should blue and green ever be seen?

Lord Cornbury, the third Earl of Clarendon, served as Governor of New York between 1701 and 1708.

Cornbury came to be regarded in the historical literature as a moral profligate, sunk in corruption: possibly the worst governor Britain ever imposed on an American colony. The early accounts claim he took bribes and plundered the public treasury.

***Lord Cornbury image found here

Later historians characterise him as a “degenerate and pervert who is said to have spent half of his time dressed in women’s clothes”, a “fop and a wastrel”. One night during the early 1700s, a constable working for the British colony of New York arrested what he presumed was a prostitute walking along Broadway. When the suspect was brought back to the stockade, however, it was discovered that he had actually taken into custody the colonial governor, who enjoyed taking evening strolls in his wife’s clothes … In addition to women’s clothing, which he enjoyed wearing while walking the parapets of the British fort he commanded, Lord Cornbury also had a fetish for ears, and made it a point of telling visitors to official state functions that they were free to fondle those of his wife

image found here

He is reported to have opened the 1702 New York Assembly clad in a hooped blue gown and an elaborate headdress and carrying a fan, imitative of the style of Queen Anne. It is also said that in August 1707, when his wife Lady Cornbury died, His High Mightiness (as he preferred to be called) attended the funeral again dressed as a woman.***

Blue gown and elaborate headdress found here

One hundred years later, Henry Cope of Brighton, also liked to dress up in unusual clothing. Whereas Lord Cornbury reputedly preferred female attire, Henry was more concerned with a specific colour.

Henry Cope was gripped by green. A contemporary writer records every detail: “Green pantaloons, green waistcoat, green frock coat, green cravat; and though his ears, whiskers, eyebrows and chin were powdered, his countenance, no doubt from the reflection of his clothes, was also green. He ate nothing but green fruits and vegetables, had his rooms painted green, and furnished with a green sofa, green chairs, green table, green bed and green curtains. His gig, his livery, his portmanteau, his gloves and his whip were all green. With a green silk handkerchief in his hand and a large watch-chain with green seals fastened to the green buttons of his green waistcoat, he paraded every day on the Steyne”.

Green house by Sandy Skoglund found here

Unfortunately by 1806, Cope had gone completely mad and hurled himself from the cliff down to the beach below which was mostly golden but with patches of green seaweed. He is believed to have spent his last years in an asylum, bound up in a straitjacket. It is not known whether it was green.

image found here

***In 2000 Patricia U. Bonomi re-examined these assertions, and found them to be questionable and based on very little evidence.

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40 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. i like the blue and green hounds in the green house. time to redecorate again. and shave my dog.

  2. After Cornbury came Lord Lovelace. Wonder what his fetish was?

  3. The Pride of New York! Cornbury is still remembered with great affection here in the city. He wasn’t boring!

    Cope’s ordeal was later made into a successful children’s book called Pinkalicious

    Just kidding, but there *is* a book with that title which contains frightening parallels to the Cope story.

    • Pinkalicious sounds like the title of a porn film to me

  4. It’s a shame it is not likely to be a portrait of Cornbury. I always thought he was very stylish

  5. I’m more of a black fop and a wastrel guy myself. It’s classic. :)

  6. Ouchy ear!

  7. I wore women’s clothes once.IT WAS A HALLOWEEN PARTY

    • Who were you dressed as?

      • Archie Bunker’s wife. I was a hit.

  8. I find myself reading these posts and thinking how much I like these crazy eccentrics. Turkey cock guy, green food guy… I think it’s time to go live in a mental hospital amongst my people.

    • I’ve got a room at the Gimcrack for you Robin

  9. The way you say moral profligate makes me worry people don’t call me that as a compliment.

    • The right people always mean it as a compliment GG

  10. I’ve always wanted pointed ears like that.

  11. Oh My God, I had no idea that you could have surgery to make your ears like that. Sometimes I think I live in a bubble. A trash talking, virus-infested bubble.

    • Meet me in New York in July and I’ll help you burst out of that bubble

  12. I’m always assured of being entertained here.
    Someone would willingly do that to their ears?
    Now I am off to bake a glittery green cake.

  13. i had a box of skogland cards!

    • Had? What happened to them?

  14. I think the world is better for a leavening of loonies. :-)

    • I love a good collective noun. Did you make that one up Dinah?

      • Um…yes, but I wasn’t trying to invent a collective noun.:-)

  15. Poor Henry. The expression “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” probably drove him nuts.

  16. What’s wrong with strolling around in women’s clothes?

    • Nothing.

      • If you’re a woman.

      • …or a man or inter-sexed.

    • The good Nurse had a recent post on a NZ barrister who’s known for his dress sense.

  17. I wonder if Cornbury actually killed his wife – in order to gain unfettered access to her wardrobe

  18. Presumably Cope went mad because someone forced him to wear yellow gloves. The shock would have too much for him.

  19. “Are we green?” “Super green!” (“The Fifth Element”)

  20. My grandmother had a “purple” room in her house. Actually, as I recall, she called it the “lavender” room. It was also the guest room and where we had to stay when visiting her. It used to freak me out being in there. After a couple of hours, your brain starts to melt.

    • The only thing worse than a lavender room is a room painted black. I lived in one for a few months when I was 19, don’t think I’ve ever quite recovered

  21. I like green too, but moderation in all things!!

    As I read this, I was struck by the thought that men dressing in women’s clothes is somehow a little shocking, and yet nowadays women dress in pants and pants suits, wear fedoras, tuxedos, etc and no one is the least bit bothered by this. How far we have come from the days when I was in gradeschool and we girls were NOT allowed to wear pants to school, so in order to keep from freezing to death on the 1/4 mile trek to the school bus stop we would put pants on under our dresses and then take them off when we got to school.

  22. Lady Cornbury should have grabbed her hubbie’s trousers and frock coat while she had the chance.

  23. Going to be hard to do it 7 times tonight after seeing that distended, butchered ear. Out damned spot.

  24. That first picture is plain mesmerizing.

  25. Suddenly, I’m rethinking my love of green.


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