10 o’clock, until fairly late in the afternoon the entrance to the police station in Little Collins-street was blocked by a crowd of spectators who gazed anxiously at the empty prison van in the vain hope that the prisoner might at any moment alight from it. The court was crowded, and the police had the greatest possible difficulty in keeping the avenue, and even the reporters’ box, clear from intrusion, finally, after the usual list of police charges had been completed, the case was called on, and the prisoner was placed at the bar. His appearance caused a decided sensation. Dressed in a red skirt, and a close fitting jacket of blue, striped with white, the outlines of his figure wonderfully resembled those of a woman, and the deception was still further increase by a flaxen wig, surmounted by a jaunty hat. The costume was, perhaps, a trifle load; but, even in the nervousness of the moment the prisoner displayed no awkwardness in his woman’s garments, which, indeed, he wore with the unconscious ease of a person long accustomed to their use. As he lent easily \upon the bar, his eyes modestly downcast, and one silk-gauntletted hand fingering with the imitation diamond cross, which rose and fell perceptibly at his breast, there was nothing whatever to betray his sex. In every look, in every motion, in every line of his figure he was a woman. The momentary mistake of the presiding magistrate in asking what “she” was charged with was an unconscious testimony to the excellence of the impersonation. And when, a moment later, the prisoner uttered a brief denial of the charge, in a voice that, despite all its affectation, was yet a woman’s voice, a thrill ran through the court. It was evident that here was something more than mere acting, and that the portrayal was wonderfully assisted by nature.

    The evidence was decidedly of an unpleasant character. A few words served to detail the circumstances under which the arrest was made. Then followed the mute testimony of the articles found at the prisoner’s lodging, and finally came the proof, anticipated by everyone, of a long career of nameless immorality. Now and then, apparently for form’s sake only, the prisoner asked a few questions, always in the same piercing soprano, but he made no attempt to contradict the horrible assertions made against him. Witness followed witness without check, and the charge grew steadily blacker against the prisoner. In half an hour the case was concluded, and the accused was sentenced to six months imprisonment.

    And now came another proof of Lawrence’s histrionic powers. The sentence had scarcely been pronounced when he threw up his arms, uttered a wild shriek, and fell headlong to the ground. Two stout policemen fished him out from behind the rail, and carried him rigid and senseless into the outer corridor. Then he quietly slid to the ground, leant against the wall, and winked at the constables. A few minutes later he had divested himself of the borrowed plumage, and stood revealed as a sallow faced and unpleasant looking young man of rather vulgar type. His woman’s clothing were taken into the police station, where a portion of it was identified by Dr Henry, of Brunswick, as having been stolen from him a fortnight before, while the prisoner was employed by him as boots. It is probable that the prisoner will be again presented before the court on a charge of larceny.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Weekly Times: and Town and Country Journal, Sat 6 Oct 1888 32

REMARKABLE IMPOSTURE.
————
A MAN DISGUISED AS A GIRL.

