The Boy of Bisley

I have to admit to a quirky enthusiasm for conspiracy theories and eccentric historical legends.

Have you ever heard the old tale of the Boy of Bisley?

This is the story that the nine year old Princess Elizabeth was sent for safe keeping to the Gloucestershire village of Bisley to avoid the plague, and that she died anyway. The villagers–in fear of Henry VIII substituted the only other red haired child–a boy. They figured the child would die soon anyway and no one would be the wiser. The boy survived and the longer the hoax went on the more scared anyone was to tell the truth. Then, when it looked like the child might ascend the throne it became in everyone’s interest to keep up the charade.

This would explain Elizabeth’s 1. never marrying despite her need for an heir 2. her baldness and need for big wigs 3. her deep voice 4. her use of heavy make up 5. her appreciation for masculine sports like hunting 6. her extreme privacy and modesty 7. her insistence that there be no post mortem.

Am I a sad, bookish sort of person, or does anyone else out there delight in kooky historical legends, unconventional conspiracy theories and weird and wonderful hare brained tales?

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  • Anonymous

    A coupla points1. How was shaving managed?2. She/he would have had a body servants who dressed and bathed her/him.3. It would have been noticed that he/she didn’t need towels to be washed monthly.

  • If you’re the king/queen you’d be able to get around those details. but I’m not defending the story. I’m just presenting it as an entertaining historical curiosity.

  • Actually Point 3 would have been extremely difficult… there would have been intense interest in whether the Queen was still able to conceive and bear a child…

  • Haven’t heard that old chestnut in years. The people of Bisley weren’t aware of how impossible it is to keep a secret in a court, or a government for that matter.I have a natural fondness for conspiracy theories, but I’m soured on them. I’ve heard too many real howlers that people actually took seriously. The whole industry built around “the real story” of the Kennedy assassination is probably to blame. I heard the story from someone who was in the motorcade and he spent the rest of his life complaining about the nonsense ( that’s not the word he used ) people believe. These days everything has to be a conspiracy. It reminds me of the 60’s and 70’s when someone was always announcing that another famous person died of syphilis. Never mind the evidence.Still, they can be a lot of fun, if you keep a ton of salt in the pantry.

  • Follow the money…

  • The whole Knights Templar/ Masons/ Foucault’s Pendulum conspiracy never fails to entertain.

  • I had not heard this particular conspiracy theory, but had heard/read that she was a hermaphrodite. This would also explain the things you listed, but might take care of that nasty shaving problem.

  • That’s the weirdest conspiracy theory I ever heard of.My favorite conspiracy, however, is the fictional one in “Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies,” involving Napoleon and bearskin hats.