Friday, 20 July 2012

Cousins galore

Having been contacted by a new cousin I thought I’d do a bit of tidying up of the family tree.  You know the sort of thing, spend an hour or so playing with it and producing a chart of all my extant (known) cousins.  That was about a week ago.  Since then everything else seems to have gone to pot while I try to get my head around who’s who again.  And as for producing a chart!  If I ever do it will be about twelve A4 sheets stuck together side by side.  I had failed to realise how many cousins were known.  Nearly all of them people I haven’t met or, if I have, it was so long ago I was hardly out of short trousers.   And no Marcheline – you can’t have a photo of me in short trousers! 

Why did people in the nineteenth century each have ten children?  And no I don’t want hints as to the answer to that!  It was a rhetorical question.  Suffice it to say that if just one of your great grandmothers was one of ten and had ten children, many of whom themselves had three or four, some of whom had their obligatory national average of two and half each…  You end up with a lot of cousins.   

 Permission Kindly given by

My Great Uncle Wardie, like a number of his predecessors married a first cousin.  These sort of things complicate matters even more. Uncle Wardie devoted his whole life to family history and all those cousins - so far as were known to him - were noted in detail.  So until his death in the 1950s the information was as up-to-date as it could be. It existed of thousands (literally) of carbon-copied pages of largely irrelevant information. A lot has happened in the last fifty or sixty years but by virtue of a couple of my cousins having kept in touch we have a note of a few branches of the family from then until the turn of the twenty first century.

The only consolation in all this is that despite my father’s mother (a Jones) having three sisters and three brothers, none of them had children.  So I don’t have to keep up with the Joneses.

Ironically, despite all those cousins GB and I only ever had three first cousins, only one of whom is still alive, my Dad’s nephew Walter in Australia.  GB visited him a few years ago.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Walter lived next door to one of our more distant cousins while any one of my US readers could be acquainted with a descendant of one of the many uncles, aunts and cousins who emigrated to the States in the nineteenth century. 

If I ever get the chart finished I shall put it on the web and see how many more cousins emerge from the woodwork.  Or, to use a more updated analogy, emerge from cyber space…


  1. There is loads about my family history I don't know, some things I have a rather vague idea of and relatively little I can really say I have information on.
    When I was in my teens, I showed a sudden interest in our family tree, and my dad gave me a green cardboard folder with some carbon copies of type-written pages of information that some aunt I never met had compiled in the 1960s or 70s. I don't know if that folder still exists; our southern part of the family have generally lost touch with the northern (much larger and much richer) part, and while I know there is a branch of our family in the US (they started out in Boston), there is no contact to these anymore, either.
    Reading your description here puts me in two minds about the whole thing - on the one hand, with the help of the internet, it should be easier to find out more; on the other hand, do I want to...?

    1. My problem - and it is a problem at times - is I was born inquisitve. If I see a beautiful butterfly I am rarely satisfied to leave it at that - I want to know the butterfly's name to be really content. I can justify that by saying I can then reserach it and find out if I'm likely to see it agsin, etc. but really it's just a desire to know. Similarly with the family. The two cousins who emerged prior to this latest one have already receded into oblivion - not even on Christmas card lists. But I enjoyed finding out about them.

  2. I've been working on my family history too using and through it I've reconnected with a 2nd cousin, met a 3rd cousin, connected with first cousin, a cousin's wife and my uncle's widow.
    Like you my 19th century ancestors had tons of kids, and unfortunately or perhaps fortunately that trend continued into the 20th century.
    One thing I've noted, my family member lived long lives, frequently into their 80's and 90's even in the 18th and 19th century.

  3. That's wonderful! I only have one first cousin (now sadly deceased) but gave up trying to count the second cousins and third cousins years ago. There are just too many. Whatever you might say about my dad's family, they were a prolific bunch. They used to have a yearly reunion -- so large it was held in a public park!!

  4. An unknown distant cousin of mine popped up out of the woodwork in California last year and wanted to plan a reunion in Liverpool of cousins from different countries in the world. At first it sounded like fun and then I thought "Do I want to spend money on travel and a hotel to meet folk that I do not know and will never see again - No!" Don't think I was the only one as it did not happen in the end.


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