DNA evidence of our Sainsbury origins in Eastcott, Wiltshire

Eastcott, in the parish of Urchfont, Wiltshire is visible in the top-right corner of this 1773 map. Image reproduced from the Market Lavington Museum’s blog post on the Andrews and Dury map of Wiltshire

A year ago we started this project with a simple question: Where did our earliest known Somerset ancestor, Richard Sainsbury, come from? (See About this genetic genealogy project.)

We knew from parish records he wasn’t from any of the north Somerset towns or neighbouring parishes where he lived and raised his family from the mid- to late-1700s.

To answer this question, we therefore had to turn to genetic genealogy.

By using DNA to find distant Sainsbury cousins, we hoped to use their family trees to discover our Somerset ancestor’s family and place of origin.

So we spent the past year examining genetic matches and patterns of DNA relationships among more than 100 descendants of Richard Sainsbury and his wife Mary Willis who lived in north Somerset in the second half of the 1700s.

Now, after a year of research, the results are in.

What did we discover?

An earlier post explained what we found when we analyzed the most significant genetic clusters that emerged in the first phase of this project. (Interim report on genetic evidence of our Somerset Sainsbury origins.)

Now it’s time to present a person-by-person report of the nearly 100 DNA matches we found between our Somerset Sainsbury cousins and their genetic cousins.

In all cases, the family trees of these genetic cousins go back (with varying degrees of certainty) to this small group of ancestors in Urchfont, Wiltshire who lived between the mid-1500s and 1700:

  • Richard Sainsbury’s parents
    • John SAINSBURY the younger (1664-1719) and Elizabeth WILKINS (1672-1734) of Eastcott, Urchfont.
  • One set of Richard Sainsbury’s grandparents
    • John SAINSBURY the elder (1633-1710) and Emme EDWARDS (1639-1720) of Eastcott, Urchfont.
  • Two sets of Richard Sainsbury’s great-grandparents
    • Thomas SAINSBURY (1601-1644) and Rebecca RUDDLE (c. 1605-1688) of Eastcott, Urchfont.
    • John NUTLAND (c. 1603-?) and Joan HURL (1622-?) of West Lavington
  • Two sets of Richard Sainsbury’s 2nd-great grandparents
    • John SAINSBURY (1555-1634) and Dorothy GERVIS, JERVIS, etc. (c. 1560-1634) of Eastcott, Urchfont
    • John EDWARDS (c. 1570-1610) and Ann NOYES or SHERGOLL (c. 1575-1636) of Wedhampton, Urchfont
  • Richard Sainsbury’s 3rd-great grandmother
    • Damasene BARTLETT SAINSBURY HARRIS (c. 1535-1613) of Eastcott, Urchfont and Great Cheverell
  • Richard Sainsbury’s 4th-great grandparents
    • John SAINSBURY (c. 1510-1558) and Edith UNKNOWN (c. 1510-aft. 1558) of Market Lavington

Distant DNA isn’t easy

Finding and identifying genetic matches to distant cousins on a particular family line isn’t easy. The numbers were against us from the start.

When we started this project, we knew the closest Sainsbury cousins we’d have a chance of identifying to prove anything about our Somerset ancestor’s early life would be 6th cousins. And only two of our Somerset Sainsbury cousins were at a generational level with any chance of finding a 6th Sainsbury cousin.

However, the probability that two 6th cousins will have no detectable DNA relationship is nearly 90%. If you add in a “generational remove” (which is likely to be the case between two people whose most recent common ancestor lived 300 years ago) the probability of no detectable DNA jumps to 94.4%:

Cousin relationships.jpg
The content of this table is derived from Table 1 in the paper The probability that related individuals share some section of genome identical by descent by Kevin P Donnelly, Statistical Laboratory, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England. (Source: Theoretical Population Biology 1983: 23, 34-63) A copy of the paper is available here.

The benefit of many known cousins and 1,000s of distant cousins

To overcome these poor odds we identified about 100 Somerset Sainsbury cousins with DNA tests on Ancestry, MyHeritage, and other genetic genealogy sites.

Any of these tests had the potential to reveal distant Sainsbury cousins whose trees could point to our own ancestor’s place of origin.

We therefore had a lot of matches to work with to overcome the dauntingly poor odds of finding distant cousins using genetic genealogy.

And while the odds of finding a genetic match with a distant cousin are very slim, it’s been estimated we each have more than half a million 9th cousins (see: https://isogg.org/wiki/Cousin_statistics). This greatly increases the odds of finding the matches needed for a genetic genealogy project like ours.

We owe a great deal of thanks to the hundreds of Somerset Sainsbury cousins and their genetic matches who responded to our call for help with this project. THANK YOU!

The only reasonable conclusion

In the end, there is only one reasonable conclusion we can draw from the wealth of genetic evidence we collected and analyzed in this project:

The Richard Sainsbury born in Eastcott and baptised in Urchfont, Wiltshire in 1708 is the same person who lived in north Somerset and became the head of our large family of Somerset Sainsburys.

This conclusion is supported by nearly 100 genetic matches (listed below in a downloadable report) between Somerset Sainsburys and distant cousins whose family trees can be traced with certainty (or a high degree of likelihood) to SAINSBURY, EDWARDS, NUTLAND, and other ancestors of Richard Sainsbury of Urchfont.

