User:Hillbillyholiday/Articles/Sarah Stanley

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Sarah Penelope Stanley c.1766-?


born Sarah Brindley in the house of a rich Warwickshire landowner by the name of Stratford, to whom her father was steward. She became an apprentice to a milliner in Lichfield, and then married a shoemaker, Stanley.[1]

In due course she left her husband and went to work in London. There she dressed as a man for the first time, and found a job as a clerk in the House of Commons.[1]

Whether by accident or by design, she met a recruiting sergeant in Westminster, and thereafter served in the Ayrshire Fencible Cavalry, a regiment of light horse.[2]

Sarah Stanley proved to be an exemplary soldier, rode with great skill and was promoted to the rank of corporal. After two years, and while the regiment was billeted in Carlisle, her imposture was discovered. Eloquent testimony to her ability to interact with men as a man was provided by the fact that recriminations and unpleasantness were avoided.[2]

She was honourably discharged after 'many marks of friendship [were] shewn her,' as the Newgate Calendar puts it, "not by Major Horsley, on whose troop she rode, but by other officers, and many of the inhabitants of Carlisle.[2]

Newgate Calendar[edit]

The Female Trooper, convicted at the Old Bailey, in October Sessions, 1796, of Petty Larceny

She came to London, was much reduced, and, through mere necessity, stole the cloak for which she was tried and convicted. She acknowledged her crime, and said it was the first offence of the kind she had committed, and had meant to make satisfaction. The Court passed a light sentence upon her, and she was discharged from Newgate. The two under-sheriffs and the keeper gave her some money to provide her with a few necessaries, and she left the court, promising henceforward to seek an honest livelihood in the proper habit of her sex. She was a masculine-looking woman, of about thirty years of age.

THIS woman was born at Mercival Hall, in Warwickshire, the seat of Mr Stratford, to whom her father was steward, whose name was Brindley. She was apprenticed to a milliner at Lichfield, and married to a shoemaker. Her husband being an idle, dissolute fellow, they were reduced to very indigent circumstances. She left him to come to London. Having had a good education, and writing an excellent hand, she put on men's apparel, and for some time wrote for gentlemen in the Commons, but meeting with a recruiting sergeant at Westminster, she engaged to serve in a regiment of light horse, then being raised, called the Ayrshire Fencible Cavalry. She served upwards of a year with great credit to herself, and was promoted to the rank of corporal. She rode extremely well, and had the care of two horses; but was discovered at Carlisle to be a woman, when she was honourably discharged, after many marks of friendship shown her, not only by Major Horsley, in whose troop she rode, but by the other officers and many of the inhabitants of Carlisle.[3]

The Lady[edit]

Bath, September 2. Sarah Penelope Stanley was lately discharged from the Ayrshire Fencibles, in which corps she had served for some time as a dragoon. Her sex was discovered in consequence of her receiving a kick from her horse. The mayor last week furnished her with the means to return home.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Donaldson, William (2002). Brewers' Rogues, Eccentrics & Villains. Cassell. p. 592. ISBN 0-304-35728-6. 
  2. ^ a b c Donaldson, William (2002). Brewers' Rogues, Eccentrics & Villains. Cassell. p. 593. ISBN 0-304-35728-6. 
  3. ^ "Sarah Penelope Stanley". 
  4. ^ The Lady's Magazine Or Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex: Appropriated Solely to Their Use and Amusement, Volume 30. Baldwin, Cradock & Joy. 1799. 


[[Category:FTM cross-dressers]]