handing it down to an inattentive son

Captain Philip Thicknesse (1719-1792) was an eccentric British author.

image found here

“He claimed he could, at any time, muster ten or a dozen knaves and fools, who would put £100 in his pocket, merely for holding them up to public scorn. The dozen could include a fumigating Duke, ten Lords, a white-headed travelling Parson, three Doctors of Physic, a broken, deaf and lame Sea-Duck, ten thousand five hundred Male Midwives, and about the same number of their silly female customers, a Bulgarian Bath Painter, two hundred Black Legs and a Dancing Master of Ceremonies.

male midwife toad found here

In 1742 he eloped with Maria Lanove, a wealthy heiress, after he abducted her from a street in Southampton and took up residence in Bath with her, taking full advantage of the social whirl of life. In 1749 Maria and his children contracted diphtheria; she and two children died, leaving only a daughter, Anna, to survive. When Maria’s parents died some time later, he spent much time in trying to claim their fortune. Thicknesse then married Lady Elizabeth Tuchet, but she died in childbirth in 1762. His third wife was his late wife’s companion, Anne Ford, whom he married on 27 September 1762. Anne was a gifted musician with a beautiful voice who was well-educated and knew five languages. She gave Sunday concerts at her father’s house, but her ambition was to became a professional actress and, in spite of her father’s disapproval, she left home to enter the stage. The couple spent a lot of time travelling in Europe.

gratuitous “gifted musician” photo by Terry O’Neill

Thicknesse died on one such journey near Boulogne, France, and was buried in this town. In his later life he had become an “ornamental hermit”. In his will he stipulated that his right hand be cut off, and that it should be delivered to his son, Lord Audley, who was inattentive

plush severed hand found here