UPDATE. January, 2022. Y-DNA testing indicates Richard Sainsbury of north Somerset was born in Urchfont, Wiltshire in 1708. Any speculation in this post that suggests otherwise is therefore obsolete. It remains online as a record of this research project.
UPDATE: October 5, 2020
- People in this cluster share a “sticky segment” of DNA in what is known as a pile-up region of chromosome 1.
- This segment has probably remained intact for more than 1,000 years.
- Several members of this group share the same segment with a MyHeritage user in Denmark whose ethnicity is 77% Scandinavian, 19% Celtic, but 0% English.
- Therefore, this segment of DNA has probably been in the British population since some Dane entered what was England during the Viking Age.
- That would explain why the segment seems so prevalent, and why it hasn’t been possible to find a recent common ancestor within a genealogical timeframe.
- If this Danish migrant” theory is correct, the common ancestor for any 2 people with this segment could have lived anywhere from as few as 1 to as many as 20 or more generations ago — and possibly in what is now Denmark.
- Original post from June 27, 2019 follows:
UPDATE: September 25, 2019. The family tree showing matches among this Sainsbury family, descendants of certain ancestors in colonial Virginia, and descendants of a Hinton family in 18th-century Wiltshire will be updated as additional matches come to light. The current chart is available as a PDF to download here:
As we trace back the ancestries of our shared DNA matches to find a common ancestor, one set has led to the PINNELL family of Warminster, Wiltshire in the early 1700s. We haven’t established a connection between this PINNELL family and our SAINSBURY ancestors in that place at that time, but the findings are suggestive.
Two of our Somerset cousins (they are, to be precise, half third cousins once removed) share between 20 and 30 cM of DNA with a set of about five dozen matches on Ancestry who all, by and large, share this same amount of DNA with each other.
This pattern suggests the individuals in this set of shared matches are approximately 6th – 8th cousins and share a common ancestor somewhere in the 18th century.
The first approach to unravelling the mystery of these shared matches — which could lead back to a common SAINSBURY ancestor — was to trace the lineages of those matches whose family trees had already been traced back to England in the 19th century or earlier.
This provided a subset of five individuals who were good candidates to test the theory that, due to their shared DNA, they should have a common ancestral couple some time in the 18th century. Two of these matches are in North America, two are in Australia (a parent and child), and one is in the UK.
We found the first documented proof of a “cousin connection” between the two North Americans. Those individuals (names and Ancestry user names withheld for privacy) both descend from Jane TURVILL (b. 1794, Warminster, Wiltshire) and James Joseph HURL through their great-grandchildren Madeline Irene HURL (born in Coldwater, Ontario in 1899) and Levinia HURL (born in Peterborough, Ontario in 1875).
Levinia and Madeline were second cousins. Their descendants, whose DNA matches our Somerset cousins, are 3rd cousins, twice removed.
The next cousin added to this DNA family tree was our Australian match and her child. They descend from Jane TURVILL’s brother, James TURVILL and his wife Sarah JENNINGS.
This took the tree back another generation to Jane and James’s parents: William TURVILL and Sarah PENNALS (also spelt PANNELS). It’s important to note that from this point on it’s assumed Sarah’s surname (as recorded at her baptism and her marriage) is a variant of the surname PINNELL.
With this PINNELL surname in mind, the most recent addition to our theoretical family tree is the UK shared match. Their line (if our research is correct — and all this work needs to be verified) goes back to Sarah’s parents: William and Sarah PINNELL whose children were born in Warminster from the 1750s to the 1770.
Unfortunately we haven’t found a baptism record for William. Nor have we found a record of his marriage to Sarah. It’s tempting to think Sarah’s surname was SAINSBURY and (more tempting) that she was the sister of Richard SAINSBURY who married Mary WILLIS in Portbury, Somerset in 1745 — the couple at the top of the family tree of our Sainsburys of North Somerset. UPDATE (Aug. 28, 2019): William PINNELL was bap. 10 Apr. 1723 in Warminster, Wilts., the son of Richard and Mary PINNELL. He married Sarah ELLOWAY in Warminster of 27 Mar. 1749. She was the daughter of Edward ELLOWAY and a Dinah HINTON (bap. 1708 Corsley, Wilts, the dau. of Edward HINTON and Mary BRICE). The shared DNA match to this cluster, judging by the patterns of matches we’ve found, is likely back in time through this HINTON line.
In any case, at some point in this tree, if not at William and Sarah PINNELL’s generation then not much further back, there should be a SAINSBURY wife and/or mother to explain the DNA matches between our Somerset cousins who descend from Richard and Mary SAINSBURY, and this set of five cousins who descended from William and Sarah PINNELL, and the other 60 or so matches who share DNA not only with those PINNELL descendants but also with our Somerset Sainsbury cousins.
In a nutshell, that’s the theory suggested by this set of shared matches.
With any luck, some documentation will emerge to either confirm or refute this theory. But until then, we’ll keep working the shared DNA matches to solve the Mystery of Richard Sainsbury of North Somerset.
Poor Law entry: William and Sarah PINNELL
Although not immediately helpful for our SAINSBURY search, a William and Sarah PINNELL are listed in a set of records known as the Poor Law in Wiltshire. This is a published set of removal orders, settlement certificates and settlement examinations that provide information about many 18th- and 19th-century Wiltshire residents who relied on parish relief and other forms of assistance:
PENELL, William Age : 24; Occupation/status : scribler; Date : 1775 Jan 16
Ref : 712/20 Trowbridge. Settlement examination at Trowbridge
Detail : born Warminster where father William was a parishioner; worked Warminster; now in Wiltshire Militia; married at Trowbridge about 1773; wife Sarah; ch Richard 21 mths
This William PENELL (presumably a variant of PINNELL) may have been a brother of the Sarah PENNALS (PINNELL?) who married William TURVILL — the ancestors of three of the four shared matches we’ve connected to this tree.
So although not a direct ancestor of our currently identified shared matches in the PINNELL line, William’s entry in the poor law records opens up a window on what life was like for these family members in 18th-century Wiltshire.
It tells us William, born in Warminster around 1751, was a scribler — someone who tends a wool-combing machine called a scribler or “scribbling horse.” This was a wooden frame with iron teeth; the scribler’s task (if my understanding is correct!) was to drag the wool over these teeth with a carding comb to break up lumps and knots.
The entry also tells us William was in the Wiltshire militia and in January, 1775 he applied to parish overseers to relocate from Warminster to Trowbridge with his wife, Sarah, and their 21-month old son, Richard PINNELL (b. April, 1773).
Unfortunately, this couple isn’t the William and Sarah PINNELL at the top of the Wiltshire side of our emerging family tree. But it’s a good reminder that, as we trace our ancestors, we’re tracing the lives of people who served their communities, built relationships, and did what they could — or what they needed to do — in difficult times.
Sources and further reading
Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum. West country cloth workers. (Describes resistance to industrialization among Wiltshire and Somerset cloth workers in the 18th century.) https://www.tolpuddlemartyrs.org.uk/story/tuc-150/early-unions/west-country-cloth-workers
Trowbridge Museum. Trowbridge museum fact sheet: Carding and slubbing. https://www.trowbridgemuseum.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Fact-Sheet-3-Carding-Slubbing.pdf
Wiltshire Family History Society. (2017). Poor Law in Wiltshire: Removal Orders, Settlement Certificates and Settlement Examinations, 1670-1890 (CD 21).