Parenthood is a lot different today than it was in days of yore. For starters, families are a lot smaller, and many couples carefully limit the number of kids they have to – on average – two or three. Anyone can tell you that having even two kids is chaotic, exhausting and expensive.
So let’s take a minute to consider - in awe - the fact that historically, families were much larger. It wasn’t uncommon for pre-20th Century couples to have anywhere from five to 10 kids. Take into account pregnancy loss and infant mortality rates, and that would have been a lot of pregnancy, birth and child rearing for women.
But we’re not here to talk about the average family size. We’re here to talk about the extreme and the jaw-dropping: Some of history's wealthiest and most powerful men, and the wives and mistresses they used to help build literal armies of children.
These weren’t all necessarily nice guys, marrying women for love and having children because they were passionate about fatherhood. But they still hold a place in history for their nearly inconceivable (get it?) virility.
We’ve scoured the historical data and compiled a list of the 15 men who claim to have fathered the most children. The numbers of their progeny will shock you, as will the man who holds the record for largest biggest offspring. You may even be one of his descendants.
15 Misheck Doctor Nyandoro – 128 Children, And Counting
Meet Misheck Doctor Nyandoro - the first father on our list, and one of the few who is still alive and continuing making babies, as far as anyone can tell. Nyandoro is Zimbabwean man, and last time anyone checked, he had 15 wives and 128 children. In fact, his family has grown so large that he’s literally made himself his own community.
Nyandoro, who calls himself “Dr. Love” (although the verdict is still out as to whether his wives agree with this moniker), took a brief break from marriage in 2002 because of a dip in the economy. But he’s back at it, and living the high life as a result.
Each night, every single one of Nyandor’s 15 wives prepares him a meal for his dinner, and he picks and chooses what suits him. He also claims to visit four wives every night for their “conjugal rights” - although I’m not sure how he still has the energy after one.
Nyandoro, however, says that he feels as young and healthy as ever. Given the number of kids he's made, that claim must be partly true.
14 Winston Blackmore – At Least 145 Children
You’re likely familiar with Winston Blackmore as being the polygamist leader of a fundamentalist Mormon commune in the isolated community of Bountiful, British Columbia. He’s been making headlines for decades.
It’s believed that Blackmore has fathered more than 145 children from as many as 27 wives. Given that the population of Bountiful is only about 1,000, it’s safe to say a hefty percentage of people who live there are Blackmore’s own children.
Blackmore, 60, was found guilty of polygamy earlier in 2017, after a prolonged legal battle with the province of B.C.
Blackmore admitted to taking part in “celestial” marriages, which are plural marriages not legally registered with the governments. But while these marriages may have been conducted in secret, records of them were found in a vault in Texas.
Polygamy is illegal in Canada, and Blackmore is currently out on bail pending sentencing.
13 Miên Thẩm – 144 children
Miên Thẩm was the son of Vietnamese emperor Minh Mang (both of whom lived in the 19th Century). Tham is reputed to have fathered 144 children – 78 sons and 66 daughters, narrowly beating his father’s record of 142 offspring … not that they were counting. Or maybe they were.
Minh Mang’s claim of 142 children is especially exceptional if you take into account the fact that he died at only 49. That’s a lot of baby making in a short amount of time.
Between Minh Mang’s 142 kids and Mien Tham’s 144 (not to mention all the babies Minh Mang’s other 141 kids likely had), just take a minute and imagine the size of that family tree. And the effort to feed all those hungry bellies. No thanks.
12 Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII, The Last Nizam Of Hyderabad – 149 children
Did you catch that? Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII, the last Nizam of Hyderabad. It’s quite the name, and he has quite the number of offspring.
Osman Ali Khan (1886 – 1967) was the last ruler of Hyderabad, a former country that’s now a region in south-central India. He had seven wives, countless mistresses and concubines, and reportedly fathered 149 children.
Fun fact: In 1937, Osman Ali Khan was on the cover of Time Magazine as the richest man in the world. At his wealthiest, he had a fortune equivalent to about $34.2 billion today. In fact, CelebrityNetWorth ranked him as one of the top ten wealthiest people of all time. With his wealth, he built a hospital and a university, and currently has countless public buildings named after him.
