Saturday, September 29, 2012

Using University Libraries for Family History

Using University Libraries - how I discovered Great Uncle Rex was a Gun Runner

Harvard Library's Reading Room 

When you think of a library for family history research, undoubtably your Local, State and National Libraries will spring to mind. Most, if not all, family sleuths will have visited in person, or made use of the excellent online search facilities of a library.  University Libraries, however, are possibly not as widely availed upon as other libraries, by family historians.  Yet a search, of the vast collections of books and journals in university libraries can  yield results which would be found no where else. 

University libraries collect journals, articles, documents, theses and artifacts on specific areas of study which relate to the academic areas associated with each university. Because of the academic and therefore 'research' nature of universities, these libraries have built up huge collections of material, including a wealth of original documents. The Oxford University in England possesses original volumes of Shakespeare's plays for which there are plans for digitisation. (I have written an earlier blog which promotes the use of literature to research the life and times of ancestors.)

You can donate to help the Oxford Library digitise Shakespeare's plays

Universities today are have a very international focus with regard to both their student population and areas of teaching.The McGill University in Montreal, Canada, for example, has a mandate to 'build closer relations with international institutions' and as part of its international approach, embraces an Institute of Islamic Studies. It therefore has holdings which otherwise might only be found in the holdings of a university in an Islamic country. There are many other universities world wide which build collections of international  records and for this reason their libraries can be a treasure trove of information for historians and family historians. The inter-national sharing of information between universities, means for researchers, that one can expect to find the unexpected in a University Library. 

When researching ancestors I often conduct a google book search. Of course, obviously, not every ancestor is going to be mentioned in a book, however you might be surprised by how many ARE mentioned in  journal articles. ( although I DID find my convict 2 x great uncle, Laurence Frayne in Robert Hughes 'A Fatal Shore' through a google book search so give it a try if you haven't done so already.)

My first astounding discovery about my great Uncle Rex, through the use of a google book search, was a mention in the 'Guy Liddell Diaries, 1942-1945,', page 163. Now this might appear a seemingly insignificant mention on one page of a diary, however, when a further search revealed that Guy Liddell was MI5's Director of Counter-Espionage during the World War II years, I was somewhat taken aback.  As Managing Director of Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft Company in Southampton during the war, Rex Hoyes, had, I knew, built a secret airstrip on his Hampshire estate, Marwell Hall.  Complete with hangars and a crew of almost entirely female pilots, Seafire aeroplanes were converted to Spitfires at Marwell Hall, near Winchester, and test flights were safely conducted far from the constant enemy bombing in Southampton. I had until this moment deemed my great uncle a hero, however, now the possibility loomed largely, that my great uncle had been a spy during World War II. As compelling a story as that is, it is best left for another blog post.... 

Marwell Hall, once owned by King Henry VIII 

A view of where the secret airstrip was at  Marwell Hall

The second result of my google book search was the 'Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society- Volume 42', which presented the following intriguing excerpt from page 195 - 'Rickets introduced me to another Englishman named Rex Hoyes, whose activities seemed to be along the same lines as that of his friend. Hoyes had served in the British Royal Air Force during the war. He owned a company called V.I.P. Air...'  

A snippet from page 197 offered the following tantalising morsel of information '...Rex Hoyes was formed to smuggle arms into Hyderabad to beat the embargo imposed by India. Cotton came to see me at my home along with Hoyes...'

Something more than a niggling feeling told me that I had stumbled upon something extremely paramount. The connection between my uncle and World War II aircraft, left me with little doubt that the man mentioned in the Pakistan Historical Journal, was indeed my own Rex Hoyes, great uncle seemingly extraordinaire.  It was also line of investigation which I was immediately compelled  to continue investigating.

A further search within the journal, revealed more information, still condensed and out of context but none the less beguiling. 
Page 197... 'consisting of Sidney Cotton, an Australian pilot, William Ricketts and Rex Hoyes.'

