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Advice please to interpret results.

Discussion in 'DNA Questions and Answers' started by kiwilong, Mar 29, 2019.

  1. kiwilong

    kiwilong LostCousins Member

    Hello all.
    I recently purchased an Ancestry DNA test kit and am both thrilled and fascinated by the results achieved.
    However I have one of those mysteries which we all encounter in genealogy and would appreciate any thoughts on the matter.
    My maternal grandmother, Mary Ellen Swindells, was born in 1887 and was illigitimate. Her mother, Hannah Bella was born in 1865 paralyzed /crippled and was 22 when she had Mary Ellen.
    Mary Ellen became an orphan in 1892 following Hanna Bella's death followed by her mother 3 months later. Despite there being older siblings, Mary Jane aged 34 and Henry aged 38 Mary Ellen went to live with Frederick Joseph and Ellen O'Hara. I think my grandmother grew up happily with this family although Ellen died when she was 11. Mary Ellen married in 1906 and stated her father to be John Swindells, a Carrier, fictitious I am sure. In the 1911 census Frederick is a Porter and a lodger in Mary Ellen and her husband's home.
    I have always wondered if Frederick was my grandmother's natural father, he actually married Ellen in March 1887 just a month before Mary Ellen was born on the 5th April 1887 so I thought DNA!!
    I have 25 cousins who share my DNA and the O'Hara surname in their trees but 12 also share 1 or 2 other surnames with me so leaving them out of it I am left with 13 cousins with the O'Hara surname in their trees and share DNA with me. I am unable to get further back than Frederick's parents, Bernard and Mary O'Hara nee Martin. I am unable to connect positively to any of the 13 trees, all Irish of course as were Bernard and Mary. Mary was born in Dublin.
    My Question is of course is it reasonable to believe that Frederick is my great grandfather based on the forgoing genetic links I have to at least one or maybe more of those Irish families and this is through my infamous Frederick.
    If nothing else it is an interesting conundrum.
    kiwilong. Geoff.
  2. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    Did you find these matches by doing a surname search for 'O'Hara' in your DNA match list? And were the matches fairly close (2nd-4th cousin level)?

    I have no relatives named O'Hara that I know of, but a search on the surname O'Hara throws up 28 DNA matches for me - all 'distant cousins' of <20cM shared DNA. I do have an Irish 2x great grandfather whose origins I have so far been unable to trace, so I suppose the O'Hara link may come from there, but in the absence of any other evidence I'm treating them all as spurious. Same for other random surnames I try, which all seem to throw up a similar number of distant matches (more for common surnames). By contrast, searches for the known surnames in my tree generally show many more matches, including closer ones, though strangely searching on my own surname shows only 16 matches (and only one >20cM).

    So I would say that just finding DNA matches containing a particular (relatively common) surname does not prove anything, unless the matches are sufficiently close that you can work out a likely relationship and line of descent. I may well be wrong here, but that's just my opinion.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Katie Bee

    Katie Bee LostCousins Member

    I have similar results to Helen7.
    I also have a missing Irish 2x great grandfather and I have 18 DNA matches for O'Hara, all 5th - 8th cousins less than 16cM shared DNA.

    My maternal grandmother was also illegitimate and searching on her surname (that is her mother's birth name) gives me 6 4th - 6th cousins with 60 - 20 cM shared DNA. I also get lots of 5th - 8th cousins.
    Going through all my grandparents surnames I have quite a mixture of results.
    Maternal grandfather - 1 4th cousin and 3 distant cousins. The 4th cousin I actually share paternal 2x great grand parents.
    Paternal grandmother - 3 4th cousins and 18 distant. The known 4th cousin match has 72cM shared DNA across 4 segments
    Paternal grandfather - I have 20 distant cousins listed with less than 15cM shared DNA, so similar to my O'Hara results!

    From my results, I think your conundrum may need a bit more work, before you can come to any conclusion.
    Good luck
  4. kiwilong

    kiwilong LostCousins Member

    Thank you Helen and Katie for your thoughts.
    Yes Helen, I got the matches by doing a surname search in the DNA match list. cM was from 19.1 down to 6.1.
    I'm certain you are both correct and my Frederick Joseph will have to remain in the "foster parent" category. Pity really as I would have enjoyed having a cad in my tree.
    According to my "for amusement only" ethnicity I am 29% Irish anyway, stands to reason as I was born in Manchester, so I probably have thousands of obscure Irish ancestors.
    Once I have a better understanding of this incredible technology we plan to test my wife who was born in Ireland so that should be fun.
    Thanks again and back to the drawing board.
  5. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I have no Irish ancestry that I'm aware of but I get 21 results when I search my (just under 20,000) matches for O'Hara. This doesn't surprise me - you don't have to be 100% Irish to have Irish surnames in your tree, and you don't have to have any Irish ancestry to have cousins who do. Indeed, I can think of some close cousins who are partly Irish.
  6. kiwilong

    kiwilong LostCousins Member

    Thanks Peter.

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