Money maketh the man is the correct saying but in some cases, it appears to have the opposite effect. The more money you earn or inherit, the more-stingy you become. And this applies to the miser as well as most others he or she would meet. In addition, the condition can affect whole families and generations. The story we are going to talk about is one of those and a pretty good example of what it does to you.
The person in question as our focal point is John Elwes. He was born in Southwark about 1730 into a family already known to be misers. They were also very rich. But to give you an idea of how serious this addiction to penny-pinching is, it is said that John’s mother died of malnutrition. John was not only going to carry on the family tradition but he intended to take it to a new level.
He worked hard to make money and not spend it. When he visited an uncle who of course, was rich and a miser, he would dress in rags in case his uncle thought him too frivolous and cut him out of the will. Instead, they would have a glass of wine and sit by a roaring fire. Well, it would have been roaring if they had put more than one stick on it.
As he got older, John adopted more ways in which to save money. For instance, he walked everywhere, even if it was raining or snowing, he wore old clothes and would often sleep in a hedge rather than pay for lodgings. Surprisingly, or not surprisingly, he became a Member of Parliament. But that didn’t mend his ways. He rode his horse on grass verges so as not to wear down the horseshoes. He had houses in many places. These were investments to make more money. However, when he stayed at one, he would bring furniture with him in order to not to have to furnish each property.
But, he could also on rare occasions, be generous as it is reported he once rode sixty miles to represent two elderly sisters fight a court case. John Elwes died in 1789, at fifty-nine years of age and is buried in Southwark Cathedral.