Ancestry - Family Relationships Explained

Updated: Apr 12


Updated blog (29-1-2020) in association with Find my Past


If somebody said, “ I'm your third cousin, twice removed," would you have any idea what they means? No me neither!


The Basics


We all have a good understanding of basic relationship words such as "mother," "father," "aunt," "uncle," "brother," "sister", "cousin" etc.

But do we know much about "second cousin" & "first cousin, once removed"?


Cousin" usually seems good enough when you are introducing one person to another, so most of us aren't familiar with what these words mean.


The definitions below should help you out.


Cousin (a.k.a "first cousin"):

Your first cousins are the people in your family who have two of the same grandparents as you. In other words, they are the children of your aunts & uncles.


Second Cousin:

Your second cousins are the people in your family who have the same great-grandparents as you, but not the same grandparents.

Third, Fourth, & Fifth Cousins:

Your third cousins have the same great-great-grandparents, fourth cousins have the same great-great-great-grandparents, & so on.

Removed


: When the word "removed" is used to describe a relationship, it indicates that the two people are from different generations. You and your first cousins are in the same generation (two generations younger than your grandparents), so the word "removed" is not used to describe your relationship.


The words "once removed" mean that there is a difference of one generation.


For example, your mother's first cousin is your first cousin, once removed.


This is because your mother's first cousin is one generation younger than your grandparents & you are two generations younger than your grandparents.

This one-generation difference equals "once removed."

Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference.


You are two generations younger than a first cousin of your grandmother, so you & your grandmother's first cousin are first cousins, twice removed.


Prince Harry & Princesses Beatrice & Eugenie are 1st cousins

Still confused? You’re not the only one!

Luckily I have a great chart here to make things a bit easier.


Instructions for Using a Relationship Chart

Pick two people in your family and figure out which ancestor they have in common.


For example, if you chose yourself and a cousin, you would have a grandparent in common.

Look at the top row of the chart and find the first person's relationship to the common ancestor.

Look at the far left column of the chart and find the second person's relationship to the common ancestor.


Determine where the row and column containing those two relationships meet.


Releationship Chart

There are two other charts further down the page that you may wish to use.

Here are some great examples;


The Queen & Duke of Edinburgh are second cousins once removed, their common ancestor is King Christian IX of Denmark and they are also third cousins through Queen Victoria.



Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)l is the 6th cousin once removed of Lady Diana Spencer, later Princess of Wales (1961-1997). Their common ancestor is Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough (1706-1758).



Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) is the 6th cousin 2 times removed of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (1982-). Their common ancestor is Charles Spencer (1706-1758), an ancestor of his mother.




Nicholas II of Russia (1868-1918) is the 1st cousin 2 times removed of Queen Elizabeth II (1926-). Their common ancestor is King Christian IX of Denmark (1818-1906).


Christian IX was the father of Princess Alexandra of Denmark, (1844-1925) later Queen consort & wife of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom (1841-1910), Alexandra was the great grandmother of Elizabeth II. Christian IX was also father of Princess Dagmar of Denmark, later Maria Feodorovna, Empress consort of Russia (1847-1928), she was the mother of Nicholas II.



Maud, Queen of Norway (1869-1938) is the grand aunt of Queen Elizabeth II (1926-), and Queen Elizabeth II is the grand niece of Maud. Their common ancestor is Edward VII (Maud's father, & Elizabeth's great grandfather).



Zara Tindall née Phillips, (1981-) daughter of Princess Anne (1950-) is the 1st cousin once removed of Prince George (2013-) & Princess Charlotte (2015-). Their common ancestor is Queen Elizabeth II (1926-).



Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (1984-) is the 4th great grandson of Queen Victoria (1819-1901), and Queen Victoria is the 4th great grandmother of Prince Harry.



Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (1930-2002) is the grand aunt of Princess Eugenie (1990), and Princess Eugenie is the grand niece of Princess Margaret. Their common ancestor is Lady Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon, later Queen Elizabeth, the Queen mother (1900-2002)





Thank you for reading