- 1 LGBT History
- 2 Homosexuality in the Civil Service
- 3 Homosexuality and the Law: Criminalisation
- 4 Social Institutions
- 5 Trans History
- 6 References
The National Archives contain a large amount of information about LGBT matters. The files referenced below are available to view in their original form at the archives in Kew. The file references and their descriptions can be viewed in Discovery, The National Archives catalogue.
Homosexuality in the Civil Service
CAB 129/80 Statement on the Findings of the Conference of Privy Councillors (1956) First mention of homosexuals in the civil service as a 'character defect'.
BA 19/254 Effect of the Sexual Offences Bill 1966 on security policy.
BA 19/446 Guidance to departments about the employment of homosexuals in the public service (1972-1973)
Correspondence from the Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) to various civil service departments. Discussion amongst department Establishment Officers. Personnel security circulars on employment of homosexual staff.
BA 19/501 Guidance for departments on the employment of homosexuals in the public service, 02 Jan 1974 – 04 October 1978
Correspondence on Senior promotions: implications for homosexuality and discrimination against homosexuals in the employment in higher positions in the Civil Service. Files show a trend towards allowing for the promotion of homosexuals in the Civil Service (i.e. homosexuality not being a complete bar to career progression) but the need for review on a case-by-case and individual basis, given the merits of each case. Shows continuation of prejudice against homosexuals and barriers to their employment.
(Records of the Civil Service Department, Treasury, and Civil Service Department: Management (Personnel) Division Personnel Management (MP and PM Series)
AB 6/2648 Criteria for assessing character defects, 1961-1967
(Records of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and its predecessors, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and predecessors: Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell: Correspondence and Papers, Personnel Dept).
CAB 21/4035 Public services security: Conference of Privy Councillors; includes report, Nov 1955 – Mar 1956 (Cabinet Office and predecessors: Registered Files (1916 to 1965))
CAB 21/4036 Public services security: Conference of Privy Councillors; includes report, Mar 1956 – July 1956 (Cabinet Office and predecessors: Registered Files (1916 to 1965))
CAB 21/4037 Public Service Security: Conference of Privy Councillors; The Lord Chancellor's papers, Nov 1955 – Feb 1956 (Cabinet Office and predecessors: Registered Files (1916 to 1965))
CAB 21/4530 Positive Vetting Procedure: Treatment of Character Defects
Includes: S. (P.S.)(57)(23) 26th April 1957 Cabinet Personnel Security Committee – civil servants as security risks on other than Communist or Fascist grounds; S.(O)(56)(8) 1956 Cabinet Official Committee on Security: Letter from Treasury to Depts: and instructions to supervisory officers on the subject.
HO 342/314 Human Rights: Campaign for Homosexual Equality (1979)
Human Rights: Campaign for Homosexual Equality enquiry into discrimination against homosexuals in the UK; Campaign's offer to keep the Home Office informed of their findings, 1979 Feb 01 - 1979 Apr 30
Correspondence between CHE, Lord Chancellor's Department and Home Office.
HO 45/24960 Homosexual behaviour in the Armed Forces (1931)
1931 Note of conference on 07/05/31 between DPP and several representatives of the Armed Forces on ‘homosexual offences in which soldiers might particularly be concerned’. Forces looking for ways to discourage homosexual behaviour among personnel.
DEFE 70/96 Army discipline: homosexuality (11 Jan 1955 – 18 July 1968)
(Records of the Ministry of Defence, Records of Administrative Departments, Ministry of Defence (Army): Registered Files and Branch Folders, DIRECTORATE OF PERSONAL SERVICES (ARMY).
This file contains discussions surrounding amendments to the Sexual Offences Bill 1967 with particular reference to how it should apply to the armed forces and how this should be enforced and punished if necessary. This also includes discussions on homosexuality in London, lesbianism in the ATS during WW2 and the involvement of soldiers in prostitution.
WO 93/58 Homosexual offences in the armed forces - statistics
1955 - Statistics of homosexual offences by armed forces personnel. 1952-1953 – List of cases and results.
