Selective Memories

About the project

Should this document be preserved ?


An account of the Extraordinary Life and Adven-
tures of Catherine Wilson, an interesting young
woman, about twenty years of age, daughter of re-
spectable parents, near Perth, who assumed man's
apparel at the age of fourteen, and hired herself to a
drover, when she came to Edinburgh, and got into a
respectable gentleman's family as foot boy, but being
discharged was compelled to work as a bricklayer's
labourer ; how she assumed the name of John Thom-
son, and married her landlady's daughter, Mary Gray,
and on Saturday last resumed her petticoats.

A young woman, of the name of Catherine Wilson, a native of Perth, had,
it appears by her own account, assumed the dress of a boy between six and
seven years ago. She states that, on the death of her parents she found herself
without protection, and this induce 1 her to put on a suit of her deceased brother's
clothes, and in the name of John Thomson to seek employment in that disguise.
She was then not quite fourteen of age, and engaged herself in service among
the graziers. About five years ago she came with a drove of cattle to Hallow
Fair, Edinburgh, when she left the employment of the graziers, and was engaged
as a helper in the stables of Mr Lawson, and she continued in his service
until she got promoted to a better situation in the establishment of J. Williams,
Esq., in whose family she continued for two years, as groom and foot boy.
Having, however, given some offonce to her employer, she was discharged, and
while out of place she followed job employment as a "lumper," at Leith, and
lodged at the house of a woman named Gray. By some accident this woman
became acquainted with her sex, and terrified the poor wench by telling her she
was liable to transportation for having gone about the country in male attire.
This Mrs Gray had a daughter named Mary who had become pregnant by a
butcher of that neighbourhood. The Grays, both mother and daughter then
proposed to this female John Thomson, that she should marry Mary and father
the child, in order to conceal the shame of the unfortunate Mary, and to prevent
the compulsory disclosure of the real father. Poor John did not relish this
matrmonial engagement, quitted the place, and sought employment in Edin-

At Edinburgh, she entered into the service of a bricklayer, nnd learned to
carry the hod with much dexterity, but there when she had obtained the good
will of her master, Mary's mother followed her with entreaties and threats, and
at last a letter from Mary herself, reproaching poor John with deserting the ob-
ject of his seduction, was sent in such a manner as to fall into tne hands of
John's employer, who discharged his servant for conduct so depraved. Now,
being assured that the father of the child would advauce a sum of money as an
outset, John Thomson at length consented, and the marriage ceremony was
actuallly performed about two years since in the church. John Thomson was,
not very easy in the character of a husband ; the promised dowry was never
paid, and poor John found it was no easy matter to maintain a wife and child
and wife's mother into the bargain. John left home, being very discounted.
Another young Thomson was about to make its appearance, and the parish
officers were very alert in their enquiries after the unhappy John. In fact the
poor girl declares that she should long ago have disclosed her sex had she not
been intimated by the threats of Mary's mother. However, it appears that last
week the parish officers had rendered the situation of aflairs extremely urgent,
and having made a countryman of her own her confidant, she procured female
habiliments, and on Satnrday last resumed her petticoats, and thus divorced
herself from her matrimonial troubles.

She is a stout, short, good-looking young woman, and states herself to be in
her twentieth year; but probably on account of her labourous occupation, she
looks four or five years older. She has gained from all her employers an excel-
lent character for industry, sobriety, and honesty. She left this with the in-
tention of going to Glasgow, in search of employment among the factories, which
will be more suited to her sex.