10 Historical Figures Who Married Their Cousins

The act of marrying one’s relative or those with shared blood is known as a “consanguineous marriage.” History is filled with instances of people marrying their cousins; there are many reasons for this; royalty preferred to marry their cousins to avoid potential take-over or have only royal family lineage; others married their cousins for money and business, and for some, it was tradition. Irrespective of the reason, many famous people of the past and present have married their cousins, and this is a list of ten such famous people.


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Edgar Allan Poe is a famous writer and poet credited as the central figure of Gothic fiction in the U.S. He is renowned for his macabre stories and the mysterious way his life ended.

Poe married Virginia Clemm, who, apart from being only thirteen years old to Poe’s twenty-seven, was also his first cousin. The couple got married in 1836, before the Civil War, when first-cousin marriages were still legal.

Poe wrote many poems about her after she died in 1847 from tuberculosis. One of the most famous poems is Annabel Lee.


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The Rothschild family is a famous Jewish banking family founded by Mayer Amschel Rothschild in the 18th century. Along with his five sons, Mayer took the business to great heights. Mayer took great measures to ensure that the wealth remained in the family and wrote in his will that the family fortune would only pass through male descendants; this caused numerous intermarriages within the family.

One such case was Charlotte Von Rothschild and Lionel de Rothschild.

Charlotte and Lionel were first cousins; their fathers were brothers.

Charlotte was part of the Naples branch of the Rothschild family, and Lionel was part of the London branch. Their mothers arranged the couples’ union when Charlotte was seventeen and Lionel was twenty-seven. Despite an arranged marriage, the couple deeply loved each other. Charlotte was a prominent socialite in London, and her dinner invitations were known to be preferred over the British royal family’s; she was also a philanthropist and received the nickname “The never-to-be-forgotten Baroness.”


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Sir David Lean was a British film director, writer, and producer. He is one of the pioneers of British cinema. Some of his most famous films include Lawrence of Arabia, Madeleine, and Great Expectations.

Lean married his first cousin, Isabel Lean, in 1930, when he was in his early twenties. They had a son together but got divorced in 1936, with Lean admitting that the domestic lifestyle didn’t suit him.


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King Henry VIII of England is famous for having six wives; the most famous of them is Anne Boyelon, whom he had beheaded. Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was also his first cousin once removed. Catherine of Aragon was the daughter of Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon, making her the niece of Henry VIII’s mother, Elizabeth of York. The couple had six children, but only one survived adulthood: Mary Tudor, who later became the queen of Scotland. Their marriage was annulled as they didn’t have a male heir, and Henry wanted to marry Anne Boylen.


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Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists of all time, was a theoretical physicist best known for his theory of general relativity. Einstein married Elsa Löwenthal, whose maiden name was Elsa Einstein. She was Albert Einstein’s first cousin. The couple’s mothers were sisters, and their fathers were first cousins, too, making them both maternal first cousins and paternal second cousins.

They were married for seventeen years till Elsa’s death in 1936.


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Greta Scacchi is a BAFTA-nominated actress known for her roles in movies like White Mischief and Presumed Innocent. She married her first cousin, Carlo Mantegazza, in 1997.

Some family members, particularly Scacchi’s Italian uncles, disapproved of their relationship, citing the Catholic Church’s stance against such unions. Scacchi’s father, Luca, was deeply offended and angry.

Despite their problems, the couple remained strong, and Scacchi describes Mantegazza as a “rock, a giver, and a carer.”


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Charles Darwin, also known as the father of evolutionary theory,  was a naturalist, geologist, and biologist who theorized the theory of evolution by natural selection, which states that all species originated from a common ancestor.

Charles Darwin married Emma Wedgwood, who was his first cousin on his mother’s side, Darwin’s mother and Emma’s father were brothers and sisters.

Their marriage was a strategic alliance between two prominent families known for their intellectual and artistic pursuits. Emma was the daughter of Josiah Wedgwood II and Elizabeth Allen, while Charles was the son of Robert Waring Darwin and Susannah Wedgwood. The couple had ten children, and Darwin remained a devoted father and faithful, loving husband.


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Queen Victoria was the longest-reigning monarch of the Victorian era. She ruled the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1837 to 1901. Queen Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Victoria and Albert were first cousins; Victoria’s mother and Prince Albert’s father were siblings.

The pair were married for twenty-one years until Albert’s death, after which Victoria mourned him for the rest of her life, wearing only black; this earned her the nickname “Widow of Windsor.” The couple had nine children, all of whom were married into royal families of Europe to maintain power.


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Herbert George Wells, shortened to H.G. Wells, is often called the “father of science fiction,” He is an English writer famous for books like War of the Worlds, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and The Time Machine; Wells is credited to have first coined the term “time machine,” thus inspiring generations of science fiction writers.

H.G. Wells married his first cousin, Isabel Mary Wells, in 1891. They shared a set of grandparents. The couple were only married for three years and ended up separating as Wells started a relationship with his student Amy Catherine Robbins, later renamed Jane. Wells and Isabel didn’t have any children together.


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Marcus Aurelius was a famous Roman emperor and philosopher. He is known for his principles of Stoicism and his journals, now famous as “The Meditations.” He is also known as one of the “Five Good Emperors” of Rome.

Aurelius married his cousin Annia Galeria Faustina, or “Faustina the Younger,” the daughter of Antoninus Pius, the then-emperor of Rome. The couple was rumored to have had twelve to fourteen children, many of whom didn’t survive adulthood. They had a son, Commodus, who would later become Aurelius’s successor as the emperor of Rome.

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