What is a Seventh Cousin?
Are you interested to know what a seventh cousin is and whether you are genetically related to them? In this article, we'll help you understand what a seventh cousin is, whether they are considered family, and what DNA results might say.
You have likely heard of first cousins and perhaps you have heard of second, third, fourth and fifth cousins as well. What we don’t all realize is that as many generations as there are there are also theoretically a cousin match that applies.
In this post, we are not going to go too far back, just to the seventh cousin level. What exactly are seventh cousins to us and are they even family?
You can use our free cousin and common ancestor calculator tool to help you quickly understand the different relationships you have with your family tree.
What Are Seventh Cousins?
Just like any level of blood-related cousins, seventh cousins share a common ancestor with us. In this case, the common ancestors would be our great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents. This means that one of our great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents was the sibling of our seventh cousins' ancestor at that same level.
In genealogical terms, this relationship is written out in several ways: seventh cousin, 7th cousin or 7C. This is because it is a distant familial relationship and those who are doing the work to trace a seventh cousin through genealogy sometimes like to abbreviate things.
How Close Are Seventh Cousins?
Unlike first, second and third cousins who are sometimes referred to as an extended family, seventh level cousins fall squarely in the distant cousin range. Essentially, cousins beyond the fourth level are considered distant due to decreased likelihood that we would know these cousins without the use of genealogical research.
Seventh cousins are descendants of our great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents which means there are several generations and potentially upwards of 300 years between us and those ancestors. Considering how much time has passed since those ancestors were alive the likelihood that your family remained that close is very minimal.
Without the use of DNA testing and solid genealogy, it would be unlikely that you would ever even know the name of one of your seventh cousins. However, if you are still living in the same general area that your mutual distant ancestors did it is highly probable that you have met and even interacted with one or more of your seventh cousins.
You might be surprised to hear that it is not uncommon for people to discover they are distant cousins to their own spouses. This can especially be the case when a family has remained living in the same area for multiple generations.
How Many Seventh Cousins Do I have?
This is an interesting thought about just how many seventh cousins we might have. The important thing to remember here is that the further we go back in our tree the more ancestors per generation we have. As an example, we have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents and so on. The number grows exponentially although it is eventually affected by pedigree collapse, which is a topic for another post.
|Relations||Number of Individuals|
As the table above shows we should, in theory, have 256 different great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents. Two of these distant grandparents would be the couple that you and your seventh cousins descend from.
Consider for a moment just how many descendants can come from those people after seven generations and potentially how many cousins that creates. I looked long and hard to get an estimate on how many seventh cousins we might have and all I could find were statistics up to sixth cousins. But these stats may give you an idea of the scope of the seventh cousin.
|Cousin Level||Estimated Number of Cousins|
So with a potential 174,000 sixth cousins and the multiplication factor increasing with each generation, we are likely talking about millions of possible seventh cousins.
Are Seventh Cousins Related by DNA?
This is an interesting point: are we connected to our seventh cousins by DNA? Well, the true answer is that we likely do not share DNA with the vast majority of our seventh cousins. Due to the nature of DNA inheritance, we only share DNA for certain with cousins as close as second cousins once removed.
Once we reach third cousins we start to find that there may be some who we can prove are descended from the same ancestors but we do not match them in terms of DNA. This is because the DNA they inherit from our mutual ancestors may not be the same as what we inherit. It doesn’t mean we are not related by blood, just that we have no identical segments of DNA which can show up in a test.
Once we reach the seventh cousin level it has become increasingly likely that we do not share a noticeable amount of DNA with that person. The thing to realize is that for seven generations people from other families have been marrying into your respective direct lines. The DNA from your shared direct ancestor becomes diluted and in some cases, you may not even inherit any of those ancestors' DNA at all.
How Many Generations Are We Separated from Our Seventh Cousins?
Our seventh cousins and ourselves are separated from our mutual ancestors by six generations. We count back 8 generations to our closest common ancestors. They are the first generation and we are the eighth. Between us and our common ancestors, there are six other generations of family.
With so many generations between our seventh cousins and ourselves, this is without question a distant relationship. There are some who might consider that it is so distant that we are hardly even related at all. The truth is that even though we may not be directly related we still share common ancestors and family, as the saying goes, is still family.
Other Seventh Cousin Types
There are a couple of other terms that sometimes might apply to the seventh cousin based on slightly different relationships.
Seventh Cousin Once Removed
A seventh cousin once removed would be either the parent or child of your seventh cousin. The term once removed means that they are a cousin but from a different generation. They are a generation closer or further away from your shared ancestors. If they are two generations closer or further away then they would be twice removed.
Half Seventh Cousin
This is an easy relationship term; it essentially means that the children of your great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents from whom you and your seventh cousin respectively descend were only half-siblings. This meant they only had one common parent and therefore you descend from only one of your great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents, not two.
The seventh cousin relation is very distant and you share an ancestor six generations back in your family tree. You more than likely do not know any of your seventh cousins and if you do you probably found them through a shared interest in genealogy.
It’s highly likely you do not share DNA with your seventh cousins and you probably have well over a million of them out there in the world.
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"What is a Seventh Cousin?". NameCensus.com. Accessed on May 29, 2022. http://namecensus.com/blog/what-is-a-seventh-cousin/.
"What is a Seventh Cousin?". NameCensus.com, http://namecensus.com/blog/what-is-a-seventh-cousin/. Accessed 29 May, 2022
What is a Seventh Cousin?. NameCensus.com. Retrieved from http://namecensus.com/blog/what-is-a-seventh-cousin/.