Question of the Week: What's the largest family you've found in your tree?

+22 votes

Families come in all shapes and sizes. What's the largest family you've found in your tree?

P.S. Answer here and/or here and on Facebook. If you reshare the image on social media with your answer, it might get your family talking!

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.8m points)
edited by Eowyn Walker

It always amazes me how few children survived into adulthood and had children of their own.  My G-G-grandmother, Rosetta Alida van Diest, had eleven documented children and only three survived.

Most I can reliably document is 9 children of GG Grandparents and  

Adding all of my great-aunts' and uncles' spouses last week, I realized that my Aunt Fern (a family jokester) was one of fourteen. (I admit, so far I've only listed 12 and added 2 profiles.) Four of her brothers were in fighting units during WWII. One died in the Pacific, and one was seriously injured in the last few months of fighting in Germany.

I was able to see the Moses Wilson Family Book and my mothers grandfather contributed to Moses family more than any of the others. He had 100 grandchildren and close to 500 great grandchildren. He had Incredible children that not only had a lot of children and grand children and great grandchildren but also they moved by wagon to MO, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.
I'm not sure about the answer to this.  I think my Great Great Grandmother, Martha Ellen Gray, who married William Elmer Blue, had something like fifteen brothers and sisters.  I do descend from two families of Parkers that were twelve each.  great Great Grandfather Peter James Parker MD was tenth of twelve children, and his Father, Reverend Peter Parker was, I believe sixth of another twelve children.  I was happy to find that some distant cousin had already put that mid nineteenth century generation of Parkers on Wikitree.
The SNOYMAN family have 10 brothers and a sister.
My mother's grandfather had 11 children but they had 67 grandchildren and his great grandchildren went over three hundred. On an average they had 4 children. A couple had many more and a couple had two.  His name is George Wilson from Overton Tennessee. He had at least three nephews named after him. He is known to have out produced all of his 17 siblings that his father -Moses Wilson and his wife Celia Hay had. That is hard to believe!  So because of George, Moses Wilson had the most children, the most grandchildren and the most great-grandchildren and great great grandchildren. Celia Hays is the sister to those Hays officers that fought in the civil war and wife of Moses Wilson. She is the grandmother of them all. So the Hays memorial could be to her and her lifetime work! :)
i have found saints and sinners. one distant cousin was married at age 15 to her 45 year old step uncle whi was a doctor was sent to prison for killing a newborn baby. the case transcripts were quite graphic, several aunts and uncles married their sister / brother in law after both were widowed.

54 Answers

+27 votes
Best answer

My 6 x great grandfather Patrick Duff of Craigston had 36 children (with two wives). It's said that he was congratulated by George II for providing him with so many more subjects in Scotland! I wasn't at all surprised when I joined Wikitree to find that he already had a profile on here. 

It's fascinating to think how many cousins I may have from that one ancestor....!

by Sally Douglas G2G6 Mach 3 (33.7k points)
selected by Sharon Flax Waddington
I won't even look to beat that one!
whoa. Can you imagine the diapers they went through?
Nah!  You just used whatever rags were left from the last one.
Wow!  That's a bunch.  I can't even imagine!
As a result, I am a cousin of yours.
Oh my... even if you assume they had one after the other, that would be 36 years of having babies, and 54 years of raising children. Even if you were 18 when you started, you'd be at least 72 by the time the last one left the nest. (assuming single births of course - multiple births would certainly cut down on the years a bit)

That's pretty amazing...
Whoa, that's a lot. Did a quick check if we're related and found a connection.
+14 votes
Geraldlee Maurice Hudson was one of twelve siblings. He was a twin whose sister died in utero. Her name was Geraldine Marie Hudson.
by Betty Fox G2G6 Pilot (167k points)
+15 votes

My gggg-grandfather Samuel Coles and his wife Sarah Walker had 13 children between 1830-1859.

by Olin Coles G2G6 Mach 1 (18.8k points)
+13 votes
I'm not sure this is the largest in my tree (multiple marriages made some enormous), but my paternal grandmother was one of 13 children of one mother, who not surprisingly died fairly young.  The household was very large as children married, had children, and returned to the paternal home with them.  It must have been chaos!
by Kathy Rabenstein G2G6 Pilot (271k points)
+18 votes
One of my 2x great grandfathers had 2 wives. He had a total of 22 children, 6 with the first wife, and 16 with the 2nd wife. He is number 2591 in the Hans Herr Genealogy Record.
by Rodney Long G2G6 Pilot (583k points)
+18 votes
My great aunt Mrytle (Sibley-717) had 19 children by two husbands. 17 were still alive when she died.
by Francis Sibley G2G6 (7.2k points)
+13 votes

Lars Arnesen (1717-1793) had 17 children with two wives. At his death, only eight of them are mentioned as living or having issue of their own.

In number of descendants, however, he's easily beaten by the couple Jon Jensen Lien (abt.1616-1667) and Anne Christensdatter (abt. 1620-1712). Of the nine children mentioned in their probates, eight seem to still have living descendants. A five-generation descendant report in my own database currently shows 3111 descendants and 620 co-parents, although quite a few of them are counted more than once. I haven't followed the descendants longer than until mid-19th century, but there must be tens of thousands of us today.

by Leif Biberg Kristensen G2G6 Pilot (117k points)
My 5 greats grandfather has a huge amount of connections and I have traced an ancestor back to 243 ad with much more research still to come. I am sure that he has probably about a million descendants even if though they aren't in my tree yet.
+14 votes

Largest in my direct line, my 4th great-grandfather Edward Dodd who was married twice and had ten children by his first wife, and eight by his second wife (and 109 grandchildren that I know of).

