Posthumous birth

Not to be confused with Coffin birth.

A posthumous birth is a birth of a child after the death of a parent.[1] A person born in these circumstances is called a posthumous child or a posthumously born person. Most instances of posthumous birth involve the birth of a child after the death of its father, but the term is also applied to infants delivered after the death of the mother, usually by caesarean section.[2]

Legal implications

Posthumous birth has special implications in law, potentially affecting the child's citizenship and legal rights, inheritance, and order of succession. Legal systems generally include special provisions regarding inheritance by posthumous children and the legal status of such children. For example, Massachusetts law states that a posthumous child is treated as having been living at the death of the parent,[3] meaning that the child receives the same share of the parent's estate as if the child had been born before the parent's death. Another emerging legal issue in the United States is the control of genetic material after the death of the donor.[4] United States law holds that posthumous children of U.S. citizens who are born outside the United States have the same rights to citizenship that they would have had if the deceased U.S. citizen parent had been alive at the time of their birth.[5]

In monarchies

A posthumous birth has special significance in the case of hereditary monarchies following primogeniture. In this system, a monarch's own child precedes that monarch's sibling in the order of succession. In cases where the widow of a childless king is pregnant at the time of his death, the next-in-line is not permitted to assume the throne, but must yield place to the unborn child, or ascends and reigns until the child is born. In monarchies that follow male-preference cognatic primogeniture, the situation is similar where the dead monarch was not childless but left a daughter as the next-in-line, as well as a pregnant widow. A posthumous brother would supplant that daughter in the succession, whereas a posthumous sister, being younger, would not. Similarly, in monarchies that follow agnatic primogeniture, the sex of the unborn child determines the succession; a posthumous male child would himself succeed, whereas the next-in-line would succeed upon the birth of a posthumous female child.

Modern complications

Posthumous conception by artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization, whether done using sperm or ova stored before a parent's death or sperm retrieved from a man's corpse, has created new legal issues.[3] When a woman is inseminated with her deceased husband's sperm, laws that establish that a sperm donor is not the legal father of the child born as a result of artificial insemination have had the effect of excluding the deceased husband from fatherhood and making the child legally fatherless.[6] In the United Kingdom before 2000, birth records of children conceived using a dead man's sperm had to identify the infants as fatherless, but in 2000 the government announced that the law would be changed to allow the deceased father's name to be listed on the birth certificate.[7] In 1986 a New South Wales legal reform commission recommended that the law should recognize the deceased husband as the father of a child born from post-mortem artificial insemination, provided that the woman is his widow and unmarried at the time of birth, but the child should have inheritance rights to the father's estate only if the father left a will that included specific provisions for the child.[7] In 2001, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was asked to consider whether the father's name should appear on the birth record for a child conceived through artificial insemination after her father's death, as well as whether that child was eligible for U.S. Social Security benefits. The court ruled in January 2002 that a child could be the legal heir of a dead parent if there was a genetic relationship and the deceased parent had both agreed to the posthumous conception and committed to support the child.[3] Different U.S. state courts and federal appellate courts have ruled differently in similar cases. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Astrue v. Capato that twins born 18 months after their father's death using the father's frozen sperm were not eligible for Social Security benefits, which set a new precedent.


In the Middle Ages, it was traditional for posthumous children born in England to be given a matronymic surname instead of a patronymic one. This may in part explain why matronyms are more common in England than in other parts of Europe.[8]

