Lock of hair said to be from George III, 1760-1820, wrapped in a piece of paper inscribed 'Hair of His late Majesty King George the Third Received from Sir K. Taylor 27 January 1927'
King George III (1738-1820) ruled the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and was also king of Hanover – part of mainland Europe – from 1760 to 1820. He was prone to episodes described as ‘madness’ by contemporaries. Recent tests on the hair found an unexpectedly high concentration of arsenic. Heavy metals such as arsenic can make the symptoms of the hereditary condition called porphyria worse. Some researchers believe George had this condition. Porphyria can lead to severe mental imbalance and episodes of apparent ‘madness’. Other symptoms include abdominal pain, dislike of bright light, and purple urine. The pharmacist and collector Henry Wellcome (1853-1936) bought this lock of hair at auction in 1927, enclosed within a slip of paper documenting its origin.