IN his continuing search for the more weird and wondrous in this world, David Ellis says that back in the 1700s a London merchant trader set something of a record in wine consumption that’s possibly never been equalled to this day.
Because this Mr Van Horn was a board member of the Amicable Society, the world’s first mutual life assurance society that conducted its business for 22 years from rooms in the Bull Inn on London’s Bishopsgate Street – and during which time he downed some 35,688 bottles of port wine at an average 4-and-a-bit bottles a day.
And somehow he missed just two working days in all those 22 years. One was when his daughter got married, and the other was to go to his wife’s funeral.
Remarkably Mr Van Horn also managed to run his own “merchant adventurers” company that exported British goods to New World countries, and brought primary produce from those countries back to Britain.
In his book titled The Code of Health and Longevity, with the lengthy sub-title A Concise View of the Principles for the Preservation of Health and the Attainment of Long Life, Sir John Sinclair wrote of Mr Van Horn in 1807: “In the course of his potation, he resembled more a cellar than a man, for there are many cellars never contained what this man must have done.”
Mr Van Horn died at the age of 61 – obviously well-pickled, for 61 was several years more than the-then average male life expectancy in England.
PORTRAIT of Mr Van Horn now owned by London’s Wine Trade Foundation.
(Courtesy Wine Trade Foundation and The Vintners Company London.)
 IN this 1807 tome on health and longevity, Sir John Sinclair wrote of Mr Van Horn:
“many cellars never contained what this man must have done…”