#45: Tree of David

45.1  Today, genealogy of biblical proportions…Chart 103 shows some of descendants of King David…yes, the same David who slew Goliath with a rock as a mere yout’. The chart is mine, but the information is not…I checked most of it and it appears accurate. The Bible, especially the Old Testament, is full of family histories and genealogies, lots of begetting and begottens…so I figured we’d try flexing our muscles with this one…

45.2  Generation 1…That’s Jesse at the top, in the (A) position. He was a farmer and a prominent citizen of Bethlehem…the father of the most famous of the biblical Kings…and the 42G Grandfather of Jesus, thru David’s son Nathan (K). Funny how some Biblical names have survived to the present day, like Jesse, David, Nathan…and others not, like Jerimoth, Eliab, and Abijah…The Original Rehoboam’s Famous Frankfurters?…Nope, doesn’t work…

45.3  Generation 2…David (E) and his older brother Eliab (B). David was a “hands on” King, begetting and begotting with 3 women…Jerimoth (H)’s mother is apparently not named, I label her ( C) for clarity’s sake.

45.4  Generation 3… Introduces a gaggle of half-brothers…in double-checking the names, I found there were other siblings too, but these are the ones relevant to the lines we’re following. Solomon (J) and Nathan (K) are of course full brothers, sons of Bathsheba (F)…and they are half-brothers to Jerimoth (H) and Absalom (I), who in turn are half-brothers to each other. Then there is Abihail (G), David’s niece…she is 1st cousin to all the half-brothers…whether they’re half or full brothers to each other doesn’t matter…1st cousins depend on just one parent, and that’s David = Eliab’s brother = Abihail’s uncle =  father of the half-brothers. So far so good…it’s been pretty straightforward…nobody marrying relatives…but wait for it…

45.5  Generation 4… And we welcome into the world a bouncing baby girl named Mahalath (L)…whose parents just happen to be 1st cousins…and here I’ll start using the letters instead of names so you can reference the chart.  L’s parents G and H being 1st cousins impacts her genealogically in 2 ways: first, if she had anything siblings, they’d be her 2nd cousins as well as being siblings.

45.6  And second, L has what’s called in genealogy a “double great grandfather,” altho in real life that term is virtually never heard. But it’s important in figuring family trees, because it alerts you to the fact that L has only 3 great grandfathers, not the usual 4. In this case Jesse (A) is L’s great grandfather in 2 ways…being her father H’s grandfather and also her mother G’s grandfather. And then of course you would say L is A’s double granddaughter…does that mean 2 presents for birthdays? I almost said Christmas too, but that was centuries away… 😉 😉 

45.7  The other way to look at it is to notice that L’s 2 grandfathers, B and E, are brothers. And that’s perhaps the strangest result of 1st cousins having kids. Just think of your own 2 grandfathers, and now imagine that they are brothers…unusual to say the least. And thus each of L’s grandfathers is also her grand uncle…as each is the brother of her grandfather. Remember, multiple relationships aren’t cancelled out…from a genetic standpoint, they are just as relevant as if they were normal “single” relationships. That’s what interbreeding is all about.

45.8  On the other side of Chart 103a, M and N are half-first cousins to each other, and also to L on her father H’s side…since H, I , and J are all half-brothers. But L is also 2nd cousin to M and N thru her mother G, who is 1st cousin to M and N’s fathers. Thus L and M (and the same for N) are what are informally called “double cousins”…which is to say, cousins on both sides…but technically called “irregular double cousins” since it’s not the same relationship on both sides: 2nd cousins thru L’s mother, and half-1st cousins thru L’s father. That’s a Coefficient of Relationship of 1/16 + 1/32 = 3/32, just slightly less than 1st cousins, which would be 4/32 or 1/8.

