AN AMAZING FACT: “Old Tom Parr” was an Englishman who is said to have lived for 152 years (1483–1635). Naturally, some doubt the stories of his extensive age.
Thomas Parr was thought to have been born in 1483 during the reign of King Richard III and is said to have lived to the age of 152, having seen ten sovereigns on the throne during his long life, including the 50-year reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
Old Parr, as he was sometimes called, became a celebrity in England as news of his great age spread. Special portraits of him were painted, and he was eventually brought to London to meet King Charles I in 1635. The king invited Parr to the palace and inquired as to what Thomas owed his long life, and the old farmer said that he had worked hard and lived on a simple diet of oatmeal; potatoes; coarse, hard bread; and small drink, generally sour whey.
But Old Parr was not accustomed to the rich food served at the palace, and that night, after dining on the king’s delicacies, legend has it that he became very ill and died. William Harvey, the physician who performed a post-mortem on Parr’s body, could find no apparent cause for death and assumed Thomas died of overexposure. King Charles felt so terrible having killed Britain’s oldest citizen with his food that he commanded the deceased should be buried in Westminster Abbey.
Rich delicacies are not the typical fare of people who live to ripe old ages. Even the Bible points this out through the story of Daniel and his friends, who were shipped off to Babylon and chosen to be trained in the king’s court as future leaders in their new country. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8).
God honored Daniel’s choice to avoid eating the unclean Babylonian food. Chapter 1 of Daniel ends by telling us that Daniel and his friends were 10 times wiser than the other counselors of Babylon and that Daniel lived nearly 100 years. So also may our guarded appetites lead to wiser, longer, and more abundant life!
Additional reading: Proverbs 23:1–16
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat. Proverbs 23:1-3