Page 196...' I went again to London via Karachi. In London I met Hoyes and arranged to buy a converted Halifax bomber for Rs 350,000. This aircraft was in serve for the...'

Page 195...'Hoyes, who was promised a share in the 20,000 pounds, started contract with a South American embassy in London.' 

Each fragment of information was a piece of a puzzle which when brought together, I was certain would become an enthralling narrative. I also knew that the integrity of the story would only be realised by reading the entire journal article. As I searched, my frustration grew, as one google search after another  revealed nothing about the whereabouts of Volume 42 of the Journal of Pakistan Historical Society. Nor did I have any idea from what article in the journal  the excerpts originated from.

Rex Hoyes, far right

I returned to Google Books and searched the contents of the Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society, Vol 42,  this time employing different search tactics. For anyone unfamiliar with google book searches, there is a search box, usually below the illustration of the book or journal, which is headed 'FROM WITHIN THE BOOK'.  If you type relevant search words into this window, quite often you will be rewarded with far more results than your original search produced. I decided to search for other names mentioned alongside my great uncle in the journal in an attempt to discover more about the origins of the article. I typed in the name Sidney Cotton and my results showed that I had found the source immediately. Excerpts from pages 197 and 205 were entitled "Memoirs of General El-Edroos". 

My search result for 'Sidney Cotton'

General Syed Ahmad El-Edroos, I soon discovered, was the Commander in Chief of the Hyderabad State Forces. General El-Edroos led the stand against India for the last Nizam of Hyderabad, in 1948 before Hyderabad surrendered to the Indian Army. 

Sidney Cotton loading the last flight out of Hyderabad

A search for the Memoirs of  General El-Edroos, found a copy in the McGill University Library in Montreal, Canada as well as in several university libraries in the USA, including the Library at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts. Serendipity stepped in to assist me fortuitously since at that time I had an Australian cousin who was working as a Professor at Harvard University, and family who where planning a trip to the USA to visit him. Since they also descend from the Hoyes family, they were eager to obtain a copy of the El-Edroos Memoirs. It is not usually difficult  to order copies of journal articles from university libraries but in this instance good fortune availed itself of me. 

Front cover of the photo-copied Memoirs of General El-Edroos

In his memoirs, El Edroos  outlined a brief history of Hyderbad leading up to the the troubles with India. He claimed that the Government of Hyderabad, obviously anticipating problems with India, had placed a large amount of money in London banks during World War II. After the war, 'I was instructed to travel abroad along with a technical advisor to the Government to purchase what was called 'machinery', but what really meant arms and ammunition.' wrote El-Edroos in his memoir.

It was whilst in London that general El-Edroos met with William Rickets and Rex Hoyes, who he described as both being 'middle aged'.  My great uncle was to supply aircraft for the Government of Hyderabad and according to El-Edroos, Rickets 'introduced me to an Iraqi named Haydar Pasha who promised to obtain arms via Iraq.' 

During his visit to London, General El-Edroos was advised by a British General, with whom he discussed his mission,  'to be very careful, otherwise I may land up in Dartmoor prison breaking stones.'

On a second trip to London, General El-Edroos again met with Rickets and Rex Hoyes.. 
'I met Hoyes and arranged to buy a converted Halifax bomber for Rs 350,000. This aircraft was to serve as a specimen for the approval of other purchases. We enlisted a crew of former Royal Air personnel, along with Hoyes to accompany me to Hyderabad.. We flew from London into Karachi, from there we wanted to fly direct to Hyderabad. Apparently the Indians were able to detect our plans and asked us by signal to land in Bombay which we did. The customs searched the aircraft at Santa Cruz and found a Louis gun in the possession of Hoyes. This was seized by the customs police, after which we were allowed to proceed to Hyderabad.'

General El-Edroos had returned to Hyderabad to find that the chain of command above him had changed and that his orders were  altered. He was now instructed to 'keep out of this matter and concentrate entirely on the armed forces and the defences of Hyderabad.'

