Saturday, September 16, 2006

What's the difference between second cousins and first cousins once removed?

Who's asking: Various relatives

This question comes up a lot at gatherings of my extended family. My grandfather Lamb was one of (I think) nine children, so when multiple generations get together, things get complicated.

At my cousin Christine's wedding reception last night, I sat at a table with my first cousins Beth, Jean and Sarah; my second cousin Kate; and my first cousins once removed Nick, Chuck, and Jean's son Jackson. Kate is second cousin once removed to Nick, Chuck and Jackson.

The "first" and "second" designation refers to how many generations back you share an ancestor. Only one generation separates Beth, Jean, Sarah and me from our common ancestors, our Grandma and Grandpa Lamb. Two generations separate Kate and me from our common ancestors, our greatgrandparents James and Annie Lamb, so we are second cousins.

"Once removed" and "twice removed" refer to whether or not you and the relative are members of the same generation. Nick and Chuck are sons of my first cousin Marie Louise, so they're once removed from me; they are second cousins to my children, Chris and Claire. When they have children (no time soon, please), their children will be my first cousins twice removed, and Chris and Claire's second cousins once removed.

It was a lovely wedding, by the way, and I wish I could hang out in the Hudson Valley a little longer. Instead, I'm off to Providence this afternoon for the second half of the New England Booksellers Association's conference.

Sorry I missed yesterday's post, but I'll post a bonus list of recently-read books tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

um... so what does that make me?


AnswerGirl said...

Ha! Regan, you're my first cousin. Anthropologists would call you connected but not related to my Lamb cousins, the way I am connected but not related to your Sullivan cousins (though I refer to them as my cousins, too).

Anonymous said...

It's good to be well connected.