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I’ve been trying to find out the identity of my grandfather for quite some time and recently, new DNA matches have meant it easier for me to narrow it down. I have 3 matches that are all descendants of one particular relationship (Bridges/Nisbet) who were their great grandparents and I am roughly 2nd cousin cM to all of them, so looking at their family tree, there are possibly around 3 people who would have been old enough to be my grandfather at the time he was born.

A question was asked of me whether I had considered the father could be a descendant of a sibling to GGrandpa Bridges, but that was refuted as I have Nisbet matches too. Pretty solid so far....

Until I found out that the sister of Bridges married the brother of Nisbet and had their own children etc etc. As there are now two bunches of Bridges/Nisbet DNA, I suppose it does make it possible that I am descendant of this other relationship.

How could the fact there are double cousins get in the way of what I already have done?

Is there a way to find out whether I am a double cousin to these matches or a true cousin?

If I was a double 3rd cousin instead of a true 2nd cousin, my dna matches with these three would be weaker than what they are ( roughly 300cm each)?

  • If I can find another match, this time from someone I know sits under this second Nisbet/Bridges relationship and work out where they sit in relation to my father’s theoretical place, will that prove/disprove the double-cousin theory? – tjack87 Jul 21 at 17:11
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I'll answer your specific questions first, and them some discussion afterwards.

How could the fact there are double cousins get in the way of what I already have done?

The expected centimorgan match range for double cousins will be double the expected range for regular cousins.

You will have to consider all the children of both Bridges/Nisbit marriages as potential suspects, just giving you more possiblities to be eliminated

Is there a way to find out whether I am a double cousin to these matches or a true cousin?

I think you will find that out the same time you find out who your grandfather was. So, no help in the short term.

If I was a double 3rd cousin instead of a true 2nd cousin, my dna matches with these three would be weaker than what they are ( roughly 300cm each)?

That is true. The upper end for 3C on the green chart is 109 cM. Double that is 218, still not close to 300.

Where to go from here?

It would be helpful to know how some of your matches in this family match each other. Ask your matches for access to their DNA results. In my search for my own grandfather, I suspected I was second cousin to some of my matches, but the cM counts seemed suspiciously low. But, when I compared, my brother and I matched them, on average, more closely than those documented 2nd cousins matched each other. That gave me confidence that I was on the right track.

You should make a McGuire Diagram to keep track of things.

You can use DNA to rule families out as well as in. For example a 300 cM match is not close enough to be your first cousin, therefore the matches' grandfather is ruled out as being your grandfather.

Don't fixate on your matches' close families too much. Your grandfather's immediate family hasn't taken a DNA test yet, or you would have a really close match, and you would be done.

You may come to a point, as I did, where you need to start buying DNA tests for people in your suspected grandfather's family tree. When contacting them, remind them that this is a saliva (not blood) test and work out a deal where you have full access to their results. You may have to register the kit for them, as they may be non-computer savvy and may have little interest in genealogy.

Test the oldest living generations first. If your applicable parent is alive, obviously, test them, or any living aunts or uncles. The same thing in the Bridges/Nisbit family. If any are alive in your parents or grandparents generation, test them first.

  • Thank you so much for this Jamie. I will look into the Maguire Diagram. Just for clarity, I maybe didn’t make clear that I am looking for my grandfather and have my father’s DNA tested. He has 3 close links. Match 1 shares 315cm and Match 2 shares 296cm with him. These two people are 2nd cousins to each other and share 362cm with each other. – tjack87 Jul 24 at 16:57
  • Using that information, and acceptable ages of people in the known tree of these people, we approached a lady who would become DNA Match 3. This lady matches 306cm with my dad. She is also 1C1R to the other two matches. She shares 440cm with match 1 and 225cm with match 2 – tjack87 Jul 24 at 17:00
  • Now that we know the cm for my dad and match 3, it rules out a few more possibilities, leaving 3 men. All these three men are of the same generation and if one of them were my grandfather, it would make my dad a 2nd cousin to Match 1 and 2, and 1C1R to match 3. – tjack87 Jul 24 at 17:04
  • But what is confusing me is the potential of this other Nisbet/Bridges relationship and I could potentially be a descendant of those, but it sounds like from what you was saying, that even if I was a double 3rd cousin to these people, my DNA would be much weaker than what it is. Is it possible though that my grandfather could sit further up that side of the tree and potentially be a double 2C1R or 1C2R? – tjack87 Jul 24 at 17:07
  • Apologies for the multiple comments, every time I pressed return on my phone it submitted a new comment and I couldn’t change that. – tjack87 Jul 24 at 17:08

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