HomeDNAI Uncovered the 76-Yr-Outdated Secret of My Mum’s Beginning Father... and Unearthed...

I Uncovered the 76-Yr-Outdated Secret of My Mum’s Beginning Father… and Unearthed a New Secret

Lisa, a MyHeritage person from England, has been researching her household historical past for over 30 years. For many of that point, 1 / 4 of her ancestry was clean, as her mom’s start father was unknown. She got down to uncover his identification utilizing DNA and analysis… and never solely did she uncover his identification, she additionally stumbled throughout some astonishing household secrets and techniques. Right here is her story:

A household secret

My mum Linda was born in October 1946 in Battersea, London. Her 18-year-old mom, Lilian Monger (my grandmother), was single, and the title of mum’s father was not proven on her start certificates.

When my grandmother married in March 1949, my mum was re-registered together with her new father’s surname. From my mum’s perspective, Joe Fenley had all the time been her dad. It was a relative who revealed to my mum that her start father was one other man. Mum should have requested my grandmother about it on the time, however she obtained no solutions. After that: silence. Mom and daughter by no means spoke of it.

My mother Linda Monger (later Fenley) c. 1953.

My mom Linda Monger (later Fenley) c. 1953.

Mum all the time assumed she was the results of a quick liaison after 6 years of conflict, and that her start father by no means knew of her existence. We talked about it often, and I do know she would have favored some solutions, if solely to fulfill her curiosity; however because the years glided by, it grew to become more durable to broach the topic with my grandmother. Once I started researching my household historical past, I spoke to my grandmother’s siblings, however nobody had recognized the identification of mum’s start father. My grandmother had remained silent even in the summertime of 1946.

My grandmother died in 1998, taking her secret — and any hope of discovering out the reality — together with her. That may have been the top of the story however for the arrival of the web and quick access to DNA testing.


After 30 years of analysis, in August 2020, I started writing a guide about my maternal historical past. I made a decision to take a DNA take a look at. The outcomes revealed a number of shut matches whose names I recognised, however a number of of the names had been new to me. As a result of my dad had additionally taken a take a look at, I might establish which matches have to be associated to me by means of my mum’s start father. (My mum died in 2013, earlier than DNA testing grew to become broadly accessible.)

I began by setting up a household tree round these shut matches, and managed to plot about 250 names. I recognized our widespread ancestor: a lady named Hannah Thackra, born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1871. If my shut matches are descended from her, and I’m associated to them, then logic dictates that Hannah Thackra is my ancestor additionally.

It was an exciting discovery. 1 / 4 of my bloodline that had been clean for 50 years all of the sudden contained names and half-shadows of individuals with whom I share a kinship.

The household tree was sophisticated. Hannah Thackra had married Ernest Howes and had a daughter, Linda Howes. After she was widowed, she married Robert Claringbold, a widower with kids from his first marriage. Hannah’s daughter, Linda Howes, had kids with 3 totally different companions.

I used to be tantalizingly near discovering the identification of my mum’s start father, however the DNA wouldn’t yield its secrets and techniques. At occasions, grappling with the tangle of info and DNA proof regarding the Thackra household felt like wrestling an octopus: no sooner had some tentacles been pinned down, than one other broke free. In hindsight, the reply was staring me within the face, however, on the time, the identification of mum’s start father eluded me for causes that grew to become clear later.

Attempting a brand new avenue: MyHeritage

One among my kin had taken a DNA take a look at with MyHeritage, and this prompted Dad and me to do the identical. My DNA outcomes revealed a number of totally different shut matches.

Two messages and one reply later, the items tumbled into place like cascading dominoes. Within the house of half an hour, my DNA Matches on MyHeritage had unlocked a 76-year-old household secret. Mum’s father was born in Jarrow on Tyneside in 1924. His title was Robert Howes.

To say it was an emotional second was an understatement.

Robert Howes in his British Army uniform in 1946.

Robert Howes in his British Military uniform in 1946.

