consanguinity in england – north vs. south

in “Marriage Patterns in Two Wiltshire Parishes 1754-1914: Geographical Mobility, Consanguinity and Illegitimacy” [opens pdf], catherine linley day found that the average cousin marriage rates for stourton and kilmington parishes between the years of 1800 and 1914 were (pg. 243 – click on chart for LARGER view):

those are really low rates. the total average consangunity (first- AND second-cousin) rate is just 3.9%. going out all the way to include sixth cousins, the cousin marriage rate is still only 9.2%.

wiltshire is in sw england and is part of the area where hackett fischer’s “distressed cavaliers and indentured servants” came from.

meanwhile (well, not really meanwhile ’cause the centuries are off), in cumbria up north on the border with scotland (from Albion’s Seed):

“In many cases the husband and wife both came from the same clan. In the Cumbrian parish of Hawkshead, for example, both the bride and groom bore the same last names in 25 percent of all marriages from 1568 to 1704.”

so, up north, cumbrians were marrying their paternal kin twenty-five percent of the time — presumably anywhere from first- to sixth-cousins or even farther out, who knows? but that twenty-five percent only includes paternal kin. who knows how frequently they married maternal kin in addition?

i know, i know. the centuries don’t match so these data sets aren’t really comparable. but trust me — this is a general pattern for england — greater inbreeding in the north and less in the south. i’ll have some follow up posts offering more proof for this phenomenon. promise!

previously: but what about the english? and cousin marriage rates amongst nineteenth century english and english jews and exogamous marriage in medieval england and invention of the modern world

(note: comments do not require an email. huddle!)

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24 Comments

  1. Wow. That is impressive. Right through Victorian times the Enlish were outbreeding a what appear to be biologically unsustainable levels. Charles Darwin railed against inbreeding so much his son actually did a study to see whether there was more insantiy among cousin marriages. He found less. Outbreeding destroys babies’ brains. Well it did then. I suspect from the (rather small) size of the effect he was just looking at a protective effect of cousin marriages against Rh incompatibility. That was a huge problem then, much reduced now we have Rhogam and such like drugs. Well they didn’t have those drugs then, but they went right on oubreeding in the face of the scientific evidence.
    I think you point is proven. Now lets figure out how the Enghlish with that kind of stupidity ever manage to tie their shoes in the morning. …. Maybe their servants do it for them?

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  2. Yes, but the lunatics have only 4 McNames.
    No wonder 25% of marriages was between same McName holders.

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  3. Francis Galton, always trying to quantify everything, concluded that the most able British were in northern England, and the most beautiful women were in London. Sounds like outbreeding brings beauty, but not brains.

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    1. @ ghazi-less “Sounds like outbreeding brings beauty, but not brains.” I suspect you may be right, although it’s probably a joke. I know little about Francis Galton. I suppose since he invented eugenics he now is untouchable, although he produced much that is now accepted, like finger prints and standard deviation. I take it that eugnics has three maxims 1) Encourage able people to have children rather than less able people. 2) Never, ever marry a cousin. 3) Encourage the immigration of capable people. Although eugenics is scorned in name, in fact only the first is currently rejected. The second is wholeheartedly embraced by almost everybody. The third is standard policy at least in the US.
      As for your point, you might not expect outbreeding to produce brains. One chromosome might try to build one brain while it’s homologue tries to build another. In “How the Scotts Created the Modern World,” it is explained how many geniuses came from Scotland at the time it was the poorest country in Europe. In the last century Hungary was the poorest country at the time Hungarians were the best physicists. (No, I didn’t keep the reference.) Assuming that poverty is a surrogate for inbreeding, that all makes sense. The other point seems easier. Outbreeding should track with a broader social horizon, which tracks with wealth, and the beauty of a woman has a lot to do with how much money is spent on her.
      Your message was short but leaves much to think about.

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  4. @linton – “Now lets figure out how the Enghlish with that kind of stupidity ever manage to tie their shoes in the morning. …. Maybe their servants do it for them?”

    well, the interesting thing about this study (linley day’s ph.d.) is that the data represent only marriages that took place in either of these two parishes (stourton and kilmington). the upper-crusties (like the lords of stourton) tended to get married in london — and THEY married their cousins. first- or second-cousin marriages consistently. but these consanguineous marriages don’t appear in this study (because they didn’t happen in these parishes).

    so, the people in this study who would’ve had servants were the most inbred. (~_^)

    to sum up: linley day’s numbers reflect the mating patterns of farmers, tradesmen and laborers.

