more on consanguinity in england (and scotland)

below is a chart summarizing the findings from various consanguinity studies for england (and a couple for scotland). i’ve adapted catherine linley day’s chart which appears in her thesis [opens pdf] on pg. 245 (basically, i’ve added her findings, fleshed out darwin’s findings, and added a couple of others — i also divided the findings between north and south). most of these studies have drawbacks and lynley day goes through them all in detail on pages 245-250. click on image for LARGER view:

as you can see, and as i mentioned yesterday, the overall pattern seems to be that people in southern great britain have largely avoided cousin marriage since the 1500s (possibly as far back as the 1300s), while the people further north, not so much. if anything, cousin marriage increased in the succeeding centuries, particularly in the nineteenth (a general pattern for much of europe).

the sorts of cousin marriage rates we see for the english from the medieval period to the modern — ranging from 0.00 to 5.30 — are just not even in the same ballpark cricket pitch as other parts of the world like the arab peninsula or even southern europe. and they haven’t been. for centuries. the english, especially members of the southern subspecies, have apparently avoided cousin marriage like the plague.

there are gaps, i know. big gaps. more numbers would be nice, of course. further research is required. (~_^)

let me go through the list.

the first entry for fourteenth century ely. i posted about that here. fifty percent (50%) of all marriages in ely, cambridgeshire, in the 1300s were to people living outside of ely. hard to know if this means people were avoiding cousin marriage or not — people from ely could’ve been marrying their cousins living in other villages — but it’s likely, i think, that this means they were avoiding marrying close family members. at this point in time, the roman catholic church had banned cousin marriage up to and including third cousins, and as lynley day points out with regard to the second entry on the list (1500s england), for whatever reasons, medieval english people seemed to take these restrictions seriously [pg. 246]:

“Marriage dispensations from the reign of Henry VIII were used to estimate consanguinity (Smith et al. 1993). The results produced from these documents were surprisingly low (Table 6-4), with a total absence of 1st cousin marriages and a very low level of 2nd cousin marriages, even compared to modern studies. One possible explanation, as noted by Smith and his colleagues, is that the marriage dispensations may not reflect actual practice, although anecdotal evidence suggests that there was a real aversion to close consanguineous marriage in the mediaeval period (Smith et al. 1993). Another explanation proffered is that marriage dispensations were almost exclusively the preserve of the rich, and that the poor and labourers did not avail themselves of the system (Smith et al. 1993).”

the third item on the list is lynley day’s study which i posted about yesterday. the next is bramwell’s study for shropshire. bramwell used george darwin’s techniques to calculate cousin marriage rates in that county by looking at surnames. his results are not far off lynley day’s and so, i’d guess, are probably fairly accurate. the same can be said for darwin’s results (which i posted about here).

pearson’s hospital study involved checking for consanguinity between the parents of sick children. while consanguineous couples might have more sickly children on average compared to the rest of the population, pearson’s finding of 1.3% first cousin marriages for londoners of the time also seems to fit well with the other findings. he attempted to double-check his results by surveying the readers of the british medical journal (bmj), but he may have gotten a skewed response (only persons married to cousins responding) and/or many of the readers at the time may have been from the upper classes. one or both of those may account for the high (for england) 4.69% first-cousin marriage rate that he found.

the next study, bell’s study of hospital patients across england, had the same methodology as pearson’s, but found a slightly lower consanguinity rate. but the late nineteenth century/early twentieth century (when the study was conducted) is just the point when consanguinity rates started to drop across europe after peaking between 1875-1915, so that may account for the lower rates.

smith’s study of the records of the society of genealogy members probably has a slight bias towards middle-/upper-class folks who, as g. darwin showed, tend to have slightly higher consanguinity rates in england (and elsewhere, too, i think). finally, the study of consanguinity rates in twentieth century reading by coleman can be found here.

previously: consanguinity in england – north vs. south and 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. cricket anyone?)

16 Comments

  1. hbdchick: I found this decade-old document from the Israeli Health Ministry.

