Was it proper for a nephew to marry his aunt? #general


Jeffrey Herrmann
 

My fourth great grandfather, Michel Herschel, (b. abt 1770) married his father’s sister, Rane Herschel, (b. abt 1755) in Hamburg. She was only four years younger than Michel’s father, Meyer Wolff Herschel. Michel and Rane had several children, at least two of whom were healthy enough to live to reasonably old age. Their youngest may have been born as early as 1786, although this date is uncertain.

Was a marriage between a nephew and an aunt permissible? Was it common?

Jeffrey Herrmann
New Rochelle, NY
Researching HERSCHELs of Hamburg, WOLFFs of Halle an der Saale.


Myra Fournier
 

Hi, Jeffrey:

I have a great-aunt who married her uncle in the mid-1800's in Germany. 

He was 10 years older.  

They had six children, two of whom died in infancy.

Several of my friends had similar circumstances with their ancestors, so I think it was an accepted (if not common) practice.

I think you'll get similar responses from others.  

Good luck!

Myra Fournier
Bedford, MA
mjfourn@...


soring0412@...
 

A nephew cannot marry his aunt. According to the Jewish law it is called incest.
An uncle can marry he's niece. It is allowed.
Sorin Goldenberg
Israel


Judith Singer
 

Definitely considered proper, and likewise for an uncle and his niece. In a family I am researching, an uncle married his niece, only five years younger, circa 1876. Their descendants, including one grandson who is still alive as well as many members of later generations, are flourishing.

It was also considered proper for first cousins to marry. My best friend as a child was the daughter of two first cousins. 

Judith Singer

Researching CHARNEY and variations in Lithuania and eastern Poland


viviansilco@...
 

Hi, Jeffrey,

It's legal that cousins or relatives married one another, but seems unlikely, or at least very uncommon,  that a guy married a woman 15 years older than him.  And even so, she would be at least 32-35 years old when she married, not easy at that age to start a big family.  

That's what I think, but you never know.

Regards,
Vivian Silbermann Cohen, Mevasseret


jbonline1111@...
 

Re Vivian Cohen's comment: a friend of mine is married to a man who is 10-15 years younger than she. They have two children from their union, both of whom are adults now. It's uncommon but it occurs now and I don't doubt it occasionally occurred in prior centuries for various reasons.  
--
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC


David Goldman
 

Hi, Jeffrey. Given the context and time involved back in the 18th century, assuming the couple married religiously as well as civilly, it is unlikely that the actual relationship was that of an aunt and a nephew since such a marriage is forbidden under religious law (halacha). In all likelihood either the groom or bride was a step-relative or adopted child, which would mean the marriage would be permissible under halacha.  Thus Michel must have been an adopted or step-son to Meyer, or alternatively, Rane was an adopted or step-sister of Meyer.  This seems more likely given the fact that Rane was significantly older than Michel and would have been considered to be an "old maid." It would be quite common to try to marry off an "old maid" to anyone just so she could be married. Thus it would suggest that Rane must have been a stepsister or adopted/foster sister of Meyer.
David Goldman
NYC


Sally Bruckheimer
 

In Jewish law, an uncle may marry his niece, but an aunt may not marry her nephew. What people actually did is something else, sometimes.

My 2nd ggrandfather married his niece after his first wife died. His 4 sons left for America around the same time.

Sally Bruckheimer
Princeton, NJ


Joel weiner
 

I have a relative who was living in the USA and who went back to Germany in 1925. He wanted to bring out several adult relatives, including his orphaned niece, who was 15. He was 40. They wouldn't allow her to leave.
 
So he married her, and she was then allowed to leave. They remained married for >40 years, and had three children.


karen.silver@juno.com
 

Another interesting aspect of these marriages of an uncle to a niece is that they are illegal in most states.  My grandfather married my grandmother, his half niece, in 1919 in Providence, Rhode Island despite residing in the Bronx because there was and still is an exception in Rhode Island law for "any marriage which shall be solemized among the Jewish people within the degrees of affinity or cosanguinity allowed by their religion."
 
