Jeremy Clarkson's Ancestors Were Sued For Environmental Pollution In 1871

Illustration for article titled Jeremy Clarkson's Ancestors Were Sued For Environmental Pollution In 1871

In the first season of BBC’s hit show “Who Do You Think You Are?”, Jeremy Clarkson discovered he was the great-great-great-great-grandson of John Kilner, a very successful 19th century bottlemaker. He also discovered where his inherent hatred for environmentalism was founded.

In the fourth episode of the first series of “Who Do You Think You Are?” back in 2004, guest Jeremy Clarkson went searching through his family lineage for signs of ancestral notoriety. He found it on his mother’s side, discovering that the Kilner name was once attached to a huge bottlemaking company that started in the 19th century.

In his quest to find out what happened to the Kilner’s empire, Clarkson discovered a lawsuit recorded in 1871, which detailed a farmer’s complaint that a Kilner factory’s 24-hour smoke output was killing the crops. As Clarkson points out, “environmentalism” was not a “thing” at the time, and I’ll remind you that this is still a few decades before any car could be blamed for climate change.


The court judge ruled that “no man has the right to interfere with the supply of pure air,” and the factory had to purchase six expensive gas furnaces at the cost of £1,500 each at the time, which would total to just over a million dollars today.

Naturally, Clarkson jokes that this must be where his well-documented hatred for environmentalism comes from. Here’s the relevant clip from the show below, the rest of which you can find on the same YouTube channel (or a non-bootleg copy somewhere else, probably).

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik

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Somehow a picture of “a ye olde Jeremy Clarkson ‘fixing’ the (assumed) coal furnace by sledge hammering it” comes to my mind.