January 18 – An Unusual Man Does the Unusual

Posted on January 18, 2018

Today's historical anniversary touches on something that is very sad - the death of a baby. 

A Welsh doctor named William Price named his son Iesu Grist, which was Welsh for Jesus Christ. This is a really unusual name for a child, but Price was an unusual man - he was really into Welsh nationalism, he worked for social justice and equal rights, he founded a religious group based on the ancient Druid religion, and he disliked long-established customs such as marriage and in-ground burials.

He also cultivated an unusual style of dress. He wore green and a fox hat, and he let his hair and beard grow long.

When he was younger, and he was first
learning medicine and becoming an
accomplished surgeon, Price looked a
lot more ordinary:

Tragically, Price's infant son died, and since he didn't believe in burial, he tried to cremate his son. His neighbors were horrified, and the police rescued him from an angry mob but then arrested him for what they assumed was an illegal disposal of a corpse.

Price argued in court that, although there was no law allowing cremation, there was ALSO no law making it illegal. The judge agreed with him on this date in 1884, and thus legal precedent for cremation was set.

Price was eventually (a couple of months later) able to cremate his son with his own version of Druidic prayers. Ten cremations are recorded in the following year, and in the 1890s several crematoria were opened and the Cremation Society of Great Britain was founded. By 1902, Great Britain passed a Cremation Act.

Price was an unusual guy, but he did do important work and
contributed efforts to good causes - such as the rights of workers.

Many people cheered his advocacy of cremation, and about
20,000 people attended Price's own cremation! Wow!

This statue of Price is located in Llantrisant, Wales,
where Price lived much of his later life.

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