See Southampton Heritage Guides – Sightseeing tours, tour guides and accessible tours

Imposter – Chevalier D’Eon

In 1796 at the height of Southampton’s Spa period a sword fencing match took place. The main attraction was the Chevalier d’Eon born in 1728 in France as a male.

He had been a diplomat and a spy and sometimes dressed as a female. Fleeing the French revolution s/he came to England fencing as a female named Mademoiselle de Beaumont.

The Southampton contest sadly ended in her sustaining serious injury. Poverty resulted and she then lived as a woman with another woman in London. On her death in 1810 all gender ambiguity was removed as he was declared to be a man.

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