Fletcher, George (DNB00)

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FLETCHER, GEORGE (1764–1855), a reputed centenarian, son of Joseph Fletcher, was baptised at Clarborough, Nottinghamshire, 15 Oct. 1764, but according to his own account on 2 Feb. 1747, and worked as a labourer. On 2 Nov. 1785 he enlisted in the 23rd foot, the royal Welsh fusiliers, from which regiment he deserted on 16 March 1792. Under a royal proclamation dated 1793 all deserters were pardoned, and their services restored on certain conditions. Fletcher, taking advantage of this amnesty, re-enlisted into the 3rd foot guards on 14 March 1793, stating that he had originally entered the army in October 1773. This addition of twelve years to his army services he continued to claim throughout the remainder of his life. He remained in his regiment for ten years, and was then pensioned from Chelsea Hospital on 18 April 1803 on 1s. 2½d. a day. By some oversight he was credited with twenty-four and a half years' service, and his age at the time of his discharge was entered as forty-nine instead of thirty-nine. After this period he was in the service of the West India Dock Company for thirty-six years, at the end of which time he retired on a pension. He was a local preacher in the Wesleyan methodist connexion, and in his sermons gave sketches of his own career, when he took credit for his great age, and related details of his services at the battle of Bunker's Hill in July 1775, although he was then only eleven years of age. The fame of his age caused large congregations to attend his preaching, and his portrait as a man of a hundred and six, who had lived in four reigns, was extensively sold in 1853. One of his later announcements says: ‘Finsbury Chapel, Moorfields. Two sermons will be delivered Wednesday, June 21, 1854, by the Venerable George Fletcher, in his 108th year. For the benefit of an aged minister.’ He died at 41 Wade Street, Poplar, London, 2 Feb. 1855, aged 91.

[Thoms's Human Longevity, 1873, pp. 64, 164–70; Registrar-general's Weekly Return, 17 Feb. 1855, p. 49; Gent. Mag. April 1855, p. 440, and June, p. 657; Illustrated London News, 10 March 1855, p. 221, with portrait; Times, 13 Feb. 1855, p. 7, col. 6.]

G. C. B.