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Research into our own family's history has been ongoing for over fifteen years. The Extended Craxford Family Genealogy Magazine is predicated on a single individual (the author's father) and that all subsequent additions to the site are linked either directly or by marriage to an individual on the site. This means that in principle a relationship, albeit tortuous, can be shown between any two people on the site. Data is collected, compared against records as far as possible and standardised in one place and then transferred to the website in a file conforming to the GEDCOM standard for geneaological data. The information on which this website is built is stored in a database constructed using an industry standard relational database management system called MySQL, a product now owned by the Oracle Corporation.

The paternal side of the family originate from what has been termed the Welland Triangle: contiguous areas in northern Northamptonshire, south east Leicestershire and Rutland. Two villages, Cottingham and Gretton some eight miles apart, have been the main focus of attention. The population of both remained largely constant over the centuries and the main areas of employment were in agriculture and trades associated with and supporting farming. Gretton also supported the skin trade during the nineteenth century.

The main area of study of the maternal side of the family is south east Derbyshire centred on South Normanton and the surrounding villages. Traditionally the mainstay of employment was garment and stocking making using framework knitting machines. This became progressively surplanted by coal mining as more and more collieries were opened up.

Cousins marriage and religion

Variations of attitude around the world

Can't marry your dead spouses sibling - Law changes 1907; 1921

Bigamy; polygamy; cohabitation

Cousins marriage and the law

Reasons for varitions

Availability and completeness of Parish Records

Dangers of cousin marriage: the arguments for and against

Because of the shared genetic profile there is an increased risk of the transmission of hereditary diseases. Thalassaemia ( blood condition), cystic fibrosis and certain forms of clindness are known to fall into this category. These are called autosomal recessive conditions where both partners carry the affeccted gene. However, as in the case of Queen Victoria, haemophila (another autosomal recessive blood condition) is carried on the sex chromosome which means that the condition is passed on to males.

Rural life may have appeared simple but there was grinding poverty and rampant disease for the peasantry to contend with. Attitudes to class and crime were far different to the present day. Nineteenth century families were typically large; double digit numbers of offspring were not uncommon. A casual observer might conclude that it was de rigueur for a young female to have at least one child before she entered marriage. It seems likely that these folks had little time or patience to consider the niceties of who they can or should marry.

Infant mortality was high. Throughout the nineteenth century epidemics of smallpox, cholera, diptheria and scarlet fever swept through towns and villages. This was encouraged by poor, cramped living conditions and hygiene. In Leicester, for instance, there were over 100 small abatoirs within slum housing communities which had no sanitation or proper drainage. Summer diarrhoea epidemics (probably caused by E. coli bacterium) killed 25% of children before their first birthday annually.

1. Syphilis: congenital syphilis; blindness: Blind schools - Helen Keller - organists and piano tuners. Estimated endemic in 10% of families affected by syphilis at the turn of the century. (Ref: Joanna Cake)

Materials and Method

Cousins marrying cousins

"If we could only get into God's memory we would find that eighty per cent of the world's marriages have been between second cousins. In a population of three to five hundred people, after six or so generations, there are only third cousins or closer cousins to marry, and you end up with generalised altuism because everybody is equally related. During most of human history the people in such finite isoltaed communities have probably been the genetic equivalent of first cousins, because of their multiple consanguinity. In rural England for instance the radius of the average isolate or pool of potential spouses was ablut five miles - the distance a man could comfortably walk twice on his day off when he went courting - his roaming area by daylight. Parish registers bear this out. Then the bicycle extended the radius to twenty five miles, to incflude four or five villages." (Ref: Robin Fox)

This quotation could easily be applied to life in the Victorian Welland Triangle. It did not take long to realise that in each village there was a relatively small number of families which married and otherwise intertwined over the decades and centuries. It seemed that villagers married their neighbours, someone within the family or someone from a family they were already connected with. The local Parish Records have borne this out. Gretton not only has a road bearing our Surname, but also an Edwardian ancestor named his dwelling Craxford House in honour of the fact that both his grandmothers bore the name Craxford (they were first cousins once removed).

"Forced / Encouraged illegitimacy" - Applies to South Derbyshire

"Illegitimacy was high in South Normanton. In 1852 16 out of 54 children baptised were illegitimate ... a self perpetuating subculture of continued poverty promoted generation after generation of illegitimate children in certain families. In South Normanton the Ball family seem to have been the major example. Illegitimacy seems to rise from 1795 and the unmarried mothers who claimed relief at this time belonged to families whose names recur in poor relief documents - Ball, Hind, Kite, Marriott, Bacon, Hill (most on my list!!!) Many were sisters or "repeaters" who had one or more illegitimate children." (Ref: Pamela Sharpe)

We might know that there are two children attributed to a Jane Ball and three children attributed to a Hannah Ball in the Parish records between 1800 and 1810 - all without a named father; we also know from Bastardy records that a Jane Ball had received maintenance for a child from Thomas Kyte* and a Jane Ball had received maintenance from a William Marriott*. What we don't know is that in a village 121 houses and an estimated population of 588 (in 1788), how many individual Jane or Hannah Balls there might be of young child bearing age living there at the same time. Also the resultant children were usually sent off into forced apprenticeship so it is almost impossible to follow what happened to them. My own take on this is that when you see a marriage pattern between the Ball / Marriott; Ball / Kyte or Marriott / Kyte families midway into the next century (ie two generations further on) these are almost certainly (and more than likely unknowing) marriages between cousins. I suspect that as we piece together a comparison between the parish, bastardy and removal records we will find more and more unions from this area which fall into this category.

  Degree / Removal Count
1 1st Cousin 32
2 1st Cousin once removed 8
3 2nd Cousin 18
4 2nd Cousin once removed 6
5 3rd Cousin 13
6 3rd Cousin once removed 1
7 4th Cousin and above 17

  Site of marriages Count
1 Northamptonshire 65
2 ... Of which Cottingham 34
3 ... Of which Gretton 17
4 Leicestershire 16
5 Rutland 6
6 Derbyshire 8

Number of marriages per ancestral pair Count
5 or more 2
3 2
2 8

Cousin Marriages Chart

Families marrying families

  "In-law marriages" Count
1 Sibling - sibling 53
2 Sibling - cousin 31
3 Cousin - cousin 8
4 Sibling - half sibling 9
5 One person - sibling 4

"In-law" Marriages Chart

Further Reading

The book 'Kinship and Marriage: An Anthropological Perspective'
The book 'The Mountain of Names: A history of the human Family' with introduction by Robin Fox
The book 'Living In Sin' by Ginger S Frost
A Village of Considerable Extent
The Pox

The book covers



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