Saturday 24 June 2017

DNA Diary: Calling all Cousins!

Are you related to someone mentioned in this blog?  Do you even share their surnames and place of origin? And, have you already tested your autosomal DNA?

It has come to my attention there are quite a few people out there researching my ancestors and potential ancestors, who have already tested their DNA. But, they used a different testing company. So, we have no chance of ever matching, UNLESS we both upload our results into the same database.

I’m no expert, but, I've also recently concluded the only way to really progress on this DNA Genealogy journey is to gather together an assortment of my parent’s known second, third and maybe fourth cousins. This way we’ll be able to identify the matches we have in common and flag them as probably being related somewhere on our common lineage.

This will help bring my DNA research back in line with the basic principles of genealogy research - i.e. start with what is known and work backwards from there. And, working together, we might discover another cousin, who also matches us on the same shared segment, enabling us to identify the specific ancestor, or ancestral couple, who bequeathed that DNA segment to us all.

Down the road, we might meet enough cousins to be able to label all our DNA segments with the name of the ancestors who donated them. Then, we’d know anyone else sharing the labelled segment must also be related, somehow, to the named ancestors. Well, that would be the dream!

So, if you’ve already tested your autosomal DNA at AncestryDNA™ or 23andMe©, PLEASE upload your test results to GEDmatch. It’s easy and FREE and it only takes about ten minutes. And, let me know if you do! Even if we don’t match, you will gain access to another list of DNA cousins, perhaps including that one person who will help you knock through your genealogy brick-wall.

Also, you can now upload your results to Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage, again without it costing another penny, and gain access to all your matches in their database too.  You never know where your cousins are hanging out. 

Image courtesy of PhotoFunia

© Black Raven Genealogy

Update 23 January 2021: Given the number of privacy breaches at GEDmatch in the past year or so, I nolonger feel I can reccomend it for genealogy purposes, and have deleted my kits from the site.

Saturday 17 June 2017

A grave error? - Charles Byrne (1878-1879)

Charles Byrne was the fourth son of Francis Byrne and Margaret McGrane, and a younger brother to Mam’s grandfather, James Byrne. He was born at 12 Upper Mayor Street, in Dublin, on 6 March 1878, and was baptized in St Laurence O’Toole’s church that same day. He was probably named after Francis’ brother Charles.

Margaret did not get around to registering her son's birth until the end of June. Presumably to avoid a late registration penalty, she then claimed Charles wasn't born until 4 April 1878, by which time the family had moved to 18 Upper Jane Place. Still, her delay provides an accurate timeline for when the Byrnes first lived in Jane Place, a neighborhood that became their home for nearly a hundred years.

Soon after his first birthday, little Charles died of scarlatina, otherwise known as scarlet fever.  His no doubt heart-broken mother carried his remains to Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery, where he was buried on 13 April 1879. He was interred in the section of the graveyard known as St Patrick’s.

When Charles’s father died many years later, in December 1912, he was buried with another baby named Charles Byrne. Their grave was in the St Bridget’s section of the cemetery. This little Charles died in 1891, coincidentally when he was also a year old. Initially I thought our family was somehow related to the second baby too, or that there was a mix-up of some sort with the graves.

This Charles was the son of George and Harriet Byrne. George worked as a policeman, living on the south side of the river Liffey. Our Francis was a labourer, working in the Dublin dockyards, and living north of the river. Their lives were quite different and no connection between them could be found. 

Now, Glasnevin Trust have confirmed my great-great-grandmother only purchased the grave in 1912, two days after her husband’s death and twenty-one years after the funeral of the second Charles. There is no longer any reason to suspect a connection with George and Harriet. The cemetery was known to sell on graves, if they had not been purchased outright, after a specified time had passed.

Glasnevin Trust also confirmed our baby Charles was buried in an Old Angels’ plot. Such plots were communal graves, shared by many other babies. Being what was considered a ‘poor ground plot’, it would never have been available for Margaret to purchase. But, I wonder did she know this in 1912? Did she think her husband was laid to rest with their baby son? Or, was it merely a coincidence a so-named child shared his grave? 

Sources: Church and civil records on; Burial register for Glasnevin Cemetery (pay-as-you-go); Image from Pixabay.

Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday 10 June 2017

DNA Diary – Clynch update

Perhaps you remember from my recent posts – The Clynch Connection and The Clinch family of Aurora, Illinois – I concluded I’d probably need a DNA match to prove my Dad’s relationship to the Clinch family of Aurora. Well, the good news is I’ve now ‘met’ a living descendant of Martin Clinch and she has already taken a DNA test.  

You may also remember, Martin Clynch, along with his supposed siblings Edward and Mary, left their home in Blackrath and Athgarvan, in 1854, for a new life in America. I’m nearly certain Martin and his siblings were related to Dad’s second great-grandmother, Anne (Clynch) Byrne, who lived in the same townland in Co. Kildare. Anne could even have been their sister, a theory being they were all the children of Patrick Clynch and Catherine Murphy, from Athgarvan.

My prospective ‘cousin’ agreed to upload her DNA results (for free) to GEDmatch, a third-party company providing tools for genealogy research. We were then able to compare her results with my Dad’s. Sadly, however, they don’t match. For matching purposes, it is generally accepted ‘cousins’ should share at least one matching segment of 7cMs or more, and they don’t. 

When I lower the thresholds though, they do share several smaller segments, signifying a potential relationship. Then again, Ireland is a small country, and people generally descend from same limited gene pool. So, small segment matches are to be expected, even if people are not related in a genealogical timeframe. Plus, this match is not at all convincing.

