In 1725, Mrs. Feodor Vassilyev gave birth to her first child. There was nothing remarkable about the child (or the birth), except that he was the first of a brood that would make his mother famous.
Between 1725 and 1765, this wife of a Russian peasant gave birth to 69 children in 27 births, making her the record holder for the most children birthed by a single woman. What makes the record even more remarkable is the number of multiple births—16 pairs of twins, 7 sets of triplets, and 4 sets of quadruplets—and the fact that 67 of the 69 survived infancy. Sadly, little else is known about this remarkable woman, such as her birth and death dates, or even her first name. It was documented, however that her extraordinary achievement garnered her an audience with the Russian Empress.
Although Mrs. Vassilyev does hold the record for number of children, she does not hold the record for number of births. That record belongs to a 17th-century woman named Elizabeth Greenhill, who had 39 children, all of whom (with the exception of two pairs of twins) were single births. Mrs. Greenhill’s husband died before the birth of their last son, but is she is reported to have said that, had he lived, she would have had at least 2 or 3 more children.