    There was a scene of immense excitement at the Exhibition-building on Saturday night, due to the discovery of Detective Sexton, that a remarkable imposture was being undertaken by Gordon Lawrence, aged twenty-one, calling himself an actor, who was promenading in the Avenue of Nations, elaborately attired as a young female. Determined attempts were being made by a number of disgusted and exasperated people to seize the personator, so that they might wreak summary vengeance on him. The deception was so well conceived and carried into effect, that had it not been that the detective officer had interviewed Lawrence as a suspect on a criminal matter recently—when he was in male attire—and was familiar with his facial peculiarities, the imposture would have remained undetected. The case is classed by the police as one of the most singular they have encountered during the long course of their experience, and it is only eclipsed by that of the celebrated De Lacy Evans, who for so many years worked amongst miners without her sex being discovered. Lawrence, in company with an elderly woman named Broughton, a widow, with whom he has lately been living at 274 George street, Fitzroy, arrived at the Exhibition early in the evening, and the pair promenaded about all over the building. The attendance was very large, and among the vast throng there was not one who entertained the faintest idea that Lawrence was other than he assumed to be—a young and giddy maiden who cast side glances at young men. The intervention of the detective officer came in time. When a week ago he had a long interview with Lawrence, who was suspected of being identical with a fellow charged with committing a diamond robbery in Sydney, he paid particular attention to the fact that Lawrence had a wart on one side of the chin. So when he observed Mrs Broughton and her apparently young female friend walking along the Avenue of Nations he recognised Lawrence. Lawrence was attired in a red dress; navy blue jacket with white striped; black straw hat, plentifully trimmed with ribbon and flowers; and an auburn wig. A lady’s cloud was thrown carelessly over one arm, and he carried a showy parasol and a fan. His eyebrows were penciled, his face, which is of a purely feminine cast, amply powered, and his lips had been made to appear very red. The detective officer approached the personator, and requested him to step aside, but Lawrence, whose voice is, like his features, very feminine, assumed an attitude of indignation, and repelled the officer with well affected scorn. A brother officer, less confident then the discoverer of the fraud that it was a male person they were addressing, suggested that they had made a mistake, but Sexton was not to be so outwitted, and laid a hand on Lawrence. The hand was repulsed with a violent effort, but by it the auburn wig was turned away, disclosing the closely-cropped dark hair of Lawrence, and thus the officer obtained verification of his suspicion. It was only by great exertions that the prisoner was escorted to the police office in the building without sustaining bodily injury, for the story spread so quickly that about 1,000 people surged round the police party and their captive, some of whose apparel was torn off by the crown. The prisoner could only be safely taken to the City station house by strategy, so by direction of Sexton a person spread the report amongst the crowd that the personator was being taken away by a side door. There was an immediate rush to the place indicated, and Detectives West and Sexton seized the opportunity and took Lawrence out at the front entrance, placed him in a cab, and drove off in haste to the watchhouse.

    The police on Sunday went to 274 George street, Fitzroy—a small cottage at the corner of a side street—and there saw Mrs Broughton, who had disappeared during the rush on Saturday night, but she denied knowing anything of Lawrence beyond that he had lodged there a couple of weeks. She said she had only gone to the Exhibition with him because he had asked her. However, Detectives Lovie, DG O’Donnell, and Sexton searched the place and took charge of some articles said to belong to Lawrence.

    The charged entered against him was one of insulting behaviour.

Prize design for the Melbourne International Exhibition Building, 8 Jun 1878. Image: Vic State Library collection. Reproduction: Peter de Waal
Prize design for the Melbourne International Exhibition Building, 8 Jun 1878.
Image: Vic State Library collection. Reproduction: Peter de Waal

    On the criminal side of the City Court on Monday, before Mr Call, PM, and a bench of justices of the peace, the young man Gordon Lawrence, who was arrested whilst he was promenading about the Exhibition building in female attire on Saturday night, was brought up in custody. The charge of insulting behaviour on which he was arrested had been altered to one of vagrancy. He was fully attired in female apparel, and there was so intense a desire on the part of the public to see him that there was some crushing.

    Detectives Sexton, West, and Lovie explained the circumstances attending his arrest and the seizure of sundry articles at 274 George street, Fitzroy, where he had latterly been living with a Mrs Broughton.

    The prisoner’s defence was that he had only disguised himself as a female “for a lark,” but Detective Greaves, of Sydney, gave some evidence which satisfied the Bench that it was not so, and the prisoner was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. When he heard the decision of the Court he put up his hands to his face, and called out like a woman, and fell apparently in a faint, but recovered almost immediately and was taken to the cells, where he was given male attire to put on. It has transpired that he was in the employ of Dr Henry, of Brunswick, as a “buttons” recently, and that some of the clothing he was wearing was stolen from that gentleman’s house.