This “Urchfont” DNA could only be present among so many Somerset Sainsburys if they, in turn, inherited it from their ancestor Richard Sainsbury after he migrated the 40 miles from Eastcott, Wiltshire to Portbury, Somerset some time before 1745:

DNA that originated with ancestors of Richard Sainsbury of Eastcott (bap. 1708) has been identified in descendants of Richard Sainsbury of north Somerset (bur. 1785). This leads us to conclude that both Richards are, in fact, the same person.

Report of Genetic Matches to Relations of Richard Sainsbury of Eastcott

Each row in this report represents a genetic match that supports the theory that the ancestor of our Somerset Sainsbury family (Richard Sainsbury who married Mary Willis in Portbury, Somerset in 1745) is the same Richard Sainsbury who was born in Eastcott and baptised in Urchfont, Wiltshire in 1708:

Each match has been ranked on a combination of factors: type of DNA test, type of match, and the quality of documentation that proves descent from ancestors of Richard Sainsbury of Urchfont.

The resulting rank of each match is indicated by a gold star, half a gold star, or the outline of a star:

In general, Y-DNA results, triangulated matches (i.e., matches who have been shown to share identical segments of DNA), and well documented family trees are higher up the list than single, autosomal DNA matches between a Somerset Sainsbury cousin and an Urchfont descendant.

However, each match in this report has met a base level of quality and confidence. Other matches without this level of quality and confidence will be kept off the list until more information emerges to move them into this report as further evidence.


Next steps

  • More matches are still being identified that support our Urchfont origins. They will be added to this report when they meet a quality threshold.
  • With additional research and cooperation from those involved, most of the matches in this report could rise in rank to become stronger evidence:
    • Y-DNA tests from documented or highly likely Urchfont-descended Sainsbury men could be compared to the Y-DNA tests of Somerset Sainsbury men. (See this table from the Family Tree DNA Learning Center for more information about what those results could show.)
    • Singleton matches can become In Common With (ICW) when new shared matches are identified.
    • ICW matches can become Triangulated if all involved share their DNA results on GEDmatch and/or MyHeritage and are found to share identical segments of DNA. (Unlike Ancestry, GEDmatch and MyHeritage have chromosome browers that enable genetic genealogists to determine if an ICW match is, in fact, a triangulated match on an identical segment of DNA.)
  • Traditional genealogical research into the “pre-Somerset” history of our Sainsbury family can be carried out with confidence knowing evidence from this project supports our origin among the Sainsbury and related families of Eastcott, Wiltshire.

What a year it’s been!

Interim report on genetic evidence of our Somerset Sainsbury origins

This month we reached the one-year anniversary of our genetic genealogy project.

Image result for party emoji

That’s one year in which we searched the DNA matches of nearly two dozen Somerset Sainsbury cousins to find any others whose 18th-century Sainsbury ancestors might indicate our earliest known Somerset Sainsbury ancestor’s place and family of birth.

It was like working on a 300-year-old adoption case!

What did we find?

What we found were four main clusters of genetic matches, any one of which could have been our ancestral place of origin.

The corresponding areas — Urchfont, Potterne, villages in the Wylye Valley, and villages north of Chippenham — are shown on the following map:

Any of these families could have been our “nearest distant” Sainsbury cousins.

However, our earliest known Somerset Sainsbury ancestor couldn’t have been born in all four places, so the next phase of this project examined each cluster in more detail and found the following:

The Sainsburys of the villages north of Chippenham

For background on this cluster see this post: Seeking Triangulation: Anne Sainsbury of north Wiltshire

The likelihood that this cluster represents our Wiltshire family of origin took a bit of a hit earlier this year. The strongest match we had among our Somerset Sainsbury cousins to a descendant of this north Wiltshire Sainsbury family turned out to be a “false positive.”

Further investigation showed our two Somerset Sainsbury cousins relate to this Sainsbury descendant through a common Holbrook ancestor in Somerset, not through a common Sainsbury ancestor in north Wiltshire.

Based on available evidence, we can therefore set this cluster aside as a leading candidate in our search for our Sainsbury origins.

The Sainsburys of the Wylye Valley

For background see this post: DNA Match Profile: The Sainsburys of Codford St Mary, Codford St Peter and Heytesbury

As with the previous cluster, the strongest genetic evidence in this case also by-passes the Sainsbury line and points instead to a common Hinton or other ancestor.

A sticky segment situation

This cluster involves what’s known as a “sticky segment” of DNA. These are segments of DNA that remain unchanged from generation to generation. They can either be very valuable (if they can be tracked along family lines within a genealogical time frame) or very challenging (if they have remained unchanged among many individuals for as much as 1,000 years).

Case in point — my father’s Ancestry report says he’s 3% Norwegian, but there are no documented Norwegians in our family tree. A “non-paternity event” is always possible, but so is the fact that these “Norwegian” segments of DNA could have been in our family since the Vikings invaded England.

In the case of our Somerset Sainsbury matches to descendants of the Sainsburys of the Wylye Valley, the strongest genetic evidence we have (i.e., a large segment on chromosome 1 that is shared with multiple matches) points to a common Hinton or other ancestor.

But it still points somewhere in Wiltshire. And it’s still somehow related to our Somerset Sainsbury family. We just don’t know how.

