[Bit long, but quite interesting. Lifted from Wikipedia]
Dr. William Price (1800 – 1893) was a Welsh physician and a famous eccentric, who spent much of his childhood wandering naked on the hills around his home. He was a prominent Chartist and campaigner for the rights of working men, and an exponent of Druidic traditions. A fanatical walker and a strong conservation supporter, he sometimes wore a fox-skin headdress. He never wore socks, because he thought they were unhygienic, and he refused to treat patients who were smokers. He was also a vegetarian, saying that eating meat “brought out the beast in man”. Price did not believe in marriage, which he saw as the enslavement of women.
He's remembered chiefly as the performer of the first legal cremation in the United Kingdom. It took place on 18 January 1884 when he attempted to burn the body of his dead five-month-old son, Jesus Christ Price, who had died eight days previously of teething problems. The infant was the illegitimate son of Price and his housekeeper. As part of his Druidic faith, William Price believed that burial was a sin against the earth and felt that cremation was a much better option, even though this was widely thought to be actually illegal in Britain at the time.
Price made no attempt to disguise his actions, and publicly declared that he would burn the body on a pyre of coal on a hillside overlooking Llantrisant. When he started to perform the Druidic lamentations, he was watched by a crowd who were largely opposed to the act. Shortly after Price lit the pyre, the corpse was snatched from the flames and Price was arrested for illegal disposal of a body.
Price was prosecuted, but successfully defended himself in February 1884, claiming that “It is not right that a carcass should be allowed to rot and decompose in this way. It results in a wastage of good land, pollution of the earth, water and air, and is a constant danger to all living creatures”. He was dressed in his foxskin cap and a white tunic in court at the time. The judge at the Cardiff Assizes, Mr Justice Stephen, agreed that, under English law, an action wasn't illegal unless it was specifically proscribed. As the existing law made no explicit reference to cremation, the practice was therefore legal. The case set a precedent which led to the Cremation Act of 1902. In 1885 the first official cremation took place at Woking. Ten cremations then took place in 1886. In 1892 a crematorium opened in Manchester, followed by one in Glasgow in 1895 and one in Liverpool in 1896.
Price died in 1893 and was cremated on a hillside pyre of two tons of coal, watched by 20,000 people. A statue of him now stands in Llantrisant, depicting the doctor in his characteristic fox-skin headdress, arms outstretched.