Every Two Years

Here are some of the rough ideas I have about human reproduction in Victorian Britain:-

The average age of women marrying for the first time was 25 (a year older for men).

The average woman therefore had about 20 years in which to deliver an average of 5 or 6 children.

The average rate of child production is one every 2 to 3 years.

The average woman buried 2 of her infants.

Jane HALLAM (yesterday’s post) was atypical on every count.

She married John DONKIN when she was seventeen. He was six years older. She gave birth to 8 children and watched four die in their first year. Twenty-three years passed between the birth of her first child and the last (when she was 41 years old), giving her a reproduction rate of a child every 2.9 years. What the crude figures don’t show is that Jane was an erratic bearer of children. When she married she was pregnant with Mary Jane. The child’s death was registered in the quarter following her birth. Six years would pass before John William was born and six more went by before Jane junior appeared. Feed these facts into the FamilySearch Tree “system” and “possible missing children” warnings are triggered.

I don’t think I have missed any children. Jane was 55 years-old in 1911 and she told the enumerator that she’d had eight children and five had died. Jane junior is the one who reached adulthood, briefly. Just like her mother, she married at seventeen but died two years later, in childbirth perhaps. I have found the birth registrations of all eight children (under variants of the Hallam name) and although I haven’t “killed off” Florence Mary yet it seems she made old bones, as did the other two survivors.

Out of curiosity, I trawled through Filey Genealogy & Connections looking for couples with eight children and calculated their “R numbers”. The results should not be taken too seriously.

The length of time taken to bring eight children into the Filey community varied from 10 to 25 years, yielding R numbers from 1.3 to 3.1. There are 20 couples in the sample and three had the “perfect score” of 2.0 – a child every two years, as regular as clockwork. In the course of the exercise I noticed a super-reproducer (no names no pack drill). Nineteen children in 22 years for an R number of 1.2. At least ten babies died but the mother reached the age of 74. She was, however, a stranger with only a tenuous connection to Filey.

I have made some progress on the Shared Tree today.

There is much still to do. Matthew must be given his first two wives and Jane junior’s bereft husband (not yet named above) finds a second wife close to home.

Wave 40 · Steamy

Filey Bay

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