Which Ancestor Had the Largest Family?

About six weeks ago, Sally Knudsen on SallySearches shared some statistical numbers from her family tree using Legacy. One statistic she searched was how big the biggest family in her tree was. I didn’t have to generate a report to identify mine because his name has always stuck in my mind for three reasons- Samuel Tarbox. First, I remember him because he had so many children. Second, I noted that although he was away fighting in King Phillip’s War in 1675-1676, he managed to get back home to Lynn, remarry and keep the children coming. Third, his second wife, my ancestress, Experience Looke, is the holder of the title “The ancestor with my favorite name.” Although Samuel had a slew of children, there must have been quite a bit of heartache and sorrow because a number of them died young.

As far as I know, all those living in the U.S. today who carry the surname “Tarbox” are descended from one man, John Tarbox, born about 1612 probably in St. Ippolyts, Hertfordshire, England.

The village of St. Ippolyts is due north of London. If you head north on the A1, it is located between Stevenage and Hitchin. The village church was built about 1087, enlarged about 1320 and had extensive rebuilding completed in the 1870’s, but is essentially the same building in which the Tarbox family attended Sunday services in the early 1600’s.

John Tarbox married in England about 1631 or 1632. The name of his first wife is unknown and their son, Thomas, born in St. Ippolyts, died soon. His second wife, Mary Overall, was the mother of two children, both sons named John born in St. Ippolyts in 1636 and 31 December 1637, and both children died soon. Sometime between 1637 and 1645, John married a third wife, widow Rebecca (maiden name unknown) Andrews and emigrated to the colonies. No marriage date has been found for them, but Rebecca gave birth to four children – sons, John about 1645, Samuel about 1647, and Jonathan and daughter, Rebecca. John settled in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts and his children were all likely born in Lynn.

John’s son, Samuel, holds the title for “My Ancestor with the Most Children” with his eighteen children by two wives. Samuel’s first wife was Rebekah Armitage, who he married on 14 November 1665 in Lynn. They had six children and Rebekah likely died from a difficult birth as she passed away two weeks after the birth of her last child, daughter Mary.

Children of Samuel and Rebekah:

1. Samuel, born 20 June 1666, Lynn, MA; died before 1693.
2. Jonathan, born 3 July 1668, Lynn, MA; married Eleanor about 1693. He died before 1718 when widow Eleanor Tarbox married John Gott, widower of Jonathan’s sister, Rebekah.
3. Godfrey, born 16 August 1670, Lynn, MA; died before 1701.
4. Rebekah, born 8 August 1672, Lynn, MA; married John Gott of Wenham, MA. She died before 1718, probably in Hebron, CT. John Gott married her widowed sister-in-law, Eleanor Tarbox in that year.
5. Sarah, born 15 October 1674, Lynn, MA; married Ebenezer Batchelder of Wenham, MA.
6. Mary, born 21 February 1676, Lynn, MA; died about 14 March 1676.

It appears that Jonathan, Rebekah and Sarah are the only three who lived to adulthood and left descendants.

Samuel Tarbox was a soldier in King Phillip’s War (1675-1676) and was off fighting at the time that Rebekah gave birth to Mary and both died. When he returned home, he set about finding a new wife and married (2) my ancestress, Experience Looke, on 16 October 1678, also in Lynn, MA. I have always thought that Experience Looke is the coolest name and I’ve never had to worry about sorting out too many women with that name when looking for records about mine! Samuel and Experience were the parents of twelve children.

Children of Samuel and Experience:

1. Experience, born 1 September 1679, Lynn, MA; no further information
2. Hannah, born 12 March 1680/1, Lynn, MA; died 1 July 1718, Wenham, MA; married John Batchelder on 28 November 1702, Wenham, MA. She died 1 July 1718, Wenham, MA.
3. John, born 8 March 1671/72, Lynn, MA; died 14 March 1671/72
4. Thomas, born 8 June 1684, Lynn, MA; died 9 January 1774, Wenham, MA; married Esther Edwards
5. Elizabeth, born 6 January 1686/7, Lynn, MA; died 22 January 1686/7. Her twin brother was:
6. Joseph, born 6 January 1686/7, Lynn, MA: died 22 January 1686/7.
7. Benjamin, born 23 January 1687/8, Lynn, MA; died 27 September 1710, Lynn, MA; unmarried.
8. Mary, born 20 January 1689, Lynn, MA; married Ephraim Kimball of Boxford, MA on 8 December 1720. No further information.
9. Samuel, born 6 February 1692, Lynn, MA; married Elizabeth Maxey on 19 Jnaury 1715/6 at Beverly. He died 21 November 1755, Wenham, MA.
10. Ebenezer, born 1 August 1695, Lynn, MA; married Sarah Hall of Wenham on 5 March 1718/9, Lynn, MA. No further information.
11. Mehitable, born 12 June 1697, Lynn, MA; intentions filed 4 December 1720 in Beverly, but she of Wenham with John Herrick of Beverly. No further information.
12. Joseph, born 6 March 1699, Lynn, MA; died after 8 November 1753; married Susanna Stevens, 28 January 1724/5 in Gloucester, Essex, MA.

There are many Tarbox descendants today. If you are one of them, I would love to hear from you. Samuel Tarbox and Experience Looke are my 7x great grandparents, but the Tarbox name continued down through the centuries to my grandfather, Vernon Tarbox Adams, named for his paternal grandmother.

3 thoughts on “Which Ancestor Had the Largest Family?”

  1. I am a descendant of Samuel and Rebekah Tarbox. Jonathan Tarbox is the line that I come from. My name is Elizabeth Tarbox

  2. I am a descendant of Matthew Stanley, charged with “winning the affections” of John Tarbox’s step-daughter, Ruth Andrews, in 1649. Happy to correspond on this family connection. Stephen Stanley

  3. How cool that you have ancestors that were here so early and that you have been able to find out that degree of information about them. And 18 is a lot of kids!!

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