MEPO 2/8859 Homosexuals, soldiers and civilians: co-operation between the army and the police. (1931-1950)
This document contains activities of homosexuals, soldiers and civilians: co-operation between the army and the police. There is a particular reference to Richmond and "perverts" making use of the tow path along the River Thames in the Richmond and Barnes districts. A good example of local LGBT history.
Homosexuality in the Royal Navy: connection with security and blackmail, 29 Mar 1957 – 31 Dec 1969 (Records of the Admiralty, Naval Forces, Royal Marines, Coastguard, and related bodies, Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and predecessors: Miscellanea)
Increase in the number of cases of homosexuality in the Royal Navy (1969-1970) Some interesting guidance charts on how to deal with cases. There are some statistics of interest too. There is also an interesting newspaper extract about the seduction by homosexuals
Moral welfare – Policy and Procedures For dealing with Unnatural Friendships [in the WRAF] – Homosexual Practices involving members of the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF).
AIR 2/13859 Lesbians in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF)
WRAF – "Treatment of Immorality – Procedure in Connection with Immorality" Policies and procedures regarding lesbianism/homosexuality and cases of homosexuality between airwomen – members of the WAAF and WRAF. Includes lecture on "unnatural relationships between airwomen" given to the WRAF.
DEFE 71/362 RAF and WRAF Offences and misconduct: homosexual activities (1973 - 1977)
(Records of the Ministry of Defence, Records of Administrative Departments, Ministry of Defence (Air): Registered Files and Branch Folders)
Good source of memos, letters, policies regarding homosexuality and lesbians in the RAF and WRAF. Main focus is on the disjuncture between civilian and marshal law Covers period from 1968-1977
AIR 2/17160 Homosexual and other unnatural offences: Report on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution (Wolfenden Report), 1957, legislation and application to RAF (1965-1967)
Correspondence and material about how the proposed Sexual Offences Bill/Act should apply to the Armed Forces – discussion about why it was necessary that they should be exempt.
AIR 2/18125 (1970s) Treatment of homosexuals in the armed forces
How to treat homosexuals in the Armed Forces – parallels with circular in BA 19/446 Correspondence with Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) on employment of homosexuals – also BA 19/446 parallel Lots of discussion around the need for the armed forces to be exempt from decriminalisation.
AIR 2/10673 1960s and 1970s "Homosexual activities" – homosexuals in the Air Force
HO 45/25306 PROSTITUTION AND ALLIED OFFENCES: Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution
HO 44/20 Letter from J E Barker, Surgeon 10th Cavalry, dated May 20 1830 to Secretary of State apparently defending people who indulge in homosexual acts.
CO 37/118 1847 Letter from the Governor of Bermuda, Charles Elliot, 19 November 1847, to Earl Grey (Head of Colonial Office – not PM at time) – "reports made by one of the prisoners that unnatural offences had been perpetrated by prisoners of the same ward". Construction projects for naval workers on prison hulks, workers in hospital committing "unnatural acts" – request for guards on duty at night to prevent this.
CO 37/127 More correspondence from the Governor of Bermuda to Earl Grey on "unnatural offences" among prisoners/construction workers – described as "loathsome depravity".
Homosexuality and the Law: Criminalisation
HO 144/243/A53622 1890s Unnatural offences cases, bestiality and sodomy (lists of cases) 1890s
A review of the cases and varied lengths of sentences for sodomy following the Penal Servitude Act 1891 (c.69), requested by the Secretary of State. Information requested by…… Includes a case of two men convicted of sodomy with each other, one of whom committed suicide by taking poison in the police cell passage immediately after sentence. In the remarks column on one list: "Attempting to have carnal knowledge of one Rob t Dye against the order of nature."
PREM 13/1563 Prime Minister's Office: Correspondence and Papers, 1964-1970/ Home Affairs/Law relating to homosexual offences: introduction of new legislation/ Apr 1965-May 1967.
What is interesting is what else is consider alongside Homosexual Law Reform; "Sunday Entertainments Bill"; "Medieval Termination of Pregnancy Bill"; "Live Hare Coursing (Abolition) Bill"
HO 345/1 Report of Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution (Cmnd 247) - Sept 1957 (Little blue book outlining the research and conclusions).
