The Real Regency Rake – Introduction

Mad Jack Mytton, 1818

Mad Jack Mytton, 1818

“Mad Jack” John Mytton (1796 – 1834) was the real Regency rake.

The biographies of this Shropshire squire are both numerous and admirable. This series will try to capture his more memorable exploits. They are largely taken from the recollections of his closest friend Nimrod, also known as Charles James Apperly.

Nimrod gives the best characterization of Mytton, proclaiming him a rake approaching that example so richly set by another a century and a half earlier–John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester (1647 – 1680), a man called the best English satirist and whose poetry was so distinguished it was censored during the Victorian period.

Nimrod compares them both, finally noting that in the end, repentance (or lack of it) separated the two:

“Rochester made himself mad with drink–ditto John Mytton

Was not the best of husbands–ditto John Mytton

Trusted to a death-bed repentance–ditto John Mytton

Promised to amend his life if he recovers from a severe illness…but John Mytton never did promise what he did not think he could perform.”

Memoirs of The Life of The Late John Mytton, Esq. (1835).

Mytton, like all rakes, alternately fascinates and repels. However, his character offers a cautionary tale to those who would pursue such exploits both in the real world and in fiction:

“There is but one excuse for a man being perpetually intoxicated and prostituting the reason of the man to the appetite of the brute; and that is, to attempt to divert grief which he has found impossible to subdue.” — Memoirs

Mytton fighting in a gambling hell

Mytton fighting in a gambling hell

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7 thoughts on “The Real Regency Rake – Introduction

  1. I think your last quote sums up my readers (and writers) are so fond of the rake – we want to heal his grief and make him into the man he could be. Can’t wait to hear more about John Mytton!

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  2. John Mytton was the son of my 5 x great-aunt Sarah Harriet Mytton, nee Mostyn Owen. I do love having a rollicking black sheep in the family 🙂

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