Our Sainsbury DNA Project: By the Numbers

Over the past month or so we’ve been using the Ancestry DNA tests of known Sainsbury cousins to search for potential distant cousins outside our known family tree. Our tree begins with Richard Sainsbury who m. Mary Willis in Portbury, Somerset in 1745. However, we don’t know where he came from (or why).

In theory, if we can find one or more DNA matches with Sainsbury ancestors who can be traced back farther back than our own we might find a sibling and the parents of our own ancestor. Failing that level of evidence of a genealogical link, we might find some general pattern or patterns that suggest a place of origin.

So far we’ve searched the Ancestry DNA matches of 12 known cousins to identify all those with a Sainsbury, Saintsbury or Sansbury in their family tree. This gave us a list of 88 potential distant cousins who match someone in our “pool” of cousins anywhere from 30 to 6 centimorgans (cM). The average match is 9 cM.

Now we’re tracing back the Sainsbury lines of all those matches to see if they lead to a single family or village of origin. So far, some patterns are emerging, but nothing definitive. In fact, some of the results are contradictory:

For example:

  • In the available baptism records of Wiltshire (where most of the results are pointing) there are two possible Richard Sainsburys. One was baptised in Urchfont in 1708 (see last week’s post) and one was baptised in Westbury in 1722.
  • Of the 23 Sainsbury ancestries we’ve traced so far, 1 leads to a sibling of the 1708 individual but another leads to a sibling of the 1722 individual.

Of the other 21 lines, 14 have been traced back before “our” Richard’s likely birth and, therefore, back to other couples who could have been his parents. Of those lines:

  • 8 lead to the large clan of Sainsburys in West Lavington, Wiltshire
  • 4 four lead to Chippenham (or area).

We know some of these matches will be so-called “false positives” in our search for a common Sainsbury ancestor. In other words, although all of these unknown Ancestry users share DNA with one of our 12 known Sainsbury cousins, and although they each have a Sainsbury (or variant) in their ancestries, the DNA match could be for a reason (or family line) other than a common Sainsbury ancestor.

Over the next month we’ll continue to trace back the Sainsbury trees of the remaining matches to see where they lead!

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