El Edroos wrote that 'During this period, a trio consisting of Sidney Cotton, an Australian pilot, William Rickets and Rex Hoyes was formed to smuggle arms into Hyderabad to beat the embargo imposed by India.'

The Halifax bomber was eventually abandoned in favour of a fleet of Lancasters. A fleet of Lancaster planes departed England, regularly, bound for Hyderabad via Karachi carrying arms under the guise of consignments of nuts and medical equipment.

A Halifax bomber

The Lancaster Aircraft

I  plan to tell this entire story in much more detail in the future when my research is completed. My great uncle  was in the employ of the Nizam of Hyderabad as an Air Advisor during this period of 1947-1948. There was a plan formed for the Nizam's escape on the last plane out of Hyderabad, however, the story has been told that he missed the flight because he refused to leave without all of his jewels and riches and slowed down by the weight of the many jewels he insisted upon taking with him, the flight took off without the wealthiest man in the world. El-Edroos described in his memoirs an incident which occurred whilst he was attending a function in London with Lord Mountbatten who knew of his mission for arms and who 'winked at me.'  It appears that although the British Government publicly disapproved of this secret activity, it may have privately turned a blind eye to the illegal aid given to Britain's war time ally, Hyderabad. 

General El-Edroos

None of this story would have been possible to construct if not for finding the Memoirs of General Syed Ahmad El-Edroos  amongst the many treasures in the holdings of a university library. The memoirs, written just prior to the death of Syed El-Edroos, is  an etraordinary document and in all likelihood is the only source of the tale of my great uncle Rex Morley Hoyes' involvement in smuggling arms to Hyderabad. I have not found the Memoirs of general El-Edroos in any other library or archive.


Since discovering the memoirs of General El-Edroos,  I have gone on to use other sources to piece together a more in depth account of this story, however without this unique and  invaluable source I would never have constructed my great uncle's astonishing tale of adventure. Queensland born Sidney Cotton wrote his own account of the Hyderabad affair, and for obvious reasons omitted the names of his accomplices. From all accounts, it appears that neither man received payment from the Nizam of Hyderabad as Sidney Cotton died penniless and Rex Hoyes was arrested not long after the fall of Hyderabad for failure to pay his hotel account at the  George Cinq Hotel in Paris, where he was residing. In his court case held in London, his defence claimed that he was awaiting 'a large payment'. When asked who owed him money he refused to answer, saying that 'I would prefer to go to jail than reveal names.'
Rex Morley Hoyes was sentenced to three months imprisonment and remained silent about his involvement in smuggling arms to Hyderabad.

On a good though puzzling note, great uncle Rex appears to have bounced back from this setback, however, as he died in the 1980's under the illustrious title of Viscompte Fessenden C. R. Morey-Morley De Borenden. But that is also another story......

My copy of Sidney Cotton's account of the Hyderabad mission

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

SURNAMES in Family History


Image Wikipedia ©©

'What's in a name?' Juliet exclaimed, to her star - crossed lover, Romeo, in a bid to convince him that it mattered not what one's family name was. What Juliet was saying was, that whether a Montague or Capulet, and despite the warring between the bearers of these surnames, she loved Romeo for the person he was. 'That what we call a Rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.'  

Image Flickr Public Domain ©©
Poor Juliet Capulet was ill fated as a lover, Her thwarted love life arose because of  her surname and her family history - the long running conflict between the Capulet and Montague families!  Of course we know that William Shakespeare wrote his play 'Romeo and Juliet' as fiction, however there is no denying that the significance of a surname to which Shakespeare alludes, is a reflection of real life. 'What's in a name?" This question posed to family historians, would be answered inevitably, as 'the entire family tree'. The humble surname, which received such contempt from young Juliet, is the family historian's single most valuable means of identifying ancestry. Family historians trace, among other things, Surnames which have been handed down from generation to generation, thus allowing us to identify our ancestors.

