The Jolliffe Hat

The Jolliffee , Public Domain

The Jolliffe , Public Domain

The Jolliffe (also sometimes spelled Jolliffee or Jollife) was not your common hat. It got its name from Hylton Jolliffe (1773-1843) who an English politician renown for wearing oversized head gear. In fact, Jolliffe’s hats were so large, the Sporting Magazine humorously observed that “he will punt three or four of us over…his hat.” The magazine also noted how Jolliffe regularly wore large hats stating, “Who has not seen him walk up St. James’s-street with his venerable white head covered with a huge punt hat…he looks like what he is, a country Gentleman and a fox hunter.”

Title Page for Lloyd's Treatise on Hats, Public Domain

Title Page for Lloyd’s Treatise on Hats, Public Domain

The Jolliffe hat, “whose dimensions exceed[ed] all others,” was claimed to be so striking to beholders that it “convey[ed] a corresponding importance to the WEARER.” Robert Lloyd maintained in his Lloyd’s Treatise on Hats, that possible wearers of the Jolliffe included “Princes, Peers, and Plenipotentiaries; Senators, State-ministers, or Trading Politicians.” With this potential in mind, Lloyd provided the following humorous instructions to the hat’s potential wearers:

PRINCE: “Let it be lightly placed on the head, and a little aside, which bespeaks a sort of cheerful approving confidence in one’s own actions.”

PEERS: A “firm horizontal position, just covering half the forehead; which gives the appearance of a wise and steady determination where great questions are agitated, particularly when they become self interesting.”

PLENIPOTENTIARIES (such as ambassadors): “It may be thrown a little back, inclining somewhat aside; such position indicating a bold and careless indifference to all around, which will be taken for granted that such could not arise from any other cause than a total disregard for the result of his mission.

SENATORS, STATE-MINISTERS, and TRADING POLITICIANS: All three supposedly sought “popularity,” and, so, it was recommended they follow the hat wearing directions given above for a prince.


  • Lloyd, Robert, Lloyd’s Treastise on Hats, 2nd Edition, 1819, London
  • Sporting Magazine, 1830

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