Genealogy for Beginners: Cousins

15 Aug 2008

Elizabeth Powell Crowe genealogy series on Kindo

Most beginners to genealogy are fuzzy about cousinship. For example, while many understand first cousins are people with common grandparents, many folks confuse first cousin once removed and second cousin.

Then, there are families like mine: My mother’s siblings were born from 1911 to 1932. That means her youngest brother “Mike” went to school with the oldest sister’s oldest child, his niece “Karen”. As it turned out, Uncle “Mike” and niece “Karen” married two people who were siblings, “Michelle”  and “Kevin”, making their children both first cousins and first cousins once removed.

Confused yet? Okay. The number of cousinship is how many generations back the connection is, and the removed part shows the connection is more generations back for one person than another. “Mike” and “Michelle” ’s kids have common grandparents with “Kevin” and “Karen’s”, ergo, first cousins. But on the other side, “Mike” and “Michelle’s” kids have an aunt who is grandmother to “Karen’s” and “Kevin’s” children, ergo, first cousins removed by one generation.

“Mike” and “Michelle’s” grandkids are second cousins to my mother’s grandkids, i. e. my children. “Mike” and “Michelle’s” children are my first cousins. “Kevin” and “Karen’s” children are my first cousins once removed, because “Karen” and I are first cousins.

Another way to look at it: Determine the latest common ancestor, and then the number of “G”s you share.  That is the number of cousins you are. Any difference in “G”s is the number “Removed”. So, people who have the same great-grand-parents (2G) are second cousins (2C). If the great-grand-parents (2G) of one person are the great-great-grand-parents (3G) of another person, then those two people are second cousins, once removed (2C1R). They share 2Gs with a difference of 1G (3-2=1).

Here are some links to charts that might make it easier to see:

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