I guess when you’re that rich, it’s no big deal to house, feed and otherwise care for dozens of women and nearly 150 children. Right?
11 Anonymous Donor – 150 Children
Remember that movie from a few years ago, where Vince Vaughn was a sperm donor in college and finds out years later that he’s the father of 533 children? Well, it’s based on the real story of an anonymous sperm donor who has fathered 150 kids (less than 533, but still an impressive enough number that it ranks him on this list).
That Vince Vaughn movie, called Delivery Man, was actually a remake of a 2011 Canadian comedy called Starbuck. “Starbuck” being the alias of the real life Anonymous Sperm Donor. Maybe he really liked coffee?
Many countries, including Britain, France and Sweden, actually have a legal limit on the number of children a sperm donor can father because of a risk of accidental inbreeding.
But there’s currently no such limit in the United States. And since sperm donors can make as much as $1,000, it’s no wonder Anonymous donated so often, and is now a biological father to 150 kids.
10 Jack Kigongo – 158 children
Number 10 on our list is Jack Kigongo (1909 – 2012), a Ugandan man believed to have fathered 158 with his 20 wives. When he died in 2012 at age 103, Kigongo had around 500 grandchildren. I’m guessing he didn’t send each of them a card with $10 for their birthdays, like my grandpa does for mine. In fact, the eldest of his children are old enough to be great-grandparents to his youngest. Wrap your head around that for a minute.
According to one of his sons, Kigongo – a veteran of the Second World War and a businessman who owned several coffee factories – lived in a mansion with 12 of his wives, while his remaining eight wives lived in a second home nearby.
He married his youngest wife, 18, when he was 80 years old, which probably wasn’t a celebrated arrangement for his young bride.
9 Ancentus Ogwella Akuku – 160-200
Kenya’s most prolific polygamist, who went by the charming name of “Danger” Akuku, left behind more than 100 widows when he died in 2010 at the ripe old age of 90. Sources are ambiguous as to the exact number of children he fathered, but conservative estimates suggest he had at least 160, while others peg that number at closer to 210 children.
Akuku committed to a life of polygamy at the tender age of 22, at a time when having multiple wives was an indication of wealth and success.
He reportedly had so many children that he built two schools just to educate his own kids, as well as a church explicitly for his gigantic family to attend. He also reportedly named each and every one of his dozens (hundreds?) of children as a way to bond with them.
I think I’d run out of names by 50.
8 Ramesses II – More Than 162 Children
Ramesses the Great (1303 BCE – 1213 BCE) is often described as the most powerful and celebrated ruler of ancient Egypt. First of all, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the remarkable fact that Ramesses II lived to age 90 … 3200 years ago, which in those days was like living to infinity (the average life expectancy in ancient Egypt was somewhere in the early 30s).
This legendary pharaoh had several wives, and so many offspring that there’s a dedicated Wikipedia page to list all their names.
Ramesses is also a famous mummy, which is a pretty cool legacy, even if you didn’t also father an unprecedented 162+ children. He even holds a passport (which was used to fly him to Paris for examination, where it was discovered he suffered from poor circulation - how they determined that is beyond me). On his passport, his occupation is listed as “deceased King.” Makes sense.
Another fun fact about Remesses: He was a red head. You can see for yourself next time you’re at Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, where his mummified remains are on display.
7 Mohammed Bello Abubakar – 170-203
Mohammed Bello Abubakar (1924 – 2017) was a Nigerian polygamist who was married to an estimated 130 women when he died at age 93. It’s reported that some of these women were pregnant with the last of his roughly 203 children when he died.
Abubakar was arrested in 2008 and charged with polygamy, since local law that stated men were allowed to have no more than four wives. Apparently four wasn’t enough.
"If God permits me, I will marry more than 86 wives. A normal human being could not marry 86 – but I can only by the grace of God," Abubakar was quoted in The Christian Science Monitor, several years before he died. "I married 86 women and there is peace in the house – if there is peace, how can this be wrong?"
Peace in the house? Please.
6 Sultan Ibrahim Njoya – 177 Children
Sultan Ibrahim Njoya (1860 – 1933) was polygamist King, intellectual, and inventor in Cameroon, and is thought to have had around 600 wives and as many as 177 children by the time of his death.
