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In association with
Royal Statistical Society
Who were the Huntrodds?

Professor David Spiegelhalter talks to Timandra Harkness

I was on holiday in Whitby & went to the church up by the Abbey, and saw this fantastic monument to Mr & Mrs Huntrodds. They were both born on the same day - September 19th 1600 - they got married on their birthday & then sadly they died on their 80th birthday in 1680.

So we don't know anything more about their story, maybe they were having a whale of an 80th birthday party & the floor collapsed or maybe someone baked them a cake & they both got food poisoning, we don't know what caused this correlation, anything could have happened.

Couldn't one of them have died of a broken heart, isn't that quite common?

It's quite possible yes, within 5 hours of each other they died.

Is it common to die on your birthday?

Oh, there's argument about that. A recent study looked at a huge amount of Swiss data that suggested there was a small blip of deaths on people's birthdays. The problem is, you have to go back over a long period of records & what if someone's death day is missing when someone comes to fill in the records? The easiest thing is just to copy over the birth date.


Yep. It's extremely plausible this would explain the blip of people's deaths on their birthdays.

Another statistical illusion shattered.

I know, it's a shame.

How unlikely is it that you would marry somebody born on the same day as you?

What are the odds you'll share a birthday?

It depends if you just marry at random. if you get engaged & decide to marry & then say, "oh by the way dear, what is your birthday?" it's 1 in 365. But if you meet somebody & you're chatting them up, & for some reason it comes up, "when's your birthday?" And they say "September 19th" & you say, "goodness me, MINE's September 19th too, we must be a couple, let's get married!" Then that might increase the odds a bit.

There was a lovely family in Hampshire a few years ago who both shared their 80th birthday together... I thought that was quite rare because they were born on the same day, they were married, they were still alive on their 80th birthday. I didn't know about the Huntrodds' story then.