Many people say that it is no one’s business how many children a woman has; that if it is not someone’s own uterus, they need to butt out. They are true, these questions and assumptions about the number of children a woman wants are inapt and uncomfortable. However, some women have so many children that it is impossible to ignore it.
It is not unknown that the number of children women are having is dropping compared to 50 years ago, but compared to some of the women on our list, it is amazing. The average size of a family in the USA as of 2018 was 2.53 children. This has been the trend for a while now, families are consisting of two (or slightly more) children. Nothing surprising here.
There have been women throughout history who have been known for having a lot of children, more than 10 to be exact. There are some claims of women who have had up to 60 or more children, but that has never been verified so they won’t be found on this list. They were possibly not verified because they were so long ago. A trend among the women in this article is that they were alive and breeding years, if not centuries, ago.
20 Maddalena Granata
The first entry on this list is a woman named Maddalena Granata. Granata was born in 1839 in the City of Nocera, Italy. She married at the age of 28, which was probably a lot older than the average age to be wed in those times. By the year 1886, Granata had given birth to a total of 57 children; 49 of these children were males.
Some of these babies were born sleeping, but a lot of them grew into adulthood. Dr. de Sanctis of the same city had written records of the births and he wrote that Granata had given birth to 15 sets of triplets, so the babies were not all solo births which makes it seem a bit more understandable.
19 The Duggars
The Duggar family is probably credited with being the family who made us all aware that there was such a thing as a mom having more than 10 children. They first appeared on a TLC channel show, where it followed their larger than life family size. The family continued to grow until they were at 20 children. Michelle (the mom) had more than 20 pregnancies but not all of them made it.
The family has been in the spotlight for many years now, and there is even a spin-off show about some of the children who are now married and starting little families of their own. It will be interesting to see how many follow their mother’s footsteps and maybe try and beat her record.
Now, her name isn’t really 'Octomom" but instead Nadya Suleman. She gained media attention all over the world in 2009 when she gave birth to eight babies at one time. If this wasn’t enough, Nadya already had six children at home which gave her a total household of 14 children to care for. This story gained a lot of attention, as anyone who had octuplets would, but not for good reason.
The mom started to get some negative attention about the fact that she was already using public assistance to care for her children before welcoming eight more into the world. The reproductive specialist also came under scrutiny. In most fertility clinics, they are very careful about multiples because of the health risk to mom and babies.
17 Meet The Putmans
We are going to break the rules for this one just a little bit. Meet The Putmans is another show on TLC and it follows a large family. Now, the difference is that this family was not all born to the mother, it is simply a large family living under one roof. We are going to break the rules because this was enough to catch the attention of the world and land them a TV show following their lives.
The Putman family all live in one house and there are 26 people residing there. The house has several generations living under one roof and the family tree can get pretty confusing.
Bill and Barb Putman are the heads of the family, and they have four children. Their four children all have spouses and children and they all live under one roof together. I can not even imagine the load of laundry they have to do.
16 Grace Bagnato
Grace Bagnato would go on to be a lot of things, she would become a police court interpreter, stork derby participant and she was a great interpreter for newcomers who didn’t speak English. Grace was born in Pennsylvania in 1891 and moved to Toronto when she was just a young child. Her family was originally from Italy, but her parents wanted their children to speak other languages.
She married very young at the age of 14 to Joseph Bagnato. There are some disagreements on how many children she actually had. A plaque in her honor listed 13 children, but her obituary stated that she had 23 children. She also was a leader in Toronto’s Stork Derby, which was a cash prize for the woman who had the most children.
15 Sister Wives
Sister Wives is another TLC show that is known for many things. The biggest of all being that they are a polygamist family, so the husband has more than one wife. However, they also have a lot of children. Kody, the patriarch of the family, and his four wives all have a total of 18 children. The children may have different biological moms, but they all have the same dad which has made him pretty infamous.
