and For. Med.-Chirurg. Review' April 1861 page 485. In some accounts the number of children and grandchildren is given as 37; but this seems to be an error judging from the paper first published in the 'Baltimore Med. and Phys. Reg.' 1809 of which Mr. Sedgwick has been so kind as to send me a copy.) In another case a father and his four children all became blind at twenty-one years old; in another, a grandmother grew blind at thirty-five, her daughter at nineteen, and three grandchildren at the ages of thirteen and eleven. (14/39. Prosper Lucas 'Hered. Nat.' tome 1 page 400.) So with deafness, two brothers, their father and paternal grandfather, all became deaf at the age of forty. (14/40. Sedgwick ibid July 1861 page 202.)
Esquirol gives several striking instances of insanity coming on at the same age, as that of a grandfather, father, and son, who all committed suicide near their fiftieth year. Many other cases could be given, as of a whole family who became insane at the age of forty. (14/41. Piorry page 109; Prosper Lucas tome 2 page 759.) Other cerebral affections sometimes follow the same rule,--for instance, epilepsy and apoplexy. A woman died of the latter disease when sixty-three years old; one of her daughters at forty-three, and the other at sixty-seven: the latter had twelve children, who all died from tubercular meningitis. (14/42. Prosper Lucas tome 2 page 748.) I mention this latter case because it illustrates a frequent occurrence, namely, a change in the precise nature of an inherited disease, though still affecting the same organ.
Asthma has attacked several members of the same family when forty years old, and other families during infancy. The most different diseases, such as angina pectoris, stone in the bladder, and various affections of the skin, have appeared in successive generations at nearly the same age. The little finger of a man began from some unknown cause to grow inwards, and the same finger in his two sons began at the same age to bend inwards in a similar manner. Strange and inexplicable neuralgic affections have caused parents and children to suffer agonies at about the same period of life. (14/43. Prosper Lucas tome 3 pages 678, 700, 702; Sedgwick ibid April 1863 page 449 and July 1863 page 162. Dr. J. Steinan 'Essay on Hereditary Disease' 1843 pages 27, 34.)
I will give only two other cases, which are interesting as illustrating the disappearance as well as the appearance of disease at the same age. Two brothers, their father, their paternal uncles, seven cousins, and their paternal grandfather, were all similarly affected by a skin-disease, called pityriasis versicolor; "the disease, strictly limited to the males of the family (though transmitted through the females), usually appeared at puberty, and disappeared at about the age of forty or forty-five years." The second case is that of four brothers, who when about twelve years old suffered almost every week from severe headaches, which were relieved only by a recumbent position in a dark room. Their father, paternal uncles, paternal grandfather, and granduncles all suffered in the same way from headaches, which ceased at the age of fifty-four or fifty-five in all those who lived so long. None of the females of the family were affected. (14/44. These cases are given by Mr. Sedgwick on the authority of Dr. H. Stewart in 'Med.-Chirurg. Review' April 1863 pages 449, 477.)]
It is impossible to read the foregoing accounts, and the many others which have been recorded, of diseases coming on during three or even more generations in several members of the same family at the same age, especially in the case of rare affections in which the coincidence cannot be attributed to chance, and to doubt that there is a strong tendency to inheritance in disease at corresponding periods of life. When the rule fails, the disease is apt to come on earlier in the child than in the parent; the exceptions in the other direction being very much rarer. Dr. Lucas (14/45. 'Hered. Nat.' tome 2 page 852.) alludes to several cases of inherited diseases coming on at an earlier period.