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I'm a Genealogist - AMA

149 replies

TheGenealogist · 23/06/2021 19:00

Have loads of experience researching my family tree and academic qualifications to back my experience. Like to think I know what I'm talking about genealogy-wise, so ask away!

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merryhouse · 24/06/2021 13:10

How far back are DNA matches likely to help?

I have an unusual surname, such that we've always assumed that anyone with it is traceably related. I've connected all the descendants (up till about 1970, anyway - don't like to go round Facebook asking total strangers which of them had a baby) of my gggg-grandfather, and there are two other distinct groups descended from people in Warwickshire, and a couple of other smaller ones; but we can't find the connection between them (people moving away from their birthplace and inconsiderately dying before the 1851 census...).

Given that the people in the Big Group are, at a minimum, my sixth cousins, would a DNA test bring them up as a match? (I'm pretty sure at least one of them has done it)

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TheGenealogist · 24/06/2021 13:27

@merryhouse

How far back are DNA matches likely to help?

I have an unusual surname, such that we've always assumed that anyone with it is traceably related. I've connected all the descendants (up till about 1970, anyway - don't like to go round Facebook asking total strangers which of them had a baby) of my gggg-grandfather, and there are two other distinct groups descended from people in Warwickshire, and a couple of other smaller ones; but we can't find the connection between them (people moving away from their birthplace and inconsiderately dying before the 1851 census...).

Given that the people in the Big Group are, at a minimum, my sixth cousins, would a DNA test bring them up as a match? (I'm pretty sure at least one of them has done it)

Most of my Ancestry matches are 3rd to 5th cousins. Further back than that and they're just listed as "distant relatives" as the percentage of shared DNA is so small.

But a 5th cousin an be fairly far back - cousins you share a grandparent, second cousins a great grandparent... so 5th cousins share a great great great great grandparent. My 4th and 5th great grandparents lived in the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century.
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IdblowJonSnow · 24/06/2021 13:51

@TheGenealogist

Thanks for that. Will check it out. Also gives me an excuse to go to Liverpool!

Really enjoying this thread. Smile

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SirVixofVixHall · 24/06/2021 15:54

I have another problem - i have a fairly close dna match, around a second cousin, and yet I can’t fit him in anywhere ! He has very little idea of his family tree so I have even ordered his Grandparents marriage certificate as I though that might help, but nothing.
I am pretty sure, because of nationality, that I connect through his Grandmother, and she has the same very common surname as some of my family, but there is no sign of her being related to them.
I think he must be my father’s second cousin, going by age of his parents and the amount of dna, so why can’t I find his grandmother’s place in my tree ? She is the same generation as my great grandparents, so should be a sibling of one of them, and yet she isn’t. Any thoughts ?
This is our dna match .

I'm a Genealogist - AMA
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PastMyBestBeforeDate · 24/06/2021 16:27

Thanks @TheGenealogist. I'll have a look at the barrygriffin site later but the relatives were long gone by 1901. They were in Wales in the 1840s and were both dead by the mid 1880s. I suspect it will always be a mystery!

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TheSockMonster · 24/06/2021 22:40

Thank you so much @TheGenealogist

I had no idea you could search passenger lists and I’m 99% sure my Mum had no idea either. We suspect they may have been in trouble with the law so leaving the country would have been a definite possibility.

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TheGenealogist · 25/06/2021 08:03

@SirVixofVixHall

I have another problem - i have a fairly close dna match, around a second cousin, and yet I can’t fit him in anywhere ! He has very little idea of his family tree so I have even ordered his Grandparents marriage certificate as I though that might help, but nothing.
I am pretty sure, because of nationality, that I connect through his Grandmother, and she has the same very common surname as some of my family, but there is no sign of her being related to them.
I think he must be my father’s second cousin, going by age of his parents and the amount of dna, so why can’t I find his grandmother’s place in my tree ? She is the same generation as my great grandparents, so should be a sibling of one of them, and yet she isn’t. Any thoughts ?
This is our dna match .

Can your match not shed any light? It could be that she is a sibling but has been registered under a different name, or was born before the parents married or something.
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TheGenealogist · 25/06/2021 08:09

@PastMyBestBeforeDate

Thanks *@TheGenealogist*. I'll have a look at the barrygriffin site later but the relatives were long gone by 1901. They were in Wales in the 1840s and were both dead by the mid 1880s. I suspect it will always be a mystery!

That may be the case but the site just shows surname distribution at that time. Obviously doesn't work well for a really common Irish surname like Murphy.

