How Many Cousins Do You Have?

Recently, during a period of boredom, I Googled “How many cousins does the average person have?” The results surprised me. According to data from cousin statistics, one person has an average of 5 first cousins, 28 second cousins, 175 third cousins, 1,570 fourth cousins, 17,300 fifth cousins and 174,000 sixth cousins.

To me, the number of first cousins seems low. I have an enormous family. My father was one of 13 children while my mother was one of 7. Both of my parents were the second youngest in their families. I have approximately 75 first cousins. When I was little, I thought everyone had a family like mine, when someone would tell me they only had two or three cousins, I couldn’t understand why they had so few cousins.

My father’s parents, Stephen and Violet had 13 children, 4 boys and 9 girls. They had 58 grandchildren, 110 great-grandchildren and at last count 114 great-great-grandchildren. That is a grand total of 295 cousins. One of my cousins has a website that he updates whenever a new family member is born.

My Mother’s Family

My mother’s parents, Hugh and Laura-Jane had 7 children, 3 boys and 4 girls. They had 19 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren and lots of great-great-grandchildren. Unfortunately there isn’t a website on this side of the family to get all the correct numbers of grandchildren.

Growing Up

They say that your cousins are your first friends. It seemed every weekend I would see cousins. We would spend countless hours on the family farm.  There was always music, food and family.

“A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.”

– Marion C. Garretty

Cousins Explained

There is a lot of confusion about cousins. Specifically, the difference between first and second cousins. And what exactly is a ‘first cousin once removed?’ In the paragraphs below, I have tried to simplify the explanation:

Types of cousins:

First Cousins (2 generations)

Children of your aunt and uncle are your first cousins. You share one set of grandparents with them. First cousins also share 12.5 percent of their DNA with each other.

Second Cousins (3 generations)

Children of your parent’s first cousins are your second cousins. Second cousins have the same great grandparents. Only 3.125 percent of shared DNA exists between second cousins.

Third Cousins (4 generations)

Great-great-grandparents are the ancestor that connects third cousins. Only 0.781 percent of your DNA connects you to each other.

Removed Cousins

Removed Cousins are cousins from two different generations. For example, my daughter is ‘once removed’ from my first cousins.

To explain further, since she is the cousin with the lowest generation number from the common ancestor (my grandparents), you subtract a generation from the higher number to determine the once removed.

Sounds more complicated than it is. The chart below makes it easier to understand.

Double cousins

There is a unique cousin category for the progeny of brother and sister in laws called double cousins. For example, if two sisters marry two brothers, their children share both sets of grandparents. Double cousins share a whooping 25 percent of their DNA.

Kissing cousins

A kissing cousin is a friend or relative you kiss hello at family gatherings. It is also an old Elvis Presley Movie made in 1964.

 “Cousins are different beautiful flowers in the same garden.”

Collateral Degree Calculation

The term for figuring out cousin relationships is Collateral Degree Calculation. Using the chart below is the easiest way to figure out relationships. (Chart recreated from data at family search)

Chart that explains cousin relationships

If this chart still confuses you, don’t worry you are not alone.

Celebrity Cousins

Did you know that Barack Obama and Brad Pitt are ninth cousins?

Here is a list of some other celebrity cousins you may not have been aware of:

  • Tom Cruise and William Mapother (1st cousins)
  • Sofia Coppola and Nicolas Cage (1st cousins)
  • Snoop Dogg and Brandy (1st cousins)
  • Kate Middleton and Dakota and Elle Fanning (21st cousins)
  • Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip (3rd cousins)
  • Whitney Houston and Dionne Warwick (1st cousins)
  • Stephen and Robbie Amell (1st cousins)

Final Thoughts

In my opinion,  cousins are cousins, the degree of the relationship doesn’t matter. First, second, third it all the same. The memories you share will always bind you together.

How many cousins do you have? Write me a note in the comments and let me know.

Until next time


Feature Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay.

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