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Famous and Infamous Children in History

Updated on February 27, 2017

"How true Daddy's words were when he said: all children must look after their own upbringing. Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands". -Anne Frank

While true in many ways this statement does not take in to effect what happens when a child's path choices are taken out of their hands by the choices of others including Anne Frank's own sad fate. Listed below are children who had incredible paths before them but might not have realized their potential for one reason or another.

The Princes' in the Tower
The Princes' in the Tower

The Prince's in the Tower

The Prince's in the Tower is the popular title given to Edward V of England and his brother Richard, Duke of York.

When the two boys were 12 and 9 years of age their father King Edward IV died leaving 12 year old Edward as King. The two boys were put into the Tower of London by their uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester supposedly for their own protection while he was planning the coronation of Edward the fifth.

Instead Richard stole the throne for himself becoming Richard III of England and the young prince's in the tower disappeared from history in 1483 with Edward V never formally ascending to the throne.

In 1674 workmen at the Tower discovered the remains of two children near the White Tower and while it has not been proven that these are the remains of the two prince's King Charles II believed they were and had them reburied at Westminster Abbey.

While DNA testing has evolved to the point that it could definitively prove the remains identities as being the prince's the Church refuses to allow testing on the grounds of the disruption it could cause to numerous other royals remains if a precedent was set by allowing the two children to be dis-interred. DNA testing recently confirmed the finding of Richard III's remains and a test could prove the relationship between the usurper's remains and Edward V but the Queen and Home Secretary both sided with the church and refused to put their influence behind the request to disturb the young boys rest.

Mozart age 8
Mozart age 8

Mozart (1756-1791)

Wolfgang Mozart is well known the world over for his incredible works of music. What many may not realize is that not all of his works were achieved as an adult.

Mozart was a child prodigy who was playing the harpsichord like at master at age three and started composing his own music by the age of 5 or 6 and was only 8 years old when he composed his first full symphony. When Mozart was 6 he went on his first world tour delighting the audiences along with his father and sister, who were both gifted performers in their own rights.

Wolfgang Mozart left the world young, passing away in 1791 at the age of 35 and at the time of his death had written an astounding number of musical pieces at over 600 works of art leaving behind a great musical legacy that still amazes the world today and leaving behind a career that many composers and musicians that followed him would be hard pressed to beat.

Anne Frank (1929-1945)

Annelies Marie Frank was a German born Jew originally from Frankfort Germany. As aggression against the Jews increased Anne Frank and her family went into hiding for two years in her fathers office building. After they were betrayed and captured by the Nazi's, Anne was transported to the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp where she died of Typhus just seven months later at the age of 16.

After her death her diary was discovered by her father Otto Frank the sole survivor of his family. Her diary detailed her experiences as the war was gearing up, changes she witnessed as a result and her years in hiding. When the diary due to the efforts of Otto Frank was published it became renowned the world over for its view into the life of a Holocaust Victim.

William James Sidis (1898-1944)

William James Sidis was a young math prodigy who at only the age of 8 had developed a new logarithm based on the number 12 and at the age of 9 was a lecturer at Harvard University. Sidis became a student at Harvard himself at the age of 11, but before hand had already become fluent in eight languages and had written four original works by the age of 7.

Sidis' was an outspoken pacifist who left what would have been a successful political career when Woodrow Wilson refused to remove troops from the Great War. Sidis was later arrested at a May Day protest that turned violent and was sentenced to prison under the Sedition Act of 1918, rather than go to prison however his father made a deal with the district attorney to house him in a sanatorium until his trial, where his parents then took him out of the state to California to avoid the trial though they did continue to hold confining him in an insane asylum over his head to ensure good behavior. After his return to the east coast Sidis' only held down menial labor jobs and soon slid into obscurity.

After an academically driven childhood where a great deal of pressure had been put on him, Sidis found that adulthood was a constant struggle and he burned out quickly. Sidis was only able to hold down numerous blue collar jobs that he moved through quickly either due to quitting or being fired.

William James Sidis' IQ is believed to have been between 250 and 300.

The Unabomber

Theodore Kaczynski is infamous as the Unabomber, a murderous crime spree that lasted for twenty years and earned him a life sentence in prison, before that however he was a gifted child prodigy.

Kaczynski was accepted to Harvard University at the age of 16 and later received a Ph.D in mathematics from the University of Michigan. His thesis and doctoral papers were so complex that his professors at the time admitted that they did not have the IQ necessary to be able to understand Kaczynski's work.

At the age of 25 Kaczynski became the youngest ever professor at Berkeley in California, a position he resigned two years later. He ended up in a secluded cabin in the woods where he conducted his terrorist activities from.

Mary Bell

In 1968 at the age of 11 Mary Bell became famous throughout England for the brutal murders of two boys, Martin Brown aged 4 and Brian Howe aged 3. The British girl was nicknamed “The Tyneside Strangler.”

On July 31, 1968, Mary Bell and Norma Bell strangled three-year old Brian Howe. According to reports, Brian Howe’s hair had been cut, there were puncture marks on his thighs, and parts of him were skinned. The letter “M” had also been carved into the boy’s stomach. In addition to strangling 3 year old Howe, Mary also carved hers and Norma's initials into his body and cut off his genitalia. During the investigation, Mary Bell implicated herself by describing a pair of scissors; this detailed knowledge of confidential evidence sealed her fate as the police had not released information on what weapon was used. After the murder, Mary Bell and her friend, Norma Bell, vandalized a nursery in Scotswood and left notes claiming responsibility for the killing. The police however believed the notes were a prank. .

Mary Bell strangled Brown on her own in an abandoned house she had lured him in to, then a few months later did the same to Howe with the help of friend Normal Bell (no relation), though only Mary was charged and imprisoned for the crime.

Mary Bell was released from prison in 1980 and was controversially awarded anonymity for life and given a new identity by the Crown Courts.

Think about the possibility Mary Bell could be your neighbor and try to sleep soundly tonight.

Jesse Pomeroy (age 14) 1859 –1932

Jesse Pomeroy “The Boston Boy Fiend” was considered America’s first underage killer, Jesse Pomeroy is the youngest person convicted of first-degree murder in the history of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Pomeroy was arrested in 1874 for the murders of four-year old Horace Mullen and 10-year old Katie Curran. According to the April 24, 1874 New York Times, Pomeroy “stripped, gagged, tied to a telegraph pole, whipped and cut with a knife in the head” his young victim (Mullen). Katie Curran’s remains were found hidden in a pile of ashes in the basement of Pomeroy’s mother’s dress shop. Pomeroy is believed to have killed 9 victims though only 2 were ever identified.

However, Jesse Pomeroy’s sadistic reign of terror actually began when he was 12 years old. He was arrested for sexually torturing seven boys in Chelsea, Massachusetts and sent to reform school.

While 14-year-old Jesse Pomeroy was sentenced to death for the murders of Mullen and Curran, Massachusetts Governor William Gaston couldn't bring himself to sign the death warrant because of his age. Pomeroy was noted for having made 10 to 12 "determined escape attempts" including one that cost him an eye. Pomeroy spent 56 years in prison for his brutal crimes where he died of natural causes.


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