Understanding cousin relationships can be difficult. If you have ever wondered “what is my cousin’s child to my child?” or heard someone say something like “He is my 2rd cousin once removed” it can be confusing. What does it mean? How can a cousin be removed?
I am hoping to make it a bit easier for you with the kinship relationship charts I have made . Lets get busy and break down the cousin relationship in a way that we can all understand.
What does removed mean in genealogy?
If your mother has a brother, then his children are your first cousins and you share a common set of grandparents with them. The term “removed” comes into play when your first cousin has a child. The child of your first cousin is your “first cousin once removed”. They are once removed because they are one generation below you in your family tree.
Your first cousin’s grandchildren would be your first cousins twice removed because they are 2 generations below you.
Your great aunt or great uncle’s child would also be your first cousin once removed because they are a generation ahead of you in the family tree.
Removed is a term that basically just means “removed by a generation”.
Family relationship chart -1st cousins
Who are my 2nd, 3rd or 4th cousins?
Second, third, and fourth cousin relationships get a little trickier. For this we are moving backwards.
For a person to be your first cousin, you share a set of grandparents. For second cousins you share a set of great-grandparents. Third cousins share a set of great-great-grandparents, and fourth a set of great-great-great-grandparents.
For example, your children and your first cousin’s children are second cousins. Your grandchildren and you first cousin’s grandchildren are third cousins.
Have I totally confused you yet?
Family relationship chart -2nd cousins
I want to take a second to explain something on the chart above. It was brought to my attention that I had mislabeled the right hand side of this chart when I said the Grandparent’s siblings are the Great Aunt or Great Uncle. The technical term for that person (this would be used formally in genealogy software or if professional genealogy) would be Grand Aunt or Grand Uncle. However many people still use the terms used in the chart above when describing their relationship to that person and when asked who the person is, generally refers to them as just Aunt or Uncle. This is still very much a common practice in the southern regions of the United States. I did however changed the chart below to reflect the correct terminology.
Family relationship chart -3rd cousins
Can cousins marry cousins?
Most people are shocked by the idea of cousins getting married, but it’s not as rare as you think.
My mom’s family is from the country. When I say country, I mean down home food, corn fields and cotton, and a house every 3 miles or so.
Back in the day, traveling was not easy and when it came time to date and find someone to settle down with, choices were limited. These types of situations led to distant cousins becoming husband and wife, or brothers from one family marrying sisters from another.
This causes a bit of confusion when it comes to how you are related. Just remember to take it one step and one branch at a time. It’s not unusual to be 2nd cousins through one branch and then find out they are also your 3th cousin on another.
Enjoy the journey and Happy Searching!
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