Top 10 People With The Most Descendants Ever

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Parents with multiple kids have come under fire recently due to reality stars such as Nadya “Octomom” Suleyman and Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar. Critics say their kids lack the proper support for a healthy upbringing.

However, these two look downright infertile compared to the great reproducers of history. Here are 10 people who have the most living offspring and descendants on the planet.

10.  Yitta Schwarz

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A survivor of the Holocaust, Yitta Schwarz spent her life thumbing her nose at Hitler by replacing many of the Jews that he exterminated. Although she doesn’t have as many progeny as those further down the list, Schwarz deserve honorable mention for directly (and indirectly) producing over 2,000 descendants in her lifetime, a task she considered a tribute to God. She was a member of the conservative Satmar Hasidic sect, whose members often average nine children. Schwarz went above and beyond, having 15 children who, in turn, each averaged more than 10 children of their own. In order to deal with such a massive extended family, she purchased industrial baking equipment to make enough challah for the Sabbath. By the time of Schwarz’s 2010 death, she had over 1,800 great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren – more than a large city high school.

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9.  Giocangga

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Giocangga, who died in 1582, was the forefather of the Qing dynasty and has 1.5 million descendants living today, mostly in northeastern China and Mongolia. Like many of the other rulers on this list, his line expanded rapidly due to its power and all the coupling partners that came with it. The Qing dynasty was established by his grandson and completely ruled China by 1664. “[They] were a highly privileged elite class, and they had several wives and concubines,” said Chris Tyler-Smith, who worked on the genetic study. A normal Chinese person living in Giocangga’s time only has 20 living descendants today, meaning that he spread his DNA 800,000 times better than the next guy.

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8.  Niall of the Nine Hostages

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If you are Irish, then lift up your pint of stout to Niall of the Nine Hostages. There’s more than a 10 percent chance he’s your forefather, as he is for 3 million men, and approximately one in 12 Irishmen. Niall was a warlord in 5th century Ireland, a chaotic time when Roman rule collapsed in the West and chieftains such as himself took control. He and his descendants filled in the power vacuum, and Niall established a dynasty of rulers that controlled much of Ireland for six hundred years. His line was also prolific with the ladies. A member of his dynasty, who died in 1423, had 18 sons. Thanks to nineteenth-century Irish immigration to the U.S., many Americans also carry his blood, such as 2% of all New Yorkers.

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7.  Genghis Khan

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The 13th-century Mongolian ruler ravaged China, Russia, Samarkand, and the rest of the Silk Road territories, conquering an area three times the size of Rome. As a result, he obtained all the women that come with such medieval victories. Genghis had six Mongolian wives, many foreign wives who were daughters of conquered kings, and concubines obtained by plundering enemy territory. His soldiers explicitly handed over the most beautiful women to him. But the main reason Genghis’ descendants are so numerous is that, for centuries after his death, a Central Asian ruler needed to be his descendant to claim legitimacy. As a result, a true descendant of his had no shortage of coupling partners. Genghis’ oldest son had 40 legitimate sons; his grandson Kublai Khan had 22. Today, nearly 16 million men, or one in every 200 men on earth, are directly descended from Genghis Khan. In the domains of the former Mongolian Empire, that number rises to one-in-eight. You could say there’s a little bit of Genghis in all of us.

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6.  William the Conqueror

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William led the 1066 Norman invasion of England, forever changing the island’s language and genetic makeup. He had nine children, who were married off to European royalty. Due to the restrictive practice of royals only being able to marry other members of their own class, his lineage spread throughout Europe. This started a domino effect, since wealthy members of society had far more children who survived into adulthood than commoners. Today every single family member of a European monarch, and everyone who can claim ancestry to even a minor royal, is descended from William. This includes tens of millions of Europeans, over 1.5 million Americans, and every single U.S. President who ever lived, from Washington to Obama.

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5.  Gwilym of Many Conquests

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This ninth-century Welsh nobleman (and ladies’ man) managed to sire enough children that, today, 7 million people are direct descendants of this smooth-talking common ancestor. A balladeer known for his “gilded, tunic-dropping verse,” folk legend notes that he lacked any standards concerning the age, weight, or appearance of his targets. Notable descendants of Gwilym today include Matthew McConaughey and Joe Biden.

I should mention at this point that Gwilym never actually existed, and his fictional story comes from an Onion article. However, it is a pity he doesn’t exist, since this list is dominated by warlords and statesmen, not Lotharios.

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4.  Charlemagne

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Charlemagne was the first Emperor of Western Europe, following the collapse of Rome and the protector of the papacy. Because he ruled over an area covering Italy, France, Spain, and Germany, and uniting them in culture and religion, many consider him the “Father of Europe.” However, this is also true in the literal sense. He had 20 children, of whom a few carried on his Empire until it fell apart due to infighting among his grandsons. Ironically, this fracturing, along with the Viking invasions, insured that his descendants spread across Europe. They married into Slavic states, Scandinavia, Greece, and the Middle East through the Crusades. Today the number of Charlemagne’s descendants is absolutely staggering, with some estimates as high as half the population of Europe (250 million), 100 million in the United States, and another 250 million across the world.

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3.  Muhammad

He founded a religion that today has over a billion adherents, with several million of those claiming direct descent. These people carry the honorary title “Sayyid,” meaning a male descended from Muhammad’s grandsons Hasan ibn Ali and Husain ibn Ali. Today, many Muslim dynasties claim to be Sayyid, such as the Alaouite kings of Morocco and the Hashemite kings of Jordan.

The total number of Sayyids are hard to come by. Being a descendant of Muhammad used to mean huge tax breaks. As a result, many people would forge certificates of genealogy. According to Hulya Canbakal, in the 17th century Ottoman Empire, an estimated 300,000 people were imposters. Today, sans tax breaks, 14 million in South Asia claim descent, meaning that hundreds of millions more around the world could be directly related to him.

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2.  Abraham

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When God promised Abraham, in the book of Genesis, that his descendants would number like the stars in the sky and the sand on the sea shore, he wasn’t kidding. He is the forefather of nearly every Jew on Earth (14 million) and, as the father of Ishmael, the number of his progeny swells by an additional 500 million. In the generations after Abraham, the Bible boasts that his descendants were quite fecund. In the four hundred years between his son Jacob’s immigration to Egypt, and Moses leading the exodus out of Egypt, his family grew from 72 to almost 3 million. The geometric expansion boggles the mind.

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1.  Eve

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According to the Biblical account, Eve is the mother of all humanity, giving her nearly 7 billion living descendants, and well over 100 billion since time began. However, a 1980 study suggests that an actual Mitochondrial Eve lived 100,000-200,000 years ago in Africa. It analyzed mitochondrial DNA, which passes from mother to offspring, and discovered an unbroken line going back to modern-day Angola. Her ancestors then went out of Africa to Eurasia, Australia, and America, and are currently sitting in your chair at this very moment. The study confirms what many of the other people on this Top Ten list have already shown us – the chances of a stranger on the street not being your distant cousin are much lower than you think. Or in the case of Eve, they are zero.

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35 Comments

  1. Correction on #6: Every President who ever lived is related to English royalty… except Martin Van Buren. The rest of the Presidents have some sort of Anglo-Saxon heritage. Van Buren is 100% Dutch. He spoke Dutch growing up and considered English his second language (the only President to do so). As such, he is the only President on record with no traceable lineage to William the Conqueror or Alfred the Great (the other major source of Presidential DNA).

    • William the Conqueror lived 800 years before Van Buren. Since nobody is all Dutch or all Italian it is certainly possible that Van Buren is related to William the Conqueror. With all his descendants roaming around Europe via boats or land travel and considering the marriages, the rapes, the babies born out of wedlock and for other reasons your assertion certainly cannot be proven. Also unless there is genetic proof I would say it’s near impossible to say it’s true that all or even any of the Presidents are also related.

  2. A truly amazing list. I found it to be very insightful. As I read the list, the closer I got to #1, the more I thought about ‘Eve’, and sure enough, there she was, at #1.

  3. Never heard the Giocangga, do you know his Chinese name, and the picture with this person is a ancient Chinese pornographic picture. You are a real “talent”.

    • correction. we know for a fact that Mohammed did exist and that isn’t up for debate, every 7th grade world history student knows that. Abraham probably did exist, whether he spoke with God or not is the questionable part. Eve is used as just a name, or did you not even read the listing?

    • Only number 2 didn’t exist. Number one did exist, but it’s a bit unlikely that she was called Eve. What people often don’t get is that she wasn’t the only woman alive back then, it just means that all other maternal lines died out. Human population probably went into some kind of crisis and was reduced to some few individuals, forming a bottleneck in the gene pool.

  4. Abraham destroyed the whole list, since he’s clearly fictional. Again it’s one of those lists that are quite well written, but then a piece of religous mythology presented like a fact hits you in the face like a fist. You should decide what you want to write: A list about historic persons or mythology – not mix it up.

    • Fmh myth or not its his list and he has decided. Youve said your two cents. Now you can high five the rest of your intolerant freinds

      • Wow, if you thinks that this makes me intolerant, you are really intolerant. What does it make me intolerant against anyway? People who mix believe with facts? People who decide to write things they know as believe in a list where everything else is fact based? You use “intolerant” as a fighting word to suffocate discussion.

        Do you know how opinion and free speech works? No, obviously not. Since it is his list, he is free to decide what to write into it – as well as I am free to criticize his decisions and give my point of view. That’s what the comments section is there in first place. What I can’t and wouldn’t want to do is force my opinion on him. He is free to decide and I’m quite sure he’ll ignore my comment just as most people disagreeing would. And that is a much better way than your comment void of any content.

        • Just wanted to say that Genealogical records indicate that Abraham was not fictional. Israelites of the day were well-known to be sticklers for meticulous record keeping of genealogy with scribes and recorders who followed every dynasty with utmost care. The Bible is not the only record for Abraham’s existence. The genealogy for Abraham as well as many other characters mentioned in the Bible was even used by many Historians due to the accuracy which has been compared to other Historical documents such as; The Record of Nathan the Prophet, The Prophecy of Ahijah from Shiloh, The Visions of Iddo the Seer later called The Record of Iddo the Seer, The Record of Shemaiah the Prophet, The Book of Jashar, as well as The Book of the History of the Kings of Israel.

          Not only was Abraham real, he also is the founding patriarch of the Israelites, Ishmaelites, Edomites, and the Midianites and kindred peoples, according to the book of Genesis. The Ismaelites being the branch-off for the Muslim Nation. There are non-religious documents from other Nations that also confirm the existence of the 12 Tribes of Israel traced back to Abraham.

          Also, from the Gene Archives of National History comes the following non-fictional information:

          Abraham .
          Hebrew: ????? ., Arabic: ??????? .

          Also Known As: “Abraham”, “Abram”, “Avraham”, “Ibrahim”, “Abre”, “?????”, “????????”, “?????”, “Abraham Aveinu”, “changed from Abram / ???? Genesis 17:5”, “birth 1996bc death 1877bc”

          Birthdate: -1812
          Birthplace: Ur, Chaldea
          Death: Died -1877bc in Hebron, Canaan, Palestine

          Place of Burial:
          Machpelah, Hebron, Canaan

          Immediate Family:
          Son of Terah . and Amethelo .
          Husband of Sarah; Hagar . and Keturah .
          Father of Isaac; Isaac; Ismael; Ishmael .; Ishmael’s sister born after Sarah’s death . and 14 others
          Brother of Haran .; Nachor; Sarah and NN .
          Half brother of Tzovah .

          Occupation: Founder of Jewish Religion, rabbi, Shepard, born 2052 B.C, dead 1877 B.C, Roy d’Ugarit

          I don’t care if you believe in the validity of the Bible or not, but the culture of the day was to take meticulous note as to the genealogy
          It is also well-documented that Science as well as Historical interests had validated the Bible as being the most accurate Historical record in the History of mankind, that is…up until the humanist agenda to boot God out of society began systematically revising facts in order to skew education in order to phase out religion.

          So you look very foolish when you claim Abraham did not exist. Even Islam claims his existence through Ismael (The Ismaelites). Christianity and Islam are 2 mutually exclusive beliefs where very little is agreed upon. However, what IS agreed upon is that Abraham had fathered Isaac and Ismael, among many others, which are the foundations to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. So peddle your lies elsewhere.

  5. William I was a no starter compared to his son, Henry I. Hank the Horndog had four legitimate children and three legitimate grandchildren, most noteably Henry II, The Lion in Winter. On the other, he had 25 recognized illegitimate children, 12 of whom had known children. Some historians believe Hank had even more unrecognized or unrecorded children. He may well be the father of his country.

    For the record William I had no known illegitimate children which makes him nearly unique.

    Source: Britain’s Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy. Alison Weir

    • This is the best more thorough explanation and answer to your inquiry, Gracie. However it is rather long and won’t fit in this window. So I have the option to post it in segments in hopes of getting it in order or giving you the URL address in hopes that if you truly want the answer regarding the wives of Adam and Eve’s first sons.. that you will indeed go to this site and check it out for yourself.

      http://www.christiananswers.net/q-aig/aig-c004.html

      I myself was very intrigued by what I’d read. I hope you’ll take the time to read it. 😀

  6. Tok Padang Jeringau on

    It should be mentioned that Prophet Muhammad had only a total of seven children : three boys and four girls. All the boys – Qassim, Abdullah & Ibrahim – died young. So all his grandchildren came from his daughters. The Prophet had just 7 grandchildren – of these 4 were the children of his daughter Fatimah, 2 from his daughter Zainab and 1 from Ruqqayah. Those claimed to be Sayyids – or descendants of the Prophets – traced them to only two of his grandchildren : Hussein and Hassan, both the sons of Fatimah. And both did not have multitude of children themselves.

  7. Here’s where I get lost. No. 1 Eve had 2 children, Cain and Abel, 2 men. So answer this, how did Cain and Abel procreate. The only thing that I can come up with is that Cain and Abel procreated and fornicated with their own mother, Eve. Any takers on that one. And just for the record, I would love to dedicate my post to Fundamentalists and Creationists who think that the Darwinian Theory of Evolution does not exist and that its bunk. Evolution exists. We evolved from Primates !!!!!

    • Adam and Eve had three sons. Cain, Abel and Seth. They also had unnamed daughters. When Cain lived in the land of Nod, far from Eden, he “knew” his wife. Genesis 4:16-26.

      Incest, maybe or maybe not. And no, I’m not a fundamentalist or creationist. Just saying it’s implied some other creatin’ was going on. Genesis is written verision of the oral history of a group of people who believed Adam and Eve were their ancestors. Nothing says they were the only people on earth. Just people the folk historians and writers weren’t interested in.

      • @ Gracie. Finally someone with intelligence and well manners has given me an insight on how it may have happened. I am an agnostic and don’t know the first thing about the Bible except for the name, Its versions (like The St, James version) and the first 3 words “In the beginning…..”. You have given me information that I had no idea about and I Thank You very much. I am originally from New Hampshire and visited this small museum in the Northern part of the state. In one of the room were the skeletal remains of a Black Bear fully intact and posing it as if it were standing n his hind legs. Just one look and I said to myself, “Who says that Evolution does not exist”. Again Gracie, Thank You for your info.

        • Thank you, Peter. We agnostics should have a working knowledge of the Bible. It is a foundation book of Western culture. The history, art, literature are all deeply influenced by it. Plus, it handy when we get the “You should read the Bible.” “I have and you’re wrong. It doesn’t say anything of the kind.”

          If you find it a hard slough, you could try Karen Armstrong’s The Bible: A Biography. She has serious street cred, former nun and honored religious scholar.
          For the most part, her books are objective, but not hostile. If you’re a Kindle freak, you get them there.

          FWIW I’m living in NH now. Love it.

  8. Seriously? You use only one source for each person? Some of these sources don’t even list any sources of their own. And anyone could say that the first modern man/woman (homosapien) has the most living descendants. This is a terrible list that is likely inaccurate. Try putting more effort into your research. Haven’t you ever taken a class where you have to write a research paper? If so (of course you have, unless you’re a dropout), don’t you remember that you’re required to have more than 1 source? This is an otherwise lovely site, so don’t let my callous criticism make you think I’m a complete asshole (I’m only 1/2 asshole).

    • We understand your concern and we certainly wish the time and budget could be applied to do the work you suggest. but unfortunately each author can only spend so much time on each article based on payment for their work. And since we cannot pay hundreds of dollars for each submission, the writers do the best they can for the time they have. That is why we always say these lists are for entertainment purposes only. Thanks for reading.

  9. I’d reply to my own comment, but it hasn’t been approved. To clarify, not everything needs more than one source, but something as uncertain as ancestry (let alone almost anything in history itself) usually requires more.

  10. Betty Dahlstedt on

    I have a man in my ancestry that had two wives. He had 16 children with one and 9 with the other.
    I have documented them all. He was born 1841 in Löt, Sweden and died in 1913. Of these 25 there are four that I have not found death dates for. I believe that they may have left Sweden for the USA.

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