Sticky segment on chromosome 1 shared by at least five Somerset Sainsbury cousins, Sainsbury descendants of the Wylye Valley, and matches with ancestry in colonial Virginia. See: US shared matches lead to Vest and Alexander

There is also some evidence that this cluster’s Sainsbury ancestors were Thomas Sainsbury (1673-?) and Mary Phillips (1682-?) of Urchfont.

If so, this supports a separate body of evidence we’ve amassed in the past year that definitely points to our own origins in Urchfont. (See below.)

The Sainsburys of Worton

For background see this post: The Sainsburys of Worton in the parish of Potterne

This is a cluster with many genetic matches who descend from Jonathan Sainsbury, born in West Lavington in 1706.

This was a challenging cluster to analyze because although it contains many matches (15 as of today), we can tell from available documents that the Sainsbury at the head of this family is not a near relation to any of the Sainsburys at the head of any of the other families.

However, further research earlier this year showed most of these matches (10 out of 15) likely descend through their maternal ancestor, Betty Coleman, from the Edwards family of Urchfont.

If so, Betty Coleman’s descendants would be cousins of the Richard Sainsbury who was born in Urchfont in 1708. (That Richard Sainsbury’s grandmother was an Edwards).

This would add further evidence to an emerging body of genetic proof that indicates the Richard Sainsbury baptised in Urchfont in 1708 and our earliest known Somerset Sainsbury ancestor, Richard Sainsbury, are indeed the same person.

The Sainsburys of Urchfont

For background see this post: DNA Match Profile: The Sainsbury family of Eastcott in the parish of Urchfont

By process of elimination alone, the Sainsbury family of Urchfont becomes the most likely family of origin of our Somerset Sainsbury ancestor and our large extended family.

The genetic matches we found among our Somerset Sainsbury cousins to descendants of this family are numerous (close to 100) and well documented.

In the next week or so I’ll publish a report of these matches. Each of the nearly 100 matches in this cluster indicates a genetic link between a Somerset Sainsbury cousin and a descendant of Richard Sainsbury of Urchfont through his parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.

Considered in isolation, any one of these matches could be taken as evidence that the Richard Sainsbury who was baptised in Urchfont in 1708 is the Richard Sainsbury who is our earliest known Somerset Sainsbury ancestor.

Taken together, all 100 genetic matches present a very compelling case.

Next steps

  • Enjoy the results of a year’s worth of of research, shared DNA results, theories, analysis, and the feeling we’ve reached a very important milestone.
  • See whether the notion expressed in last year’s Wild Weekend Theory post can be validated by any documentary evidence available in the Goldney family papers in the archives at the University of Bristol. Is there any written record to show that Richard Sainsbury of Urchfont moved to Somerset for work?
  • Continue to identify and document the genetic matches we find among our Somerset Sainsbury cousins to descendants of other Sainsbury families.

We need your help!

Are you a Somerset Sainsbury cousin or a Sainsbury descendant with a match to a Somerset Sainsbury? Please upload your results to GEDmatch and MyHeritage — for free!

The Ireland Davis family blog provides an excellent, easy-to-follow set of instructions on how to download your results from sites like Ancestry and upload them to GEDmatch.

To upload to MyHeritage, you need to download your test from Ancestry:
https://support.ancestry.com/s/article/Downloading-AncestryDNA-Raw-Data
and then upload it to MyHeritage (for free):
https://faq.myheritage.com/en/article/how-can-i-upload-a-dna-file-to-myheritage

If you need help with any of the steps, please use the Comments section or the Contact button at the top of this page to get in touch.

The more Somerset Sainsbury cousins we have on GEDmatch and MyHeritage, the more opportunities we’ll have to find the triangulated matches we’re looking for — the ones that can break through our brick wall.

Somerset cousin matches three descendants of two Urchfont families

Finding and validating triangulated matches is our current research focus as we try to identify the family of origin of our Somerset ancestor Richard Sainsbury (? – 1785). (See Triangulated Matches and the Vale of Pewsey.)

So we’re using genetic genealogy web sites to look for distant cousins whose family trees can be traced back to at least the early 1700s — the time period in which our earliest known Somerset ancestor would have been born.

On Ancestry, however, it is almost impossible to find shared matches among distant cousins. Why? Because on Ancestry the cut-off point for their “Shared Matches” tool is 20 centimorgans (cM). In other words, all those involved have to share at least 20 cM of DNA or they won’t appear when you click “Shared Matches” in Ancestry.

This effectively means the distant cousins we’re looking for — who almost always share less than 20 cM with each other because they are so distantly related — will almost never appear when you click Ancestry’s “Shared Matches” tool:

Case in point. The usual result of a search for distant shared matches on Ancestry is — no result.

But earlier this year we caught a break.

Distant match reveals more

On Ancestry, one of our Somerset Sainsbury cousins shares between 7 and 10 cM of DNA with two siblings (MR and JR) whose ancestors include two couples who are ancestors of Richard Sainsbury baptised in Urchfont in 1708:

Those couples are:

  • John NUTLAND (1603 – aft.1635) of West Lavington, Wiltshire who married Joane HURL (c.1610 – ?) of West Lavington, Wiltshire
  • John EDWARDS (c. 1570-1610) of Urchfont, Wiltshire who m. Ann NOYES or SHERGOLD (c. 1575-1636) of Urchfont, Wiltshire

Now, there’s nothing to prove that the DNA shared by MR, JR and our Somerset Sainsbury cousin was inherited from either of these Urchfont couples.