    It’s in Hebrew, of course. Here’s a relevant segment passed through Google Translate:
    Marriages between couples who have at least one common relative (which is closer to the great grandfather) are close marriages (1). Prevalence of marriage varies in different regions close to the world. In Western Europe and North America the rate is up 1.5%, while African and Asian countries high rates are up to – 50% (2).

    Country, the incidence of marriage among Jews close lower as those of other Western countries (about 1%). Higher rates among the Orientals (10.1% of Yemenite origin, 9.8% from Iraq, 10% of Jews from Egypt and 5.1% from Morocco). Among Israeli Arabs the situation is different. This population is very common to marry relatives, especially first cousins ​​(2).

    Number of studies have examined the rate of marriage among the Arabs of the country close. In a study by Ferundlich et al, at 1984 (2), examined the rate of marriage in the coming Arab rural population in the Western Galilee. Found that the incidence of marriage is the next highest among the Druze (49%), then among Muslims (40 % (and the lowest rate received by the Christians (29% (. lessons found in the rural population are much higher than those found among the urban population. difference in the frequency phenomenon among residents of towns and villages comes from differences in socio-economic, and will maintain the position of the family and property in the village (the marriage of the most common were among the first cousins, especially when the husband and father of the woman’s father are brothers) (2). work of Jaber et al in 1994, (3) questionnaires were fathers of the 9300 Israeli Arab students at 158 ​​schools in villages and towns scattered across the country . objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence of marriage in the coming local Arab population and demographic characteristics related to test a decision to marry a relative. found that 44% of respondents were married to a relative when more than half were cousins. Among the factors that have been linked to the decision to marry to a relative found religion Muslim and close marriages among parents of filling out the questionnaire (4).

    and the bibliography:
    1. Simin S Wong , et al, The effect of Consanguinity on pregnancy out come in Saudi Arabia. R.S.H. 1990; 4: 146-147.
    2. Freundlich E, et al, Consanguineous marriage among rural arabs in israel. Isr J Med Sci .1984 ;11: 1035-1038.
    3. Jaber L et al, consanguineous mating in an Israeli Arab community. Arch Pediat Adolesc Med. 1994; 148: 412-415.
    4. Jaber L, at el, Demographic characteristic of the Israeli Arab community in connection with consanguinity. Isr J Med Sci. 1996; 32: 1286-1289.
    5. Jaber L, et al, Marked parental consanguinity as a cause for increased major malformations in an Israeli Arab community. Am J Med Genet. 1992; 44: 1-6.
    6. Zlotogora J, Genetic disorders among Palestinian Arabs: effect of consanguinity. Am J Med Genet. 1997; 68: 472-475.
    7. Stottenberg C, et al, Consanguinity and recurrence risk of stillbirth and infant death. Am J Public Health. 1999; 89: 517-523.
    8. Jaber L et al, Effect consanguineous marrige on reproductive outcome in an Arab community. J Med Genet. 1997;34:1000-1002.

    I’m not sure where they got those Jewish percentages, though.

    Reply

  2. I have used genealogy records to trace my father’s family back 4 (and in some cases 5) generations. His parents are from the north of Scotland (Caithness and Sutherlandshire). The families are working class people (fishermen, blacksmith, crofter, etc) There are no cousin marriages (at least my grandparents and great grandparents were not cousins) In the forth generation back (my great great grandparents, born around 1800) there are some duplicate names (3 McLeods, 2 McKays).

    My mother’s father is also from the Highlands of Scotland (Banff) and there are no cousins or duplicate names there, but in some cases couples seem to be from the same small town.
    Her mother was from England, and I don’t have as many records for that branch of the family. Scotland has ALL their birth/death/marriage records that are at least 100 years old online. They charge money to look things up, and they must be making a pretty penny. A very large portion of Canadians have ancestors from Scotland.

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  3. These genetic patterns presumably play into British pop culture: “thick northerner” vs “suvvern poof”. See also:

    The Fat Slags (promiscuous, greedy, northern)

    Cockney Wanker (devious, dishonest, southern)

    If you travel around Britain, there are obvious facial and trichological patterns: if you live in the south and know a Scot or a north-easterner, for example, you’ll find yourself seeing “echoes” when you travel in Scotland or the north-east (home of Viz magazine, from which the above characters come). But I’ve found people speaking to me in German when I’ve been in German-speaking countries.

