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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree April 2019 > DEAR TOM


Explore the serious, sublime and the ridiculous facets of family history in this genealogical miscellany. This issue, Tom Wood hears of hordes of twins, two clergymen hit by heart-breaking tragedies and a family of pioneering policemen
Similarly to the nursery rhyme, ‘There was an old woman who lived in a shoe…’, whether Mary Jonas of Chester gave birth to 33 children or 19, it was plenty to be going along with!

Twin peaks In ‘Dear Tom’ in July last year we heard of the amazing Jaycock family of Aylesbury, which in 1842 boasted five sets of twins plus six other children, making 16 in all. I wondered at the time if anyone could beat five pairs of twins by the same mother, so I was delighted when Dr Keith Geary wrote in with a new ‘record’.

He referred me to Roger Hutchinson’s The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker: The Story of Britain Through Its Census (Little, Brown, 2017) where, on pages 54-55, the author reports that Mary Jonas of Chester gave birth to ‘thirty-three children including fifteen pairs of boy-girl twins’. Keith thought he would look a little deeper into this and tells me: ‘Having checked Cheshire BMD and England and Wales birth and death registrations along with the censuses of 1841-1881, I can only find 19 children, at least seven of which were not twins, while of the six pairs of twins which I can identify only four were boy-girl (the others were a pair of girls and a pair of boys).’

For the record, he believes the children were: 1839 Joseph, 1839 Sarah d 1839, 1841 Thomas, 1843 Martha d 1844, 1844 William d 1845, 1844 Sarah, 1845 Martha, 1847 John, 1847 Mary, 1849 William, 1851 Elizabeth, 1852 Eliza d 1852, 1852 Emma d 1853, 1853 Eliza d 1854, 1854 George d 1854, 1854 Henry d 1854, 1855 Henry d 1856, 1857 Henry and 1857 Eliza. Nineteen children including six pairs of twins is certainly remarkable!

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About Family Tree

Do you know what your surname means and where it's come from? You don't? You've come to the right place. With the April issue of Family Tree we've got a cracking 32 guide to help you learn about your family names. From surname super-sleuth organisation the Guild of One-Name Studies, it's packed with advice to research your family surnames - wherever in the world they come from... Plus - inside the mag - we've got 10 top family history projects to help you organise your research, university research into our ancient 10,000 year old ancestor (he's the great-grandpa of us all) and the tale of an orphan, disinherited and banished into slavery - and his 30 year fight to regain what was rightfully his!