Meet 18th Century Douchebag Thomas Day: The Original Mens’ Rights Activist

Thomas Day, fed up of being rejected by women, bought two orphan girls and attempted to train them to become the perfect wife. Little did he know an act of spectacular karmic retribution was just around the corner.

Meet 18th Century Douchebag Thomas Day: The Original Mens' Rights Activist

by Jess Commons |
Published on

This week on excellent podcast Stuff You Missed In History Class, Holly and Tracy tell the story of noted douche Thomas Day.

It's a real corker.

Thomas Day was born into a wealthy family in the mid-1700s. He was mates with Charles Darwin's grandad Erasmus. He didn't ever have a job, travelled where he pleased and lived a hyper-exaggerated life of white male privilege. According to the podcast, Thomas was 'devoted' to his mother, but, growing up, he didn't have much luck with the ladies. Which might have had something to do with the fact that he thought women were 'inferior' - both physically and intellectually.

After a series of rejections, and a hefty amount of dabbling in the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas came up with an ideal of what he thought a perfect wife should be. 'Pure, strong, simple, fearless, unpretentious, above frivolity and fussy tastes and entirely subservient to her master and teacher Thomas Day.' Sounds fun right ladies?

So, what did Thomas do? Well, he did what any sensible young man with little-to-no-idea about how to make himself appealing to women would do. He bought two orphans girls (one 11 and one 12), changed their names to Sabrina and Lucretia and set about molding himself the 'perfect' wife. Whichever one turned out the best, he would marry.


In his 'experiments' Thomas and pal Richard subjected the girls to horrible ordeals, nearly drowning them both in a test of their endurance and unflappability. After a year, he let Lucretia go and intensified his experiments on Sabrina (which for some reason included dripping hot wax on her and firing pistols at her skirts). He never told Sabrina about his true intentions.

In the end, Thomas let Sabrina go too, although he remained her benefactor. She later found out what he'd done and was horrified. Eventually Thomas did marry (srsly) a woman called Esther, who, by all accounts, was kind of a catch. Go figure.

Sadly though, a streak of almost unbelievable karmic retribution was just around the corner for Thomas. In 1789, Thomas was thrown from a horse and killed. The horse was misbehaving because... get this... Thomas thought that trying to train animals was 'cruel' and was trying to break the horse 'with kindness'.

In case you were wondering, Lucretia and Sabrina did just fine. Lucretia married a well-to-do-ish shopkeeper and draper and Sabrina married another mate of Thomas's, one John Bicknell, the dude who told her about Thomas's experiment. John died a penniless gambler leaving behind Sabrina and two children. Thomas and John's pals raised money for her, sent her kids to private school and she lived a long old life in a four storey house in Greenwich with servants of her own.

Listen to the full epsiode and about seventy zillion more amazing What You Missed In History Classes here.

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Follow Jess on Twitter @Jess_Commons

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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