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DNA – Be Careful What You Wish For!

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Slartibartfast Report 30 Aug 2019 09:45

Like a lot of people in the UK I have a branch of Irish ancestry on my tree, in this case on my paternal side. Anyone who has ever tried to research that branch will know how difficult it is as most of the 19th century records were destroyed by fire during the troubles in the 1920’s.
A death announcement in an 1869 Dublin newspaper which alluded to family in Australia led me to take the DNA route, in the hope that someone out there in the land of Oz would contact me and say “Hey, we’re cousins”.
That was the plan.
Fast forward a few years and I was recently contacted (via Ancestry) by someone saying they were a match and that we were 1st cousins. We checked each other’s trees but could find no obvious connection. Could this be my long-lost family on the other side of the world?
No. It turns out that my maternal grandmother had an adulterous affair in the 1930’s with her landlord’s son who had lived at the same address. My mother was the result of that affair.
It was quite a bombshell. My mother died three years ago and this would have devastated her should she had found out. The man who she thought was her father all her life, wasn’t her father. The man who I thought was my granddad all my life wasn’t. I have spent 25 years researching that branch of the family only to find we do not share any of the same blood at all.
Emotions were very mixed. On the one hand I felt as if I had been deceived (and my mother) but on the other, I now have many new cousins, even a new uncle (my mother’s half-brother) and many happy hours in front of me researching the new branch of my family.
I expect stories like this will become more frequent as the sale of DNA products increase.
One must be prepared to face some potentially uncomfortable truths when taking the scientific route to genealogy. Beware, the hornets nest is open.
I’m still waiting for that call from Australia.


Rambling Report 30 Aug 2019 11:42

I've read a few stories along the same lines, and it can be very distressing for those involved to find everything they thought they knew was wrong. I lean towards the thinking that 'family', even if not related by blood, are those who you grew up knowing as father and grandfather, the people who were there for you.

I found out after several years of making my tree that my maternal gt grandfather was born before his parents wedding, so had his mother's surname Collins at birth. On every census with his younger siblings he is a Fishlock. He might well be his father's son , I don't know and not sure I'd want to find otherwise, as the family was obviously close.

I would be more interested in the Irish side of the family DNA wise as you say it is hard to get back past a certain point on Irish records, and I'd love to know if there is a match to other families of the same name in a specific area of Kerry.

Article here from last year, with the same warning