I am still an absolute newcomer to DNA even after several years of having done a DNA test. However, while I cannot get my head around all the new paraphernalia available there is one connection that has given me a major happy dance.
When I started my genealogy journey back in the 1970s, I concentrated all my research on my maternal grandmother’s Scottish side which was super easy. My paternal side was a complete nightmare and one that I would struggle with for many years.
Ironically, it is my paternal side that has confirmed my paper trail through DNA testing.
The problem was my earliest paternal ancestor Joseph FAIRS first appeared in New South Wales in 1843 when he married Ellen Donagher. And while I could trace his line down to me and all his descendants, I couldn’t find one link taking him backwards.
It would take 15-plus years to discover that my Joseph Fairs arrived in Australia as Joseph FARR, convict. And yes, I had skirted around this information a few times over the 15+ years but it wasn’t until Ancestry put online some additional London parish records that I was able to make the connection.
I had a record of marriage of Joseph Fairs and Ellen Donohue [sic] at Cattai Creek, New South Wales, on 23 January 1843 but I had no record of birth or arrival in Australia for Joseph Fairs except for a Ticket of Leave for one Joseph FAIR per Hoogley 1834;
Joseph Fairs died in 1868 at Tarban Creek Asylum where his records stated his Native Place was Hanwell, Middlesex. His death certificate gave an approximate year of birth of 1808 and stated that his mother was an “unknown Brantford”.
When Ancestry added several London parish registers around 2010 I was able to find a Joseph FARR born to a Martha BRANSGROVE in 1808 in Hanwell, Middlesex. From the 15-year search into the life of my progenitor in Australia, I was now comfortable with the reasoning that Joseph FARR and Joseph FAIRS were one and the same person.
At the time I accepted I would never find a document that stated they were one and the same, so I had to suffice myself with the knowledge that at times in genealogical research, close enough just has to be good enough. Like a jury, you must weigh up the evidence and reach a verdict.
However, little did I know that my Ancestry DNA test would end up having an extremely close match with a woman living in the UK.
I was aware through my research that Joseph Farr, convict, had left behind a wife and daughter in England when he was transported. Having served his 7 years in the Colony, Joseph obviously took advantage of the rule that allowed him to remarry as long as his first wife remained abroad.
In 2018 I was contacted by an obscure DNA match. But when we looked at our paper trails everything fell into place and confirmed my paper research.
My new DNA connection was descended from the only child that Joseph Farr had left behind in England. I was descended from his marriage in Australia as Joseph Fairs.
While I thought I would never find a document stating that Joseph Farr and Joseph Fairs were one and the same I was gobsmacked that a descendant of Joseph Farr had made contact with a descendant of Joseph Fairs and confirmed we were both from the same paternal DNA.