Margaret Ann Neve
Margaret Ann Neve (née Harvey; 18 May 1792 – 4 April 1903) was the first recorded female supercentenarian and the second validated human to reach the age of 110 after Geert Adriaans Boomgaard. Neve lived at Saint Peter Port on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel. She was also the first proven individual whose life spanned three centuries (18th to the 20th centuries).
By Margaret's birth, her family was already well-established on the island. Her father John Harvey was born in Cornwall in 1771 to John (1736–1778) and Margaret Ann Parker (d. 1790). John Harvey was involved in merchant shipping and privateering, earning a great amount of wealth over the years. He married Elizabeth Harvey (née Guille) when they were both 19. John died on 4 December 1820 at the age of 49, and Elizabeth lived with her remaining children in a house called "Chaumière" ("The Thatched Cottage"), which he had bought in 1808. Elizabeth died in 1871 at the age of 99.
Together they had seven children:
- Margaret (1792–1903)
- John (1793–1865) – married Anne Sophia Grut (1802–1844) in 1826 and moved to Jersey, then England. They had a son named Thomas, who served in the militia and became a merchant.
- Elizabeth (1796–) – married
- Maria (1799) and Augusta (1801) had died as infants
- Thomas (1803) emigrated to the United States
- Augusta (1804) – married
- Louisa (1805–1821)
Early life and marriageEdit
Born Margaret Ann Harvey on 18 May 1792, the eldest of seven children, most of her childhood was spent in Guernsey. Early in her life, she survived a fall down the stairs, which left her concussed for three days.
Neve, as she would become known, could remember the turmoil that the French Revolution brought to Guernsey; at the time, her father was in command of the militia on the island. In 1807, at the age of 15, Neve set sail for Weymouth with her father, but a storm caused the ship to land at Chesil Beach.
She was educated in Bristol, England, gaining an interest in literature and poetry. In 1815, she went to a "finishing school" in Brussels, becoming fluent in French and Italian and able to converse in German and Spanish. She would read the New Testament in Greek.:19
With her headmistress, she visited the battlefield of Waterloo, shortly after the battle, once the corpses had been buried. There, Margaret picked up souvenirs which she showed to Prussian Field Marshal Blücher in London.:19
Margaret married John Neve, born 1779, from Tenterden, Kent, in St Peter Port (Town) church on 18 January 1823. On their honeymoon, they visited the Waterloo battlefield, 8 years after the battle. She lived in England for 25 years of marriage, but when her husband died in 1849, she returned to Guernsey. They had no children.
Later life and deathEdit
The census for 1871 shows Margaret A. Neve (78) and her sister Elizabeth Harvey (73) living at 'Chaumière', Rouge Huis, St Peter Port, Guernsey. Neve travelled abroad to various countries with Elizabeth. Their last trip was in 1872 when Neve was 80, wherein they visited the Polish city of Krakow (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire).
On 18 May 1899, a reception was held at Rouge Huis to celebrate her 107th birthday and her entrance into her 108th year. The town council, jurats, the officers of the staff, and about 250 of the leading residents attended. Despite her age, Margaret was found making marmalade the next morning by a reporter from The Times. She was reported as never being ill until the age of 105 when she had the flu, followed by bronchitis at 108. At the age of 110, she climbed a tree to pluck an apple, explaining that they were much tastier when eaten straight from the tree.:18
A newspaper report records that she enjoyed a glass and a half of old sherry at lunchtime, followed by a weak whiskey and water at supper. She was in the habit of always rising early and abstaining from eating and drinking between meal times. Contrary to popular belief, she did not receive congratulations from Queen Victoria (who had died in 1901) upon reaching her 110th birthday (celebrated in 1902). However, the Harvey family (through Neve's niece Louisa) did exchange correspondence with the Royal Household, expressing gratitude for the signed photograph given to them on 4 May 1896 by the Queen.
Neve died on 4 April 1903, a month before her 111th birthday. She reportedly repeated a Psalm in a loud voice the day before she died. Flags in Guernsey were lowered to half mast as a show of respect.:20 She was one of the last few living people from the 18th century.
- "The Harvey Family". Priaulx Library. 2005. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013.
- "Guernsey (Channel Islands) chamber of commerce, members in 1808-9" (PDF).
- Balfour-Pau, Glen. Bagpipes in Babylon: A Lifetime in the Arab World and Beyond. I.B.Tauris, 2006. ISBN 9781845111519.
- "Obituary". The Times. 6 April 1903. p. 10.
- "The Late Mrs Neve" (PDF). The New York Times. 19 April 1903.
- "AGED 110 YEARS". The Straits Times. 7 May 1903. p. 6.
- "Her Hundred-and-eighth Birthday". The Pall Mall Gazette. 18 May 1900. p. 3.
- "Unexampled Longevity". The Pall Mall Gazette. 18 June 1899. p. 21.
- "The Oldest Woman in the World". arence and Richmond Examiner. 19 February 1901. p. 3.