A woman dubbed the ‘blackberry bush baby’ after she was abandoned aged nine months old at a beauty spot learnt the identity of her parents – thanks to DNA from the back of a stamp.
Anthea Ring was discovered on the South Downs, near Sompting, West Sussex, by holidaymakers who heard her cries, 80 years ago.
The tot’s arms had been bound together with a strip of fabric torn from the bottom of her dress and she was covered in scratches from the brambles, but was otherwise in a good condition.
After searching for more than 25 years, Anthea, 81, has discovered the identity of her father – a man named Patrick Coyne who lived in County Mayo, Ireland, and has since died.
Scientists tested letters sent by one of the six Coyne brothers to a relative in the early 1990s and tests on the 30-year-old saliva identified Patrick as the father.
Speaking earlier, Anthea said: “I am happily married with children and grandchildren but it is still a big mystery to me.
“If I had been a week old baby that is one thing, but I wasn’t badly looked after.
“Someone, somewhere looked after me for a long time before I was abandoned.”
Anthea was believed to have been on the Downs for four hours when she was found on August 26 1937.
She was then taken to a farm, where the police were called.
The story caused a media sensation, with Scotland Yard investigating the incident as an attempted murder and families around the world writing to Worthing Hospital, where she was living, to adopt her.
When the case was closed due to lack of evidence, Anthea was adopted by a couple in Surrey.
She discovered the circumstances of her adoption in her twenties, and aged 55 began her search to find out who her parents were.
After working with a genealogist and doing a series of DNA tests, Anthea discovered that a former convent school near where she was found advertised for teaching staff in Charlestown, County Mayo, where her great-grandparents are believed to be from.
DNA tests showed she was 92 per cent Irish, and she learnt that a former convent school in Sompting is linked to the area in Ireland that she is descended from, suggesting that Anthea’s mother could have been a nun, or a girl sent to the convent school from Ireland.
Her great-grandparents named O’Donnell were discovered, alongside a likely ancestor named Coyne from County Galway in Ireland.
Anthea hoped this latest breakthrough could encourage people with the names O’Donnell or Coyne in the area or anyone with information to come forward.
She earlier said: “It would be wonderful to be reunited with my family, just to know who they are.
“I don’t feel that my parents are alive any more, but the three things I would like to know is who they are, what my name was when I was born and where they are from.
“I do not need parents or a family if they aren’t interested in me, and I don’t want anything from them other than to know who they are. It’s all about knowing who I am, my identity.”