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Ask a Genealogist: Maine marriage rules of the 19th century.

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Question:

I am looking into the plausibility that first cousinsor first cousins once removed could have married in Waterville, Maine ca 1851.The problem is that there were two Sophie Marcoux, aunt and niece to eachother, both born in 1833. One of them was my great grandmother, married to JeanAntoine Poulin, also known as John and Tony Pooler. The other would havemarried Pierre Rancourt. At issue is the identity of Pierre Rancourt. Thereappear to be two principal possibilities, one a close cousin, and the other withno known consanguinity. In civil law of the time, could first cousins and firstcousins once removed have legally been married? 

Answer:

From Rhonda R. McClure, Genealogist

A search of the Revised Statutes ofMaine revealed first the statutes that were passed April 17, 1857,in which Title Five, Chapter 59 (p. 390) read as follows:

Sec. 1 No man shall marry hismother, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, stepmother,grandfather's wife, son's wife, grandson's wife, wife's mother,wife's grandmother, wife's daughter, wife's granddaughter, sister,brother's daughter, sister's daughter, father's sister or mother'ssister.

Sec. 2 No woman shall marry herfather, grandfather, son, grandson, stepfather, grandmother'shusband, daughter's husband, granddaughter's husband, husband'sfather, husband's grandfather, husband's son, husband's grandson,brother, brother's son, sister's son, father's brother, or mother'sbrother.

However, since this was a few yearsafter the likely year of marriage for the couple in question, asearch for an earlier statute showed that the Revised Statutes ofMaine, passed October 22, 1840 showed the following in Title Six,Chapter 87 (p. 358):

Sec. 1 No man shall marry hismother, grandmother, daughter, grand daughter, stepmother,grandfather's wife, son's wife, grandson's wife, wife's mother,wife's daughter, wife's grand daughter, sister, brother's daughter,sister's daughter, father's sister or mother's sister.

Sec. 2 No woman shall marry herfather, grandfather, son, grandson, stepfather, grandmother'shusband, daughter's husband, grand daughter's husband, husband'sfather, husband's grandfather, husband's son, husband's grandson,brother, brother's son, sister's son, father's brother or mother'sbrother.

With the exception of the omissionof a man marrying his wife's grandmother, the two statutes wereidentical. Not clear if this was an accidental omission or if itwas a necessary change in the 17 years between the twostatutes.

It would appear though that themarriage would not have been allowed if the two individuals werefirst cousins.  The first cousins once removed do not appearto have been addressed in the statutes, which would seem toindicate that this would be acceptable.

Based on the names though it appearsthat the families in question were Catholic and consanguinity wouldhave been detailed in any church record for the marriage if it wasa question. Many Catholic marriage records have written out thepotential degree of consanguinity and anything within the fourthdegree of consanguinity was generally not allowed. According to theConsanguinity Table found here: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Table_of_Consanguinity_showing_degrees_of_relationship.png>first cousins once removed are considered to be in the fifth degreeof consanguinity and as such would be allowed.

 



 

 

Posted by David Lambert at 02/07/2014 04:54:13 PM | 


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