MY MOTHER'S FAMILY TREE
SURNAME INDEX: RELATIONSHIPS
|When I first started researching my family tree I found it difficult to determine how various people were related to me and to each other. The terms
"second cousin" and "twice removed" baffled me. When you start dealing with 12th cousins four times removed you almost abandon hope.
But when it was explained to me by a more experienced researcher it all made perfect sense. The best way to explain it is with a simple diagram:
|I think it's safe to say that everyone knows that the children of siblings are first cousins, so in the above chart Daniel and Ambrose are first cousins.
Likewise everyone should know that Patrick was Ambrose's uncle and James W was Daniel's uncle.
Second cousins are the children of first cousins. So your child and your first cousin's child are second cousins. Third cousins are the children of second cousins, forth cousins are the children of third cousins, and so on.
The terms once removed, twice removed, etc., are only used in relation to cousins and indicate that someone is one or more generations removed from a cousin. In the above chart, James E is Ambrose C's first cousin once removed because he is one generation down. Likewise, Mary J is Daniel's first cousin twice removed because she is two generations down - or "removed" - from Daniel.
Finally, is someone "Great" or "Grand"?
The terms Granduncle and Grandaunt are another thing that confuse people. Is your grandfather's sister your Great Aunt or your Grand Aunt? Actually the terms are interchangeable and either is correct. I choose to use Grand for the siblings of Grandparents because it keeps the generations straight.
If you call your Grandfather's brother your Great Uncle then your Great-Grandfather's brother would have to be your Great-Great Uncle...which doesn't really make sense. Calling your grandfather's brother your Granduncle means that your Great Grandfather's brother can be correctly called your Great Granduncle and all the generation numbers stay nice and simple.
So Patrick Madden is the Uncle of Ambrose, the Granduncle of David, and the Great Granduncle of Mary J.