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Official Portrait of John Middleton
Hale, Liverpool, England
1623 (age 45)|
Hale, Liverpool, England
|Height||9 ft 3 in (2.82 m) (unverified)|
|Weight||400 lb (180 kg)|
John Middleton (1578–1623) was an English giant commonly known as the Childe of Hale. Most of what is known about him is based on oral tradition and legends. Legend tells that he slept with his feet out of the window of his small house. Tales also credit him with great strength.
John Middleton was born in the village of Hale, near Liverpool. According to contemporary accounts and his epitaph, Middleton grew to the height of 9 feet 3 inches (2.82 m). Also he slept with his feet hanging out the window of his house. Because of his size, landlord and sheriff of Lancashire Gilbert Ireland hired him as a bodyguard. When King James I stopped by in 1617 to knight Ireland, he also heard about Middleton and invited both of them to the court, which they accepted in 1620.
In London, John Middleton was presented to the King in a costume of large lace ruffs about his face and hands; a striped doublet of crimson and white; a blue girdle embroidered with gold; large plush white breeches with powdered blue flowers; green stockings; broad shoes in a light colour, having high red heels and tied with large bows of red ribbon and just below his knees were bandages of the same colour with large bows and by his side a sword was suspended by a broad belt over his shoulder. Brasenose College has a portrait of Middleton in this dress and the painted outline of his hand. Middleton beat the King's champion in wrestling and in doing so broke the man's thumb. He received £20, a large amount of money in those times. Unfortunately, jealous of his wealth, Middleton's companions mugged him when he was returning to Hale. His money was stolen.
John Middleton died impoverished in 1623. He was buried in the Hale churchyard with an epitaph, "Here lyeth the bodie of John Middleton the Childe of Hale. Nine feet three. Borne 1578 Dyed 1623."
There have been numerous local uses and commemorations of Middleton; a pub in Hale, named "The Childe of Hale", bears a copy of the Brasenose College portrait as its sign. Previously situated across the road from the church was a large tree trunk. In 1996 it was carved with representations of John Middleton, Hale Lighthouse and other local symbols. In 2011, due to disease and in the interests of public safety the tree trunk was removed by Halton Borough Council. In April 2013, the wooden sculpture was replaced by a bronze statue 3 m tall by local sculptor, Diane Gorvin.
- BBC News: A tall tale: The Childe of Hale remembered (accessed 12 April 2013)