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Saturday, 21 December 2013

My American friends might like to know that we have a statue in the centre of Hummingsby, Norfolk, England with a plaque attached to it which states - 

“This statue was erected in 1982 by The Dakota Whiskey Company of America to honour the Life and Works of William Ignatius Bottle (1752 – 1846) - a Great American.”

It's the only statue we have because nobody famous has ever lived here and there is little doubt that William Ignatius Bottle is far more famous in the USA than in the town of his birth. 
Our town guide tells us that William Ignatius Bottle was the only man present at the signing of the ‘Declaration of Independence’ whose signature is missing from the document. He was to become the youngest signatory and, as such, was chosen to be the last to sign. As Benjamin Franklin passed him the quill he sneezed and knocked the ink bottle onto the carpet. To this day, there exists a painting of the signatories but Billy is missing - the painter arrived late and Billy had already 'nipped out' to find a Woolworth's Store to buy some more ink. His search was unsuccessful and they say that he was so distraught by the accident that he never returned. He left the city and resumed his modest occupation of selling multi-coloured pencils to the Indian Tribes.
Eventually, he settled down and spent the remainder of his years living in a log cabin in the Black Hills of Dakota. To pass the time, he made illicit whiskey. HIS recipe has since become the standard for all American whiskies.

Addendum - In his lifetime he was known by his nickname - ‘Humming Billy’. Whether this is a reference to his cheerful disposition, his personal hygiene habits, or his home town of Hummingsby is still widely debated on University Campuses throughout North America.
For more information about the life and times of William Bottle please refer to 'The Crass Papers'. An academic work published by Prof. Digby Crass of The British Museum (Tagman Press £14,99)

If you should ever wish to visit Hummingsby and Billy's statue please contact the Hummingsby Tourist Office.

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