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Some could say that religion and insanity kind of go hand-in-hand, for it takes a little bit of insanity to trust in something you cannot sense in the physical realm. In the history of the world there have been many religious eccentrics. Oddly enough these eccentrics are most of the time associated with Christianity.

The Vicar of Morenstow, Rev. Robert Stephen Hawking was one of the oddest preachers in the history of the sea-faring town. Instead of wearing the normal cassock he would either where a fisherman's jersey or a yellow blanket over his head with holes cut out for his eyes. He said that this was all the early Cornish saints had to wear. He hated wearing black. When his wife died a friend had to convince him to wear a black ribbon tied onto his hat to the funeral. He had a pony he always rode bareback (even into the parish sometimes), followed by a pig named Gyp. Despite Rev. Hawker's oddness many people in the town respected him because he took a church that was in ruins and without a vicar for many years and turned it around. Hawker would many times risk his own life to save sailors in a storm. He would take those he rescued back to the vicarage and nurse them back to health.

Hawker wore all his clothes until they were practically unwearable and would sit on a cliff by the shore and write poetry. He wrote many great works including the history of the coastline, "Records of the Western Shore" and some romantic poems such as "Ballad of Trelawney". He liked to keep animals and pets inside the church and let them wonder around. His baptisms were memorable for the way in which Hawker would take the child hold it high up in the air and walk up and down the aisles shouting, "We receive this child into the Congregation of Christ's flock." People would come for miles around just to have their baby baptized by Hawker.

Hawker is remembered for one of the funniest practical jokes ever played on the superstitious people of the town. In July of 1815, Hawker would row out to sea and every night for a week would sit on a rock, stark naked with an oilskin wrapped around his knees, combing his hair and singing. The townspeople would group around the shorline to watch the "mermaid".

Hawker died August of 1875 and was a beloved and cherished character by many.

The Mammoth Book of Oddballs and Eccentrics

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