Robert Keith Morell - A man who was not who he said he was!

Robert Kieth Morell and his then wife Rita - taken in 1950s

The story of Robert Kieth Morell is almost stranger than fiction. In 1952 Rita Edge married Robert Kieth Morell in Brisbane. Robert was a carpenter / builder and they moved around SE Queensland quite a bit, they lived in Dalby, Tara, Brisbane, Mundubbera, Capalaba & lots. The couple had two children.

Robert was not a good husband and by the end or the 1950s he and Rita had separated. In 1962 Rita was trying to track Robert down so he could be served with divorce document when she recieved word that he had died in Blackall.

Rita duly provided the information for Roberts death certificate stating his parents names as Phillip D'Arcy Morell and Anne Maree Wilson. Rita remarried and got on with her life.

Many years later Rita decided to track Robert's ancestry. This is where things started to get more than a little strange!.

Rita had a marriage certificate and a death certificate both of which had Robert Kieth Morell but a search of every state and territory Births, Deaths and Marriages records drew a complete blank for a birth certificate. She started in NSW as Robert claimed to have been born in Cowra in 1924. The same applied to Robert's parents and his two brothers Philip and William, they simply did not exist.

Robert had two friends Wally Legge and Doughy Hayes who had supposedly served together in the 2nd /25th Battalion 7th Division of the 2nd AIF. Robert claimed he had been awarded the Military Medal. A search of the army records drew a complete blank as well. No records and definitely no military medal!

Robert joked on more than one occaision that he got his name from a cigarette holder. This may not be a joke. Morell Mackenzie was a brand of cigarette holders and pipes.

He also said "that to be a good liar you need to have an excellent memory!" Rita says Robert really did have a photographic memory! On one occaision Robert got into an argument in a pub about his military service. His antagonist claimed he was not involved in the action he had been talking about because he had been in the action and he was sure Robert was not. Robert managed to talk his way out of the problem. He definitely was a good liar.

So why is this story on the Spencer Family website? The answer is simple- DNA!

A year or so ago Rita and her daughter both did an ancestry DNA test and the daughter is a fairly strong (3rd or 4th cousin) match to three members of the Spencer Family, Ian Spencer, Mike Young and Ian Debenham. She also has match to a person Lachlan Chaffey who shares links with every member of the Spencer Family who have done an Ancestry DNA test, except May Fowler. (currently there are 9 Spencer Family members on Ancestry DNA).


DNA matches can really only be described as probabilities unless they are very close or you have clear documentation. In Roberts case we have neither at the moment. The key issues are that if his daughter is a 3rd cousin to me (Ian Spencer) then she is a descendant of Thomas Spencer and Mary Stark. If she is a 4th cousin then one of her Great Great Grandparents was a sibling of Thomas Spencer or Mary Stark.

My best guess based on the photos is that "Robert" was an unknown descendant of Thomas Spencer and Mary Stark! He definitely looks like a Spencer and could happily have been a brother to my father, based on his facial features.

What we do know is that he was born around 1920. He was 5 feet 7inches tall. He had red hair and light blue eyes.

Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas as to who it may be? Please contact the web site or give me a call if you have even a crazy idea.