HO 291/123 Wolfenden Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution (1957-58)
Debate in the House of Commons, 16th November 1958; Analysis of the speeches made during the debate; Copy of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Mr Renton) speech "Notes for the winding up speech on the debate of the Wolfenden Report"; Notes for the Secretary of State’s (Mr R A Butler) speech in opening the debate on the Wolfenden report.
Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution
Instructions for Drafting Legislation; Action on the Report; Consideration of the Committee’s Proposals
HO 291/125 Sexual Offences Act 1967
SEXUAL OFFENCES: RECORDS RELATING TO ACTION ON HOMOSEXUAL LAW REFORM FROM THE DEPARTMENTAL COMMITTEE ON HOMOSEXUALITY AND PROSTITUTION (WOLFENDEN REPORT 1957) TO THE SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT 1967. Leo Abse's bill to amend the law regarding homosexual offences, public and press reaction, Morale Welfare Council, Homosexual Law Reform Society, parliamentary questions, blackmail of homosexuals 1960-1964
PREM 11/4689 Reports in press of involvement by members of Houses of Parliament in protection rackets and homosexual activities (including allegations made about Lord Boothby, Tom Driberg MP, and Ronnie Kray)
Regarding a Kray brother and a Peer. Lots of useful newspaper extracts. "Some homosexuals are born queer, some become queer, and some have queerness thrust upon them"
Censorship and obscenities
HO 265/3 1978 Relating to obscenity – includes report by Colchester Homosexual Law Reform Group.
HO 265/5 Relating to obscenity and pornography
HO 265/8 136-138 - Committee on Obscenity and Film Censorship: Evidence and Papers/ 1977 - 1979 – see submissions from Scottish Homosexual Rights Group and Southwark/Lambeth Campaign for Homosexual Equality
Mainly on pornography and prostitution.
DEFE 71/362 Offences and misconduct: homosexual activities There is a particular reference to Lesbian activities and how these should be dealt with.
CUST 49/1057 Hall, Marguerite Antonia Radclyffe- (1880-1943), novelist (Radclyffe Hall) – 1928 - Seizure of obscene book imported from Paris: condemnation of The Well of Loneliness, author Miss Radclyffe Hall Original papers and additional papers discovered and added January 2005.
HO 144/22547 PUBLICATIONS: The Well of Loneliness by Miss Radclyffe Hall: obscene publication; order by Chief Magistrate for destruction 16 Nov 1928 - 1928-1946  Plus many original newspaper cuttings. [Many papers in the file are repetitions of CUST 49/1057, but in better condition.]
HO 45/15727 PUBLICATIONS: Extraordinary Women, by Compton Mackenzie. In the aftermath of the Well of Loneliness case, a Customs enquiry was raised regarding this novel, which also deals with lesbian themes. Legal and political opinions on whether to act to suppress it; decision not to do so.
DPP 1/88 Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness and obscene publication
Case papers concerning The Well of Loneliness from the Director of Public Prosecutions (1929)
Criminal cases: police and court files
SP 36/13 1729 - Criminals. Petitions. Petitions in favour of criminals and from criminals convicted. From whom: The criminal. Name of convict: John Blake Cowland. Crime: Sodomy. Sentence: Transportation but pardoned during his Majesty's pleasure. Where tried or confined: Old Bailey. Object of Petition: Relief & discharge. Folio 177.