Image Flickr Public Domain ©©


Once upon a time there were no surnames. People lived in small communities, and were known only by a single name. Because communities were small, the likelihood of two or more people possessing the same name was rare. Many of those ancient first names have survived and can be found in our own families.. My maternal grandmother's name of Hilda was an ancient Anglo-Saxon and Germanic name meaning 'battle'. The old Anglo-Saxon name of Aelfraed, meaning 'aelf '- elf and 'raed' - counsel, endured to become the very popular name of Alfred. But imagine searching the census records today for Hilda from Nottinghamshire or Alfred from Northumberland, with no other mean of identification! 

Alfred the Great Image Wikipedia ©©

In ancient and smaller communities, first names sufficed.  As communities expanded and people become more transient, identification by a single name became confusing. Aelfraed? Which Aelfraed? People began to adorn names with a means of identification which described a particular person by some fact about their life. For example, Aelfraed who was the son of Cuthbert became known as Aelfraed Cuthbertson. Aelfraed who dwelled by a stream was perhaps bequeathed Brook as an identifying name, Aelfraed who had black hair might have been known as Aelfraed Black, and the first Aelfraed Baker was most likely a producer of bread.

The introduction of surnames began in many countries, for the purpose of census taking. In China, in about 2852 BC, the Emperor Fu Xi instituted a system of matrilineal naming, for the intent of conducting a census. Descent through patrilineal naming eventually replaced the matrilineal reference of family name  in China. The Ancient Greeks often used place of origin in names, or clan names, as did the Romans, for the purpose of identification.  (See below the family tree of the Roman Scipio family.)

Family Tree of  the Scippio-Paullus-Gracchus Family (all dates BC) Image Wikimedia ©©

In Japan, surnames were only afforded to members of nobility until the 1800's. Japanese family names  are, along with the family names of many Asian countries, written first, rather than last -  which is the usual practise in European and Western naming systems. Since much Asian writing is written in vertical form, the surname is often referred to as the upper name.

Japanese Scrip Image Wikipedia ©©

Early Norwegian surnames were, for the most part, patronymic, (passed on from father to son) however, unlike with other European naming systems, an hereditary surname was not passed on from one generation to the next until 1923 when fixed surnames were introduced in Norway. Researching Norwegian family history prior to 1923 is a challenge. A son took his father's Christian name as a surname with 'son of' or 'sen' added to it. Thus, Jens the son of Gulbrand Christiansen would be called Jens Gulbrandsen. We can assume that Jens was not the eldest son who would have been named Christian Gulbrandsen. Daughters added the suffix 'dattir'. Mother's names could be substituted for a surname as well so it is less easy to trace Norwegian families through surnames. Below is an example of Norwegian surname practice until 1923. An interesting surname tradition in Norway also, was the use of 'farm names' as surnames. If a family lived and worked on a farm named Hummelsted, they might adopt the name of the farm as their surname. Before you think that this makes searching for family easier, bear in mind that if Norwegian families moved to a different farm, they changed the family name to that of their new place of residence.

Generation 1      Gulbrand CHRISTIANSEN
First son   =       Christian GULBRANDSEN
Second son =     Jens GULBRANDSEN
First Daughter = Anna GULBRANDDATTIR (or a girl might take her mothers Christian name as a surname)

Generation 2    Jens GULBRANDSEN*
First son =         Gulbrand JENSEN
Second Son =    Jens JENSON
First daughter = Agnes JENSDATTIR

*If Jens Gulbrandsen began working on a farm named Hummeldalen he could very well be known henceforth as Jens Hummeldalen.
A Farm in Western Norway c 1890 Image Wikipedia ©©
Ireland was the first of the European nations to use hereditary surnames. Irish family names  are a testament to Irish history dating back to the  Celtic High Kings. Names usually consisted of the prefix "O" or "Mc" to denote a son or daughter of : eg O'Reilly, O'Brien, McCleary *, McDade * and although passed on from one generation to another they  did not become fixed hereditary names until around the 11th century.        * These surnames are in my own Irish ancestry.

