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DNA Shared Matches

Discussion in 'DNA Questions and Answers' started by Bryman, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. canadianbeth

    canadianbeth LostCousins Member

    That may be the reason why I have not had replies to the messages I sent a few people who shared a fair bit of DNA with me but have no connection to known branches of my family. The ones who may very likely be related to the unknown grandfather; they do not want to admit that he was using the hired help for his own pleasures. Who knows how many other young maids he did the same to; some of these matches could even be related to one of them. Whoever he was, in my opinion his name is already besmirched.
  2. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    It must be frustrating for you to know that there are people out there who might be able to help you identify your unknown grandfather (even if he was a wrong 'un, from your previous postings I gather you'd like to know who he was). It is a pity that they seem unwilling to engage with you to uncover the truth, but it is perhaps understandable if they don't want to disturb family secrets.
  3. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    You won't know until you ask them - they might be just as intrigued as you!
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    Problem is, my husband hasn't had contact with them for many years and we don't have current addresses for them. I know my brother-in-law has had more recent contact, so he might be able to provide their details, but I'm reluctant to initiate contact as it would look rather odd, and there'd be nothing in it for them apart from possibly exposing their grandfather as a potential adulterer (unless you count maybe discovering a half 1st cousin they didn't know about). I know how highly he was regarded (he died quite young and was always somewhat revered by the family), so I'd be reluctant to open up that can of worms. Now if they decided to take a DNA test on their own initiative, that would be different...

    Another complicating factor is that they are 'double' 2nd cousins in that my husband's grandfather and their grandfather were brothers, but their grandmothers were also sisters, as a pair of brothers married a pair of sisters. So any DNA would link to both maternal grandfather and maternal grandmother's sides. So, thinking about it, it may just deepen the mystery!
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
  5. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    In that case you might need to look to other family members. It's not necessarily the closest cousins that will provide the answers you need - in fact, when it come to knocking down most 'brick walls' it's usually more distant cousins that provide the vital clues.
  6. jorghes

    jorghes LostCousins Superstar

    This makes me think of an email that I just received from a cousin of mine - I've never met her, but she would have previously been in contact with my branch of the family through family picnics with my grandfather and his siblings - but she emailed me today about a recent breakthrough about her grandfather (and another of my cousins).
    From what she has said, her family tree is full of a number of skeletons.

    She was telling me about the discovery that Ancestry (and I think DNA) had helped her make with her grandfather. She'd previously told me that her grandfather had been mostly absent from her life and absent from his family's life at least 3 nights a week. She has just discovered that this absence was a result of her grandfather having a long term affair with a colleague at his work. This relationship produced two children who were then adopted. She has been in contact with one of them (sounds like their mother, even when discovered, was not particularly forthcoming) and while their ages aren't so different, it looks like they're all interested in getting to know one another and extending their knowledge!
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  7. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    I'm afraid the whole subject of preserving 'family secrets' gets me somewhat hot under the collar. DNA testing has been criticised by the media for outing such secrets, but while not underestimating the effect this may have on unprepared testers, it seems to me that in the long run this is a good thing.

    It has been said that it is not the truth which harms people most, it is secrets and lies. I am not in any way suggesting that we should be broadcasting our ancestors' indiscretions (or whatever) from the roof tops, just that everyone should have the fundamental right to know, if they want to, the truth about who they are and where they come from.
  8. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    It's one thing to confirm who your ancestors were, but when we start investigating whether the parents of living siblings and cousins are who everyone thinks they are, the situation is very different. If everyone told the whole truth all the time the world would be a worse place.
  9. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    Agreed. However, safeguarding family secrets has all too often been about protecting the perpetrator(s), while disregarding any responsibility towards resulting descendants.
  10. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    Well there are the 3rd cousins already mentioned who have tested, and are shared matches as mentioned before.
  11. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    Pauline, I agree with you, and I would always prefer to know the truth. But I also know of some people who prefer not to know and won't get their DNA tested for fear of revealing something they are not happy about.
  12. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Each case it is different - and very often the whole story isn't initially apparent.

    It's important to balance the right to know against the right not to know. Those who are patient and subtle can often find a solution that meets everyone's needs.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  13. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    And, unfortunately, sometimes they can't. And the person concerned may not have realised initially there was anything to be subtle about. They may perhaps in all innocence have made a completely casual remark - "I've just started looking into my family history" or "I've just done a DNA test", only to be met with a stony silence, outright disapproval, a closing of family ranks against them and, in extreme cases, even a long-lasting family rift.

