Today’s post has been written with our genealogy followers very much in mind and those who love nothing more than a good challenge.
So, according to the government, health experts and others we’re going to live longer than ever before. Well, if you believe these accounts of longevity below we’ve got quite a way to go to exceed some of these instances.
All of these accounts appeared in the newspapers and also in a collated account of longevity written by James Easton ‘Human Longevity: Recording the Name, Age, Place of Residence, and Year’ in 1799.
Certainly Easton had done his homework by trawling through the newspapers, etc. We have tried in vain, so far, to validate any of them with a corresponding date of birth, yet if true, then they are accounts of longevity that far exceed anything you would expect for that period and many would still make headline news today even by our standards of life expectancy. Easton also noted that:
the more a man follows nature and is obedient to her laws, the longer he will live; and that the further he deviates from these, the shorter will be his existence. It is not the rich and great, nor those who depend on medicines who become old, but such as use much exercise, are exposed to the fresh air, and whose food is plain and moderate, as farmers, gardeners, fishermen, labourers, soldiers and such men, as perhaps never employed their thoughts on the means which have been used to promote longevity.
John Burnet aged 109, of Broadwater, Sussex. He married six wives, three of them after he was one hundred years old; and died in the same house in which he was born.
Margaret Patten died aged 137 (no, it’s not a typo!). She was of St Margaret’s workhouse, London, a Scotch woman. She always enjoyed good health till within a few days of her dissolution; and for many years subsisted mostly on milk. (Born near Paisley, according to the newspapers.)
John Hussey aged 116. Of Sydenham, Kent and formerly a farmer at Crawford. His breakfast was balm-tea sweetened with honey; and pudding for dinner, above fifty years; by which he acquired long and regular health.
Mary How aged 112. Of Mapleton, Derbyshire, widow. Her death was occasioned by pulling a codling off a tree, the limb of which breaking, fell on her arm and broke it. About two years before, she cut several new teeth and her hair changed its colour from grey to a beautiful white.
Rev. Mr Braithwaite – aged 110, of Carlisle. He had been one hundred years in the cathedral, having commenced singing-boy in the year 1652. N.B. There was a Rev. George Braithwaite listed in the Archaeology Data service who became a minor canon in 1679, ‘but that this fact does not necessarily imply that he was by that time in holy orders. A chapter order made November 23rd, 1703, distinguished between “lay petty canons who are skilled in music” and “petty canons who are in holy orders and are not skilled in music”‘.
Whether it was the same Reverend Braithwaite we have no idea.
Of Ripon, Yorkshire Robert Oglebie (Ogleby) aged 115, a travelling tinker; born Nov 6, 1647, as appears by the register of Ripon, married seventy-three years, and had twelve sons and thirteen daughters; had all his senses perfect and could see to work a short time before his death. His wife lived to be one hundred and six years old. He also claimed his father lived to the ripe old age of 140 and there was apparently a monument erected for him at Tanfield church, although we can find no evidence of this!
William Cotterell, aged 107, of Nottingham, farmer. His wife died three days after, aged ninety-eight, having been married eighty years.
Mary Wilkinson who died aged 109 in 1788. She was a native of Lundale, and changed her residence to Romald Kirk, in the north of Yorkshire. When she was young, she walked several times to London in four days, a distance of 290 miles. At the age of 99 years, she was desirous of seeing London again, and buckling a keg of gin, and a quantity of provisions on her back, she left Romald Kirk, and reached London in five days and three hours. –[S]he lived to see four Kings reign, and is interred in a stately tomb, erected at the expense of the inhabitants of Romald Kirk.
Anne Froste of West Rasen, Lincolnshire. She was the wife of a labourer, had been married three times and left a daughter ninety years of age. She was married to her last husband in her ninety-third year. For many years past she had lived on milk and tea diet. She died aged 111.
John Roberts died aged 103, of Digbeth near Birmingham. He married three wives, by whom he had twenty-eight children; was nearly eighty when he married his last and by whom he had six of the children.
William Troy, died aged 120 near Waterford, farmer. A short time before his death he read very small print without spectacles and daily walked about his farm without support.
John Sayer, aged 100 of Caistor near Norwich, butcher. He retained the perfect use of his faculties to the last hour of his life, with a memory very unusual at his age.
John Sayer’s burial record, at St Edmunds in Caistor, gave his age as 105.
And one we found in the London Evening Post, 13th October 1737.
We hear the following remarkable instance of longevity from Lewes in Sussex. Last Saturday died there Mr. Henry Morgan, aged 105 years and a half. He never made use of spectacles, but work’d at his trade as a sieve-maker the day before his death. He never had a day’s, nor scarce an hour’s illness in his whole life. The morning he died he walk’d into his garden and when he return’d sat down in his chair and died immediately, not so much as any of the family perceiving any difference in him.
And finally a little gem from 1771, which implies that not washing your face for over thirty years could be the key to a very long life, although we don’t recommend it!
Yesterday se’ennight were interred in the church-yard of Logie, the remains of Jean Stevenson, who died on Sunday preceeding, at Montrose, in the 107th year of her age. Her neighbours say, that she had not washed her face for thirty or forty years before her death.
Caledonian Mercury, 13 February 1771
Human Longevity: Recording the Name, Age, Place of Residence, and Year, of the Decease of 1712 Persons, who Attained a Century, & Upwards, from A.D. 66 to 1799, by James Easton