Theophilus May
Birth: 5 January 1861
Devonshire, England
Death: 2 December 1971
Ohio, USA
Age: 110 years, 331 days
Country: UK Flag UK USA FlagUSA

Theophilus May (5 January 1861 – 2 December 1971) was a British-American teacher and letter carrier who received substantial media attention towards the end of his life due to his longevity. His claim of being a supercentenarian has not been verified by the foremost authority on age validation, the Gerontology Research Group (GRG).

Early life

Theophilus May was born in the small town of Great Torrington in St. Giles in the Wood, Devonshire County, United Kingdom. His parents were Francis and Fanny May and he had 13 siblings in total. All of them eventually lived to be between 70-90. He worked as a teacher in England, although it is unclear which subject(s) he taught.

Around 1883, Theophilus married Louisa Hodges. The couple had two children in total; one son and one daughter. His wife died somewhere between 1900 and 1910.

The couple emigrated to Ohio, United States in the late 1800s, with various years having been reported such as 1888, 1889 & 1891. He started working as a letter carrier in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1894. He had become a naturalized citizen of United States the preceding year. He eventually retired in 1926 at the age of 65.


At age 98, he started living with his grandson, whose wife was a nurse. At age 104, he became bedridden. On the occasion of his 105th birthday, it was mentioned that he had poor hearing. He revealed on his 107th birthday that "an ounce of whiskey with water each night" helped him sleep.

When he was 110 years old, he read a lot and took interest in the world around him. He was completely deaf at the time, and didn’t want an operation that would restore his hearing, due to the high cost. May was a fan of the baseball team Cincinnati Reds. He smoked pipe daily, even as a supercentenarian. His longevity attracted attention from media as well as from the American president Richard Nixon, who sent a telegram on his 110th birthday.


May died in Ohio on 2 December 1971 at the age of 110 years, 331 days. He was reported to be the oldest person in the state at the time of his death. Retrospectively, he may even have been one of the oldest men in the world, but the gathered data from that time period is yet too sparse to conclude such with a high degree of certainty.

Age validation efforts

In October 2013, a thorough research into his age was submitted to Gerontology Research Group (founded in 1990). The application included multiple documents from the first 80 years of his life.