Thursday, 8 June 2017

Our Amazing new family DNA discovery

DNA for genealogy has been a huge learning curve but I have enjoyed the brain exercise.  I still have lots to learn.  It is a lot of fun learning from and along with like-minded cousins and friends.

At the end of 2016, I had done an autosomal (family finder) DNA test with the company FamilyTreeDNA.  Uploading those results to GEDmatch led to discovering the name of a maternal 3rd great-grandmother and breaking down a brick wall in my KNIGHT family history.
It has also confirmed the findings of a lot of collaborative family research on many branches of my family tree.  My Dad tested for me too which meant I was able to sort many of my matches into paternal and maternal lines.  I have made some lovely new friends/cousins.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to do another DNA test with AncestryDNA.

The results came through when I was away from home and my computer. I could access the site on my phone with limited views.  
My second closest match, a shared DNA amount of 221 centimorgans shared across 12 DNA segments, was a known 2nd cousin. 
He is the son of one of my Mum's first cousins. 

My closest match though, a shared DNA amount of 431 centimorgans shared across 18 DNA segments, was a complete mystery.
As is often the case there was no family tree attached so I couldn't see where our close connection may be.
All the available charts for predicted relationship ranges put this match above that of a 2nd cousin but a bit below a first cousin. 
I only have first cousins on Mum's side as Dad is an only child.

Denys in New Zealand was perhaps a first cousin once removed?
I sent her a message.
I had read so many comments by people who didn't receive replies to their messages that I was surprised and thankful to get one the very next day.
Denys had only just received her results and said she was also interested to find where our connection lay.  I gave her my direct New Zealand surnames of Musson and Forsyth.

The next email I received blew me away even though I guess I should have been a bit prepared for the outcome.  I have read of many family surprises, uplifting stories and sad stories but never really expected one of my own.

Denys wrote "Umm some information you may not be expecting..
My father's name was Malcolm.
He was born in Rangiora in 1932.
My grandmother became pregnant to a son of the house while staying in Rangiora with her sister and working at the Musson house.  I believe that is how they meet. My understanding is that he was 'sent' away to Australia but that is all we know.
My Dad has his mother's maiden surname. His father left for Australia around the time he was born.
We have no details of his Dad although he remembers going to school with his cousins, unknown to them, at one point.
My Mum never told me Dad's father's name and although he knew himself, he did not discuss it.
In those days, being illegitimate was very much a slur.
However, my Mum did tell my sister the name on one occasion and she remembered the name because it was unusual and because she knew someone of the same name. When I informed her of the surname Musson she immediately exclaimed that this was the name of our Dad's father.

Therefore it may seem that my father and your father may be brothers?"

Yes, it seems my/our grandfather DID do what he said he didn't do.

To better understand that statement please read my first ever blog post, WHAT STARTED MY GENEALOGY JOURNEY?

I now have three very lovely, newly found paternal half-cousins.

Our grandfather James Musson and his son Malcolm.


  1. I can imagine your excitement at this news Kerryn. Well done at sticking with the DNA mysteries

    1. Thanks Jennifer, it was quite an emotional couple of days.

  2. What a marvellous discovery Kerryn! DNA aside, the photos certainly tell a tale as there is an amazing likeness between father and (first) son.

  3. Crikey, what a shock! Amazing result. Well done, Kerryn.

  4. Hi Kerryn. Mum says the DNA test I bought for her birthday was the best present of her life. Making contact with you and solving the mystery of Grandad Mac's family has made her very happy. Keep up the good work

    1. I thank you also Veronica. I still can't get over how both our DNA results came through at nearly the same time. I think it was meant to be. Thanks for your kind words. I am also very happy to have gained lovely new family.

  5. What a surprise! I can't imagine how you felt.

  6. Fantastic outcome. Loved reading your emotional but happy discovery. I'm hoping my results will also break down a very solid brick wall.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks for reading, I hope you have a good outcome with your DNA results as well

  7. What a fascinating story Kerryn - and sad too that your grandfather James Musson never knew his son Malcolm. This must have happened to a lot of people. Sent away to hide the shame. You wonder how different their lives would have been if they could have stayed with their families. I know of people sent to New Zealand from Australia to have their "out of wedlock" children and the same thing obviously happened with New Zealand families sending their children to Australia. To think that your grandfather kept that secret that he was not the father all his life. You have told the story so beautifully. Thank you for sharing it. Carol.

  8. Informative article, Kerryn. In case you are looking for more details on autosomal DNA transfer . Hope this helps :)