Inspirational Message

Inspirational Message

Monday, December 17, 2012

Madness Monday - Fathering Children For 38 Years?

According to the will of Richard Gregory from 1765 in part:

In the name of God I Richard Gregory of Hereford Township in the county of Berks, yeoman, being weak in body but of sound memory, praised be God, and putting to mind human mortality I make and publish my last will and testament in manner following: Viz:........My sons, John, David, &  Richard have already got each of them their full shares from me.  And to my son Andrew I give and devise one half of all my lands I possess for himself his heirs and assigns forever......And to my younger sons Jacob, George and Christian I give and devise one half of all my lands I possess in equal share unto each of them....if any of them should die intestate without issue the surviving two shall equally inherit the portion of the is further my will that the said my younger sons be out out to a good trade each of them in due time.
This part is significant in that the older sons are of legal age but the younger ones are not.  Christian was born in 1762.  There are records of guardianship in the Orphans Court records with the last one in 1779 about the time Christian would be approaching 18 years of age.

The will goes on to name daughters; Mary wife of John Jones, Elizabeth wife of George Mack, Judith late the wife of John Roads, Anna the wife of Joseph Betty, Margaretha the wife of Jacob Foige, and Elizabeth Kurtz.  "And to my younger daughters, Sarah and Hannah."

15 children in all, five of them minors.  The first child is recorded as born in 1724.  The only wife on record was name Margaretha Bixby.

An interesting fact, Christian Gregory signed his name in German Script.  It is thought this line came from Holland.

The madness:  I believe that Richard must have had two wives.  I have tried to find BMD records in either Philadelphia or Berks counties for this time period.  My guess is they have not been digitized nor transcribed to any extent.  Place of burial is not known by me either.  Did Margaretha remarry after his death?   I found a website by another researcher, Charles Gates, Charles has posted everything I have that was in a manuscript put together by Loran Gregory's sister after his (Loran's) death several years ago.  The  references are included on this website. This site also contains a broken link, and references FTM CD  209.  The only date on his site is updated June 15, 2006 on the home page.

I plan to track down his sources as well as what is written in the manuscript and prove or disprove the information I have found on Richard Gregory.  My husband's line is through the youngest son, Christian who is buried in Union County, Illinois in 1842.  I may have far less hair by the time I get this line straightened out!

If you have suggestions, please post a comment below.  All assistance is appreciated!


  1. I'm going to post a comment, but sorry I don't have any suggestions right now except that curiosity will lead you to find answers to this line. I never cease to be amazed what is on the internet. In fact I received "An Early Christmas Present," and just had to share it with everybody on "Amanuensis Monday."



  2. Hi Kathleen.

    I read this post with interest, because I have one ancestor who fathered twenty-one known children over a period of 37 years. He had two wives, but there was an overlap between them. His second wife, from whom I am descended, was the same age as his eldest daughter by his first wife. Their relationship began while he was still married to his first wife, and for a period of 4 years, between 1852 and 1856, three children were born to each woman! Following the death of his first wife, he married his young mistress, though all of their children had already been born by then!

    This just goes to show the strange situations that can arise in a family. I'm sure you will get to the bottom of it eventually! To my mind there are a few possibilities:

    1. Margaretha could possibly have been extrememly fertile and still giving birth in her 50s (though I admit it's unlikely.)

    2. Some of the children may have been illegitimate and born to younger wives (or indeed, older!)

    3. He had been married before Margaretha (this depends on info you may have that I don't, of course)

    4. The ages/birth dates of children have been incorrectly recorded, and in fact the timescale is shorter than the 38 years you suggest - though it would still be rather long! (again, it depends on what info you have and where it came from)

    5. Perhaps he and his wife had adopted some of the children?

    If it were me, I would focus on getting hold of BMD records - someone out there in the wider genealogical community must have access to them, surely?

    Perhaps you could track down some of the married daughters and their children - you never know what clues might emerge if you explore the wider family a little?

    My last thought - the website of Charles Gates expresses the belief that the Gregory line is English, and so I assume it is Margaretha whom you believe to be of Dutch descent. I don't know alot about it, but perhaps DNA testing might be able to give some leads here...?

    Good luck! Lauren

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Lauren! I have a volunteer looking through marriage records, I hope to find an answer soon!

  3. I'm not sure where you found the will, but I just recently found that has Pennsylvania Probate records (though you do have to browse to find what you want) and has Chester County Pennsylvania Wills, 1713-1825, which includes summary extracts of wills. If any of the family was in Chester County at that time, perhaps you could find other probate information there. Good luck!

  4. The will I have is a transcription done by Loran Gregory before his death. I have not seen the original document. Thank you for alerting me to the images on FamilySearch. I will check those out for sure!