The show is known for the scandal that comes with having more than one wife, but it also showcases an interesting dynamic when you have more than one family and how they all get along. Though there are always hiccups along the way, the families seem to function as a whole and don’t appear to think anything is different about the way they live.
14 Noel Radford
Noel and his wife, Sue, are the most recent entry on this list. Sue was born in 1975 of Morecambe, IK and she has recently given birth to their 21st child. The latest baby was born in 2018 and at that time, her eldest was 29 years old. They have 11 sons, 10 daughters and as of 2018, had four grandchildren.
They own their own business in the UK and are proud to say that they do not rely on any government assistance to get by with their children. They have been on many shows and interviewed by a lot of entertainment organizations as the world marvels at the size of their family.
13 Ada Watson
Mrs. Watson was a woman that was a little closer to the time we know. She lived from 1886-1974 and during this time she gave birth to 25 children. A lot more than the average size of the family we know today. These children were all born between the years 1904-1931 and they all lived to at least the age of majority. It also included three sets of twins.
Anyone with a large family knows that it takes a lot to raise a large family. A lot of time, love and a lot of money. We bet that they had ways of making a dollar stretch back then and making do with what they have.
12 Josephine Salzo
A lot of these women have held a record at some point in time for having the greatest number of children, but Josephine got another kind of honor. Josephine and her husband, Michael Salzo Sr had 21 children. This included one set of triplets, two sets of twins, and quadruplets. These weren’t any ordinary quadruplets, but they were the first ones born in New Haven, Connecticut.
When searching online, we come across an obituary for James Salzo, who was one of the quadruplets. He passed away in 2013 and he was the last one of the 21 children to still be alive. It notes that some of his biggest hobbies included playing the lottery and cheering for the New York Giants. He also served in World War II.
11 Christine Of Mecklenburg-Gustrow
This one is quite interesting because Christine of Mecklenburg-Gustrow was the great-great-great-grandmother of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. Between the years 1684 to 1705, Christine gave birth to 23 children within 19 pregnancies. This means that there were some multiples mixed in there, four sets of twins. Most of these pregnancies made it into adulthood, 11 to be exact.
What a lot of moms are thinking when they hear about the size of these families is how loud the house must be. If a house with one or two kids is already deafening loud, then imagine a house with more than 20 little ones running around.
10 Queen Darejan
We have another entry that involves someone of royalty, Queen Darejan and King Heraclius II of Georgia find themselves on this list for having a total of 23 children. Thirteen of these children lived into adulthood. It was not uncommon for occurrences such as this to happen at this time with the lack of medical care.
What a lot of people, myself included, wonder about parents who have a lot of children is how they remember all of their names. I have a hard time getting the right name out when I try and call my children so I can only imagine the challenge they have.
9 Mary Hemsing
We have another one from Canada with Mary Hemsing. Mary and her husband, Sylvester had a total of 23 children: 11 boys and 12 girls. Mary also lived to a ripe old age, as she was born in 1913 and passed away in 2014. Not all of these births were singletons, they had three sets of twins.
It is amazing to think of the times this woman would have grown up in with all of her children in tow. It was not until Mary was 38 that she experienced electricity, and she already had 16 children at this point. At the time of Mary’s passing, her obituary states that she had 87 grandchildren, 145 great-grandchildren, and 11 great-great-grandchildren.
8 Emily Fitzgerald
Emily Fitzgerald sounds like an ordinary name, but she was actually royal. Emily was the Duchess of Leinster and with her first husband, James Fitzgerald, the pair had 19 children. These children were born between the years 1748 and 1773. Later on, in life, Emily married her children’s tutor, William Ogilvie and they had three children, born between 1775 and 1778.
Emily was once called the Queen of Ireland and she was known for living in grand Irish houses. She was known for being a political influencer and led a very colorful life. A portrait painted of her has recently returned to Ireland and it is hanging with pride.
