Thomas Longley

 

 

From Dover Express 1 January 1886:

Thomas Longley "Her Majesty's Heaviest Subject":
"There is now living in Dover, a publican named Thomas LONGLEY, who claims to be the heaviest man in Her Majesty's dominions.
He was born in 1848. His parents were both of great size, his father being upwards of six feet high. When Longley was about twelve years of age he was as heavy as an ordinary man; and he has continued to grow stouter year by year. He is now 37 years of age, and he weighs no less than 40 stone, or (560?) pounds. He is 6ft. threequarter inches in height. He measures 66 inches round the chest, 80 round the waist and 25 round the leg. He began life as a butcher and afterwards took the Star Inn in Dover. For some time he carried on the business of an inn-keeper in Dover. He has a moderately good appetite, and his favourite beverage is gin or Hollands. He enjoys pretty good health and is generally cheerful. Notwithstanding his great bulk, he sometimes serves in the bar. He does not now take walking exercise.
He was recently photographed by Mr.J.W.Browning of Dover. The photographer attended at the inn and succeeded in taking a good photograph of Longley as he was sitting in a room. Longley wears a moustache and a beard cut in the American fashion. He has been married fourteen years and has three children, the eldest aged eleven and the youngest aged seven. His eldest child, a girl, is very stout for her age. He feels his great bulk a decided inconvenience, but does not, so far as is known, adopt any regimen in order to reduce his size.
It is stated that he was offered £1,000 to go to America, but declined the offer, fearing the effects of a sea voyage.

He was born in Dover, and though he may have some rivals in the matter of weight, the general opinion of the inhabitants is that his claim to be the heaviest subject of Her Majesty is well founded”.

 
Dover St Mary Parish Census 1891, “The Star” Church Street, ref RG12 743, schedule 98:
Thomas LONGLEY head married 43 Pub Innkeeper    born Dover
Helen LONGLEY    wife  marr.     44         born St.Albans, Herts
Esther M. LONGLEY dau single   17 Innkeeper's Assistant   born  Dover
Helen LONGLEY       dau single    15       "                "                  "
Ernest LONGLEY          son single 11 scholar         born Kennington, Surrey
Ellen LONGLEY         sister single 34 Housekeeper (domestic)  born Dover
 
Folkestone Herald 6 August 1892:
Thomas LONGLEY: "The heaviest British subject in the world, according to a London paper, is Thomas Longley, a native of Dover, in which historic port he resides at the present time. When last weighted he scaled 593 lb - 42st., and as that was about a year ago, it is safe to suppose that he has since added to his enormous weight. Mr.Longley was born in 1848, and is the son of a Dover butcher. His father is still living, and is a man of average size, weighing about 14 stone. His mother, who died a few years ago, was an average sized woman. He has two brothers living, who are respectively 12 stone and 17 stone in weight. Mr.Longley was brought up to the business of a butcher but, for some years past, has been "mine host" of the "Star" Inn, Dover, where he holds receptions, on a small scale, of those who come to gaze upon his mighty bulk. He is assisted in the business by his wife and daughters. His height is 6ft three-qtr inches, measurement of chest 70-ins., waist 85-ins. and calf of leg 26 ins. As a youth there was nothing striking in his appearance, and he was then fond of outdoor exercise, being accounted a good runner and expert swimmer. It was after his marriage that Longley began to increase in size and weight, and for several years he put on flesh to the extent of three stone per annum. This rapid increase has now ceased, but his weight is still being added to, though more slowly. With respect to diet, he partakes of ordinary food, beef and mutton, for example, but does not touch new bread or beer. His huge size keeps him a close prisoner in his little bar-parlour, and with the exception of two or three drives, he has been constantly indoors for ten years past."

Dover Express 5 Sept 1958, with photo:
Thomas LONGLEY: "Few have not heard of Dover's heaviest man, Thomas LONGLEY, who was at one time landlord of the Star Inn, in Church Street. This photograph has been lent to us by his son, Ernest, through his old St.Mary's School chum, Mr.E.J.Parton, both of whom live in London. Mr. Longley died in 1904 aged 56. Recorded under the photograph are these particulars: Weight 597 lbs, height 6-ft and threeqtr inches, chest 70 ins., waist 85 ins., calf of leg 26 ins, and "The Heaviest British Subject in the World".

Dover Reference Library : Thos LONGLEY, fat man of Dover, see newspaper photo and information ref. ILL/2938,
There is also a photo of him in Dover Museum.

