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1605 - 1605
Cross-dressing in Aberdeen

The post-Reformation church attempted to cut down on popular celebrations associated with wedding celebrations. Here the kirk session of Aberdeen uses scriptural authority as a basis to outlaw certain festivities associated with young men and women.

The document is translated from the original Scots.


4 Aug 1605

The said day, anent the charge given in to the session against some young men and young women of this city, for dancing through the town together this last week, the time of the bridals [wedding festivities]. The young men being clad in women’s apparel, which is accounted as an abomination by the law of God that any man should put on women’s clothing, Deuteronomie 22, verse 5. And the young women for dancing openly with them through the streets, with masks on their faces, thereby passing the bounds the modesty and shamefastness, which ought to be in young women, namely in a reformed [ie Protestant] city. Which matter being referred to the provincial assembly [of the church] held at this burgh last week, to be judged by them what punishment should be inflicted upon such offenders in time coming, they find, after reasoning and due consideration thereof, that if any man or woman be convicted in the like monstrous behaviour in time coming, i.e. either men dancing in women’s apparel, or women in men’s apparel, or yet if women be found dancing publicly through the streets, masked and disguised in such a wanton or unchaste form, in company with men, that the does shall pay a financial penalty to the poor, according to the amount decided by the session, and also shall make their public repentance on the stool for the first fault; and for the second fault, shall make their public repentance in sackcloth, conform to the act of the said provincial assembly set down thereupon. Which act is ordained to be announced from the pulpit next Sunday, that none may pretend ignorance of it in time coming.


Selections from the Records of the Kirk Session, Presbytery, and Synod of Aberdeen ed. John Stuart (Aberdeen: Spalding Club, 1846) p. 47. Translated by E. Ewan

Tags: youth