National Hat Day: Hetherington’s unusual design

January 15th is National Hat Day. Its history is possibly attributed to John Hetherington’s first appearance wearing a top hat in 1797.

I am a bit weirded out by the story of this hat incident . . . much like how those onlookers reacted to the bizarre headgear. There is no direct explanation about how the 15th of January was proclaimed the national day of hats, but this one comes close and might as well be its origin… Enter the Age of Enlightenment…

History of National Hat Day

On January 15, 1797, John Hetherington first appeared in public wearing his unusual hat he described as his own silk hat creation – which was actually just a top hat of today. The Strand haberdasher believed his tall headdress will create a “sensation” but caused a commotion instead.

According to Hatter’s Gazette: “It was with no little trepidation that about eleven o’clock in the forenoon, Mr. Hetherington emerged from his shop in the Strand. His family advised against it, but he was determined, and forth he sallied.”

Wow! Talk about deep English of yore… How about if you post your next Instagram #selfie or Facebook #status with this tagline – “With no trepidation in the forenoon, I emerged and sallied.” #thebest

Mad as a hatter

As reported, the unusual sight of Hetherington’s hat not just invited curious bystanders to follow him around but also spawned a “howling mob”. Weirded 18th-century folks reacted to that tall and lustre-shiny oddball titfer they described as “calculated to frighten timid people”. “Several women fainted…, children screamed, dogs yelped” and a young boy ended up having his right arm broken (as crowds can be dangerous, you know).

Like I said, I’m already weirded out by their reaction. I wonder how they’d react if they see the Coneheads. Well, I bet even you will be scared to see a crowned alien in the flesh.

Furthermore, “those on the outskirts of the crowd did not know the nature of the trouble, if there was any, but they helped to swell the din.”

Okay, you must remember: It’s not good to swell the din, else…

The result: “John Hetherington, haberdasher, of the Strand, was arraigned before the Lord Mayor yesterday on a charge of breach of the peace and inciting to riot and was required to give bonds in the amount of £500.”

How about you check out Sia’s 2016 Cheap Thrills lyric video (below) if you haven’t yet…

Hatmaker John claimed he did not violate any law further saying that he was “merely exercising a right to appear in a headdress of his own design – a right not denied to any Englishman.”

You go, grampa mad-hatter!
I also wonder how much Mayor will charge the real Mad Hatter Tarrant Hightopp. Hmm…

Times on January 16, 1797 commented, “In these days of enlightenment, it must be considered an advance in dress reform, and one which is bound, sooner or later, to stamp its character upon the entire community. The new hat is destined to work a revolution in headgear, and we think the officers of the Crown erred in placing the defendant under arrest.”

Wow! Talk about deep English of yore… How about if you post your next Instagram #selfie or Facebook #status with this tagline – “With no trepidation in the forenoon, I emerged and sallied.” #thebest

I Call Her Mnimi,
Sia – Cheap Thrills ft. Sean Paul (Lyric Video) by Sia, on YouTube

(1) Thornton, Richard. The First Silk Hat in London. The Literary Era: A Monthly Repository of Literary and Miscellaneous Information, 6. Philadelphia, PA: Porter & Coates. Retrieved from’s+gazette&source=bl&ots=wtcUQigBxK&sig=nt7tI2w0OEp5o26BnFO6-O0jJQw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwirguGa6-ffAhWN-lQKHUbdD-QQ6AEwAnoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=january%2015%201797%20hatter’s%20gazette&f=false.

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