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Robinson's Guide to Richmond (1833)


Part 13

Henry Jenkins

THE neighbourhood of Richmond has long been celebrated for the longevity of its inhabitants, and there are at this day, several hoary villagers, who, if spared a few years longer, will enter the second century of their mortal career. All these, however, must as yet give place to the famous Henry Jenkins, who lived to realize more tomorrows than any other recorded inhabitant of these kingdoms. He was born before parish registers came into use; but from the account which he gave of his age at the battle of Flodden Field, he seems to have been about 169 years old at his death, which took place in 1670. There are but few materials extant for a biography of Jenkins, but this is owing to the very causes which produced his longevity, the regularity of his habits, and the absence of exciting vicissitudes in his condition. He was born at Bolton-on-Swale, and seems originally to have been Butler to Lord Coniers, of Hornby Castle, where (as he informed Mrs. Saville) the jolly Abbot of Fountains was a frequent guest, and "did drink a hearty glass with his Lordship." He afterwards maintained himself for a long series of years by thatching, and fishing for salmon; and it is recorded, that when he was more than one hundred years old, he used to swim and wade across the Swale with the greatest ease, and without catching cold. He retained his faculties to the last; and such was the acuteness of his sight, that he made two artificial flies the year before his death. He was buried at Bolton, the place of his birth; and besides a plain neat monument in the church-yard, there is a long and pompous epitaph to his memory in the church, put up by a certain Dr. Thomas Chapman, who is characterized by Bishop Hurd as " a vain and busy man."

It is also remarkable, that Mrs. Saville's letter to Sir Reginald Graham, (from which the above account is principally derived,) states that there were then (1661 or 2) four or five other people in the same parish, all of them reputed to be about 100 years old.

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