1. They were monarchs at just six days old
Whatever your feelings towards the royal family, you've got to admit they're probably better equipped to carry out national duties than Mary Queen of Scots. She was just six days old when she was crowned.
Mary Queen of Scots was just six days old when she was crowned.
Rumour has it that when Mary's father, James V, King of Scots, discovered on his deathbed that his wife had given birth to a daughter he exclaimed, "It cam wi' a lass and it will gang wi' a lass!", transcribed at the time as, "The devil go with it! It will end as it began: it came from a woman; and it will end in a woman"
2. They helped invent the television
A number of adults have been credited with the invention of the television, but 15-year-old Philo T. Farnsworth is a little-known contributor. Philo designed a number of sketches and diagrams which he presented to his teacher as his "image dissector" vacuum tube.
By 21 he had used these designs to create and hold the first public display of a working television. Around 100 of his patented designs were used in the subsequently mass-produced television sets.
3. They took one for the team ("team" here meaning "prince")
It was widely believed that only a king could punish his son, so to help tutors discipline their royal charges, a "whipping boy" was employed to take classes with the prince. Whenever the prince acted up, he had to watch as the whipping boy took his punishment for him.
Whenever the prince acted up, he had to watch as the whipping boy took his punishment for him.
4. They braved the Blitz as fire watchers
During World War 2, children volunteered as fire watchers. When sirens alerted families to retreat to air raid shelters, the fire watchers would climb church towers or hills to watch for incendiary bombs, designed to create uncontrollable fires, aimed at factories. They'd then have to run for help before the fires spread.
5. They helped pave the way to equal civil rights
Ruby Bridges' first day of school was a memorable day not only for herself but also the world. In November 1960 Ruby was one of just six African American students who took up the offer of a place in a wholly Caucasian school. The decision was met with much adversity. As six year old Ruby walked to school the street was lined with protesters, including a woman brandishing a coffin with a black baby doll inside.
6. They faced horrific punishments
If being sent to work in factories to operate heavy machinery as soon as you can walk wasn't bad enough, many Victorian children were faced with still harsher punishments. Girls seen talking to boys would have their hair shaved off, while children who looked tired would be dunked in buckets of water before being sent back to work.
Girls seen talking to boys would have their hair shaved off
7. They were the original pin setters
Before the invention of the automatic pin setter in 1936, bowling alleys employed teenagers to do the job. Sounds easy enough, but the boys would often be carted away in ambulances after being struck in the head by a rogue skittle, or a bowling ball had deliberately been flung at the pin setter (or "pin monkey" as they were popularly known), as a form of entertainment.
8. They worked undercover
George Washington used a large network of women and children as spies during the Revolutionary War, but some reports suggest that many children are still being used as spies to this day. In 1989 it was estimated that 15% of Romania's spy population was under the age of 18.
In 1989 it was estimated that 15% of Romania's spy population was under the age of 18
9. They were pirate surgeons
The role of "loblolly" on board a pirate ship consisted not only of cleaning the decks and feeding the crew but also acting as nurse to fallen crew members. In between collecting amputated limbs and restraining patients receiving surgery (pre-anaesthesia), loblolly boys poured hot tar on wounds to help them heal.