Jack Starhouse

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Jack Starhouse was a coachman in the employ of a certain Mr. Tubbs of Nottinghamshire. He performed his duties well and gave no-one any real cause of complaint, yet his fellow servants took against him. He was a silent man, and so they believed him to be proud; he had a strange cleverness with animals (especially horses and cats) and so they took him to be unnatural.

Matters might have continued well enough however, but unfortunately for Starhouse his master had a passionate interest in the subject of fairies. Seeing Starhouse unfairly shunned by his fellows, and considering to himself that the unhappy coachman was of somewhat odd appearance (his eyes were dark and rather far apart), Tubbs came to the conclusion that Starhouse was in fact a fairy; this, he felt, fully explained the coldness with which the other servants treated him.

When he acquainted Starhouse with his views the coachman endeavoured to persuade him they were wrong but Tubbs would not alter his mind. His insistence that his coachman was, indeed, a fairy rendered Starhouse so uncomfortable that in the end he left his place. He later brought an action for defamation against Mr. Tubbs, and was so successful as to have the ruling entered in English law that he truly was a man and not a fairy.

His success did him little good, however. The act of taking his master to court destroyed his character and no other employer would take him on. As for Tubbs, he became an object of public ridicule for giving way to such a weakness as a belief in fairies[5].