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  5. @jayman – “And, just in time, see this post by Razib.”

    interesting! i, too, look forward to when the research behind that map gets published. (^_^)

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  6. @aldi – “Yes, but the lunatics have only 4 McNames.”

    omg – i laughed so hard at that! (^_^)

    the reason they only have four mcnames, tho, is ’cause they kept marrying within their respective clans.

    speaking of marrying someone with the same surname, one of my great-aunts married someone with the same last name — and for years everyone in the family kept telling me (when i asked) that no, no, they’re NOT related in any way. yeah, right. what on earth do we have surnames for, then, if it’s not to keep track of who’s who?! (~_^)

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  7. @ghazi-less – “Francis Galton, always trying to quantify everything, concluded that the most able British were in northern England, and the most beautiful women were in London.”

    interesting! that the most beautiful women were in london might have to do with the fact that attractive women moved there to snag a rich husband (kinda like l.a. attracts pretty women trying to get into the movie business). or maybe he just looked at long-term residents of london?

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  8. @linton – “In ‘How the Scotts Created the Modern World,’ it is explained how many geniuses came from Scotland at the time it was the poorest country in Europe.”

    were those geniuses scottish scots or anglo scots? i’ve got the vague impression that they were anglo scots, but i’ve never checked into it.

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    1. @ hbd chick “scottish scots or anglo scots” I’m not quite sure what anglo scot means. Is it a new word for Scotch Irish? (That’s the community that has shared contacts across the North Irish Sea ever since there has been an Irish sea. They wouldn’t let a little thing like rising sea level break up the family.) You have to distinguish them from the highlanders, who have a lot of genetic input and culture from the neolithic megalith builders that came up the coast recently and wound about the north end of Scotland. (Recently by Scotch Irish standards of course is about 5 thousand years ago.) And of course they are distinct from the Englsih themselves, who are also mostly neolithic or earlier both in culture and descent but have a lot of male chromosomes because of conquests by Celts, Romans, Saxons, Vikings and so forth.) The old mesolithic y chromosome has almost vanished in Scotland. I suspect you could find more of it in Appalachia. ) So unless anglo scots is a new and even more misleading term for the Scotch Irish, I don’t know what it could be. I do remember from the book that these geniuses were farm boys, the poorest of the poor.

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  9. @linton – “I’m not quite sure what anglo scot means. Is it a new word for Scotch Irish?”

    sorry! i guess i may have made up a term of my own again and not told anybody. (~_^)

    what i mean by “anglo scots” are people in scotland who are the desdendants of anglo-saxon settlers in scotland — as opposed to the various peoples who were there before (picts et al.) — and any anglos who may have wandered north of the border since that time.

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    1. @hbd chick “”anglo scots” are people in scotland who are the desdendants of anglo-saxon settlers in scotland” Ah. Thank you. The Scots, I believe, say something to the effect that every time an English person moves to Scotland it lowers the average intelligence of both countries.

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  10. Well they didn’t have those drugs then, but they went right on oubreeding in the face of the scientific evidence. I think you point is proven. Now lets figure out how the Enghlish with that kind of stupidity ever manage to tie their shoes in the morning. …. Maybe their servants do it for them?

    What scientific evidence? The evidence that an outbred, individualistic society creates clean water supplies and medical services that leads to a massive reduction in child mortality?

    Idiot.

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    1. @Greying wanderer “What scientific evidence? The evidence that an outbred, individualistic society creates clean water supplies and medical services that leads to a massive reduction in child mortality? Idiot.” Fair question. Let’s just assume that in Iceland there is generallly clean water, so one Icelander’s reproductive success compared with that of another Icelander is unaffected by water. It is, however, affected by outbreeding.
      So look at this reference:
      An Association between Kinship and Fertility of Human Couples Agnar Helgason et al. SCIENCE vol. 329 no. 5864 February 8, 2008 page 813 – 816
      You will see that outbreeding reduces family size. Here are a couple papers from Denmark,

      Human Fertility Increases with marital radius. Rodrigo Labourian and Antonio Amorim. GENETICS volume 178 January 2008 page 603

      Comment on “An Association Between the Kinship and Fertility of Human Couples,” Rodrigo Labouriau and António Amorim SCIENCE vol. 322, page 1634b December 12, 2008

      Both in Denmark and in Iceland, of course there is evidence for inbreeding depression if you carry it too far.

