©Wellcome Library, London

Thomas Parr (c. 1483-1635) was reputedly aged 152, the oldest man in England, when he died at the Earl of Arundel's house in London. He was dissected by Harvey on 16 November 1635, at the request of Charles I to whom he had been presented. ‘Old Parr', a rural labourer, had been brought to London and exhibited as a novelty. Harvey attributed his death to the transition from the ‘perfect purity' of air, meagre diet, and carefree life of the country to the sulphurous air and rich living of the capital. He did not question Parr's claim to such extraordinary longevity. It is believed that, deliberately or not, he adopted his father's birth date.

Oil painting on wood.