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|Born||Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump
Middleborough, Massachusetts, United States
|Died||November 25, 1919 (aged 77–78)
Middleborough, Massachusetts, United States (?)
|Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport, Connecticut
|Known for||Midget, circus performer|
|Height||32 inches (2ft. 8in.)|
|Spouse(s)||Charles Sherwood Stratton (1863-1883, his death)
Count Primo Magri (1885-1919, her death)
Warren was born at Middleborough, Massachusetts as Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump, a descendant of a French Catholic family named Bonpasse, of Governor Thomas Mayhew, and five Mayflower passengers: John Billington, Francis Cooke, Edward Doty, Stephen Hopkins, and Richard Warren — New England families which intermarried many times over.
Lavinia and her younger sister Huldah Pierce Warren Bump had a form of proportionate dwarfism (considered to be desirable by sideshows and "museums" of that era owing to its perfectly miniaturized characteristics, with the same proportions as common larger people) caused by a pituitary disorder which seemingly occurs when close relatives (cousins) descended of identically replicating DNA (twins) produce offspring.
Lavinia's parents were 4th cousins, the mother being a 2nd-great-grandchild of married cousins, descended of a twin. The maternal 2nd-great-grandfather of Lavinia's father James Sullivan Bump, Medad Tupper born 1677, was a son of Thomas Tupper and Martha Mayhew. The paternal 2nd-great-grandfather of Lavinia's mother Huldah Pierce Warren, Ichabod Tupper born 1673 who married his cousin Mary Tupper born 1685, was a son of Thomas Tupper and Martha Mayhew. Thomas Tupper was born 16 January 1638 as a twin of Henry Tupper in Sandwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts.
Lavinia's family was a long-established and well-respected New England family. Her childhood was entirely normal for the time.
After a successful career as a well-respected school teacher, which began at the age of 16, Lavinia went to work as a miniature dancing chanteuse upon a Mississippi showboat owned by a cousin. She enjoyed performing, learned of Tom Thumb's success, alongside the rest of the nation, and pursued a performing career as an adult. Under the management of showman P. T. Barnum, she changed her name from Mercy Lavinia Bumpus to Lavinia Warren, the stage name she had previously used while performing on the Mississippi River.
Romantically pursued by the tiny entertainer Commodore Nutt, her affections belonged to General Tom Thumb from their first introduction. She was married in an elaborate ceremony to Tom Thumb on February 10, 1863 at Grace Episcopal Church and the wedding reception was held at the Metropolitan Hotel which included the couple greeting guests from atop the grand piano. Her sister Minnie Warren was her bridesmaid. While admission to the actual wedding was free, Barnum sold tickets to the reception for $75 each to the first five thousand to apply.
Together, Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren became famous, perhaps the most famous public personages of the 1860s. President Abraham Lincoln and his wife provided a reception for the new couple at the White House. Tiffany and Co. gave a silver coach to the couple. They amassed and spent a fortune over the course of their life together which would have made them millionaires by today's standards. They had no children.
Minnie, who grew to be 27 inches (69 cm) high, also married a little person in P.T. Barnum's employ: Major Edward Newell. She became pregnant with a normal-sized child, but excitement was cut short by tragedy on July 23, 1878 when Minnie and her 6 pounds (2.7 kg)-baby died during the birthing. Several years later, Lavinia and her husband stayed at Newhall House in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and were narrowly rescued by their friend and manager, Sylvester Bleeker, from what had been referred to as "one of the worst hotel fires in American history." Within 6 months, on July 15, 1883, her husband suddenly died at age 45 of a stroke; some[who?] call it a result of his never having recovered from the hotel fire.
Two years after her husband's death, Lavinia married an Italian dwarf, Count Primo Magri, and they operated a famous roadside stand in Middleborough, Massachusetts. At age 73, she appeared alongside Count Magri in a 1915 silent film, The Lilliputian's Courtship.
Warren died on November 25, 1919 at the age of 77-78 and is buried next to her first husband with a simple gravestone that reads: "His Wife."
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tom Thumb.|
- Charles Sherwood "General Tom Thumb" Stratton at Find a Grave
- "Sideshow Ephemera Gallery: General Tom Thumb" by James G. Mundie - biographical essay with photos
- Harper's portrait and report on Lavinia Warren's Wedding
- Details of a museum in Middleboro, MA, where they made their home.