A Man Was Going To St. Ives Riddle : Solution Explained

Riddle Details: 

"a man was going to St. Ives with his 7 wives. Each wife had 7 sacks. Each sack had 7 cats. Each cat had 7 kittens.  How many were going to St. Ives ?"

 Solution Explained :

As per the puzzle - There is a man, hence man =1 
and a man has 7 wives thus, the number of wives is 7
and each wife had 7 sacks hence, the number of sacks is 7*7 which is 49
and each sack had 7 cats thus the number of sacks which is 49*7 is 343 
and each cat had 7 kittens thus the number of kittens which is 343*7 is 2401


counting all will yield 2801. thus the total number going to st Ives is 2801.

Let's now check the second variation of the same puzzle, share your answer in the comment section.
On my way to St. Ives, I saw a man with 7 wives. Each wife had 7 sacks. Each sack had 7 cats. Each cat had 7 kittens.  How many were going to St. Ives?
solution: there are multiple solutions for this puzzle, solutions are based on interpretations. It is not clear in the question whether that LARGE family is going to St. Ives or not.

Again, If we assume that they all r going to St. ives, then :
1 Man + 7 Wife + 49 sacks + 343 Cats + 2401 Kittens = 2801.
including the man who saw the big family, there are 2802 going to st Ive's.

let's check the different interpretations.
So, before you start furiously multiplying and adding away, let’s consider the riddle. riddle starts with the statement “As I was going to St. Ives…” Ok, so we know the speaker is going there.

“…I met a man with seven wives.”. How did the speaker meet that man? Likely the man was going in the opposite direction else the speaker wouldn’t have met him face to face. In any case, we only have proof that the speaker is going to St Ives, not the rest of the crowd mentioned. So the man and his wives who like cats were all heading away from St. Ives or at least heading elsewhere.
What is relevant is that this means that the answer is one.

Another interpretation is, it can be potentially, two.
We also know that the man had seven wives, but it doesn’t say whether they all, or any, or none, were accompanying him at this time, we don’t even know if they were present. It’s even possible that some of the wives were going to St. Ives but the man himself was not. So, anywhere up to nine.

We’re looking, potentially, at 2802 entities, but it’s quite reasonable to think the number may be something smaller… as small as one, but lots of (punctuated) numbers in between.
It’s really not clear. 

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