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Archiver > ESSEX-UK > 2007-10 > 1191593491

From: Ruth Aylett <>
Subject: Re: [Ess] Brothers/Cousins
Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2007 15:14:47 +0100
References: <>
In-Reply-To: <>


In the 17thC it was very common to refer to the siblings of one's
husband/wife as well as the husband/wife of one's siblings as brother/
sister. In this period 'brother-in-law' and 'sister-in-law' were used
for what we would now call half-brothers and sisters. In the same
way, father-in-law and mother--in-law referred to step-parents and
the parents of one's husband/wife were just mother/father. The term
'natural brother' was sometimes used for people we would call
brothers now.

I have examples of people using 'cousin' for all sorts of
relationships in that period, some very distant in blood terms, some
what might otherwise be nephews or nieces, as well as some that we'd
think of as cousins now. It seems interchangeable with kinsman and
kinswoman in some documents. I have not however seen it used for
brothers or sisters.


On 5 Oct 2007, at 14:54, Tony Pottrell wrote:

> Hi all,
> Just wondering if someone can help me clarify the legal definition of
> brother and cousin in/around 1700?
> What's got me thinking is that around 1700 my family has 3 distinct
> branches (I cannot link them as the records only go back as far as
> 1680). I have found a will of a Richard Pottrell that refers to "my
> Three Brothers Francis, Henry and Thomas" and "my Sister Mary
> Brice" as
> some of the beneficiaries.
> There is a record of a William Brice and Mary Pottrel marrying in the
> parish in 1702. There is also a baptismal record for a Mary
> Pottrell in
> 1681 (making her the perfect age of 21) whom I have previously linked
> into my direct tree. That places Richard in my tree nicely, despite
> there being no record of Richard's baptism. There are a couple of
> large
> gaps between siblings which could suggest missing people. (1676,
> 78, 81,
> 83, 87, 89)
> However, from the baptism records I can only find one candidate for
> the
> three brothers in the will, namely Thomas. There is no record at
> all of
> any Francis Pottrells in the register so can only assume he wasn't
> baptised. There are some Henrys', but they are on the unlinked
> branch.
> Would it be outrageous for me to make an educated guess that Richard,
> Mary and Thomas had another two brothers called Francis and Henry? Or
> does the term 'brothers' also apply to cousins?
> Thanks,
> Tony
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Ruth Aylett Professor of Computer
Mathematics and Computer Science, Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh EH14 4AS, UK Tel: 44-131-451-4189 Fax:
44-131-451-3327 "Life is beautiful"

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