As February is LGBT history month, we have chosen this photograph from the Frederick Spalding Collection (D/F 269/1/3696), dating from c.1869. Frederick Park (left) and Ernest Boulton (right) were presumably photographed by Spalding in his Chelmsford studio while they toured Essex as part of a small theatrical company. They often dressed in women’s clothing when not on stage, calling themselves Fanny Graham and Stella Boulton.
Park (the son of one the Masters of the Court of Common Pleas) was articled to Gepps, the Chelmsford solicitors; Boulton was the son of a London stockbroker. They were arrested by the Metropolitan Police in April 1870 while wearing women’s clothing at a London theatre and charged with six others with “conspiring and inciting persons to commit an unnatural offence”. Their arrest and subsequent trial the following year was reported in detail in newspapers throughout the British Isles. After the ‘not guilty’ verdict, Frederick Park emigrated to the US, dying there in 1881 at the age of 34. Ernest Boulton continued performing, touring in small theatre productions with his brother Gerard until his death in 1904.
A print of the photograph will be on display in the ERO Searchroom throughout February 2017.