Is it unusual to find a common ancestor on different lines in a family?

+7 votes
As I get deeper into my genealogy I’m finding a common ancestor between two different lines of my family.  It’s so confusing that I’m having trouble describing the connection.  Basically, I have an ancestor about 5 generations back who I’m related to on my paternal-maternal side AND on my paternal-paternal side.  I highly doubt these relatives knew they had a common ancestor.  When I choose Relationship To Me on Profile of Elizabeth Crews it tells me I have multiple common ancestors.  I drilled down and it appears I’m connected to these Crews/Gatley through my stanley-stanley side and my stanley-Workman-Hester side.  Is this a normal connection to find?
WikiTree profile: Elizabeth Crews
asked in The Tree House by Stacy Stanley G2G2 (2.8k points)
Thank you for defining this as Pedigree Collapse.  I didn’t know it had a name.  


hello Stacy, following is an example:

Adam alvanzo (Van) Stanley (Stanley-6829) is your 2G-grandfather.

Elizabeth Jane (Hester) Wortman (Hester-1726) is your 3G-grandmother.

Van and Elizabeth are fourth cousins:

And, exactly as you say, you can highly doubt they knew they had a common ancestor.

Thank you for identifying the connection.  I’m just learning how to use all the Wikitree tools.   This is very helpful!


You´re welcome Stacy.

5 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer
Stanleys, Crews, & Hesters I recognize as all being Quaker Families. The Quaker Faith frowned on and shunned members for "marrying out". This led to limited choices for marriage age matches, and a lot of cousins marrying cousins. Several times in my tree sets of 2 or 3 siblings would all marry children of the same neighboring family group. Then their's my wife's grandparents that never even realized they were 2nd cousins. So yea, happens a lot. The rarity is the tree with NO collapse.
answered by Phillip Rich G2G6 Mach 4 (41.5k points)
selected by Stacy Stanley
I have several DNA matches that are on my mother's side that also match my dad.
+6 votes
Nope. Not at all.

On my mother's side I have a guy named Hugh Jones and his daughters married different people. They are all connected to me. It's what's known as pedigree collapse. It happens a lot of the time in genealogy. It happens a lot back when populations were small in either colonies or towns.

In my case it happened in the early to mid 1600s. Records tend to confirm these things. I have a few tree collapses. You just deal with them and move on.
answered by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (185k points)
edited by Chris Ferraiolo
+11 votes
No, it's pretty common. It's called "pedigree collapse".
answered by Ben Buckner G2G6 Mach 4 (43.9k points)
+5 votes
Yes it does happen.

I do have this twice on my tree.
answered by Guy Constantineau G2G6 Pilot (338k points)
+3 votes
Very common - especially in Quebec, Acadia and New Brunswick.

My parents in laws (my husbands parents) were related several times over.

They were 4th cousins being descended from 2 sisters several generations back.(NB)

They were also 3rd cousins thru their common descent from Jean Flavien Duclos (by 2 different wives) (NB)

and also 4th cousins thru their common descent from Pierre Duclos's children - Jean Flavien and Marie-Pelagie Duclos (NB)

I just called them 3rd cousins since that one is the closest they were to each other.

And yes, this is called Pedigree Collapse.
answered by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (479k points)

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