The largest I've found so far where all the children had the same mother is a couple who are both related to me several times over (they're both in the range of fifth cousins, a couple of times removed; I happened across them when looking at Wikipedia's "list of people with the most children"): Joseph Mattingly (two of my 6th great-grandmothers were Mattinglys) and Elizabeth Newton Mattingly (our common lines include Hagan, Tyler and Duvall); of Nelson County, Kentucky, who had 20 children (all of whom were still living at the death of their mother). 

by C Handy G2G6 Pilot (136k points)
+19 votes

My great grandfather, Seth Marvin II,  had the largest family. He married a widow, Diantha, who had four children, and together they had five more. Diantha died at age 42 and with a new baby. Seth married her oldest daughter, Riza, and together they had eleven more. So Seth had 16 biological children. This makes my great grandfather married to my great grandmother, Riza, and my great great grandmother, Diantha. This makes a mess on a pictorial branch tree, but it works on WiKiTree and makes it less confusing. I should have lots of photos of all these people, but my grandmother threw them all away when my grandfather died. She said they were just a bunch of large women. Fortunately my only living first cousin was able to get six photos of a few of the family, but seeing these photos my great aunts look about the same size as me.

by Alexis Nelson G2G6 Pilot (467k points)
I had to figure this one out on paper. Half-siblings to half-siblings to half-siblings. Some of the siblings were stepchildren to their sister's husband and uncles/aunts to their stepfather & sister's children.

When Diantha died at [only] 42 she had already given birth to 9. Can you imagine how many  diapers that is? CLOTH diapers. You would get a fire going outside, put on a huge kettle, throw in some soap and boil. But you still had to scrub some of em.
Yes DeeBee, Seth was nine years younger than Diantha, and back in those days the older children took care of the younger ones; therefore, it must have made sense to marry Riza, but it is certainly confusing. Thanks for your great comment on the diapers.
+15 votes

My 2x great grandmother Lydia Whitt had 14 children.

by Dallace Moore G2G6 Pilot (105k points)
+15 votes

William Flood and his wife Jane had 16 children. Two died young, but 14 lived to adulthood. I can't imagine! lol!

by E Childs G2G6 Pilot (103k points)
+15 votes
Since my g.g. grandfather was a polygamist in the LDS colonies across the border in Mexico I might have an unfair I'll limit my answer to his grandfather who, with the same wife, had 16 children. Yikes. :-)
by Leigh Anne Dear G2G6 Mach 7 (72.2k points)
+13 votes

My fourth great grand uncle, Siméon Volant dit Dechamplain, and his wife, Marie Rose Gagné, had 18 children, all but one of whom lived to adulthood and married.

I have some direct ancestors who had more children, but in those cases there were more (in some cases many) childhood deaths.  For example, my great great grandparents, Godfroy Labrecque and Mathilde Aubin, had 19 children, but sadly only three of them reached the age of majority.

by Greg Lavoie G2G6 Pilot (326k points)
+14 votes

My partner's ancestor George Martin Thomas had at least 22 children (likely 23), with two women. George, born in England, migrated to Australia in the 1840s and all his kids were born in Victoria, Australia.

by Clare Spring G2G6 Mach 3 (39.8k points)
+12 votes
I have a lowly 12 in one family. I’ve seen some larger, but not in my direct line or my aunts and uncles. 12 seems like a puny family compared to some in other answers here.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.2m points)
+11 votes
My 3rd Great Grandfather,  Abner Morgan had 15 children with his first wife Elizabeth Davis and 5 more with his second wife Jenny Adams.
by Rhonda Zimmerman G2G6 Pilot (205k points)
+11 votes
One set of my great-grandparents had 15 children. My grandmother was the third child. She married very young and said her life was easier than taking care of all those younger siblings!! She was, however, close to them all.

Another of my great-grandfathers had 15 children by two wives.
by Virginia Fields G2G6 Pilot (747k points)
+10 votes
My grandfather was one of 13 siblings born alive.  All but 3 lived to adulthood, and married.

My grandfather was Alfred William Pilcher

His mother was Elizabeth Sarah (Mann) Pilcher
by Janet Gunn G2G6 Pilot (107k points)
+10 votes
I have done so many family lines that I've resorted to just targeting my direct ancestor. I dont really do their siblings. My Tree would be too big !! I just note their names/dates. I have both main lines of my parents plus plus plus and then some. I would see "6 children" "10 children"  "14" or even more. So who can I say had the most? I recently found out I'm related to Daniel Boone [gr x 7] and noticed he supposedly had 16 children. We should do a little math fun but just suppose each of our 'largest families' had 5 children. That would be 80 grandchildren to start. I dare you to try the real numbers.
by DeBee Justice G2G3 (3.2k points)
+12 votes
On my own family tree the couple with the most children is 21 and the couple with the most grandchildren is 101 with perhaps a few more still to uncover. On wikitree the person with the most children entered onto the site appears to be Herber Chase Kimball with 65 children and the person with the most grandchildren entered onto wikitree is currently Abraham Hunsaker with his 320 grandchildren.
by Earl Davis G2G6 Mach 2 (28.1k points)

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