BEAU NASH (18 October 1674 – 3 February 1761), born RICHARD NASH, was a celebrated dandy and leader of fashion in 18th-century Britain. He is best remembered as the Master of Ceremonies at the spa town of Bath .
Nash was born in Goat Street,
In 1704, he became Master of Ceremonies at the rising spa town of Bath , a position he retained until he died. He lived in a house on Saw Close (now at the main entrance to the Theatre Royal), and kept a string of mistresses. He played a leading role in making Bath the most fashionable resort in 18th-century England.
His position was unofficial, but nevertheless he had extensive influence in the city until early 1761. He would meet new arrivals to Bath and judge whether they were suitable to join the select "Company' of 500 to 600 people who had pre-booked tables, match ladies with appropriate dancing partners at each ball, pay the musicians at such events, broker marriages, escort unaccompanied wives and regulate gambling (by restraining compulsive gamblers or warning players against risky games or cardsharps ). He was notable for encouraging a new informality in manners, breaking down the rigid barriers which had previously divided the nobility from the middle-class patrons of Bath, and even from the gentry .
Although the Corporation of the city funded an elaborate funeral for
Nash, he was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave. There is a memorial
to him at
His death caused quite a stir at the time, with the celebrated author Oliver Goldsmith being moved to write The Life of Richard Nash as early as 1762.
Nash was a notorious gambler who was forced to move in with his mistress, Juliana Popjoy, due to his debts. Upon his death, Popjoy was so distraught, she spent the majority of her remaining days living in a large hollowed-out tree. Near her death, she moved out of the tree and back to her birth home where she died.
NASH AND WESLEY
In his journal and letters,
Facing Wesley, Nash questioned his authority, comparing the gathering to a conventicle , which was banned by Act of Parliament . Wesley answered that he had the authority of Jesus Christ and the Archbishop of Canterbury and that the gathering was not seditious and therefore did not contravene the Act. Nash complained that Wesley was scaring people out of their wits, but then admitted that he had never actually heard Wesley preach and was just relying on "common report". Wesley rejected this argument, stating that he did not judge Nash "by common report... it is not enough to judge by." When Nash asked why people were coming to the meeting at all, an old woman in the crowd asked Wesley to allow her to answer. She then told Nash that, while he took care of his body, she and others were present in order to take care of their souls. Nash left. Wesley wrote that, after his departure, "We immediately began praying for him, and then for all the despisers. As we returned, they hollowed and hissed us along the streets; but when any of them asked, 'Which is he' and I answered, 'I am he,' they were immediately silent."
BEAU NASH AND TUNBRIDGE WELLS
In 1735, Nash appointed himself
Master of Ceremonies in Tunbridge
Wells and retained control of the entertainments provided for visitors
until his death in 1761. Bath, it was said, was his kingdom, and
Tunbridge Wells a colony of that kingdom. Nash had been interested in
taking control at
Tunbridge Wells for some years, but had been
excluded by the formidable Bell Causey , who "presided as absolute
governess" until her death in 1734. As well as organizing
entertainments, Nash established strict rules for correct behaviour.
In order to ensure that visitors paid subscriptions for services
provided, he introduced Sarah Porter , "Queen of the Touters", who
eagerly pursued defaulters. Under Nash,
Tunbridge Wells attained the
height of its fame as a fashionable resort, patronised by royalty,
nobility, and the most famous names in the country. It is notable that
there is a pub in
Tunbridge Wells named after
LATER USE OF NAME
A cinema was erected in Westgate Street in Bath in 1920 and named the
* ^ Williams, Idris (1926). "