But with another name on my tree - O'Keeffe - you find the overwhelming majority of people with that surname in the South West, Co Kerry, Co Cork, Co Limerick. Few scattered further north and none at all in what is now Northern Ireland and Donegal. So if I was looking for a pre-1900 O'Keeffe, i'd be prioritising records in the south west.
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PastMyBestBeforeDate · 25/06/2021 09:02

:) I had a look last night @TheGenealogist and both surnames are scattered all over the island of Ireland. One does have an concentration in the SW but there are lots everywhere by 1901.
I will see if FMP has added more Irish records since the last time I gave that branch a go.

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TheGenealogist · 25/06/2021 09:06

I feel your frustration. You just have to keep checking back on the branch which is giving you trouble, new records are being added to the big sites all of the time and you never know what's going to pop up.

On a side note - both Family Search and Ancestry run voluntary transcription projects if you want to help get records on the database more quickly, and FreeCEN / Freen BMD do the same although the types of records are more limited.

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TheGenealogist · 25/06/2021 09:18

@Seasidevibes

Hi, I don’t know much about my parents families, and my mum is no longer around and my dad is not on the scene. I did a dna test and my results were: 52.6% English, 29.2% Scottish/Irish, 10.7%Finnish, 4.2% Eastern Europe, and 2.9% western Asian, how significant are the Finnish, Eastern European and west Asian? Can you guess how many generations back that would be from?

Missed this question.... 10.7% is quite a lot and could suggest potentially a grandparent. But it could of course mean that your grandparent in question was part of a UK community of people from that part of the world who had children within themselves.

If you look at what Ancestry classes as "Finnish" it also covers a lot of what is now Russia and the Baltic states like Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia.

www.ancestry.com/dna/ethnicity/finland-russia

The Eastern European and West Asian are less significant I'd say, my test shows 2% Norway/Iceland and I have no known ancestors from that area at all, and no Scandi surnames on my tree. But I am matching on the Ancestry database with people from that part of the world - very distantly, but still matching.

It could be something very distant and there is a range of accuracy. My Ancestry report says my Norwegian genes are 2% but the range could be between 0% and 5% - so in fact it could just be a very tiny remote trace.
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SirVixofVixHall · 25/06/2021 09:25

No my match had contacted me as he knows nothing about his Welsh family.
From her marriage certificate i know her father’s name, a couple of other trees on ancestry have her in them but the wrong first name for her father. She is not a sibling of the obvious group with the same surname (extremely common surname in Wales). Seems too much dna for her to be a half match rather than a full one, eg an affair ? Or for the match to be with one of her parents ?
I have literally spend two years coming back to it every few weeks and trying to work it out. I have a few possibilities for her on the census pre her marriage but as her surname is so common and her first names not uncommon I can’t narrow it down and find her mother, only a few possible mothers, none of whom fit into the tree either.
The amount of dna is the same amount that I share with a half first cousin once removed. So I can’t see how this man could be as distant as a third cousin of my Dad.
It is driving me mad !!

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PastMyBestBeforeDate · 25/06/2021 09:56

I did do transcribing for FreeBMD and I do some for a Local History group when they have the need.

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Sunnyday321 · 27/06/2021 12:24

Am I the only one here that becomes quite proud of an ancestor when you find ' info ' about them ?
My ancestors ( a gggg grandfather ) was called John ' black horse ' of Cornhill Bowles. A quick Google of him gave the info that he was a renowned printer and friend of Hogarth ( the painter ) and others . His print works are in many museums of art . He died a very rich man.
His unusual title on Ancestry made me do a little research on him, and I have a direct DNA link through his daughter Mary .

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Annualreturner · 30/06/2021 15:07

I have a question that I hope you can help with, @TheGenealogist ! My brother and I have both had our DNA analysed on Ancestry. We have a mystery relative who shares 966cM (14%) with me and 826cM (12%) with my brother, so she’s a close relative on our mother’s side.

At first, we thought she must be the child of one of our mother’s siblings, but she only shares DNA with my grandfather, not my grandmother. So then we wondered if my grandfather was her father, but his age and location when she was conceived make that seem unlikely.

Is there any other explanation for such a high % match? Thank you!

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CobraChicken · 01/07/2021 03:20

@Annualreturner

I have a question that I hope you can help with, *@TheGenealogist* ! My brother and I have both had our DNA analysed on Ancestry. We have a mystery relative who shares 966cM (14%) with me and 826cM (12%) with my brother, so she’s a close relative on our mother’s side.

At first, we thought she must be the child of one of our mother’s siblings, but she only shares DNA with my grandfather, not my grandmother. So then we wondered if my grandfather was her father, but his age and location when she was conceived make that seem unlikely.

Is there any other explanation for such a high % match? Thank you!

