View Full Version : What is the greatest number of children you have found in your ancestry

24-04-09, 20:43
So far, I have found one of my great grandmother's brother's had a family of nine children. My grandfather was one of eight and his mother in law also had eight children.

So can I ask, about the size of family found in your ancestry? These are the families I have found so far, I have yet to go further back in time.

24-04-09, 20:45
My great grandmother was one of 14. Outlived all her siblings, and died aged 91.

Tom Tom
24-04-09, 20:46
The most I have found is 14 to a poor working class family in the early 1800s.

Just Barbara
24-04-09, 20:52
So far the most I've found is 11.

Breckland Jane
24-04-09, 20:54
17 but that was with two wives, 12 with the first and then 5 with the second, much younger wife.


24-04-09, 20:56
The most was 16 my grandmother's siblings but not all survived to adulthood she herself had 12 children my mother being one of them only one died at 18 months old.

The other one was 14 children to a couple on OH's side within 19 years 1819-1838! They all, as far as I can tell, lived to adulthood.

Breckland Jane
24-04-09, 20:57
Just had another check and found 16 from one couple.


Merry Monty Montgomery
24-04-09, 21:00
My 4xg-grandfather had 18 children, nine with each of two wives, over 37 years.

Of the women on my tree, I have several with 14, including my grandmother, but I don't think I have any with 15 or more.

A friend has an ancestor who married an heiress when she was 16. As they could afford a wetnurse mum found herself possibly more fertile than the average woman and they had 15 children in the first 16 years of marriage. Altogether they managed into the low 20s, most of whom lived to adulthood.

24-04-09, 21:04
It beggars belief - these women must have been constantly pregnant!

24-04-09, 21:05
I think the trend for smaller families is a relatively modern invention. Just been through my parents, grand parents and great grandparents in my tree working out the averages size of their families (yes I am bit stuck for anything to do tonight...)

3 children Parents Generation (1950s)
4.75 children Grandparents Generation ( 1920'S/1930'S)
8.75 children Great Grandparants Generation (1890's/1900's)

Not sure if it'd show the same even further back. (Not that bored yet!) I have heard that Queen Victoria started the trend for larger families, but to be honest thinks its a bit of a myth. Families of at least 6+ always seem the norm to me even in the 1700's.

24-04-09, 21:16
My 4 x great grandfather had 19 children by two wives. His first wife died in Childnirth with number 8 and he married her sister's stepdaughter (his step niece?) and had 11 more.

ONly 9 lived beyond childhood though.

I have three couples who had 13 children in a single marriage and my nan was one of 14.

24-04-09, 21:21
My OH's GGG Grandparents had 15 children although not all survived into adulthood.

24-04-09, 21:26
My maternal grandmother had 15 siblings, born between 1885 and 1905 and my maternal grandfather had at least 13 siblings born between 1888 and 1910, although not all survived to adulthood. Maybe that's why my Mum was an only child ;)

My great grandmothers were both small in stature and most of their sons towered over them. Grandad's Mum had her first child at 20 and her last at 42, each birth about 18 months apart. When my Grandad was under a year old, my G Grandfather got a job in Hereford for 3 years and the family moved there from West London, taking 8 children. :eek: She gave birth to 3 children there, only one of which survived, and then they all moved back to London!

Grandma's Mum was 22 when she had her first and 42 when her last child was born. At one stage she had 4 children under 3!

24-04-09, 21:27
My great great granny had 14, by one husband, over a period of 26 years, but no twins.
On average about 2 years apart , except when the child died as an infant then the next baby was closer. I guess breast feeding the baby helped prevent conception so if the baby died then mum would become fertile again. What a life they must have had and a struggle to get through each day. i only hope they were happy with their lot.

Oakum Picker
24-04-09, 21:42
My 4xg-gf had 15 with his 1st wife 1811-1831 (11 survived) & 6 with his 2nd 1835-1848 (all survived).

Olde Crone Holden
24-04-09, 21:54
19 with one wife (and a suspicious four year gap, so maybe more!).

Only two survived their teens. One is unaccounted for and the other I am descended from. Their mother outlived them all and died aged 86 in 1796.

I suspect either a genetic problem or some kind of occupational poisoning for the children, as both mother and father came from huge families who lost very few children.

Another - 27 children with three wives, over a 49 year period, again in the 1700s. Most survived to a great old age. Wives one and three shared the same name and that threw me for ages until I found the MIs and realised what had happened!


24-04-09, 22:06
My Hemingways, 15 or 16 I think it was and all from one marriage... and the same for one of my Clevelands. The Hemingways had a whole run of infant deaths though, (from day old babies, babies born on 'the' day to toddlers/young children) one every year (on the same day) in the 1870s - is a lot of death certs and I still haven't sent for them. Those are younger siblings to my great grandmother. Dad was a master wheelwright.

Clevelands were farmers and seem to have got all the children into adulthood safely. My grt grt grandmother was the eldest daughter of only 2 daughters in that generation - all the rest were sons.

Another grt grandmother was one of at least 11 - I suspect a whole lot more... a lot of them died in infancy. They were the product of 2 marriages but my grt grandmother was the illegitimate one born to second wife but before he got round to marrying her. And her mother already had one illegitimate child which makes 12.

Olde Crone Holden
24-04-09, 22:11

That's interesting - my lot who died young had a father who was a wood turner. He was from a farming background as was his wife. I have long wondered if it was "something to do with the wood" that killed so many of his children.

All my farming families had huge broods and they all survived barring the odd accident, and lived normally into their 70s, 80s and 90s (I'm talking late 1600s to early 1800s here). There was a sharp upturn in early deaths when they all moved to Manchester in the mid 1800s.


Merry Monty Montgomery
24-04-09, 22:16
OC, what about your relative who had dozens of children, some outside of her lifetime? :rolleyes::rolleyes:

24-04-09, 22:22
my g grandmother was Martha Adams b 1863 in Astley,shropshire...she was one of 13 children.....she died in 1959 when I was 8 and she was 96....and unbeknown to me she had written EVERY birthdate and year of ALL her brothers and sisters in black ink in beautiful handwriting....she gave it to my aunty....she is still alive at 85 and last year when she heard I was doing the family tree she showed me this handwriting wrapped up in a lace hankerchief....what a bonus for me....allan;)

24-04-09, 22:24
My largest brood (off the top of my head) is on hubby's side. The mother had been pregnant for 25 years almost constantly! 16 children (no multiple births) from the same marriage - all of whom passed their 18th birthday. I only know of one premature death, and he was 19.

Olde Crone Holden
24-04-09, 22:26

Aw, shucks, didn't want to show off about my ancestor with 45 (or was it 46?) children as I thought it might make the rest of you feel inadequate, lol.

Not many people have an ancestor who gave birth aged 69 and even fewer have an ancestor who gives birth at 69 AND five years after her death.


24-04-09, 22:34
was she a Garston girl OC ?....LOL...Allan:D

Little Nell
24-04-09, 22:47
I have a 2nd gt grandfather who had 15 children between 3 wives. He was nearly 60 when he fathered the last one, with his 3rd wife who was the same age as his daughter by his first (this daur being my gt grandmother)

Husband has grandfather who was one of 12.

In my family the further you go back the larger the family, so I often have instances of mum giving birth to children when the older children have married and produced their own babies.

Mid-19th century 8 seems a normal sized family.

The trend seems to be to produce a baby every 2/3 years.

But my husband's Welsh side tended to have a baby every year so I think they may have stopped breastfeeding earlier.

Babies stopped when the mother either died or became menopausal around the mid 40s.

Jill on the A272
24-04-09, 22:56
12 children in 20 years for my Yorkshire great great grandmother who died aged 46. The last 3 died in infancy, 2 in WW1 and the rest made it to old age.

Uncle John
24-04-09, 22:57
Aw, shucks, didn't want to show off about my ancestor with 45 (or was it 46?) children as I thought it might make the rest of you feel inadequate, lol.

Not many people have an ancestor who gave birth aged 69 and even fewer have an ancestor who gives birth at 69 AND five years after her death.

Doesn't she go on. :(:(

Olde Crone Holden
24-04-09, 23:00

LOL, no but she WAS a Lancashire Lass!

*Ignores UJ*


24-04-09, 23:49
On my OH's side - 16 children in one marriage and no multiple births. Sadly though, only 3 made it to adulthood, the others died as babies/toddlers.

How did they cope?????

Pippa Doll
24-04-09, 23:59
23 children!

Olde Crone Holden
25-04-09, 00:21

I don't know how they coped - it really rocked me when I found mine burying 16 children and then three adult children. I cannot imagine what was going through her mind and how she found the strength to endure it.

She buried the six eldest (all her children at that time) in the space of just over 5 weeks. There was not an unusual number of burials at that time, so it wasn't an epidemic that took them all.

As I went on researching the family and finding more births, I was holding my breath and saying "please let this one survive" but apart from two, they didn't for very long.


25-04-09, 08:05
my greatgreat/grandparents had 12 children 9 boys 3 girls all survivied childhood. But the family got a lot smaller after that as my nan was an only child and so was my mother.


25-04-09, 09:20

Aw, shucks, didn't want to show off about my ancestor with 45 (or was it 46?) children as I thought it might make the rest of you feel inadequate, lol.

Not many people have an ancestor who gave birth aged 69 and even fewer have an ancestor who gives birth at 69 AND five years after her death.



That's some tree OC :)

25-04-09, 10:12
All my ancestors seem pretty consistent at between 8 and 11 children although one couple back in the late 1600's only had two, but I suspect that was because they moved to another village to have other children and I have yet to find them. It may well be the same with some of mine who have 10 children, maybe there are others around over the border in Hunts which have yet to be found.

Even my Irish families had no more than 10 children.


25-04-09, 11:20
My granma was one of 13 children born 1905 - 1924. Only the youngest is still alive, his oldest niece is 4 years younger than him :D

My 2 x great grandmother had 14 children by 2 possibly 3 men. The first 11 by her husband, the last 3 she had as a widow :eek: I see other people have men having children by 2/3 wives.

I think the most in my tree is 15 or 16 but I don't think that's a direct line.

25-04-09, 11:41
My Great Grandfather was one of seventeen, all with the same parents. It is amazing how large the families are when you look back in time compared to these days.


Anne in Carlisle
25-04-09, 11:47
My GG Grandparents in a Yorkshire mining village had 15 children.

Elizabeth was 18 when the first was born and 46 with the last. The last 4 all died as infants, although all the others reached adulthood. I have often thought Elizabeth must have been getting weaker as she aged so the babies were not so strong. However Elizabeth lived until she was 73! she must have had a new lease of life when she stopped being pregnant!


25-04-09, 12:21
We're really spoilt now compared to the lives they had to endure.

We can now choose how many to have in most cases.

I think they had so many because

a) not much contraception or medical care if any at all available especially to poor people the rich or well off always had access to both of some description

b) the mortality rate was so high that probably a few had died before they had the others plus in farming communities it was about working the land for a living and the more hands you had the better it was.

Although having said that all my big families including my mother's were in inner city areas.

Edit to say: probably just poverty and ignorance and women didn't have a say in most things that happened generally (although when I knew my grandmother she was 76 when I was born and died when I was 15 no one would mess with her and get away with it) she was very strong.

25-04-09, 12:50
The 1911 Dublin census revealed that my Irish Gt Grandparents had 18 children born alive but only 8 still living at that time. (Between 1873 -1894)

Then another 2 sons lost their lives in 1919.

I've located the birth/baptism of 12! We know that at least 6 reached adulthood.

Jen Red Purple
25-04-09, 13:03
:) My dad's mum was one of 15 and 3 are still alive. Apparently one died as a boy in a horse and cart accident and one died on active service in the war.

I have only recently met my gt uncle Sooty (the surname is White!) and he is very close in age to my dad.

A sister born in 1914 just looked at a tiny tree I wrote out for Sooty and a week or so later she listed all the names of her siblings' spouses and children and confirmed her maternal grandfather's name - Ephraim (great name!)

I just received her parents' marriage cert so will be writing to her via Sooty and hope she will come round to me visiting her next time I go North.

(can you tell I'm chuffed?)

25-04-09, 13:21
Recently found that FIL was one of 14 children roughly one every 2 years. His mother died when she was 60 in 1933.

A twin died at 3 days her sister when she was 77
a boy died age 13 and a sister age 15 - the rest lived to good ages.

However only 6 had surviving children - 4 had 1 child - 1 had 2 children and 1 had 3 children. 2 others lost all their children at an early age.

Lynn The Forest Fan
25-04-09, 13:50
My grandma was one of 15 & one of her barley ancesters had 16, that I can remember.

Merry Monty Montgomery
25-04-09, 14:03
Sometimes "greatest" numbers are not births:

One man on my tree experienced this:

First marriage lasted 10 months, wife died in first childbirth, son lived until the age of 22.

Second marriage lasted 10 months, wife died in first childbirth, son lived to adulthood and outlived father.

Third marriage lasted six years, wife died in fourth childbirth, all children lived to adulthood and outlived father.

Fourth marriage lasted 2½ years, wife died in first childbirth, child was probably stillborn.

Fifth marriage, lasted 18 years and she outlived her husband, but there were no children.

Meridian Line
25-04-09, 15:55
There are 2 women in my tree with 20 children, one had several sets of twins, but the other had 20 children one at a time....I think she only stopped because the husband died!!!!

25-04-09, 22:41
The most on mine would be Isaac Wagstaff. He was married twice, and had 20 know children.

25-04-09, 23:23
My 3xg-grandparents had 14 and only one of those died in infancy. But I won't be surprised if my 2xg's on another line turn out to have had more; I've found 11 or 12 so far (we're not sure if two of them are really the same person with a different name) but they were all born in India or Ireland so there may well be more we haven't found yet. There are a few gaps.

26-04-09, 02:21
Mine seem to average between 9 and 13. My 3x great grandmother had 12 children in 17 years (no multiple births). She died aged about 45 in 1820. One child died in infancy and there is one I can't trace, but all the others survived.

26-04-09, 09:10
My great great grandfathre had 16 possibly 17 children.

3 to his first wife in England before being sent to Tasmania as a convict.

13 to his second wife who sadly died aged 42 leaving him with all the children to raise.

Possibly one to his third wife who had a child with an "unknown" father 2 years prior to marrying my great great grandfather.

Most of his children grew up to have between 8-14 children each.

My mother came from a family of 10.

26-04-09, 10:11
I have a distant rellie who went to Utah America and converted to mormonism - he had 5 wives and fathered 32 children?? another not a rellie who went over same time had 4 wives and 44 children:eek:

Olde Crone Holden
26-04-09, 10:55

Ah, it must be Mormonism which makes them so fertile!

My 3 x GGM who had 45 children went to Utah and became a Mormon - that'll be what did it then!

(Actually, she never left her village in Lancs, but that's another story)


26-04-09, 17:16
Not as many as some on this thread but my mom is the 12th of 13 children - all single births, but one ancestor in the early 1800's had 14 births including 2 sets of twins, and both sets of twins survived into adulthood and from there twins appear in every generation!

26-04-09, 18:19
My Mum was one of 13 & Dad one of 6 but I've yet to find the rellie my Dad said had 23 children made up of singles, twins & triplets.:confused:

26-04-09, 20:18
My 4xggrandparents had 16, and as far as I can tell they all survived.

They lived in one of the worst East End slums, though they were actually quite well off - he was a 'scavenger' on the census (sounds grim!) but in fact ran street cleaning contracts and died worth thousands.

Perhaps not surprisingly, his wife died of 'senile decay' in her early 60s...

27-04-09, 09:20
My hubby's gg grandfather married twice and had 11 children to each wife (hows that for not playing favourites??) His second wife was only 9 months older than his eldest child. Oh and there was only one set of twins.

02-05-09, 11:10
my 4th great grandparents had 17 children from 1807-1831. only 3 or 4 died before adult age.