HO 47/63/18 (Folios 205-236) 2 reports from C Abbott on 2 individual petitions (the prisoner) William Townsend alias William Pocock, convicted at the Old Bailey on 26 October 1822 of highway robbery and extracting money from Aaron Crossley Seymour 'under a pretence of charging him with an abominable act'. There is a memorial form John Cooper; an affidavit from George Hamilton, of the Fox and Hounds public house, Kingston upon Thames; an opinion on the case from [Lord] Eldon; a memorandum on the case, letters from William Powell, coach maker of Cheltenham and J W Parkins [x2]; Robert Peel [x5]; and Henry Hobhouse. The correspondence, affidavit and memorial record Seymour's ways of procuring boys for 'unnatural acts', Townsend extracting money in payment/blackmail and Seymour later absconding from a charge of a similar nature. (Abbott's report also contains a reference to John Martin capitally convicted at Appleby). Grounds for clemency: the money was promised to the prisoner to keep quiet, the prisoner did not ask for more than was offered, the money was not given to him, would have preferred to prosecute Seymour but did not have enough proof, the prosecutor absconded to Ireland, has since been caught in a 'foul act' and the prisoner is in a 'perilous' state in Newgate due to his disclosure of an escape plan by other prisoners. Initial sentence: death. Recommendation: 1) speaks in favour of mercy; 2) pardon, but '1 trust a pardon at this time will not afford any encouragement to such abominable accusers, nor establish a point of law in their favour'. Annotated: 'This is a most peculiarly guarded ansr [answer], I suppose Townsend must be pardoned' and 'I give a reluctant consent'.
Reference in one letter to 'Bishop Jocelyn's Gang' - cultural reference to scandal in 1822 to Percy Jocelyn, Bishop of Clogher.
CRIM 1/2/20 Jan 1841 - Defendant: BENHAM, Henry Charge: Buggery
Good file showing an early Victorian view point on buggery and what they got as a punishment.
HO 111/50 c.1850s (13th year in reign of Victoria)
William Hodson – sentenced to two years imprisonment for attempting to commit an "unnatural act" and is given a royal pardon. – see also PCOM 3/50 (prisons)
HO 144/243/A53622 1890s Unnatural offences cases, bestiality and sodomy (lists of cases) 1890s
A review of the cases and varied lengths of sentences for sodomy following the Penal Servitude Act 1891 (c.69). Information requested by…… Includes a case of two men convicted of sodomy with each other, one of whom committed suicide by taking poison in the police cell passage immediately after sentence. In the remarks column on one list: "Attempting to have carnal knowledge of one Rob t Dye against the order of nature."
CO 537/542 1907 9 days evidence from an inquiry into "unnatural offences" among mine labourers in the Transvaal – 1907.
Appears to be noticed in Edwardian shock at local customs of male-male sexual behaviour (Some locals had "no shame" in talking about it).
No outcomes. No final report or recommendations
HO 144/1043/183473 1909-10 "Crank" request – from someone wanting an investigation into Edward Carpenter (famous homosexual and sexologist) – but refused to investigate [interesting but insubstantial]
HO 144/1637/311643/140 Evidence that Roger Casement (prominent pro-Irish independence Englishman – hanged as a traitor by English) was homosexual. Doctor’s evidence – large "aperture".
HO 144/1637/311643/141 Roger Casement – examination of body after execution in 1919.
MEPO 3/405 Metropolitan Police: Office of the Commissioner: Correspondence and Papers, Special Series/Unnatural Offences/Francis Henry Bateman CHAMPAIN - importuning: successful appeal against conviction on grounds of drunkenness causing strange behaviour/ 1927
2 cases – drunk + disorderly and molesting young woman & importuning. Both prosecutions failed. Street offences committee reviewed evidence to see what went wrong
CRIM 1/387 Police raid on a 'disorderly house'
Central Criminal Court: Depositions/ Defendant: Britt, Robert Carre, Constance Berg, Alexander Smith, Charles (alias Lowhurst) Anderson, James Weir, Harold Cross, William McMillen, Leonard Jones, Lester Brown, Edwin Brewer, Harold Lummes, Bert Charge: Keeping a disorderly house/ Session: 1927 Feb. Academic reference: Matt Houlbrook, Queer London, pp. 72-73.
CRIM 1/633 Defendant: Beynon. Charge: Gross indecency with a male person, ‘buggery’. Session: 1933 Jan 10 Academic reference: Matt Houlbrook, Queer London, pp.
In-depth file. Includes a diary of the accused and statements from the housekeeper. Very interesting descriptions.
CRIM 1/638 Defendant: Salmon and (33) others Charge: Conspiracy to corrupt morals, keeping disorderly house
CRIM 1/639 Central Criminal Court: Depositions/ Defendant: Salmon and (33) others. Charge: Conspiracy to corrupt morals, keeping disorderly house. Session: 1933 Feb 7 – mentions lesbians at party – page 3 of report/ trans history/ discrimination based on how people were dressed – gender essentialism/Black LGBT history /people sticking up for themselves – say they are doing nothing wrong. Good quotes from those arrested.
