Ellen Pownall D N A connection

By John Pownall

Ellen Pownall D N A connection.

By john Pownall.

          Over many years of research into my family history I have always struggled to discover information about one of my granddad’s Samuel Herbert Pownall sisters, namely Ellen Pownall. I have searched high and low on the internet using the well-known search engines.

          My granddad Samuel had a brother Arthur and sisters Emily Ada and Ellen. The brothers Samuel and Arthur and Sister Emily (married surname Turner) are all referred to on this web site in their own articles. But Ellen has always been a problem for me.

          I Know that many of the family, were illiterate with little education. Ellen seemed to fall of the radar just before 1900. I did not make the connection that Ellen was the lady who my dad wrote to whilst in Egypt during the Second World War. In fact my dad’s sister also wrote to the same person at that time. My memory of who the relative Dad wrote to is not that clear.

          There are records on the census that could have been Ellen, but her surname was spelt incorrectly. I have seen about 6 or so variations of the surname Pownall spelling over the years. This is I suspect due to the person who would have interviewed Ellen and wrote down her details would be literate and able to write their surname name down correctly. But I think the confusion would arise due to the Nottingham accent being hard to write down accurately. This would be applicable if the person travelled i.e. looking for work. There would be no point in asking Ellen if her surname was correctly spelt, if she could not write it down herself. So I had given up on the search for her on the census system.

          But sometime ago I did the D N A test and the sample was sent off for analysis. A little later I received my details and results. A year or so later I received a message from someone who had a DNA profile and match. It turned out the lady was a 3rd/4th cousin and that her great gran was Ellen Pownall who was my grandad’s sister.

          It transpired that Ellen had immigrated to Australia. She had settled and married there and also raised he own family. That is the reason she disappeared around the end of the 1890s.

          I never thought for one minute that Ellen had travelled to Australia. It looks like that she had travelled on her own. I have found a record of a Miss Pownall, single and born in 1877 and aged 22. The record looks like she travelled in stages to Australia because ship was calling at various ports.

          I do think that coming from an impoverished back ground in Nottingham, Ellen must have been a determined and courageous woman. At the turn of the century she travelled half way round the world and started to build a new life, getting married to an Australian and raising a family.

          Sailing in those days would not have been on a luxury ocean going liner or as in these times on an airliner.

          On my granddads army attestation form that was completed well before the start of WW1. He had to declare his next of kin. Samuel knew where Arthur and Emily Ada lived. He wrote (or someone has for him) that Ellen’s address “not known”. He also used the term “Nell” in place of Ellen. People do use an abbreviated name term, often with-in friends and family. So, somewhere in the family history she must have made contact with her Nottingham family. When and how this happened I have no knowledge.

          As wrote previously I would have had no idea what happened to Ellen, even with the benefit of the internet. But the introduction of the D N A facility and the Historical internet sites has changed everything. If someone had said that she had travelled to Australia I would have been very sceptical about it. But D N A evidence is irrefutable. So a little piece of my family story has been solved.

Facts obtained from following;-


Find my Past.com.

Also, the relative in Australia who made contact with me.

Many thanks.

John Pownall.





This page was added by John Pownall on 01/08/2019.

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