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Mathew Beard

Mat(t)hew Beard was an American supercentenarian claimant who was believed to have been the oldest living person in the world from the death of Emma Wilson on 13 October 1983, until his own death over a year later. He was posthumously validated as the oldest person ever, the title he held from April 1984 until his age was surpassed by Augusta Holtz in 1986. His age was validated by the Gerontology Research Group, but this was later found to be inaccurate and his validation was rescinded by LongeviQuest.


Mathew Beard claimed to have been born in Norfolk, Virginia, USA on 9 July 1870. When he was aged three, his family moved to Missouri. At the age of 12, he began working, where he was first employed at a local sawmill. Five years later, at the age of 17, he arrived in Florida and found work on the railroad; he would remain in the state for the rest of his life. He married Angerine Brooks, with whom he had 12 children.

In addition to working on the railroad, he also made a living as a preacher, as well as farming tobacco in the field nearby his home. He became an ordained minister in the Missionary Baptist Church in 1919 and continued preaching well into his centenarian years.

Beard died in Florida, USA on 16 February 1985, at the claimed age of 114 years, 222 days.

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On 4 September 2003, the Kestenbaum study confirmed his age of 114 years, 222 days, and the Gerontology Research Group later validated his age.

After being posthumously validated decades after his death, Beard became the first person known to have reached the age of 114. He held the title of the oldest person ever for about two years, and the title of the oldest man ever until his age was surpassed by Christian Mortensen in March 1997.

As of February 2023, he was still considered as the fourth-oldest verified man ever, the oldest verified man from the continental USA (Emiliano Mercado del Toro born in the United States overseas territory of Puerto Rico was older), the oldest American-born man ever, and the oldest African-American man ever.

In February 2023, LongeviQuest received Beard’s documentation, located by an independent researcher, Jimmy Lindberg. Upon careful review, the Global Validation Commission unanimously concluded that the validation was inaccurate and that it is more likely Beard was 98 at the time of death in February 1985.