In September 2023, LongeviQuest’s Global Validation Commission conducted a review of the documentation for the former world’s oldest living person titleholder, Mrs. Johanna Booysen of South Africa. After reviewing the documentation submitted by Jimmy Lindberg, the Commission concluded that the validation was inaccurate.
Booysen was born in Heidelberg, Gauteng, South Africa. Her claimed date of birth was 17 January 1857. She passed away on 16 June 1968, at the claimed age of 111 years, 151 days. Around the time of her death, her age was validated, and she was included in the 1970 edition of the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest living person.
For decades after her passing, it was widely believed that she assumed the title of the world’s oldest living person on March 21, 1968, following the death of the 111-year-old British man, John Mosley Turner. However, in May 2023, LongeviQuest validated the age of 113-year-old Narcissus “Narcissa” Rickman from North Carolina, USA, who had passed away in October 1968. Since she was born before both Turner and Booysen and outlived them both, she was posthumously recognized as the world’s oldest living person of that time, thus reclaiming the title that Booysen had held for over 50 years.
However, with the discovery of new documentation this year, it has come to light that Booysen was not even a supercentenarian, let alone one of the oldest living people in the world. Her actual date of birth was determined to be January 17, 1867, based on details from her baptismal record. This makes her precisely ten years younger than her previously validated age.
The Sunday World recently published an article that shared a story about an anonymous researcher who uncovered the truth behind the claim of ‘Ireland’s Oldest Man Ever.’ It turned out to be a case of pension fraud.
For several years, the longevity community had been aware of an anonymous man, supposedly born on July 2, 1911, who was believed to have become the first Irish male supercentenarian in 2021. Based on online information, the Office of the President sent him a commemorative medal just days before his 110th birthday to celebrate the occasion. The longevity community believed that he became the first supercentenarian in Ireland in over a decade, as the most recent one was Margaret Dolan in 2003, and that he held the title of the country’s oldest living resident. That is also what the anonymous researcher believed when they reached out to Áras an Uachtaráin to inquire about records and information regarding this man.
However, what was discovered is that an elderly woman had been claiming the payments on behalf of the deceased man from 1993 to 2022, totaling the full amount of €271,046.
With the debunking of the claim, it is now believed that the oldest man to have ever passed away in Ireland was Michael O’Connor (13 October 1913 – 21 August 2022), who lived in Kerry and reached the age of 108 years and 312 days.
In February 2023, LongeviQuest received the documentation for Mathew Beard, an American supercentenarian whose age was verified by the Kestenbaum study, and validated by the Gerontology Research Group in 2003.
Beard claimed to have been born in Norfolk, Virginia, USA, on 9 July 1870. With the final age of 114 years, 222 days, he 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, on 16 February 1985. He was posthumously validated as the oldest person ever, a title he held between April 1984, until his age was surpassed by Augusta Holtz in 1986. Following his validation, he was also recognized as the first person to reach the age of 114, and the oldest African-American man ever, and currently, the fourth-oldest validated man in history.
After reviewing the documentation submitted by an independent researcher, Jimmy Lindberg, the Global Validation Commission concluded that the validation was inaccurate.
Beard, who got married in 1912, spent most of his life in the U.S. state of Florida. Multiple census records have been located, including Florida State census records from 1935 and 1945 respectively. While the 1920 census entry – the first census record following his marriage, has not been located, the 1930 one was, supporting he was living in Sumter, Florida with his wife and ten children. The entry lists his age as “60” as of April 1930, which is approximately in accordance with his claimed age. Some of the later records also support the claimed age, however, one of the first noticeable deviations is his birthplace was never listed as Virginia, his claimed state of birth. The state of birth varied from Florida, Georgia and North Carolina during the years.
Among the located documentation was the Social Security Application (SSA) in which his parents were reported as “Ned Beard” (“Ned” likely being a nickname for “Edward”) and “Martha Bures.” His birthplace is listed as North Fork in Smyth County, Virginia, not the city of Norfolk. With the basic information from the SSA and newspaper articles, Lindberg was able to locate a possible 1900 US census record entry. Beard, who is listed as having been born in October 1886, was living in Columbia (Georgia) with his parents, Edward and Martha Beard, and five siblings. His birthplace is listed as Georgia, the state that was mentioned as his birthplace in the 1945 Florida State census entry. The 1880 US Census for the same family shows that they were living in Columbia and had two children at the time, Nettie (3 years old) and Jeremiah (3 months old). There is no child named Mathew listed.
It is thought that a wrong 1880 census record was used in the original validation from 2003. A 12-year-old boy named Mathew Baird lived in Milan, Gibson County, Tennessee in June 1880. He lived with his parents, Anderson and Martha Baird. The mother’s name matches with the one from the supercentenarian claimant’s SSA, and perhaps it was assumed that “Ned” was a peculiar nickname for “Anderson”. The 1870 US Census Record for the same family shows Mathew (listed as “Mathis Baird”) living in Carroll County, Tennessee. His age, however, is recorded as “4” on 24 June 1870, so was this the supercentenarian claimant who died in 1985, he would have been 119 rather than 114. Lindberg however located additional evidence supporting these records do not belong to the claimant, since the mother’s maiden name was Bryant, not Bures, and the father was never listed as “Ned.”
Statewide registration of births in Georgia began in 1919, therefore it’s highly unlikely a birth registration can be located. However, considering how the earliest located record dates to 16 June 1900, and since Beard was listed as having been born in October 1886 (therefore 13 years old at the time), it’s safe to assume he was nowhere near his claimed age of 114. Based on the located evidence, it’s more likely he was 98 at the time of death in February 1985.
In conclusion, LongeviQuest no longer recognizes the case as Validated, and is therefore changing the validation status from “Validated” to “Devalidated.” Though his supercentenarian status was effectively debunked, no precise date of birth could be determined.