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August 2011: How to Live Longer in 1610


Amongst the Lenthall family papers at the Berkshire Record Office, was a letter dated 19 March 1610 from a (Doctor) Thomas Fryar to Sir Francis Carew (of the Carew family of Beddington, Surrey) on the illnesses that can affect the elderly and advice on how to live longer and cope with old age. Something that many people try to deal with today.

According to Fryar, '70 years is the age of man and above this as the scripture says is but labour and pain'. All sorts of ills could befall an old man such as Carew, including difficulties breathing, dizziness and pain in the kidneys.

However, just as doctors may advise the elderly today (and indeed everybody of all ages!), Fryar advises that by having a good and moderate diet of meat and drink (including wine) you can preserve health for 'as long as it shall please God'.

He also states that exercise can 'expelleth all unnatural superfluities' (i.e. unwanted illnesses). So good diet and exercise will help you to live longer and stay healthy - no change there then!

Sir Francis died the following year in 1611, but as he was born in c.1530, that would make him 81 at death. Not bad for the seventeenth century!

Fryar Carew letter 1610


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