, Newburyport, MA


January 23, 2013

A downright entertaining eccentric -- with heart


But this “lord” was not above the law. A spirited Dexter caught a local leering at his statues. He chased the peeper with his pistol and shot, missing by a hair. The man, Babson, pressed charges and Dexter was sentenced to the brig in Ipswich. He coerced constables to let him go “in style” in his own carriage. As he arrived, the town’s children cried: “Make way for his Lord Dexter.” Dexter had a few short days of amusement with conferment, but the novelty soon wore off and he purchased his freedom for the sum of $1,000.

As fun and entertaining as Dexter’s life was, his great deeds and readiness to help those less fortunate can not go untold. Dexter always spread the wealth. He paved roads and fed the hungry from his palace kitchens. His consult, Lucy Lancaster, noted he “created an aura of goodwill and charity.” In his will, he left a generous donation to be expended on the poor in town. He wanted his burial on the front lawn, but the town officials, for “sanitary reasons,” would not abide. He is buried in the public grounds of Frog Pound. If you really want to get the whole skinny, read his famous “Pickle for the Knowing Ones “ — a very embellished, but candid and amusing account of his “noble” existence.


Melissa Berry lives in Beverly.

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