4th April 1903

Guernsey’s oldest resident dies, aged 110

Margaret Anne Neve, who died in 1903, was the oldest person in Guernsey. More than that, at 110 (and 322 days) she was also the oldest in the British Isles, and perhaps the world. She had lived her whole life on the island, apart from a spell in Belgium where she’d attended school.

The eldest of eight children, Neve was born Margaret Harvey, in St Peter Port, on 18 May 1792. William Pitt was prime minister and George III was on the throne. Through her life, she saw four other monarchs: George IV, William IV, Victoria and Edward VII. She witnessed some of history’s most remarkable events, including the aftermath of the French Revolution and the Battle of Waterloo. This had come about as a result of her schooling. She’d been educated in Belgium, and visited the battlefield shortly after the fighting had come to an end.

She married at 31, in 1934. The marriage lasting 26 years, until her husband’s death in 1960. By then, she was 57, and she lived the next 54 years – just shy of half of her lifetime – as a widow.

A long line of long-lifers

Credit for Neve’s longevity should probably be credited to her genes as much as to the Guernsey air. Her mother, Elizabeth, lived to celebrate her 99th birthday. Other contributing factors may have included her daily drinking (she regularly drank both sherry and whisky) and the fact she remained active. During her life, she visited every country in Europe apart from Belgium. Naturally, with the map of Europe having been redrawn several times over, some of the countries she visited may no longer exist. There are also tales of her climbing a tree at the age of 110 to pick an apple from one of the upper branches.

Her death was reported widely in Britain and beyond, and was marked with respect through the lowering of all flags on Guernsey to half-mast.

 

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Other events that occured in April

Guernsey’s first female murderer goes on trial 1st
A French fisherman is arrested and escorted to St Peter Port 2nd
Guernsey’s new population law comes into force 3rd
Guernsey’s oldest resident dies, aged 110 4th
An occupation-era minefield is discovered at L’Ancresse 5th
Birth of Stone de Croze, the original Guernseyman 6th
The first ever Guernsey stamp is issued 7th
Antiquarian William Collings Lukis was born 8th
Guernsey hosts its first Parkrun at Pembroke 9th
Alderney residents lined the coast to watch Titanic pass 10th
Norfolk pupils spend a week in Guernsey 11th
A plane hit a car while landing at Guernsey Airport 12th
Battery Mirus was test fired for the first time 13th
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry fights at Ypres 14th
Guernsey Mormon Sampson Avard dies in Illinois 15th
Lieutenant Governor, Lord Ruthven, died in Bath 16th
Death of the Vicar General of the Channel Islands 17th
TV’s Jeeves is rushed to hospital on Guernsey 18th
Guernsey Airport’s new terminal opened for business 19th
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie film opened 20th
Death of Guernsey-born footballer Len Duquemin
Three Jewish women are deported from Guernsey 21st
Guernsey bigamist got married for the second time 22nd
Aurigny pilot Ray Bowyer spots a UFO near Alderney 23rd
The States of Guernsey registers the gov.gg domain 24th
Guernsey-set film The Sea Devils hits cinemas 25th
Hydrofoil Condor 1 completed its final sea trials 26th
The first Muratti football match takes place 27th
Guernsey passengers stage a ferry sit-in 28th
Guernsey abolishes the death penalty for murder 29th
Murder suspects steal visitor’s boat from St Peter Port 30th