James Crockett, the Lion-conqueror was born around 1831 in Presteigne, the son of a circus musician and the 6'9'' Miss Cross, the Nottinghamshire giantess. His Radnorshire birthplace is confirmed in the 1851 census as well as in contemporary newspaper reports.
At first Crockett followed his father's profession by playing in the band of Sanger's Circus, but weakened lungs saw him take on the role of lion-tamer. In 1861 Crockett shot to fame when his lions escaped into Astleys Amphitheatre, killing a young lad in the process. Armed only with a whip the lion-conqueror succeeded in returning the beasts to their cage.
Having played in Paris, Berlin, Vienna and St Petersburg, Crockett crossed the Atlantic to the United States in 1864 and it was there the following year that he died. The Lion-Conqueror dropped dead after having spent the morning riding in a 4th of July procession in Cincinnati wearing a tin helmet inspite of the intense heat.