Article copywriting #001: The life and times of Thomas Parr
Thomas Parr was born in 1483, a date that’s noted in British history because he went on to live through the reigns of 10 kings, until he eventually died at the ripe old age of 152.
The secret of his long life is not known; Thomas had a quiet childhood in the country, and no doubt spent his days helping his father on the farm and exploring the nearby hills of Breidden and Long Mountain.
Like many other boys at the age of 17, he went to work. He found employment at Rowton Castle, where he faithfully serviced the needs of the household for a number of years. He returned home when his father died, and began tilling and cultivating his newly inherited land.
In the days before mechanization, making a living from a small farm involved a simple existence, long hours and hard physical work – but he seemed to be content, and the next fifty years passed peacefully. So peacefully, in fact, that it wasn’t until he was 80 years old that he decided to get married and start a family.
He married Jane Taylor, and had two fine and strong children called John and Joan.
More years passed. Jane died. His children grew up. And at the age of 122, romance was once again in the air for Thomas, and he promptly got married (there is no record of any children).
This longevity had not gone unnoticed, however it wasn’t until Thomas Parr was 152 that he was presented to court.
His reputation spread, he was besieged by crowds of curiosity seekers, he was painted by Rubens and Van Dyke, and he was presented to his tenth and final monarch – King Charles. Unfortunately, all this excitement proved to be too much, and ‘Old Parr’ – as he was then known – promptly died.
Such was his fame, that he was buried in the hallowed ground of Westminster Abbey, alongside such greats as William Shakespeare, Chaucer and Spencer, where his memorial can be seen to this day.
‘Thomas Parr of the county of Sallop. Born AD 1483, lived in the reigns of ten monarchs: King Edward IV, King Edward V, King Richard III, King Henry VII, King Henry VIII, King Edward VI, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, King James and King Charles, aged 152 years, was buried here November 1653’
This is the inscription of John Parr’s tomb at Poets' Corner in the South Transept of Westminster Abbey, London.