[Ads-l] forty-second cousin (1835)

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jul 2 13:43:53 EDT 2017

We have so many cousin marriages in my family tree, the exact relationships (multiple per person) are too confusing to work out, and so we simply refer to members of one section as our “forty-second cousins.” 

1. In explaining how ordinals and removals work with cousins, Jack Flash (http://www.funtrivia.com/askft/Question16858.html <http://www.funtrivia.com/askft/Question16858.html>) says: "Third cousins are the children of your parents' second cousins, and so on until the proverbial 42nd cousins are reached.”

However, neither Wiktionary or the online Oxford Dictionaries have an entry on forty-second cousins.

2. 1835: An Account of Col. Crockett's Tour to the North and Down East: In the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty-Four…
by Himself (Davy Crockett)
http://bit.ly/2tzmSgN <http://bit.ly/2tzmSgN>

… it’s lent out to a parcel of prodigal rag-babies, authorized by law to support their daddies and mammies, and down to the forty-second cousins; ...

3. Without bothering to try to find the original post, there is a posting asking about a “42nd cousin” at http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/GENBRIT/1999-11/0942453752 <http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/GENBRIT/1999-11/0942453752>. This seems to me someone who is so far removed that the number isn’t clear or else a cousin whose exact genealogical relationship isn’t known.

4. soñador (https://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071210060613AASbW7j <https://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071210060613AASbW7j>) defines “forty-second cousins” are second cousins once removed: “The cousins kids are 2nd cousins and their kids are known in where I come from in the UK as 42nd cousins.”

5. In "Sanitation for Public Health Nurses” (1919), Hibbert Winslow Hill says (http://bit.ly/2sBt7Mu <http://bit.ly/2sBt7Mu>):

But germs are made of protoplasm as we are. They are, if not second cousins of ours, at least 42nd cousins.

6. In "Pondering 42nd Cousin Theology: May Brothers Differ Without Being Demoted?”, Al Maxey includes a citation where the metaphor is extended to denominations of Christianity (albeit in a negative sense):

I sought once again to reason with Hugh on this matter. As I feared, it was to no avail. Indeed, he wrote me on Wednesday, October 12, saying, "Al, your view of the undenominational nature of the church and my view of the undenominational nature of the church are not 42nd cousins to each other." I assume by this statement he is suggesting that our views are not even remotely related to one another!

There is even a book titled “42 Cousins” by imagine_by_kate (https://www.wattpad.com/17545855-42nd-cousins <https://www.wattpad.com/17545855-42nd-cousins>).

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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