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Buchinger, Matthias [Matthew] (1674–1739), artist, was born on 2 June 1674 at Ansbach, near Nuremberg; details of his parents are unknown. He was born without hands, feet, lower legs, or thighs and in his life never grew taller than 29 inches. Although such symptoms might today be diagnosed as phocomelia, his impairments were attributed at the time to a fright suffered by his mother during pregnancy. He was the youngest of nine children and, according to a biography published in the ...

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Cotter, Patrick [performing name Patrick O'Brien] (1760/61–1806), giant, was born at Kinsale, co. Cork. He grew to be more than 8 feet tall (accounts vary from 8 feet 3½ inches to 8 feet 7 inches), and from his late teens was exhibited in ...

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G. F. R. Barker

revised by Anita McConnell

Dunstan, Jeffrey (1759?–1797), hawker and ‘mayor of Garrett’, was a foundling reared in the parish workhouse of St Dunstan-in-the-East, in the City of London. At the age of twelve he was apprenticed to a greengrocer, but he ran away to Birmingham, where he worked in the factories. The heavy labour probably added to his deformities, for as an adult he had knock knees, a large head, and grew to a height of only ...

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Hudson, Jeffery (1619–1682), dwarf, was born at Oakham, Rutland, the son of John Hudson, a butcher employed by the duke of Buckingham. Although both parents were of normal stature, Jeffery developed as a perfectly proportioned dwarf, who was barely 18 inches in height by about the age of eight, when his father presented him to the ...

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Lambert, Daniel (1770–1809), the most corpulent man of his time in England, was the elder of two sons of a Daniel Lambert who had been huntsman to the earl of Stamford. He was born in Blue Boar Lane, Leicester, on 13 March 1770 and was apprenticed to ...

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Merrick, Joseph Carey [called the Elephant Man] (1862–1890), freak show novelty and medical curiosity, was born at 50 Lee Street, Leicester, on 5 August 1862, the elder son (there was also a daughter) of Joseph Rockley Merrick (b. 1835/6), a warehouseman and machine operator in a cotton factory, and ...

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Moore [née Peg], Ann (b. 1761), the fasting woman of Tutbury, was born on 31 October 1761 at Rosliston, Derbyshire, the daughter of a labourer and sawyer, William Peg. She went into domestic service, and in 1788 married a fellow farm servant, ...

Article

Thomas Seccombe

revised by David Turner

Peter the Wild Boy (c. 1712–1785), curiosity, was found in 1725 in the woods near Hamelin, about 25 miles from Hanover. In the words of contemporary pamphleteers, he was observed 'walking on his hands and feet, climbing trees like a squirrel, and feeding on grass and moss...

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Toft [née Denyer], Mary (bap. 1703, d. 1763), the rabbit-breeder, daughter of John and Jane Denyer, was baptized at Godalming, Surrey, on 21 February 1703. She married Joshua Toft, a journeyman clothier, about 1720. They had three children, Mary, Anne, and James...