Menace to Society

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According to The American Hatter, London haberdasher John Hetherington nearly caused a riot when he wore the first tophat into the Strand on Jan. 15, 1797:

An excited throng gathered about the owner and the crowd soon increased to such a dangerous extent that the authorities had to interfere. The next morning the daring haberdasher was brought before the Lord Mayor charged with ‘walking down a public highway wearing upon his head a tall structure having a shining lustre calculated to alarm the people.’

Witnesses testified that “women had fainted, that children had gone into hysterics and that one lad sustained a broken arm through the violence of the mob.” Hetherington asserted his right to dress as he chose, but the Lord Mayor fined him $5,000.