Marriage to half-niece?

+7 votes
Evidence seems to be pointing to one of my sets of married ancestors having a half-uncle/half-neice biological relationship.  Would this have been considered acceptable circa 1800 in New Hampshire, USA?

I think Levi Webber's parents were William Webber and his second wife Lucy Kimball.  His wife Polly Webber was the granddaughter of the same William Webber and his first wife Mary Wells.

EDIT: I no longer believe that Levi's parents were the same William Webber and Lucy Kimball of Methuen, Massachusetts.  I've created new profiles for his parents with a warning not to merge them with the other William and Lucy.  The Methuen Webbers still need some work as some of their children seem to have been wrongly linked to them.
WikiTree profile: Levi Webber
in Genealogy Help by Brian Lamothe G2G6 Mach 4 (45.8k points)
edited by Brian Lamothe
Three William Webber's in Massachusetts, all born within a year or two of each other around Ipswich Mass

 William  the son of George Webber and Sarah.

 William, son of Edward and Patience

William, son of William and Mary

Thanks Eddie.  It is possible that the William Webber who married Mary Wells was conflated with a different William Webber who married Lucy Kimball.  I've been trusting Descendants of Andrew Webber, 1763-1845 by Lorenzo Webber in this regard, but I'd like to confirm with primary sources if possible.

Sent you stuff in email on the three
There are also a lot of repeat names among the children born to William Webber and Lucy Kimball in Methuen, Massachusetts, and those born to William Webber and Lucy in Rumney, New Hampshire.  Now I think it's more probable that there was another William/Lucy couple around the same time period.

Well documented marriage of Daniel Landes (1780-1866) son of Christian Landes (1710-1782) and Christian's second wife, Maria Büchsler (1740-1791) to Barbara Landes (1780-1844), in 1799, daughter of John Landes (1752-1819) and a grand-daughter of the above Christian and his first wife, Barbara Strickler (1720-1758) parents of John Landes (above).  Half-uncle married to half-niece.  So no answer, but it was not that unusual at that time in Pennsylvania and Virginia.

5 Answers

+2 votes
Best answer

Okay, I checked the revised statutes of the state of New Hampshire, 1842.

"No man shall marry his father's sister, mother's sister, father's widow, wife's mother, daughter, wife's daughter, son's widow, sister, son's daughter, daughter's daughter, son's son's widow, daughter's son's widow, brother's daughter or sister's daughter."

An Act to prevent Incestuous Marriages, 1791: "No woman shall marry her father's brother, mother's brother, mother's husband, husband's father, son, husband's son, daughter's husband, brother, son's son, daughter's son, son's daughter's husband, daughter's daughter's husband, brother's son, sister's son."

So there you have it. Avunculate marriages were illegal both before and after this time period in NH.

by Jessica Key G2G6 Pilot (325k points)
selected by Gillian Causier
Thanks Jessica.  This is exactly the answer I needed.
+5 votes
That close a relationship would most likely have been frowned upon at any location or in any society in America. It would, however, more likely be ruled upon by the religious organization(s) involved. There may or may not be a civil law to prohibit such a marriage depending on location.
by George Churchill G2G6 Pilot (101k points)
+5 votes
This is a rather close relationship. Today, uncle-niece marriages are often considered incest, but half-uncle/half-niece marriages less so, it depends on local law. A question to consider would be how religiously conservative was the community they lived it.
by George Fulton G2G6 Pilot (685k points)
+4 votes
Don't think that was ever allowed anywhere in Christendom.  But the first 3 of Lucy's kids weren't hers, on the dates shown, so further research is needed.  If they weren't William's either, perhaps Levi belongs with them.
by Living Horace G2G6 Pilot (649k points)
There do seem to be a lot of errors in William Webber's and his family's profiles that will need correction.  I'll try to fix things as I find new sources.
There are some such marriages in European history e.g. Philip IV of Spain and his niece  Mariana of Austria, and  Richard III of England had to deny that he wanted to marry his niece Elizabeth of York.(whether he wanted to or not is another topic).
+4 votes
Very unusual, these type of marriages are known as avunculate marriages.  Rhode Island allowed them historically but I would have to do further research into NH's historic marriage laws.

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