Searching For His Father – Matthew Brawley 1915-2005 Week 4 #52Ancestors

Week 4 and the latest prompt for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge is “curious”. A while back I posted the story of Edith Cran and her connection to my family tree. Edith had two children, Matthew and Edith who were adopted by my great grand uncle Matthew Brawley. You can read the post by clicking here. I am sure that both of her children are biologically related to the Brawley family although there is no father recorded. I have gone through the family tree looking for potential fathers and you’ll see from the post that I do have a theory.

Matthew was born in 1915 and he’s sister Edith in 1917. They were born in England but came to Scotland as infants to live with Matthew Brawley and his wife, Mary Hagan. Matthew and Mary had another adopted daughter. Mary Brawley born in 1905 was the illegitimate daughter of Matthew’s younger brother, Patrick.

I did wonder how much the children knew about their adoptions and their biological parents. There was no formal adoption process at the time and I have no idea how Matthew and Mary connected with Edith.

I was contacted by a lady who is also looking for answers. She knew Matthew and turns out that he spent much of his life trying to discover the identity of his father. He too was convinced it was one of the wider Brawley family.

Matthew, who died in 2005, wrote down his life story and had a list of potential “suspects” along with the reasons behind his suspicions. One of the possibilities was my grandfather who was the son of Daniel Brawley, Matthew and Patrick’s brother. It was really strange to read that but my grandfather was too young to be the father so he was crossed off the list. DNA a might have helped but this wasn’t an option for Matthew. He died never knowing the truth.

For me, the identity of Matthew and Edith’s father is an interesting family mystery and while I am genuinely curious it was so much more for Matthew. Maybe he felt uncomfortable in the family (and it was a big extended family) not knowing his true place there. Looking at uncles and older cousins like my grandfather and wondering if they were “the one” must have been stressful. I’d like to think Matthew and Edith were welcomed into the wider family but could they have been aware of whispers behind their backs? While it was fascinating to read Matthew’s story it does make me feel sad for him. And I do wonder, was he better off not knowing?

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