Njoya has been credited with developing the Bamum script (the alphabet of his native Bamum language), to help record and preserve the history of his people beyond oral storytelling.
It’s said that he was interested in and passionate about the idea of culture and the homeland, especially with Camaroon's colonization by the Germans. He encouraged children to learn to read and write in Bamum, while also learning German.
Nyoja's grandson (one of hundreds, I’m guessing) is continuing Njoya’s legacy, trying to revive both the language and alphabet his grandfather worked so hard to preserve.
5 King Sobhuza II – 210 children
This former King of Swaziland, who lived between 1899 and 1982, is thought to have had 70 wives and 210 children, most of whom born somewhere between 1920 and 1970. At his death, he was reported to have as many as 1,000 grandchildren.
Not only does his claim to fame include a record number of offspring, he also holds the title of the longest verifiable reign of any monarch in recorded history – having held the title of King of Swaziland for 82 years and 254 days. It helps that he was crowned King at only four months old.
He is celebrated for having presided over Swaziland’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1968, fought to have land returned to the Swazi people, and even attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
4 Augustus II the Strong - 365-382 children
We’ve reached the part of our list where we’re hitting some serious womanizers, who had a serious number of kids. Meet Augustus, who was the Elector of Saxony, elected King of Poland, and Grand Duke of Lithuania between 1694 and 1733. Not only did old Augustus have a whole bunch of impressive titles, he also had a whole bunch of kids.
Officially, he had only one child – a son – with his wife (who went by the impressive name of Christiane Eberhardine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth). But because the married couple spent very little time in the same country, and because Augustus had a hankering for women, he also had numerous children with dozens of known mistresses. While only 11 of these children were officially recognized, historians suggest there were literally hundreds more. The exact number is impossible to verify, but many sources peg his offspring at as many as 382.
3 Bertold P. Wiesner - 300–600
Alright, brace yourselves. This is a bit of a crazy story.
Bertold Wiesner (1901 – 1971) was an Austrian physiologist and early fertility doctor. Perhaps it was his passion for helping women with fertility issues conceive children. Perhaps it was ego. But it seems that between the 1940s and 1960s, Wiesner anonymously donated his own sperm to patients, who were then inseminated by his wife and fellow obstetrician, Mary Barton. It’s estimated that he fathered as many as 600 children this way – on top of the two children he had through marriage.
Some of Wiesner's biological offspring, conceived by artificial insemination (and confirmed by DNA testing) include author and psychotherapist Paul Newham, lawyer David Gollancz, and filmmaker Barry Stevens.
2 Ismail Ibn Sharif – 867 – 1,000 children
Ismail Ibn Sharif (1634 – 1727) was a Moroccan sultan who is said to have had four wives and hundreds of concubines who bore him – according to the Guinness Book of World Records – 1,042 children. Horribly, that number may actually have been higher, as it’s believed he ordered that his concubines’ daughters be smothered at birth. Not a nice guy.
Now, let’s do a little math. Let’s say Sharif fathered his first child at 18, and his last on the year he died – at 93. That’s 73 years of making babies. Now let’s assume he did have 1,042 kids. That’s 14 children a year for 73 years, conservatively averaging more than one impregnation a month for his ENTIRE LIFE. Just… what.
“Just… what?” was the reaction of researchers from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Vienna, who used the story of Sharif’s enormous offspring to study the limits of male fertility, and the plausibility of any man being able to sire so many children. In the end they determined that it was at least ... plausible. So, there you go.
1 Genghis Khan – 1,000 – 2,000
If you’re ever challenged in a trivia game to name the man who fathered the most children in history, you now know the answer: emperor Genghis Khan.
Khan (1162 – 1227), who famously founded the Mongolian Empire, is said to have had as many as 3,000 wives. Although how you could ever even meet that many women, let alone marry them, is beyond me. He must have literally married every single woman he saw. We’ll never really know exactly how many children he fathered, but it’s estimated to be somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000.
Fun fact: Genetic analysis has shown Genghis Khan is a male-line ancestor to 0.5 per cent of the world's population. So there’s actually a chance you could be a descendant of Genghis Khan. There. Let that sink in.