CRIM 1/640 Defendant: Salmon and (33) others Charge: Conspiracy to corrupt morals, keeping disorderly house - Session: 1933 Feb 7 – with dress (The Caravan Club – see book about).
EXT 11/131 Public Record Office: Items extracted to boxed storage from various classes of records since 1 January 1999. 1 item extracted from CRIM 1/638. A pair of red silk pyjamas produced as evidence in R v Salmon and 33 others.
CRIM 1/735 Defendant: Neave and others Charge: Keeping a disorderly house/ Session: 1934 Oct 16 - go back to p. 28 of depositions – lesbian history also, gendered identity and language – also language that authorities underline to prove their point of people being "immoral" - Caravan Club
MEPO 3/758 1934-41 The Caravan Club, 81, Endell St, W.C. 1: "disorderly house, male prostitutes". Combination of "male prostitutes, lesbians and coloured people2.
MEPO 2/4485 1936 LIQUOR "The Running Horse Public House: permitting drunkenness and allowing disorderly conduct by undesirables on premises" Vibrancy and culture of queer life - lesbian history – woman asking if her wife had been in that eve/example of diverse people mixing/queer life/joking and socialising – how deal with homophobia – ’bohemians’ and diff people mixing – beard and sandalled man – last bookmark] 5 east chapel street w1
MEPO 2/8859 This document contains activities of homosexuals, soldiers and civilians: co-operation between the army and the police. There is a particular reference to Richmond and "perverts’…" making use of the tow path along the River Thames in the Richmond and Barnes districts. A good example of local LGBT history.
CRIM 1/903 Central Criminal Court: Depositions - Session: 1937 Jan 12 Defendant: JOYCE, LOCKE and 34 others Charge: Keeping a disorderly house – photographs/booklets – Kennington, bookmarked: Plan of Billie’s Club, Denmark Street; Black people in club/straight and gay – more accurate to use term "queer" life, in terms of multiple, non-fixed identities
CRIM 1/906 Central Criminal Court: Depositions/ Defendant: WEBSTER and COWELL. Charge: Gross indecency/ Session: 1937 Jan 12. Academic reference: Matt Houlbrook, Queer London, p. 49. shows persecution of gay people – police tactics of observing people in public urinals
MEPO 3/923 Harry Raymond and 11 others (some known sodomites) operating as a blackmail gang in Leicester Square 1937-39.
Police documents re. Harry Raymond aka Arthur Clive Gould, formerly an actor using Harry Raymond as his stage name. The file includes details of several cases of blackmail following the same pattern:
- A young man (late teens usually) meets an older man of ‘some social standing’
- Youth allows older man to do something slightly naughty with him in exchange for small amount of cash
- A few visits later, an ‘older brother’ turns up worried about youth. Will pressure man for money – often to help get ‘the boy away form this life’
- Sometimes starts small - £50 or so – and in some cases more – and in one up to £6500 change hands and £5000 more was demanded.
It becomes clear Harry Raymond mostly made money by fraud or extortion (or both). At one point a gang of 12, including some ‘known sodomites’ was at work under his direction. Victims mostly single men of means, both in London and the provinces (incl. Cornwall and Shetlands). HR imprisoned at Central Criminal Court.
CRIM 1/4284 1964 M. Fitzgerald – living as "Monica" – convicted of prostitution and indecency. Claims to have lived as a woman for 9 years and is having a sex change.
HO 291/1060 Homosexual offences: male importuning: 1966-1968 The document outlines society attitudes to male importuning particularly in the Oxford area. There are detailed descriptions of the arrest of males thought to be importuning in public toilets. There are also drawn maps of the area and detailed accounts given by plain clothed policemen who were at the scene.
There is also an interesting quotation in the files defining the difference between male and female prostitution: "there is a vast difference between a male person committing an indecent act against another male person and that of a female soliciting for the purpose of prostitution". (Oxford Police 1967)
Also included is a list of statistics regarding cautions for sexual acts- 1964.
