Question of the Week: Does your family have a history of multiple births?

+28 votes

Pictures would be fun if you have them!

In my family, my grandmother was a fraternal twin, and her biological mother was a fraternal twin. Fortunately, that gene seems to have petered out. We haven't seen anymore twins since then. Whew!

Did you know we have categories for multiple births?

asked in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (257k points)
We had triplets in 1984,no fertility drugs.
My grandfather had a twin sister.  

My husband's cousin had twin daughters

I know as I go farther back in the trees there were other twins.
My Grandmother on Dad's side (Carpenter) was a twin and Dad's sister had twins also.
My mother was a twin.  Since then, my son and two nephews added twins to their families.
In my extended family, starting with my son, there are numerous identical twins.  My son and his wife have genetically proven identical twins.  My great grandmother, Eliza Catherine Lang was one of a set of female twins born in 1859.  There are others in the Sandifer lineage.  As I go back before 1700, I identified multiple twin births.  They seem to be same sex twins.  Having twin granddaughters is what started me in genealogy.  I was really surprised that my great grandmother was one of a set of twins.  

I have failed to note all of the apparent twin births that occurred before 1700, but wish I had.  With a large family tree on it is time consuming to go back in history and identify the apparent twin births and what generation they were in.  

My mother said that her mother told her that the physician caring for my grandmother told her to expect twins.  She was a singleton birth. There are no twins in my generation that I know about.


Ray M Johnson
Myself, my sister, my Uncle, and so many more back through time.
My sister had identical twin boys, my dad had twin sisters and a twin brother and sister.
My dad was a twin, my cousin had twins and one of them had twins.
I have the 4th set of twins in 5 generations on my mother's side.  I also have twins on my father's side.
I have identical twin sons and their father was a twin. He had a fraternal brother.

I have 2 sets (no fertility drugs) (natural births)...sons, fraternal semi-identical & girls Identical mirror image...grandmothers on both mothers' maternal and paternal sides..1700s & 1800s, grandmothers gave birth to multiple of which had 2 sets of twins and a set of triplets, another had 3 sets of twins a set of triplets and a set of quads..then they all stopped before 1900's..then I started em again, and now my niece also has twins, the ones I didn't have..she had a boy&girl set soon to be age 3.  the pic is of my 2 sets as children. they are now all in their 30's

My maternal great grandmother, Eliza, was a twin. My mother's sister, Velda, had twins (boy & girl). My mother's brother, Robert, had twin girls. My brother, Thomas, had twin boys. My sister, Zelamae, had twin grandsons. My sister, Myrtle, miscarried twins. My daughter, RaChelle, has twin boys. So, yes, I would say they run in my family!
On my paternal side.  My grandpa was an identical twin, Phil and Bill. Two cousins, Timmy and Tommy, are identical twins and grandchildren of my grandfather. The brother of the 2 twins, Timmy and Tommy,  has a son who has twins.  2 sets in one family.  His wife's family also has twins.  They have 7 children and had all of their children by the time they were 25.  UGH!

There are more, going back in time, but honestly, do not remember which side of the family they are on. Probably my dad's.  (His dad was my grandpa,the identical twin.)
I have identical twin sisters and five sets of twin cousins in my generation. I also have identical twin sons and also fraternal twin grandsons so I have been surrounded by twins all my life! A first cousin of mine who is the sister of twins (like me) has triplet grandchildren. They are not fertility drug babies as they were 6, 7 and 8 in the family!
My father's sister was a twin. Her son's daughter had twins. The twins come every other generation on my father's side of the family.

