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Frederick Shaddick - The Scottish Giant

by Philip Shaddock


Charlotte Grace Shadick, Frederick Shaddick's sister, who moved to Wisconsin to join her brother.

He was billed as "Randall the Scotch Giant" by the famous P.T. Barnum of the Ringley Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, but he was neither Scotch nor was his name Randall. 

In fact he was born Frederick William Rendell Shaddick in Plymouth, Devon England April 27, 1813, although we do not have his birth record. His father spelled his name with one "d", Shadick. But when Frederick married, his father gave the parish clerk the family name "Chadwick." And just to make things thoroughly confusing, Frederick had a brother who spelled his name "Shadwick." In fact Edmund Shadwick (1820-1905) has descendants living in Liverpool until this day with the surname Shadwick.  

Frederick's mother's maiden name was Rendell. So even her surname was spelled incorrectly in subsequent documents. Frederick had a sister whose maiden name on her marriage banns used the name Shadick (Charolette Grace Shadick 1814-). She married George Hael Hammett (1811-1869) and the couple and their children joined Frederick and his wife in Lafayette, Wisconsin later in life. George Hammett was a potter, like Frederick's father Peter.  

Another sister, Elizabeth (1818-1895) used the name Shaddick until she married James Gorvin (1800-1888).


Frederick and his wife Jane. This must be a publicity picture as she is wearing a hat and appears to be sitting on a cushion to elevate her to a similar height to Frederick. 

Frederick's birthplace is sometimes shown to be Cornwall and most often is shown as Plymouth, Devon. However his mother was born in Instow, Devon and his father is shown as being born in Instow and dying there. The rest of his children are recorded as being born in Instow, except for Frederick, second of four children. It may be the case that Frederick was born in Instow as well. Certainly the fact his sister Charlotte and her family settled in the same Wisconsin county as Frederick is evidence of a family relationship. 

Frederick belongs to a branch of the Shattocke family called the Fremington Shaddicks. I have devoted a page to them. The Fremington Shaddicks are a sub-branch of the North Molton Shattickes. I devote a page to the North Molton Shattickes here.

There is no evidence that Frederick's immediate lineage was known to be of higher than average height and size. Notice the similarity in facial features and body type between Frederick and his sister Charlotte. 


Frederick's left shoe "last" compared to a last for average person's shoe. The last was used to form Frederick's massive boots. According to the Museum, Frederick's shoe size would be 18 according to current shoe sizes. Source: Wisconsin Historical Museum object #s 1968.15.1 & 1968.16.2

Frederick was called "Randall the Scotch Giant" by P.T. Barnum the showman famous for his Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. According to a story about Frederick on the Wisconsin Historical Society website, Frederick was "discovered" in New York while living there around 1845. He was apparently working as a bricklayer. Barnum's description of Frederick was typically over the top, if you will pardon the pun. Frederick was indeed very tall, over seven feet four inches and weighed between 370 and 450 pounds. The Wisconsin Historical Society gives us an idea of his size by comparing his shoe size with that an average man's in the mid-nineteenth century, a size nine. 

The shoe is on view at the Wisconsin Historical Museum. 

A publicity image showing Frederick and Jane in "Scottish" costumes.



Barnum's description of Frederick and Jane is typically overstated, in terms of his size and his status in the world: "been visited by upwards of 200,000 persons," "largest giant in the World," "the most enormous Giantess the world ever beheld." He claims Jane may be the descendant of William Wallace, another famous "giant."

According to the article about the shoe, Barnum called Frederick the "Scottish" giant because he wanted him to wear Scottish clothes to emphasize his size. As usual with Barnum there was a kernel of truth in his description. Frederick had married Jane Gray (or "Grey") (1812-1854) on May 23, 1842. She was said to be also over seven feet tall. (Another account pegs her height at six feet four inches. This seems closer to the truth.) She was born in Scotland, so it was Jane who was Scottish. They appeared on stage together. Apparently Tom Thumb (Charles Sherwood Stratton 1838 -1883), who was 28 inches tall, appeared on stage with them, a visual device used by Barnum to emphasize the difference in size.

Frederick and Jane's career in the public eye might have influenced their choice of where to live. About four years after going on public display, in 1849 they moved to the far west frontier to Cottage Inn, itself about a mile north of Belmont, Wisconsin. It was a post and railroad stop. When they were not travelling the circus circuit in the summer, they are described as being somewhat reclusive. They lived in a small stone house.

Apparently Jane Shaddick had a brother and sister living in the area, and Frederick had his sister and brother-in-law nearby as well. 

Frederick and Jane had a child, but I could not find out what happened to him. He was apparently about twenty two pounds at birth. The respected Scientific American showed interest in the birth and its implications for genetics. 

In the winter Frederick apparently worked as a teamster hauling lead in wagons to Galena. He was said to have enormous hands and enormous strength. See the memoir below.

It was on a circus circuit that Frederick suddenly died in July 1854 at the young age of forty-one. Apparently he complained about the dust and heat he had endured that day, sat down and promptly died. His body was transported back to Wisconsin. Less then a year later, Jane died. We do not know if their child survived.



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