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Lord Rokeby - The True Story of a Man Addicted to Water. British Eccentrics.

Updated on January 8, 2012

Water Water everywhere.

Born In 1712, Mathew Robinson, also known as Lord Rokeby, grew up in Hythe, in the county of Kent. in his early life, he was noted as a normal child who went on to study at Westminster and Trinity college, Cambridge. But as he grew older, he became more and more eccentric. At this time in the 1700's, nearly everyone was not particularly partial to water, to say the least, in fact if the local population ever bathed, it was only about twice a year, and most people thought it would 'fill them with the humes' in other words, they were under the impression that they would catch a chill and die in the most horrible way. But not it seems, Lord Rokeby. He began to be noticed by the fact that he wore a beard that reached down to his knees. At that time, most men were either clean shaven or had a small beard. And this was just after he had come into his inheritance, his father being a wealthy landowner, and gentleman usher to George II, most people thought it was just because he was of the hoy falloy, the gentry, and put it down to the fact that, being rich he was bound to be a bit eccentric. Soon though, they realised that something strange was going on. It started with the fact that he would not drink tea, coffee or alcohol. Only water, and soon after, he suddenly built a bathing hut at Hythe, and much to the locals chagrin, he swam in the sea for so many hours a day, he ended up being dragged from the water, totally exhausted.

Each day, the locals would see the bearded man, bent double, dressed entirely in black, in front of a grand carriage, with servants slowly walking behind. He was a wizened old man, and nobody could understand why he didn't just get in the carriage. But no, he said, he wanted to walk to the beach, and if it rained he preferred it. He was kind to his servants, though, and insisted they travel in the coach as he didn't want them to catch a chill whilst wearing damp clothes! he understood that they were suspicious of water, and he knew that they couldn't understand what the attraction was.

After nearly collapsing in the sea, too many times for comfort, he decided to build a bath house in his back garden. The neighbours and servants got used to seeing him dart from his house, down the garden towards the bath. The sight was something to behold. He was always naked, his beard tucked under his arm, followed by his barking dogs.

Rokeby only ever drank beef tea and water, and after a while a rumour started that said he was a cannibal. The locals decided, enough was enough and they started to avoid him. But the truth of the matter was, he had a habit of sitting in the bath, with a large joint of veal floating around him like a body part, and every so often he would take a great bite, chew a bit, grunt, then throw it back in the bath, to let it float around again, soaking up the bathwater, so it expanded and looked even bigger!

Older but wiser

By the time he got to the grand old age of eighty, he decided that not only would he still bathe for hours and hours everyday, he thought it was time to encourage the locals that water was in fact good for them, and he built a public drinking fountain in the middle of the street, near his home, and if he came across anyone drinking from the fountain, he very generously gave them a half crown, which was a great deal of money in those days.

He would never ever let anyone cut his beard, and in the same way, he refused to see any of the trees and rows of hedges on his land, cut down or trimmed. In a sense, he was one of the first conservationists of his time. The trees and plants grew untouched for many years. He was also an astute and stubborn old man. But very intelligent. He had principles, whether right or wrong, he would not allow any of his tenants to grow barley, because he said, the barley would go to the maltster who would then pay taxes on it, and this would be used to pay for the war with France, which he did not agree with.

So this grand old eccentric man, after years of bathing and swimming, who everyone thought was mad, eventually died at the grand old age of eighty eight. But he had one last thing to say to his nephew, who thought. in his own kindness, he would get the Lord a doctor, was told by Lord Rokeby, 'you are welcome to stay, but if you should call in any medical assistance to help me, and by a stroke of luck, the fool doesn't help kill me, then I will disinherit you' !

Lord Rokeby was so scared of having a seizure, but surviving, he just wanted to be left alone to die in peace.

The moral of this tale? Never laugh at a dotty old man, because he might just be a genius!

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    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      LOL.. I plan on being a very eccentric old guy. :-)

    • heyju profile image

      heyju 7 years ago

      Loved the story, again thank you for the interesting read: )

    • msorensson profile image

      msorensson 7 years ago

      Great story. I enjoyed it, Nell. Thank you!!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for such a lovely story and lesson.

    • profile image

      "Quill" 7 years ago

      Well done Nell, love the hubs you write... always filled with interesting information.

      Blessings and Hugs

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      Very, very nice. I take showers twice a day very often. I have since I was in Okinawa. It was so humid there that I showered a lot. In Vietnam we seldom had a shower. We bathed out of the helmet. Since then I've felt very well keeping on the showering. Of course in the winter I ride my bike sometimes twice a day (32 minutes) and always shower afterward. In the warmer months I may just shower to change the way I feel. I used to love swimming in rivers and the ocean and any water I guess. But now I just like the shower. Thanks Nell Rose.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Central Oregon

      Amazing - and I agree - never discount dotty old men or women for that matter! They sometimes are on to something.