40 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer

Count me in!  My paternal grandfather had twin brothers, and their father's sister was the mother of triplets.  Here's one photo of the triplets:

Don't knock it, that picture placed first in the First Anniversary Photo of the Week runoff back in 2014 and won me a WikiTree T-shirt.  It also caused somebody to twist my arm to learn about categories, since the one for triplets hadn't been created yet.  FWIW, all three triplets lived to approximately age 80.  If anyone is interested, here's the profile for Mama, which has additional photos of the triplets:

and here's a picture of the twins:

I also have a niece who is the mother of twins, but they have not been profiled.  Is it something in the water?



answered by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (227k points)
selected by Linda Laws
naah, I think its something in the genes. LOL

Like I said above - I have 3 generations in my family with twins and these are NOT consecutive generations either.
+12 votes
My two sisters are twins.  I remember them having problems with government agencies P. Constantineau and P. Constantineau living in the same building. ( P for Paulette and Pauline)

Two other Constantineau twins in my family named David Honoré and Honoré David who also had ID problems all their life.... I wonder why :)
answered by Guy Constantineau G2G6 Pilot (338k points)
edited by Guy Constantineau
+10 votes
My uncle was a twin but his twin died at birth with no name and I have not added him to the tree.

I also have twin nieces - also NOT on the tree to keep them private

They are fraternal twins but they LOOK identical - except for when they dye their hair!!  LOL

I dont know how to upload pics to G2G but this FB link is for my nieces - dated 12 months ago - they would have been aged 26 - because now they are 27!! LOL

My 2x great grandfather was also a twin. The twin brother died aged around 17 I think.

And all of these are on MY paternal line - my fathers line. They do tend to skip a generation. or two - but they do eventually show up!!
answered by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (465k points)
edited by Robynne Lozier

My goodness! Are we sure they're not identical?! Wow!

I was told they were fraternal, but even that could be wrong :)
It is totally up to you, course, but I would think you should add your uncle's twin because his descendants, not to speak of other family members, might not know it, and would want to, even if only to participate in threads like this one, and to know that twins do run in the family.  What if a younger member of that family had twins?
The main reason why I am not adding my uncles twin to the tree is preciesly becasue I detest having profiles with that name UNKNOWN. As long as there is a mention in the surviving twins notes, I feel that I am covered.

Which reminds me - cant beleive I forgot this - As well as being a twin himself, my uncle also has twin great grandchildren!! They were born after my uncle died but they are still his great grandchildren. So the family are already aware that there are twins in the family.

These are my cousins grandchildren and once again they are fraternal twins - a boy and a girl. I think they are about 13 years old now. I've never met them - how can I meet them when I live in Canada and they were raised in Japan and are now back in New Zealand to attend school - but I have seen photos.

I can still remember taking their father - my cousins son - to the movies in January 1987 (Summer in NZ)  to see the new Star Trek Movie (Star Trek 4 - the Voyage Home). That was 31 years ago!! My how time flies!!

But anyway, that's 4 generations of twins I can document in my family.

Fraternal Twins definitely run in my family!!
For the record - about my uncles twin sibling who died soon after birth - There is no official record of birth that I can find - but I did find his burial remains. He is simply called Baby Thompson - despite living for 9 days.

If you look at the list of others who are also buried in that plot, one of them is a 2 day old baby called John Norman Thonpson. He was given a name. He was actually my older brother, whom I have known about, but we dont mention him. And he too is not on my tree despite being given a name. THat is of course my personal choice.
OK OK -  I have added my uncles twin to the family tree - especially since I do have death and burial records.

But I still dont know know the gender and I am guessing it was a boy. I  think I remember vague references to the child being a boy.

I have also added my dead older brother to the family tree as well - just for the sake of a complete family tree. And the fact that I do know his name.
As a mother of twins who has done extensive research, I would strongly urge a DNA test to see if they are identical. Unfortunately, many doctors believe that 2 placentas means fraternal and 25% of identical twins have separate placentas (the number of placentas formed depends on when they egg splits. Early split 2 placenta. Midrange split, 1 placenta but 2 sacs (my girls) late split, 1 placenta, 1 sac (and extremely high risk).