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  4. @bob – “You might be interested in Joseph Felsentein’s ‘Theoretical Evolutionary Genetics.’ It is available as a free pdf….”

    yeah, i downloaded it the other day, too. (^_^) thnx for pointing it out, tho!

    Reply

  5. @ihtg – “I found this decade-old document from the Israeli Health Ministry.”

    thanks! (^_^)

    @ihtg – “I’m not sure where they got those Jewish percentages, though.”

    well, they seem to fit with the sources i’ve seen, so they’re probably pretty right. western jews today certainly seem to have cousin marriage rates that are the same as americans and nw europeans. other groups — like persian jews — have much higher rates of cousin marriage.

    what i want to know, of course, is the history of inbreeding in european (and other groups of) jews. my guess — and this is just a guess, but i’d bet (a small amount of) money on it — is that jews in germany have a longer history of avoiding cousin marriage than jews in russia. definitely more than sephardic jews.

    mitterauer drops a hint that medieval jews became concerned about inbreeding along with christians in europe — it being the general zeitgeist of the time — but, unfortunately (for me), he doesn’t give a reference for his claim (drat) [pg. 72]:

    “We find it difficult to comprehend today just how preoccupied the era was with the fear of incest — and not only in the various Christian churches but in Jewish circles as well.”

    my guess is that jews living in areas of europe where the cousin marriage bans were taken very seriously — france, germany, england (my “core europe”) — followed suit to some extent or another, while jews living in area of europe where the cousin marriage bans were not taken seriously — eastern europe, southern europe — did not. this may be why more open forms of judaism (reform judaism) originated in places like germany, whereas you get more closed forms (hasidism) in eastern europe.

    Reply

  6. @melykin – “I have used genealogy records to trace my father’s family back 4 (and in some cases 5) generations.”

    cool! (^_^) so you’re not too inbred then. (~_^)

    Reply

  7. @contrary mary – “If you travel around Britain, there are obvious facial and trichological patterns….”

    absolutely!

    @contrary mary – “But I’ve found people speaking to me in German when I’ve been in German-speaking countries.”

    heh! that’s funny. (^_^)

    Reply

  8. I thought the sources you’d found were old, from the 1960’s. Is the 2002 document referencing those? Perhaps it is.

    Reply

  9. Thanks for replying, Hbd chick, and I’m sorry I didn’t say something scientifically rigorous and interesting — it won’t be a surprise that I come at HBD from an unrigorous arts/linguistic background. But that does make me interested in the linguistic patterns among HBDers. E.g., you and GCochran9 write the clearest and most entertaining prose. (I won’t say who writes the worst and least entertaining.) Anyway, I wonder how far these prose patterns are influenced by genetics, and how much information there is to be extracted from language (which, like DNA, is a string of discrete repeating elements). There are already programs to deduce the sex of an anonymous writer from statistic patterns in his/her writing, but is there much more than that? E.g., is race/ethnicity encoded in language somehow? Do native speakers of English in the US use English in subtly different ways influenced by their racial/ethnic origins? What about sexual orientation, politics, honesty, mental illness, etc? We can sometimes deduce or intuit those things, consciously or unconsciously, but what about a neutral text making no explicit reference to them? It is an interesting time to be alive, in lots of ways.

    Reply

  10. @contrary mary – “Anyway, I wonder how far these prose patterns are influenced by genetics….”

    to me, that just makes sense. i can’t see why how different populations think/feel about things (which are affected by genetics) wouldn’t come through in language.

    have you seen lera boroditsky’s work on languages? really interesting stuff! but i think she has it kinda backwards: language can affect how we think, she says — but how we think doesn’t affect our language. i doubt that second part.

    this sort of thing is really interesting, i think:

    “‘In English,’ she says, moving her hand toward the cup, ‘if I knock this cup off the table, even accidentally, you would likely say, “She broke the cup.” However, in Japanese or Spanish, she explains, intent matters.

    “‘If one deliberately knocks the cup, there is a verb form to indicate as much. But if the act were an accident, Boroditsky explains, a smile dancing across her lips as she translates from Spanish, the speaker would essentially say, “The cup broke itself.”