    I understand, and would always fully respect, that the people affected have a right not to know, and as Helen says, some people choose not to do a DNA test for that reason.

    However, as much as anything else, what I was trying to say here was that, because of the damage that can be caused by all-out efforts to preserve family secrets, I see the potential of DNA testing to expose such secrets as being, on balance, a positive thing.
  14. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    Pauline, just a thought. My mother-in-law's parents were not related, but as her father's brother married her mother's sister, her DNA could have produced shared matches on both her father's and mother's sides.

    I imagine you have ruled out any such scenario in your ancestry, but thought I'd mention it just in case.
  15. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    On the subject of “want to know” and “do not want to know”, I offer the following which covers both mindsets.

    I was asked by a male family member by marriage (P) if I could find his blood line father as he had learned later in life that the parents who bought him up were not his real parents though they were family members of his real mother, who he thought an aunt. I found his father but sadly my research came too late as his blood father had died 3 years previous (in his 80’s). I also discovered he had subsequently married, and P had two half siblings, a boy and girl now adults with families of their own.

    I had located these also and P contacted both. Neither had knowledge of their father’s previous love entanglement. The male welcomed him warmly as a half-brother after learning the facts, but his sister did not want to know.

    Perhaps a better example containing both ‘want to know’ and ‘do not want to know’ elements is in the case of my granddaughter-in-law’s family.

    Her mother was the daughter of an unwed girl from Liverpool who had to give her baby up for adoption when a few weeks old. Her surname is known, nothing more. G (my grandson’s wife) would dearly like me to find out more, but apart from listing some dozen or more probable’s I cannot proceed further. Her mother does not want to upset her adopted parents (one of whom is still living) or ‘upset the apple cart’ with her adoptive family, so declines to take steps to discover more about her blood mother.

    I know when G views her Tree in my Tribal Pages as the wife of my Spiers grandson, she is sad I cannot extend her maternal bloodline as I have done with her paternal line. I have explained I cannot do this as adoption records are not available to mere researchers. Only her mother could open that particular door.

    I have of course suggested her mother could take a DNA test, or take one herself , but she knows her mother would be upset were she just to suggest it and will not take one herself. Given the circumstance of maintaining family unity I can well understand why?

    So, for the time being at least I think it is best to let sleeping dogs lie.
  16. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Superstar

    Yes, it's an interesting point - and people who are not themselves related may nevertheless have relations in common.

    It is possible that a relatively close cousin of my mother is a very distant cousin of my father, but the link to my father is most likely back in the 16th century or earlier. So it's an unconfirmed link and almost certainly too distant to show up in my DNA shared matches.

    But it's nevertheless an intriguing possibility and I would be delighted if one day I could prove it - or find other such possibilities.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2019
  17. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    Interesting examples, Bob, and I could come up with similar cases amongst my own extended family and friends.

    My stepsister's husband (D) discovered in his 60s that he had a previously unknown half-brother (G), when he received a phone call out of the blue. G had terminal cancer and wanted to 'come clean' before he died (his mother had told him his father's true identity, and G knew of D's existence but not vice versa). He was the result of a teenage fling and it is uncertain if their father ever even knew of G's existence. But D was delighted to meet his half-brother before he died and now has a good relationship with his half-niece, G's daughter, who welcomed him and his (full) brother into the family.

    It must be particularly difficult for adoptees who want to discover their origins but are anxious not to upset their adoptive family. So I can well understand the situation your grandson's wife finds herself in, and I can see why she wouldn't want to ask her mother to take a DNA test. However, I would have thought if she is so keen to extend her bloodline beyond her mother, she would take a DNA test herself. Presumably she won't do that because she doesn't want to keep secrets from her mother?
  18. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Yes Helen you have it in one as her relationship with her mother is very strong, and even overrules her own strong desire to find out about her maternal bloodline.
  19. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Once you go back more than 10 generations most people with British ancestry are cousins, and many will be cousins several times over. So even if a DNA match did show up it would be challenging to prove that the shared DNA came from a specific ancestor/ancestral line.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  20. emjay

    emjay LostCousins Member

    My wife was adopted as a baby. She has had no desire to trace her biological parentage, especially whilst her 'mum and dad' were alive. Although I have traced her ancestry,(after we went through the proper channels to find the identity of her birth mother), she has no desire to make contact with any half siblings. Just as she did not wish to upset her adoptive parents, she also would not wish to cause any potential upset to her bio family. However the identity of her biological father remains a mystery which, as a family history researcher I will investigate through DNA / online trees for a connection in a discreet/subtle manner. This of course, is dependant upon others researching the same bloodlines.

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