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Marriage Legality

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Marriage Legality

Postby Dene Fisher » Sun Jan 01, 2017 7:33 pm

Can anyone help with the legality of a possible marriage please
Would a marriage between 1st cousins x1 removed have been legal in the 1870's?
I have a very complicated ancestry on one of the branches of my family tree and I seem to have come across the above
Thanks in advance
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Re: Marriage Legality

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Jan 01, 2017 8:06 pm

My understanding is that it's always been legal to marry your cousin in the UK. And first cousin once removed is further apart. See http://www.genetic-genealogy.co.uk/Toc115570145.html which is one of the earlier references on Google.
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Re: Marriage Legality

Postby SoozOne » Mon Jan 02, 2017 4:54 am

I have three first cousin marriages, two before your date, on my mother's tree. As well two first cousin marriages, one before your date in my father's tree. First cousin once removed, as in your query, takes it a further step away.


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Re: Marriage Legality

Postby coopernicola » Mon Jan 02, 2017 2:48 pm

The marriage of first cousins, I believe has always been considered OK by the church. I have, as I'm sure many people have, the odd cousins marrying within my family tree.
The genetic problem occurs only if successive generations of the same family continue to marry cousins. This is demonstrated quite well by the European Hapsburg dynasty who intermarried to such an extent they eventually stopped producing children. Historically marriage of cousins was more of a genetic problem when the monied classes tried to keep land/property within the family.
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Re: Marriage Legality

Postby Guy » Mon Jan 02, 2017 8:58 pm

My tables of Consanguinity & Affinity are on the web at
http://www.rootschat.com/links/0ybp/
They give lists from Biblical times to the modern Book of Common Prayer.
There is also a chart to show cousins etc on the page

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Re: Marriage Legality

Postby brunes08 » Mon Jan 02, 2017 9:34 pm

Queen Victoria and her husband, Albert, were first cousins. They married in 1840.
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Re: Marriage Legality

Postby pete25 » Thu Jan 05, 2017 1:27 am

My 2x great grandfather (from my mums branch of the family) married his deceased wife sister in the 1840s. He married his first wife in Maclesfield (she was born in Nottingham) and when he married his first wife's sister he married her in Nottingham and fetched her back to Maclesfield unawares to the authorities. There was a 'deceased wife sister act' and it was forbidden to marry a deceased wife sister.
What was very sad about all of this was my 2x great grandfathers first wife was only 19 yrs of age when she died on Christmas Day giving birth


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Re: Marriage Legality

Postby JaneyH » Thu Jan 05, 2017 8:42 am

I have a curious case in my tree, in the second half of the 19th century. Two brothers married two sisters, then the male offspring of one couple married the female offspring of the other couple. This resulting couple were cousins through both their maternal and paternal lines, if this makes sense. Perhaps not surprisingly, they had no children themselves.

When people refer to "in-breeding" I think this is exactly the sort of case they mean. This family was in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. While it had been a very isolated rural area in the beginning of the 19th century it became a centre for coal mining and iron ore extraction/smelting.


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Re: Marriage Legality

Postby AdrianB38 » Thu Jan 05, 2017 11:14 am

Makes perfect sense.

They were what can be referred to as double cousins. The usual married couple have 4 sets of grandparents between them. Married cousins have 3 sets of grandparents. Married double cousins would have just 2 sets of grandparents.

My vague understanding is that one-offs like this are not usually an issue - it's the accumulated restriction of the gene pool that poses a risk - and only a risk, not a certainty - of issues.

Restricted gene pools must be found in lots of situations. I'm looking at some relatives of a relative in the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland - i.e. upper class and upper middle class Church of Ireland. Feels like lots of cousin / 2nd cousin marriages. Even when they go to Canada, they don't break the habit of restricted circles as I just found 2 brothers marrying 2 sisters so their 2 sets of offspring (if any) would be double cousins.

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Re: Marriage Legality

Postby JaneyH » Thu Jan 05, 2017 11:43 am

Thanks Adrian - in my own mind I used the phrase "double cousins" but didn't realise it was the proper term! What I do know is that it took me a while to ensure I'd mapped it correctly in my FTM software.


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