Sunday, 10 January 2021

DNA cultivates a new branch of the family tree

I love autosomal DNA! Last year, just to humour me, my Aunt Anne took a DNA test. Her DNA match list includes descendants of her 64 GGGG-grandparents, i.e. my maternal GGGGG-grandparents, and maybe even earlier generations too. So far, I know the names of only two of my GGGGG-grandparents, creating soo much potential for discovery.

Before Christmas, I started examining Anne’s highest unknown match (56 cM/5 segments), labelled below as P. P has no online family tree, but she shares several matches in common with Anne, including those labelled T, S, L, M, and C below. Many of them appear to live in New Zealand. Some had partial trees attached to their DNA results, including T who traced his ancestry back to Thomas O’Carroll.

Over Christmas, I extended the family trees of these genetic cousins and found they all descended from one or other of Thomas O’Carroll’s four children.
As seen above, Larry, Anne’s first cousin, shares several of these matches too. Their grandmother was born Teresa Carroll (without an 'O' prefix). Also Michael, not included above, but a descendant of Teresa’s father Maurice Carroll and his first wife Mary Anne Frazer, also shares over 20 cM DNA with P and L (and thus appears in the Shared Matches lists at So, it seems we may be all related via my GG-Grandfather Maurice Carroll, or his forefathers.

Some of the online family trees show Thomas O’Carroll was born in Tralee, Co. Kerry, about 1837-38, and was buried in Northland, New Zealand in 1918. Our branch of the Carroll family did not include the ’O’ prefix in their surname, at least not before the Gaelic revival in Ireland around the turn of the twentieth century. Maurice Carroll also claimed to have been born in the late 1830s, but in Co. Tipperary, not Co. Kerry. 

So, were Maurice and Thomas related? The amount of shared DNA suggests they could possibly have been brothers, though maybe it's a tad on the low side for that. But, further research shows some consistencies with what might be expected in a family relationship.

While the online family trees suggest Thomas and his wife must have married in Ireland, Thomas Carroll (without the ‘O’ prefix) can be seen marrying Anne Sloan in New Zealand, in 1864. This couple then had four children, David James O’Carroll born in New Zealand in 1865, Francis O’Carroll born in 1866, Thomas O’Carroll born in 1869 and Mary Ann O’Carroll born in 1872. So he started off as a Carroll (without an 'O').

David Carroll was the name of my GGG-grandfather, Maurice’s father. Maybe Thomas O’Carroll was following traditional Irish naming practices whereby the eldest son was named after his paternal grandfather – i.e., Thomas O'Carroll's eldest son was called David. David wasn’t that common a given name in Ireland then, so this might mean something.

O'Shea-O'Carroll marriage, New Zealand Herald, 25 February 1889

Also, the above announcement of Thomas's daughter Mary Ann O’Carroll’s marriage to Michael O’Shea, in 1889, confirms Thomas WAS from Co. Tipperary, NOT Co. Kerry, after all.

BEWARE the information found in online family trees! It could lead you astray if you let it.


  1. I'm very impressed you have found your 5th great-grands in Ireland ;)

  2. Thank you Ellie, but I've been doing this for over 10 years. 2 out of 128 is barely even a start. LOL! :-)


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!