 Example 1.    Aengus (Father)
            Connor mac AENGUS (Son)

Example 2.      Dairmuid
           Cormack O' DAIRMUID

Image Wikipedia ©©
The introduction of surnames in England is usually accredited to the arrival of the Normans. The first evidence of the use of surnames in England can be seen in the Domesday Book; the great census conducted by William the Conqueror in 1086. At this time, surnames were only used by gentry. The French who had accompanied King William to England affixed the prefix 'de' commonly  to their place of origin. These became, what is known as territorial names. Fitz was another prefix adopted by the French to signify son of or daughter of, and used by members of nobility. eg FitzWilliam, FitzWalter. The French Revolution witnessed the dropping of the 'de' from many aristocratic names leaving deNeville as Neville and de Percy as Percy, for example. It is more common to find names still employing the prefix 'de' in England than it is in France today.

Coat of Arms Henry de Percy 4th Earl of Northumberland ©© Wikipedia
By the 15th century, most people in Britain had adopted the use of surnames as identification, although many Welsh and Scottish folk did not use family names until later than this. Some Scottish surnames were in use as early as the 12th century, however most commoners did not adopt family or last names until the 18th century. The Scottish surnames with which we are most familiar ( eg MacDonald, MacKenzie, Macleod) are the patronymic names which originated to identify the sons of fathers, using the prefix 'son' or 'Mac'. Prior to fixed surnames becoming a standard practice in Scotland, the naming system was similar to that of  Norwegian convention. Scottish surnames bear evidence, as do British, of external influences - the migration of the Irish to Scotland, migration of the Picts, Norsemen and Anglo - Saxons as well as the many European refugees who flocked to Scotland or who passed through Scotland on their way to America. 

European Refugees Image ©©
Many refugees were forced to anglicize their names when they reached Scotland. My own Lithuanian great Uncle, Antonus Usitila was difficult to trace because I knew him as Andrew Smith. The most well recognised form of surname in Scotland is, of course,  the Clan name, which includes surnames such as  Campbell, Donald, Gregor, Stewart, Bruce and Grant. A common misconception regarding Clan names is that everyone who bears such a surname is related to a Clan chief. This is not so, however,  as clanship was actually more to do with protection than kinship relationships so many highlanders adopted the name of a powerful chief in order to secure wardship. This is where DNA testing becomes useful. I have proved descent from the Campbell Clan through DNA analysis.

Example of  the Scottish surname system prior to adopting fixed surnames.


One of the MacDonald Coat of Arms Image Wikipedia ©©
If you have researched Welsh ancestry you might be aware that Wales seems to have a limited number of surnames and many people who share them. This has eventuated as a result of the ancient Welsh Patronymic naming system where a son adopted his father's name prefixed by 'ap' or 'ab' meaning son of. In the instance of a daughter the prefix 'ferch' would have been used. It was common practice for a person's name to ascribe to several generations of family. For example Daffyd ap Evan ap Morgan ap Owen. During the reign of King Henry XIII, the Welsh government became incorporated into the British  government and the tradition of surnames for members of Welsh gentry became popular. This witnessed the beginning of the end for the Welsh patronymic naming system as the use of surnames caught on among the common folk. Being a relatively small population, however, meant that the scope for surnames was also meagre. Many new surnames were created by combining the prefix ab or ap with a name, hence ApRhys eventually morphed into Preece or Rhys.  Ab Evan became Bevan and so on. The letter 'S' was also added to first names to become surnames such as Evans, Williams, Jones, Griffiths and Owens.

Arms of Llyewyn Wales

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.

Every country has its own peculiar naming traditions, and the origins of surnames is quite fascinating. For the purpose of this blog I am will expand further on the origins of surnames from English speaking countries, in particular Britain.


Patronymic, Matronymic or Ancestral Surnames: These are surnames which have been passed on from the father or  mother to sons and daughters and often originate mainly from from male names. Adamson, Benson, Campbell, Douglas, Evans, Ferguson, FitzWalter,  Griffiths, Haroldson, Jackson, Johnson, Jenkinson, (Jenkins being a pet form of the name John), Griffiths, MacDonald, Morgan, Owens, O'Reilly, Petersen, Stewart, Williams, Williamson are all surnames derived from male names.

