Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An Aunt Before She Was Born

Flora Thompson, author of Lark Rise to Candleford, writes of her mother,

One of her outstanding distinctions in the eyes of her own children was that she had been born an aunt, and, as soon as she could talk, had insisted upon her two nieces, both older than herself, addressing her as 'Aunt Emma'.
In Lark Rise Thompson recounts her experiences growing up in several small towns and a hamlet in Oxfordshire, England, in the 1880s. (For the book the author chose to call herself and her brother by different names, and to give fictional names the towns where she lived.)

In times past when families were often very large, parents were young when first children were born and child-bearing years were long. It was often possible for the oldest sibling to have married and had children while her mother was still bearing children.

I know of one "aunt before she was born" in my family history. My great-gramma Meinzen gave birth to her first child, Henry, in 1870, her last, Naomi, in 1898. Henry's first child was born in 1897. I think there may be some others because two great-grandparents had such large families.

Do you have any women in your family who were aunts before they were born? Or men who were uncles before they were born?

Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.


  1. I became an aunt when I was two and a half, and regularly thereafter until I had five nieces and nephews. I actually grew up more with their generation than my own brothers, who were 12 1/2 and 16 1/2 yrs older than me!

    There was about that age difference in my father's family, too, from oldest to youngest, as there were eight living children, and one that died the day he was born.

  2. My half-brother actually had two nephews before he was born, through my step-sister. In todays blended families, I imagine this must happen a lot. Thank you for bringing up this interesting topic - I will have to look into it further in my family.

  3. My sister was born three weeks after my daughter was born. One grew up in Texas and the other in Michigan and didn't see each other that much, so there wasn't an issue about what to call one another.

  4. My father had 3 nephews older than him. My aunt (his younger sister) had those 3 nephew plus a niece and 3 more nephews older than her for a total of 7.

  5. My youngest brother was born an uncle to my three children. My mother had an odd sense of family raising, as she in effect raised children as only children --- at least 5 years apart. Although with my youngest brother it was more like 16 years between his next youngest brother.

  6. Oh, yes, this happened quite a bit in my parents' families (11 children in Mom's and 10 children in Dad's). I never could understand it when I was very little.

  7. Thank you all for your responses. I have to admit that I'm surprised. This seems to be more common these days than I thought!

  8. My great grandmother was an aunt when she was just a few months old. It was a bit of a surprise at first.

  9. My mother's half-sister and half-brother are the same age as my youngest sister and brother. So they were my aunt and uncle when they were born- I was 11 when my aunt was born!


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