Discussion:
Purefoy family/Meaning of the word 'cousin' in the 1720s
(too old to reply)
i***@gmail.com
2020-07-02 21:07:04 UTC
Permalink
I'm hoping that someone may be able to help me. My apologies if this query is a bit off-topic. My question relates to the wills of a married couple William and Dorothy Best (of Field in the parish of Leigh, Staffordshire).

William's will (dated 22nd Sept 1722 and proved 20th May 1723) includes this legacy:

Item I give and bequeath to the Wife of my Cousin Michael Purefoy the Sume of Forty Shillings.

On the other hand, Dorothy's will (dated 30th May 1723 and proved 30th Aug 1725) says this:

Item I give to my Cousin Purefoy Widow of Mr. Michael Purefoy the Sum of Five Pounds.

I already have some details about the family connections of these people but currently this is far from complete. Nor do I know how they are related to each other. I'm descended from Dorothy's sister, which is why I would like to find out more. Hence my question is this:

Is it correct to assume from the wording that William is a cousin of Michael; and Dorothy a cousin of Michael's wife/widow? Or could a 'cousin' be the spouse of one's cousin, or alternatively the cousin of one's spouse? Any information on the usage of this word in the 18th century would be gratefully received.

Many thanks in advance for any advice that is offered.

(Incidentally, anyone who wants to view these wills in their entirety should be able to download them for free from the UK National Archives website, though only while the lockdown is still ongoing.)

Ian
taf
2020-07-02 22:43:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by i***@gmail.com
Item I give and bequeath to the Wife of my Cousin Michael Purefoy the Sume of Forty Shillings.
Item I give to my Cousin Purefoy Widow of Mr. Michael Purefoy the Sum of Five Pounds.
Is it correct to assume from the wording that William is a cousin of Michael; and Dorothy a cousin of Michael's wife/widow? Or could a 'cousin' be the spouse of one's cousin, or alternatively the cousin of one's spouse? Any information on the usage of this word in the 18th century would be gratefully received.
At this period, all relational descriptions could include relationships by marriage. There was likely just a single relationship here, with Michael the relative of either William or Dorothy. (Based on Dorothy's will alone, Michael could have simply married a 'cousin', but because William calls his widow 'wife of my cousin Michael', clearly the relationship is through him and not his wife.)

Beware, though, that in the 17th century 'cousin' could refer to nephews and even grandchildren, and it is possible this more broad usage was still in effect here.

taf
joseph cook
2020-07-03 00:56:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by i***@gmail.com
I'm hoping that someone may be able to help me. My apologies if this query is a bit off-topic. My question relates to the wills of a married couple William and Dorothy Best (of Field in the parish of Leigh, Staffordshire).
Item I give and bequeath to the Wife of my Cousin Michael Purefoy the Sume of Forty Shillings.
Item I give to my Cousin Purefoy Widow of Mr. Michael Purefoy the Sum of Five Pounds.
Is it correct to assume from the wording that William is a cousin of Michael; and Dorothy a cousin of Michael's wife/widow? Or could a 'cousin' be the spouse of one's cousin, or alternatively the cousin of one's spouse? Any information on the usage of this word in the 18th century would be gratefully received.
Many thanks in advance for any advice that is offered.
My experience is that even in the early 1700s, "cousin" could mean any relation, by blood or marriage, except it was usually not spouse, direct descendants, or direct ancestors.

I also keep suspecting (without any evidence--curious if there is good counter evidence) that "cousin" was more often used for ancestors near the same generation of the relation.

--Joe C
i***@gmail.com
2020-07-03 01:06:02 UTC
Permalink
Many thanks for your responses, taf and Joe.

What you say is what I suspected. (I'm confident that Michael was not a nephew of either William or Dorothy. Not only were they of a similar age but I already know quite a bit about the nephews/nieces of William and of Dorothy especially.)

Yours

Ian

Loading...