Giants in English History

 Acrobatic Giant
By his fifteenth year, “The Wonderful Young Giant”, from Hurtfield in Sussex had already soared to a height of seven feet four inches. The “young Colossus” not only showed none of the clumsiness common to that age but had such command of his huge frame that he could perform well on the tight rope. In 1745, he came to London and soon won a large public following with his balancing acts. He became such a hit, in fact, that on June 3, 1745, his sponsors ran this ad in the Daily Advertiser. “Whatever is in itself good will always make its way, although not ushered into the world with pompous paragraphs or pageant-like puffs. As an example of this truth the undertakers of the New Wells, near the London Spaw, beg leave to assure the town, since thronging audiences have been pleased to encourage their endeavours, they intend to double their pains, and hope for a continuance of favour. The god of wine and deity of wit have long gone hand-in-hand, and to keep them both alive the best way is to blend them; therefore, for the reception of the curious, they have provided the best of both their productions; and, as varieties in nature are as pleasing as those of art, the greatest that can now be shown is every evening to be seen at the Wells, viz. a young Colossus, who, though not 16, is seven feet four inches high, has drawn more company this season than was ever known before, and must convince the world that the ancient race of Britons is not extinct, but that we may yet hope to see a race of giant-like heroes. “The Wonderful Young Giant will perform on the rope this present Saturday at the New Wells, near the London Spaw, Clerken-well.”

● African Giantess
An African woman who exhibited at London’s Bartholomew Fair in 1832 stood seven feet in height.

●  Amazon Queen
A girl who billed herself as “Miss Marion, the Queen of the Amazons,” became a popular attraction in London in 1882. Though barely eighteen, she rose before her audiences at the Alhambra in Leicester Square to a height of eight feet six inches.

●  Marcus Antoninus 
Human bones dug up on an old Roman camp site near St. Albans, in Hertfordshire, just outside of London, were examined by W. Cheselden, a well-known anatomist. After measuring the skull, the femur, and the tibia, he concluded that the man stood about eight feet tall. Writing in the Philosophical Transactions for 1712, Cheselden noted that near the bones was found an urn inscribed with the name “Marcus Antoninus.” 

●  George Auger 
In 1903, Barnum and Bailey Circus added George Auger, an eight-foot-four-inch native of Wales, to its stable of curiosities. Billed as “The Cardiff Giant, positively the tallest man on earth,” he immediately became one of America’s most recognizable public figures, especially when he paraded down the nation’s main streets in his frontiersman’s clothes, high-heeled boots, and a plumed hat that made him appear nine feet tall. After retiring from circus life, he wrote short stories and skits. One of his satirical pieces, “Jack the Giant Killer,” played in vaudeville, with Auger in the starring role.

●  Thomas Bell 
While serving as a blacksmith’s apprentice to his father, Thomas Bell grew to seven feet and two inches. Like his father and his father’s father before him, he only wanted to be a good blacksmith. But as word of his great height spread, many curious people came by to see him. When this became disruptive to his father’s business, young Bell decided to leave blacksmithing and cash in on his tallness. He thereafter toured England, exhibiting himself in the principal towns and at fairs. Billed as the “Cambridge Giant,” he appeared in May, 1813, at the age of thirty-six, at the Hog in the Pound on Oxford Street. That same year his portrait was included in Kirby’s Wonderful Museum, showing him dressed in a collegiate gown and knee-breeches.

●  Blacker, Henry
Henry Blacker, styled “The British Giant,” hailed from Cuckfield in Sussex. In 1751, at the age of twenty-seven, he came to London to launch his career as a touring giant. Because the pro-portions of his seven-foot-four-inch body were so exceptional, he gained a large following of admirers, including William, the tall Duke of Cumberland. That same year H. Carpenter made an engraving of Blacker, and some years later his full-length portrait was included in Caulfield’s Remarkable Persons.s reward.”

●  Boudicca, the Giant Queen
When Roman centurions plundered the estate of Prasutagus, king of the Iceni, and raped his two daughters, his giant red-haired widow, Queen Boudicca, grabbed a spear and led an uprising against their Roman overlords that became the bloodiest inflicted upon the Latins during their long occupation of Britain. The rebellion also cost the Celts eighty thousand of their own people. According to the Roman historian Dio Cassius, the Amazon-like queen was no beauty. “She was enormous of frame, terrifying of mien, and with a rough, shrill voice,” he writes. “A great mass of bright red hair fell down to her knees; she wore a huge twisted torque of gold, and a tunic of many colors, over which was a thick mantle held by a brooch. When she grasped a spear, it was to strike fear into all who observed her.”

Susannah Boyd 
At nineteen, the English lass Susannah Boyd, of Scribe, near Seaford, measured seven feet and one inch and weighed about two hundred and sixty pounds, all of it remarkably well-proportioned.

●  British Phenomenon
In 1826, a showman named H. Lee took a young giantess under his wing for a tour of England. A handbill announcing this new attraction to the public proclaimed: “The British Phenomenon, Miss Hold, the Somersetshire Giantess, of Crewkherne, only 16 years of age, whose immense stature measures nearly seven feet, commanding a prepossessing figure beyond description, and must be seen to be believed. She is a striking instance of nature unassisted by art, and has proved a magnet of irresistible attraction to the wondering world. This is the first time she was ever exhibited in this town, and it is great to say, that she is the only giantess now travelling the United Kingdom. She is remarkably stout and well-proportioned, possessing a pleasing and interesting countenance, and is allowed by every visitor to be the Tallest Woman in the World!”

●  Jane Bunford
Jane Bunford from Barley Green, England, extended upward a full seven feet seven inches. She grew her hair to a length of eight feet–very possibly the longest head of hair in all history.

●  Charles Byrne
In April of 1782, Charles Byrne came to London to see what fame and fortune his towering eight-foot-two-inch physique might bring him. He quickly attracted a lot of attention, as this glowing May 6, 1782, newspaper report bears out: “However striking a curiosity may be, there is generally some difficulty in engaging the attention of the public; but even this was not the case with the modern living Colossus, or wonderful Irish Giant; for no sooner was he arrived at an elegant apartment at the cane-shop, in Spring Garden-gate, next door to Cox’s Museum, than the curious of all degrees resorted to see him, being sensible that a prodigy like this never made its appearance among us before: and the most penetrating have frankly declared, that neither the tongue of the most florid orator, or pen of the most ingenious writer, can sufficiently describe the elegance, symmetry, and proportion of this wonderful phenomenon in nature, and that all description must fall infinitely short of giving that satisfaction which may be obtained on a judicious inspection.”

●  Cangick Giant
In his History of Somersetshire, Collinson relates that in 1670, while sinking a well in the parish of Wedmore, workers found buried at a depth of thirteen feet the remains of one of the Cangick giants who, according to English tradition, formerly occupied these parts.

●  Clancy
Clancy, an Irish giant, appeared at Bartholomew Fair in 1833, as one of the exhibits of Broomsgrove’s “Collection of Nature’s Wonderful Works.” He measured seven feet two inches.

Part  2
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