Anyone who has visited a historical building is well-aware that our ancestors were much shorter than we are now. But how short exactly? Gertrude Mahon was known as the pocket-size Venus because of her height of 4 foot 1 inch, so we know this would put her in the category of "short." On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are a few notable women of 18th century supermodel height standards. One was Thomas Jefferson's daughter Martha (aka Patsy). When Georgiana (also of supermodel height) was introduced to Patsy she was reputed to have said something along the lines of, "It is nice to meet someone the same size as me." Grace Elliott was considered to be extremely tall, hence her nickname of "Dally the Tall" (Lady Craven had a much meaner nickname for her: "Glumdalclitch", after the giantess in Gulliver's Travels).
So how tall were these women? Would they be considered tall today? Carlyn Beccia explains in The Raucous Royals how the average height for a man in 18th century Europe was about 5.5 feet. In England this went up to 5.6 feet for men but only 5 feet for women. Interestingly, Scottish women averaged at about 5.3 feet at the time. Although we don't know exactly how tall Grace, Patsy, and Lady G were, I think it can be easily assumed that by today's standards, they weren't that tall at all! In fact, they were short to average. That means my petite 5'3'' stature would tower over most women of the 18th century. Grace's biographer, Jo Mannings estimates that Grace was between 5.3-5.7 feet tall. Funny to think of when, at 5.6 feet, Kate Moss is notably one of the smallest supermodels today.