Am I a True Brent?

George Brent 1831-1898

Miner of St Dominick, Cornwall, and my 2nd great grandfather… or possibly not…

The main reason I started tracing my family tree was because I knew next to nothing about my father’s family.  He died when I was seven, and I had very little contact with the only living relatives on his side (my half brother and aunt).  Seven years ago, I couldn’t have told you the first names of my paternal grandparents.  Despite this, somehow I got sucked into the world of the Downings – my mother’s family – and the Brents took a back seat.  A drama free farming family from a small town named St Dominick in Cornwall, I found it very hard to relate to them.  I never felt a connection with them at all.  And lately I have started to wonder if they really are my ancestors.  Could there have been a “non paternal event”?

George Brent Junior
George Brent Jnr

I’ve had close to a hundred DNA matches that show that my father was indeed my biological father (far more than for my mother).  Three of my paternal great-grandparents – Phoebe Watts, Percy Beale and Emily Whibley – are well represented in the matches.  But only one match relates me to Samuel Doidge Brent.  That match is descended from a sibling of Samuel’s mother.  I have no matches whatsoever that relate me to Samuel’s father, George Brent.  I do not even have any matches with random Brents in their tree.  I also know of at least three distant Brent cousins that have tested, and I do not match with any of them.  They are distant enough for this not to mean anything by itself – third cousins or more are not necessarily going to be a match.  But it did make me wonder.  I looked into George Brent a little more.  Was he who he said he was?

My Brent tree on Ancestry

According to a piece of paper posted to me by my aunt, George Brent was born on 26th June 1831 in St Dominick.  He was to be found on all the censuses, living with his widowed father until his marriage to Betsy Doidge.  George Snr was a farmer, and George Jnr a miner.  George Jnr was George Snr’s only child from his marriage to Mary Fitze, a widow with five children from her first marriage (I have nothing to link me to them, either).  But when I looked for George’s baptism, I realised something was up.  According to the transcription on the Cornwall OPC website, George Jnr was baptised in 1827, four years before he was born.  A further search revealed that this, of course, was not George Jnr but his sibling, who had died in 1829.  But there was no baptism for a second son in St Dominick or indeed anywhere else.  Why would George and Mary not baptise their child?  I also noted that Mary would have been 44 in 1831 when George was born – just about young enough to have a child, but certainly not in her child bearing prime.  What if she had adopted and renamed George?  But where from?  That I don’t know.  I have looked for suspect baptisms in the area but found nothing.  Mary did have a fifteen year old daughter but as I said above, I have nothing to link me to the Fitze or Treais names either.

Huxhams-sign-post-736x314 (1)
The name Brent comes from this place in Devon.  Somewhere I have a hilarious photo of myself aged 10 posing by a sign just like this one.

Another thing that makes me suspicious is that I have a cluster of DNA matches on my father’s side that I cannot place at all – and one of them has ancestors from the same part of Cornwall.  Other than that, I can find nothing relevant in any of these matches’ trees, and nothing to link them to each other, either.  I strongly suspect that these matches are the missing piece in the puzzle, and that sooner or later I will get a match that links them to the Brents and proves that I am a true Brent after all or that identifies the infiltrator…  And excitingly, today might be that day.  I got a new match on MyHeritageDNA today, who matches the aforementioned group, but is much closer to me – with a match of 93cm, most likely a second or third cousin.  He has a tree with 8,000 people in it.  And of course, it’s private.  Please pray that he answers my email.


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