If I try to envisage what a generation looks like, I see a small number of people of about the same age, e.g. my four grandparents. They have all been born within 12 years of eachother.
It seems obvious that the further you go back, that time span will increase. But I had no idea what that figure would be.
So I consulted my genealogical data and selected all persons being part of that particular seventh generation. Of those I eliminated (sorry ancestors) all those of which the year of birth and death are unknown to me. Also I still have to look up 32 persons being the ancestors of my daughter-in-law's father. So they are not in as well. Taking all this into account, 57 ancestors remain. They are shown below.
|Maria van Deudekom||1774||1842|
|Pieter van Oosten||1775||1852|
|Alida van Oosten||1779||1840|
|Huigje Dirks Russel||1774||1821|
|Jan de Langen||1792|
|Maria Hendrika Carstens||1795||1867|
|Maria van Berkel||1804||1848|
|Syger Reitses Visser||1789|
|Reintje Goitzes Zijlstra||1783|
|Francis van Asten||1802|
|Johanna van de Langeweg||1805|
|Nicolaas van Leeuwen||1811|
|Rutgert Berends Venema||1811||1885|
|Jantie Hommes Klein||1802||1875|
|Geert Heikes Knip||1823|
|Jantje Hindriks Lemain||1820||1884|
|Doede Heines Klopstra||1788||1863|
|Hendrikje Mattheus van Halen||1797||1861|
|Jan Hendriks Schokker||1803||1876|
|Grietje Gerrits Duiker||1811||1859|
|Johannes Walles Veldhuis||1809|
|Sibbeltje Pieters Boomsma||1813|
|Pieter Hendrik Verburg||1807|
|Anna Sanderina Meulenberg||1809|
|Maria de Waal||1819||1878|
|Gerard Adriaan Israel||1799|
|Lena van der Maas||1810|
|Jacob van Leeuwen||1773||1833|
|Pieternella van der Maas||1785||1855|
|Hendrik ter Burg||1806|
|Jan van der Kemp||1801|
I can think of two reasons.
Certainly during the 18th, 19th and also during the first part of the 20th century, married couples in this part of Europe had many children. 10 or more was not uncommon. If for whatever reason the mother died (e.g. in childbirth), the father generally remarried fairly soon. He had to for practical reasons. Who else could run the household and take care of all the young ones? So in many cases there was a considerable age difference between the partners.
Another factor that will increase the time gap within a generation, may be caused by a marriage between an oldest child in one family and the youngest child in another family.
Both occurrences will certainly amplify each other. And if such events took place in subsequent generations, the time gap within a single generation will increase even further.
It is a funny idea that if all these contemporaries would have lived in the same area, they might have known each other without realizing they would be "joined" a few centuries later. The proof of the pudding is in the eating so I had a look at where those 57 ancestors were born. But even in a small country like The Netherlands they often lived more than 100 miles apart. And since travelling in those days was quite an enterprise, there is little chance they actually ever met, spouses excluded...
|Distribution of ancestor places of birth in The Netherlands|
and Belgium. The maximum distance between any two places
is a little over 200 miles.