My maternal grandfather, James, and his younger sister, Lenore, were the only children of James Walker (J.W.) ATKINSON and “the Belle of Belfast” — the former Eva Clarke WILSON, who was born in Belfast, County Down, Northern Ireland.
J.W. came from a family of eleven children to Canadian-born Thomas ATKINSON II and Sarah Ann CAWARD, who was born in England. J.W. was the youngest son but the third youngest of the eleven.
In birth order, the children were: Mary Elizabeth (1870), John Thomas, William George, Richard M., Herbert Peter, Wesley, Albert, J.W., Harriet L. and Ida Rose (1891).
Yes, eleven children — think of it this way:
- when Ida Rose was born in 1891, Mary was 21yo. Mary was old enough to be Ida’s mother!
- Radio didn’t come along until 1909; and,
- Television wasn’t popular for a few years after that
J.W. also had a half-sister named Annie CAWARD, who was born to Sarah five years before she married Thomas. [And no, Annie’s birth registration does not list the name of her father.].
Of all these children, one died young:
- Albert died in 1886 at the age of 2years 8months 5days;
Three never married:
- Annie CAWARD; she died in 1923 at 58years 14days;
- John Thomas (eldest son); he died in 1926 at 55years 29days; and,
- Ida Rose (youngest child); she died in 1972 at 81 years 3months 8days;
Leaving a remainder of 7, who all married having children of their own:
- Richard M: had 3 children & 2 grandchildren when he died in 1943 at 67years 9months 1day;
- Harriet L: had 10 children & 21 grandchildren when she died in 1944 at 55years 2months 8days;
- Mary Elizabeth (eldest child): had 6 children, 37 grandchildren & 14 great-grandchildren when she died in 1953 at 83years 10months 7days. She and her husband are buried in LaFargeville, Jefferson County, New York;
- William George: had 6 children, 3 grandchildren & 3 great-grandchildren when he died in 1955 at 82years 2months 2days;
- Herbert Peter: had 2 sons & 3 grandchildren when he died in 1955 at 77years 4months 4days;
- Wesley: had 3 daughters & one (known) grandson when he died in 1963 at 82years 10months 15days; and,
- J.W: had 2 children, 12 grandchildren & 10 great-grandchildren when he died in 1964 at 79years 3months 30days.
NOTE: All persons named above are buried in the Hamilton or Woodland Cemeteries in Wentworth County, Ontario, unless otherwise mentioned.
The sorry thing is: you do not see large families like this nowadays! And I believe some typical reasons as to why are due to the following:
- Who can afford to feed and/or clothe that many little ones, even if both parents working?
- Try and find (and then afford!) a house with enough room for everyone: “I’m sorry, Sonny, but until one of your older siblings gets married, you’re sleeping in the storage cupboard. No, you can’t share the garage with your four sisters! Well, there might be room in the doghouse with Jasper, but …”
- Then after three, maybe four deliveries, I can imagine Mother telling Father: “Until you have the next three, Mister, you can’t touch this!”