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Nash, Richard

Nash, Richard (1674–1762), later known as ‘Beau’ Nash. Son of a Swansea glass-maker, and briefly lured by the scarlet, Nash entered the Inner Temple (1693), but his self-assurance, good manners, and dress concealed penury, hence his resort to preposterous wagers. Addiction to gaming drew him to Bath (1705), which, although fashionable, had few arrangements for comfort or entertainment. Good organizational skill and energy led to a position as master of ceremonies (later, additionally, at Tunbridge Wells), where, mixing kindness, generosity, conceit, and cynicism, he crusaded against overcharging, duelling, and informality. Although ‘arbiter elegantarium’, Nash was primarily a professional gamester, so the 1739 and 1745 Acts against organized gambling undermined successively his income, display, and then authority. Despite his contributions to Bath's prosperity and the establishment of its Mineral Water Hospital, the corporation coldly watched its uncrowned king slide into poverty, but interred him in Bath abbey.

A. S. Hargreaves

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