At work on Friday, I was looking for some information on a couple of artists with the unlikely names of Sparrow and Tinkley and, quite by accident, came across the strange biography of Daniel Lambert, “…the most corpulent man of his time in England.”
For Daniel, his growing waistline became a profession. Born in 1770, he started off normally enough, getting an apprenticeship with an engraving and die-sinking mob in Birmingham. His father died shortly afterwards and so Daniel took over his job of running a prison. Actually, to be completely accurate, his father ran a bridewell which could be a prison or a poorhouse…or both, I guess. Anyway, it’s not the sort of job that is hereditary so I assume papa Lambert owned it.
In 1805, the prison closed down and poor old Daniel was out of a job with only an annuity of £50 to keep his expanding waistline in the manner to which it had become accustomed. Being a lazy but extremely entrepreneurial chap, he had a specially huge carriage built and set off for the bright lights and big houses of London.
His plan was to set himself up as an exhibit: a sort of living museum piece. People would come to his place and…I’m not sure. Look at him, I guess. That was the idea. I have no idea why he thought his plan would work but work it did. He was a great success.
He wasn’t silly, of course, being lazy he received people from midday to 5pm only and, I assume, charged them. People said he was quite the entertaining chap – news spread quite quickly – and soon the queues of interested spectators with their shillings burning holes in their pockets, were outside his door. He did quite well and was able to keep training his fighting cocks and greyhounds which also made him quite a lot of money. Here he is in the famous Marshall portrait of him, appearing to hold court.
But then, in 1809, he died in a pub in Cambridge. He was so big, his coffin was built on two axles and used 112 square feet of wood in its construction. Thinking well ahead, the coffin was pushed down a slight incline to the graveyard. The incline had to be specially built and even with it, it took a lot of men quite a while to push the coffin into the hole.
When Daniel died he was 5′ 11″ and almost 53 stone (336 kg). His heart had given out because of his enormous weight. His waistcoat measured an immense 102 inches!
He was quite famous for a time. No-one came near him for genuine super fatness. He was so well known, in fact, that his name became synonymous with very big things. For instance, people would say that London was the “…Daniel Lambert of cities“. He was held in quite high regard and a whole lot of pubs renamed themselves the Daniel Lambert after he died. There were a few in Leicestershire and even one on Ludgate Hill in London.
But, before I finish this little biographical sketch, it is important to state that Daniel wasn’t the biggest man of his time. A contemporary in America (Miles Darden) weighed in at a ridiculous 71 stone! Typical. Everything’s bigger in America.
This morning I put the camera very close to the feeder and managed to get this very crisp shot of a blue tit.
Such a gorgeous little bird.