"There was an extremity about his behaviour . . ."
There is undoubtedly more substance to the tale of Jack Mytton than to those of such other local notables as Dick Whittington and, possibly, Robin Hood. Nevertheless, it is an extraordinary tale of wanton profligacy leading to an early death.
He was Squire "Mad" Jack Mytton (1796-1838) - Shropshire's best-remembered sportsman, eccentric and drunkard. He inherited a fortune in the late 18th century and became the master of Halston Hall, near Whittington, and the local hunt. He was thought to drink up to six bottles of port a day, have 2,000 dogs and over 60 finely costumed cats.
Renowned for practical jokes, Mad Jack devoted his life to daredevilry, often risking his life to pull off another dangerous feat. It is told that his exploits included riding a bear through his dining room, and trying to jump a field gate with a horse and coach. No less entertaining for his friends and onlookers was his cure for hiccups when he set fire to his own shirt.
The tales of Mad Jack are endless, though it is reported that he did his liver no favours. His extravagant life style finally caught up with him, and having lost house and fortune the once wealthy squire of Halston Hall died in a debtor's prison. Nevertheless, such was his reputation for extreme generosity, it is said that more than 3,000 people turned out to mourn at his funeral.
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