Sunday 21 June 2020

Follow me down a rabbit hole

When my friend Jacqi Stevens at A Family Tapestry recently proclaimed her intention to ‘plunge down rabbit holes with wild abandon to find answers to her questions, I came to the understanding that all my genealogy undertakings of late share similarities with Alice’s pursuit of the White Rabbit.

My current project—investigating our connection to several 'related' DNA matches—may also be a hopeless pursuit.The likelihood of ever obtaining the necessary evidence, to be nail down exactly how we are related, is probably poor, or else I’d have come across the documents already. Yet, the prospect of discovering further ancestors is so appealing, it justifies the risk of ending up on just another wild goose chase.

So… staying within the parameters of the rule 'start with what you know' 😉—we know our significant DNA matches are descendants of our ancestors—I'm looking at one of my closest unidentified DNA matches. Let's call her TL. places her in the 4th to 6th cousin bracket, based on us sharing one 39cM segment.

TL also shares an estimated 4th-6th cousin match (one 41cM segment) with my Aunt Anne, an estimated 4th-6th cousin match (one 32cM segment) with Anne's first cousin Larry, and an estimated 5th-8th cousin match (8cM in two segments) with their second cousin Paul. Anne and Larry descend from Bridget Hynes' son Patrick, while Paul descends from Bridget's daughter Agnes. TL does not match my cousins Phyllis, Holly or Aileen, who descend from Bridget's children, Mary, John and Patrick, respectively.

Bear in mind, estimates only 32% of 5th cousins, 11% of 6th cousins and only 3% of 7th cousins share enough DNA for the relationship to be detected.

TL didn't respond to my message, but she does have a fairly decent online family tree, now based in New Zealand. Only one ancestral couple among all her great-great-grandparents came from Ireland, and only the wife was of actual Irish origin. TL's tree named her immigrant Irish ancestor as Anne Rochford Hynes, born about 1843. Anne's parents were shown as Edmond Hynes and Bridget Rochford. My second-great-grandmother, Bridget Hynes, was born about 1831 in Limerick, the daughter of John and Margaret Hynes.

Normally, I'm wary of single segment matches, but this one is quite large, and a surname in common is a very good start. Wouldn't you agree! Let's see if we can connect Anne Rochfort Hynes to our family tree, and in so doing, see if we can learn anything more about our own ancestry.

But first, TL's ascent to Anne Rochfort Hynes, Edward Hynes and Bridget Rochfort needs to be verified, and their other descendants identified. Hopefully then the other, as yet unknown, DNA matches we share in common with TL might be properly placed in either her or our family tree. Join me next week to see what I find out.

Continued, here.

Image: Sir John Tenniel's illustration of 'The White Rabbit', in Lewis Carroll's The Nursery Alice (London, 1890), accessed on Wikipedia.


  1. I feel like all I've been doing in the last three months is sliding down rabbit holes. I look forward to reading this new set of posts.

  2. Thanks Cathy, i'd bet one of them will lead somewhere.

  3. I’m going to watch and learn. I usually never bother with matches that point to a 4th, 5th, or 6th cousin, so I’m sure I’m missing out on something good.

  4. I don't even have that many 4th-6th cousin matches, Wendy. and I knew most of my closer matches before I did a DNA test. This is all I have to work with. Hope your matches lead you to a new discovery. xx


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!