Surnames derived from Places or Localities: Many surnames are what is known as Locative surnames. These names reflect the places where people lived or where they came from - localities, ( ie towns, manorial estates, castles, and geographical descriptions of physical aspects of the landscape itself. The simplest form of locative surname is that which describes the physical location. Thomas who lives by a lake would become known as Thomas Lake. In the same way you might find Thomas Marsh, Thomas Brook, Thomas Hill, Thomas Wood or Thomas Cliff, Fields, Grove or Dunlop ( a muddy field). Often these locative surnames had prefixes or suffixes added to them or were double barrelled n( a ames. Examples of  such surnames are Woodland, Ashwood, Ashley,  Ashleigh (leigh =  a clearing), Underwood, Cartwright and Waterman. Other popular endings are 'field', 'fort', 'den', 'well', 'borough' and 'brook'.

Surnames also took their derivation from actual Place names. London, Taunton, Flint, Windsor and Hamilton are examples of these types of locative surnames.

A person who lived by a lake might be called by the surname 'Lake'. The Narrows, Lake St. Charles Image Wikipedia ©©
Surnames derived from occupations:  These surnames come from occupations or social position. Archer, Brewer, Bailey ( from bailiff), , Butcher, Baker, Baxter (a female baker), Cooper (a barrel maker), Carpenter, Carter (a person who made carts), Clarke, Cook, Farmer (can derive from  a farmer or a 'fermier' who was a tax collector in the Middle Ages), Fisher, Fowler (a person who caught birds), Gardener/Gardiner, Hunter, Hawkins, Judge, Knight, proctor (a steward), Shepherd, Smith (blacksmith), Tailor/Taylor, Thatcher, Turner (a man who turned wood on a lathe), Waterman, Webster (a female weaver) Weaver.
Undoubtedly, surnames which derive from occupations are fascinating as they allow us a glimpse into the working lives of our ancestors. The name Leach in my own family, for example,  implies that somewhere in my ancient  ancestry was quite likely a doctor. Some occupational surnames are less obvious to us today as having origins in the employment of an ancestor.  The English language has evolved over time and occupations have changed since industrialisation. Many old occupations simply do not exist anymore. You might not recognise today, that  Chandler comes from a person who was a candle maker, or that Fletcher means a maker of arrows. It requires some understanding of what types of occupations were relevant in the times when surnames first became a part of common usage.
Blacksmith's Forge Image Wikipedia ©©

Surnames which describe person characteristics: These names are possibly the most personally informative surnames as they imply  actual physical descriptions of attributes of the first ancestor to bear the name.  Hence they are known as descriptive surnames.  John Stout was not likely to have been a thin man. White, Black, Brown and Red leave little to the imagination as to the colour hair of an ancestor and Little, Strong, Tallman and Wise are evidence of the stature and intelligence of our ancestors. Scottish names, although physically descriptive may not be as obvious, as is a name such as Armstrong. Campbell is an example of a Scottish clan name which is also descriptive, meaning 'one who has a crooked mouth'. If your ancestor was a Puttock, then you may have to come to terms with the fact that he was regarded as being greedy. The name Young most likely does not refer to eternal youth, but the first John Young was probably the son of an older John , as in John the Younger. Don't panic if your ancestor was Thomas Longbottom, however. Let me assure you that although Thomas may sound somewhat strange in shape, this surname in fact, is a place name, referring to one who lived in a dell or valley.

The Surname Longbottom Image Wikipedia ©©

Surname origins are intriguing. Spending the time to research your family names can be very rewarding and you may discover more about ancestors than you expected to. It is important to thoroughly research your surnames however. Don't assume that your long line of Daft family come from a stupid ancestor because you will probably discover that 'daft' actually described a meek and gentle person in medieval times.