Notable people born posthumously

Name Born Late parent Parent died Gap Comments
Alexander IV of Macedon August 323 BCE Alexander III (the Great) of Macedon 11 June 323 BCE 2 months
Shapur II
10th king of the Sasanian Empire (309-379)
309 Hormizd II
8th king (302-309)
309 Shapur is believed to be the only monarch in history who was crowned in utero
Prophet of Islam
c. 570 Abdullah ibn Abdul-Muttalib January 571 6 months
Robert I
King of France
15 August 866 Robert the Strong 2 July 866 6 weeks Robert the Strong died at the Battle of Brissarthe
Charles III "The Simple"
King of France
17 September 879 Louis the Stammerer 10 April 879 5 months
Lothair III
Holy Roman Emperor
1075 Gebhard of Supplinburg 9 June 1075 ? Born "shortly after" his father's death
Baldwin V
King of Jerusalem
August 1177 William of Montferrat, Count of Jaffa and Ascalon June 1177 2 months
Arthur I
Duke of Brittany
29 March 1187 Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany 19 August 1186 7 months
Theobald I
King of Navarre
30 May 1201 Theobald III, Count of Champagne 24 May 1201 6 days
St Raymond Nonnatus
Catalan religious
1204 His mother 1204 - Believed to have been delivered from his mother's womb after she died during childbirth.[2]
Przemysł II
King of Poland
14 October 1257 Przemysł I of Greater Poland 4 June 1257 4 months
John I "The Posthumous"
King of France
15 November 1316 King Louis X of France 5 June 1316 5 months He lived for only six days, but was a king for his entire short life.
John, 3rd Earl of Kent 7 April 1330 Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent 19 March 1330 19 days Edmund was executed
William of Bavaria-Munich 1435 William III, Duke of Bavaria 12 September 1435 up to 3 months He also died in 1435
Ladislaus the Posthumous
King of Bohemia, Hungary and Croatia, Duke of Austria
22 February 1440 King Albert II of Germany 27 October 1439 4 months
Henry VII
King of England
28 January 1457 Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond 1 or 3 November 1456 3 months
John Louis
Count of Nassau-Saarbrücken
19 October 1472 Johann II of Nassau-Saarbrücken 15 July 1472 3 months
Pope Clement VII 26 May 1478 Giuliano de' Medici 26 April 1478 1 month Giuliano was assassinated in the Pazzi Conspiracy
Alexander Stewart
Duke of Ross
30 April 1514 King James IV of Scotland 9 September 1513 7 months His father King James IV died at the Battle of Flodden; Alexander died at the age of only 20 months, but during his short life he was heir presumptive to the throne of the Kingdom of Scotland
Françoise d'Orléans-Longueville 5 April 1549 François d'Orléans, Marquis of Rothelin, Prince of Chalet-Aillon, Viscount of Melun 25 October 1548 5 months
King of Portugal
20 January 1554 João Manuel, Prince of Portugal 2 January 1554 18 days Upon his birth, Sebastian immediately became Crown Prince
Ben Jonson
Elizabethan playwright
c. 11 June 1572 April 1572 2 months
Frederick William II
Duke of Saxe-Altenburg
12 February 1603 Frederick William I, Duke of Saxe-Weimar 7 July 1602 7 months
St Joseph of Cupertino
Italian mystic
17 June 1603 Felice Desa ? ?
François-Henri de Montmorency
Duke of Luxembourg
8 January 1628 François de Montmorency-Bouteville 22 June 1627 6 months His father was executed for dueling
Sir Isaac Newton
English scientist, mathematician
4 January 1643 Isaac Newton, Sr. ? 3 months
William III
King of England and Ireland
14 November 1650 William II, Prince of Orange 6 November 1650 8 days He was born Prince of Orange; aka William II of Scotland
Adolphus Frederick II
Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
19 October 1658 Adolf Frederick I, Duke of Mecklenburg 27 February 1658 3 months
Jonathan Swift
Irish writer (Gulliver's Travels)
30 November 1667 Jonathan Swift, Sr ? 7 months
William August
Duke of Saxe-Eisenach
30 November 1668 Adolf William, Duke of Saxe-Eisenach 21 November 1668 9 days
Edward Ward, 9th Baron Dudley 16 June 1704 Edward Ward, 8th Baron Dudley 28 March 1704[9] 10 weeks
Georg Wilhelm Richmann
German physicist
22 July 1711
William IV
Prince of Orange
1 September 1711 John William Friso, Prince of Orange 14 July 1711 6 weeks
Robert Petre, 8th Baron Petre