Dover Express 26 February 1904, includes photo as before:  Thomas LONGLEY: "Death of Mr.T.LONGLEY, GREAT PUBLIC INTEREST IN THE FUNERAL: The death occurred on Monday at Dover, at the age of 56 years, of Mr.Thomas Longley, a member of a very old and much respected Dover family. His father was a butcher in Dover, and he was born in Snargate Street. For many years Mr.Longley has been the landlord of the Star Inn, Church Street, a quiet hostelry at the rear of St.Mary’s Church. From his youth he developed great size of body, more especially in his chest
measurement. As he grew older his size increased, and in course of time he came to be regarded as the heaviest man in the Kingdom. His great bulk doubtless caused him discomfort and inconvenience, nevertheless he, until recent years, enjoyed good health. Visitors to the inn mentioned the fact of his remarkable size to their friends, and he became in a way somewhat of a curiosity, which could not have been pleasant to one who was naturally of a retiring disposition. Of late years his portrait has appeared in several London papers and, without much regard to his feelings, his weight, girth and height were published and comparisons made between him and other heavy men known in recent history. It is said that this notoriety caused him to receive offers to go on "show" but he shrank from anything of the kind. Now that death has claimed our townsman, it becomes a matter of history to record that he was beyond question, previous to his illness, the heaviest man in the United Kingdom, his weight being 46 stone, and his chest measurement 86 ins. Owing to his bulk he did not look tall but he was 6 ft and three quarter inches. For thirteen years Mr.Longley had been confined to his house. The last time he visited London he had to travel in the guard's van since it was found impossible to pass his huge bulk through the doorway of an ordinary carriage. Heavy as he was, Mr.Longley was 6 and three quarter stone below the weight of the bulkiest man of whom history has any record - Daniel LAMBERT.  Some idea of the great girth of this celebrity who was born at Leicester in 1770 and died at Stamford (Lincs) in 1809, may be gathered from the fact that his waistcoat, which is still preserved at the inn where he died, is sufficient to enclose seven ordinary persons…….
     Apart from being so well known, Mr.Longley will be very much missed by the poor in the neighbourhood of his house. Whenever he heard of anyone in distress he was always anxious to assist.
     The funeral took place yesterday at St.Mary’s Cemetery, Copt Hill, where the grave was dug close by the Church (chapel.) It was a seven feet deep grave and was eight feet long by three feet three inches. The service was impressively conducted by the Rev.Prebendary A.L.Palmes, who came over from Saltwood to add his last tribute of respect to the memory of an esteemed former parishioner. The immense size of the deceased gave rise to rumour that it would be necessary to interfere with the structure of the Star Inn to get the coffin out, but Messrs.Flashman & Co. who undertook the funeral, found no need to do this, and the coffin, which was 7 ft long by 2 ft 9 in. high by 2ft 5ins., was slid through the window of the bar on to the hearse, which was drawn up close to the window for the purpose. At the graveyard the bearers numbered ten, and additional help had to be given in carrying the remains up the slope. The funeral was timed to leave the house at 2pm. There was a dense crowd round the Star Inn when the procession started, taking the route Castle Street, Maison Dieu Road, Park Avenue, Salisbury Road and Frith Road. The procession was
followed by hundreds of people, whilst thousands witnessed it en route. At the grave side there was probably between two and three thousand people present, and in all probability there was as much public attention given to the funeral as there was on the occasion of that of the late Sir Richard Dickeson, and in addition to the general public, there were many who mourned the deceased as a very good friend. There were many beautiful wreaths upon the coffin from his immediate relatives and friends, whilst behind the procession was a carriage filled with beautiful wreaths and floral devices from his wider circle of friends.       The chief mourners were: In the 1st carriage - Messrs. Ernest Longley, E.Longley, W. Longley and Lutwytche. In the 2nd carriage - Messrs. Gates, W. Norman, R. Norman, and Wood. In the 3rd carriage: Dr.Ormsby, Messrs. Emery and Carey. Other carriages contained a large contingent of his fellow licensed victuallers and well known Dover people. In addition to the wreaths from the widow and children of the  deceased, his sisters and grandchildren, there were wreaths from Sir William Crundall, Councillor H.W.Thorpe, Dr.Ormsby, the Dover Licensed Victuallers Association, Mr.R.W.Philpott and family, Mr.A.J. Emery and an old friend, Mr. and Mrs. Holbourne, Mr. and Mrs. E.G.Holbourne, Mr.J.Ralf, Mr.R.W.Pepper, "J.B.", Mr. and Mrs. Norman, Mr. and Mrs. J.B.Friend, Mr. W.B. and W.S. Baker and families, Mr. J.T.Gates and family, Mr.J.Crosoer, Mr.Gillett, Mr.G.F.Forster family, Mrs.Hall and Chris., Mr. and Mrs. Knight and family, Mr. and Mrs.Tart, Mr. and Mrs.Ernest Morgan, Mr. And Mrs.Fred Adams, Mr.V.P. Kemp, Mrs.Knowles, Mr.J.Tabor, Mr.Frith, Mrs.Brown, Mr.J.Ward, and Mrs.Corteel, Mr.and Mrs.B.T.Buss, Mr.J.Evans, and Mr.E. Barrit. Mrs.F.Hicks and family, Mr. And Mrs.J.G.Gates, Mr. and Mrs.Simmons, Mr.J.Crosoer, Mr.Craig, etc."