    “‘The question is: Does the fact that one language tends to play the blame game while the other does not mean speakers of those languages think differently about what happened?'”

    i think so! and i think that the languages are different because the different populations, on average, think differently about what happened.

    not too long ago, i had a conversation with a guy who speaks fluently the language from the country from whence my people hail, and he was telling me that in that language, there is (or was) no was to say “i made a mistake.” a new word for “mistake” was, according to this guy, introduced in the 1950s. before that, you would literally say “i forgot.” (~_^) we were both laughing at how that really fit our ethnic group and its general inability to admit culpability. (^_^)

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  11. have you seen lera boroditsky’s work on languages?

    No, but I will read more.

    really interesting stuff! but i think she has it kinda backwards: language can affect how we think, she says — but how we think doesn’t affect our language.

    And nor do our genetics. At least, that’s been the party line in linguistics, as part of the general taboo on investigating genetic influences on the brain. There was once some v. interesting work on blood-group distribution and use of the dental fricatives (written English used to have two special letters for them, but the Norman invasion killed them off: there were no dental fricatives in Norman French):

    “Read below for the intriguing, but possibly chimerical, link between dental fricatives and blood type.”

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/johnson/2011/04/consonants

    Liberalism/Marxism killed off that kind of study, and many decades have been lost.

    not too long ago, i had a conversation with a guy who speaks fluently the language from the country from whence my people hail, and he was telling me that in that language, there is (or was) no way to say “i made a mistake.” a new word for “mistake” was, according to this guy, introduced in the 1950s. before that, you would literally say “i forgot.” (~_^) we were both laughing at how that really fit our ethnic group and its general inability to admit culpability. (^_^)

    Not just ethnic groups: Larry Auster has a discussion about the tendency in a certain political “demographic” to deny human agency when the human agent in question does not fit the “narrative”. E.g., “St. Paul teen killed by SUV remembered at her funeral”. Cars that drive themselves, guns that shoot by themselves, knives that stab by themselves, etc.

    But I’m wondering what religion your ethnic group is now. Catholics have had “Mea maxima culpa” / “My very great fault” for a long, long time, but some groups of Catholic react to the guilt-tripping by finding ways to evade it. And sometimes go too far.

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  12. @ihtg – “I thought the sources you’d found were old, from the 1960′s. Is the 2002 document referencing those? Perhaps it is.”

    it’s not clear to me where the numbers for jews come from in that article you pointed out. the bibliography only seems to reference articles about arab israelis, so where the numbers for jews came from — i dunno. -?- like i said, tho — they seem to be in line with the numbers i’ve seen elsewhere. (^_^)

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  13. @mary – “At least, that’s been the party line in linguistics, as part of the general taboo on investigating genetic influences on the brain…. Liberalism/Marxism killed off that kind of study, and many decades have been lost.”

    same with human evolution/evolutionary psychology, as i’m sure you’re aware. =/ very annoying. i don’t know why i should be surprised that linguistics was hit, too, but somehow i am.

    @mary – “There was once some v. interesting work on blood-group distribution and use of the dental fricatives (written English used to have two special letters for them, but the Norman invasion killed them off: there were no dental fricatives in Norman French).”

    that’s really interesting! thanks for sharing. i had no idea! definitely one for the files. (^_^)

    @mary – “E.g., ‘St. Paul teen killed by SUV remembered at her funeral’. Cars that drive themselves, guns that shoot by themselves, knives that stab by themselves, etc.”

    good point. i haven’t ever really thought about this — now i’ll probably notice it everywhere.

    @mary – “But I’m wondering what religion your ethnic group is now.”

    mostly rc. i come from a long line of roman catholics. mostly. (~_^)

    Reply

  14. We find it difficult to comprehend today just how preoccupied the era was with the fear of incest — and not only in the various Christian churches but in Jewish circles as well.

    Just had a thought. If sexual attraction is proportional to relatedness (beyond the westermarck effect) and sexual attraction was sinful then you have a mechanism for the preoccupation with cousin-incest.

    Reply

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