‘An incident is just now being discussed in military circles so extraordinary that, were not the truth capable of being vouched for by official authority, the narration would certainly be deemed incredible. Our officers quartered at the Cape between 15 and 20 years ago may remember a certain Dr Barry attached to the medical staff there, and enjoying a reputation for considerable skill in his profession, especially for firmness, decision and rapidity in difficult operations … About 1840 he became promoted to be medical inspector, and was transferred to Malta. He proceeded from Malta to Corfu where he was quartered for many years … He there died about a month ago, and upon his death was discovered to be a woman.’
A Strange Story, the Manchester Guardian, 21 August 1865
James Barry, born Margaret Ann Bulkley, died today in 1865. Barry was the first biologically female Briton to become a qualified medical doctor, though it was not until her death that this was discovered. Sophie Bishop, a maid, sent to prepare the corpse, refused to comply with Barry’s last wish that on no account should his clothes be removed after his death.
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