However, it seems highly likely that one of these four people was the source of the shared DNA. And if so, it would almost certainly prove that the Richard Sainsbury baptised in Urchfont in 1708 is the same person who married in Portbury, Somerset in 1745 and was buried in Nailsea, Somerset in 1785.

In other words, it would prove that the Sainsburys of North Somerset are, in fact, a branch of the Sainsbury family of Urchfont which can be traced back to the early 1500s.

Shared matches on Ancestry? Yes!

One way to examine the likelihood that two distant matches on Ancestry inherited their shared DNA from a given couple is to look for other shared matches whose family trees can validate the source of the DNA.

For example, if our Somerset Sainsbury cousin and the two siblings with whom he shares this DNA all match a third person, that person’s tree would validate the match if it includes the same common ancestors.

In this case, Ancestry’s “Shared Matches” tool actually produced a result:

This shared match (LP) only had 5 people in her online family tree. But with a bit of work it became clear that she is a third cousin (once removed) of MR and JR.

Likewise, her family tree can also be traced back to John and Ann EDWARDS of Urchfont and John and Joan NUTLAND of West Lavington, Wiltshire.

So now we have:

  • A Somerset Sainsbury cousin who shares a segment of DNA with two siblings who descend from the Urchfont Richard Sainsbury’s great-grandparents (John and Joan NUTLAND of West Lavington) and his 2nd great-grandparents (John and Ann EDWARDS of Urchfont).
  • The same Somerset Sainsbury cousin shares a segment of DNA with a third cousin of those siblings (LP) who also descends from John and Joan NUTLAND of West Lavington and John and Ann EDWARDS Urchfont.

The trees

For those with an interest, here are the family trees showing these relationships — and the evidence they may provide of our origins in the Sainsbury family of Urchfont:

Next steps?

We could go much further with this investigation if any of these distant matches (MR, JR and/or LP) were to upload their DNA tests to MyHeritage.

On MyHeritage, it would be possible to:

  • verify that all involved share the same segment of DNA, which would strongly suggest their descent from a common ancestor,
  • locate others who share the same segment of DNA,
  • see if their family trees indicate which (if either) of these Wiltshire couples was the source of the shared DNA,
  • validate the theory that their shared ancestry is evidence that the Richard Sainsbury baptised in Urchfont in 1708 is the ancestor of the Sainsbury family of north Somerset (and beyond).

Other triangulated matches are under investigation in this project. But this is one of the best because the family lines are well documented, and they leads to not one but two couples — either of which could prove the Urchfont origins of the Sainsbury family of north Somerset.

Interested in genetic genealogy?

Check out these resources that describe the science of triangulated matches:

Triangulating autosomal DNA National Genealogical Society NGS Magazine 42 (October-December 2016): 39-42.

Triangulation. ISOGG wiki. (Last updated September 19, 2019; accessed February 18, 2020).

Triangulation is the icing not the cake by Shelley Crawford, Twigs of Yore, 3 March 2018.

We need your help!

Are you a Somerset Sainsbury cousin with a DNA test on Ancestry? Or are you someone who matches a Somerset Sainsbury? Please upload your results to MyHeritage — for free!

If you need help with any of the steps, please use the Comments section or the Contact button at the top of this page to get in touch.

The more Somerset Sainsbury cousins and matches we have on MyHeritage, the more opportunities we’ll have to find the triangulated matches we’re looking for — the ones that can break through our brick wall.

Wormstall branch of Urchfont Sainsburys?

This week’s post includes a “hot off the press” peek at a new avenue of inquiry that opened up today.

Unusual surnames as genetic markers

I’ve been tracing the earliest generations of the Sainsbury family of Urchfont to look for other surnames — ideally other unusual surnames — in the family of Richard Sainsbury who was baptised in Urchfont in 1708.

Why Urchfont? Well, the Richard Sainsbury baptised in Urchfont in 1708 is emerging as a strong candidate as our earliest known Somerset Sainsbury ancestor.

And if the Richard born in Urchfont is the same as our ancestor who died in Somerset in 1785, we should find genetic connections among our DNA matches to descendants of the Urchfont Richard’s siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Why unusual surnames? The surnames we find among Richard’s extended family become “markers” we can use to search our DNA match lists for possible distant cousins with whom we share a common ancestor.

When those Sainsbury-related surnames are unusual there’s less likelihood for a match to exist for reasons other than a shared Sainsbury ancestor.

Wormstall

Wormstall is a very unusual name.

As such, unless it’s a surname that leads back to an ancestor shared by our Somerset Sainsbury cousins, we wouldn’t expect to find it in the family trees of many (if any) of our DNA matches on Ancestry.

After a few weeks of research that included locating and reading several wills from the 1500s and 1600s a whole new branch of the Urchfont Sainsbury family tree emerged today … and it includes descendants named Wormstall.

In effect, anyone descended from the Wormstall family at this time (1600s) and from this place (Wiltshire) may be descended from the Urchfont Sainsbury family:

Family tree showing (top row) Richard Sainsbury and his wife Damasene Bartlett whose second marriage was to John Harris. Her daughter Agnes married a Wormstall.

