Elizabeth Moring (1385)

Not the real Elizabeth Moring

In 14th Century London, Elizabeth Moring was a master embroiderer in Broad Street, she employed several women and girls as apprentices and often kept them on in her employment for a long time. Things were not quite as they seemed though, as very little embroidery went on. Elizabeth was a madam, and her ‘apprentices’ offered service to many man, including “friars and chaplins” either in their own homes, or in Elizabeth’s.

The end of Elizabeth’s time in London came as the result of Johanna and a certain chaplain. Johanna, one of Elizabeth’s “apprentices” was sent by Elizabeth on the evening of Thursday 4th May, 1385 to sleep with a chaplain. On her return the next day Elizabeth discovered that no payment had been given for the evening. To remedy this, Elizabeth forced Johanna to return to the chaplain for a second night, demand payment, and while there steal a valuable prayer book. Elizabeth then sold the prayer book on and kept the money for herself. It was alleged that this was a common practice, and Elizabeth always kept the money from the pawning of stolen items.

Elizabeth appeared before the mayor, aldermen and sheriff at the Guildhall Court on 25th July 1385 where she was accused of being a bawd, while awaiting a jury to be formed she was kept in prison. The jury subsequently found her guilty and sentenced her to spend one hour on the women’s pillory (thewe). After this she was exiled from London – told if she returned that she would face three years in prison and more time at the thewe.

Those found guilty of whoreing, as well as those who made use of the services, would generally have received punishment. The usual punishment for both men and women was having their head shaved and being put in a pillory. In the case of Elizabeth and the unnamed cleric, only Elizabeth received any punishment – the name of the cleric has not come to us through any records and he remained unpunished and unnamed.


Read more:

London. The Wicked City: A Thousand Years of Prostitution and Vices By Fergus Linnane
Medieval Maidens: Young Women and Gender in England, C.1270-c.1540 by Kim M. Philips

Books That Made Me: Trans voices

I often wonder what decisions I would make if I were a young adult now and had available to me the amount of information, in the form of blog posts, youtube videos, and books, that trans people are putting out into the world. So much of what we read about being trans comes from cisgender voices attempting to understand or diminish the lives of trans people.

In the last 12 months I have read some amazing articles and books that have helped me come to a better understanding of all the ways in which gender can be present and represented in a person and I want to share some of these with you.

Mark Gevisser’s 2014 article Self-Made Man is one of the more respectful articles I’ve found looking at the lives of trans young people. I’ve recommended it to many cisgender people who find the topics of gender-identity, and the terminology that comes with it, hard to get their head around. As a genderqueer person I found it a well written sympathetic piece that, at the very least, is a good start.



The Descent of Man – Grayson Perry
A fascinating insight exploring masculinity in the world today. Grayson Perry offers his own view on the damage that ideas of masculinity do to boys, men, and the rest of society. He offers, with intelligence and sensitivity, a vision of a different way that men can be. A thought provoking book that raises more questions than it answers.




C N Lester – Trans Like Me
An engagingly written book that deftly combines memoir, opinion, and academic research. It presents the journey for trans people from history (distant and recent) to current challenges, on to future hopes. Exploring the full spectrum of gender identity, this book offers the best explanation of trans I have ever read, challenging what we think we know and seeking a better way to live.




Juno Dawson – The Gender Games
In this no holds barred memoir Juno Dawson lays bare her life, thoughts, and hopes for the future as a trans woman. This is a personal story of Juno’s experiences and is told with humour, passion, and a clear love for all people to understand one another and support our journeys as we stand up against the ever-present forces of Gender.

This book is a fascinating look into the life of one trans woman, who is quick to point out she is not speaking for every trans person, and can only speak for her own experiences. It’s worth reading to understand how our experiences differ from each other, and the ways in which they’re similar. If you’re not a trans man or woman then I would urge you to read this book, it is definitely for you! It will make you look again at what you thought you knew about gender and reassess the bullshit way it affects all our lives.


Thomas Page McBee – Man Alive

A deeply personal memoir describing one man’s journey to discover what it means to be a man. Thomas Page McBee is a trans man who has written an honest, emotional, and oftentimes necessarily uncomfortable account. Through memories of child abuse and adult violence, Thomas talks with empathy and compassion about how he faced the journey for the truth of who he was and where he fitted into his family and the world. This memoir is beautifully written, with even the most harrowing events told with a light touch that makes the reader unable to do anything but sympathise with the circumstances that lead people to make the decisions.

Writing this article I was struck by how all these books are from white writers. These books aren’t difficult to find and are widely publicised by their publishers, so I wonder where the voices are from trans people of colour, are they being written? Are they being published? Please recommend me some if you’ve read any.

This post is the second of my BooksThatMadeMe series. You can find post three here.