British peer and horticulturist
3 June 1713 Robert Petre, 7th Baron Petre 22 March 1713 10 weeks
John Morton
U.S. politician
1725 John Morton, Sr. 1725
Sir Brook Bridges, 3rd Baronet 17 September 1733 Sir Brook Bridges, 2nd Bt 23 May 1733[10] 4 months
Caroline Matilda
Queen Consort of King Christian VII of Denmark
11 July 1751 Frederick, Prince of Wales 20 March 1751 4 months
Thomas Chatterton
English poet and forger
20 November 1752 Thomas Chatterton, Sr. 7 August 1752[11] 15 weeks
Benedict Joseph Flaget
U.S. bishop
7 November 1763
Andrew Jackson
President of the United States
15 March 1767 Andrew Jackson, Sr. February 1767 3 weeks His father was killed in a lumber accident
Native American leader, Shawnee Prophet
1775 Pukeesheno ? ?
Arthur MacArthur, Sr.
Scottish born lawyer, Governor of Wisconsin
26 January 1815 19 January 1815 7 days Paternal grandfather of General Douglas MacArthur
Henri, Count of Chambord
French prince and pretender to the throne
29 September 1820 Charles Ferdinand, duc de Berry 14 February 1820 7 months
Rutherford B. Hayes
19th President of the United States 1877-81
4 October 1822 Rutherford Hayes Jr 20 July 1822 10 weeks
Anna Leonowens
British teacher and co-subject of The King and I
5 November 1831 Thomas Edwards 3 months
David Hyrum Smith 7 November 1844 Joseph Smith
Founder of Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement
27 June 1844 5 months Death of Joseph Smith
Horace Tabberer Brown
British chemist
Samuel Alexander
Australian-born philosopher
1859 Born shortly after his father's death.
George Washington Carver
U.S. botanical researcher and educator
c. 1864 His father was killed
Harry "The Breaker" Morant
Australian soldier and folk hero
9 December 1864 Edwin Murrant August 1864 4 months Morant was born Edwin Henry Murrant
Frank Anstey
Australian politician
18 August 1865 Samuel Anstey ? 5 months
George Washington Thomas Lambert
Russian-born Australian artist, father of Constant Lambert
13 September 1873 George Washington Lambert 25 July 1873 7 weeks His father was an American who died in London
Carl Adolph Schuricht
German conductor
3 July 1880 Carl Conrad Schuricht ? 3 weeks His father drowned in the Baltic Sea while trying to save a friend in distress
Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha 19 July 1884 Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany 28 March 1884 4 months
Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
U.S. admiral
24 February 1885 Chester Bernard Nimitz 14 August 1884 6 months
Clara Sipprell
Canadian photographer
31 October 1885
Alfonso XIII
King of Spain
17 May 1886 King Alfonso XII 25 November 1885 6 months
Mabel Mercer
UK/US jazz singer
3 Feb 1900 - ? ? [12]
Stanley Kunitz
Lithuanian-U.S. poet
29 July 1905 June 1905 6 weeks His father committed suicide by ingesting carbolic acid in a public park, after going bankrupt
Johan Kjær Hansen
Executed Danish resistance fighter
7 April 1907 Hans Christian Johan Andreas Hansen 13 December 1906 4 months His father died aged 34 near the methodist church in Hjørring[13]
Xiao Qian
Chinese essayist
27 January 1910
John Jacob Astor VI 14 August 1912 John Jacob Astor IV 15 April 1912 4 months His father drowned in the sinking of the RMS Titanic
Red Skelton
U.S. actor and comedian
18 July 1913 Born shortly after the death of his father
Georg Brockhoff Quistgaard
Executed Danish resistance fighter
19 February 1915 Georg Brockhoff Quistgaard 18 December 1914 2 months His namesake father died in Rigshospitalet aged 40
Alfred Shaughnessy
English writer and television producer
19 May 1916 Alfred Shaughnessy 2 months His namesake father was killed in the First World War
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Russian novelist
11 December 1918 Isaakiy Semyonovich Solzhenitsyn 15 June 1918 6 months His father was killed in a hunting accident shortly after his wife's pregnancy was confirmed
John Mitchum
US actor
6 September 1919 James Mitchum February 1919 7 months His father was killed in a railyard accident
Alexandra of Yugoslavia
Queen Consort of King Peter II of Yugoslavia
25 March 1921 Alexander
King of Greece
25 October 1920 5 months Alexander died from the effects of a monkey bite
