15 Famous Kissing Cousins Throughout History

No matter the size of your family, you have cousins. They may not be first removed cousins (children of your parents’ siblings), but go on up your family tree and those branches go out! July 24th is Cousin’s Day – a day to celebrate and show appreciation for your favorite child of your mother or father’s brother or sister. July 24th also happens to be National Tequila Day, and if you and your cousin are over 21, a margarita is a great way to celebrate. (You are welcome, cousins of the world.)

In many cultures they go beyond tequila to show cousin love – some even going as far as marrying each other. Alan Bittles, a genetics researcher, estimates “20% of marriages worldwide are between relatives who are first cousins.” His studies show that in the United States, one marriage in 1,000 is between first cousins.

Just last season on Downton Abbey we were all swept away by the love story of Lady Mary and Matthew. One of the reasons we all cheered on the romance was because it secured the future of Downton, as Matthew was a distant cousin of Mary and would keep the home in the family.

Throughout history many famous people have kept it in the family and married their cousin. John Green, brilliant author and contributor to the fantastically geeky Mental Floss, put together a video explaining not only what cousins are, but also compiled a massive list of historical first cousins who married each other. Brace yourself, he’s a fast talker!

15 Famous Kissing Cousins

  • Famous Kissing Cousins 1 of 16
    15 Famous Kissing Cousins

    From Queens to poets to scientists to presidents, cousins have been famously married for centuries! 


    Image Credit:  Kiss Silhouette by Konstantin Somov, Wikimedia

  • Bach 2 of 16

    Johann Sebastian was married to Maria Barbara Bach who was his second cousin, and together they had seven children. 


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Christopher Robin Milne 3 of 16

    The son of the man behind our beloved Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin Milne, married Lesley de Selincourt, his first cousin. Milne explains how they never met before, writing: "[Lesley was] a de Selincourt, and de Selincourts were not always on speaking terms with each other. In particular my mother hadn't spoken to her brother Aubrey for about thirty years. That was why we had never met before. "


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Charles Darwin 4 of 16

    Charles Darwin was familiar with his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood, as they had grown up together. In 1838 Darwin famously wrote a pros and cons list of proposing to Emma, as well as the pros and cons of her accepting his proposal. One of the pros of not marrying was travel: "If not marry | Travel. Europe, yes? | America????"


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Einstein 5 of 16

    The second wife of Albert Einstein, Elsa Löwenthal, was a distant cousin. She nursed him through a brutal illness and was instrumental in getting the family out of Germany during World War II.


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • H.G. Wells 6 of 16

    The first wife of famous author HG Wells was his first cousin, Isabel Mary Wells. The marriage only lasted a few years and then he left her for one of his students. 


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • FDR 7 of 16

    FDR was married to his fifth cousin once removed, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt. She became the longest serving first lady of the United States, and bonus: she didn't have to change her last name after she got married!


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Giuliani 8 of 16

    Rudy Giuliani was married to Regina Peruggi, his second cousin once removed. They divorced in 1982, and she is now President of Kingsborough Community College.


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Jesse James 9 of 16

    Jesse James married his father's sister's daughter, also known as his first cousin. Zerelda "Zee" Mimms and Jesse were engaged for nine years before marrying. When Jesse was gunned down, Zee went into mourning and never stopped. One of their sons had to start working at the age of eleven to support the family.


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Oliver Wendell Holmes 10 of 16

    The poet Oliver Wendell Holmes married his second cousin, Amelia Lee Jackson. Together they had three children. Holmes is said to have been thankful for being able to keep a calm and normal home life as his life outside of his home was often chaotic. 


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Thomas Jefferson 11 of 16

    Thomas Jefferson married his third cousin, Martha Wayles Skelton. Ten years after marrying each other, Martha died from (what's suspected of) complications from childbirth. She never got to serve as First Lady.


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • John F. Fitzgerald 12 of 16

    John Francis Fitzgerald, the grandfather of president JFK, married Mary Josephine Hannon, his second cousin. "Honey Fitz," as he was known, was a mayor of Boston and a son of an Irish immigrant


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • John Adams 13 of 16

    John and Abigail Adams were third cousins and shared very similar sensibilities.  After Abigail's death in 1818, their grandson started publishing their letters. The couple's letters to each other have been something many people have enjoyed and studied for decades now.


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Igor Stravinsky 14 of 16

    Russian composer Igor Stravinsky married his cousin Catherine Nossenko when he was in his early 20's. According to Arts Alive, "they both loved painting, amateur theater and playing the piano."


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Edgar Allan Poe 15 of 16

    Edgar Allan Poe married his first cousin Virginia Eliza Clemm when she was just 13 years old. Virginia died at the age of 24. Many scholars have studied this marriage and have questions about it. There have been rumors that their relationship was more like that of a brother and sister than a husband and wife.


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Queen Victoria 16 of 16

    Queen Victoria knew for most of her life she would marry her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Thankfully she thought he was cute! She wrote in her journals, "Albert really is quite charming, and so extremely handsome . . . a beautiful figure, broad in the shoulders and a fine waist; my heart is quite going."


    Image Credit: Wikimedia

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