Tuesday, 16 October 2012

How to Calculate the Cousin Relationship

Having made contact with a few distant relations this past couple of months has always resulted in the question: "So how exactly are we related?"

Here's how to figure it out.....
  • First cousins are the people in your family who have two of the same grandparents as you.
  • Second cousins have the same great-grandparents as you, but not the same grandparents.
  • Third cousins have in common two great-great-grandparents and their ancestors.
When cousins descend from common ancestors by a different number of generations they are called “removed.”
  • Once removed means there is a difference of one generation. Your mother's first cousin would be your first cousin, once removed. She is one generation younger than your grandparents and you are two generations younger than your grandparents.
  • Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference. Your grandmother's first cousin would be your first cousin, twice removed because you are separated by two generations.
Still confused??


  1. I never did understand beyond 1st cousins, despite years of doing family history, until I saw this described somewhere some years ago. I think it's by far the easiest, clearest way of figuring it out.

  2. Hi Janelle, first cousins share parents who are siblings. Your fathers' sisters children are your 1st cousins :-)
    2nd cousins each share common descent from a grandparent. We are 2nd cousins, for eg, if we share the same grandmother or grandfather.

    1. Matiu, I am sitting next to my first cousin right now. Our mothers are sisters & therefore we share the same grandparents. We would be second cousins if our mothers were cousins instead of sisters. Hope this helps :)

  3. Even more interesting than that Janelle is that we are cousins, albeit distant :-)
    In fact that is the real reason I've been trying to post here is to say thank you for your fascinating research research into our common ancestors Esther and Thomas Stubbs. I was absolutely overjoyed to find your resesrch yesterday, which absolutely confirmed for me the Australia origins of my ancestor George, Marian's younger brother. George died in a whaling accident in NZ in 1838 leaving two infant sons. Thank you Janelle

    1. OMG that's amazing!!! I'm so happy you've made contact! I always wondered what happened to George. Was he buried at sea? Was he married to someone there? I'd love to hear all about his story. You can contact me at janellemcollins at hotmail dot com , & I'll be able to send you more information about the family. There are quite a few other descendants I keep in touch with who will be thrilled to hear your story :)