It was very common up until the middle of the 20th century for first and second cousins to marry. Although this practice has died out in the U.S. and Europe, it’s still common between marriages in Iraq and other Middle East countries. A report done by Christian Science Monitor in December 2006 stated more than half of all Iraq marriages are between first or second cousins.
Some famous cousin marriages include Franklin D. Roosevelt, Albert Einstein and King Edward I (to Margaret of France).
Some of the reasons cousins marry included:
*Marriage between cousins kept the riches in the family for the wealthy.
*Lack of a preferred suitor. It was believed better for a girl to marry a cousin if an unsuitable match wasn’t available.
*Lack of eligible mates in rural areas. In many areas, everyone was related to everyone else.
*The belief that a young lady would like to marry someone she already knows. This cousin logic has backfired on many occasions, creating marriages where the husband and wife hate each other.
Cousin marriages are still performed in the U.S. and Europe, although usually the information is kept private due to the stigma it creates.
There is some concern of a genetic disease being passed along when cousins marry. The Royal family of Europe have a tendency toward hemophilia, which is not a birth defect caused by inter-family marriage. Instead, this blood-clotting disorder afflicts many members of the family because it was handed down from generation to generation.
The danger of hereditary issues in cousin offspring occurs not through one generation of cousins marrying, but when this practice is repeated generation after generation within the same family.
Should you find first or second cousin marriages in your research, be sure to indicate it in the note section of your genealogy software. It’s an interesting practice that has all but died out in the past century.
NOTE: The couple in the photo weren’t cousins to my knowledge. I just love the ph