A modest headstone in the churchyard of St Mary's Church in Hertfordshire had only the words “Peter the Wild Child - 1785”. Now, you have been granted the Grade II, marking it as a monument of special historical interest. The tombstone is in good condition, but it is the human being buried under it that gives it its historical importance. Peter's life, and therefore his last resting place, are important witnesses to the history of disability in England.
Jurgen Meyer, a farmer in the area, found Peter in the forest of Helpensen, about 25 km southwest of Hanover (Germany) in 1724. He was naked, dirty, with matted hair, walking on all fours and unable to speak. Apparently he had managed to survive on acorns and whatever he could find for an indefinite time. With a small stature, he was believed to be 12 years old.
When he was transferred to the Hospice of St. Spiritus, the King George I of England coincided with him on a visit as elector of Hanover. The king and the boy dined together, and later on, Peter became something of George I's personal buffoon, displaying him among the nobility. Among the aristocrats, Peter was baptized and a Scottish doctor tried to teach him to speak, but made little progress.
London society went crazy with the so-called “wild boy”. In 1726 his name was on everyone's lips, as a novelty and as a scientific and philosophical exposition. For thinkers of the Illustration, Peter was a prism through which address the question of nature versus nurtureHow the state of man in the wild alters his mind and soul.
Of the examination of his portrait in a painting of King George I, geneticists currently believe that Peter suffered from Pitt-Hopkins syndrome, a chromosomal disorder characterized by drooping eyelids, prominent lips, thick hair, and severe mental retardation.
But such a situation could only end in disgrace. After the death of Princess Carolina in 1737Peter went to live on the farm of one of the queen's ladies, with whom he traveled to visit farmer James Fenn in Axters, where he later moved. However, after Mr. Fenn's death, he disappeared in 1751 and a few months later appeared among inmates who had fled a fire in a Norwich jail.
From this moment on, Mr. Fenn's brother put an iron collar with a padlock as if he were a dog, with whom he lived until his death in 1785. He was buried in the church of Santa Maria, where there are often still flowers as symbols of the affection in which Peter's memory is celebrated.
Almost graduated in Advertising and Public Relations. I started to like history in 2nd year of high school thanks to a very good teacher who made us see that we have to know our past to know where the future takes us. Since then I have not had the opportunity to investigate more in all that our history offers us, but now I can take up that concern and share it with you.