      It happens in animals, too:
      On the Regulation of Populations of Mammals, Birds, Fish and Insects, Richard M. Sibly, Daniel Barker, Michael C. Denham, Jim Hope and Mark Pagel SCIENCE vol. 309 July 22, 2005 page 609
      I would not think the less of you if you read the scientific evidence I’m giving you OR apologized, but you might seriously consider doing both.

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  11. The last post was a bit ill-tempered but the scientific evidence from the history of England c1300 to c1900 shows pretty conclusively that in the context of a relatively homogenous island, outbreeding within that homogenous population was singularly adaptive.

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  12. “I would not think the less of you if you read the scientific evidence I’m giving you OR apologized, but you might seriously consider doing both.”

    I take back my original semi-apology.

    Idiot.

    “but they went right on oubreeding in the face of the scientific evidence. I think you point is proven. Now lets figure out how the Enghlish with that kind of stupidity ever manage to tie their shoes in the morning”

    Where is the scientific evidence for the period 1300 AD to 1900 AD in England that outbreeding within a homogenous population was maladaptive instead of *singularly* adaptive?

    Just to give you the first hint of a clue. Here are some of the other factors involved
    – food surplus
    – medicine
    – religion
    – child mortality
    – clean water
    – lack of contraception

    So if the consequences of outbreeding (within a homogenous population so you’re actually increasing the total relatedness) had positive effects on some of those other factors they might outweigh the depressive effects of outbreeding on fertility mightn’t they?

    or in short

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/medieval-england-more-prosperous-than-todays-poorest-nations/

    So, with your kind of stupidity how do *you* tie *your* shoes in the morning?

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  13. @ Greying Wanderer. @ Where is the scientific evidence for the period 1300 AD to 1900 AD in England that outbreeding within a homogenous population was maladaptive instead of *singularly* adaptive? Well, that is another reasonable question. Of course what is going on here is that we are dealing with a putative law of nature. So it had to be true then if it is true now. Indeed the mating strategy over those years had to be “singularly adaptive,” at least for most of that time. But adaptive for whom? I managed to get a hold of a list of the old families from about the mid 11th century to the mid 13th. I wished it had gone on another century. But looking at extinctions of the old families, they did not show any trace of the kind of demographic collapse that marks civilizaitons in other parts of the world. In Mesopotamia, give me the length of time a regime has been in place, and I can give you a very good estimate of their chances of making it for another couple of generations. The decline is that mathematical. Among the English nobility of the time there was indeed a high rate of extinctions. Crusades, caught committing treason, that sort of stuff. But there was not the slightest tendancy for the families to die out any faster after two hundred years than on day one. It looks like they knew what they were doing. They were highly motivated to have their lines endure and they were all into keeping their blue blood intact. The college of heralds rivals Iceland in its thorough knowledge of the relevant genealogy. Some days I think it’s because the law allowed women to inherit. So if you were looking for a wive, you wanted the dauther of a noble house with land adjacent to your own lands. Over time, that would mean a cousin. But I just don’t see how they could have failed to have realized that they were betting on I winning horse. But the commoners, we have learned, went just the oppostie way. That’s most strange if now utterilty idiotic. But even now, with the papers published (and I am sure you have not bothered to look them up, so here is a link that gives some of their data and much else besides
    http://nobabies.net/Orlando%20meeting.html ) there are people who simply won’t consider the possibility. Since that is modern, I guess they use velcro on their shoes.

    “So if the consequences of outbreeding (within a homogenous population so you’re actually increasing the total relatedness) had positive effects on some of those other factors they might outweigh the depressive effects of outbreeding on fertility mightn’t they?” Well yes, of course. I mean I don’t quite agree that England had a homogeneous population; even now they can tell a person’s home country from his genotype, if his people have been there a few generations. Nor do I agree that outbreeding increases relatedness on average. Apparently a gene pool of 1,000 is already so big as to be lethal. That’s a point science has not yet passed judgment on, nor do I expect it to. But sure there are advantages to outbreeding. The whole edifice of advanced culture, the treasures of culture civilization have depended on getting able peope from different backgrounds to share inputs. Wouldn’t you want to keep that stuff? Wouldn’t you ferrit out any threat to it, however stange it seemed?

    But you don’t. Remember Hal’s last words to Falstaff, “How ill grey hairs become a fool.” Not to worry. You have plenty of company.

    Reply

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