Agnes Wormstall (fl. c. 1550 – 1614)

The Agnes Sainsbury in the second row of this family tree was probably Damasene Sainsbury’s eldest child. We can guess her birth order because she was made executrix of her mother’s will in 1613 (probated 1614). Therefore, she was likely born around 1550.

Being born around 1550, she would likely have married Mr. Wormstall (first name unknown) and had her first children (if any) between 1570 and 1580.

Unfortunately, there are no baptism records to prove she had any children.

But this is where our DNA results enter the picture!

The Wormstalls of Maine?

A quick search of several Somerset Sainsbury match lists show a common connection to descendants of Michael Wormstall (c. 1575 – 1630).

Michael Wormstall was certainly born around 1575 in Wiltshire. The trouble is, we can’t find a baptism (and we haven’t found a will) to show he was Agnes’s son.

However, the time and place is right. And the surname is so unusual that there probably weren’t many Wormstall couples of child-rearing age having children around that time.

That said, if Michael Wormstall was Agnes’s son (and therefore an Urchfont Sainsbury descendant) we can fast-forward two generations to his grandson, Arthur Wormstall (1617 – 1686).

Arthur Wormstall was born in Easton Royal, Wiltshire but he died in the village of Saco, Maine where he left behind a large family … and maybe a genetic clue to his — and our — Urchfont origins.

Wormstall matches to Somerset Sainsbury cousins

It’s impossible to say if each match we find on Ancestry between a Somerset Sainsbury cousin and a descendant of the Wormstalls of Maine is due to shared descent from Damasene Bartlett Sainsbury Harris of Urchfont.

However, the matches found so far across several cousins’ DNA tests suggests there’s something to this theory.

Here, then, is a preliminary look at some of those matches, which may provide evidence of a shared genetic past among the Sainsburys of Urchfont and the Wormstalls of Maine:

Somerset Sainsbury cousinMatches include Wormstall?
CGNo
RBYes
GCNo
MCYes
ECNo
JDYes
DFYes – incl. GS of NH
THYes
DJNo
GLYes
KMYes
SMYes – incl. GS of NH
RQNo
RSYes
PTYes – incl. GS of NH
ATYes
ETNo

Next steps

Hopefully a will, or a baptismal record, or some documentation will emerge to link Michael Wormstall to Agnes Wormstall, the daughter of Damasene Sainsbury.

Until then, however, these DNA results seem to point towards our Urchfont origins — and they might reveal the Urchfont origins of the Wormstall family of colonial Maine.


Y-DNA Testing for Sansburys and Sainsburys

Are you or are any of your male relatives a Sainsbury or a Sansbury?

A Y-DNA test can indicate how closely you’re related to other branches of the Sainsbury and Sansbury family.

More results from Y-DNA tests will enable more detailed and accurate analysis of our shared history.

Can you help? Please contact Jen Sansbury through the Sansbury/Sainsbury DNA Project Page.

Shared matches with a north Wiltshire Sainsbury descendant prove otherwise

Investigations are continuing into the large number of DNA matches we found among our Somerset Sainsbury cousins and descendants of Sainsbury families in three specific areas of Wiltshire (Urchfont, Potterne, and the Wylye Valley) to figure out which might be our nearest “family of origin.”

At the same time, work has continued on one other “high priority” cluster we identified last year: the Sainsburys of Castle Combe and other villages in north Wiltshire. (See: DNA Match Profile: The Saintsbury family of Castle Combe.)

In this case, however, further investigation turned what was a very promising “shared match” into a false positive — which for us means a genealogical match on a “non-Sainsbury” line.

Anne Sainsbury Lessiter (c. 1750 – 1820)

Last year we identified a pair of 2nd cousins in the US whose shared Sainsbury ancestor is Harriet Sainsbury (b. 1816, Congresbury, Somerset). They both share a genetic match with a Canadian descendant of Anne Sainsbury and William Lessiter. (See: Seeking Triangulation: Anne Sainsbury of north Wiltshire.)

It was obvious they all shared a common ancestor, but was it a Sainsbury?

The answer, it seems, is No.

Joseph Holbrook (1750? – 1819)

Both sides of this match had Somerset ancestors, both had done a great job documenting their family trees, and both trees include Joseph Holbrook, who was born in Somerset in 1750 and died in Chew Stoke, Somerset in 1819.

Screenshot from family tree of one of the Somerset Sainsbury cousins who share this match.

As it turns out, one side of this shared match descends from Joseph’s son, Jacob (1792 Somerset, Eng. – 1848 Ballsville, Oneida, Ontario).

The other descends from Joseph’s daughter Millicent (1829 East Harptree, Somerset – 1910 Hagersville, Ontario).

They are approximately (if not exactly) fifth cousins on this Holbrook line.

So where does this leave us?

Based on the documented evidence of their Holbrook cousin-ship, this shared match is almost certainly a “non-Sainsbury” match. As such, it does not point to our Sainsbury ancestor’s origins among Anne Sainsbury Lessiter’s family in north Wiltshire.

This seems like a disappointment. But seen another way, the result is very helpful because, by decreasing the likelihood that our Somerset Sainsbury ancestor came from this north Wiltshire family, it increases the likelihood that he came from one of the other clusters we identified last year:

We need your help!

