Kissing Cousins? Jan and Lisa

Something I couldn't figure out was wrong with my family tree. My family tree program gave me an alert that I had duplicate people in my tree. Where were they? With a Scandinavian tree there is a double edged sword. One hundred years ago and beyond there are no surnames only patronymics for the majority of ancestors particularly for the farm and poorer folks as most of my family were. For instance I could have an Ole Olson who is a great grandfather another Ole Olson who is a great great uncle on another branch of the tree who may both have been born around the same time. They are not duplicate ancestors. A couple of names continued to kept coming up. Then I saw it. On my grandfather Richard Kallman's line his maternal grandparents were cousins.  Jan's mother was Anna Lisa's aunt and Anna Lisa's father was Jan's uncle. They were first cousins.


I immediately got the creeps, shades of incest and visions of deformed banjo playing children.
Time for my friend Google Search again.

This practice turned out to be a lot more common worldwide and the creepiness I felt was more a part of my Western European/American culture. After all intermarriage is why we in the north of the planet are more likely to have blue eyes and fair hair and light skin as opposed to our more southern cousins. If you are a nerd like me who wonders about all sorts of things "google" bottleneck effect, genetic drift and founder effect. Better yet check out this youtube → HERE

What about more recent times? It seems that back in the day the Catholic Church first banned marriage between cousins. In Sweden Christianity arrived later than on the main continent so while cousin marriage was a no-no in Germany around 500, we Norse folk still followed some pagan rituals including cousin marriage until maybe 1100 or so when the Vikings brought Christianity home. As much of Europe became Protestant they looked more to the Bible for their "rules" and customs and eased up some but basically was still not comfortable with the idea of marriage within families. In the US today marrying first cousins is only allowed in 19 states though some allow it under certain conditions. The general public though thinks poorly of it. I would guess that spouses who are cousins would surely not advertise it. In other parts of the world marriage within the family is encouraged. I have read that today 10% of all marriages in the world are between cousins with up to 50% in some regions.

The risk of birth defects with cousin marriage is more and more debunked. Yes, we all carry recessive genes, some considered good, some considered bad and some downright life threatening but unless you are in a very small group of eligible mates AND there is a damaging recessive gene in that same group, medical researchers say the risks of genetic problems are practically non existent. We know now that we have no royal blood (hemophilia in the royals), and we are not the Amish who are all descended from the same 200 German/Swiss immigrants (dwarfism, various cognitive/development issues).

In days of old in Sweden, as always and everywhere, the rich can have their own rules. They would intermarry to keep the money in the family and would buy a pricey dispensation from the King to do so. In the 19th century the Swedish Riksdag lowered the fee and then eliminated it entirely. Today, cousins are allowed to marry in Sweden.

 So it seems that Jan and Anna Lisa committed no crime and I cannot point to them as the reason both my son and I have a funky-looking pinky toe but still.....


my second great grandparents
Jan Gustaf Bergvall
b. 4 May 1807 Knutstorp, Lerbäck, Örebro, Sweden
d. 5 Dec 1882 Knutstorp, Lerbäck, Örebro, Sweden
Anna-Lisa Pehrsdotter
b. 16 Feb 1817 Knutstorp, Lerbäck, Örebro, Sweden
d. 25 Jan 1904 Knutstorp, Lerbäck, Örebro, Sweden

*  Genetic Drift | Founder Effect and Bottleneck Effect Explained
*  Wikipedia - Cousin Marriage
*  Cousin couples - Will our children be normal?
*  Inbreeding in Sweden
*  How to get married in Sweden