Friday, June 10, 2016


Stories written in the 1700's about folks who lived past 100, some way past!
"As for the days of our life they contain seventy years,
Or if due to strength, eighty years...
For soon it is gone and we fly away."
*Adam Clarke wrote in his commentary about folks he met or heard about in Britain and Ireland who lived incredibly long lives which I found to be fascinating.  Maybe you will too.

"In the year 1790 I knew a woman in the city of Bristol, Mrs. Somerhill, then in the 106th year of her age.  She read the smallest print without spectacles, and never used any helps to decayed sight.  When she could not go any longer to a place of worship through the weakness of her limb, she was accustomed to read over the whole service of the Church, for each day of the year as it occurred, with all the Lessons, Psalms, etc.  She had been from its commencement, a member of the Methodist Society; heard Mr. John Wesley the first sermon he preached when he visited Bristol in 1739; and was so struck with his clear manner of preaching the doctrine of justification through faith, that, for the benefit of hearing one more sermon from this apostolic man, she followed him on foot to Portsmouth, a journey of one hundred and twenty-five miles!  On my last visit to her in the above year, I was admitted by a very old decrepit woman, then a widow of seventy-five years of age, and the youngest daughter of Mrs. Somerhill.  I found the aged woman's faculties strong and vigorous, and her eyesight unimpaired, though she was then confined to her bed, and was hard of hearing.  She died rejoicing in God in the following year."


"Thomas Parr, of Winnington in Shropshire, far out-lived the term as set down in the Psalm.  At the age of eighty-eight he married his first wife, by whom he had two children.  At the age of one hundred and two he fell in love with Catharine Milton, by whom he had an illegitimate child, and for which he did penance in the church!  At the age of one hundred and twenty he married a widow woman; and when he was one hundred and thirty could perform any operation of husbandry.  He died at the age of one hundred and fifty-two, 1635.  He had seen ten kings and queens of England."

Other sources say Old Tom Parr had two children who died in infancy, existed and thrived on a diet of subrancid cheese and milk in every form, coarse and hard bread and small drink, generally sour whey.  After the death of his first wife, he married the mother of his child at age 122.  He was painted by Ruben and Van Dyke.  Thomas was brought to London to meet Charles I who asked him what had he done greater than any other man, to which her replied that he performed penance to the church (for his affair) at age 100.  His memorial records "Tom Parr of ye county of Shallop born 1483.  He lived ye reigns of ten princes (Edward IV, Edward V,  King Richard III,
Henry VII, Henry VIII, Queens Mary and Elizabeth, King James and King Charles I.)"

"Thomas Damme of Leighton, near Minshulin, Cheshire, lived one hundred and fifty-four years, and died in 1648."
Other places it is recorded that "long-dead yeoman" his name was written in parish church register, which  " survived plagues, persecution and war for at least 600 turbulent years.  This record, wonderfully preserved and legible dating back to the 16th Century, the same names in birth, marriage, and death, generation to generation, to turn these pages of heavy vellum..."
"Agnes Shuner is another instance.  She lived at Camberwell in Surrey; her husband, Richard Shuner, died in 1407, whom she survived ninety-two years.  She died in 1499, ages one hundred and nineteen years." 

"The Countess of Desmond in Ireland.  On the ruin of the house of Desmond, she was obliged at the age of one hundred one forty to travel from Bristol to London to solicit relief from the court, being then reduced to poverty...She died in 1612 at the age of one hundred and forty-five."

Other sources say that her husband Thomas FitzGerald, 11th Earl of Desmond (1454-1534), gave her as his second wife,  a life tenancy in Inchiquin Castle in Munster.  Eventually it passed into the hands of Sir Walter Raleigh who preserved her life interest.  However, when the land fell into the hands of Sir Richard Boyles, he wanted to evict her.  She went to Cork, sailed to Bristol, then walked to London pulling her invalid 90 year old daughter in a cart to solicit this relief in the court.  It is said that she walked every week 4 or 5 miles to market and died when she fell from a tree where she was picking cherries.  She married in the reign of Edward IV, lived the entire reigns of Edward V, Richard III (with whom she once danced), Henry VIII, Mary and Elizabeth, and died in the latter end of King James or the beginning of Charles I's.



"Henry Jenkins of Ellerton upon Swale, in  Yorkshire, was sent when a boy about twelve years of age, with a cart load of arrows to Northallerton, to be employed in the battle of Flodden Field, which was fought September 9, 1513.  He was a fisherman; and often swam in the rivers  when he was more than  one hundred years of age!  He died in 1670, being then one hundred and sixty-nine years of age!"
His memorial plaque of black marble in a church was written by Dr. Thomas Chapman of Cambridge in 1743...
"Blush not, marble, to rescue from oblivion the memory of Henry Jenkins, a person obscure of birth, but of a life of truly memorable, for he was enriched with the goods of nature if not of fortune, and happy in the duration if not the variety of his enjoyments.  And though the partial world despised and disregarded his low and humble state, the equal eye of Providence beheld and blessed it with a patriarch's health and length of days, to teach mistaken man that blessings are entailed on temperance, a life of labour, and a mind at ease.  He lived to the amazing age of 169; was entered her in 1670 and this justice to his memory 1743."
It was once claimed that if Jenkins had followed his legal obligations during his life, he would have changed his religion eight times, between the reigns of Henry VII and Charles II.   Mr. Jenkins claimed to have been the butler to Lord Coniers of Hornby Castle, then a fisherman, then a beggar of alms.
"I shall add one foreigner, Peter Toston, a peasant of Temiswar, in Hungary. The remarkable longevity of this man exceeds the age of Isaac five years; of Abraham ten; falls short of Terah's, Abraham's father, twenty; and exceeds that of Nahor, Abraham's grand-father, thirty-seven years.  He died in 1724, at the extraordinary age of one hundred and eighty-five!"

And to think, not one of them went to the gym!  I found several relatives who lived over one hundred years old in the early 1800's.  If wars didn't kill them, hard work seemed to add to their years, especially in Tennessee and the South.  But none of them exceeded the length of years as described above.  Yet, even none spoken of here are alive today so they too could sing, "I'll fly away."

*Though Matthew Henry thought this Psalm was written by Moses, Adam Clarke did not, in part due to the fact that other than those who died in the wilderness because of the hardness of their hearts, mankind lived longer at that time than the normal lifespan as described in the above verses. 

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