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To soon to look for the proverbial milkman?

Discussion in 'DNA Questions and Answers' started by sarahws6, Jul 3, 2021.

  1. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Yes 'the weight of evidence from different sources' is the key to breaking the proverbial 'Brick Wall', and limited or no cousins (even uninterested ones ) puts a real damper on that particular avenue if one needs to 'go-it-alone'. But I should warn that one can as easily create 'Brick Walls' for others - however unintentional- and here is my personal experience on that score.

    Managing the results for someone who had his mother not been adopted into the family as a baby would indeed have been a bloodline cousin, but still a long time unofficial cousin who I shall refer to as 'J'. He had asked if taking a DNA test would confirm once and for all what he knew about his bloodline grandfather, learned from his mother and 'real' grandmother. I said I had high hopes that indeed it would, and so the test was taken and I explored the results.

    Known facts:
    His bloodline grandmother when a hotel chambermaid working in London had a dalliance (need I say more) with a Lieutenant Army Officer on rest leave during WW1 (1917 to be precise). She became pregnant and unable to get any help from the Officer's family (his father was a Vicar in the Church of England), returned to Birmingham, had the baby which was adopted (likely unofficially as the Mother and my Grandmother were long time friends) and raised in the family alongside my father and his brother. (I was in my 20's when I learned my Aunt had been adopted and was not in fact a 'real' bloodline Aunt).

    Almost the first Match result given was a high probability one and named the father already known to 'J' both from family information and what I had gleaned from conventional research. I made contact with the Match and explained how 'J' came into the picture. The lady in question was a granddaughter (of the father's brother) and said whilst not fully aware of her Gt Uncle's indiscretions was not at all surprised and gave chapter and verse on the whole family, including the 'Vicar' who turned out not to be a nice person at all.

    I arranged for J to make email contact with his newly found cousin and I know both got enormous benefit from so doing, and I also was pleased with the outcome. But that pleasure was not to last because many weeks later I received a message from a different DNA match source asking - in effect - who the devil was 'J'; insisting he was DEFINITELY NOT FAMILY.

    I went through the motions again explaining circumstance and got a non too pleasing riposte from someone who turned out to be a granddaughter of the father, a closer cousin than the first contact. She insisted it was all made up nonsense and 'J' was bogus and not part of any family of hers. She implied quite strongly that she did not wish to take the matter further, I was not to contact again and she would never accept J as a cousin. Much later J learned from his earlier contact that the granddaughter took after their Vicar Grandfather, had emigrated to Australia and cut off contact with her UK based family.

    So in effect I had innocently created a 'Brick Wall' that the other party did NOT WISH to explore further and would not be pacified with the fact that DNA cannot lie.

    I think they call this the 'Ostrich' effect.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2021
  2. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I'm glad to say that when I identified the father of my illegitimate great-grandmother there was no pushback from the many cousins I found through DNA.

    But it's inevitable that some people will take offence at the suggestion that one of their ancestors was a naughty boy (or girl), and as Bob says those who can't face the truth are behaving like ostriches.
  3. Britjan

    Britjan LostCousins Star

    Regarding the original post and the comment about discounting the possibility of family from East Anglia emigrating to the USA. Many of my East Anglia relatives were sent to Canada under "Poor Law " removal c 1840 -1850 but stayed only one generation before moving to the USA. I've yet to find anybody in the U.S A. with an applicable family tree who has the slightest interest in their family's roots in the U.K. unless it involved the gentry!
    I find that a shame because I undertake a lot of WWI Canadian research and that often includes nurses who trained in the U.S.A. or soldiers born in the U.S.A. who came to Canada to enlist. I get lots of help from people south of the border.
  4. sarahws6

    sarahws6 New Member

    Thank you, Britjan, for the info on Poor Law removals from East Anglia to Canada which was new to me, and very interesting.
    I didn't mean to sound as if I discounted the USA as a destination for my E Anglians, and I would welcome finding DNA matches on the missing line wherever they ended up! The thing is, I can track where most of my Anglians born early in 1800s ended up, and apart from a soldier b 1842 who probably went to Canada with the 16th Bedf. Regt Foot in late 1861, they [seem to have] stayed in England.
  5. Britjan

    Britjan LostCousins Star

    I thought some of my Yorkshire ancestors from another branch came to Canada as soldiers in the 1820's but it turned out they ran an iron foundry!
    Some of my East Anglians moved to Yorkshire and then Scotland and a whole contingent settled in Wales but they were mariners rather than farmers and ag labs! By the way if you haven't already done so check out the Norfolk Heritage Centre https://www.facebook.com/norfolkheritagecentre?fref=ts for some interesting photos etc.
  6. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Megastar

    I had my DNA tested with Ancestry just over 4 years ago, and like 'sarahws6' have uploaded it to other sites, including MyHeritage. On the whole, I don't do that much with my results on the other sites, but a while back I had a match with a 1C1R at MH (who I knew of but have never met). Although the amount of DNA we share is within the expected range, it is on the low side and less than I share with a half 1C1R (at Ancestry), both cousins being descended from the same grandfather (their great grandfather).

    There has always been a bit of question mark in this line as to exactly which cousins are my full cousins and which may be half cousins. Since these are close relationships, it ought to be easy enough to determine this with DNA, but in the course of investigating this at MH, I could find no confirmed matches there relating to the ancestor in question. Fortunately, I have almost 70 documented cousin matches with this ancestor at Ancestry, including several close cousin matches, so my connection to this ancestor isn't really in any doubt.

    However, I thought it was worth mentioning in this thread, as had I not tested with Ancestry initially, I might still be questioning some of my near ancestry.
  7. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    As Pauline says, it's important not to jump to conclusions based on limited data. The amount of DNA we share with our cousins is largely random, and whilst there will be a tendency for the values to average out at the theoretical mean the range of observed values is extremely wide.

    This is just one of the reasons why I advise against taking any notice of the relationships suggested by test providers (unless they're back up by trees), and why I advise against using relationship calculators. It's also one of the reasons why working down your list of matches from the top, or focusing on your Near Matches, are rarely good strategies.
  8. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Megastar

    I agree, and in case what I said before was unclear, I wasn't suggesting I could work out the half/full cousin question by looking at the amount of shared DNA, but instead by looking at shared matches.

    As it happens, because of the lack of matches at MyHeritage in the necessary area of my tree, I still don't have the answer I was looking for.
  9. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    In case anyone reading this discussion is not clear how that would be achieved, take a look at this diagram:

    Suppose that Pauline is represented by Paula Harrison and her 1st cousin once removed by Adam Smith. The question is whether they share two common ancestors, John Smith and Emma Brown, or only one - which would make them half 1st cousins once removed.

    Matches with descendants of John Smith and Emma Brown are unlikely to help - what's needed are matches with descendants of John Smith's ancestors and separate matches with descendants of Emma Brown ancestors. These matches need not be shared by Paula and Adam, but unless Paula and Adam agree to collaborate Paula won't be able to see Adam's matches, so looking for shared matches is a practical solution (provided they exist).

    Note: I'm going to use this example in my next newsletter if anyone feels that further clarification is needed please let me know.
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1

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