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  • A List of Supercentenarians November 21, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback


    The following list of long-living folks crops up in a book from the very early twentieth-century. Different versions of this same list had already appeared in various publications through the nineteenth century and names seem to have been added and dropped as easily as editors clumped decades onto the supposed Methuselahs: John Effingham, for example, is recorded elsewhere as being a Cornish soldier who died at the impressive age of 104, not 144 as stated below!

    Some of the names are famous: Louisa Truxo and Thomas Parr (painted by Rubens), for example. Others are strangely anonymous: who was John Delasomer? But one thing is certain, most came from the British Isles. In fact, in Beachcombing’s edition the author specifically states that all are Irish or British unless otherwise stated (a promise the author doesn’t keep but anyway).

    Year of Death/name/age at death

    1759 Don Cameron 130

    1766 John Delasomer 131

    ??? George King 129

    1767 John Taylor 130

    1774 William Beattie 133

    1778 John Watson 130

    1780 Robert M’Bride 127

    ??? William Ellis 131

    1764 Eliza Taylor 131

    1775 Peter Garden 131

    1761 Eliza Merchant 133

    1772 Mrs. Keith 133

    1767 Francis Ange 134

    1777 John Brooke 134

    1714 Jane Harrison 135

    1759 James Shellie 136

    1768 Catherine Noonan 136

    1771 Margaret Foster  136

    1776 John Miarait 137

    1772 J. Richardson 137

    1793 — Robertson 137

    1757 William Sharpley 138

    1768 J. McDonough 138

    1770 — Fairbrother 138

    1772 Mrs. Clum 138

    1604  Countess of Desmond 140

    1778 Swarling (a monk) 142

    1773 Charles McFinley 143

    1757 John Effingham 144

    1782 Evan Williams 145

    1766 Thomas Winsloe 146

    1772 J. C. Drakenberg 146

    1652 William Mead 148

    1768 Francis Confi 150

    1542 Thomas Newman 152

    1656 James Bowels 152

    ???? Henry West 152

    1648 Thomas Damme 149

    1635 Thomas Parr 152

    1797 Joseph Surrington 160

    1668 William Edwards 168

    1670 Henry Jenkins 169

    1780 Louisa Truxo 175

    1820 Soloman Nibet 143

    1822 Lucretia Stewart 130

    1839 Wm. James (S. Carolina) 132

    1846 Thos. Lightfoot (Canada) 127

    1861 Marian Moore (England) 131

    1869 — Lockhart (Iowa) 127

    1878 Eulalia Perez ( California) 140

    ???? Edna Goodman (Arkan.) 127

    1888 Granny Rose (S. Carolina) 131

    1889 — Wapmarek (Germany) 126

    Beachcombing’s first reaction, as so often, is ‘what nonsense’. But one thing bothers him. There is normally a relation between reports of longevity and countries where there is not an established bureaucracy: not least because scribbling administrators and civil servants leave a paper trail with obvious consequences for eighty year olds claiming to be 130! Memories here of an earlier post on Romans who lived well into their second century.

    And so Beachcombing is left wondering how so many individuals from Britain and Ireland, including many who had lived in the same parish through their whole lives, managed to get away with such outrageous claims. Sixteenth-, seventeenth, eighteenth- and nineteenth century Britain had an established bureaucracy, both state and ecclesiastical. You couldn’t just turn up at the Town Hall and claim to be two hundred.

    Any explanation? One thing strikes Beach looking at the English names. Many are remarkably common combinations: Henry West, Thomas Parr, Henry Jenkins, John Brooke, Jane Harrison… Did someone confuse a grandparent and a grandchild in the parish records and was an exaggerated age foisted on some of these (reluctant?) centenarians? Drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

    PS Can’t resist the legend that the Countess Desmond above, who died in the early seventeenth-century, danced with Richard III as a girl! Now that would have been a memory…