Some notable examples
Henriksson Pelo, 1696-1759, married to Karin Grelsdotter Kankkonen,
1700-1744. Had 20 children, including 3 sets of twins; 9 died before
- Jakob Henriksson Pelo, 1703-1777, married to
Brita Mattsdotter Slotte, 1704-1777. Had 14 children; 8 died before
- Per Mattsson Pelo, 1725-1790, married to Lisa
Johansdotter Åivo, 1728-1790. Had 15 children; 6 died as babies.
- Erik Eriksson Heinola, 1727-1773, married to
Anna Johansdotter Brännkärr, 1723-1795. Had 16 children;
6 died at very young age.
- Henrik Persson Pelander, 1728-1780, married
to Margareta Johansdotter Nordman, 1732-1800. Had 13 children; 8 died
before age 5.
- Jakob Persson Pelander, 1730-1774, married to
Hedvig Eriksdotter Huck, 1728-1815. Had 14 children; all died as babies
except one. Jakob was a fairly well-to-do merchant in Gamlakarleby,
but his money couldn't save his children.
- Johan Jakobsson Pelo, 1727-1797, married to
Karin Johansdotter Lillåivo, 1730-1797. Had 16 children; 12
died as babies.
- Abraham Persson Pelander, 1738-1780, married
to Margareta Johansdotter Wikander, 1738-1802. Had 16 children; 7
died at young age.
- Erik Eriksson Heinola-Haals, 1749-1813, married
to Catharina Mattsdotter Tuomisalo, 1752-1824. Had 15 children; 9
died at very young age.
There were also large numbers of births in the
1800's, but I decided to confine my analysis to the 1700's. I've heard
many people exclaim over the very large families, but after considerating
that almost half the babies died at a young age, the families weren't
so large after all. The high birth numbers of the 1700's were thought
to be the result of early marriage and good harvests. But it seems
the cause lies in the large number of infant deaths. Infant mortality
in the 1700's was dreadfully high. It is apparent that a third of
the children born in Österbotten died at a young age. For example,
in Gamlakarleby the number of dead children under age 10 was 76% of
all the deaths, compared to 61% in 1800.
There were a number of causes: the prospective
mothers participated in the heaviest work in the fields, and they
were uninformed and negligent in matters of hygiene. Other causes
were smallpox, TB, dysentery, measles, and whooping cough. Crop failure,
epidemics and war also had an effect. Epidemics spread widely every
year. In Pelo village in 1761 five children died of smallpox in one
month and in 1790 four adults died of gangrene in a month. Since 1750
there have been 17 difficult crop failures in Finland, 19 war years
and 14 desolate epidemic years. When vaccinations became compulsory,
epidemics gradually lessened.
While gathering the above information, I also
decided to keep a record of all my grandparents. In the best of all
worlds, genealogically, I estimate that going back 25 generations
one would have about 16,777,216 grandparents. The results of my family
search were just a drop in the bucket. Out of a possible 65,536 grandparents,
I found 502 in 17 generations. For the first 6 generations, I found
60 grandparents out of a possible 60, but from there on the numbers
In the 7th generation there were 52 of a possible
64; 8th generation, 78 of a possible 128; 9th generation, 85 of a
possible 256; 10th generation, 83 of a possible 512; 11th generation,
65 of a possible 1,024; 12th generation, 33 of a possible 2,048; 13th
generation, 17 of a possible 4,096; 14th generation, 12 of a possible
8,192; 15th generation, 9 of a possible 16,384; 16th generation, 5
of a possible 32,768; and 17th generation, 3 of a possible 65,536.
The last three were born in the 1400's and I doubt
that I'll be able to go back farther because during the Stora Ofreden
- The Great Strife or Great Northern War 1700-1721 when Russia defeated
Sweden - many church records in Finland were destroyed or misplaced.