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Charles I’s Dwarf

C. Northcote Parkinson describes the life and times of Jeffery Hudson of Oakham, Rutlandshire, a remarkable member of Charles I's court who nonetheless measured under three feet tall.

Among his Worthies of England, published in 1662, Thomas Fuller includes the dwarf, Jeffery Hudson of Oakham in Rutlandshire, immortalised by him in the following words:

Jeffery was born in the Parish of Oakham in this County, where his father was a very proper man, broad-shouldered and chested, though his son never arrived at a full Ell (i.e. 45") in stature... His father, who kept and ordered the baiting Bulls for George Duke of Buckingham (a place, you will say, requiring a robustious body to manage it) presented him at Burleigh on the Hill to the Duchess of Buckingham, being then nine years of age, and scarce a foot and a half in height, as I am informed by credible1 persons then and there present and still alive. Instantly Jeffery was heightened (not in stature but) in condition, from one degree above rags into Silk and Satten, and two tall men to attend him.

He was without any deformity wholly propotionable whereas often Dwarfs, Pigmies in one part, are Giants in another... And so I take my leave of Jeffery, the least man of the least County in England.

Fuller’s account is somewhat expanded in the Gentleman’s Magazine of December, 1732 (p. 1120), from which we learn the supposed year of Jeffery Hudson’s birth:

His name at length was Jeffery Hudson, born in the year 1619, at Oakham in Rutlandshire, his father a Butcher of a stout and corpulent Frame, and his Mother of no mean Size, but a very little Mouth, when pregnant with him, she was not cumbersome, nor concern’d herself about a Midwife, for truly my little Gentleman was beforehand with them and flew into the world like a Cork out of a Bottle.

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