Anna Haining Bates

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Anna Haining Bates
Anna Swan with her parents.jpg
Bates (centre) with her parents
Anna Haining Swan

(1846-08-06)August 6, 1846
Mill Brook, New Annan, Nova Scotia
DiedAugust 5, 1888(1888-08-05) (aged 41)
OccupationCircus attraction
Known forRecord height
7 feet 11 inches (2.41 m)
(m. 1871)
Anna Haining Bates
Anna Haining Bates

Anna Haining Bates (née Swan; August 6, 1846 – August 5, 1888), was a Canadian woman famed for her great stature of 7 feet 11 inches (2.41 m).[1][2] She was one of the tallest women ever. Her parents were of average height and were Scottish immigrants.


Anna Swan was born at Mill Brook, New Annan, Nova Scotia.[citation needed] At birth she weighed 16 pounds (7.26 kg). She was the third[3] of 13 children, all of the others being around average height. From birth she grew very rapidly. On her fourth birthday she was 4 feet 6 inches (137 centimetres) tall and weighed 94 pounds.[4] On her 6th birthday she was measured at 5 feet 2 inches (157.48 centimetres) tall, an inch or two (2.5–5 cm) shorter than her mother. On her 10th birthday she measured 6 feet 1 inch (185 cm) tall.[5] On her 12th birthday she measured 6 feet 5.25 inches (196.22 cm).[6] By her 15th birthday Bates was 7 feet (210 cm) tall. She reached her full height three years later. Her feet measured 14.2 inches (36 cm) long.

The marriage of Martin Bates to Anna Swan, 1871
Anna Haining Bates and her husband Martin van Buren Bates

Swan excelled at literature and music and was considered to be very intelligent. She also excelled at her studies of acting, piano and voice. She played Lady Macbeth in one play. On 13 July 1865, she nearly burned to death when Barnum's museum was destroyed by fire. The stairs were in flames and she was too large to escape through a window. At the time she weighed 384 lb, but she usually weighed 350 lb. (159 kg). Her highest recorded weight was 392 lb.[7] She got help and escaped safely. When visiting a circus in Halifax with which Martin Van Buren Bates — another enormously tall person — was travelling, Swan was spotted by the promoter and hired on the spot. The giant couple became a touring sensation and eventually fell in love; they married on June 17, 1871 in St Martin-in-the-Fields in London.

In 1872, Bates and her husband purchased 130 acres (53 ha) of land and had furniture made to their specifications. Martin supervised the construction of the house. The main part of the house had fourteen-foot (4.3 m) ceilings, while the doors were extra wide and were eight feet (2.4 m) tall. The back part of the house was built an average size for servants and guests.

Bates conceived two children with Martin. The first was a girl born on May 19, 1872; she weighed 18 pounds (8.16 kg) and died at birth.[8] While touring in the summer of 1878, Anna was pregnant for the second time. The boy was born on January 18, 1879, and survived only 11 hours.[9] He was the largest newborn ever recorded, at 23 pounds 9 ounces (10.7 kg) and nearly 30 inches tall (ca. 75 cm); each of his feet was six inches (150 mm) long.[10] For this he was posthumously awarded a Guinness World Record.[11]

The Bateses resumed touring with the W.W. Cole Circus in the summer of 1879, and again in the spring of 1880. Bates spent her remaining years quietly on the farm that she and her husband owned. She had joined the local Baptist Church in 1877 and attended services with her husband.

Bates died suddenly and unexpectedly of heart failure in her sleep at her home on August 5, 1888, one day before her 42nd birthday.

The cause of her height was never discovered in her lifetime. X-rays were not discovered until 1895, so it could not be ascertained if she had a pituitary tumor.[12]


  1. ^ "Biography – SWAN, ANNA HAINING – Volume XI (1881-1890) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography".
  2. ^ "Tallest married couple ever". Guinness World Records. Retrieved March 29, 2022.
  3. ^ "The Anna Swan Story". Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  4. ^ "The Anna Swan Story".
  5. ^ "Cowboy Kisses: Anna Swan: The Giant of Nova Scotia". September 19, 2014.
  6. ^ A biographical Sketch – Anna H Swan – 1871
  7. ^ "PT Barnum's Greatest Show-woman: Story of Scottish giantess Anna Swan to be explored in new historical TV series - The Sunday Post".
  8. ^ "The Giants' Wedding - Paul Slade - Journalist". Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  9. ^ "Biography – SWAN, ANNA HAINING – Volume XI (1881-1890) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography". Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  10. ^ "Woman gives birth to 'giant baby'". BBC News. January 21, 2005.
  11. ^ "Heaviest birth".. Guinness World Records. "Anna Bates... gave birth to a boy weighing 9.98 kg (22.0 lb) and measuring 71.12 cm (28.00 in) at her home in Seville, Ohio, USA, on 19 January 1879."
  12. ^ "Scientist Discovers X-rays - HISTORY".

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