Treasure of the week no. 32: Old three laps and the 47 -year bed sulk

Interesting Interludes in the Singular Life of William Sharp, alias ‘Old Three Laps’.

Published by Thomas Harrison of Queen Street, Bingley, c.1856. 16 pages. No author is given. (Reference: JND 116/5)

On Friday, April 7th, 1856, were consigned to their final resting place, the remains of one of the most eccentric individuals that ever lived. In fact, a parallel seems scarcely possible, of a man voluntarily going to bed in good health, and remaining there for a period of forty-nine years!

‘Old Three Laps’ lived at a place called ‘Worlds’ in Keighley. His nick-name derives from an incident when a tailor was making his father a new suit, but had not been given sufficient cloth. He was told to “make it with three laps or any way.” The acquired nick-name was passed onto his son.

William lived a normal life, making a living manufacturing worsted goods and shooting birds by Keighley Tarn. In due course he fell in love with Mary Smith, daughter of a neighbouring farmer, by whom he had a son. William and Mary planned to marry but their fathers quarrelled over money, William’s father being notably mean with his money – as with the tailor. At the planned wedding, Mary failed to appear. This shook William:

He became moping and melancholy, abandoned his business and the spoils of his gun, and finally betook himself to that bed to which he clung to resolutely during the remainder of a long life. … He never spoke to the person waiting upon him. The only sign of intelligence he exhibited were those common to the brute, by taking his food, and hiding himself from intruders by covering himself with the bed clothes.

Word of this eccentric behaviour spread and visitors were attracted to his home, peering through his bedroom window. William ‘Three Laps’ Sharp, died aged 79.


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