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TikTok's William Chester was not born in 1744: Oldest man hoax debunked

Kaitlin Wraight March 22, 2022

If you’ve been on TikTok recently, you may have come across the tale of William Chester, supposedly the oldest man to have ever lived. The video claims Chester lived between 1744 and 1979, passing away at the wicked age of 235.

It was originally posted by @jordanthomas4852 in February 2022 and has since gone viral. At present, the video has over 2 million views and over 80k likes.

An auto-generated voiceover concludes the video by saying “the reason the media don’t report on this is that it’ll scare the public.”

While the claims made in the TikTok are vague and no sources of information are provided, it has sparked interest among viewers and people are curious to know whether the tale is real.

‘William Chester’ was not born in 1744 like this viral TikTok claims

The pictures and footage included in the TikTok are not of a man named William Chester but are in fact of Charlton Heston. Heston was an American movie actor and political activist who died in 2008 at age 84 of Alzheimer’s.

Eagle-eyed viewers debunked the video’s claims in the comments as they recognised the actor who starred in over 100 films over the course of his 60-year career. Heston is best known for his roles in Planet of the Apes, Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, and Soylent Green.

One of the photos of ‘William Chester’ included in the TikTok was taken by photographer, John Matthew Smith in 1977 at a press event Heston attended, and the video was pulled from one of Heston’s interviews.

The video claims that William Chester lived so long because he had McNulty Syndrome. . .

Photo by Bob Riha Jr/WireImage

What is McNulty Syndrome?

“The truth to how he stayed alive so long remains a mystery,” The video informs viewers. “But historians say that he had a rare condition known as McNulty Syndrome where your body ages ten times slower.”

McNulty Syndrome must be extremely rare as there is no information on the disease anywhere, suggesting that it probably does not exist.

While Hutchinson-Gilford Syndrome is a rare condition that speeds up the process of physical ageing, there is no known condition that makes you age slower.

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According to science, we can’t live past 150

According to a scientific study carried out in 2021, the maximum possible age humans can live to is between 120 and 150.

The oldest verified person that has ever lived is a French woman named Jeanne Calment who died aged 122 in 1997. She lived beyond both her daughter and grandson and was born in 1875.

That means the tale of William Chester is undoubtedly false.

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Jeanne Calment, la doyenne arlésienne de l’humanité, pose pour les photographes dans sa maison de retraite, le 20 février à Arles, à la veille de son 122ème anniversaire battant ainsi tous les record de longivité. Jeanne Calment, the world’s oldest woman, poses for photographers 20 February in Arles, southern France, a day prior her birthday. Calment will celebrate on Friday her 122nd birthday. (Photo by Georges GOBET / AFP) (Photo credit should read GEORGES GOBET/AFP via Getty Images)
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Kaitlin is a multimedia reporter in her final year of journalism at the University of Stirling. She has interests in film, TV, music and culture, and utilises her social media platforms to share analysis.