Murray H. Hall (c. 1840-1901) was a Tammany politico who lived as a man for decades without his gender being questioned. Following Hall’s death, however, the New York Times reported that Hall’s “true sex” was revealed by the doctor. As an early instance of a gender non-conforming person in New York, this attracted worldwide attention, including that of pioneering English sexual psychologist Havelock Ellis.
According to one source, Hall was born Mary Anderson in Scotland and around age 16 began dressing as a male, taking the name John Anderson. Anderson married young, but had a roving eye and a jealous wife who disclosed Anderson’s gender to the police. Fearing arrest, Anderson fled to America in 1870 and assumed the name Murray H. Hall.
In 1872, Hall married Cecilia Florence Lowe, a schoolteacher, and by 1874 Hall had established an employment agency chiefly representing domestic help. The couple moved several times but remained close to the Jefferson Market police court (now the Jefferson Market Library) since Hall was also a bail bondsman. Hall’s last home and office was an upper-story apartment at 457 Sixth Avenue.
“[Hall was a] ‘man about town,’ a bon vivant, and all-round ‘good fellow’…never exciting the remotest suspicion as to her real sex.”
As a Tammany figure, Hall played poker and pool with city and state officials and political leaders and was often able to secure appointments for friends.