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Kissing Cousin: This is an honorary title. Kissing cousins often come about when two unrelated families are close to each other. The children of the parents in this situation would sometimes be referred to as kissing cousins. The term refers to the fact the two “cousins” (who are not related by blood or marriage) are close enough that they kiss each other when they greet.

Godparent: Historically, this was a person who sponsored a child’s baptism. Sometimes the godparent was a relative and sometimes the godparent was a close friend. Usually the godparent took a role in the child’s upbringing.


Some Caveats

Here are some things to look out for that can trip people up:

• The Family Tree Relationship Chart implicitly assumes that there is only one path between any two relatives on a family tree. It is possible for people to be related in more than one way. This can occur for example if there is intermarriage within a family (common with royal families, for an extreme case of a twisted family tree see the article Inbreeding of Spanish Royalty) or if there are multiple marriage points across two unrelated families.

• When looking through old family letters, diaries and other correspondence, beware of how the term “cousin” is used between two people. Often, the word cousin was generously used for anyone in the extended family beyond immediate siblings. For example, a second cousin might be referred to simply as “cousin”. Or an aunt and niece might refer to each other as cousins, especially if the aunt was close in age to the niece. Or it could simply be a kissing cousin.

• People referred to as an “aunt” or “uncle” may not be blood relatives or step relatives. They could in fact be godparents or simply just good friends of the parents.

Further Resources

Ten Effective Strategies for Building a Family Tree

Look for Hidden Family Trees

Common Genealogy Mistakes

Why Genealogy is Important

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