I would like to prove/disprove that my mysterious great grandmother was/wasn't a Romanov princess.

+5 votes
488 views

My late grandfather comes from Felixtow, UK. Prior his death in the early 2000s, he informed me that he never knew his mother as she died in 1921 or 1922. He only remembers that she spoke German to him. From my researching the family tree, i have determined that his official mother was an English woman; furthermore, there is no death registration for this English woman, but i did find an outbound passenger to Iraq with the same name in 1922.

The long shot hypothese is that this mysterious woman was Anastasia Romonov. Felixtow is the most active port on the east coast of England and its highly likely that if she were smuggled to the UK, it would have been into this port.

I have done mt, Y and autosomal DNA tests, but since she is my Paternal great grandmother, I beleive only the autosomal test will be relevant. Is this correct?

I have found the results of the romanov DNA tests to confirm the 2 siblings, one allegedly Anastasia. The are STR tests. See table 3 in the below:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/24192310_Mystery_Solved_The_Identification_of_the_Two_Missing_Romanov_Children_Using_DNA_Analysis

Does my myHeritage autosomal data enable me to determine the STR repeats in this way? 

I understand that autosomal inheritance is average 50% from each parent, meaning I would potentially share 12.5% with my Paternal great grandmother, is this correct? How specific would and STR repeat analysis be in this context?

Many thanks for any feedback.

Regards,

RB

in Genealogy Help by Ryan Brown G2G Crew (500 points)
edited by Maggie N.
I think you'd have to invent a new scientific notation to express how unlikely this is to be the case.
I dont think so, it already exists P=almost 0.

But my question still stands:

Is it possible to prove this with autosomal DNA using STR repeat loci as per my link?

6 Answers

+26 votes
 
Best answer
Hi there! DNA testing has legitimately proven that all four Romanov daughters died in 1918 (see link here: https://genetics.thetech.org/original_news/news108 ) making it highly unlikely that the woman that was your great grandmother was Anastasia Romanova. Additionally, I see that you're new to WikiTree! Welcome! I recommend taking the time to work on proper source citations for your tree, and using the DNA testing you've done on yourself and other members of the family (if possible) to narrow down candidates and "prove" who is genetically your ancestors. Since a great grandmother is relatively close, you should find a few hints depending on how close your match list is. The LEEDs method is excellent for this, and depending on where you tested - using their tools to sort your matches (Notes, Group Dots, etc). Good luck!
by Anastasia Beckwith G2G4 (4.1k points)
selected by SJ Baty
Thankyou, I will upload my ancestry.com tree shortly
+12 votes

Hi, Ryan, and welcome! I'm not going to be a tremendous amount of help; maybe only a little. But that's never stopped me before.
smiley

"Does my myHeritage autosomal data enable me to determine the STR repeats in this way?"

Nope. Not at all, unfortunately. Our inexpensive direct-to-consumer tests use what's called a genotyping microarray chip--something the size of an over-large microscope slide--which has hundreds of thousands of microscopic elements programmed to attract specific points (SNPs, single nucleotide polymorphisms) to them when the prepared DNA solution is washed over them. So those microarrays are looking at about 650,000 specific points, or loci, among your 3.2 billion base pairs, or pairs of nucleic bases.

Short tandem repeats (STR), also known as microsatellites, happen when two or more nucleotides are repeated exactly and the repetitions are immediately adjacent to each other. Our microarray tests don't look at STRs at all; in fact, because of the nature of the chips used, they really can't.

In genealogy we typically only see STRs tested on the Y chromosome where the lack of recombination make them more stable. I'm definitely not as up to speed as I might be about forensics and DNA, but that's where we find autosomal STR testing. Fairly recently expanded from 13, the U.S. CODIS/NDIS databases now use 20 different autosomal STRs. These are super-accurate at identifying individuals, and accurate at identifying paternity.

But the number of STR repeats is highly polymorphic: they're free to change frequently. In fact, there is little risk that a set of tested autosomal STRs will match even a sibling (other than a monozygotic twin) or aunt/uncle. That's why autosomal STRs are great for forensics, but pretty lousy for genealogy. I can't say with certainty, but my opinion is that there would be no way to establish relationship with a great-grandparent based only upon autosomal STRs. Probably not even a grandparent.

Yep; you're correct about the theoretical expected autosomal DNA sharing with your great-grandmother. Those expected averages are derived from something called the Coefficient of Relationship, and are always a good starting baseline to evaluate possible connections. I have a chart here showing those values back as far as (unnecessarily so, but hey) 7g-grandparents. For half relationships--like a half 1st cousin--the values are simply divided in half. The percentage degree of variability increases as the degree of relationship decreases, but these CoR theoretical values serve as a sanity-check baseline.

Folks of a contemporary generation to you from your great-grandmother will be your 3rd cousins. Even our limited genotyping microarray tests can be pretty accurate when dealing with 3rd cousins, so there's some hope in possible verification there. Good news!

