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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A visit from a genealogy fairy

Last night I had the great fortune of a visit from a genealogy fairy. You might think you’ve never heard of a genealogy fairy – but you have heard of Serendipity in genealogy, right? Well, that’s the name of one particular genealogy fairy.

The fairy who visited me last night wasn’t Serendipity (although she may have provided a helping hand). It was a far more powerful fairy. A fairy who grants genealogy wishes!

This is what happened…

I was catching up in correspondence with cousins/researchers about various family history matters. One cousin is planning on visiting Canberra this coming weekend. We were planning on having lunch at a venue yet to be decided next week.

My cousin told me about some research she had requested relating to our shared Allsop family in Derbyshire. This reminded me to show her a document I had promised her, relating to the emigration our ancestor John Allsop (b.1820). I checked up on the details before I sent it. The document had been part of a collection of FitzHerbert family papers in Derbyshire Record Office.

All this collaborating and citing sources and seeking archival materials must have pleased the genealogy fairies. They were paying attention when I said:

“I would love to know the role the FitzHerbert family played in getting them to Australia. I’m sure there must be all sorts of relevant material in those archives!!”

All well and good. We might be able to get someone to do the research, and that would be exciting, but it’s not quite the same as finding the material yourself. I clicked send on the email.

Next I replied to another cousin/researcher from a different branch of my tree. She had written to me about some extensive family history books she had tracked down. I found a copy of one of the books on eBay, but the price was a bit steep so I went looking at the National Library of Australia. I didn’t find that publication but I did find some other family histories that looked like they might be connected.

With the Allsop family and family history books jostling for attention in my mind I entered “Allsop family” in the NLA catalogue search box. Just because.

Eight results came up. Result number seven was “Papers of Henry Fitzherbert 1850-1860”. That sounded more than interesting, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I clicked the link. The manuscript was described as a copy of 17 leafs of material, the original held by Derbyshire Record Office.

The item summary read:

“Correspondence between Sir Fitzherbert and John Allsop
(b. 1820) and documents relating to the emigration of the Allsop family to Australia.”

I’m sure the genealogy fairy got a kick out of my reaction!

My wish appears to have been granted, and our lunch venue next week is settled. Thank you, genealogy fairy.

Don’t say that you don’t believe in genealogy fairies. Every time someone says that, a researcher gets stuck on a brick wall.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A sibling DNA match

My sister recently agreed to a genealogy DNA test. I had her autosomal DNA tested at FTDNA. That makes three members of my immediate family who have tested – me, my father and my sister.

Siblings have some identical DNA, some half identical DNA and some completely different DNA. The chromosome browser at FTDNA doesn’t distinguish between those identical and half identical regions. The orange parts in the chart below are where we are at least half identical.

Siblings chromosome browser image

That’s a lot of orange!

New cousins to connect with

I expected my sister’s account would have new match names, but wasn’t expecting as many as there were. My sister must have inherited some popular DNA! I went through her, my and my father’s matches and tallied up how many people matched just one of us, each combination of two of us, and all three of us. The results are in the Venn diagram below.

Venn Diagram

That’s 277 more connections on my mother’s side of the family potentially to explore.


I take origins mapping – from FTDNA or anywhere else - with a grain of salt.

As expected the British Isles featured heavily for all three of us. I seem to be more British that my father or my sister. I’ve also picked up bit of Scandinavia, presumably from my father who shows 12% Scandinavian. Neither my sister nor I show his trace of Central/South Asia in our DNA.

Unlike my Dad, my sister and I both have a hint of Southern Europe, presumably from my mother’s side. This seems odd to me as the only part of our tree with a known Southern European ancestor is on my father’s side. Of most interest to me in my sister’s results was the 11% Eastern Europe. She must have got that from my mother’s side. I wonder how much Eastern European DNA my mother had?

“Ethnic Makeup”




British Isles








Central/South Asian




Southern Europe




Eastern Europe