Husband Victor Barker

Queer Places:
St Peter's Church, York Pl, Brighton BN1 4GU, UK

Elfrida Emma Haward (1896-1977) married Colonel Barker in 1923. The case of Colonel Barker, widely reported in the popular press in the 1920s and 1930s, demonstrates the extent to which the precise connections between biological sex, gender and sexual identity had yet to be fixed in the years before the Second World War. Colonel Barker first attracted the attention of the tabloid press in March 1929, following his arrest for contempt of court, after failing to appear or an earlier bankruptcy hearing. During a medical examination in Brixton Prison, Barker was discovered to be a woman, Valerie Arkell-Smith. Barker had been living as a man since 1923, working in a range of occupations and having a number of relationship with women, including Elfreda Haward, whom he married.

Although Barker was presenting as a woman when Haward first met him, Barker wrote that he told her that he was "a man who had been injured in the war; that I was really a man acting as a woman for family reasons. I made some excuse about it being my mother's wish, and she believed it."[3] The couple began living at the Grand Hotel in Brighton. By then, Barker had begun to use the name Sir Victor Barker. On 14 November 1923 at St Peter's Church, Brighton, Barker and Haward wed in what was later judged to be an illegal marriage.[2]

Elfrida Emma Haward was the daughter of Edgar Haward and Sarah Amelia Saxty. Edgar was born in 1860, in Lambeth, Surrey, England. Sarah was born in 1859, in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England.


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