The diminutive green silk and brocaded garment, just 12in (29cm) high, was offered at Sworders in Stansted Mountfitchet as part of the collection of the late Jan Finch (1952-2021).
The 17½in (45cm) high Sir Jeffrey led an extraordinary if much-exploited life.
The favourite court dwarf to Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of the ill-fated Charles I, he first came to the court’s notice when he was served up in a pie wearing a miniature suit of armour.
Known as the ‘Queen’s dwarf’ and ‘Lord Minimus’, he was painted by Van Dyck standing with the queen, her pet capuchin monkey, Pug, on his arm.
Despite his size, he later fought with the Royalists in the English Civil War and fled with the queen to France but was expelled from her ‘court in exile’ when he killed a man in a duel.
In 1644 he was captured by Barbary pirates and spent 25 years as a slave in north Africa before being ransomed back to England sometime after the Restoration. As a ‘Roman Catholick’ he was imprisoned during the period of anti-Catholic hysteria surrounding the Popish Plot and was not released until 1680.
He died two years later and was buried in a pauper’s grave.
This pair of trousers, mounted in a fitted case, do not come with a blue-chip provenance although an old inscribed card penned by the Georgian peer and politician Marquess of Abercorn reads Worn by the Celebrated Sir Geoffrey Hudson Charles II’s Dwarf.
Aware it could possibly be a tall story, Sworders was careful to catalogue the garment as ‘17th or 18th century’.
What is known is that they were previously owned by the antiques dealer Eila Grahame and had sold for just £550 as part of her estate sale held by Cheffins in 2016. They were bought at the time by Jan Finch of Finch & Co.
Her husband Craig recalls: “They were sold in the Eila Grahame auction, where Jan fell in love with them. She bought them for stock, but somehow they ended up staying with her in her office!”
The buyer, who paid £9375 including the 25% buyer’s premium, was a private gentleman based in Belgium.