Corpulent Rivals

This snippet is from an account of some of the plumpest men in history, gathered together by a 19th Century author with a splendid sense of humour. The author describes a Mr Daniel Lambert, who died at Stamford on the 21st of July 1809, ‘at the advanced weight of 739 pounds’. In 1806, Lambert exhibited himself in London, and the following is a copy of his advertisment:

Exhibition—Mr Daniel Lambert, of Leicester, the heaviest man that ever lived; who, at the age of thirty-six years, weighs upwards of fifty stone (fourteen pounds to the stone), or eighty-seven stones four pounds, London weight, which is ninety one pounds more than the great Mr Bright weighed. Mr Lambert will see company at his house, No. 53 Piccadilly, next Albany, nearly opposite St James’s Church, from eleven to five o’clock. Tickets of Admission – One Shilling each.

The author goes on to recount how:

Lambert died suddenly. He went to bed well at night, but expired before nine o’clock of the following morning. A country newspaper of the day, aiming at fine writing, observes: ‘Nature had endured all the trespass she could admit; the poor man’s corpulency had constantly increased, until, at the time we have mentioned, the clogged machinery of life stood still, and this prodigy of mammon (sic) was numbered with the dead.  His coffin was 3 feet 6 inches broad at the shoulders, and more than 3 feet in depth. A way was cut through the wall and staircase of his house to let it down into the shop. It was drawn to the church on a low-wheeled carriage, by twelve men; and was let down into the grave by an engine, fixed up on the church for that purpose, amidst a vast concourse of spectators from distant parts of the country.’ After his death, a wager was laid that five men, each twenty-one years of age, could be buttoned in his waistcoat. It was decided at the Black Bull Inn, at Haldon, when not only five, as proposed, but seven men were enclosed in it, without breaking a stitch or straining a button.

To compete with Mr Lambert in the fatty stakes, there is also an account of:

A Mr Palmer, landlord of the Golden Lion Inn at Brompton, in Kent, who was another great man in his way, though not fit to be compared with either Bright or Lambert; weighing but 25 stone, a matter of some 380 pounds less than the great Daniel.  Palmer came to London to see Lambert; yet, though five men could be buttoned in his waistcoat, he looked like a pigmy beside the great Leicestershire man.It is said that the superior grossness of his more corpulent rival in greatness, so affected Palmer as to cause his death. However that may be, he certainly died three weeks after his journey to London. A part of the Golden Lion had to be taken down to allow egress for his coffin, which was drawn to the grave in a timber wagon, as no hearse could be procured either large enough to admit it, or sufficiently strong to bear its weight.

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  • October 16, 2009 - 10:21 am | Permalink

    “It is said that the superior grossness of his more corpulent rival in greatness, so affected Palmer as to cause his death. ” A pitiful way to go! I wonder if he was trying to catch up…

  • October 15, 2009 - 8:42 pm | Permalink

    There is something rather wonderful about his ability to make cash from nothing more than his rotund appearance. I had no idea the good people of Leicester held him in such high regard!

  • October 15, 2009 - 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I’d forgotten all about Daniel Lambert! Growing up in Leicester we were taught about him at Primary School. Not sure if it was for moral purposes or just because he was the coolest celebrity Leicester has ever produced. I’m ashamed to say that I think any children of ,shall we say, larger build were often called ‘Daniel Lambert’. Kids can be so cruel. Lambert rocks though.

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