 


1     Evening News, (Sydney, NSW), Wed 6 Jul 1887, p. 5.

2     The Argus, Thu 7 Jul 1887, p. 8.

3     The Sydney Morning Herald, Thu 7 Jul 1887, p. 12.

4     Evening News, (Sydney, NSW), Thu 17 Nov 1887, p. 5.

5     The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 18 Nov 1887, p. 4. Emphasis added.

6     The Sydney Morning Herald, Sat 21 Apr 1888, p. 10.

7     Evening News, (Sydney, NSW), Mon 25 Feb 1889, p. 6.

8     The Sydney Morning Herald, Mon 25 Feb 1889, p. 9.

9     Evening News, (Sydney, NSW), Tue 26 Feb 1889, p. 3. Emphasis added.

10   The Sydney Morning Herald, Tue 26 Feb 1889, p. 4.

11   The Sydney Morning Herald, Thu 7 Mar 1889, p. 4. Emphasis added. Quarter Session papers have not survived.

12   Evening News, (Sydney, NSW), Fri 8 Mar 1889, p. 3. Emphasis added.

13   The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 8 Mar1889, p. 4.

14   SRNSW: NRS2138, [3/6050], Darlinghurst Gaol photographic description book, 1888-89, No. 4408, R5103, p. 160. Emphasis added.

15   Private communications: (16 Jul, 20 Jul, 1 Aug 2006) with The Oxford Dictionary, indicate that ‘poofter’ (see p. 493 of the Oxford Dictionary) was first mentioned in Truth 1903. ‘Pouftah’, as mentioned in the above 1889 gaol photo sheet, will be recorded as an earlier use of this word in the Oxford Dictionary.

16   The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 1 Jul 1891, p. 7.

17   Evening News, (Sydney, NSW), Fri 7 Aug 1891, 6.

18   The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 7 Aug 1891, p. 7.

19   SRNSW: NRS2138, [3/6053], Darlinghurst Gaol photographic description book, 1891, p. 168, No. 5147, R5104.

20   It is interesting to note that George Harrison alias Carrie Swain—the female impersonator—adopted that name during the period when the actress Carrie Swain enjoyed great popularity. Carrie Swain began her stage career as a child actress at the California Theatre in San Francisco in the 1870s. She arrived in Australia in 1886 and spent the next two years touring the country and New Zealand. She had audiences gasping at her sheer energy and earnestness. She was a charming singer, a fearless gymnast, and a vivacious actress. After her lengthy season in Australia she returned to the States and continued to perform both there and in London.

21   Illustrated Sydney News, Mon 16 May 1887, pp. 1, 3 10.

22   Pets of the Public: …a book of beauty, containing twenty-five portraits of favourite actresses of the Australian stage, with critical and descriptive notes, Edward Ellis, 1888, pp. 59, 61-1.

23   Evening News, (Sydney, NSW), Mon 23 Jan 1905, 4.

24   Detective Sexton’s Report, 1 Oct 1888, Chief Commissioner’s Inward Registered Correspondence, VPRS 937: Unit 326, Public Record Office Victoria. Emphasis in original.

25   See also: Susanne Davies, ‘Sexuality, Performance, and Spectatorship in Law: The Case of Gordon Lawrence, Melbourne, 1888.’ in Journal of the History of Sexuality, vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 389-408. It is very likely that Gordon Lawrence and George Harrison knew each other.

26   Mn: Inspector in Charge Exhibition.

27   Central Register of Male Prisoners, VPRS 515: Unit 40, Entry no. 22736. Public Record Office Victoria .

28   The Age, Mon 1 Oct 1888, p. 7.

29   The Argus, Mon 1 Oct 1888, p. 10.

30   The Argus, Tue 2 Oct 1888, p. 5.

31   The Age, Tue 2 Oct 1888, p. 7.

32   The Weekly Times: and Town and Country Journal, (Melbourne, Vic), Sat 6 Oct 1888, p. 6.