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On this day in history in 1635, was buried Thomas Parr.
Parr was the oldest man who ever lived, attaining 152 years and 9 months.
Parr was born in 1483, at Winnington, Shropshire. He was a commonplace agricultural labourer who lived on the produce of the land, course bread, cheese, vegetables and ale, and having lived to be eighty years old decided to marry at last. His first wife was Jane Taylor, with whom he had a son and a daughter who sadly died in infancy. We know that the marriage was blighted by Parr’s infidelity, for at the age of 100, he was obliged to perform public penance for adultery, after fathering an illegitimate child by a farm girl, Katherine Milton. Ten years after his wife’s death, Parr married again to Jane Lloyd but there were no children from the marriage.
In 1635, the lord of the estate, Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, heard fantastical tales of ‘Old Parr’, and was inspired to ingratiate himself with the king by introducing him to the oldest man alive. The Earl took Parr to London and presented him to Charles I, and to the countless sightseers who turned out to see him. Parr was a public celebrity, meeting more people in London than he had known in his hitherto extensive life. His portrait was painted by an artist of the day and now resides at the National Portrait Gallery.
Town life and the rich diet and the myriad of visitors and the city pollution did not agree with Old Parr, for he soon fell ill and died suddenly. His body was examined by the eminent physician, William Harvey, who could find no apparent cause of death apart from old age. Charles I accorded Parr the privilege of burial in Westminster Abbey. His tombstone reads:
THO: PARR OF YE COUNTY OF SALLOP. BORNE
IN AD: l483. HE LIVED IN YE REIGNES OF TEN
PRINCES VIZ: K.EDW.4. K.ED.5. K.RICH.3.
K.HEN.7. K.HEN.8. K.EDW.6. Q.MA. Q.ELIZ.
K.JA. & K.CHARLES. AGED l52 YEARES.
& WAS BURYED HERE NOVEMB. l5. l635.
Carlton, Charles. Charles I: The Personal Monarch.
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