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      What a fun read Nell. I also liked the illustration of the naked man with the "lady godiva" beard!

    • Daniel V. profile image

      Daniel V. 7 years ago from Romania

      Always a pleasure reading your hubs :)

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 7 years ago

      Eccentrics are always so interesting. Thanks.

    • ladyjane1 profile image

      ladyjane1 7 years ago from Texas

      Very interesting Nell I can always count on you to give us a good story. Good job.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, Carolina muscle, yeah I think it would be great to be eccentric, that way you would get away with anything! thanks again nell

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, heyju, thanks for reading it, and I am glad you enjoyed it. Nell

      hi, msorensson, glad you liked it, I am looking for the next one now! cheers nell

      Hi, Hello, thanks for the comment, you know what they say, the more mad you are the more a genius you will be! thanks nell

      Hi, Mickey, thanks for reading it, it must have been very hard for you, out in Vietnam. It is strange because I have seen so many films in England about the Americans in the Vietnam war, but I have never know anyone personally, so to speak, that fought in it. And about my hub, you know what they say, mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun! and in this case, in the water, ha ha thanks again nell

      Hi, Audrey, ha ha I knew we had a purpose in life! we will both be old and dotty soon, thanks again nell

      Hi, Green Lotus, thanks again for reading it. I couldn't believe my luck when I found that picture! it was made for me, wasn't it? ha ha thanks again nell

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, Daniel, thanks for the comments, I am glad you liked it. cheers nell

      Hi, Sheila, yeah, I think eccentrics are fascinating, because they always think out of the box. I have a saying that goes, ''You laugh at me because I am different, I laugh at you because you are all the same'' I am planning on putting it on a T-shirt! thanks again nell

      Hi, Quill, thank you for reading it, I am glad you like my stories. thank you nell

      Hi, ladyjane, thank you for your nice comments, I really appreciate it. thanks again nell

    • fishtiger58 profile image

      fishtiger58 7 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      Great story very much enjoyed it.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Wow! He'd fit right into the Deep South!

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, fishtiger, glad you liked it, I do like my weird history! ha ha thanks again nell

      Hi, habee, ha ha, I had a friend who lived in Georgia, and I think i might have told you before, not sure, but she went fishing with her husband, while she was pregnant, and waded into the water with water moccasins around her feet!! she thought they were harmless.... an English woman abroad!! thanks again nell

    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 7 years ago from Michigan

      Another interesting and strange story! Really fun to read - thanks!

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, Rose, glad you liked it, I am off to search the depths of my cupboards amongst the cobwebs and spiders, for another ancient mystery! hee hee thanks again nell

    • profile image

      theodidaktos 7 years ago from Ontario Canada

      Beloved,

      may the Word of God and the peace of christ,jesus, sorry bout the typing but I have been typing all day, just wanted to say kuddos on the story very edifying.

      I also have some verry edifying stories on my hubs, feel free to check it all out.

      Amen

      Theodidaktos

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, theodidaktos, thank you for your kind comments, I will come over and check out yours. thanks again nell

    • profile image

      Keira7 7 years ago

      Hi my lovely friend, yes I agree with every one, your hubs are very interesting. Great info. and good fun to read. I dont know if its to do with hair, that love of water. LOL Because my brother is very hairy person and he loves water so much. His house is just near the sea, He always feel the need to be next to the water.:) Thanks for the lovely journey. Mmmmm, I feel like having a bath now even I just had my shower.:) I also fancy a big glass of water.:) Have a wonderful weekend my adorable friend.:)

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, Keira, thank you so much for the comment. you are probably right, it probably is something about hairy men, that like jumping in the water! ha ha, I would love to live near the sea, your brother is very lucky. I think I will have another bath now! ha ha and I hope you have a great weekend. thanks nell

    • Teresa Laurente profile image

      Maria Teresa Rodriguez - Laurente 7 years ago from San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.

      What a warm, lovely story you shared in here. During my teenage years, I used to spend the whole day swimming at the sea as far as 100 yards from the shore where the fishermen boats were docked, alone from morning to late afternoon. I was fearless. I go home for lunch and then, head back there again as it was just steps away from our house in that little town. This brings back memories of my love affair with the water. Thanks for sharing this Nell.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, Teresa, thanks for the comment. You are so lucky to have lived by the sea, I know I am only about 70 miles away, but it would be so nice to be able to take a dip, anytime I liked. Glad you liked it. thanks nell

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA

      Interesting story; In a way, I guess he was a man ahead of his time. Thanks for this story.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hiya, Coolmon, glad you like it. I think they probably thought he was mad, but he was right! as you say, a man ahead of his time. thanks again nell

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 7 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      There certainly have been some very strange people in the world, and we English have produced more than our fair share of eccentrics. Must be something in the water!

