The Genealogical Challenge of Tracing ‘nth’ Cousins By John Henderson
comparatively easy - given a bit of luck concerning those who actually had
their births and marriages registered in the Old Parish Records - to trace
one’s direct ancestors on the World Wide Web in the Scottish context, back
to the generation [and further back in time] of one’s 16 Great-Grandparents,
as shown in this example based on my father, James Nicoll Kerr Henderson
(1908-1989). However, it can also be very rewarding to discover the
descendants of the siblings of all parents, Grandparents, and
Great-Grandparents, as, all such persons, - siblings and their descendants –
down to the present day, are various levels of nth cousins to the root
person – in the above example he being James Nicoll Kerr Henderson
If you share at least one set of grandparents with a
person, that person is your 1st Cousin. Thus, if you share at least one set
of great-grandparents with a person, that person is your 2nd Cousin. … and
all tend to know who our 1st cousins are/were. But, a few years ago, after
completing my father’s male line ahnentafel back for fully 6 generations
into the 1600s, I was intrigued, when I realised that I did not know any
persons whom I could call 2nd Cousin, 3rd Cousin etc!
Thus, I re-directed my computer
on-line investigating firstly to the possible descendancy lines to the
present day of siblings of John Henderson (1885-1944), James Henderson
(1850-1902), John Mitchell Henderson (1814-1868) and James Henderson
(1774-1846). I soon realised that each of these in itself was a huge task,
as any sibling’s marriage could produce a ‘spreading’ increase in each
subsequent descendant family line, including multiple surname appearances
due to female siblings’ marriages. However, undaunted, I simultaneously,
when temporarily frustrated by any Henderson tracing, also delved into the
Kerr ancestors’ sibling descendancies.
As of today, in 2009, I have been
very successful in tracing many hundreds of living cousins worldwide of up
to the 6th Cousin level, ... and it gives me great comfort to know of the
existence of so many blood-kin who share our historic Scottish ancestry back
into the 17th Century.
In all such investigations, costly as these can
become, a number of agencies, like the General Registry Office, Edinburgh,
(GRO) and the Mormons, increasingly provide longer and longer indexed lists
of Births/Marriages/Deaths and Censuses.
But to complement discoveries from such B/M/D/Cs, other
agencies have emerged to offer computer services which ‘Smartmatch’ the
family tree data that you lodge with them [on the basis of limited variables
!] against data similarly lodged by others around the world.
Before furnishing you with a number of other
significant sources for data and assistance, I will illustrate, via my Great
Grandfather’s Kerr line sibling descendancy, the type of rewards that
successful ‘Cousin Seeking’ brings. e.g. I have met many of my formerly
unknown Canadian 2nd and 3rd Cousins recently in Toronto and Winnipeg, and I
am in e-mail touch with others I have yet to meet.
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