Hannah SnellHannah Snell (1723-1792) was a Englishwoman who took a man’s role to become a soldier.
1746 she gave birth to a daughter Susannah who, unfortunately, died a year later. When her husband deserted her, she borrowed a male suit with her brother-in-law James Gray, assumed also his name and begun to search for him (she was to hear later that her husband had been executed for murder). According to her account, she joined General Guise’s regiment in the army of Duke of Northumberland against Bonnie Prince Charlie. She deserted when her sergeant gave her 500 lashes.
She moved to Portsmouth and joined the marines. She boarded a ship Swallow at Portsmouth October 23 – the ship sailed to Lisbon in November 1. They were about to invade Mauritius but the attack was aborted. The unit sailed to India.
In August 1748 her unit was sent to an expedition to capture the French colony of Pondicherry in India. Later she fought also in the battle in Devicotta June 1749. She was wounded eleven times in a leg and once to the groin. She managed to treat her groin wound without revealing her sex or she may have used services of sympathetic nurse.
1750 her unit returned to England and traveled from Portsmouth to London, where she revealed her sex to her shipmates in June 2. She petitioned Duke of Cumberland, the head of the army, for the pension. She also sold her story to a London publisher Robert Walker who published her account, The Female Soldier. She also began to appear in stage in her uniform presenting military drills. Three painters painted her portrait in her uniform and The Gentlemen’s Magazine investigated her claim. She was honorably discharged at Wapping. The Royal Chelsea hospital officially recognized Snell’s military service in November and granted her a pension – a rare thing in those days.
She retired and begun to keep a pub named The Female Warrior (or The Widow in Masquerade, accounts disagree) but it did not last long. 1759 she married Richard Eyles with whom she had two children. In 1772 she married Richard Habgood. In 1785 she was living with her son George, a clerk, in Church Street, Stoke Newington.
In 1791 her mental condition suddenly worsened. She was admitted to Bethelem Hospital in August 20. She died in February 8 1792.