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  • Jamaican Immortal November 15, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback


    This is one in the immortals series. Human beings who lived remarkably long lives (be they factual or fictional). First the report from 1825.

    Died on 13 the December, at Kingston, Jamaica, an old negro woman, Patience, alias Nancy Lawrence, supposed to be aged about 140 years. The precise age of this extraordinary creature could never be ascertained exactly, but from the fact of her acting as nurse to the great grandmother (when a child) of her present owner, who died many years since at an advanced aged. She likewise stated, that at the time Port-Royal was sunk by the great earthquake in 1692, she was a breasted young girl. She possessed to the last the use of all her faculties, except locomotion, of which she had been deprived many years. (Taunton Courier, 16 Feb 1825, 8)

    It goes without saying that just because some old man or woman says that they are 140 does not mean that they actually are. However, it is striking that Patience, claimed to remember the 1692 earthquake. This would suggest that she really had made it to 140: though that is barely credible in terms of those centenarians whose ages are well recorded. (Only one individual has demonstrably made it past one hundred and twenty.) But enough of the chaffing and let’s enjoy the arc of Patience’s life. Jamaica became an English possession in 1655 after an invasion ordered by Cromwell. Patience was not alive then, but presumably as a child she knew some who had witnessed the attack. Sugar-cane slavery only really took off on the island after 1670 when Spain rescinded its rights to the island and ended twenty years of war and piracy. Patience was, then, likely born to a first generation slave on Jamaica. The Maroons, Spanish-era slaves, had managed to establish independent settlements that the British ultimately and begrudgingly recognized (at least for a time). In 1808 Patience would have heard news that the slave trade had been abolished by British fiat. She did not live, unhappily, to 1835 when slavery itself was abolished on the island.