Southport, Merseyside, England, United Kingdom – John Tinniswood has quite the claim to fame: the 111-year-old is recognized as the oldest of the roughly four billion men in the world today. Just don’t expect him to boast about it.

“It’s just a title I have,” said Mr. Tinniswood. “One day, you might have the title,” he continued, addressing visiting researchers Ben Hinchliffe and Dr. Andrew Holmes.

Mr. John Tinniswood, World's Oldest Man

Mr. John Tinniswood, World’s Oldest Man


One might expect such modesty from a quintessential English gentleman like Mr. Tinniswood, but his attitude is less blasé when the conversation moves away from his accolades. On a recent afternoon at Mr. Tinniswood’s residence, he spoke with great enthusiasm about his life. His zeal was evident from the start, as he greeted his guests with a firm handshake.

Over coffees and biscuits, Mr. Tinniswood regaled his visitors – and his granddaughter Marisa – with stories from his travels. He expressed a special fondness for Portugal, his favorite travel destination. He was not as fond of the U.S. state of Florida, having had a run-in with one of the state’s resident alligators.

“I was walking along minding my own business,” began Mr. Tinniswood, “when suddenly I heard the water splashing. I looked over and there was an alligator emerging, so I increased my speed and before I knew it, the alligator had begun to run at me! I ran faster than I’ve ever run before. It was the scariest moment of my life, but I can laugh about it now.”

A good chuckle seems to come easy for the Mr. Tinniswood. Examining his LongeviQuest trophy, he jokingly asked his visitors, “Does it light up?” Overall, he radiates a deep satisfaction with how he has lived his life. “I can’t complain because I’ve done everything I wanted to do in my life. I can’t say I’ve done everything there is to do, but I’ve done what I wanted.”

LongeviQuest researcher Ben Hinchliffe (left) presenting Mr. John Tinniswood with the World's Oldest Man trophy

LongeviQuest researcher Ben Hinchliffe (left) presenting Mr. John Tinniswood with the World’s Oldest Man trophy


His life wasn’t always easy. Upon learning his visitor, Ben Hinchliffe, was from Yorkshire, Mr. Tinniswood mentioned that he spent time in Yorkshire during “the war.” (He was likely referring to World War II, though he lived through both world wars.) “I remember the air raids,” he stated somberly.

At other times, Mr. Tinniswood expressed nostalgia for the peaceful simplicity of life in the past. Reflecting on his upbringing in Liverpool, he recalled, “I remember when the first car arrived on our street. It was probably the late 1920s and it was the only car on the whole street! Now you can’t even move because there are so many cars!”

He continued, “In the past, people used to say in the future everybody would have their own helicopter, but I’ve lived to see they were wrong! Imagine the noise of everyone having their own helicopter!” When asked if he had ever personally been on a helicopter, he replied, “That’s something I’ve never done. I do wonder what it would be like.”

Dr. Andrew Holmes (left, European Supercentenarian Organisation/LongeviQuest) with Mr. John Tinniswood

Dr. Andrew Holmes (left, European Supercentenarian Organisation/LongeviQuest) with Mr. John Tinniswood


Indeed, Mr. Tinniswood maintains his fair share of wonder and curiosity, even after living a century plus another decade plus another year – and counting. He carries an active interest in current events and closely follows British politics. He asked his visitors whether they followed football. Upon learning that they were not football fans, he jollily replied, “Don’t worry, the world would be boring if everyone was interested in the same!”

His memory of a 1930s Liverpool football match reflects his overall optimism. He explained how attending a match was an ordeal, with trams packed to the brim and standing room only for fans who weren’t rich. Despite the jostling crowds, Mr. Tinniswood recalls, “Luckily I was tall so I could see.”

Though John Tinniswood is shorter now than he was 90 years ago, his vantage point today still allows him to see a great deal. With an ever-present smile, the world’s oldest man embodies a perspective on life to which we can all aspire.