January 18th, 1884 – Welsh Druid Burns Jesus

Today-In-History

On January, 18th 1884Dr. William Price attempted to cremate the body of his infant son, Jesus Christ Price, setting a legal precedent for cremation in the United Kingdom.

Restricted useageWilliam Price was a Welsh physician known for his support of Welsh nationalism, Chartism and his involvement with the Neo-Druidic religious movement. He has been recognized as one of the most significant figures of 19th-century Wales, and one of the most unusual in Victorian Britain.

Born to a lower-class household in Monmouthshire, Wales, he trained as a doctor in London, England before returning to Wales, becoming interested in the Chartists’ ideas regarding equal democratic rights for all men. Following their failed 1839 uprising, he escaped government persecution by fleeing to France, where he became convinced that an ancient prophecy predicted that he would liberate his country from English rule.

Returning to Wales, he tried reviving what he believed to be the religion of the ancient druids, the “CelticIron Age ritual specialists of western Europe. In doing so, he became one of the most prominent proponents of the Neo-Druidic movement, something that had been developing since the Welsh nationalist Iolo Morganwg‘s activities in the late 18th century. After cremating his dead son on January 18th, 1884, Price was arrested and put on trial by those who believed cremation was illegal in Britain; however, he successfully argued that there was no legislation that specifically outlawed it, which paved the way for the Cremation Act of 1902. Upon his death in January 1893, he was cremated in a ceremony watched by 20,000 onlookers.

William PriceKnown for adhering to such principles as equal democratic rights for all men, vegetarianism, cremation and the abolition of marriage, all of which were highly controversial at the time, he has been widely labelled as an “eccentric” and a “radical“. Since his death he has been remembered as “one of the great Welshman of all time” with a permanent exhibition and statue dedicated to him being opened in the town of Llantrisant, where he had lived for much of his later life.

“Today in History” on The Pandora Society dot com is primarily focused on Victorian and Edwardian history and does not always have a direct connection to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, or whatever punk; in fact it rarely does, but it is our hope that in sharing these historical events they might serve as some inspiration to the writers in our community to create potential alternative history stories which we look forward to reading 🙂


 

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