So Who Is He? Part I

I have had immense trouble writing this. Knowing how much to divulge and how much to keep to myself has been a point of contention for over a month now. But, given the amount of support I’ve received from so many of you over the past year and a bit, it’s time some specifics were laid out. How I came to this conclusion, who Mum’s father is, the lot. The story is far from over, but I hope that in providing some confirmations, that this will get us closer to the man we seek.

*Let’s see if I can do this in a way that everyone can understand!*

After my first post regarding the search, some of you will remember Rose, the lovely search angel who offered to assist me in building a mirror tree using Mum’s DNA matches. Without her, there’s a pretty good chance that I’d still be floundering. From our initial matches, we were able to isolate the ones who matched on the paternal side, based on the information provided by said matches (if we were lucky), the family trees that were attached to the kits (if we were luckier still) and the “Shared Matches” tool available on Ancestry.

From this information both directly obtained and sourced elsewhere, some commonalities were arising. Our closest paternal match at this initial stage was K, who was categorised as a 2nd cousin, with 226 centimorgans shared over 14 DNA segments (Centimorgan (cM): unit of measurement used to determine genetic distance). In looking at Blaine Bettinger’s Shared cM Project chart, that could place us in any number of relationships:


The possible relationships that K could have been to us. The numbers represent the amount of centimorgans (cM) shared between you and a DNA match.

K luckily was one of the matches who got in contact and was happy to provide information on her family, both sides of it so we could compare it to other matches in Mum’s list. At this stage, judging from how high the match was, K and Mum would have to share either great grandparents or great great grandparents, at a stretch. We each have 8 great grandparents and 16 great great grandparents…so this required some research and elimination on our part. So, we researched them all, with Mum’s DNA attached to K’s profile in the separate tree that was created. Yep, that took some time, lots of birth/death/marriage certificate acquisitions and back and forth communication with K.

K’s family tree. Working out the specific line that we descended from (either the blue or red column) took a while.

In this time, K’s brother tested and Mum and I also met K’s mother, C. At this stage we weren’t entirely sure what side of K’s family we matched on, however C agreed to take a test to help out. C, as most of you know was a match, at 336cM over 17 DNA segments. With this new knowledge in mind and utilising the “Shared Matches” tool (don’t ever underestimate that option on Ancestry!!), it became apparent that we matched along C’s mother’s side of the family:

C’s maternal line. We fit in here somewhere.

Let me introduce you to the next lot of biological paternal relatives, starting with C’s grandparents. These surnames show up in all three match lists: Mum’s, mine and my sister’s. Upon closer inspection, there were a fair number of fourth cousin range DNA matches with these specific families in their attached family trees, particularly a bit further back than William, Alice and Hannah, their parents being the common connection between these more distant relatives:

C’s grandfather’s parents and grandparents all have descendants who match to us at the 4th cousin level. Alice Selina Cowell, you will notice hasn’t got a father listed, she was born illegitimately in Bathurst, New South Wales in 1867, a couple of years after Annie’s first husband died. Annie married her second husband, William Kable, in 1869 and went on to have several children by him. The descendants of those children (there are heaps!) are on a bit of a DNA testing frenzy of late and are also showing up as half fourth cousins in our match lists.
Our match lists featured a heavy concentration of third and fourth cousin DNA matches from Hannah’s side of the family (C’s great grandmother) with the matches indicating that they descend from both the Saxby and Burley families, specifically Hannah’s parents and grandparents, pictured above.

In sharing all of these lines with C, our first theory was to assume that she was a first cousin once removed. A first cousin once removed would essentially mean that we shared her grandparents as mutual ancestors, leaving one of her male first cousins as Mum’s father. We followed this theory through initially, with C and K providing a list of all the first cousins C had–from there I went through a process of elimination, based upon age and location at the time of Mum’s conception. (Electoral rolls are amazing sources!) I ended up with two suspects out of this list: brothers. So I had one side of their family (the side they were related to C on, which happened to be their own mother’s side too), so it was time for me to research their father’s side.

I spent months doing this, researching further and further back, and also expanding the tree down to present-day generations as much as possible (this tree, the one where K is the home person, now totals nearly 2000 people!). Whilst doing this, I made regular checks in Mum’s DNA match list, searching the surnames that I was coming across in the brothers’ other side of the family (the side not related to C)–nothing was coming up. This was weird and rather disappointing. I put it down to the fact that these brothers’ paternal grandfather was an only child, it also seemed that the generation back had a number of stillbirths and marriages that didn’t result in any children…but this was perhaps denial over the possibility that I was back to square one. That’s where it remained for months–C had begun putting feelers out to her family, seeing if anyone knew anything. No one seemed to, but that was kind of expected, given the nature of my biological grandmother’s pregnancy-it was kept fairly secret, as was the custom in 1960s Sydney for young unwed mothers.

I continued to leave it, keeping an eye on the DNA match lists (not only on Ancestry, but also GedMatch, MyHeritage and FTDNA, where I’d transferred our samples as well), but no surnames whatsoever were coming up in our lists on the pair of brothers’ paternal side of the family. Frustrating. C’s first cousin (G) tested in the meantime and came back as a match to us, with 223cM shared over 10 DNA segments. This first cousin’s granddaughter also tested, coming up as a match too, 43cM over 4 DNA segments. It’s interesting to see the shared DNA variances between people in the same generation. If we look at that super helpful chart of Blaine’s, it is noticed that G’s shared DNA with Mum falls slightly outside the range for a 1st cousin once removed (Cluster #4):



There could be a couple of reasons for this:

  1. Recombination. As in, G inherited a differing set of DNA segments from her father (C’s uncle, her mother’s brother).
  2. The relationship between Mum, K, C & G is slightly different to what I thought originally.

…enter a new match, W. Which will be continued in Part II.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. GeniAus says:

    You have been busy. Looking forward to reading about W.


  2. crissouli says:

    I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
    Thank you, Chris
    Following with interest… I hope you find the answers you’re looking for.


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