45.9  Generation 5…And now we come to O and P…and you know what? I’m going to continue this next week. Why don’t you work on it…what are the multiple relationships between O and P? And here’s a hint: Enhanced Half Siblings…but enhanced how exactly? See yez then…


Copyright © 2011 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved



#44: Mailbagapalooza

44.1  Dear Stolf: My father is an identical twin…how does that make me related to his brother?  …from Prudence in Plunketville

44.2  Dear Prudence: I wouldn’t go so far as to call this  the “best kept secret in genealogy,” because it’s a true fact beyond any dispute. But it is startling when you first hear it, and not something that gets bandied about all that much… but then identical twins really aren’t that common, as much as they tend to “stand out.” So here’s the answer: Your genetic relationship to your uncle is exactly the same as it is to your father.

44.3  This is because your father and your uncle are genetically identical…every gene one has, the other has. They developed from a single set of genes from their father and a single set from their mother, combined in a fertilized egg, that for whatever reason split into 2 early enough so that 2 distinct individuals were able to develop from the 2 “halves.” But apart from very minor mutations that effect all of us, identical twins are from a genetic standpoint the same person. 

44.4  Now the dynamics of human nuclear and extended families being what they are, your father is your father and your uncle is your uncle, obviously. There was a time, and Baby Boomers remember it well, when children respected, listened to, learned from, and yes even obeyed all the responsible adults in their life, related or not. Today, as they say, not so much. So in terms of the way your family “operates,” this revelation won’t change anything, nor should it.

44.5  But the fact remains…biologically, genetically, medically…you are as related to your uncle as you are to your father. So how does that effect your relationship to your 1st cousins, that uncle’s children? Siblings? No…they are as closely related to you as half-siblings…which is to say, it is as if you had the same father but different mothers. And if their mother is your mother’s identical twinyes, then indeed you and your 1st cousins are as closely related as true full siblings, strange as it sounds.

44.6  I can’t imagine what that would be like…I would assume that on a day-to-day basis, again, your siblings are your siblings and your cousins are your cousins. But one thing I’ve learned thru studying genealogy, families who have unusual kinship connections are usually very much aware of them…how much of an actual difference it makes in the “family dynamics” of their particular case varies across a wide spectrum…from nothing at all to a lot.

44.7  But there certainly is a very real difference between how people are related genetically and genealogically. Take what is known as “enhanced half-siblings.” Remember, half-sibs share say the same father but different mothers. Normally those mothers are not related to each other…but that can be…sisters or half-sisters or 1st cousins…in which case the resulting half-sibs really are more closely related than “normal” half-sibs. That’s what makes the art and craft of genealogy so fascinating…and why I’m doing “this” for the 44th time! 😉 😉

44.8  And to “translate” Charts 150 and 151…a CR of 3/8 puts you half-way between Full Siblings and Half-Siblings…5/16 is half as close to Half-Siblings as 3/8…and 9/32 is half as close again…

44.9  Dear Stolf: I saw another new posting over at wiseGeek…or as you call it dumbGeek…and I thought: Oh brother, he’s going to bust a blood vessel! What do you think?  …from Leopold, in Palookaville Heights

44.10  Dear Leopold: That’s a nice old-fashioned phrase…I like it…my Mom used to say that: Don’t bust a blood vessel! She’d also say: Don’t get your bowels in an uproar! and both are things I try not to do to this day. So yeah, I’ll try to address this calmly and rationally…but some people, eh? Talk about “bad information.” I count at least 4 glaring mistakes in Post 42’s helpful answer. At least I get to reuse a chart from way back in G4BB 20.

44.11  Altho to start with, Post 42 is correct that Double First Cousins are as closely related as Half-Siblings. That’s fine, but segues into another old saying: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Because they go on to add “or step-brothers and sisters,” which are of no relation to you, being the children of your biological parent’s spouse, due to a remarriage after death or divorce…and of course this spouse is not your biological parent. I advise that whenever you encounter someone who thinks halfs are the same as steps, you let go of your mouse and step slowly away from your computer…this person clearly has no idea what they’re talking about. (Altho parenthetically, a step-sibling could be related to you if your parent’s new spouse is related to you…for example, if your father were to marry your mother’s 2nd Cousin, or something like that…but they are generally assumed to not be, unless we hear otherwise.)