Are you a Somerset Sainsbury cousin or a Sainsbury descendant with a DNA test? Please upload your results to GEDmatch and MyHeritage — for free!

The Ireland Davis family blog provides an excellent, easy-to-follow set of instructions on how to download your results from sites like Ancestry and upload them to GEDmatch.

To upload to MyHeritage, you need to download your test from Ancestry:
https://support.ancestry.com/s/article/Downloading-AncestryDNA-Raw-Data
and then upload it to MyHeritage (for free):
https://faq.myheritage.com/en/article/how-can-i-upload-a-dna-file-to-myheritage

If you need help with any of the steps, please use the Comments section or the Contact button at the top of this page to get in touch.

The more Somerset Sainsbury cousins we have on GEDmatch and MyHeritage, the more opportunities we’ll have to find the triangulated matches we’re looking for — the ones that can break through our brick wall.

A pair of high-quality Urchfont Sainsbury matches?

UPDATE: January 23, 2020. The family tree showing the matches described in this post will be updated as additional information comes to light. The current tree is available to download here:

Last week an apparent Sainsbury family connection to one of our Somerset Sainsbury cousins became a (possible) Edwards match. For details see last week’s post: A crack in the case? A distant Edwards family match opens a new line of research.

This week we found additional shared matches between two Somerset Sainsbury cousins and a descendant of several families, including Edwards, who originated in Urchfont, Wiltshire.

Related ancestral lines

One of the most important activities in our project is the continual identification and classification of Sainsbury descendants who match Somerset Sainbury cousins on genetic genealogy websites like Ancestry and MyHeritage.

We’re doing this to find a predominant cluster/family that might — based on the strength of numbers in our shared results — indicate our Sainsbury family of origin.

As described in last week’s post, however, some of those apparent “Sainsbury” matches may actually lead to the Urchfont Sainsburys through related ancestral lines.

A high-quality Urchfont connection

A couple of weeks ago, while re-checking the Sainsbury matches of several cousins, a new match appeared. We’ll call her Meghan.

In terms of quality, given the purpose of our project, Meghan’s ancestry had the advantage of having only one English grandparent — whose ancestors were from Dorset and Wiltshire. Her other ancestral lines lead back to Ireland, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe.

On the other hand, the ancestry of the Somerset Sainbury cousin who matches Meghan is centred on the Bristol area.

This means the DNA they share must have come from an ancestor on Meghan’s single English line — of which one strand leads directly back to a Sainsbury family in Urchfont.

The quality of this match as evidence for an Urchfont connection to our family is therefore very high. However, there was still a problem . . .

A genetic mis-match

Our Somerset Sainsbury cousin who matches Meghan does not match either Meghan’s parent or her grandparent — both of whom have DNA tests on Ancestry. If the match is, indeed, on Meghan’s English ancestral line, her parent and grandparent should share at least as much DNA (if not more) with our Somerset Sainsbury cousin.

The absence of those matches undermined the quality of this match as evidence of a family connection between the Sainsburys of north Somerset and the Sainsburys of Urchfont.

In addition, although the Sainsbury in Meghan’s tree leads to Urchfont, it also leads to a dead end…

John Sainsbury of Wedhampton (c. 1720 – ?)

The most recent Sainsbury in Meghan’s tree is Jane SAINSBURY (1809-1861) who married Richard GIDDINGS in Urchfont in 1828. Jane’s line can be traced back in Urchfont for several generations, but her earliest known Sainsbury ancestor, John SAINSBURY of Wedhampton (c. 1720 – ?), is a mystery.

We have not (yet) found any documentation to connect John SAINSBURY of Wedhampton to the family tree of all other Urchfont Sainsburys. (For that tree see: DNA Match Profile: The Sainsbury family of Eastcott in the parish of Urchfont.)

So even accepting the validity of this match, it only lead us to another Sainsbury brick wall.

However, setting that challenge aside, this match does lead in a very precise way to Urchfont, where we know there is a documented Richard Sainsbury. So it was too good to ignore.

Instead, it led us to look for any matches among our other Somerset Sainsbury cousins to Meghan’s grandfather — who should, in theory, share as much DNA with some of our cousins as we found in that initial match.

Persistence pays off

With the help of the family historian in Meghan’s family, we searched Ancestry and MyHeritage for any other matches and quickly found two connections between Meghan’s grandparent and two Somerset Sainsbury cousins.

With a bit of sleuthing along related ancestral lines, it was also possible to connect these matches to the “known” Urchfont Sainsbury tree by going around Jane SAINSBURY (1809-1861) and following the trail of her husband’s family up to Ann SAINTSBURY and her (likely) husband Robert EDWARDS.

John SAINTSBURY the Elder (1633-1710) and Emme EDWARDS (1639-1720)

The downloadable family tree at the top of this post shows how Meghan’s grandfather and two of our Somerset Sainsbury cousins may be related through John SAINTSBURY the Elder (1633-1710) and his wife Em EDWARDS (1639-1720).

“Item: I give unto Emme Saintsbury wife of John Saintsbury the elder of Escott…” Excerpt from the 1703 will of Emme’s cousin Robert Edwards. P2/E/252. Image 1762 of 3131.

