Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater (May 21, 1736 – March 8, 1803), is remembered as the “father of British inland navigation.” He is credited for the Bridgewater Canal, commonly identified as the said to be the first true canal the modern world. History also remembers him as one of its biggest eccentrics.
Egerton loved dogs. His favorites were Bijou and Biche, who received the honor of joining Egerton at dinner, seated on chairs, with napkins around their necks. Servants presented the dogs’ meals on plates at the same time they served the master of the house.
One day his four-legged dinner companions were not at their best behavior. Instead of calling a dog trainer, Egerton summoned his tailor and said, “These blackguards have deceived me. I have treated them like gentlemen; they have behaved like rascals. Take their measure! They shall wear for eight days the yellow coats and knee breeches of my valets, and stay in the anteroom, and be deprived of the honour of seeing me for a week.”
Rather than treating this as a one-time punishment, Egerton began to see the value of properly-dressed dinner companions. He had custom-made boots designed for his dogs and for their many friends.
He also hosted lavish dinner parties for his dogs and their friends. All guests received tailor-made formal clothing, and each was assigned a servant to serve his or her food.
The dogs, as well as the many household cats, were given free use of the earl’s numerous carriages and could be seen being driven all over the city.
Animals were not the only reason Egerton’s tailor-made a good living. Egerton himself would only wear a pair of shoes once. Each day he demanded a new pair. He lined the old shoes up in rows and used them as a calendar, keeping track of the passage of time by counting the pairs.
All of his biographies note that he remained a bachelor for his entire life. No one seems to express any surprise about it, though.