People

Otto Von Bismarck – April Fools’ Day Baby

Otto (Eduard Leopold) von Bismarck was born on April Fools’ Day in 1815. He was the fourth child to a Junker estate owner and a former Prussian military officer named Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand von Bismarck and, his wife, Wilhelmine Luise Mencken. The Bismarck family was wealthy, and, as a young boy, Bismarck was sent away…

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Hawkhurst Smuggling Gang

The Hawkhurst Gang was a formidable and notorious smuggling gang that operated from 1735 to 1749 in southeast England from Dorset to Kent. However, the gang most favored Kent or their smuggling activities because of its “geographical position, its local features, [and] its variety of coast.”[1]

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John St. John Long – A Most Remarkable Quack

John St. John Long was the second son of a basket maker named John Long. He was born in 1798 in Newcastle, a town in west Limerick county in Ireland. He would have pursued his father’s trade but he showed an inclination towards art and ended up attending design school in Dublin. In 1822, he…

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The Eccentric Mr. Martin Van Butchell

Not many people are willing to put a dead spouse on display, but that’s exactly what the eccentric Mr. Martin Van Butchell did. When he began life he was not necessarily eccentric as he developed an interest in medicine from a early age and began healing patients. He studied under Doctor William Hunter, a Scottish…

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Jacob Spinas and the Finsbury Murder

On the morning of 15 January 1870 the cry of murder was raised. Police were called to Buecker’s Hotel, on Christopher Street in Finsbury, where the constable arrested a porter named Jacob Spinas for murdering a woman whom he had brought into the hotel. The constable found the dead woman lying inside the bedroom next…

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Foster Powell – The Celebrated Pedestrian

Foster Powell was born in 1734, and when he left his little Yorkshire village of Horseforth, near Leeds, at the age of 26 and headed to London, village inhabitants thought little of him in respect to either his mental or physical capabilities. In fact, he had a reputation “of being a quiet inoffensive lad, shy,…

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Matthias Buchinger – The Wonderful Little Man of Nuremberg

Matthias Buchinger was “little more than the trunk of a man,”[1] but he was also dexterous, talented, and capable, which is why he became known as “the wonderful little man of Nuremberg.” He was born in Ansbach, Germany, on 2 June (or perhaps 3) 1674, without hands, feet, or thighs and was the youngest of…

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Stone Eaters

tone-eaters earned a living by “swallowing pebbles, and champing to pieces and swallowing bits of stone.” Stone eaters were particularly plentiful during the Georgian Era, although the existed into the Regency and Victorian eras. They could also be found exhibiting themselves in all countries and cities. Spectators were often encouraged to bring their own stones…

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