By extension, of course, if this theory is valid, the downloadable tree at the top of this post would also show how all Somerset Sainsburys relate to the Sainsburys of Urchfont through our earliest known common ancestor, Richard Sainsbury (? – 1785).

So . . . was our earliest known Somerset Sainsbury ancestor the Richard Sainsbury who was baptised in Urchfont in 1708?

The investigation continues, but that’s the end of this week’s in-depth look at one of the highest quality matches we’ve found so far in our search for the genetic and documented origins of our Somerset Sainsbury family.

More DNA tests, more matches, more analysis, and more precise Y-DNA testing will add to our growing body of knowledge.

Y-DNA Testing for Sansburys and Sainsburys

Are you or are any of your close male relatives a Sainsbury or a Sansbury?

A Y-DNA test can indicate how closely you’re related to other branches of the Sainsbury and Sansbury family.

More results from Y-DNA tests will enable more detailed and accurate analysis of our shared history.

Can you help? Please contact Jen Sansbury through the Sansbury/Sainsbury DNA Project Page.

A crack in the case? A distant Edwards family match opens a new line of research

Last year we completed the first phase of our search for the origins of our ancestor Richard Sainsbury (? – 1785) of north Somerset.

In that phase we collected all the Ancestry DNA matches that about 20 of our Somerset Sainsbury cousins have to other Sainsbury descendants.

We did this to find distant, unknown cousins whose own trees might help us break through our brick wall. (For a project overview, see the About page on this blog.)

The theory was if we could pool all the matches to “unknown” Sainsbury descendants from such a large group of known Sainsbury cousins, an answer would emerge from the results.

So we expected to see a single large cluster of matches emerge. That cluster would be a family tree of our “nearest distant” Sainsbury cousins, and it would also indicate our earliest known Sainsbury ancestor’s family of origin.

If a single large cluster had emerged, our search would have been over.

But instead of single large cluster of “unknown” Sainsburys, we found three large family clusters (all in Wiltshire): one in Urchfont, one in Potterne and one in the Wylye Valley.

One big Sainsbury family?

So, do all three of these families have a common Sainsbury ancestor one or two generations back?

Apparently not, as this chart shows:

This chart shows the known ancestries of those three families.

The Richard Sainsbury (1708 – ?) at the bottom of the first column might be our Somerset Sainsbury ancestor. The Urchfont cluster we identified is the only one that includes a Richard Sainsbury of an age that could make him our ancestor.

The heads of the the other two families: Jonathan Sainsbury of Potterne and Edward Sainsbury of villages in the Wylye Valley, are indicated near the bottom of the other two columns.

As can be seen, their lines have been more difficult to trace than the Urchfont line. However, going back a few generations from the Potterne and Wylye Valley individuals shows no known connection among any of these families.

Cherchez la femme

We’re at the point where genetic matches to the families of the Sainsbury wives and mothers in these trees might come into play. It’s time, as they say in detective novels, to cherchez la femme.

This week, while examining the ancestry of a match in the Potterne Sainsbury tree, I noticed something … interesting:

Ancestors of a “Sainsbury” match: Elizabeth Sainsbury of Potterne outlined in orange, James Giddings of Urchfont outlined in blue.

Although the Sainsbury in this person’s tree led to their classification as a descendant of the Sainsburys of Potterne … the name Giddings (outlined in blue on this tree) caught my eye because it is a distinctly “Urchfont” name. . .

At the same time, I’d been building a family tree for Richard Sainsbury’s grandmother, Em Edwards Sainsbury (1639 – 1700), and found that her niece, Mary Edwards, married Charles Giddings in 1695.

A little more searching revealed Charles and Mary’s third child, James Giddings (1701 – 1786), is the same James Giddings outlined in blue on the family tree — an ancestor of this apparent “Potterne Sainsbury” match.

Is this an Edwards match?

If the Richard Sainsbury b. 1708 Urchfont, Wiltshire is the same as the Richard Sainsbury buried in Nailsea, Somerset in 1785, then an Edwards family connection could explain the DNA match between one of our Somerset Sainsbury cousins and two siblings who descend from Richard Sainsbury’s great-uncle, Robert Edwards, as shown in this tree:

If the shared DNA indicated in this tree comes from the Edwards family of Urchfont, it would move what we’d thought was a Sainsbury match out of the Sainsburys of Potterne family tree and into the Sainsburys of Urchfont family tree.

It could therefore be a (tiny) piece of genetic evidence that the Richard Sainsbury baptised in Urchfont in 1708 was the ancestor of the Sainsbury family of north Somerset.

In the weeks ahead, as work continues on some of our other best leads (summarized at the top of this recent blog post) let’s also explore the genetic connections between our Somerset Sainsbury cousins and the Edwards family of Urchfont.

Join the new “Sansbury & Sainsbury” group on Facebook

Are you interested in the history of any family named Sainsbury, Sansbury, or other variant spellings?

Are you on Facebook?

Just use this link to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Sansbury.Sainsbury/

You’ll be asked a skill-testing question about your earliest known Sansbury or Sainsbury ancestor. (This is really just an anti-spam device.)

See you there!

Matches to the Thomas Sansbury family of Prince George’s County, Maryland

In our search for distant Sainsbury cousins we discovered quite a few matches among our Somerset Sainsbury cousins to Ancestry users who descend either from the Maryland Sansburys or from Daniel Sansbury of South Carolina.