I have to wonder whether Shakespeare knew more of the origins of surnames than he has been given credit for in his famous tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. The surname Capulet is an old English /French name referring to one who dwells in a wooded area beside a Chapel. This, to me, lends an air of romance to Juliet's character. So, what of Romeo, then,  with his surname of Montague? The name Montague originates in France from the old French words Mont Agin (Montagne) meaning mountain. What name, more a symbol of strength, than a tall mountain for Romeo? Or was a mountain a metaphor for their insurmountable love?

Clearly there was more to Mr Shakespeare than an ancestor who fiercely brandished a weapon, when he wrote those infamous words, "What's in a name?"  And, given that 'that what we call a rose ... would smell as sweet'  referred less to a flower, than a grand joke on the playwright's part, since he was referring to the stinking open sewer outside the Rose Theatre where his play was performed, who knows where the origin of the surname Rose lies?

Image Wikipedia ©©


  • www.scotlands 
  • www,ancestry,com
  • J W Freeman, 'Discovering Surnames' , 2008
  • George Fraser Black , 'Surnames of Scotland, their origin, meaning and history' , 1946

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Confusing Cousins! RELATIONSHIPS in Family History

Relationships in Family History- Confusing Cousins!

Joss Häberling, born in 1656 in Ottenbach, Switzerland, was a 'removed' cousin. He was, in fact, removed ten times. If you are a family historian you will no doubt understand that I am not suggesting that cousin Joss was the black sheep of my Swiss family. Joss Häberling was my FIRST COUSIN TEN TIMES REMOVED.  That is his official relationship to me.

Cousin Joss was NOT this!

Family History is all about relationships, affiliation by blood, or consanguinity. When you are researching your family history it is most relevant to have some understanding of the types of relationships which exist.  Kinship or relationship terms can be one of the most confusing peculiarities of family history. 

Most family or kinship relationships are quite easy to comprehend - father, mother, grandparent, uncle, aunt, cousin, half relationships, step relationships and in laws. That's in English! If you are researching other  ancestries, it can be somewhat more confusing.  Some languages do not have gender specific terms for certain familial relationships. In Danish, the word Onkel can be applied to an uncle or an aunt and in French, the same kinship term is used for a daughter in law and a step daughter. For the purpose of this blog, however,  I will be concentrating on English cousin consociation.

When I began delving into my family tree, I found cousin relationships somewhat complicated to calculate. In the early days of searching for ancestors and relatives, I did not usually spend  time determining the exact relationship between myself and my ancestors, nor between myself and the many members of 'family' who I have connected with through my family history blogging. I  have often loosely used the term 'cousin'  for relatives all around the world, whom I keep in regular contact with and with whom I exchange valuable information.  The term 'cousin' is commonly adopted as a proxy for the precise relationship we have with ancestors and remote family members.

There are numerous relationship charts available on the internet, many of which have left me more confused than when I began attempting to understand kinship degrees and terms such as 'once removed' and 'twice removed', double cousins, and second, third and fourth cousins. I was contacted recently by two 'cousins' who live in Illinois in the USA, We have become good friends and exchange information regularly. Our first shared grandparents are our Scottish great great grandparents [2 x great grandparents] John McDade (1842-1896) and Margaret Bonner (1842-1883). I will use this relationship consanguinity to explain FIRST, SECOND, THIRD COUSINS.

                                  DIAGRAM OF FIRST, SECOND AND THIRD COUSINS
                                       JOHN MCDADE     =     MARGARET BONNER (Scotland)
                                                 |                                              |  
                        JOHN MCDADE (1872)  SIBLINGS            AGNES MCDADE (1874)
                                                 |                                              |
                                                 |                                              |
                                                 |                                              |
                                             ME              THIRD COUSIN     LIVING COUSIN IN USA


In summary. a cousin relationship is one where two people share a common ancestor.

Agnes Leonard (McDade)

The perplexity begins with the term 'removed'. Many people are confused between a first cousin removed and a second cousin. The familiar misconception for cousin relationships is that the child of your cousin is your second cousin or that your mother or father's cousin is your second cousin. The requirement to be first, second, or third cousins, is to SHARE a common set of grandparents, great,  great grandparents , or great great grandparents and so on it continues for fourth, fifth and more degrees of cousin kinship.

  1. In the diagram below, Colin Hamilton McDade is a FIRST COUSIN to Patrick Leonard. They shared a common set of grandparents.
  2.  For Patrick Leonard,  any child belonging to his FIRST COUSIN Colin Hamilton McDade, would become  his FIRST COUSIN ONCE REMOVED. That is, they are almost his first cousins except that they are ONE GENERATION REMOVED from each other. Colin John McDade is therefore, the FIRST COUSIN ONCE REMOVED of Patrick Leonard. 
  3. A child of Colin John McDade  (Myself), becomes a generation further removed, and therefore I become a FIRST COUSIN TWICE REMOVED to Patrick Leonard. This calculation is made by counting back the number of generations from myself to the related cousin (or forwards from he/she to me).

                                              DIAGRAM OF 'REMOVED' COUSINS
                               JOHN MCDADE         =         MARGARET BONNER
                                     |                                                             |
             JOHN MCDADE                 SIBLINGS               AGNES MCDADE =  Martin Leonard
                                     |                                                             |
                                     |                                                                            /
      COLIN JOHN MCDADE  FIRST COUSIN ONCE  REMOVED--  /  [1]                                      
                                     |                                                                        /
                                   ME   FIRST COUSIN TWICE REMOVED--  /   [2]                                                            

One of the many RELATIONSHIP Charts available.

Another example of a Cousin Chart

So, far from being tossed out of my Swiss Häberling family, Joss Häberling, my Swiss relative, whom I mentioned earlier, was an affiliated, relation - a 'removed' cousin. I will demonstrate, below, how Joss Häberling was my FIRST COUSIN 10 TIMES REMOVED.
I can trace my Swiss ancestry back to Christian Häberling, born in 1527 in Ottenbach, Zurich, Switzerland. Christian was my 11th Great Grandfather. His son Hans Heinrich was my 10th Great grandfather.

                                                     CHRISTIAN HÄBERLING (1527) (My 11th Great grandfather)
                                       HANS HEINRICH HÄBERLING (1578) (My 10th Great Grandfather)
                                            |                                                |
           HEINI HÄBERLING  (1606)      Siblings               CHRISTEN HÄBERLING (1620)
       (My 9th Great Grandfather)                                        (My 9th Great Uncle)                                             
                                            |                                                |
10.                   JOS HÄBERLING  (1646)  First Cousins         JOSS HÄBERLING (1656)
       (My 8th Great Grandfather)                                                              |
9.            JOHANNES HÄBERLING (1680-1744)   _______________|    First Cousin 1 x removed                        
       (My 7th Great Grandfather)                                                              
8.         HEINRICH HÄBERLING (1721-1771) __________________ |   First Cousin 2 x removed
        ( My 6th Great Grandfather                                    |

7.           KASPER HÄBERLING (1756-1828)____________________|   First Cousin 3 x removed
       (My 5th Great Grandfather)
6.            JACOB HÄBERLING (1785-1857)_____________________|   First Cousin 4 x removed
       (My 4th Great grandfather)
5,            JACOB HÄBERLING (1822-1905)_____________________|   First Cousin 5 x removed
        (My 3rd Great Grandfather
4. BARBARA LENA HÄBERLING (1867-1957)__________________|   First Cousin 6 x removed
        (My 2nd Great Grandmother)
3.       LILLIE HERMINNIE NARGAR (1888-1966)________________|   First Cousin 7 x removed
        (My Great grandmother)
2.         HILDA LILLIAN WESTON 1908-1992)___________________|   First Cousin 8 x removed
        (My grandmother)
1.       ALWYNNE JEAN REECE-HOYES (1931-1995)_____________|  First Cousin 9 x removed
                           LIVING (ME)_________________________________|  First Cousin 10 x removed

Barbara Lena Nargar (Häberling) and family