 

Dover Observer, 5.3.1904 p 9: – Obituary including 3 photos

 

Dover Observer, 26.2.1904, p 7:  Thos Longley death, on 22 February, 1904, aged 56, with reference to cause of death as kidney disease.

 

Other information:  It is thought, after he died, that his (daughter or wife?) kept the "Star" between 1904 and 1907    It would appear that Thomas LONGLEY was at the "Star" from about 1883 (when he returned from Surrey?) to 1904. He is likely to have been there prior to his stay in Surrey also. It is noted, in 1879 there was a man called FAWCETT at the "Star".
And - Some years ago, when a Mr.BECK had a shoemaker's business in the Tower Hamlets area of Dover, he had in his window a pair of shoes he had made for Thomas LONGLEY
(above information noted by Mr.Joe Harman, - someone he knew had seen these large shoes).

Dover Express 10 August 1973:   there was another article about him,  featuring photo of a gold ring (of belt and buckle design) which had belonged to Thomas LONGLEY. The ring, made by local watchmaker William Potter, of Military Road, had been brought into the Express office where it had been photographed.
See also 27 November 1997 Dover Express article reporting the presentation of this ring with photographs and cuttings to Dover Museum by the family… Andrew Ellis, 15 and his mother Sheila, following a promise in 1973 by Andrew’s grandmother Ivy Ellis.

 

Dover Express 5 Sept 1958, with photo:
Thomas LONGLEY: "Few have not heard of Dover's heaviest man, Thomas LONGLEY, who was at one time landlord of the Star Inn, in Church Street. This photograph has been lent to us by his son, Ernest, through his old St.Mary's School chum, Mr.E.J.Parton, both of whom live in London. Mr. Longley died in 1904 aged 56. Recorded under the photograph are these particulars: Weight 597 lbs, height 6-ft and threeqtr inches, chest 70 ins., waist 85 ins., calf of leg 26 ins, and "The Heaviest British Subject in the World".

Dover Reference Library : Thos LONGLEY, fat man of Dover, see newspaper photo and information ref. ILL/2938,
There is also a photo of him in Dover Museum.

 

Dover Express 10 August 1973:   there was another article about him,  featuring photo of a gold ring (of belt and buckle design) which had belonged to Thomas LONGLEY. The ring, made by local watchmaker William Potter, of Military Road, had been brought into the Express office where it had been photographed.
See also 27 November 1997 Dover Express article reporting the presentation of this ring with photographs and cuttings to Dover Museum by the family… Andrew Ellis, 15 and his mother Sheila, following a promise in 1973 by Andrew’s grandmother Ivy Ellis.

 
1881 Census: 
1 Belmont Villa  Choumert Rd, Camberwell, Surrey  PRO  RG11; 0675/99 page 35:
Thomas B. OSBOUCE  head married  male    27  Telegraph Clerk (Civil Service)  b. St Albans Hertford
Fanny OSBOUCE  wife   married   female       29        b. Dover, Kent
William LONGLEY   visitor  married   male      66   retired butcher  born Lydd Kent
Esther LONGLEY   visitot   female                  64        b. Dover Kent
(William and Esther LONGLEY are thought to be Thomas’s parents and Fanny one of Thomas’s sisters)

Baptism:  
Thos LONGLEY christened 5.3.1848, son of William and Esther LONGLEY
(St.Mary Dover), info ex. IGI