7 SEPTEMBER 1907, Page 16



Si,—With reference to the very interesting correspondence— which by an oversight I have only just seen—in the Spectator on the subject of longevity, the following instance of longevity in father and sons and their family generally may interest your readers, especially as it is amongst Parsees, about whom so very little is known in England. The Davar or head of the Parsee community of Surilt died a few months ago, on December 30th, 1906, at the age of ninety-one. His brother also died at this age of ninety-one in 1894. Their father was

born so long ago as 1769, though be did not attain any remarkable age himself, as he died in 1827 at the age of fifty- eight. The father of the last-named also died at the age of fifty-eight in 1806. His father, and the great-grandfather of the Davar who died recently, was born in 1707 and died in 1782 at the age of seventy-five. Thus the lives of four generations extended over a few months short of two hundred years. This is very remarkable in India, where people marry very early, and consequently the interval between the generations is very short, usually not even twenty years. I know of a Parsee lady who is hardly eighty, and yet is the great-great-grand- mother of a child born to her in the fifth generation last year. She became a great-grandmother when she was only sixty- two. Thus the instance of the Davar family of Surat, in which only four generations extend over two centuries, will be considered certainly remarkable among the natives of India, and unusual among other people also. The lives of the late Davar and his father measure a hundred and thirty- eight years, an unusually long period. The father was born in 1769, four years before the Regulating Act of 1773 was passed and the foundation of the British administration and government in this country was laid on a solid basis. Father and son must have seen between them all the twenty- six Governors-General of India, from Warren Hastings down to Lord Minto. The father was born only eight years before the Empire of the Great M.oghuls in India fell in 1761 on the field of Panipat; and the two lived under their successors, the five English Sovereigns of India from George IlL to Edward VII. The late Davar was the hereditary chief of the Parsees of Surat, and his chiefship has been recognised by the English authorities at various times during the last two centuries and a half. The British Government had made him a Sirdar of the First Class of the Deccan, a high honour conferred on one other Parsee alone, and be was known as Sirdar Davar Modi Edulji. The facts in this letter have been obtained from his family, which is well known as an eminent and highly respectable family among Parsees. Soon after the Davar's death a.few months ago, I brought this remarkable instance of the longevity of his family to the notice of my people in the leading Parsee paper, and called for an instance beating the record of a hundred and thirty-eight years for two lives, and two hundred years for four lives. But none was forthcoming, because, I am pretty sure, none exists. The instance, I suppose, has been remarked upon of the late

Baroness Burdett-Coutts—who, by the way, died only a day or two after the Davar above noted, and at about the same age— whose father, Sir-Francis Burdett, was born in 1770, that is, a few months after the Davar's father. The lives of father and daughter extend over much the same period,—a hundred and

thirty-seven years.—I am, Sir, &c., R. P. KARKA.RIA. Tardeo, Bombay, July 3rd.