The Day Thread of the 1797 London Top Hat Riot (8/22)

It is said that on January 16, 1797, British haberdasher John Hetherington caused a riot by wearing the first top hat in public in London.

A journal reports that he had “appeared on the public highway wearing upon his head what he called a silk hat, a tall structure having a shiny lustre, and calculated to frighten timid people.”

Allegedly, “several women fainted at the unusual sight, while children screamed, dogs yelped and a younger son of Cordwainer Thomas was thrown down by the crowd which collected and had his right arm broken”.

Hetherington was charged with breaking the peace and inciting a riot, and had to pay 500 pounds.