Monday, 26 March 2012

The time gap within a generation

When looking at our youngest grandson, it ocurred to me that the little guy is the "product" of not only his parents. Many generations have contributed to his DNA, to his character, to his brainpower, to the way he looks etc. If you go back far enough, say seven generations, usually there are 27 persons equalling 128 men and women who have unknowingly helped our grandson to become what he is and what he will be.
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.
Fredericus Muwis 1760 1834
Jacoba Betger 1833
Jan Hoksteen 1774 1812
Maria van Deudekom 1774 1842
Pieter van Oosten 1775 1852
Alida van Oosten 1779 1840
Leendert Barmond 1761 1816
Maria Plokhaar 1771
Korstiaan Kok 1844
Huigje Dirks Russel 1774 1821
Jan de Langen 1792
Maria Hendrika Carstens 1795 1867
Jacob Doelman 1804 1894
Maria van Berkel 1804 1848
Adam Barendregt 1794 1864
Jakoba Kleijwegt 1805
Lodewijk Orie 1807 1867
Dirkje Langeveld 1808 1853
Willemina Sprinkhuizen 1849 1905
Syger Reitses Visser 1789
Reintje Goitzes Zijlstra 1783
Francis van Asten 1802
Johanna van de Langeweg 1805
Nicolaas van Leeuwen 1811
Mietje Kans 1814
Willem Voortman 1802 1879
Adriana Kampert 1806
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
Thomas Maat 1798 1862
Pieternella Verburg 1807 1880
Marcus Marcusse 1810 1880
Maria de Waal 1819 1878
Jan Breas 1792
Leintje Tazelaar 1804 1872
Gerard Adriaan Israel 1799
Maria Belleman 1799 1833
Cornelis Boot 1811
Lena van der Maas 1810
Jacob van Leeuwen 1773 1833
Pieternella van der Maas 1785 1855
Hendrik ter Burg 1806
Antje Trap 1802 1839
Jan van der Kemp 1801
Elisabeth Jansen 1801
Jan Weij 1814
Guurtje Veter 1821
As you can see, the time frame of all births is between 1760-1849 (89 years). Deaths took place between 1812-1905 (93 years). So these ancestors lived anytime between 1760 and 1905 which to me is an amazing 145 years! All in the same generation. The question of course is where all these big numbers come from.
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.
Any (deviating) views on the above will be appreciated. And if you have calculated time gaps as well, I'll be interested to know.

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