Wednesday 20 September 2017

SOLVED: Scottish Foundling Case

In late June this year, I was contacted by a Canadian man, Neil Kilmartin, who was a DNA match at Ancestry to a woman here in Scotland named Linda. Neil was keen to figure out how he and Linda were related. Shortly after, I was in contact with Linda, who had quite a story to tell me.

Linda was adopted at about 4 months of age but, had quite a mysterious entrance into this world. Linda was found all alone in a shopping trolley in the East Kilbride Plaza car park just outside Glasgow in the spring of 1984. Linda was a just a newborn baby, only a few hours old and by the time she was found was suffering from hypothermia. She was then taken straight to Bellshill Maternity Hospital to be taken of. Appeals were made at that time for her mother or other family members to come forward in the local media. An unidentified woman claiming to be her mother did phone and asked if her baby was ok but, refused to give her details or come forward. Linda was later adopted and had always been curious about her biological family. 

Later in her adult life, she made a newspaper appeal hoping someone may come forward who may have information about her biological family yet, nobody came forward with any information.

After seeing an advertisement for Ancestry's DNA test, Linda hoped to maybe learn a bit more about her roots and looked forward to see what her ethnicity results may reveal. Little did she know, that those results would also match her to varying degrees of cousins!

Linda's match Neil Kilmartin was truly an adoptees "dream match". Not only was Neil her closest match (a 1st cousin 2x removed) but, he was an avid genealogist in his own right who was extremely knowledgeable about his father's Glasgow roots. He was also keen to help Linda find her family and had a good sense of humour to boot! We could also see that Neil and Linda shared another match in the Kilmartin family so, the task would be to start with weeding through Neil's and clearly Linda's large Irish Catholic Kilmartin family. Match Neil's father was the youngest child of 14 children.

Linda at this point had only about 54 4th cousins or closer at Ancestry and we were already running into many of the same problems we run into many cases, matches with little or no pedigree information. FTDNA nor GEDmatch yielded no closer relatives either.

My thinking at this point was that Linda was likely Neil's 1st cousin 2x removed, seeing Neil was 36 years older than Linda and also his father was the youngest of this large Kilmartin family. I began extending the pedigrees of the spouses of Neil's many aunts and uncles and we realised from this we had quite a bit to work through!

With Neil's help, we thought we could rule out a few of the aunts or uncles plus the ancestor of the shared match. With a few hints Neil came up with, we turned our attention to one of the families in particular.

Stretching the tree out, nothing was becoming apparent until I found a 4th cousin match of Linda's who had a familiar middle name. The middle name matched the surname of one of the Kilmartin families descendants wives.

This was enough of a clue to warrant a deep search into the Scottish National Archives website, Scotlandspeople. Here I managed to figure out the middle name of the matches grandfather was actually his surname and one generation back the family appearred to change their surname for an unknown reason. It was here I found a direct connection between the Kilmartin descendants and Linda's 4th cousin match. With no other Kilmartin children having had married into this family as well, I then moved to find another connection to this family. Two more were found but, fairly distant matches.

This information was sufficient to contact a living descendant to test. We were certain we found the immediate family of either Linda's mother or father.

Before we could even get the results back of what who we know now to be Linda's uncle, I had already highly suspected we found her mother's family.

Linda was reunited with her biological mother, her full sibling and also her biological father.

Linda's case was solved after 22 hours of research despite the small match pool of DNA testers for Scottish folk thus far. Very, very pleased she finally had some answers about her roots and has been reconnected with family! Special thanks to Neil Kilmartin as well for all of his input.