I love older books and newer books whose author’s use words and expressions I have never heard or do not know. Today I was listening again to, “The Hollow,” by Agatha Christie and a character referred to his boss as a tuft-hunter. Intrigued I hopped on Yahoo search and began to research it and this is what I found. First many websites with the same definition, “A nobleman's toady; one who tries to curry favour with the wealthy and great for the sake of feeding on the crumbs which fall from the rich man's table. A University term,” from factmonster.com. Another website added that such men often had cap decorated with gold tufts. Second I found a witty poem by Thomas Moore, “Epitaph on a Tuft-Hunter,” on readbookonline.net . Finally I found out that although Thomas Moore lived a great deal of his life among titled families he himself was a common man contrary to some vague idea I had was never given a title.
Epitaph On A Tuft-Hunter
Lament, lament, Sir Isaac Heard,
Put mourning round thy page, Debrett,
For here lies one who ne'er preferred
A Viscount to a Marquis yet.
Beside him place the God of Wit,
Before him Beauty's rosiest girls,
Apollo for a _star_ he'd quit,
And Love's own sister for an Earl's.
Did niggard fate no peers afford,
He took of course to peers' relations;
And rather than not sport a Lord
Put up with even the last creations;
Even Irish names could he but tag 'em
With "Lord" and "Duke," were sweet to call;
And at a pinch Lord Ballyraggum
Was better than no Lord at all.
Heaven grant him now some noble nook,
For rest his soul! he'd rather be
Genteelly damned beside a Duke,
Than saved in vulgar company.
an excessively parsimonious, miserly, or stingy person.
niggardly; miserly; stingy.
1325–75; ME nyggard, equiv. to nig niggard (< Scand; cf. dial. Sw nygg; akin to OE hnēaw stingy) + -ard