Saturday, 3 September 2016

Potential new ancestors hiding in our DNA results

I started out with such high expectations, but I have to admit, my DNA test results have not yielded any genealogical breakthroughs. We have hundreds of matches, most of them in the U.S. or Australia, but few have so much as a surname in common with us. Even among the top twenty or so people listed, there is no one with a paper trail to a mutual ancestor - other than my already known relatives, that is. It’s a little disappointing, though I’ve not given up all hope, yet.

So, when I received an email from a lady on my mother’s list, I decided to investigate it further. Our matching segment is not that big – for those ‘in the know’, it is 13 cMs over 1,965 SNPs. GEDmatch predicts our most recent common ancestor as being 5.1 generations ago. Thus, we could share my mother’s third great-grandparents with this match, though there's no way of knowing which ones. These ancestors are in the upper echelons of my documented family tree, or probably just beyond. They’re exactly the ones I’m hoping to discover.

The match looked promising, initially. First, this lady has already identified who she believes are her ancestors in Ireland. Second, her nineteenth-century ancestors were in Dublin, where many of my mother’s people also lived. Third, she has identified a match with a probable third cousin, and my mother shares the same matching segment with him too - i.e. it’s a triangulated match. So, if we all share the same DNA, and they inherited it from a suspected common ancestor, then there’s a good chance we received it via the same person, or from someone closely related to them at least. Or, so the theory goes.

And, both these matches claim descent from James and Alice Fitzgerald, one via a son William born in 1835 and the other via a daughter Eliza born in 1828. James and Alice lived in Coles Lane in Dublin in the 1820s. James worked as a cabinet maker. The couple had a large family, all baptised in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral. There is a suggestion too that Alice was originally born in Dublin, in 1796. She was supposedly the daughter of Anthony and Mary Hicks, from across the Liffey in the parish of St Nicholas. They all lived close to where my mother’s family were hanging out when I pick them up in the early 1800s.

Sadly, though, try as I might, I could not find a single connection between the Fitzgerald family and my mother’s known ancestors.

But, if the account of the Fitzgeralds sounds vaguely familiar to some of you, it may be from when I wrote about Laurence Coyle. Laurence was a wood turner, running his business from Coles Lane, and was probably my third great-grandfather. BUT, the Coyles were on my Dad’s side. Laurence operated from Coles Lane from the mid-1830s onwards, next door to Denis Newport who was also a cabinet maker. In 1851, Denis Newport witnessed the marriage of my second great-grandparents, John Donovan and Maryanne Coyle. And, James Fitzgerald’s daughter Alice married Denis Newport’s son Robert in 1858.

So, I’ve found a connection to James Fitzgerald, except it’s on the wrong side of the family. Perhaps, when more of our more recent cousins take a DNA test, I might be able to hone in further on which line these matches occur.

Have you found any new ancestors hiding in your DNA test results? 

River Liffey, Dublin

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© Black Raven Genealogy

12 comments:

  1. I just recently got my results from the Family Finder test through Family Tree DNA. There is one exciting match but I don't feel confident enough to write about DNA since I understand only the basics. It is frustrating when people don't make their tree available.

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    1. It does take a while to get your head around it all, Wendy, especially the various inheritance paths. looking forward to reading about your exciting match some day!

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  2. We have 12 dna matches all leading to dublin in 1800. All with mason surname. All COI.

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    1. I'd take that as a huge hint ;-)

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  3. I took a week long course in DNA and Genealogy this summer. Most of my matches are of Irish ancestry but my problem is very few of the people I email never answer. I think they like the bright and shiny Ancestry commercials and are only doing it to see what is their DNA mix.

    Ancestry has me in a DNA circle with connection to a Thomas John McDonnell, who is from Roscommon. They only way I can sort it out is one great great grandmother, Catherine Fitzmorris Dowd is from the far east of Roscommon. But I can only go so far, I am thinking her could potentially be a 5th great grand father.

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    1. I suspect lots of people got their test as presents and do not have the time or interest to learn how to read their results - maybe load your results to GEDmatch, if you have not done so already. Your DNA Circle sounds intriguing - hope you get to the bottom of it.

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  4. Good luck with your DNA connections. So far, neither I haven't found any meaningful cousin connections via DNA (for my hubby or for me), but I can hope. Another relative's DNA showed a surprising level of Irish ancestry, so we have to keep going back further than the American Revolution to figure out where that came from.

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    1. Marian, it's good to know I'm not the only one experiencing limited success, hope you find a connection soon, though I don't think I'd wish eighteenth-century Irish ancestors on any genealogist.

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  5. I was lucky enough to find one 2nd cousin connection this summer. I was and am really excited because although I had names on that side of the family I didn't know anyone. My dad's mom died when he was very young, and it was through that side that the DNA match gave me the opportunity to meet someone! That said, I took the test about 3 years ago, it was only in the past year that my match had tested.

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  6. That's great, Karen! and now you can use your shared segments to see what other matches you have on the same line.

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  7. Sorry you've not had good results Dara. I've confirmed a relationship, found a third cousin who strangely enough matches my Dad but not me, and found a small, but significant lead in my White/Keyes line in Laois. It just takes the right people being tested and posting their results, don't give up.

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    1. Well done, Ellie, they're great results. I guess I'll just have to sit here and wait patiently (ha ha) for the right cousins to get tested!

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