44.12  Mistake #2 is “You and your brother’s children are Double 2nd Cousins.” Wrong. You and your brother’s children are Single 1st Cousins….duh! You and your brother’s children are Double 2d Cousins to the children of your Double 1st Cousins, because collectively, their parents are all Double 1st Cousins. The Coefficient of Relationship for Single 2nd Cousins is 1/32, so for Double 2nd Cousins it’s 1/16…the same as 1st Cousins Once Removed…and also the same as Half-First Cousins, which are the chidden of Half-Siblings.

44.13  Mistake #3 is the assertion that great-grandparents are “2 generations apart from” their great-grandchildren, which in this case are the Double 2nd Cousins at the bottom of Chart 69. True, there are 2 generations between great-grandparents and their great-grandchildren, but that’s not the way genealogy looks at it…your great-grandparents are 3 generations “removed” from you, not 2, and that’s a fact, period. You might have thought that Chart 69 was overly complicated for putting in all of the great-grandparents, but you can see now why it was worthwhile to do so.

44.14  And finally, Mistake #4 parrots the weird thesis of this entire dumbGeek article…“Remember, their relationship isn’t based upon their relationship to you and your brother…it’s based on their relationship to the common ancestor.” Whatever you do, dear friends, don’t remember this, because it’s nonsense….it’s the “revelation” that’s the thrust of the essay, and it’s simply wrong. The 2 alternatives in fact both correctly describe or explain the relationship. To take it down a level, it’s like saying someone is not your 1st Cousin because they are your parent’s sibling’s child, but because you have a common grandparent, while not having a common parent. Both are true, obviously.

44.15  And depending on what you’re looking at, one description or the other can be more convenient to use…for example, in real life, you are more likely to personally know your own 2nd Cousin than your own great-grandparent, simply because of the ages involved. And in this case, knowing 2nd Cousins are the children of 1st Cousins will perhaps be more the more meaningful way to connect the relatives you know (like your parent and your parent’s 1st Cousin), altho again, both descriptions are completely correct. So…everybody’s wants to be an expert, everybody’s a big shot…Lord help us!

44.16  Dear Stolf: When I was a kid, my Grandpa used to joke about how he once worked in a corner grocery owned by a Mormon family…he called it a “Ma & Ma & Ma & Ma & Pa store.” Once I understood what he meant, I thought it was funny…but is it disrespectful to Mormons? …from Sonny in West Dullsville

44.17  Dear Sonny: Well, with both Romney and Huntsman vying for a spot on the Republican ticket in 2012, the LDS Church certainly is in the news these days. A couple of interesting facts: “Mormon” was once considered a derogatory term, but no longer…it’s like “Canuck” in Canada…after all, there’s a hockey team named that…and most Canadians are not offended…but then you can’t please everyone. The other interesting thing is that over half the Mormons in the world live outside the US…about about 8 million versus 6 million…a testament to their tireless missionary efforts.

44.18  They are also tireless in their genealogical research, and have the largest data base in the world…which they freely share with the rest of us at FamilySearch.org, which is an extraordinarily generous thing to do. Of course, the reason for these family histories is Proxy Baptism…essentially, baptizing dead relatives so they too can enter Heaven…a doctrine strange to most of us, but I’ll respect another’s beliefs if they respect mine…trouble is, that’s a mighty big IF for some people…

44.19  As for polygamy, it was repudiated as a doctrine in 1890, and phased out gradually over the next 15 years…so it is no longer relevant to the mainstream LDS Church. It is of course still practiced today by fundamentalist Mormons, both in Utah and elsewhere, where the policy is generally, but certainly not universally, to turn a blind eye. And thus, as you would expect in the course of human events, there is some dispute among the parties concerned about who the “real” Mormons are.

44.20  All that having been said, I’ve always felt that the ability to laugh at oneself is a sure indicator of mental health, even if the joke in question doesn’t accurately reflect reality. It’s just a joke…life is such that if you don’t laugh, you cry…guess which I prefer to do! There are some people who’s main interest in life is to interpret everything said to or about them as an insult…that’s just the way it is, and there’s no helping them, so I wouldn’t worry about it. More mail to open and answer next week…chow!


Copyright © 2011 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


#43: Mailbag Mania

43.1  Dear Stolf: Now that, pending the legal formalities, male preference in succession to the British throne is a thing of the past, will there no longer be such a thing as heirs presumptive, but only heirs apparent?  …from Biff in Bar Harbor

43.2  Dear Biff: Wow! That’s an alarmingly astute question. The short answer is: No, a person can in the UK still be an heir presumptive. And I presume you had in mind female heirs, but despite the change, there can still  be a female heir presumptive. Let me explain for those who don’t what what Biff and I are talking about.

43.3  In this context, the word “heir” refers to the heir to the throne, specifically the “first in line.” Were the present monarch to die at this very moment, the heir would become the new monarch. Further, there are 2 kinds of heirs: an “heir apparent” cannot be bumped from first in line. He will become King unless he dies before the present Monarch does. On the other hand, an “heir presumptive,” while currently first in line, can be bumped from that spot…he may or may not become the next King, depending on who’s born subsequently.

43.4  Thus, in Chart 144a, King Leo has no offspring…were he to die, his brother Prince Bruno would become King…thus Bruno is the heir to the throne. However, Bruno is only the heir presumptive, because he will be bumped if Leo has a child, as in Chart 144b.

43.5  But when you think about it, you realize there can now be cases where what was once an heir presumptive will now be an heir apparent.  In Chart 145a, Princess Little Beth would have been the heir presumptive by the old system…as soon as a brother was born, he would leap-frog ahead of her, and as a male, become the unbumpable heir apparent. That can no longer happen. In the new system, Princess Little Beth is now unbumpable.

43.6  But this does not mean, as I suspect you were implying, that a female heir cannot still be bumped. In Chart 145b, Princess Brunette is the heir presumptive…the birth of Leo’s first child will move her to 2nd in line. And again, by the old system, that child would have been heir presumptive if a female…now, a female first child would be heir apparent.

43.7  But there’s an interesting twist, since that the buzz among royal watchers today is whether Kate is preggers. If a British King were married but had no offspring, and he died, the heir presumptive would become Monarch unless the Queen were pregnant…which of course, might not be known at the moment of the King’s death, nor for some time thereafter. Thus, exactly who was the new Monarch given such circumstances was not immediately obvious, and it was customary to wait to see what was what. And of course by the old system, if the King’s only child were a girl, the next Monarch would not be known until the birth of the child…if another girl, the first daughter would be Queen…but if a boy, he would be King. Under the new system, that wouldn’t happen…that first daughter would be heir apparent, not presumptive, and the pregnancy would be irrelevant to succession. Anyhow, great question!

43.8  Dear Stolf: I am in high school and my 2 friends Xoë and Zia have an interesting family arrangement. They are both an only child, and both their mothers are widows. Since their mothers are also 1st cousins, all 4 live together in the same house. That may be coming to an end, since we think Zia’s mother is about to become engaged…but for now it’s pretty neat. The problem is, altho their mothers are 1st cousins, Xoë and Zia also consider themselves 1st cousins. That doesn’t sound right to me. What do you think?  …from Berry, in Boulder

43.9  Dear Berry: You’re right, it doesn’t sound right, since the children of 1st cousins are 2nd cousins, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Now it’s very possible Xoë and Zia are simply mistaken…perhaps they have always been called “cousins,” and at some point took that to mean they are 1st cousins. Another possibility is they think they are 1st cousins once removed, and abbreviate that to 1st cousins. But my educated guess is there’s something else going on…

43.10  And that is that their fathers are brothers! Thus they are cousins in 2 ways…1st cousins thru their fathers, and 2nd cousins thru their mothers. It’s pretty much a given in our culture that when there are 2 or more different blood relationships between 2 people, the closest one is the one they “choose to be.”

43.11  In fact, there are some people who deny you can even have 2 different relationships…if your 1st cousins, you can’t be 2nd cousins…or if you’re siblings, you can’t be any kind of cousins. Of course this is not true…every relationship is as real as every other…nothing gets “cancelled out.” But most relatives are related in only one way, so exactly where you stand when there are multiple ways isn’t always clear. That’s what I’m here for, no? Yesssssssss.

43.12  Dear Stolf: Earlier this year you were answering questions from an article about cousins on a website called wiseGeek. Did you notice another has popped up?  …from Tetley, in Pekoeville, WA

43.13  Dear Tetley: I did indeed, and it’s in the bag…sorry…Chart 148…


Copyright © 2011 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#42: Gurrrlz Go Royal!

42.1  Today’s blog is dedicated to the 4973 living individuals…more or less…who are in the the Line of Succession for the British Throne. The website of the British Monarchy lists only 39…and when asked back in April by the Wall Street Journal if they would go any deeper, they answered in effect that they couldn’t be bothered. But amateur genealogists on both sides of the Big Ditch have sussed it all out, right down to 38-year-old Karin Vogel of Bostock, Germany, last on the list.

42.2  All are descendants of Princess Sophia of Hanover (above), granddaughter of James II, as prescribed by the Act of Settlement passed by Parliament in 1701. Since the first British Monarch in the year 774 AD, succession had been accomplished by a crazy-quilt jumble of laws, customs, traditions, squabbles, and yes, even bloodshed. When it appeared that Queen Anne would have no legitimate heir, Parliament designated Sophia as the heir apparent, and that only those descended from her could wear the crown…a law in effect to this day. Ironically, she died 2 months before she would have assumed the throne, and was “succeeded” by her son George I.

42.3  But in case you missed the big news…male preference in the Line of Succession will soon be a thing of the past. This reform…long-rumored to be in the works…was announced October 28 in Australia, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting…it was approved unanimously by the 16 countries represented, and will become law when each individual government passes a law to that effect. Exact birth order will now be followed…males will not jump ahead of their older sisters. So what does the new list look like?

42.4  Exactly like the old list! Nothing changes. The reform is not retroactive, and applies in principal only to the family of Prince Charles, which is to say, the prospective family of Prince William and Kate. Should their first child be a girl, and their second a boy, the girl would be third in line behind her father and grandfather…the boy would not leap-frog her as in the past.

42.5  Chart 142 shows the first 60 claimants, and as you can see, the order follows a logical pattern: Charles and his children on the far left, followed by Andrew and Edward. Princess Anne is #10…altho the 2nd born, she does not move ahead of her 2 younger brothers with the new ruling. Then comes the family of QEII’s sister Margaret, followed by her 6 1st cousins, and their families, in order of the birth of her father’s siblings. I apologize for the “squished” nature of this chart…it was taken from a larger one that included the Queen’s 2nd cousins, but would have been too wide to present here. I colored the families of George VI’s siblings to make them easier to delineate.

42.6  By way of explanation, I should mention that the Queen’s sister Princess Margaret is dead, hence not in line…but that doesn’t effect her children and grandchildren.  Also, those individuals marked with E*…kind of hard to see, I know…have been eliminated from contention either because they married a Roman Catholic or themselves converted to Catholicism…them’s the rules…

42.7  But while this reform is hailed as a triumph for gender equality, the idea that the first-born ought to be first in line is nothing new…and in fact, royal watchers appear to be well aware who would be Queen today if this had been the rule in the days of Victoria…and that would be one Dr. Friederike von der Osten von Reich, 52 years of age, currently residing in Halle, Germany.

42.8  Because as you can see in Chart 143, Victoria and Albert’s first child was a girl, Victoria Adelaide. Instead, her next oldest brother became King Edward VII. But had the younger Victoria succeeded her mother, the Crown would have passed down to her oldest son, the infamous “Kaiser Bill,” and eventually to Friederike I. And don’t think she doesn’t know it!  ”I have always been aware of my place as descendant of Queen Victoria and that, if different succession rules had been observed, I could have had a right to the British throne.” 

42.9   OK, so a moral victory. Anyway, is Waity Katy preggers yet? Watch this space. Tons of mail to get to next week…pip pip! (Which, if heard in Britain today, is slang for “goodbye,” altho in the past it was used as a greeting, especially among the upper classes. Ciao.)


Genealogy in the funnies…I’m telling you, it’s becoming more and more of a hobby among Baby Boomers…and by following this blog, you’ll be ahead of the curve, you crafty old buzzard you!


Copyright © 2011 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved