Can you help solve this Parsi ancestry mystery?
On the 27th April 1928 a baby was found in a first class railway carriage at Crystal Palace Low Level Station, which is in south London, UK. This baby was my mother. She was wrapped in a shawl with the name Juanita pinned on her. A string of exotic seed ‘beads’ had been left with her. The authorities estimated her age as about 2 months, which indicates she was cared for by her mother.
After she was found, Juanita was placed in the Croydon Workhouse, and six months later she was fostered by a family in the Huntingdon area. This foster family loved her very much and wanted to adopt her. Unfortunately, despite the intervention of their barrister landlord Viscount Knutsford, the adoption was not allowed to proceed. Juanita was returned to a children’s home aged 3 in Southborough, Kent and then fostered by another family in that area until she left home at the age of 17.
She never really asked the right questions at the right time and therefore we have not been able to obtain any records from the authorities that would indicate if her parents had been identified or not. However, she was given an alternative surname of Templeton from her records, but we do not know where that name came from.
Hence in early 2016 Juanita took the 23andme DNA test, and subsequently tested with Ancestry DNA. Many of her top family matches are from the Parsi community. At the moment these are not close enough matches to make a direct ancestral connection. Some people have been very kind and shared full family trees. We have even met up with one fourth cousin from Ancestry DNA, but we need more information and closer DNA matches.
I have discovered that Parsis came to England to study in the 1800s and early 1900s – often law and medicine. It is probably that Juanita’s father or grandfather was a student in London, or at Oxford or Cambridge University.
I would like to find an answer while my mother is still alive, and she’s 88 now! This search is about giving her an identity and a family connection; it is not about seeking anything else.
How can you help?
Well, if you think you have an ancestor who would have been in England sometime between 1900 and 1927, please let us know via email. Some of the family names we are interested from the DNA connections include Taleyarkhan, Mistry, Dadyseth, Rustomjee, Parakh, Bilimoria and Surti. These names are not guiding us to any specific family members at the moment, but might be connections.
Even better if there is a direct descendant living in the UK we can offer to DNA test through Ancestry DNA so please ask them to email us. Please be assured that any information will be treated in confidence.
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks you. Dr Juliet Jain.