Did You Know?
Actor couple, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, recently learned that they are distant cousins, after 23 years of marriage. They learned this through the PBS series, Finding Your Roots, which attempts to trace family histories through genealogies.
In many places across the world, it is illegal to marry one's cousin, while in many others, it is just like another marriage. According to researchers, marriages among cousins, whether first or distant, are more prevalent in rural societies.
One of the major purposes behind such marriages is to retain the money and other non-monetary assets within the family. According to a research conducted by a genetics researcher, Alan Bittles, about 20% of the world's total marriages happen between first cousins. Furthermore, one in every thousand marriages that take place in the USA is between cousins.
Figures and statistics tell us a lot of things―acceptable and unacceptable. When it comes to marrying cousins, famous personalities are also not far behind the common man. Here's a list of some famous people who married their cousins, and kept it all in the family.
In 1797, John Adams, the second President of the United States and one of the Founding Fathers, married his third cousin Abigail Smith. The marriage lasted till Abigail's death in 1818, and the couple had five children. Adams passed away in 1826.
Queen Victoria, the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1837 to 1901, was married to her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, in 1840. After Albert died in 1861, Victoria never married again. The couple had nine children, each of whom married into a royal or noble family across Europe.
This German composer, violinist, and organist married his second cousin, Maria Barbara Bach, in 1707. They had seven children, only four of whom could survive to adulthood. Maria died in 1720, within two years of which, Bach married again.
The English naturalist and much-celebrated writer of On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin married his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood in 1839. They had 10 children, and their marriage lasted until Darwin breathed his last in 1882.
One of the Founding Fathers of America, Thomas Jefferson married his third cousin, Martha Wayles in 1772. Martha died just 11 years after their marriage, and Jefferson stayed a widower for the rest of his life. They had six children.
The American author, poet, and literary critic, Edgar Allan Poe married his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm in 1835. She passed away in 1847, 18 years after their marriage. Poe also passed away just two years after that.
Franklin Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States from 1933 to 1945, married his fifth cousin once removed, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, in 1905. The marriage took place despite fierce resistance from Roosevelt's mother, who thought that her son was too young to be married. They had six children in all.
Queen Elizabeth II, the Head of State of the UK and 16 other Commonwealth realms, married her second cousin once removed, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in 1947. Both of them reportedly fell in love, when Elizabeth was just 13 years old. They have four children including Charles, the Prince of Wales.
The fifth President of Iraq―from 1979 to 2003―was married to his first cousin, Sajida Talfah in 1958. This was an arranged marriage, fixed when Hussein was five and Sajida was seven. The couple had five children.
Also known as Chairman Mao, this founder of the People's Republic of China, married his second cousin, Luó Yīxiù in 1907. Unfortunately, just three years after the marriage, in 1910, Luo passed away. Historical sources tell us that Mao refused to live with Luo, and ran away from home soon after the wedding.
Herbert George "H. G." Wells, one of the best science fiction writers known to the world, married his first cousin, Isabel Mary Wells in 1891, and divorced her in 1894, after he fell in love with one of his own students, Amy Catherine Robbins.
The marriage lasted for 14 years, from 1968 to 1982, after which they officially ended their marriage. The couple did not have any children.
Jesse James, the famous American outlaw and robber, was married to his first cousin, Zerelda "Zee" Mimms in 1874. Jesse died in 1882, after which Zerelda remained a widow for the rest of her life. The couple parented two children.
Jerry Lee Lewis
Musician Jerry Lee Lewis' marriage to his first cousin once removed, Myra Gale Brown, in 1957, created quite a stir. Myra was only 13 at the time, and Lewis was 22.
His marriage to a minor led to him losing his popularity all over America and Europe; nevertheless, he managed to regain it later. This was his third marriage that lasted for 13 years, during which, the couple had two children. After their divorce, Lewis married four more times.
According to a popular geneticist, Philips Reilly, there are high chances for children born from such marriages to inherit various genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis and Tay-Sachs disease.