7 Mabel Constable
Mable Constable was born in 1920 in Long Itchington, Warwicks and she created quite the crew. She gave birth to 22 children. This included a set of triplets and two sets of twins. Mable passed away in 1996 but she left quite a legacy behind her.
Another thing that may boggle everyone’s mind when it comes to having so many children is trying to remember all of their birthdays! Some must have months where there are multiple birthdays in the same month! That means a lot of calendars and a lot of birthday presents. It would be a great idea to combine a lot of the birthdays together and just have one big party.
6 Margaret McNaught
At this point, it may seem like every entry is about the same thing but there is something about this one that makes it just a bit different. Most of the other mothers have had some variation of multiple in order to grow their family, but not this one. Margaret McNaught was born in 1923 and she was from Balsall Heath, Birmingham and she had 22 children. She gave birth to 12 boys and 10 girls and they were all solo births.
This is amazing because not only is that a lot of children, but that is a lot of childbirth. A lot of women can’t handle one childbirth, forget about giving birth 22 times.
5 Bridget Brown
Some of our entries have had children who are quite well-known, but I guess when you have that many children the odds are good that you could have a child who would grow up to be famous. Bridget Brown was from Dublin, Ireland and she was married to a man named Patrick Brown. The pair had 15 sons and seven daughters. Thirteen of these children did survive infancy and one of their daughters grew up to be Christy Brown, an author.
Do you know how hard it is to get your child to take a good picture? They won’t sit still, and they are constantly running away. This can be even more challenging when you have a couple of kids that you are trying to get into the same shot. Imaging having more than 20 children and trying to take a family picture? That sounds impossible.
4 Ann Clark Skerrett
Ann Clark may not be too well known, but one of her children is. Ann Clark Skerrett and her husband Jeremiah Lear had a bus full of children and their 20th son, Edward Lead, went on to be an English artist, illustrator, musician, author, and poet. He had quite the resume. He was born in 1812 and if you think you don’t know who he is, you probably do but don’t realize it.
One of his most known works was The Owl and the Pussy-Cat, a rhythm told to many children by many parents. He probably got interested in writing such things because of all the siblings he had, maybe the family sat together reading and sharing poems? It was so long ago, we can only daydream about the life they may have led.
3 Mary Hale
Mary Chaloner Hale was born in 1743 and she lived until 1803 and she led quite an impressive life. She was married to General John Hale and she lived in Guisborough, Yorkshire, England. She and her husband had 21 children all between the years 1764 and 1789. Her first child was also named John Hale and he was a member of the Legislative Council of Lower Canada.
It is not easy to admit that I sometimes have a hard time keeping track of my one 3-year old when we are out in public. I can not imagine having to keep track of a whole hoard of children, they just don’t make strollers that big.
2 Edith Hill
We are coming to the end of our list and it brings us to Edith Hill. Edith was from Leicester; England and she was the wife of a postman. In December 1960, she gave birth to her 21st child at the ripe-old-age of 46. Again, impressive that someone would have a child so much later in life. That means that by the time her child is 20, she will be 66.
Her eldest son was 30 by the time she had her last child and she had already had grandchildren. Now the family had aunts and uncles that were younger than their nieces or nephews. Two of her children did not make it past infancy, but the rest did. An impressive nine boys and 10 girls.
1 Jane Loftus
We have come to the last entry on our list and that is Jane and Adam Loftus. Adam was the Archbishop of Armagh, and later Dublin, and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Jane bore him 20 children between the years 1559 and 1590. Of all of these children, 12 survived into adulthood. Given the time period, this is actually pretty impressive.
We all know that there are times called “baby boom” when we see a period where a lot of babies are born. The last baby boom was in the ’60s and even then, the average number of children to a couple was three.
Will the world ever experience another baby boom? Only time will tell.
References: statista.com, therichest.com, rootschat.com, Nameberry.com, torontoist.com, sfh.ca, irishtimes.com, bbc.co.uk, books.google.ca, poetryfoundation.org, obittree.com, biographi.ca, theodysseyonline.com