A Case of Quadruple In-law Marriage

Out of my 28 first cousins, I have two cousins, sisters, who married two brothers. Double in-law marriage is not very common these days since we all now have a large pool of potential spouses to choose from. But in the case of my two cousins, the tradition in that family was to marry within their church, a conservative Protestant denomination. That’s an example of endogamy, the practice of marrying within a specific social group, caste, or ethnic group.

In the past, however, choice of potential spouses was much more limited, especially in small isolated communities. In my genealogy database, I have numerous examples of double in-law marriage, as well as at least one case of triple in-law marriage. However, up until now, I hadn’t come across a case of quadruple in-law marriage.

As usual, blue indicates distant cousins. Consider some of the children of Aris van Manen (1779-1863) and some of the children of Johann Heinrich Ostermann. We have four van Manen siblings married to four Ostermann siblings. That is, a case of quadruple in-law marriage.

This raises a lot of questions. The van Manen’s were born in the village of Velp, and most stayed there. Although Velp is a small village, it is not isolated, being very close to the city of Arnhem. On the other hand, the Ostermann’s were from a small village about 60km to the south-east, in the neighboring Kingdom of Prussia. The parents, Johann Heinrich Ostermann and Wilhelmina Kamps remained in the village of Ringenberg, while four of their children moved, most to Velp, one to Arnhem, to live with their van Manen spouse.

European railways in 1861

Perhaps Johann Ostermann had reason to visit Arnhem in his position as an official in the post office. (In one record, he is listed as a Postdirecteur.) By the mid 19th Century, a railroad line had already been built connecting a major industrial heartland of Prussia with the commercial centers and seaports of the Netherlands. By rail, the trip between Wesel (the closest large town to Ringenberg) and Arnhem would have taken about an hour. Since the post office was a major customer of the railways, and since Arnhem is the first major city across the border, it’s not unreasonable to expect that Johann would have to do business in Arnhem. However, we may never know the details of how four of Johann’s children connected with the van Manen siblings.

This drop chart has a few more interesting features. First, consider the marriage between Aris van Manen (1858-1901) and Wilhelmina van Manen (1866-1946). This is just the second instance of double first cousin marriage in my database. The first, between Peter van Beem and Elizabeth van Beem, I found almost a year ago.

There are also two cases of regular (not double) first cousin marriage, between Willem van Manen (1827-1899) and Hermina Aleida de Bruin (1826-1902), and between Jacobus Petrus Felix (1861-1938) and Wilhelmina Henriette van Manen (1861-1928). Also, Hendrik van Manen (1854-1909) and Johanna Harmina Schut (1853-1921) were fifth cousins once removed, although their full ancestries are not shown in the chart.

One more unusual situation in this drop chart. Consider the Arnhem winkelier Jacobus Petrus Felix (1801-1875). He married twice, first in 1826 to Petronella de Bruin (1789-1854), and second in 1855 to Hermina van Manen (1825-1899). Hermina was Petronella’s niece.

That’s quite the handful of tangled interrelationships!

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