Dr. William Price (1800-1893) led a highly eccentric life. Some details from an article about him on bbc.co.uk:
- He "ate no meat, drank mainly champagne, eschewed the wearing of socks and prescribed a vegetarian diet for his patients instead of medicine."
- He had a liking for outlandish costume, "notably a fox-skin headdress with the legs and tails hanging down over his shoulders and back."
- "He became fascinated by the old druidic rites and even held druidic ceremonies at the rocking stone outside Pontypridd."
Price in 1884 wearing his druid attire. Source: MarkBerePeterson.com
However, his main claim to fame is that he helped to bring about the legalization of cremation in Britain.
Supporters of cremation had been trying to get it legalized throughout the nineteenth century. But Price caused the issue to come to a head by burning the body of his five-month-old son, Jesus Christ, on a funeral pyre, after the child had died a natural death. Yes, he had named his son Jesus Christ, or "Iesu Grist" in Welsh.
Price was arrested and charged with the crime of illegal cremation. His eventual acquittal led directly to the passage of the Cremation Act, which made it legal to burn bodies in Britain.
When Price himself died in 1893 he was cremated on a giant funeral pyre as thousands of spectators watched.
However, it's worth noting that while cremation is now legal (and commonplace) in the UK and USA, open-air pyres aren't legal, as far as I know.
More info: wikipedia
Category: Death | Eccentrics | Nineteenth Century