Dad’s matching DNA segments with a Clynch descendant 

You get 50% of your DNA from each parent, about 25% from each grandparent and on average 12.5% from each great-grandparent, etc. You have 32 third great-grandparents, so receive an average of just over 3.125% (1/32) from each one. But, DNA is inherited randomly. The deviation from average increases with every generation, so it’s possible to receive far less than ‘average’ from any individual ancestor. And, the odds on two descendants inheriting the exact same section are obviously even higher.

Source: ISOGG Cousin statistics

If our most recent common ancestors were Patrick and Catherine Clynch, Dad and our potential cousin are fourth cousins, once removed. Statistics show less than half such cousins show up as a DNA match, i.e. there is a 52% probability of no detectable DNA relationship. And, it’s quite possible our most recent common ancestors were even earlier than Patrick and Catherine, making the likelihood of matching even more remote.

But, there is one thing in our favour - Martin Clinch of Aurora has many descendants, so there’s a chance one of them may share Clynch DNA with Dad. Maybe someday I’ll meet a match.

© Black Raven Genealogy 

Saturday 3 June 2017

Buried in Fingal

Last month, Fingal County Council released a superb new FREE online database called ‘Buried in Fingal’. It contains the details of 65,000 people buried in graveyards across north county Dublin, from the late nineteenth century onward. It was exciting to think these registers might contain the answers to many of my open questions! 

St Sylvester's Cemetery, Malahide, Co. Dublin, 2016
Yellow Walls Cemetery, Malahide, 2016

First off, I found my paternal grandfather, James Byrne. He died at his residence in ‘Far Yellow Walls’ on 22 December 1964. He was buried that Christmas Eve in the graveyard at Yellow Walls, Malahide.[1] 

Burial of James Byrne, 1964, St Sylvester's Cemetery, Malahide, Co. Dublin
Burial of James Byrne, Yellow Walls Cemetery (click on image to enlarge)

We always knew James shared a grave with his wife Lena (O’Neill) Byrne. I cannot show you the page with her details unfortunately, as it failed to load fully to the website. But, by downloading the register for the entire cemetery, I could scroll to the relevant page and see her entry. It confirms she died at her residence on 27 October 1956 and that James organised her funeral the following day. He paid a £5 burial fee, or maybe that was the cost of the plot.[2] 

James Byrne’s father, Michael Byrne, died in Yellow Walls on 22 December 1927 and by unhappy coincidence he too was buried on a Christmas Eve.[3] had hoped these registers would confirm where exactly he was buried. The Yellow Walls Cemetery opened in 1918, but he’s not there. So, he was probably interred in the Abbey Graveyard at Malahide Castle, the original burial ground for the area. If he is there, no tombstone was ever erected on his grave. 

Fingal County Council maintains the Abbey Graveyard, as well as its records, but they have not been published on their new website.
This also scuppers my chance of answering a second burning question - Was
Peter Radcliffe, my fourth great-grandfather on Mam’s side, buried at the Castle, too? Peter died in Yellow Walls in March 1887, more than twenty years after his wife, Anne.[4] We know Anne was buried at the Castle, because Peter erected a tombstone there, in her memory.[5] Peter also fought through the courts for many years to protect his right to be buried beside her, so it would be nice to know, for sure, if he realised this goal.[6]

Anne Radcliffe (c.1799 – 1866), Castle Abbey Graveyard, Malahide, Co. Dublin
Anne Radcliffe (c.1799 – 1866)
Transcript of tombstone, Castle Abbey Graveyard

My final question relates to my granduncle Michael Byrne - James Byrne’s youngest brother. Where was he buried?  He is said to have died in England about 1962 or 1963, so his death isn't registered here. I cannot find a record of it in England either.  Dad remembered his uncle's body was brought home for burial, as he attended the funeral with his father, but he could not remember where exactly it took place. They were planting the winter cabbage at the time and could only spare one day off work, so Michael must have died around August.

I found the burial of Michael’s son, Patrick Byrne. Patrick was fatally injured in a tragic accident in February 1960, when he was crushed between two oil tankers at a depot in Co. Cork.[7] He was buried in Balgriffin Cemetery, but there is no sign of his father there.[8] He’s not in Kinsealy Cemetery either. I suspect Michael was buried in St Colmcille’s, in Swords – their records are not managed by the Council. If he was, it would seem no tombstone was ever erected on his grave either.[9]

So, while ‘Buried in Fingal’ is a great new resource for Dublin genealogy, and I hope other councils and parishes (i.e. Swords!!!) across Ireland quickly follow their example, unluckily for me, my questions weren’t answered this time.

© Black Raven Genealogy

[1] Burial of James Byrne1964, Yellow Walls Cemetery, ‘Buried in Fingal’, Fingal County Council. 
[2] Burial of Lena Byrne, 1956, Yellow Walls Cemetery, ‘Buried in Fingal’.
[3] Death of Michael Byrne, 1927, Balrothery, Civil Records, 
[4] Death of Peter Radcliffe, 1887, Balrothery, Civil Records,
[5] Black Raven Genealogy, ‘Abbey Graveyard at Malahide Castle’; Michael Egan, Memorials of the Dead, no. 9, 1996, p. 153. 
[7] Irish Times, 18 February 1960, p. 6.
[8] Burial of Patrick Byrne, 1960, Balgriffin Cemetery, ‘Buried in Fingal’.
[9] Fingal Heritage Group, “Rest in Peace”, no. 1 - Fingal Cemeteries, St Colmcille's, Swords.