My DNA match - Corporal Michael Griffith

Sir Thomas Buildings (now Sir Thomas Street). Shows Sir Thomas Street and building of Municipal Buildings, 1858. Painting by W G Herdman, from

We have found the marriage record of Michael Griffith and Mary Taylor at the St Nicholas church  in Liverpool in 1856.  Michael's father was another Michael Griffith, and his occupation was bootmaker.    Mary's father was William Taylor, a watchmaker.   The Griffiths resided at Gay St at this time, and the Taylors in Lionel St. The marriage occurred on 11th August 1856. The bride and groom were minors. Mary signed with her mark, but Michael signed his name.  His occupation at that time was book keeper, and Mary recorded none.

From my previously constructed Excel spreadsheet I knew that Michael Griffith senior had a child called George, born in 1824, but I went back to the records to confirm it.

The above extract was taken from the Bishop's Transcripts showing the baptism took place at St Peter's Church, Liverpool on 5 September 1824. ( Reference Number: Drl 2/284).   It lists George, son of Michael and Catherine Griffith, of Sir Thomas' Buildings, cordwainer.

Cordwainer refers to Michael's occupation, and is an an old term for shoemaker.  Sir Thomas's Buildings was later renamed Sir Thomas Street.

Looking carefully through Liverpool church records for the children of Michael and Catherine, the following family emerged:  Mary, bap 1822, George  bap 1824, Michael bap 1828 (buried at the Non Conformist Church in 1835 aged 7, of consumption), Catherine bap 1829, Richard James, bap 1831, Thomas bap 1835 and Michael bap 1837.  Mary, George, Richard and Thomas were all baptised at St Peters, Liverpool.  Catherine was baptised  at St Martins in the Field, Liverpool, and the youngest  Michael turns up in the Bishops Transcripts for Liverpool.  In each case Michael senior's occupation is given as some variation of shoemaker.

I did not locate the family in the 1841 Census at all.  Michael senior died in Liverpool in 1841 a few weeks after the census, but even he is not around in a hospital somewhere. Of course they could be lurking somewhere with a badly misspelt surname. But the remaining family reappears in Liverpool in the 1851 Census. 

The paper trail for George as a member of that family tenuous, but the paper trail for Michael, son of Michael and husband of Mary Taylor is strong.  What links them is the dna trail.

George and Michael junior were brothers.  Their daughters Mary Jane and Alice were first cousins.   My dna match had dna in the right range for a third cousin once removed - at the top of the range, really, which made him more noticeable in the results list.    A chart showing the expected shared centimorgans from specific degrees of relationships showed that the range for a third cousin once removed is 0-156, with the average being 56 cMs.   My dna match shared 113 cMs, twice the average,  with the longest shared block at 45.

The known facts about George (born in Liverpool in 1824, father was a bootmaker) fits the son of Michael and Catherine.  Knowing George went to sea in 1841 explains why I could not find the usual genealogical records for my George - no 1841 ad 1851 censuses, no passenger records to Victoria and New Zealand.  I hesitate to mention spelling, which is so often an unreliable indicator, but George Griffith was very consistent with his own spelling of his name without the s at the end, and the family of Michael Griffith seems to be the only family in Liverpool using that spelling.  It is suggestive rather than proof.

The paper record has failed, but all the known facts are corroborated.  What connects the dots is that the descendants of George Griffith, musician,  of Liverpool and Michael Griffith, soldier, of Liverpool share dna at a higher than average level that is expected for the degree of relationship described of third cousins once removed.

I think we are good here.

And of course there is more to come!