In the first chapter of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, Lady Betram and Mrs Norris present to Sir Thomas their idea of adopting Fanny's daughter. This will provide some relief for the Price's unmanageable burden and give the girl some opportunity she would not otherwise have.

Sir Thomas is circumspect:

He thought of his own four children, of his two sons, of cousins in love, etc

Is “cousins in love” a typo for “cousins in law” or was this phrase common in the early 19th century?

  • Can you supply more context? (I'm familiar with Mansfield Park and suppose that this refers to Sir Thomas, but when is he thinking it?) Oct 8, 2019 at 13:41
  • @KateBunting Added some info to the question. I hope it helps. I have only started the book so there may be much I've missed. Oct 8, 2019 at 13:58
  • 4
    Are you sure it's not just referring to the possibility of cousins thrown together falling in love? In the place and time of that book I think it was considered bad for cousins to be involved.
    – puppetsock
    Oct 8, 2019 at 14:21
  • @puppetsock Yes! Having read a bit further I see that's a likely interpretation. Oct 8, 2019 at 14:51
  • I agree, but I think the problem is not that Fanny junior is cousin to Sir Thomas's sons but that she is considered to be of lower social status than they are. Oct 8, 2019 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


This does not appear to be a typo. The book has been edited and re-edited multiple times since its original publication and this would have been corrected.

It's not clear from the text whether or not he's speaking of cousins who are actually in love with one-another, or rather just engaged in a relationship/marriage that was rather common in the times and writings of Jane Austen.

From context, it seems that he's considering one of his sons falling in love with her.

An Ngram isn't particularly revealing, either.


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