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In the eighteenth century as in any other, a trip to the local pub provided some escape from the monotony of working life, offering a chance for merriment and silliness, and – dangerously – the opportunity to take a cup too much and be persuaded into something a sober man wouldn’t entertain for a second.

One wintry weekend in 1791, this Manchester man was tempted to run over two miles completely naked in the pouring rain by the prospect of just five shillings – about £14 in today’s money – and, no doubt, the chance to prove his manfulness. As with many careless drunken wagers it had tragic consequences.

Lesson: don’t go running around nude in the snow tonight, folks!

streak Derby Mercury Thurs 1 Dec 1791

“About eight o’clock on the stormy night of Saturday the 19th inst. a man was rash enough to undertake, for five shillings, to run naked, from a public house at Stayley-Bridge, near Manchester, to a mill in the neighbourhood, more than a mile distant, in consequence of another person in company observing that he would not go the distance, such a night as it was, for five guineas. Not returning in the course of two hours, some of the party went to search for him with a lanthorn, and found him perishing and speechless, about half a mile off, on his return, with a handful of meal husks, which were proof of his having been at the mill. Medical assistance was immediately procured, but he died presently afterwards. He was advised to stop all night at the mill, or to put on some cloaths that were offered to him, but refused, though he declared he had been nearly suffocated by the wind and rain. He has left a wife and five small children.”

- Derby Mercury, Thursday 1st December 1791

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