Inconceivable truths

From my first DNA take a look at, it was clear that I had inherited DNA from the Thackra and Claringbold households. Initially, there was just one one who possessed this mixture of DNA: Hannah Thackra and Robert Claringbold’s son, Christopher. Nonetheless, he had returned to Canada in November 1945 after preventing in Europe throughout the Second World Warfare, so he couldn’t be mum’s start father.

Nobody else fitted the factors till the MyHeritage DNA take a look at revealed a state of affairs I had not thought of: my mum’s start father had been fathered by his mom’s stepfather (that’s, his father was his step-grandfather). Robert Howes was the kid of Linda Howes and Robert Claringbold. It’s not documented wherever and is obvious solely from analyzing the DNA. To cite one of many world’s most well-known fictional detectives, Sherlock Holmes: ‘When you could have eradicated all which is unattainable, then no matter stays, nonetheless unbelievable, have to be the reality.’ Science doesn’t lie.

An surprising discovery

And if that wasn’t sufficient — the DNA Matches revealed one other secret. My great-great-grandmother, Hannah Thackra, had had an affair. Linda Howes was not her husband’s youngster. Linda’s father was a Litvak, a Lithuanian Jewish man known as Louis Levy. He had emigrated from the shtetl of Darbenai to England within the Eighteen Nineties and settled in South Shields. The household is well-documented and I’ve been in contact with cousins in the US who supplied me with {a photograph}. I ran it by means of MyHeritage’s Photograph Enhancer software and Deep Nostalgia™ — Louis was a heartbreaker!

Believed to be my great-great-grandfather, Louis Levy (there is a strong resemblance with confirmed photographs of Louis’s siblings). (left) Using MyHeritage’s Enhanced photo option, and (right) a screen capture of Louis using the Deep Nostalgia™ software.

Believed to be my great-great-grandfather, Louis Levy (there’s a robust resemblance with confirmed pictures of Louis’s siblings). (left) Utilizing MyHeritage’s Enhanced photograph possibility, and (proper) a display screen seize of Louis utilizing the Deep Nostalgia™ software program.

Lengthy-lost household

I saved my household updated with my progress and discoveries. They’ve been very supportive and had been thrilled I had solved the thriller, notably my grandmother’s two sisters. I do know my mum would have been delighted too.

My mum’s start father died in 1984, however I found that he had three kids after my mum was born. By a mixture of start data, electoral registers and social media, I managed to find them. I wrote to them — maybe a very powerful letter I’ve ever written. They had been surprised. Mum had been proper: her start father had not recognized of her existence. He and my grandmother should have had a quick romance whereas he was in England on go away earlier than returning with the British Military to Karachi in what’s now Pakistan.

The household has been very welcoming and useful. They’ve despatched me pictures and a replica of their dad’s army service file. It confirmed he had been on go away in London till February 1946. The household additionally confirmed Robert Howes’ parentage, which proved my idea about his step-grandfather being his father.

I’ve met one in every of my mum’s half-siblings and hope to satisfy the remainder of the household later this yr. The expertise has been very constructive for me. Most significantly, I’ve accomplished mum’s story and revealed a brand new one within the course of, in addition to unlocking 1 / 4 of my family tree.

My mother Linda Monger (later Fenley) in about 1956

My mom Linda Monger (later Fenley) in about 1956


If you’re on an identical journey and are struggling, my recommendation to you is: don’t hand over! Discovering misplaced household takes expertise and talent, nevertheless it additionally takes luck. Your success will rely on who’s within the database and maybe who replies to your enquiries. DNA is being submitted on a regular basis — you by no means know when somebody will take a take a look at and supply the breakthrough you want. My breakthrough got here from somebody whose title I didn’t recognise and with whom I share simply 3.3% of my DNA (a half-first cousin as soon as eliminated).

Lastly, keep in mind Sherlock Holmes: “When you could have eradicated all which is unattainable, then no matter stays, nonetheless unbelievable, have to be the reality.” Science doesn’t lie.

Many due to Lisa for sharing her unbelievable story! When you’re looking for solutions about your loved ones’s previous, MyHeritage DNA is a superb place to start out. Order your equipment as we speak.



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