Who Was the First Centenarian Ever?

Have you ever wondered who the first-ever centenarian was? Who was the first person ever to be 100 years old?

How long will humankind live? Human longevity is increasing, with the advancement of modern science. Time will tell how far it will go.

However, we can already see that today’s generations live 15-18% longer than the previous generation. If we compared modern age people with medieval people – life expectancy has almost doubled.

We can thank science for extending the human lifespan. So, hopefully, there will be more centenarians in the future. Average human life lasts up to 78 – 84 years, in developed countries, however, the number of centenarians is increasing year by year.

A centenarian is a person who is at least 100 years old. There have been quite a few in word’s history. Keep reading to find out the full list of the world’s oldest people.

But did you wonder who was the first-ever centenarian to be recorded in the annals of history? We have the answer.

First Centenarian Ever – The Oldest Person Ever in History

There are many centenarians in the myths and religions, and there’s a tendency to exaggerate about a person’s age in cultural evidence.

No one knows who was the first-ever centenarian or even the period he or she lived. Estimates vary from the 15th century BC all to the 18th century.

Number of Centenarians in the World

From the beginning of the 20th century, the number of centenarians in the world increased from twenty thousand in 1950 to nearly half a million in 2010.

Projections of the number of centenarians in the future depend very heavily on assumptions about the evolution of future mortality.

Moreover, In most cases, the age of centenarians who died before the 20th century remains questionable, so we look at the verified data concerning this topic.

The mortality of centenarians is still poorly known and is the subject of much debate. The increase in mortality with age likely decelerates.

Who Was the First Centenarian Ever?

When we think of a senior citizen’s age, it usually spans between 65 and 90 years of age. However, what about those who pass the limit of 90 years and reach 100?

We call them centenarians. Also, we often associate the term with longevity since the majority of people never reaches that age. 

Still, the number of centenarians has been at a steady increase in the past few decades. The first-ever centenarian or a senior citizen to reach 100 years of age in modern times was Jeanne Calment from France.

Jeanne Calment from France – First Supecentenerian Ever

As a result of Bernard Jeune’s monograph, Jeanne Calment turned out to be 122 years old in the French centenarian study in 1991. Jeanne Calment from France was the first supercentenarian that ever lived.

Jeanne Calment portrait - worlds first ever centenarian person
Jeanne Calment was the world’s oldest women
By Unknown – Uploaded to Flickr, Public Domain.

At the end of her days, she achieved a record lifespan of 122 years and 164 days. Jeanne Calment lived through both world wars, managed to live in 2 centuries and she almost reached a second millennium. Does this not blow your mind? Here’s Jeanne’s birth certificate, from the late 19th century.

Jeanne Calment's birth certificate first centenarian ever
Jeanne Calment’s birth certificate
By Etat civil d’Arles – (archive copy), Public Domain.

The number of living centenarians around the world is poorly known. Estimates are based on national data and modelling of population structure.

Most national data are uncertain. Some national estimates of the number of centenarians, obviously overestimated, have been revised downwards.

Indeed, in recent years, demographers have found that mortality at very old ages, although very high, was less so than previously thought.

Life Expectancy in the 1900s

Bernard Jeune claims there were people over 100 living before 1900, but most of them could be refuted.

The first man to live to the age of 100 years was allegedly Peter Henricson, who was born in 1465 and died in 1592 (127 years).

First 100-year-old Woman Ever

The first woman to live to the age of 100 years was allegedly Catherine of Desmonde, who was born in 1464 and died in 1604 (140 years.) You can find one of the alleged portraits of Katherine, Countess of Desmond, here.

first woman to be 100 years old - first centenarian Katherine, Countess of Desmond
Lord Kerry’s portrait of Katherine, Countess of Desmond – first woman to live 100 years old.
By Nathaniel Grogan of Cork – en:File: Grogan Nathaniel catherinefitzgerald.jpg, Public Domain.

This data is highly exaggerated since there’s no supercentenarian (a person who surpass 110 years) who reached 140 years even in modern times.

The only validated data comes from international bodies that specify in the research of longevity, such as Gerontology Research Group (GRG) or Guinness World Records (GWR.)

Senior Citizens in the UK and the US

The UK and the US are the countries where senior citizen assistance is highly needed, so the first-ever senior citizen centre in the UK and the first-ever senior citizen centre in the US emerged in the mid-20th century.

Nonetheless, the majority of people over 100 years old today live in Japan. There are 67,824 centenarians, according to their 2017 census.

List of Oldest People in the World Ever

In today’s world, more and more senior citizens reach the ripe old age of over a hundred years.

The world is much different than it was two hundred years ago, especially in the medical field.

We have compiled a full list of the world’s oldest people that ever lived over the age of 100 years old. Top 10 oldest people ever are:

  1. Jeanne Calment (21 February 1875 – 4 August 1997): 122 years, 164 days, France 
  2. Sarah Knauss (24 September 1880 – 30 December 1999): 119 years, 97 days, United States 
  3. Nabi Tajima (4 August 1900 – 21 April 2018): 117 years, 260 days, Japan 
  4. Lucy Hannah (16 July 1875 – 21 March 1993): 117 years, 248 days, United States 
  5. Marie-Louise Meilleur (29 August 1880 – 16 April 1998): 117 years, 230 days, Canada 
  6. Violet Brown (10 March 1900 – 15 September 2017): 117 years, 189 days, Jamaica
  7. Emma Morano (29 November 1899 – 15 April 2017): 117 years, 137 days, Italy 
  8. Chiyo Miyako (2 May 1901 – 22 July 2018): 117 years, 81 days, Japan 
  9. Misao Okawa (5 March 1898 – 1 April 2015): 117 years, 27 days, Japan 
  10. María Capovilla (14 September 1889 – 27 August 2006): 116 years, 347 days, Ecuador

What Do You Think About Centenarians?

How do you feel about knowing who was the first-ever centenarian? It certainly is something special.

If you want to know more about the first-ever things, visit check out our full list of all first-ever categories.