I did a quick check to see if there had been any more recent peer-reviewed studies of the Romanovs, preferably using next generation sequencing, which was in its infancy at the time of that 2009 study. Nothing turned up. But in July 2018 The Moscow Times reported that some new testing had been done in which "DNA samples from the living descendants of the Romanov family were used to confirm the authenticity of the remaining bodies." That wouldn't have been STR testing, but whatever research was conducted by Russia's Investigative Committee hasn't been published for public consumption...at least not that I could easily locate. May be worth hunting for, though.

Have fun!

by Edison Williams G2G6 Pilot (248k points)
Your late grandfather said that his ancestor spoke German, but that his official mother was English. I wonder if she could have anglicised her surname. About the time of the First World War and people with German or Jewish surnames sometimes anglicised their names to avoid prejudice. Some changed their name for other reasons. If this is the case you can check here:

 https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/changes-of-name/

If this is the case it would explain why your late grandfather said his mother spoke German but why in records she indicates she is English.
Excellent, thanks for filling in some gaps in my dna knowledge.
That could be an idea, thanks
+7 votes
Ryan, as you have not yet added any family members or biographical information to your WikiTree profile, we know nothing about you.  Even though you are unlikely to find yourself a Romanov descendant, as Anastasia and Edison have said, it it likely you can learn more about your ancestors, and they could turn out to be quite interesting.  Once you add your parents and grandparents to WikiTree, you can ask for research help on G2G if necessary.  When you are able to link into the main tree, you will start seeing other testers who may match you, as well as additional ancestors who have already been identified.

Meanwhile, try reviewing your Ancestry matches, beginning with the strongest.  The Leeds method is one way of grouping them by likely family branch.  Here is one link; you can probably find others by Googling:

https://memoriesintime.co.nz/blogs/news/sorting-your-dna-matches-with-the-leeds-method-part-1
by Julie Kelts G2G6 Pilot (302k points)
+6 votes
Anastasia, thank you for posting the link to the article regarding the Tsar family. I have recalled the news stories where a few woman had claimed to be Anastasia, and truthfully, I kinda lost track and fell behind on keeping up with the investigation of locating and identifying all the Tsar's family members! This was a very interesting read!
by Michael Smith G2G6 Mach 4 (40.6k points)
The thing to remember about Anastasia is that the Romanov relatives are living of the interest of the Romanov fortune. Even if Anastasia was ever found it would have never been to her relatives benefit to admit that she was genuine as she would claim the fortune and they would lose their livelihood.

it is one of the conspiracy theories that DNA submitted to test an alleged Anastasia DNA against Prince Philip's (a descendant of that family) had been swapped because she had been the real Anastasia. Though for the test to be done properly it would have been better done with a bigger DNA sample range from the Romanovs.

I would really like to know how anyone thinks Anastasia (or any of the sisters) made it out alive. The tsar's family were shot in a basement in Ekaterinburg in 1918. So we're presuming someone (???) who had access to the completely sealed house in which they were kept, carried the greviously wounded Anastasia out of the house, past the Bolsheviks, to safety. They then healed her and spirited her across the Ural mountains, across a blood-soaked, wartorn Russia in the midst of a civil war, to refuge... somewhere? And how did they do this? The Imperial family had their money confiscated, no papers. Why didn't they go directly to the White Army? The White Army captured Ekaterinburg one week after the tsar's family was executed. The obvious thing to do would've been to take Anastasia to the White Army and thrown themselves on their mercy. So why didn't they?

It's quite simple, history is not science. What you believe is not necessarily true. Unless you witnessed the execution with your own eyes, you are working on probabilities. So whilst I agree, its highly unlikely, its only a probability and not conclusive.

Now, Ive done DNA tests, so i can scientifically disprove the myth - this would be conclusive. But no body seems to know how to access the autosomal DNA of the Tsar. Which is really what i would like to do.
You will have to wait until a surviving relative of the Tsar uploads their DNA for you to compare it to. I really don't know why you're so attached to a very unlikely story. But if it's what you want to believe, go ahead.
The DNA of the tsar would be stored in a database, because the dna was extracted from all of them to match against living relatives. There is a wonderful site called my true ancestry that matches your dna against archeological sites. I did it and I found that the archeological sites they matched me with actually coincide with my family tree and known nationalities. I did have some very interesting results which I didn't know, which has sent me back to searching for the Russian side of my family. I can neither say that the Romanovs survived or not, I have to base my assumptions on science and what has been found-not on what has not been found. Anastasia though is a very common name and there were main Romonav descendants.  There wasn't just one Anastasia Romanov in that era. Yes, she could have been part of the royal family, but maybe not the Anastasia Romanov.
+3 votes

The Romanov siblings usually spoke English to one another. They were raised by British nannies. The sad truth is, none of Tsar Nicholas II's children survived. They were shot in that basement in 1918, and horribly, the daughters survived the initial hail of bullets (due to the jewels sewn into their clothes) and were bayoneted to death.

If your great-grandmother spoke German, it's more likely she was a refugee from one of the German states or Austria-Hungary following World War I. Alternatively, she may simply have been taught German at some point. If you have a passenger list showing her leaving Britain, the evidence suggests she walked out on her family. I'm sorry. That is probably not the answer you or your grandfather would've preferred.

