Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Scoping out the Spots


To scope out the spot where our distant Falvey cousins from Ireland once settled in far away New Zealand, we not only need to familiarize ourselves with the places where they lived, but to follow the timeline of the changes in each location. History has a way of tampering with place names.

Of my husband's DNA matches connected to his second great-grandmother, Johanna Falvey Kelly of County Kerry, there are several who currently live in New Zealand. Of those several, most were found through his test at Ancestry DNA, but others, leading us both to North America as well as New Zealand, were through Family Tree DNA.

Keep in mind, also, that I not only asked my husband to do his DNA test, but reached out to his two sisters who agreed to test, as well. Of those three siblings, we've found some branches of the family tree seem to resonate more with one sibling's test results than another's. I saw that clearly when I was working on their family's Tully roots in County Tipperary, and we will see that again in this Falvey exploration. 

The DNA matches from our Falvey line seem to lead back to two Falvey immigrants to New Zealand, but I cannot yet tell for certain. The confounding issue is that, being that we are considering family which settled in a land with a rather small population, there have been intermarriages yielding double relationships among some of the New Zealand matches.

Of the family trees I am examining, it seems our matches sort themselves into two camps. One camp settled in the North Island, in a region known as the Masterton District near the capital city of Wellington. The others' families could be found in a region which at first was part of the Nelson Province in the South Island, but eventually split to form a second district, the Marlborough Province.

While it is likely that the Falvey ancestors who settled in these two islands are closely related, it may seem strange to find each family on islands separated by what some have dubbed "one of the most dangerous and unpredictable waters in the world." However, that water passageway—Cook Strait—is only fourteen miles wide at the point between Masterton and Blenheim, the most populous town in the Marlborough region. Perhaps it wasn't as much of a separation for the Falvey family members as it might seem to us, examining the lay of the land from our vantage point half a world away.

Still, though we are now somewhat familiarized with the two locations in the two islands of New Zealand, we need to meet the immigrant ancestors. At best, they will be Falvey siblings—a brother and a sister. If not, we can likely assume they would be at least cousins. The one DNA match, still boasting that Falvey surname, is obviously descended from a male immigrant of that line, and shares a range of sixty four to eighty two centiMorgans between his match with my husband and one of his sisters. 

That, according to DNA Painter, could theoretically yield us a match as close as third cousin, though my paper trail rules out that possibility, even for the stronger of the Blenheim matches. As for the Masterton match, originating from a line in which the woman carried the Falvey name, the smaller amount of genetic material shared may indicate the relationship may be pushed even another generation farther away—though at thirty five centiMorgans, it is still a viable connection.

Now that we've oriented ourselves to the geography of the region and the main locations for settlement of each immigrant ancestor, let's dig in and see what can be found for some Falvey ancestors from each of those locations in New Zealand.


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