About Mercy Lavinia Warren Stratton (Bump)
Lavinia Warren (1841 – November 25, 1919) was an American proportionate dwarf and the wife of General Tom Thumb.
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 different 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, and that of her younger sister, 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.
Lavinia bore no children. Lavinia's 27 inches (69 cm) sister Minnie also married a little person in P.T. Barnum's employ named Major Edward Newell and she became pregnant with a normal sized child arriving at 6 pounds (2.7 kg). Excitement was cut short by tragedy when Lavinia's beloved little sister Minnie and the baby died during childbirth on 23 July 1878. 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 six months, on 15 July 1883, her husband suddenly died of a stroke at the age of 45, some say as a result of his never having recovered from the hotel fire.
Two years after her husband's death in 1883, she married Count Primo Magri, an Italian dwarf and they operated a famous roadside stand in Middleborough, Massachusetts. At the age of 73, she appeared in a 1915 silent film, The Lilliputian's Courtship, along with Count Magri. She died on November 25, 1919 at the age of 77 or 78 and is buried next to her first husband with a simple grave stone that reads, "His Wife".
Lavinia Warren, Little Queen of Beauty's Timeline
October 31, 1841
Mibbleborough, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
April 6, 1885
New York, New York, USA
November 25, 1919
Middlesborough, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA