Quick tip – Your ancestors may have gotten older than you think

Many people think that people died a lot younger in earlier centuries. While poor healthcare, contagious diseases, risks of childbirth and dangers at sea certainly took many of our ancestors before their time, several of them lived to be quite old.

The main reason that the average lifespan was shorter than today is because of infant mortality. But none of our ancestors died as a child: all of them lived long enough to produce offspring or they would not have been our ancestors. Their lifespans may be a lot longer than that of the average person in their time and place.

In my own tree, I have several ancestors who lived into their 90s including both of my grandmothers. I even have two ancestors who reportedly died at age 100 (in 1698) and 105 (in 1753), but I have not been able to verify their birth dates.

What is the oldest ancestor you have been able to find?

Hendrik Hoitink and Johanna Piek

Hendrik Hoitink and Johanna Piek

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG® is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate certificate in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. 10561 Margaretha von Zuhmen, geboren omstreeks 1526 in Üselitz. Margaretha is overleden omstreeks 1630 in Wiek, ongeveer 104 jaar oud.

    Notitie bij Margaretha: Margareta Zuhms, Herrn Johannis Scheelen, der Kirchen zu Wiek Postoris, und des damaligen Rugianischen Ministerii Senioris Ehefrau, ist gewesen eine hundertjährige Matrone, und hat Kindes-Kinder Kinder-Kind erlebt.

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