New book tells story of Lisburn man dubbed ‘The Irish Tom Thumb’

Postcard images showing Davy Jones, who was known as 'The Irish Tom Thumb'.
Postcard images showing Davy Jones, who was known as 'The Irish Tom Thumb'.

A former university lecturer has released a new book which features the story of a Lisburn man who was just 24 inches tall and was known as ‘The Irish Tom Thumb’.

Dr Jan Bondeson, a former senior lecturer and consultant physician at Cardiff University, is the author of many books on the history of medicine and zoology, most recently ‘The Lion Boy and Other Medical Curiosities’.

Dr Jan Bondeson.

Dr Jan Bondeson.

His latest work includes the story of Robert David ‘Davy’ Jones, who was born in Lisburn in 1903 and grew to be just 24 inches tall.

According to publishers Amberley, “Bondeson combines a historian’s research skills with a physician’s diagnostic flair, as he explores our timeless fascination with the freakish and bizarre people and events in the colourful history of medicine.”

The book tells how following the death of his parents, young ‘Davy’ decided to make his fortune on the stage.

He signed a contract with Bostock’s Menagerie in the 1920s, being billed as ‘The Irish Tom Thumb’ and ‘Bostock’s Man in Miniature’.

According to Dr Bondeson’s book, the show was never a success and Davy soon returned home to Lisburn.

“To earn his keep, Davy Jones had to find a job, and he got hold of a pony and van and started a business delivering firewood and coal in the area of Lisburn. Once, when an impudent schoolboy came to tease him, Davy floored him with a well-aimed throw of a block of wood. Davy also assisted a local milkman on his rounds, filling the tins with pints and half-pints as well as he could. He earned enough money to be able to marry his normal-sized wife Jean, and they soon had a son named David William.

“Davy’s greatest problem was his very short and bowed legs, which made locomotion difficult. In 1965, he took delivery of a Cheetah Cub engine-driven children’s car, made in fibre-glass to resemble a classic Jaguar. Many people in Lisburn could remember Davy driving along in his tiny car, in the busy roads next to lorries and double-decker buses.”

Davy Jones, described as a popular man who had many friends, died of natural causes in 1970.

The Lion Boy and Other Medical Curiosities, priced £14.99, is on sale now.