In October 1905, my great-great-great grandparents, Robert and Esther Monkman celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in Wykeham (near Scarborough). They were the maternal grandparents of my great grandmother, Annie Frank (who was Granddad P.’s mother).
Robert and Esther were married fifty years earlier on October 6, 1855 in Middleton, Yorkshire. Due to the sheer number of children they had, their Golden Wedding Anniversary made the news in places as far afield as Bath and London:
What a lot of children, eh? All sixteen were all born in Cropton, Yorkshire and there’s not a twin or triplet among them! Here are Robert and Esther’s seven daughters and nine sons in birth order:
- Margaret, born 1856
- John, born 1857/died 1860
- Robert, born 1859 / died 1859
- John, born 1860
- Robert, born 1862/died 1862
- Hannah, born 1863
- George, born 1865/died 1868
- Anne, born 1866
- Esther, born 1868 (MY GREAT GREAT GRANDMOTHER)
- Mary, born 1870
- Robert, born 1871
- James, born 1873
- Jane, born 1875
- George, born 1878
- Charlotte, born 1879
- Frederick, born 1882
One thing immediately strikes me when I look at the names Robert and Esther chose for their multitude of children: they were absolutely determined to have sons named John, George, and Robert. In 1860, John, their firstborn son, died at age three and, later that same year, when another son was born, they named him John. Similarly, they lost a three year old son named George in 1868; ten years later, in 1878, they named another son George. And, they ended up having three sons named Robert – the first two Roberts died in infancy and then, about a decade later, they decided to risk naming another one Robert. Luckily, the third Robert grew to adulthood, got married, and ended up having at least seven children of his own!
The other thing that is striking about Robert and Esther’s large family is the age difference between the oldest and youngest: oldest daughter, Margaret, was twenty-four years old when her youngest brother Frederick was born. She got married, in fact, the same year that Frederick was born. And Robert and Esther already had at least one grandchild (Eliza, born 1879) by the time their youngest child, Frederick, was born in 1882. Two-year-old grandchild, Eliza, in fact, was living with her grandparents in Cropton in 1881, and she was the exact same age as her Aunt Charlotte – I bet they were excellent playmates!