MEPO 26/68 Police file on the murder of Julian Louis George SESSEE on 19-20 December 1970 by Mustapha Bassaine.
Sessee victim – Dutch national living in the UK, butler to Lord Bernstein, Chariman of Granada TV. Sessee was in a homosexual relationship with Bassaine, who was given money for this. Murder by meat cleaver and kitchen knife.
MEPO 26/16 1969 - Murder of Michael de Gruchy, victim of "queerbashing" 1970 – Trial papers - statements and final judgement
HO 144/1636/311643/40 Roger Casement – Harley Street doctor’s comment on the (Casement) diaries in which he says the writer must be "undoubtedly a mentally abnormal individual".
JA 1/44 1998 Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association: report and correspondence
Useful file showing some of the moves and reports more recently. This focuses more specifically on the treatment of elderly LGBT people and how best to address this. Has a complete report and findings on this. Diagnosis: Homophobic.
The experiences of lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in mental health services . P.A.C.E. Linda McFarlane
Marriage and divorce
PCOM 3/50 (2nd document batch in 1st file) 1850s
Case of prisoner William Hodson, granted free pardon in 1856 for his conviction of attempting to commit an "unnatural crime with 354 John Thomas" in Dartmoor Prison in 1853. William Hodson was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment after the expiration of a 10 year sentence he was already serving for robbery from 1850. No real explanation for the pardon.
HO 45/23937 1946-1949
Petition by prisoner for early release Offences include bugger and gross indecency -> 4 years penal? Reference to being "cured" of homosexuality
Docs think cure not reliable as he was fundamentally homosexual and may not be able to avoid a relapse.
Good medical officer’s feedback at the back of document has been redacted
WORK 25/23 Medicine and Physiology: Plastic Surgery (Sir Harold Gillies).
Records of the Festival of Britain Office (1948 -1952) Script for Health Pavilion on Plastic Surgery – by Sir Harold Gillies. Regards growth of separate speciality for treating ‘all kinds of superficial mutilations or defects of any part of the body’ following the First and Secord World Wars. Beginnings of modern plastic surgery.
It is, however, with pleasure that one can turn to various congenital defects. The work of the late Arthur Edmund on hypospadias is one that is acknowledged throughout the world, and one can amplify his work very with that of Dennis Browne and McIndoe.....McIndoe had developed with great success the treatment of the congenital absence of the v@gina, whilst Gillies has brought into being the reconstruction of the penis, either in trauma or in the very rare cases of congenital absence.
In the first War the latter invented a system of carrying large quantities of skin by the means of a strap of skin which was made in advance called a “tubed pedicle”. This has enabled large quantities to be conveyed in safety and alive from one portion of the body to the other and has been accepted and utilised, developed and enhanced, in every country in the world. It is interesting to note that Filatov of Russia, at the same time and in the same year as Gillies, made the same discovery, but entirely independently, and whereas it ended with a very small field of usefulness in Filatov’s hands, the British plastic surgeons working at Sidcup in the first War developed its use beyond all conception.
PIN 61/27 Change of sex, 1958-1971 Records created or inherited by the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance, and of related, predecessor and successor bodies – Record of the Chief Insurance Officer – Ministry of National Insurance, Chief Insurance Officer’s Branch and successors: Chief Insurance Officer, Policy Files Fascinating set of cases of transsexuals trying to change sex for various reasons (e.g. validate marriage, claim pension at 60, etc.) Much discussion amongst officials regarding transsexuals and their pensionable age).
PIN 43/595 Change of sex cases: Earnings Related Contributions; disclosure of information; Alex Carlile's Private Member's Bill on Gender Identity (Registration and Status) 1996 Covering dates: 1975 Jan 01 - 1996 Dec 31 Some interesting exchanges between ministers in 1996 about why they are planning to ‘block’ a private member’s bill whose aim is to allow transsexuals to change their sex on their birth certificate.
CRIM 1/4284 1964 M. Fitzgerald – living as "Monica" – convicted of prostitution and indecency, West London. Claims to have lived as a woman for 9 years and is having a sex change.
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