Biography of English Miser John Camden Neild

About the famous scrooge John Camden Neild, biography and history of the British miser.


Honored by a Queen: JOHN CAMDEN NEILD (1780-1852)

In contrast to the many misers who inherited their penny-pinching ways from their forebears, John Camden Neild was the son of a prosperous English goldsmith noted for his philanthropy. Neild received a fine liberal education and was expected to follow his father's beneficent example after he inherited the whole of his pound 250,000 estate in 1814. However, Neild's sole interest was increasing his fortune, which he doubled before he died. He did everything possible to avoid spending money. His huge house was so poorly furnished that for a time it lacked even a bed. He dressed in rags, refusing to have his clothes brushed for fear of ruining the nap, and he wouldn't wear an overcoat in even the severest weather. He quibbled over every expenditure, however small, and mooched meals and lodging from the tenants of his vast estates in Buckinghamshire. As estate owner he couldn't escape his responsibility for maintaining the church at North Marston, so he had the leaky lead roof resurfaced with calico.

Death rescued Neild from obscurity when it was learned that he had left his entire fortune to Queen Victoria. Victoria increased Neild's meager bequests to his executors and provided for the servants he had forgotten. She also restored the North Marston church properly and had a stained-glass window installed as a memorial to Neild. This distinction earned Neild a place in England's Dictionary of National Biography, which courteously described him as simply an "eccentric."

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