DNA uncovers a family secret

A new DNA match recently appeared in our match lists (I'll call her Sally - not her real name) which revealed something about my maternal grandmother's uncle that I feel sure my gran never knew about. Richard Arthur Weaver, brother of my great-grandfather, Henry James Weaver, had an illegitimate child before he was married.

I've said before how my gran lost touch with her father's family having been orphaned at the age of four so it's not surprising that my gran probably wouldn't have known this. See my previous blog post at http://www.hibbitt.org.uk/blog/item/463 which mentions how my gran visited the family many years later.

At first, it wasn't obvious how Sally and I were related and so I set about reviewing the evidence and eliminating suspects. Sally is my third cousin and a second cousin once removed to my mum and aunt. Richard Weaver was her great-grandfather and so we share common ancestors in our 2 x great-grandparents, William Henry Weaver and Jane (nee Arnold).

This is how I worked out the relationship. Sally shares 120 centimorgans across 7 segments of DNA with my mum. I used the calculator at https://dnapainter.com/tools/sharedcmv4 which confirmed my suspicions that the match had to be reasonably close. Most of these segments even passed down to my brother, one generation below.

Sally's grandmother, Laura, was born in July 1901 and I managed to find Laura's baptism which included Weaver as a middle name. Her full name was Laura Bessie May Weaver PAYNE. My gran's maiden name was Weaver so this immediately gave me a clue as to which side of my family I needed to concentrate on. I had already drawn the conclusion that the connection was likely to be on my mum's maternal side because two paternal first cousins of my mum and aunt have taken a DNA test and neither of them are a match to Sally.

I began looking for likely candidates as to who might have fathered Laura. I felt that our 2 x great-grandfather, William Henry Weaver, was a little too far out of range for the amount of shared DNA, and probably too old for a young girl to be interested in him (although not impossible of course). This left my great-grandfather, Henry, and his older brother, Richard, in the frame. If it was Henry, who was 18 when Laura was born, then Sally would be my mum's half first cousin once removed. The DNA match falls within range but is less likely than if it was Richard who was 26 when Laura was born. In this scenario, Sally would be my mum's second cousin once removed and this was more of a comfortable fit, DNA-wise.

These were pointers rather than definite conclusions because DNA inheritance is random and there is quite a bit of overlap in the amount of DNA someone can share with a cousin. I had to find something to tie Richard to Lily Payne, the mother of Laura, so I looked up the newspapers on FindMyPast and, lo and behold, this is what I found.

28th September 1901 in the Chard and Ilminster News...

CASE ADJOURNED. - Richard Weaver, of Fivehead, had been summoned by Lily Payne, of Isle Abbots, to show cause, etc. but the case was adjourned.

The Chard and Ilminster News, 28th September 1901
The Chard and Ilminster News, 28th September 1901

Then on 2nd November 1901, again in the Chard and Ilminster News...

SETTLED CASES. -...The case adjourned from the last Court in which Richard Weaver was summoned by Lily Payne to show cause, etc., had also been satisfactorily arranged by the parties.

The first article mentioned that Richard lived in the village of Fivehead which lies between his home village of Curry Rivel in Somerset and Lily's home village of Isle Abbotts. I had no other documentation placing him in Fivehead including the 1901 census when he was living in Curry Rivel only a few months before Laura was born. Nevertheless, I couldn't find any other Richard Weavers in the locality that could have been the father and, of course, we had the DNA too.

Lily Payne was born on 2nd November 1882 and her parents were James Payne and Susan (nee Lewis). Lily was almost 17 years old when she was baptized on 18th October 1899 in Isle Abbots.

I subsequently found Lily had another child called Gwendoline Gertrude Weaver PAYNE baptised in 1908 but born in 1903 so it looks quite possible that Richard had a second child by her.

In 1906, Lily Payne went on to have yet another child called Reginald Harold Marsh Payne but I'm guessing he had a different father called Marsh. Then in 1910, Lily married Thomas Edmonds and they had a son together, Donald Clarence P Edmunds/Edmonds, in 1912. Lily died in 1928 and is buried at Fivehead.

Richard Weaver married Alice Trott in 1906 and, as far as I can tell, they never had any children of their own. Richard had a long career as a postman but started out following in his father's footsteps in the shoemaking business. He took it up again after he retired from the Post Office and died in 1949, being outlived by Alice.

Laura married Herbert Gerald Young in 1923 and had three boys. She died in Bournemouth in 1963.

Gwendoline married Joseph H Manns in 1921 and I believe she died in December the following year after having a daughter called Phyllis.

Reginald married Annie Rebecca Stait in Tidenham, Gloucestershire, in 1929 and they had a daughter. He passed away in Newport in 1986.

Finally Donald married Dorothy L West in 1939 and he died in 1966.

My 2 x great-grandfather, William Henry Weaver, was also illegitimate and, to date, his father is a complete brick wall. Perhaps Sally's and my close family's DNA working in tandem may one day solve this mystery too.

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Category: DNA

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