Archive for October 2009

Kissing cousins

Typically, insinuations of close relatives marrying each other and having children are reserved for the Deep South of the USA, royalty, etc.

What most people don’t realize is that every single one of us have that in our past. Some of us may have it in more recent generations while other in more distant one but, we all come from some sort of incestuous relationship.

Why do I say that? Simple, look at the numbers:

  • According to the US Census Bureau’s Historical Estimates of World Population, this was the approximate world population at various points in time in the past:
    • 350-374M people in 1400AD
    • 254-345M people in 1000AD
    • 170-400M people in 1AD
  • Approximate number of generations back to get to the same years above:
    • 25 generations to 1400AD
    • 32 generations to 1000AD
    • 60 generations to 1AD

Those who are math inclined may have already figured it out but, let’s keep on going. Every generation doubles the number of ancestors and can be expressed as a power of 2. In other words, you are generation 0 and 20 = 1. You have only two parents (biological) and they are generation 1, therefore 21 = 2. You only have 4 grandparents and they are generation 2, therefore 22 = 4. Your great-grandparents are generation 3 or 23 and so on and so forth.

So, let’s see how many ancestors we’ve got after 25 generations in 1400AD: that would be 225 = 33,554,432.

Let’s go back a few more centuries to the beginning of the second millennium or the year 1000AD. We would be at 232 = 4,294,967,296. That’s more than 4 BILLION people! More than 12 times the estimate population of the world of the era!

So, either our ancestors mated with non-humans or there was just a little too much family love.

Another interesting conclusion is that there’s a pretty good chance that you and your spouse/significant other are distant cousins!

Remember all this next time you have the urge to call someone else an “inbreeder” because we’re all inbred!

XXIX International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences


It was just announced the other day that the XXIX International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences will be held in Stuttgart, Germany in September 10-17, 2010.

The site for the Congress is still under construction and registration is not yet open but, you can visit it here:

Heraldry Course at the University of Dundee

Just this past Sunday, on October 11th, I received the most recent newsletter (#12) from the College of Arms. Among the many interesting topics covered, the most interesting to me was the announcement that there will be a course on heraldry given at the University of Dundee in Scotland.

Here is the text of the announcement:

Heraldry Course at University of Dundee: Clive Cheesman and Peter O’Donoghue, Rouge Dragon and Bluemantle respectively, are the joint authors and tutors of a course covering the history, terminology and practice of heraldry. This course provides a detailed and thorough study of the subject for both beginners, and those with experience of heraldry alike. The heraldry module is a 13-week distance learning module delivered online in a fully supported learning environment. It can be taken on its own, simply as a leisure interest. It can also be taken for continuing professional development, as part of a Postgraduate Certificate in Family and Local History, or as part of the University of Dundee’s Masters degree in Archives and Records Management. More information can be found on the Centre for Archives and Information Studies website or by e-mailing

For those who are not in Scotland, the best part is that it can be taken online. The fact that it’s being given by two of the Pursuivants of the College of Arms, makes it extra special.

Of course, one might ask why are folks from the English College of Arms teaching a course in Scotland, in Lord Lyon’s turf. I don’t know….

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