Thursday, February 24, 2011

Question from Len - Old and young age limits for childbirth

How old was considered old for a woman to be having a baby? And was there a minimum age, beneath which people were concerned?


kb said...

The women and families I study expected girls to be in their sixteenth year (15) and to have started their periods before marrying or living with a spouse if an earlier contract was concluded.

For the Carey/Knollys family through 1603, descendants of Mary Boleyn Carey, the minimum female age at first child was 16; the average 21. The average number of children was 4 and the maximum number of children was 14.

Katherine Carey Knollys was 38 when her last child was born. He did not live a year. Anne Morgan Carey was approx. 34 when her last child was born.

Lettice Knollys Devereux Dudley was 37 when her last child was born. Anne Knollys West was about 38.

Laura said...

Margaret Beaufort was only 12 when she gave birth to Henry VII. I think that was rare, but it did happen. Catherine Parr's first and only pregnancy occurred at the age of 35.

I don't think there was an age at which a woman was considered too old to have a baby. As far as I've read, women were expected to welcome a pregnancy regardless of their age and the risks to their health. As for a youngest age to become pregnancy, I believe that for most girls, it was decided based upon what was perceived as reproductive readiness. Since girls enter puberty at different ages, it varied from woman to woman.