What age is this person, compared to your mother and yourself? And when you say that they don't share DNA with your grandmother, but do with your grandfather, are you basing that on conclusive evidence of having DNA tests done by both of your grandparents, or just deducing it from who you have as common matches?
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CobraChicken · 01/07/2021 03:42

Basically, with the amount of shared DNA with you and your brother, I'd be very, very surprised if they're not a full 1st cousin. I'd be double checking your conclusion about them not having any of your maternal grandfather's DNA before going any further - unless they have a D.O.B. that really doesn't make sense for that relationship.

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IncorrigibleTitmouse · 01/07/2021 04:58

@TheGenealogist According to my DNA test I'm more than 20% Scottish but I have no knowledge of any Scottish relatives and my tree, which goes back to the late 1700s so far, doesn't feature any Scottish-born people.

My parents, 75% of my grandparents and 50% great grandparents are Welsh born but my Welsh DNA accounts for only 12%. Why might that be?

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SirVixofVixHall · 01/07/2021 08:29

incorrigibleTitmouse
I would imagine that one or more of your G grandparents who were born or brought up in Wales were not Welsh by ethnicity.

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Annualreturner · 01/07/2021 10:30

@CobraChicken

Basically, with the amount of shared DNA with you and your brother, I'd be very, very surprised if they're not a full 1st cousin. I'd be double checking your conclusion about them not having any of your maternal grandfather's DNA before going any further - unless they have a D.O.B. that really doesn't make sense for that relationship.

Thanks very much for replying, @CobraChicken. Yes, we have based most of our assumptions on shared matches and maybe that’s sent us down the wrong track. The dates do make sense for the mystery woman (Brenda) to be the child of one my mum’s sisters – mum had three sisters in their late teens/early twenties at the time Brenda would have been conceived, and they were all single and living in England at the time (so there could easily have been a pregnancy that the family in Ireland didn’t know about).

But there are two things that don’t seem to fit. We have a half-cousin who has had her DNA analysed (her mum was my granny’s child, but not granda’s). She doesn’t match with Brenda at all, which implies that Brenda isn’t our cousin on granny’s side.

And Brenda has a nephew (her brother’s son) on Ancestry. I have a 7% match with him, which suggests that both Brenda and her brother are closely related to us, which is confusing. We’ve discussed this with the nephew, and he thinks that my grandfather fathered Brenda’s MOTHER. Granda would have been 18 at the time, so it’s possible, but the DNA percentage seems too high for this.

I just can’t make sense of it, and I’m wondering if it’s possible for some ’quirk’ to throw up a high cM match that implies the relationship is closer than it really is? I really hope it’s not the case, but if a child’s parents were closely related, could that double up the DNA similarity?
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CobraChicken · 02/07/2021 05:42

Any possibility that your maternal grandparents had a daughter together before marriage, who was put up for adoption?

Yes, I guess it could be possible that you could get strange amounts of matching DNA in offspring from an incestuous relationship but I have no idea what the range would be if that applies to Brenda's mother (without looking into it further.)

But it's certainly possible that the fact that her nephew hasn't been notified of any shared matches with your maternal grandmother's lineage yet doesn't definitively mean that there is no shared DNA. I'm often surprised that relatively close matches are only flagged up a good while after both parties have done their original tests (at least that seems to be the case via Ancestry.com/ca/co.uk, specifically.)

This is probably derailing the OP's thread - and I did kind of butt-in, sorry.

Would it be okay to PM you to dig into this mystery further?

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CobraChicken · 02/07/2021 05:50

Oh, I forgot to ask, did your maternal grandfather have a sister/sisters?

And did Brenda's mother know or suspect that she was adopted, or was she raised by her birth mother?

Like I said, probably best to take this to private message as I keep thinking of more and more questions 😀

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Annualreturner · 02/07/2021 08:58

@CobraChicken - yes, please PM me - I'm delighted to have some help with this! :-)

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PetuniaButterworth · 02/07/2021 14:08

This thread as appeared just in time for me. I've been working on my tree via ancestry these past few months and have signed up to the find my past trail just yesterday to see of they have anything extra. I also have a subscription to BNA.

What I've found frustrating other members who just seem to click accept at every available hint, even though it clearly isn't the right record for z person. It means when I get a hint for their tree I have to spend twice as long ensuring they're wrong and I'm right 😂.

I've been lucky most of my ancestors are NI and Scotland so the records are so easily accessible and birth records have fathers and mother's names. I haven't been able to find these for my English relations.

I would like to be able to view the written birth and death record for William Henry Toland 1825 Gibraltar - 1843 (possibly Woolwich Kent)

And the birth record for his son William John Toland 1843, Woolwich Kent

Any ideas how I can access them?

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