Tom Thumb

The world’s biggest “little man” road down Main Street in a toy carriage that belonged to England’s Queen Victoria.

Charles Sherwood Stratton was a famous 19th Century American midget known by the circus name of Tom Thumb.

He was born on Jan. 4, 1838 in Bridgeport, CT to parents of normal height. As a youth he was only 25 inches tall and weighed 15 pounds.

In 1842 circus pioneer P.T. Barnum persuaded the boy’s parents to let him exhibit the child in his world famous circus as if he were full-grown, and renamed him Tom Thumb.

The act was a hit.

Barnum later took Stratton to Europe in 1844, where he entertained royalty. On one occasion he was attacked by Queen Victoria's pet poodle after a performance at Buckingham Palace.

In 1863 the diminutive superstar married Lavinia Warren, another of Barnum’s midgets, in a superstar wedding covered internationally by the press.

Both had appeared previously in Richmond on Aug. 4, 1856 and were billed as “the fairy wedding” couple, though not married.

Britain’s Queen Victoria had given a toy carriage to Tom Thumb and midget ponies pulled the vehicle through Richmond streets for promotion.

Charles Sherwood Stratton, or Tom Thumb, appeared before monarchs of the Old World as well as five million people. On Aug. 4, 1856 he appeared at Richmond’s Starr Hall. He had previously been to Cambridge City, and would return to Wayne County at least three more times.


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June 19, 2012