John, James, Frederick or Frederick Joseph


“Hey you there, What’s your name?”


“Brady what?”

“John Brady, Sir,”

Was this the first of many lies, my great, great grandfather would tell? His statement, at the time of his arrest, would hinder research and conceal his true identity, for more than one hundred and sixty years. Even the constabulary didn’t really know who they had in custody. Sometimes John, other times James, but always Convict 3944. They had their man, and regardless of name, he was being transported.

You may look at AKA and think, Also Known As. I see a lesson in frustration and incorrect assumptions.

He later married, and would be known as Frederick. Was this the alias needed to escape his criminal life, or the last attempt of a trapped man, to re-claim the true identity he had concealed for twenty years? Whatever his name, ten years was all he would have with Mary, his wife. Death would cement his lies in time, as if chiselled in cold stone. Even his children would never know who he really was.

“So how was this solved?” I hear you asking.

By 2015 the family tree had grown, each branch extending back way before its arrival in Australia. All, except the Brady nub, cut short and surrounded by an impenetrable wall.

It was then, I tested my DNA. It took two years, of staring at the countless matches, each slowly connecting the branches, but one stood out. Frederick’s family were looking for their missing descendants. Now he had a name, and a home in the heart of London, where his family still live till this day.


Reflective statement

Many mysteries have stood the test of time, but none more so than the question of “who are the Brady’s?” Most of the family will tell you that we are Irish, I would not be one of them, now! Writing this piece, in this way, had my heart racing. I don’t think I have fully realised the enormity of this one puzzle, and how it had consumed me for so long. I can see that I will need to expand on this by maybe doing an “Elementary, My Dear Watson” version, so I can get it out to other family members, to set the facts straight, so to speak.


Darryl Brady
Student ID: 425182
University of Tasmania
HAA104 Writing the Family Saga
Week Two E-tivitie
Middle of the Action
Length 250 words.
Reflective Statement 50-100 words.



Darryl, how wonderful to have solved this mystery. I am so jealous. I am chasing my own great grandfather, whose contradictory records drive me bonkers. I have just resorted to DNA with no luck yet but it is encouraging to hear that, despite the slow process, there is hope. You certainly hooked me. I liked the way you began the story with the action and the person and then moved into your own voice. In so many ways, well done!
G. Wallace

Thanks G.,
Yes, DNA can break down walls, but it is just another tool in the kitbag. You still need to do all the hard work. Good luck with it. I do need to stop and savour the moment a little more, seems I jump straight into looking for the next puzzle to solve. So, this course is helping me re-visit, and re-live the euphoria of the find.
Darryl Brady


Hi Darryl,
I have always been a bit suspicious of DNA tests. I was interested to read your success story, congratulations. But I do note that it took you 2 years to find an answer after you had the DNA data. The sellers of DNA tests promise us instant results.
P. Carter

Yes P.,
I also was a bit suspicious at first, but I now feel it is a most valuable tool and it would add to any tree a new option for checking and confirming traced lines. The results you get are instant, and the ethnicity report is interesting, if nothing else. You still need to look at each matching result and work out how it fits with you. Some are obvious but others take a lot more work or even the waiting for more people to test to start to see the patterns. The person I connected with for my convict was listed as private for a long time with no tree. One day he added a tree. Then it took him 6 months to reply to my contact requests. After that, he was happy to work with me and gave me shared access to his results. This gave me the information I needed to connect to four more DNA testers on the same line, that locked in the result. Easy, for someone that will not give up.
Darryl Brady

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *