Many women dream of raising a family, but most would settle with one to four children. Not so for Valentina Vassilyev. The Russian woman, who died sometime between 1725 and 1765, mothered a grand total of 69 babies throughout her lifetime.
It’s hard to even fathom how someone could deliver 69 babies over the course of 76 years, but Vassilyev and her husband produced dozens of children, which earned her a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Feodor Vassilyev was a framer in Shuya, Russia during the 18th century. He and his wife, Valentina, conceived 69 children, and out of them all, 67 survived into adulthood. Only one pair of twins didn’t make it.
Of course, it turns out that Valentina wasn’t actually pregnant 69 times. Instead, she is an astounding medical mystery, having conceived 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets. Not once did Valentina ever carry a single fetus.
Over a period of 27 births, Valentina delivered her and Feodor’s 69 children. The remarkable feat was first documented in a 1738 copy of Gentleman’s Magazine.
The feature explains the origins of the family by saying, “although very astonishing, might be depended upon, as it came from a merchant from England in St. Petersburg, who wrote to his relatives and added that the peasant was to be introduced to the Empress.”
In 1788, author Ivan Nikitich Boltin recounted the same tale in his book depicting Russian history. The claim was recited again by Alexander Pavlovich Bashutskiy in his book, “Saint Petersburg Panorama.”
There have been many skeptics that don’t believe a woman could possibly deliver so many children. A book in 1790 by B. F. J. Hermann “Statistische Schilderung von Rußland” and a 1993 article by Julia Bell in Biometrika advise people to treat the tale “with caution.”
In her article, Bell revealed that the French Academy of Sciences attempted to verify the claims of the Vassilyev offspring, but their studies were “superfluous.” Evidently, the family still resided in Moscow and received government favors.
While Valentina’s 27 pregnancies were phenomenal in their own right, her husband continued to have even more children. In fact, he fathered 18 others with his second wife, which included six pairs of twins and two sets of triplets.
No photographic evidence exists of the Vassilyev family, so the true extent of their legacy may forever remain a mystery. Regardless of the exact number of children they had, evidence and research suggest that Valentina Vassilyev bears a story that many people still can’t believe to this day.
What’s the most surprising family you’ve ever encountered? Tell us about them in the comments below! And pass this astonishing story on to your friends and loved ones.