On the 16th of January 1797 a man named Mr. John Hetherington was bold enough to walk the streets dressed in something completely astounding ‘with the evident intention of frightening the people’. This article of clothing was so unexpected that the mere sight of it caused women to faint, children to scream and one boy was thrown down in fright and broke his arm.
Thrown down, not fell down. Hmmmm…. Was one of the screaming women his mother who dumped her son on the ground in order to cover her eyes from a terrifying sight?
I am sure you are dying to know what this awful item was, aren’t you? Well, brace yourself….
Mr. Hetherington had the gall to wear the first high silk hat. Yep. A startling hat ‘covered with very glossy silk, the lustre of which dazzled the sight’ was the cause of this disturbance.
What an innocent time 1912 must have been if the sight of an extra shiny, extra tall hat in the street caused such a scene.
The trendsetting Mr Hetherington was fined £500 for disorderly conduct and inciting a riot. That would have been a massive sum back then! Imagine how many more modest hats he could have bought for that?