The UK has excellent vital records. You can order your grandfather's birth record from GRO. You can also obtain your great-grandparent's marriage record. There is no reason a lost Romanov princess would've concealed her identity in Britain. She would've been a near-relation to the British royal family, and anyway would have had a living grandmother (Dowager tsarina Marie) who very much would have wanted to see her. It is highly unlikely she would've had anything to fear from the Communists in Britain, unless you want to imagine Lenin was sending deathsquads to eliminate a princess in a Suffolk flat who was busy wiping her baby's nose.

by Jessica Key G2G6 Pilot (169k points)
edited by Jessica Key
Hi, Thanks for your response,

I could indeed imagine that the rightful heiress to the romanov empire and the last surviving threat to the revolution would be in danger anywhere. I also believe the British royal family wanted to distance themselves from the issue. But honestly, i dont really believe the romanov thing, I do want to scientifically disprove it with DNA instead of taking a strangers word on who im not related to.

I have found my grandfathers birth certificate. HIs mother was Hilda May Brown, maiden name Stopher. Born in 1897 Suffolk England, She is in the 1901 and 1911 census as living with her family in Suffolk. She marries my Great Grandad, Oscar Charles Brown in 1921. I have the marriage certificate. Then she vanishes from record, I do find a Hilda May Brown  of the same age departing to Iraq in 1926, not sure its the same one. But that would be very strange.

I have my Grandads word that she spoke German and English with a German accent. She died when he was 4 or 5. So it would appear that his mother adopted the identity of the real Hilda May Stopher. I dont really believe the Romanov thing, its just a bit of fun - but there is a mystery here somewhere. I have done all possible DNA tests, and hoped to scientifically exclude the possibility of the Romanov myth.

What threat to the Revolution? Anastasia was no threat to the Soviet Union, alive or dead. Tsar Nicholas II, her father, was no threat to them. The Bolsheviks had won the war, fought off all comers, and were secure in possession of the government. What do you think Anastasia could have done? Shown up with an army? From where? Who would've supported her claim to the throne? Neither her nor any children had a snowball's chance in you-know-where of seizing Russia from Lenin, and sure as h-e-double hockey sticks they weren't deposing Stalin. Hitler couldn't beat Stalin. A young woman from a deposed imperial family didn't stand a chance. So what happened? Anastasia just let her grandmother mourn for her for the rest of her life, just because??

By the way, she wasn't the heiress. Her father had abdicated in favor of his brother. The Romanovs had a strict male-only inheritance, which is why the situation with her hemophiliac little brother was so sad. Plus, Romanovs aren't considered dynasts unless their parents are of an equal marriage, ie not to a commoner. Her children would've had no claim to the throne, if there was a throne left, which there wasn't.

Why would Anastasia have spoken with a German accent? She grew up speaking English to her English nannies. She spoke Russian as well. Yes, her mother was German, but her mother spent most of her childhood with her own English mother and English grandmother.

+1 vote
This nominally-English woman- Have you found her marriage record? what about the 1911 (or earlier) census? What about birth records?
by Janet Gunn G2G6 Mach 8 (82.2k points)

I have found my grandfathers birth certificate. HIs mother was Hilda May Brown, maiden name Stopher. Born in 1897 Suffolk England, She is in the 1901 and 1911 census as living with her family in Suffolk. She marries my Great Grandad, Oscar Charles Brown in 1921. I have the marriage certificate. Then she vanishes from record, I do find a Hilda May Brown  of the same age departing to Iraq in 1926, not sure its the same one. But that would be very strange.

I have my Grandads word that she spoke German and English with a German accent. She died when he was 4 or 5. So it would appear that his mother adopted the identity of the real Hilda May Stopher. I dont really believe the Romanov thing, its just a bit of fun - but there is a mystery here somewhere. I have done all possible DNA tests, and hoped to scientifically exclude the possibility of the Romanov myth.

 A Raymond W Brown born 3rd Quarter 1928,  mothers maiden name Stopher, Woodbridge Suffolk 4a 1641  ( is that your grandfather? I realise it's a bit later than the date in your original post ).

 There is a burial of  Hilda M Brown last q 1931 aged 33  Woodbridge Suffolk  4a 956

 (There is also a death of a Hilda M Brown, aged 39 in the Ipswich reg district in the 3rd quarter of  1936. (Suffolk 4a 949) but the first one seems a better fit ) 

You can check these on https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/search.pl

You can also check them here and if you want to purchase certificates ( either paper copies or cheaper pdfs).https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/Login.asp

 In October 1926 , a  Hilda May Brown was a passenger to Iraq ( on a ship bound for India) She was the wife of a Henry Wilfred Brown ; a civil servant. The couple went with two young children. Henry came from Reading (thats  also.where they were staying before their journey).He had  married Hilda May Smith in 1923 in India.

Thats great, thanks Helen. I will order the certificates and add to my ancestry family tree.

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