Elisabeth of Austria
Archduchess of Austria
31 May 1922 Charles I of Austria 1 April 1922 2 months Charles had earlier been deposed but had never formally abdicated
Stephen Wurm
Hungarian-Australian linguist
19 August 1922 Adolphe Wurm
Anthony Earnshaw
English anarchist
9 October 1924
Felipe Rodríguez
Puerto Rican singer
8 May 1926
Earl Holliman
U.S. actor
11 September 1928 6 months
Itamar Franco
33rd President of Brazil
28 June 1930 Augusto César Stiebler Franco April 1930 2 months Itamar was born at sea prematurely in a cabotage ship two months after his father died of malaria.[14]
Thomas Sowell
U.S. economist
30 June 1930
Brian Sewell*
British art critic
15 July 1931 Peter Warlock* (Philip Heseltine) 17 December 1930 7 months Warlock died either accidentally or by suicide (the inquest delivered an open finding); * Sewell has only since 1986 claimed to be Warlock's son
Don Durant
U.S. actor
20 November 1932 2 months His father was killed in a truck accident
Margaret O'Brien
U.S. actress
15 January 1937 Lawrence O'Brien c. 1936
Lee Harvey Oswald
Assassin of U.S. President John F. Kennedy
18 October 1939 Robert Edward Lee Oswald 19 August 1939 2 months
Sir Henry Cecil
British champion racehorse trainer
11 January 1943 Lt. Hon. Henry Kerr Auchmuty Cecil 30 Nov - 2 Dec 1942[15] 6 weeks[15] or 2 weeks[16] His father was killed on active service with the Parachute Regiment in North Africa[16]
Sylvester McCoy
Scottish actor (Doctor Who)
20 August 1943 Percy Kent-Smith 18 July 1943 1 month His father was killed in World War II
Sir Ranulph Fiennes, 3rd Bt
British explorer and adventurer
7 March 1944 Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, 2nd Bt 24 November 1943 3 months His father was killed in action at the Battle of Monte Cassino, Italy
Bernard Collaery
Australian lawyer and politician
12 October 1944 4 months His father died on active service
Frederica von Stade
U.S. operatic soprano
1 June 1945 Charles S. von Stade 10 April 1945 2 months Her father was killed in Germany in World War II when his jeep ran over a land mine
Bill Clinton
President of the United States 1993-2001
19 August 1946 William Jefferson Blythe, Jr. 17 May 1946 3 months His father drowned following a car accident
Peter Kocan
Australian attempted assassin of Federal Opposition Leader Arthur Calwell in 1966; later a noted poet
4 May 1947 3 months His father was killed in a road accident
Jett Williams
U.S. singer
6 January 1953 Hank Williams 1 January 1953 5 days Her father, also a singer, died of alcohol- and drug-fueled heart failure
Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum
President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority
CEO and chairman of The Emirates Group
Chairman of Dubai World
1 December 1958 Saeed bin Hasher Al Maktoum
Ruler of Dubai
1958 ?
Tyrone Power Jr.
U.S. actor
22 January 1959 Tyrone Power 15 November 1958 2 months His father died of a heart attack while filming Solomon and Sheba on location in Madrid, Spain
Antwone Fisher
U.S. author, screenwriter and film producer
3 August 1959 Eddie Elkins 2 months He was born in prison; his father was shot by a jealous girlfriend 2 months earlier
Yves Amu Klein
French artist
6 August 1962 Yves Klein 6 June 1962 2 months His father died of a heart attack
Rory Kennedy
U.S. documentary film maker
12 December 1968 Robert F. Kennedy 6 June 1968 6 months Her father was assassinated during the 1968 Presidential election campaign
Brandon Teena
Hate crime murder victim
12 December 1972 Patrick Brandon 7 April 1972 8 months His father was killed in a car accident.
Diana Yukawa
Japanese-British violinist and songwriter
16 September 1985 Akihisa Yukawa 12 August 1985 1 month Her father was killed in the Japan Airlines Flight 123 crash
Gia Coppola
American film director and actress
1 January 1987 Gian-Carlo Coppola 26 May 1986 7 months Her father was killed in a boating accident
Tuki Brando
Fashion model
26 June 1990 Dag Drollet 16 May 1990 1 month His father was shot and killed by his uncle Christian Brando
Iryana Leila
Princess of Iran
26 July 2011 Ali-Reza Pahlavi 4 January 2011 6 months Her father committed suicide in Boston