Karen Silver
New Jersey


Ellen Slotoroff Zyroff
 

Nephew and aunt marriage is a clear Torah prohibition.

Leviticus 18: 11-13
עֶרְוַת אֲחוֹת־אָבִיךָ לֹא תְגַלֵּה שְׁאֵר אָבִיךָ הִוא׃ (ס)
Do not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister; she is your father’s flesh.
עֶרְוַת אֲחוֹת־אִמְּךָ לֹא תְגַלֵּה כִּי־שְׁאֵר אִמְּךָ הִוא׃ (ס)
Do not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister; for she is your mother’s flesh.

Here's a summary with footnote links about forbidden sexual relationships in Judaism.

https://torah.org/learning/halacha-overview-chapter27/

This additional article, which talks about prohibited vs allowed relationships, includes mention of the irony of Karaite Jews, who say they reject oral law, but have made their own oral law.
https://www.thetorah.com/article/which-relatives-are-you-prohibited-from-marrying


Ellen Zyroff

On Monday, May 17, 2021, 07:23:16 PM PDT, Jeffrey Herrmann <jeffrey.herrmann@...> wrote:
 
 
My fourth great grandfather, Michel Herschel, (b. abt 1770) married his father’s sister, Rane Herschel, (b. abt 1755) in Hamburg. She was only four years younger than Michel’s father, Meyer Wolff Herschel. Michel and Rane had several children, at least two of whom were healthy enough to live to reasonably old age. Their youngest may have been born as early as 1786, although this date is uncertain.

Was a marriage between a nephew and an aunt permissible? Was it common?

Jeffrey Herrmann
New Rochelle, NY
Researching HERSCHELs of Hamburg, WOLFFs of Halle an der Saale.

--
ZOLOTOROV (Chernigov, Ukraine; Kiev, Ukraine); SLOTOROFF (Kiev, Ukraine); CHARKOVSKY or SHARKOVSKY(Ukraine); LEVINE (Ukraine and Minsk, Belarus);
GLUSKIN (Ukraine); LIMON (Berestechko, Volynia, Ukraine); TESLER (Horochiv, Volynia, Ukraine); ZYRO (Zabolativ, Ukraine) ; TAU (Zalolativ, Ukraine)
PISTERMAN (Ukraine); ROTH / ROT (Ataki, Bessarabia, Moldova); BLAUSTEIN (Chernigov, Ukraine or Minsk, Belarus)


Irene Newhouse
 

In my family in the early 20th century, a widower married a much younger 2nd wife. After she was widowed, she and one of her late husband's nephews fell in love & married in a civil ceremony. The family was shocked because in their understanding it violated religious law & disowned them. They were not aunt & nephew in the sense of 'father's sister' or 'mother's sister'; if there were common ancestors, it was before any family memories.

Irene Newhouse
Kihei HI USA


clucenti@...
 

Hi Jeffrey,

Although I cannot recall any instances of an aunt marrying her nephew, I have at least two instances of an uncle marrying his niece. In one case, the youngest brother married the daughter of his older sister when she turned up 3 months pregnant. On the other hand, first cousin marriages were extraordinarily common (too many in my tree to count). I even have a couple of instances where a stepbrother married a stepsister. 

Cary Pollack
Tamarac, Florida


Steven Usdansky
 

One of my father's uncles married his niece - in Rhode Island in 1918. And one of my grandfather's sisters married her uncle - in NJ. Looking into the latter, it appears my grandfather's sister used her mother's maiden name on the marriage license application.
--
Steven Usdansky
usdanskys@...
USDANSKY (Узданский): Turec, Kapyl, Klyetsk, Nyasvizh, Slutsk, Grosovo
SINIENSKI: Karelichy, Lyubcha, Navahrudak
NAMENWIRTH: Bobowa, Rzepiennik
SIGLER: "Minsk"


Susan Lubow
 

One of my great-grandfathers, b. 1817 in Bavaria, was the 11th of 12 siblings.  He married his niece, b. 1837; she was the daughter of his oldest sibling, who was born in 1798.

Susan Lubow
SCHWARZ, Floss, Bavaria
ABELES, Petrowitz, Bohemia