As an aid to people researching those lines, here’s a downloadable family tree showing the matches we found among our Somerset Sainsbury cousins to descendants of Thomas Sansbury of Prince George’s County, Maryland (c. 1738 – 1781):

Any or all of these matches could be due to a common Sansbury/Sainsbury ancestor in England. However, it’s important to remember that Ancestry DNA tests look at all ancestral lines–so some of these matches might actually be due to shared “non-Sansbury/Sainsbury” ancestors.

The predominance of matches on Alexius Sansbury‘s line are noteworthy. If all or most of these matches are valid (i.e., due to shared DNA on the Sansbury/Sainsbury line of all concerned) it makes theoretical sense that there’d be a predominant line in a distant relationship cluster like this.

That line would be the one that happens to have retained some segments of DNA that more distant cousins also inherited.

We found similar clusters — where descendants of one branch predominated — among our matches to other known Sainsbury families . For example, among our matches to the Sainsburys of Urchfont, Wiltshire there was a distinct cluster to descendants of Elizabeth Sainsbury Moore (1696-1771). Among our matches to the Sainsburys of Potterne, Wiltshire, there was a cluster who descended from Mary Sainsbury Berrett (1775-1820).

The Urchfont cluster were Osland descendants in Australia and Canada, and the Berrett cluster was a set of descendants in the US — so it might just be that people in Australia, Canada, and the US are more likely to have done an Ancestry DNA test than people in England. (Which I believe is the case.)

Y-DNA Testing for Sansburys and Sainsburys

Are you or are any of your close male relatives Sainsburys or Sansburys?

A Y-DNA test can indicate how closely you’re related to other branches of the Sainsbury and Sansbury family.

More results from Y-DNA tests will enable more detailed and accurate analysis of our shared history.

Interested? Please contact Jen Sansbury through the Sansbury/Sainsbury DNA Project Page.

Somerset Sainsbury matches to Daniel Sansbury descendants

Research Recap

As we enter a new year, research is continuing on a few fronts in our search for our Somerset Sainsbury ancestor’s place of origin.

Based on last year’s discoveries, our priorities for this year include:

Now that we’ve examined our English matches and identified these research priorities for the New Year, it seems like a good time to explore some of our other findings.

Those findings include many matches to Sansbury descendants in the United States.

Daniel Sansbury (c.1750-1816)

In our search for distant Sainsbury cousins we discovered quite a few matches among our Somerset Sainsbury cousins to Ancestry users who descend either from the Maryland Sansburys or from Daniel Sansbury of South Carolina.

As an aid to people researching those lines, here’s a downloadable family tree showing the matches we found among our Somerset Sainsbury cousins to descendants of Daniel Sansbury:

These matches could be due to a common Sansbury/Sainsbury ancestor in England. However, it’s important to remember that Ancestry DNA tests look at all ancestral lines–so some of these matches might actually be due to shared “non-Sansbury/Sainsbury” ancestors.

On the other hand, Y-DNA tests from descendants of each group (Somerset Sainsburys and descendants of Daniel Sansbury) definitely indicate we share a genetic family relationship. (For more on that approach to our research see this post: Sainsbury, Sansbury)

The predominance of matches on James’s line are noteworthy. If all or most of these matches are valid (i.e., due to shared DNA on the Sansbury/Sainsbury line of all concerned) it makes theoretical sense that there’d be a predominant line in a distant relationship cluster like this. That line would be the one that happens to have retained some segments of DNA that more distant cousins also inherited.

We found similar clusters — where descendants of one branch predominated — among our matches to other known Sainsbury families . For example, among our matches to the Sainsburys of Urchfont, Wiltshire there was a distinct cluster to descendants of Elizabeth Sainsbury Moore (1696-1771). Among our matches to the Sainsburys of Potterne, Wiltshire, there was a cluster who descended from Mary Sainsbury Berrett (1775-1820).

The Urchfont cluster were Osland descendants in Australia and Canada, and the Berrett cluster was a set of descendants in the US — so it might just be that people in Australia, Canada, and the US are more likely to have done an Ancestry DNA test than people in England. (Which I believe is the case.)

In a future post we’ll look at the matches we found to descendants of the Sansburys of colonial Maryland.

Join the new “Sansbury & Sainsbury” group on Facebook

Are you interested in the history of any family named Sainsbury, Sansbury, or other variant spellings?

Are you on Facebook?

Just use this link to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Sansbury.Sainsbury/

You’ll be asked a skill-testing question about your earliest known Sansbury or Sainsbury ancestor.

Join the new “Sansbury & Sainsbury” group on Facebook

Are you interested in the history of any family named Sainsbury, Sansbury, or other variant spellings?

Are you on Facebook?

Search for the Facebook group Sansbury & Sainsbury and send a request to join!

The focus of this group is much broader than our Somerset Sainsbury project — which will continue in the New Year.

The Sansbury & Sainsbury group on Facebook is a way to share information, approaches, ideas, stories about any branch of this family.

Find out about other Sainsbury research and more advanced techniques like Y-DNA tests to identify our family groups and pinpoint Sainsbury origins.

Connect with Sainsbury, Sansbury, Sainsberry, Saintsbury family members and researchers around the world and help break through our brick walls!

See you there!