The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Elizabeth Leatherland, aged 111

Elizabeth Leatherland, aged 111

The centenarian Elizabeth Leatherland claimed to have been born in 1763 and to be 110 years old. The photograph was taken in 1874, a year or so after her age became a matter of debate and controversy in the press.

She died the following year, in 1875. According to a report of her death in The Times (25 January 1875): ‘Elizabeth Leatherland, the Tring centenarian, has this week expired, a year or more after the controversy in The Times as to her reputed age. She was an old woman when the living inhabitants of the neighbourhood were young. An old man, buried in the churchyard at Tring at the age of 93, always maintained that she was about ten years older than himself, and he knew her when she was a girl'. The article then goes into great detail rehashing the details of the controversy and the evidence for and against her being the Elizabeth Horam, her maiden name, whose birth was entered in the baptismal registry on 24 April 1763. Also included in the report are details of the state of her heart and lungs as well as her skin, voice and pulse, when examined by Sir Duncan Gibb a year or two before her death. The article concludes: ‘I take it though it is probably impossible to prove the exact age of Elizabeth Leatherland, so as to satisfy the demands of evidence, there is little ground for doubting she was a centenarian, and that it will never be proved she was not 112’.

Photographed by W. and J. Piggott of Leighton Buzzard.


Code: 122371
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© Paul Frecker 2019