Fictional people

Parikshit, the sole survivor of Kuru dynasty in Mahabharata, was born after his father Abhimanyu was killed in the Kurukshetra war.

The Greek god Asclepius is said to have been delivered by caesarean section after his mother was killed on Mount Olympus.[2]

Macduff, a character in Shakespeare's Macbeth, revealed that he was not literally born, but removed from his [dead] mother, completing a plot twist.

The Irish Republican song "The Broad Black Brimmer" was about a boy whose father died before he was born.

The Charles Dickens character David Copperfield was a posthumous child, whose father had died six months before he was born.[17]

On A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, baby Jacob was born after his father Dan was killed by Freddy.

In The Hunger Games series, Gale Hawthorne's sister Posy is born shortly after their father dies in a mine explosion, and Finnick Odair's son is born months after his death in battle.

John Connor, a principal character in the Terminator franchise, and son of Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese (a time traveler from the future), was conceived shortly before his father was killed. As an adult, John was in fact responsible for selecting Reese (who was unaware of their relation) to go back in time.

The Noughts and Crosses series character Callie-Rose Hadley is born after the execution of her father, Callum McGregor.

In the British television soap opera Coronation Street, Liam Connor Jr was born in July 2009; his father, and namesake Liam Connor, was ordered murdered by Tony Gordon just a short time after Liam Jr's conception in October 2008.

Grey's Anatomy: Derek Shepherd died in a car accident in Season 11 9 months before the birth of his daughter.

See also


  1. THE ETHICAL AND LEGAL QUAGMIRES OF POSTMORTEM REPRODUCTION, by Christie Brough, 21st National Conference on Undergraduate Research, Dominican University of California, April 2007
  2. 1 2 3 Christine Quigley, The Corpse: A History, McFarland, 1996, ISBN 0-7864-0170-2, pages 180 to 181.
  3. 1 2 3 Renee H. Sekino, Posthumous Conception: The Birth of a New Class, Boston University Journal of Sci. and Tech. Law, 2001.
  4. "Frozen in Time: Planning for the Posthumously Conceived Child". The National Law Review. Fairfield and Woods P.C. 2009-07-09. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
  5. U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 7 – Consular Affairs, 7 FAM 1180 Posthumous Children, 4-07-2006
  6. Report 49 (1986) — Artificial Conception: Human Artificial Insemination, 12. AIH and Posthumous Use of Semen, Law Reform Commission, New South Wales
  7. 1 2 Posthumous fathers to be recognised, BBC News, 25 August 2000
  8. Bowman, William Dodgson. The Story of Surnames. London, George Routledge & Sons, Ltd., 1932. No ISBN.
  9. The Peerage. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  10. leighrayment, The Baronetage. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  11. Wikisource. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  12. New York Times, 21 April 1984. Retrieved 13 July 2015
  13. "Døde Mandkøn" [Deceased Males]. Kirkebog [Parish Register]. 1899–1911 (in Danish). Hjørring Sogn. 13 December 1906. p. 91.
  14. Corpo de Itamar Franco chega a Juiz de Fora (MG), onde será velado UOL (In Portuguese), 3 July 2011, accessed in 29 November 2016.
  15. 1 2 "Lt. Hon. Henry Kerr Auchmuty Cecil". Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  16. 1 2 Wilson, Julian (11 June 2013). "Sir Henry Cecil obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  17. "Blundeston - David Copperfield". Retrieved 5 July 2015.

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/30/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.