Descendants of George BARTLETT (c.1500-?) of All Cannings, Wiltshire

Triangulation Group #4

When three or more people share the same segment of DNA (that is, they have the same arrangement of the four types of bases—ACTG—in the same chromosomal location) they most likely inherited that segment from a common ancestor.

ACGT is an acronym for the four types of bases found in a DNA molecule: adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T). A DNA molecule consists of two strands wound around each other, with each strand held together by bonds between the bases. Adenine pairs with thymine, and cytosine pairs with guanine. The sequence of bases in a portion of a DNA molecule, called a gene, carries the instructions needed to assemble a protein. (Source: National Human Genome Research Institute. ACGT. Public domain.

In the context of this project, shared segments of DNA and well-documented family trees have provided evidence that our north Somerset SAINSBURY ancestor came from Urchfont, Wiltshire.

In all cases, one of the “weak links” in these trees is the lack of written proof that Richard SAINSBURY of Urchfont migrated to north Somerset some time before his marriage in 1745.

However, such migration records rarely exist. For example, settlement certificates that enabled people to move from one parish to another only applied to the poor. Those with some financial means (i.e., those who would not become a burden to their new parish) were exempt from this system and its written records.

In fact, it was precisely this lack of written evidence that made us turn to genetic genealogy to solve the mystery of Richard SAINSBURY.

Based on the techniques of genetic genealogy, we now have a high level of evidence that he originated in Urchfont, Wiltshire. Why? Because his whereabouts prior to Somerset is often the only missing link in a growing series of family trees based on (a) identical segments of DNA that (b) his descendants share with (c) others who descend from his well-documented ancestors:

  1. John and Elizabeth Jarvis of 16th-century Upavon, Wiltshire
  2. The DNA of Thomas NOYES and Alice MERIWEATHER of Fullaway, Wiltshire
  3. A New Triangulation Group: John & Elizabeth JARVIS of 16th-century Upavon, Wiltshire

One descendant; 10 distant DNA cousins

The genetic group presented here is based on a single UK descendant of Richard SAINSBURY of north Somerset who shares DNA with 10 members of an extended family in Utah.

Of those 10 matches, three can be shown to share an identical segment of DNA. This strongly suggests they they share a common ancestor. Some (if not all) of the other seven may share the same segment. However, they are not on MyHeritage or GEDmatch, so without the chromosome browsers available on those sites it’s impossible to say whether or not the others belong in this triangulation group.

The triangulated matches in this group have the same arrangment of DNA in this region of chromosome 8. Source: GEDmatch.

All 10 of the US cousins descend from Thomas BURGESS (1814-1886) and Elizabeth ISAACS (1806-1890) who lived in Marshfield, Gloucestershire and migrated to Utah in 1854.

Marshfield is only about 20 miles from the area in north Somerset where our north Somerset ancestor Richard SAINSBURY lived from at least 1745. It therefore seemed likely that the most recent common ancestor linking his English descendant to these US cousins would be found in that area.

And so began many hours of “tree building” in search of a most recent common ancestor. One generation back, then another, and another, and another. Was the DNA evidence going to fail? All likely lines were traced back through generations and centuries with no possible common ancestors until … Eureka!

The discovery

Thomas BURGESS’s 7th great-grandfather was John BARTLETT, the elder, of All Cannings, Wiltshire:

The Visitation of Wiltshire 1623 includes a family tree of John Bartlett of “Alcanings” (i.e., All Cannings in Wiltshire; not Somerset as shown in this tree.)

We already knew from other documentation that one of John BARTLETT’s sisters was Damasene BARTLETT (c.1530-1614) who married Richard SAINSBURY (c.1530-1559).

Therefore, the parents of Damasene and John BARTLETT would be the most recent common ancestors of our UK cousin and those 10 US cousins.

Easy, right?

Puzzle solved — well, almost

The problem was, nothing showed their parents’ names.

Baptismal records would likely have named their father. However, parish records peter out in these years. There are no baptismal records for any of these BARTLETT siblings. Fortunately, several wills show the relationship among these siblings, making it possible to establish a family of at least 9 BARTLETT brothers and sisters.

For example, Edmund BARTLETT’s 1584 will names several of his brothers — and also indicates that Damasene SAINSBURY is, indeed, his sister:

“And to John Seynsbury my sisters sonne five [pounds]” The will of Damasene SAINSBURY’s brother, Edmund BARTLETT, establishes their relationship. Source: National Archives (UK). 1584 Will of Edmund Bartlett of Woodborough, Wiltshire PROB-11-66-277.

But neither parent left a will, and since no baptismal record exists for any of these BARTLETT siblings, the person at the top of this triangulation group’s family tree was going to be: “Unknown” BARTLETT.

Which is hardly convincing….

The missing piece has an extensive collection of Wiltshire records (licensed from the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre) dating from the time of Henry VIII. But they didn’t include this piece of the puzzle. Non-stop Googling didn’t provide an answer, either.

However, the Discovery catalogue of the National Archives (UK) is always worth a look because it contains “more than 32 million descriptions of records held by The National Archives and more than 2,500 archives across the country.”

Among those 32 million descriptions was a reference to a one-page land transaction (not housed in Wiltshire, but in the archives of the neighbouring county of Somerset) that not only names Edmund BARTLETT—it also names both his parents—and his maternal grandfather. One document, three generations. Not bad for a single description of a single 16th-century document:

This 1546 lease names Edmund BARTLETT’s parents (George and Johane BARLETT) and his maternal grandfather (Edmund LONG of All Cannings, Wiltshire). A copy of the original has been ordered.

Since we know Edmund BARTLETT of Woodborough was Damasene and John BARTLETT’s brother, this record tells us their father’s name was George.

Whether or not their mother was Johane (and whether or not Edmund LONG was their grandfather) is still to be determined because George BARTLETT had at least two wives.

So with that piece of the puzzle in place, here is a family tree that shows (a) how all 11 members of this group inherited the DNA they share from George BARTLETT of All Cannings, Wiltshire, and (b) that the only way for this to have happened is if Richard SAINSBURY of north Somerset is the Richard SAINSBURY who was born in Urchfont, Wiltshire, in 1708:

George Bartlett DNA family tree

Additional evidence

Unlike others in this series of triangulation groups, this group only includes one Somerset Sainsbury descendant. Therefore, because there is no shared Sainsbury cousin to validate which family line accounts for these matches, it leaves open the possibility that the match could be on a “non-Sainsbury” family line. (Although they were investigated, and no other line seemed likely.)

However, two other Somerset Sainsbury cousins share a triangulated match with one of the US BARTLETT descendants in this tree (i.e., VJC).

This match is small (a total of 6.4 cM across two segments) and would not be good evidence on its own. But taken in combination with the large group presented in this blog post and family tree, it strongly supports the theory that George BARTLETT of All Cannings, Wiltshire is a distant ancestor of the SAINSBURYs of north Somerset through Richard SAINSBURY of Urchfont:

In addition to the large triangulation and shared DNA group presented in this post, two other north Somerset cousins share these triangulated segments of DNA with a descendant of George BARTLETT of All Cannings, Wiltshire.

A report of all Somerset Sainsbury matches to descendants of Urchfont Sainsbury (and related) families is available here: