#184: 20 Q’s…Help Is On the Way

184.1   It is fascinating…even priceless…the way Yahoo! Answers demonstrates how confused people today are with kinship and genealogy. Based on the grammar and spelling of the questions and answers, I would guess most of these contributors are younger. I think Baby Boomers have a better handle on it, but not all do…and we may be the last generation who actually cares…but again, maybe not. Posts are in black italics…my comments in red. In case I use it, and it’s new to you, the abbreviation OP means Original Post or Original Poster.

184.2  Question: I have a half sister named Kelsey, but we are closer than most full siblings. We have the same mom but different dads. Neither one of us speak to our fathers anymore (long story). Kelsey is married to a man named Brent, and they have a son named Dustin. I am married to Brent’s full sister, her name is Corrie. Now Corrie and I are expecting our first child, a girl we are naming Mae. What would the official term be for them? We are just curious because they will not technically be double cousins but they will not be regular cousins either. Does anyone know? 

184.3  My Answer: I know! I know! You’re right in saying that Mae and Dustin won’t be double 1st cousins because while they are 1st cousins thru Brent and Corrie, they are only half-1st cousins thru you and Kelsey. They are “double cousins” in the sense that they are related 2 ways. “Regular double cousins” would fit if the 2 ways are the same…but since the 2 ways are different, they are “irregular double cousins.” Do this: total up their degree of relationship and see how it compares with more common relations…for them, it’s 1/8 + 1/16 = 3/16….which is halfway between 1st cousins at 2/16 and half-siblings at 4/16. So you can say they’re closer than 1st cousins but not as close as half-siblings. chart 645 184.4  Answer #1, “Rated Highest” by others…Brent and Corrie are siblings…their children are first cousins, via that relationship. They are 1/2 1st cousins through you and Kelsey. So true…good for you. Most persons just leave off the 1/2 portion. They are cousins through both parents sides. Normally, one would go with the “closest” relationship which is full 1st cousins. Well, except if you leave off  the “1/2 portion” then their relationship on both sides is simply 1st cousin, and neither side is closer than the other, right? Now when folks are related in more than one way, they do find it convenient to use the closest relationship to describe themselves, at least in casual conversation. But I suspect when you say “normally,” you don’t actually know of any “abnormal” situations, where a more distant relationship is the one they prefer…”normally” is just a filler word, like “um” or “you know.” chart 50 re 184.5  But as it turns out…ha!…I do know of such an abnormal case: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. They are in fact related to each other in many ways…2nd cousins once removed…3rd cousins…4th cousins…4th cousins once removed…5th cousins…probably more. Now 2C 1R is 1/64, which is closer than 3rd cousin at 1/128…but when it’s simplified to only one relationship, the one I see used most often is  3rd cousins. I believe the reason is this: they are 3rd cousins because they are both the great great grandchildren of Queen Victoria and Crown Prince Albert…thus this relationship is both Royal and British, because Victoria was British, altho Albert was German. Phillip is a 2nd cousin to Elizabeth’s father King George VI since the two men are the great grandchildren of King Christian IX of Denmark…Royal but not British, you see? It makes a difference, apparently…even so, Victoria’s mother, 3 of her 4 grandparents, and all 8 of her great grandparents were from Germany. Then again, maybe 3rd cousin simply “sounds” closer than 2C 1R…

184.6  Answer #2…your spouses are siblings. your children are half cousins. good luck.  And with answers like this, you’ll need some luck. Yes, your children are half-1st cousins, but not because your spouses are siblings, but because you and Kelsey are half-siblings. Your spouses being siblings makes the children full 1st cousins.

184.7  Answer #3…When the kids are old enough to enjoy silliness they can honesty say they are one and a half cousins. I’m not against silliness, heaven knows, but honestly they cannot. The trouble is that the larger the “number” of the cousins, the more distant the relationship…2nd cousins are more distant than 1st, 3rd are more distant than 2nd, etc. So 1½ cousins would be more distant than 1st…but as we saw in 184.3, Mae and Dustin are closer than 1st, not more distant. D’oh! If “1½ cousins” has any meaning at all, it can only mean half-1st cousins…more distant than 1st, less distant than 2nd.

184.8  Answer #4…I have 10 years on Observer, since I’ve been a genealogical researcher for 50+ years, and I use “half cousin” ALL the time. I know a family whose children are half first cousins, 7 times removed, to president John Adams. We don’t use it a lot, but we use it. How special for you….or them…or somebody. Your children will have two relationships; full first cousin and half first cousin, Many people have two, but not so close. My brothers and sisters are also my 4th, 5th and 7th once removed cousins, for example. Most genealogists can say the same thing about their siblings. (Probably not that exactly, but “also” followed by a number of cousinhoods.) Most normal people could too, if someone would research their family tree. Ok, here’s the deal…siblings are also cousins to each other if their parents are cousins to each other. Based on complex mathematical and demographic analysis, it’s been estimated that everybody alive today is at most a 50th cousin to everybody else. So technically, you’re right…for example, my parents could be 20th cousins to each other…unfortunately, discovering kinship that remote is all but impossible, unless you’re related to royalty. Official and familial record-keeping simply wasn’t that good. We usually drop the “half” for anyone to whom we are related save brother and sister, and usually drop it for them if we get along; and we usually drop all but the closest relationship; when I introduce my brother I say he’s that, dropping the cousins part. If, however, I’m at the genealogy clubhouse, cursing the way they spelled “Pack” in Arkansas in 1850, and it is 2 for 1 night in the tap room, I will introduce my brother as that plus all three cousin titles.  And that’s fine according to your clubhouse rules, I’m assuming…

184.9  Answer #5…There is a half sibling relationship between you and Corrie. Your Spouses are siblings. Your children would would half cousins on your side (this is not a term that is used in Genealogy)  and first cousins on their fathers side. Source(s): Genealogical researcher 40+ years  This basic answer is correct, altho there’s no “fathers’ side” since both couples are of mixed gender family-wise, if you catch my drift…better to say “on the other side.” And half-cousin most definitely is a term used in genealogy…and the fact that a researcher of 40+ years uses it…shows the good of it.


184.10  Question…Ana has 2 aunts,Gertie&Samntha& 1 uncle,Jimbo.Jimbo has nephew on Anna’s side of family,Timothy. what is relation b/w timonthy’s child & ana?  

184.11  My Answer…When answering kinship questions, I assume that people are related by blood, not by marriage, and go from there. Here, Jimbo’s nephew TImothy could be Gertie’s son, Samantha’s son, the son of another of Jimbo’s siblings…or even Anna’s brother! But assuming brother is out, Timothy is Anna’s 1st cousin…thus Timothy’s child is Anna’s 1st cousin once removed.

chart 646 184.12  Answer #1, “Rated Highest” by others…Well none of us can tell unless we knew how the aunts and uncles are related.  Speak for yourself, bucko! There are aunts and uncles that are siblings to your parents. Then there are aunts and uncles only because they married siblings to your parents. Except…that here  Timothy is described as Jimbo’s “nephew on Anna’s side of the family.” Thus even if Jimbo were Anna’s uncle by marriage, married to Anna’s blood aunt, Timothy is still Anna’s blood 1st cousin thru that aunt. If Jimbo were an uncle by marriage, and Timothy were his nephew by one of his siblings, TImothy wouldn’t be on Anna’s side of the family…but he is!  You missed that. The only family of your aunts and uncles by marriage that are related to you are the children,. grandchildren etc they produce by your aunts and uncles who are siblings to your parents. Their nieces and nephews by their siblings aren’t related to you at all unless some place back down the line you share a common ancestor. Again, true enough, but irrelevant in this case. Too many young people think their cousins’ cousins are related and they aren’t unless some place back down the line they shared a common ancestry.  Your questions is very convoluted as you don’t explain how the aunts and uncles are related. Your cousins on your mother’s side of the family are not related to the cousins on your father’s side unless some place along the line they share a common ancestor. I was taught this when I was about 5 of 6 years old. It appears today no one explains relationships to kids. Don’t feel bad a lot of the questions we get from young people trying to determine relationships are convoluted.  All I can say is: Ask a convoluted question, get a convoluted answer…except to me the question was crystal clear. 1

84.13  Answer #2…Find the common blood ancestor of timonthy’s child & ana and you will then be able to work out if their is any relationship or if there is no common blood ancestor there is no relationship  Well, sure…but something tells me this is a skill the OP lacks..at least for now…


184.14  Question…How is my great grandfather’s half brother’s granddaughter related to me? I know she’s my cousin but what degree is she 1st? 2nd? 3rd? and then there’s all this once/twice/thrice removed stuff…it’s confusing.

184.15 My Answer…As per Chart 647, the granddaughter is your parent’s half-2nd cousin…your parent is one generation removed form you, so the granddaughter is your half-2nd cousin once removed. BTW, nobody says “thrice” anymore…not needed in this case anyway. chartt 647 184.16  Answer #1, “Rated Highest” by others…Half brothers don’t matter when you’re calculating how close you are related.  Wrong! Fail! Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no such thing as a half cousin.  A quick google…and in this case quick means 0.27 seconds…says otherwise. Your grandfather and her father were cousins. Your father and her are second cousins. This makes you a second cousin, once removed. Put a “half-” in front of that and we’re good to go.

184.17  Answer #2  It’s early. I hope my abbreviations don’t confuse you. It gets less confusing if you draw a picture:  Generation 1: GGF & HB = half brothers Generation 2: Your grandparent & HB’s child = half 1st cousins Generation 3: Your parent & HB’s GD = half second cousins Generation 4: You & HB’s GD’s child = 3rd cousins  I threw in GD’s child as a bonus, and to show you GD isn’t your 3rd cousin.  I won’t deny that your heart’s in the right place…but you risk further confusing a confused person…better to say what the correct relationship is, not what it isn’t. That being said, you have correctly identified each rung of the “Cousin Ladder.” Gold star for you.You and GD are in different generations; even if you are close to the same age, you are in different generations. That’s where removed comes in. Removed means “generations apart”. If you were to draw a line from you to GD, it would not be perfectly horizontal. It would tilt up a bit. Careful now! It might also tilt up a lot…or not at all if you put people who are the same general age at the same horizontal level, which you’re perfectly free to do. It doesn’t change their relationship…it’s just a different way to draw the diagram. You two are half second cousins once removed through one of your parents. Most people would drop the “half”. In fact, unless you are bragging in the genealogy clubhouse, “distant cousin” would be enough, in casual conversation, or just “cousin”, as in “My cousin is a dynamite tennis player.”  Except that in a genealogical context, you wouldn’t be bragging, just being accurate. Saying “distant cousin” would suggest to a genealogist that you didn’t know. Added later:  Some of us use “half” and some don’t. If, God forbid, you needed a bone marrow transplant, they’d test your first cousins before your half first cousins.  90% of the obituaries I read – and I’ve read thousands – don’t distinguish between half siblings and siblings. A careful genealogist uses “half” if he/she wants to be precise. It’s too clumsy for normal people.  What, normal people can’t be clumsy?

184.18  Answer #3…2nd cousin, once-removed. We don’t use the ‘half’ title here. Your GrGrFather has a (half) brother. Those old guys each have children who are 1st cousins. The next generation down (your parent and the woman you speak about) are 2nd cousins. We go down another generation to get to you, but we don’t go down a generation for the woman. There is a one generation difference. That is where the ‘once-removed’ applies. If this woman has kids, they will be your 3rd cousins. Same deal as before….add “half-“. Same generation is siblings (Brothers & sisters). One generation down (kids) are 1st cousins. Two generations down are 2nd cousins. Three generations down are 3rd cousins. ‘Removed’ means a generation difference. (once, twice). 

184.19  Answer #4…As long as she is blood related through your great grandfather’s half brother, ie you share at least one Great Great Grandparent, then she is a half 2nd cousin once removed to you…if on the other hand you do not share a common blood ancestor then you are not related at all  I’d be interested to know how you think your great grandfather’s half-grand niece and you could conceivably not be blood relatives. The only way that could happen is if your great grandfather and his half-brother weren’t related…but they are, since they’re half-brothers. 

184.20  Are you learning from the mistakes of others, dear friends? We will continue in half a fortnight…  


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


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