Having been contacted by a new cousin I thought I’d do a bit of tidying up of the family tree. You know the sort of thing, spend an hour or so playing with it and producing a chart of all my extant (known) cousins. That was about a week ago. Since then everything else seems to have gone to pot while I try to get my head around who’s who again. And as for producing a chart! If I ever do it will be about twelve A4 sheets stuck together side by side. I had failed to realise how many cousins were known. Nearly all of them people I haven’t met or, if I have, it was so long ago I was hardly out of short trousers. And no Marcheline – you can’t have a photo of me in short trousers!
Why did people in the nineteenth century each have ten children? And no I don’t want hints as to the answer to that! It was a rhetorical question. Suffice it to say that if just one of your great grandmothers was one of ten and had ten children, many of whom themselves had three or four, some of whom had their obligatory national average of two and half each… You end up with a lot of cousins.
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My Great Uncle Wardie, like a number of his predecessors married a first cousin. These sort of things complicate matters even more. Uncle Wardie devoted his whole life to family history and all those cousins - so far as were known to him - were noted in detail. So until his death in the 1950s the information was as up-to-date as it could be. It existed of thousands (literally) of carbon-copied pages of largely
irrelevant information. A lot has happened in the last fifty or sixty years but by virtue of a couple of my cousins having kept in touch we have a note of a few branches of the family from then until the turn of the twenty first century.
The only consolation in all this is that despite my father’s mother (a Jones) having three sisters and three brothers, none of them had children. So I don’t have to keep up with the Joneses.
Ironically, despite all those cousins GB and I only ever had three first cousins, only one of whom is still alive, my Dad’s nephew Walter in Australia. GB visited him a few years ago. It wouldn’t surprise me if Walter lived next door to one of our more distant cousins while any one of my US readers could be acquainted with a descendant of one of the many uncles, aunts and cousins who emigrated to the States in the nineteenth century.
If I ever get the chart finished I shall put it on the web and see how many more cousins emerge from the woodwork. Or, to use a more updated analogy, emerge from cyber space…