I have friends who were told their were fraternal. Whole life believed it. I posted an article on facebook about the 25% of identicals being misidentified as fraternal and they were stunned, so they bought a DNA test as a birthday present to themselves and discovered as 36 year olds that they were actually identical, despite thinking they were fraternal their entire lives.

My twins groups are filled with stories like this. Basically, without an obvious genetic difference (different sexes, different blood type, different eye color, etc.) you can not tell if twins with 2 placentas are identical or fraternal without a DNA test. Twins with 1 placenta are always identical (except in the extremely rare case of a fused placenta).

It is also a misunderstanding that identical twins look exactly the same. Mine are DNA tested ID girls, yet I can easily tell them apart. One has a narrower face (her head was in my pelvis, which made her head shape more oval than her twin) and the other has much deeper obvious dimples.
I will pass this info on to my neices and let them make that decision!

Thanks Laura.
+7 votes
My maternal grandmother was a fraternal twin. My aunt (mother's sister) was the only one in later generations to also have a set of twins that I know of. I don't know if anyone from my generation had any, though they do say it 'skips generations'.

While doing research on my maternal grandmother's family, I did find evidence of another set of twins further back - so you could definitely see what side of the family it potentially came down from.

Through my paternal side, there is a family story that my paternal great grandmother had surviving triplets. This was in Germany or German-owned territory and she apparently got a medal/award from the Kaiser for the feat. I seem to remember that the triplets died during the flu epidemic, though. (This is all family lore, of course - I haven't been able to do much research on my paternal side due to not speaking German and the difficulty in finding records.)
answered by Kristen Louca G2G6 Mach 2 (22.9k points)
+5 votes
Yes! (I'm glad I've never had children)

My grandmother (father's mother) had twin brothers who died in infancy.  Her grandfather was a twin who lived to age 63, his twin brother lived to age 82.  My great-great uncle (father's father's side) had triplet daughters in 1839 who appear to have survived into adulthood.

There's also twins on my mother's side of the family that I can't find at the moment (I'll need to set up a flag in Family Historian so that I can add them to the relevant category when I add them to WikiTree).

Unfortunately I don't have photos of any of them.
answered by Sheena Tait G2G6 Mach 3 (34.8k points)
+7 votes
My 2x's great grandmother was one of 4 sets of twins in one family. There has been no signs of twins either preceding or since. I think all but one survived to adulthood. I don't know if they were fraternal or what, but they were all same-sex sets. Two sets of boys and two sets of girls. There were also other children.
answered by Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz G2G6 Pilot (257k points)
+8 votes

My great-aunts, Maude and Carrie Sutherland, were twins, but they seem a bit of an anomaly since I haven’t found any other twins in the family. It's interesting that they're dressed alike in this photo. I always assumed that twins dressed alike after the 1800s.

answered by Laurie Cruthers G2G6 Mach 7 (71.6k points)
Thanks for the great picture.

It is interesting indeed to see a photo so old, yet with twins dressed alike!
+5 votes
My dad has twin sisters, Maggie Rumell Richardson and Alice Estelle Richardson. Aunt Rumell passed in 2007.  Aunt Estelle remains and turned 88 this year.  

My dad also had twin cousins, as well.  Johnny H Richardson and Jacky H Richardson are identical twins, born 10 years after the birth of my identical twin aunts.  These twins are still alive.

My father's grandparent's oldest and youngest sons were the fathers to these set of twins.
answered by Sharon Richardson G2G2 (2.2k points)
+5 votes

Well, I'm a twin, so I bet that counts!  My non-identical twin sister and I learned to say the word "fraternal" when we were three, because someone told us that's what we were.  Big word for three-year olds!  When we got to be about 10 or so, we decided that we are sororital twins, because fraternities were for boys, but sororities were for girls, so sororital should be a word, right?  Can't beat that logic!

Do twins run in our family?  Yes, yes they do.  Our first cousin has a set of twins, a boy and a girl.  Our shared Swedish 2nd great grandmother, Ottilia Boquist, had a twin sister.  Her husband's father, Johan Magnusson, also had a twin sister.  So the twin gene appears to be from that Swedish line.

answered by Kim Jordan G2G5 (5.1k points)
+5 votes
My mom and my aunt are identical twins and they just turned 68.  My Grandma Schmeeckle used to take care of me sometimes for my parents when they were out planting corn or irrigating, When Grandma couldn't get me to stop crying she called my Aunt to come over to make me to stop. Couple pictures of my Aunt with me sound asleep at Grandma's in the rocking chair.  Apparently Grandma managed to trick me into thinking my Aunt was my Mom until I was about a year old, then I figured out there were 2 of them.

Also have a pair of cousins who are identical twins and two more sets of twins further back on the family tree. Mom, Aunt and cousins are all still living so I don't have any photos I can share here.  Unfortunately I don't have any photos of the other two sets of twins further back on the tree.
answered by Sondra Marshall G2G6 (8.9k points)
+5 votes
My (brick wall) 3rd G-grandfather, William Berkey, and his wife, Elizabeth Grove, had 4 children. 1st was Orange Grove Berkey, b. 29 Apr 1826, 2nd was Catherine Winchester Berkey (Hochstetler) b. 15 Aug 1827, 3rd & 4th were Elizabeth Amanda & William Hamilton Berkey b. 13 Apr 1834. They were my family's only multiples. FEB
answered by Francis Berkey G2G1 (1.3k points)
+8 votes
During the Source-a-Thon, I went down a rabbit hole researching another Whitten family in New England (no connection to me so far).

I came upon a pair of Whitten twins born in 1910, and Whitten-1417 -- the shared birthday threw me for a loop. At first I assumed I was getting tired and mixed them up.
answered by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+5 votes
My husband is a twin and my aunt (mother's sister) has twin boys. I'm not sure if there are other multiples in the tree or not because I haven't see any.
answered by Tina Chase G2G6 (8.6k points)
+5 votes
My husbands family has fraternal twins, thank goodness the genetic proclivity isn't passed on through men!
answered by Lucy Lavelle G2G6 Mach 3 (32.9k points)
+4 votes
My mother had twin sisters.
answered by Margaret Caton G2G3 (3.4k points)
+5 votes

My grandmother was a fraternal twin and she had twin older brothers. My poor great-grandmother.  There seems to be a lot of twins in my line as I go further back as well. 

answered by Kyla H G2G6 Mach 2 (28.5k points)
+4 votes
I have fraternal twin daughters and I've found a few sets of twins on my maternal side but my best discovery was that my 5 x great grandmother gave birth to triplet girls back in 1731. At first I thought it was a mix-up of births but I found a baptism record for the 3 of them dated 25th Oct 1731 and it states they were all born on the 22nd day of the same month. Their names were Agnes, Eupham and Jean. I haven't been able to find out anything about them yet, they're on my to-do list.
answered by Dianne Staples G2G2 (2.4k points)
+3 votes
Not directly, but I have an ancestor (early 19th Century) who married a man who came with two sets of twins and one set of triplets, all under 5 years old. I just can not imagine.
answered by Denise Chiasson G2G6 Mach 1 (17.2k points)
+4 votes
My great aunt was a fraternal twin, though her brother died at birth. I am the mother of fraternal twins.
answered by Kelley Harrell G2G6 (9.5k points)
+3 votes
Several sets of twins in the family - my second cousin has identical twin boys but the rest. as far as I know, are non-identical.  They are mainly on my dad's side of the family, but there's no pattern that I can see.

Among my direct ancestors, the only death I have as a result of childbirth is from the mother of twins!

I haven't been able to pick up the family in the census after her death, but I'm guessing two new born girls would have needed a wet nurse.  Obviously I know that Frances survived, but it's possible her twin did not.

Everyone else has nice cheery stories and I have this one!
answered by Deborah Smith G2G6 Mach 1 (10.3k points)

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