Monday, April 28, 2014

How Many First Cousins Do You Have?

Last week, my mother watched a TV show in which a guest was asked how many cousins she had. She replied “25” and the host said that was a lot.

Mom hollered at me (she was downstairs in the family room) to see if I knew how many cousins she had. She knew it was a lot, but didn’t know the exact count. So, off I went to get my genealogy files and start calculating.

Young girl playing with an abacus

By the time I was done, I had counted an incredible (well, incredible at least to me) 143 first cousins!

Here’s the breakdown.

Paternal Side:

Mom’s father Eugène Desgroseilliers was the eldest of 14 children, but only some of them had children. Eugène’s sister Flavie had 8 children, while brothers Roméo had 5, Léonidas had 12, Léandre had 5, Ovide had 7, Ovila had 6, and Joseph had 7. That’s a total of 50 paternal first cousins.

Maternal Side:

Mom’s mother Juliette Beauvais was the third of 16 children, and most of them had children. Juliette’s sisters Agathe had 8 children, while Lorette had 7.* Brothers Ovide had 16, Oscar had 11,† Léger had 15, Romuald had 4, Emile had 4, Martial had 7, Réal had 15, Aurèle had 4, Joseph had 6, and Jean-Marie had 3. That’s a total of 93 maternal first cousins.

* Lorette married Eugène’s younger brother Ovide and had 7 children, so I didn’t count them in the maternal total.

† Oscar had 11, possibly 14, children, but I used the lower number to count them.

Some of Mom’s aunts and uncles lived in the same towns she did as a child, and she got to know those cousins. A few relatives lived further away from her family, so she didn’t meet them until she was an adult, but there were other cousins she never met and didn’t know anything about them. Now and then, though, Mom’s older sister Madeleine (because of where she lived and how much she travelled) would get news of those distant cousins and share the details with her sisters.

Tell me, dear readers, do you know how many first cousins you have?

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.


  1. I have a measly 10 cousins but my mom has 57. 54 of those are paternal ( Her father was French Canadian, and one of 15!)

    1. Large families were certainly common among French-Canadians, weren't they, Callie? Thanks for commenting!

  2. Great post, great question. My mom had 15 first cousins on the maternal side (her mom was one of 11) and probably as many on the paternal side. My generation has far, far fewer, of course. Maybe all we need is to count on fingers and toes, not an abacus!

    1. I wager that large families (say, 10+ children) tend to produce more large families. My generation is like yours, Marian, very few offspring. Glad you dropped by and commented!


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