Daniel Dancer was born in the then-rural area of Pinner in the country of Middlesex. His title as the ‘greatest miser ever’ is owed to the fact that he lived his life as a miser; only eating once a day and the food mostly consisted of a little baked meat or old bones which he used to steal from dogs and a hard-boiled dumpling which was only sufficient to last a week and was always prepared every Saturday night.
He lived with his sister until she died of an illness which he knew about but refused to provide money for her treatment, and they both had the same ideology which was passed down to them from their grandfather and father who were both misers but were not as notable as Daniel because they did not accumulate as much wealth as Daniel.
Name: Daniel Dancer
Place of Birth: Pinner, Middlesex
Date of Birth: 1716
Date of Death: September 1794
Known For: Being a miser.
Daniel Dancer; The Greatest Miser That Has Ever Liver
After the demise of the elder Dancer in 1736, Daniel who was the eldest of the four children succeeded to the Harrow Weald estate which was about 80 acres of rich meadow land and an adjoining farm.
the Harrow area was a lucrative land for agriculture, and it was on the backs of this that the initial Dancer fortune which Daniel inherited, was built.
He let his farmlands lay fallow and because he avoided the cost of cultivating them. Apart from the fact that he and his sister who served as his housekeeper, lived in utmost seclusion and serious stinginess not only with other people but themselves as well.
As his own tailor, he made clothes of hay bands as coats and on his feet like boots. He however made it a habit to buy a new shirt once a year. He would also scavenge for thrown-out shoes left in the streets for his own use.
On one of such occasions, he filed a lawsuit against a trader who he claimed cheated him out of three pence but he lost the case. His only other dealing with others arose from the sale of his hay.
Daniel Dancer was seldom seen except for when he went out to gather logs of woods from the common, iron, or sheep’s dung under the hedges. He avoided theft by locking his door completely and only entered his house through the upper window which he used to ascend and descend with the help of a ladder that he drew up after use.
In 1766, his sister died during her last illness, and when called upon for her treatment, and he shrewdly replied that it would cost him money and asked why he should waste his money trying to oppose the will of God. He said that if she was to come to her latter end, nothing can save her and whatever he was going to do would be useless and only make him waste money and that she may as well die then as at any other time.
After his sister’s death, he used a fraction of her inheritance to buy himself a pair of second-hand stockings to put himself in decent mourning. Although his sister had planned to leave her bequest to the only person who was close enough to them; Lady Tempest, the widow of Sir Henry Tempest, a Yorkshire baronet but she died before she could sign her will.
There was a lawsuit that arose after Daniel’s sisters’ death as to how her money should be distributed by her three brothers and two-third of the money was given to Daniel because he had kept her with him all her life till her death.
To replace the sister’s role in his house, Daniel brought in a housekeeper whose life was almost a replica of him. He paid the housekeeper named Griffiths, eighteenpence a week and they lived together in Daniel’s house until his demise on the 30th of September 1794.
Daniel Dancer rarely even washed his hands and face but when he did, it was with just water and in a neighboring pond with no soap due to the cost of soap. he would proceed to dry himself with sand and natural sunlight in order to avoid buying a towel.
Daniel Dancer made Lady Tempest his sole legatee as a reward because she had shown kindness to him in his old age and she tended to him during his last days prior to his demise.
His wealth amounted to a sum equal to 3,000 pounds Per annum but Lady Tempest did not live to enjoy this wealth as she died shortly after his death due to a cold she contracted while she tended to Daniel on his deathbed.
Asides from being a great miser, Daniel Dancer proved to have some praiseworthy qualities like the fact that his business transactions were characterized mostly, by the most rigid integrity as he never neglected to give practical proof of his gratitude for service rendered to him and he even knew how to be generous to people like Lady Tempest whom he willed his wealth to.
According to a book titled “The Strange and Unaccountable Life of Daniel Dancer, Esquire, Who Died in a Sack, Though Worth upward of 3000 pounds a Year.”, it was published that Lady Tempest and her husband who were the heirs to Daniel Dancer’s wealth, found untold riches hidden inside dung heaps in the cow barn, nailed inside the manger, and stuffed inside the furniture and hidden away inside teapots and floorboards alike.
The book also stated that Daniel Dancer never ‘suffered any light in his house, except what issued from the glimmer of the fire, unless he was going to bed’ this further describes and explains how much of a miser he was.
There were still so many tales attesting to the fact that Daniel Dancer was indeed a great miser. Like the moment Lady Tempest called on him and found him lying in an old sack which came up to his chin, and his head wrapped in pieces of the same materials as big as a bee-hive. When Lady Tempest remonstrated against the impropriety of his situation, he stated that he being a poor man, could not afford better and having come into the world without a shirt, he was determined to go out in the same manner.
He pointed out that as he brought nothing into the world with him, he did not think he had any right to carry anything away, and the less he made use of it, he thought was the more acceptable to God.