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, CMHypno, ha ha we are a bit mad sometimes, aren't we? but you know what they say, madness is a sign of genius. We have invented nearly everything from PCs to TVs, so I think the madness helps! thanks again nell

    • hotspur profile image

      hotspur 7 years ago from England

      Entertaining historical story. Interesting to think yesterday's madness is today's sanity.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, hotspur, I know what you mean, if we hadn't been such a mad lot, we wouldn't have invented so many great things lol they say the madder you are the better! (so I am all right then ha ha ) thanks again nell

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 7 years ago

      A great read Nell - that is one heck of a beard ala Rip Van Winkle no less - the obsession with water was before it's time :)

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, billy, thanks for reading it, and I am glad you liked it. yeah he was a real Rip Van Winkle! lol he must have been laughed at so much for realising the importance of water. It was a pity that others in that time didn't ! ha ha thanks again nell

    • skye2day profile image

      skye2day 7 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Nwll you truly have a gift for writng. Your hubs are a delight and filled with life lessons. Great, Great read. I enjoyed this so much. Love Ya

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, Skye, thank you so much for reading it. I am glad you like it. I love funny and strange stories, I am going through all my old books now, to see what else is there! thanks nell

    • someonewhoknows profile image

      someonewhoknows 7 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      I imagine they didn't have the energy to waste on heating bathwater back then.I'm wondering if he heated any water during the winter or was the climate warm enough to bath without having to heat bathwater.I see he didn't need any towels to dry off with ,since he always carried a built-in towel with him.Namely his beard.The fact that hair has insulating characteristics he didn't have to worry about getting the humor.(Pun intended!)

      A word to the wise!

      Water is your friend!

      It will help keep you clean and comfort you!

      If you don't foul it's body ,it won't foul yours!

      If,if there were no water you'd be much less than you are now,only a few pounds of chemicals and I'm sure you've all heard of the water die-t.No water for a week or two will do it! Not only will you lose a few pounds ,but your life as well.All for the lack of water!Remember two billion people in the world have no acess to clean water.They are litterally dying for the lack of clean water.

      Sorry for being such a pain,but the subject pains me.I've heard that someone came up with a way for poor countries to purify water with a device made from ceramic that was specialy treated to clean water for drinking etc.and is being sold for about 25 dollars and lasts for quite a long time before needing to be replaced. Good news.But is it enough?

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi,Someone, thanks again for the comment. Strange that we should both hit on the same subject! This man obviously was ahead of his time. He realised that the benefits of water, where exactly what he needed. Isn't it funny to think that people thought water was bad for them? thanks nell

    • profile image

      Ron 7 years ago

      I love the water too, but I'm not so crazy about it that it's all I'd drink. He was an interesting eccentric,

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, Ron, I do love writing about different people, especially the eccentric or mysterious ones! thanks again nell

    • Rose Kolowinski profile image

      Rose Kolowinski 7 years ago

      You do come up with fascinating stories! Thanks for another great hub.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, Rose, thanks for reading it, I am glad you liked it. I try and find different and strange stories, I keep rumaging around in my bookcase and the back of cupboards to find another one! lol thanks nell

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 6 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      That was really good Nell. Just what I wanted to read on Christmas morning.

      Lord Rokeby is just the type of person I admire.

      Definetly one of life's originals.

      I;m not so sure about sharing my bath water with a joint of meat however.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, christopher, hope you had a great day! yep, Lord Rokeby was a bit of a character, but he was right in so many ways! lol thanks and happy hols! cheers nell

    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 6 years ago from Aurora

      Fun story, thanks!

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Thanks Laura!

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      I certainly admire Rokeby for his convictions, but amazed he lived so long after years of drinking impure water! The water to make tea would've been okay, but I doubt he knew the advantages of drinking only previously boiled water!

      That said, I've never understood the fear of bathing. To not bathe for months at a time - ewwwwwwwwww! But then, no one understood yet the connection between dirty bodies and germs. In fact, the best prevention for the plague was bathing!

      Great hub! ;D

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Thanks Jama, yes can you imagine not bathing? Ew! lol! but he definitely had the right idea! thanks as always, nell

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Where do you hide this interesting little hubs? Seems our friend Lord Rokeby was smart as well as eccentric. I don't take to the veal floating around in his bath water though! Nice job my friend.

      Voted up and interesting.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Lol! thanks mary, yes that veal....! Yuck! thanks for reading, nell

    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 4 years ago from Aurora

      Nice story, thank you. (BTW, that veal sounds horrible!)

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Hi Laura, nice to see you, and yes that veal...! Ug! lol!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Another wonderful true tale from you Nell. I can't get enough of these amazing tales.

    • Nell Rose profile image
      Author

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Thanks so much Johah, I am really glad you liked it, have a great weekend! nell

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