Thomas Parr (c. 28 February 1565 (claimed born 28 February 1483) - 16 November 1635) was an English longevity myth to age 152 years and 264 days, who had become ingrained in English lore as "Old Tom Parr."

Biography

Records vary, but Parr was allegedly born around 1483 in the parish of Alberbury, Shropshire. He existed and even thrived on a diet of "subrancid cheese and milk in every form, coarse and hard bread and small drink, generally sour whey", as the physician William Harvey wrote. "On this sorry fare, but living in his home, free from care, did this poor man attain to such length of days." He married Jane Taylor at the claimed age of 80 and had two children, both of whom died in infancy[1].

Tom Parr purportedly had an affair when he was more than 100 years old, and fathered a child born out of wedlock, for which he had to do public penance in the church porch.[2] After the death of his first wife at the alleged age of 110, he married Jane Lloyd, a widow[3], at the alleged age of 122.[4] They lived together for twelve years, with Jane commenting that he never showed any signs of age or infirmity.[3] As news of his reported age spread, 'Old Parr' became a national celebrity and was painted by Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck. A portrait of Parr hangs at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, with an inscription which reads "Thomas Parr died at the age of 152 years 9 months" "The old old very old man or Thomas Parr, son of John Parr of Winington in the Parish of Alberbury who was borne in the year 1483 in Rayne of King Edward IV being 152 years old in the year 1635". The portrait was once in the collection of the Leighton family of Loton Park, which is in Parr's home parish of Alberbury[5].

In 1635, Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel, visited Parr and took him to London to meet King Charles I. By this time, Parr was reportedly blind and feeble. Charles asked what Parr had done that was greater than any other man, and the latter replied that he had performed penance (for his affair) at the age of 100.

Parr was treated as a spectacle in London, but the food and environment caused him to die after a few weeks in 14 November 1635. The king arranged for him to be buried in Westminster Abbey on 15 November[6]. An autopsy performed by physician William Harvey suggested he was only 70 years old when he died[7]. The results were published in the book De ortu et natura sanguinis by John Betts as an attachment. Harvey examined Parr's body and found all his internal organs to be in a perfect state. No apparent cause of death could be determined, and it was assumed that Parr had simply died of overexposure because he had been too well fed. It is possible that Parr's records were confused with those of his grandfather. Parr did not claim to be able to remember specific events from the 15th century[8].

References

  1. Thomas, Keith (1 September 2017). "Parr, Thomas [called Old Parr (d. 1635), supposed centenarian"] (in en). Template:Citation/identifier. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-21403. 
  2. Long Livers a Curious History by Eugenius Philalethes 1722
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hall, William Whitty (1872). The Guide-Board to Health, Peace, and Competence. Springfield, Massachusetts: D.E. Fisk and Company. p. 16. 
  4. Pine, L. G. (July 1965). "Thomas Parr – the most long-lived Englishman". Shropshire Magazine. Famous Shropshire sons – no. 5. 17 (5): 26–7. 
  5. Shropshire Museums. "Darwin Country". http://www.darwincountry.org/explore/001716.html. 
  6. "Information from Westminster Abbey on Parr's life, including the inscription on his gravestone"]. https://web.archive.org/web/20080107172946/http://www.westminster-abbey.org/history-research/monuments-gravestones/people/12190. 
  7. P. Lüth “Geschichte der Geriatrie” (1965), S. 153 + 154.
  8. Thomas Parr NNDb.com Retrieved on: 15 March 2011
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