The branches of your free family tree will extend outwards for many generations. Your direct line of descendants is made up of those who played a part in your birth; such as you parents and grandparents, and their parents etc. Other relatives such as their siblings and descendants are known as your extended family, and they are all extended family by blood. You will also have members who are extended family by marriage, which could include step-relations or half-relations. In this article we’ll talk about their place in your free family tree.
Your extended blood relatives are those that are related to you by blood, but who had no part in your biological creation. You can add them into your free family tree as you go along, or first researching your direct descendants and then putting them in later; the choice is yours. You should include them however, and we’ll briefly consider the ones you might want to add, beginning with your nieces and nephews.
As the children of your siblings, your nieces and nephews qualify to be included in your free family tree. Your niece will of course be the female offspring, your nephews the male. Any children that your nieces and nephews may have will be known as great-nieces and great-nephews, another "great" being added each time another generation of them is added to your free family tree.Start Your Free Family Tree
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The brothers and sisters of your parents, being your aunts and uncles, also have their place in your free family tree. This includes the siblings of your grandparents and their parents, the rule of adding a prefix of great for each generation applies here as well. Therefore, the brothers and sisters of your grandparents will be your great-uncles and aunts and so on.
The children of your aunts and uncles are your cousins, your first cousins in fact, with subsequent generations of cousins indicated by how many generations "removed" from you they are. For instance, if a child is born of your first cousin, you would enter him or her into your free family tree as "first cousin once removed". A grandchild of your first cousin would be your "first cousin twice removed". I know, it can get a little confusing, and you’re wondering "what about second, third and fourth cousins etc.?"
Well, this type of designation can only be used to describe cousins of the same generation. This means that your child would be second cousins to your first cousins child. I know, why couldn’t cousins be called "great" too! Well, some of them are, and some aren’t! This confusion is sometimes reflected in certain documents you might find when researching for your free family tree. Wills and census returns are notorious for this, so exercise discretion if recording information obtained from those records when searching ancestors.
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With same sex marriages, adoptions and illegitimacy all playing a part in genealogy, extended family can number more than your own blood line. For this reason we’ll stick to some of the more useful terms you may need to incorporate into your free family tree.
One a member of your family gets married; they become a relative of their partner’s family as a result. This is a legally binding relationship, and is extended to siblings of the married couple as well. The mother of the bride becomes the mother-in-law of the groom and vice versa, while siblings become brothers and sisters-in-law.
You gain a "step" relative when either one of your parents, or grandparents for that matter, re-marries. Your step-mother would be your father’s new wife, while any children she may have would become your step-brothers and step-sisters.
The term "half" is used to depict the relationship of two children who share only one biological parent. This is especially popular in step-families, where for instance your biological parent may have a child with their new spouse. This person would become your half-brother or sister.
Hopefully this helps you to understand how to describe the various relationships within your free family tree. Our next article in this series will go into a little more detail about how to draw and fill in your free family tree.
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