Who Do You Think You Are?
Is my partner related to Charlie Chaplin?
QMy partner did a DNA test through Ancestry ( ancestry. co.uk/dna), and we uploaded the results onto the MyHeritage site ( myheritage.com). The closest three matches had the surname Chaplin. Two were Charlie Chaplin’s children and the other his granddaughter. The strongest match was 6.8 per cent.
In his autobiography Charlie states that he had a half-brother, from a relationship between his father and a lady called Louise. He also states that Louise was admitted to a workhouse and died shortly after his father (in 1901); the boy, we understand, was also placed in a workhouse.
Having looked at all of the alternatives, we believe that this boy might be my partner’s grandfather, and had an a air with her grandmother. Can you help us to identify him?
ACharlie Chaplin’s family history is a fascinating area, and something that has enthralled genealogists for many years. It would be exciting to be able to prove a link to him. However, it is important to be cautious about your partner’s DNA results.
According to DNA Painter’s Shared cM tool ( dnapainter.com/ tools/sharedcmv4), a 6.8 per cent match has a 63 per cent probability of being one of the following cousin relationships: 6C 6C1R 5C 6C2R 4C1R 5C1R 7C Half 3C2R 4C2R 5C2R 7C1R 3C3R 4C3R 5C3R 8C or more distant. Do these relationships fit with your theory? I would recommend spending some time on this website to look at how best to assess the
DNA match. It is important to search for as much supporting evidence as possible for your assertions.
Also, have you checked the ‘Shared Matches’ options for your partner and the members of the Chaplin family? Looking at who shares the DNA could help to indicate where the connection lies.
If the DNA match is connected to Charlie Chaplin, you should construct a full family tree for him to check whether the connection is further back in his ancestry.
Charlie’s father Charles Spencer Chaplin senior (1863– 1901) had an itinerant lifestyle as a music-hall artiste. He was also an alcoholic, who died from cirrhosis of the liver on 9 May 1901 – just three years after Charlie described living with him, Louise and the alleged son. Try to establish a surname for this child. Charlie’s elder half-brother, Sydney, was registered as SiSidney Johnhn Hill, in his mother’s maiden name, when he was born in 1885. So it is probable that hat Louise’s son was registeredis in her name, rather ath than as a C Chaplin. Charles rl senior was admitted to St Thomas’s Hospital for his final days. Ancestry’ss collection ‘London, England, Poor Law and Board of Guardian Records, 1738–1926’ contains surviving Lambeth and Southwark workhouse records held at the London Metropolitan Archives. Search these records e for a ‘Louise’is in the monthsth following May y 1901. Louise is likely ke to have diedie in either Southwark Sou or Lambeth Registration Districts D between May and December 1901. Louise was not a common name at the time, so a search of the General Register Office death indexes via https://www.gro.gov. uk could be productive. However, it is important to bear in mind that the information published in Charlie’s autobiography might not be correct. His memory of this period may not have been clear, and his father was an unreliable witness. Louise may not have been his companion’s formal name, that is the name in which her death and census entries would be identified. And if she was also a theatre performer, then she may have been known by a stage name.