Data analysis: What our Sainsbury DNA matches tell us

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.

Earlier this year we started collecting information about any DNA matches that 19 of our known Sainsbury cousins have to other Ancestry users who have a Sainsbury, Saintsbury or Sansbury in their family tree.

We did this to see if a pattern would emerge to indicate where our Somerset ancestor, Richard Sainsbury (? – 1785), was born and who his parents and siblings were.

This generated a set of 114 matches. However, no clear pattern emerged. Instead, we have clusters of matches whose Sainsbury ancestors hail from various parts of England — mainly Wiltshire.

An argument could probably be made for each cluster being the one from which our ancestor emerged. In the next few weeks, I’ll profile those clusters, the Sainsbury families they include, and the likelihood that our ancestor was born to parents in that cluster.

Overall, here’s where our Sainsbury matches led:

Castle Combe, Wiltshire

4 matches shared across 6 cousins go back to two sons of Joseph Sainsbury or Saintsbury (c. 1630-1678) and his wife Agnes or Ann of Castle Combe, Wiltshire.

Chippenham, Wiltshire

2 matches shared across 2 cousins go back to John Sainsbury (ca. 1706-?) and Hester Caswell (ca. 1710-?) of Chippenham.

Hampshire

11 matches shared across 11 cousins go back to various Sainsbury couples in Hampshire in the 18th and 19th centuries. All of these lines almost certainly go back to places in Wiltshire, but the lines have not been traced back that far.

Heytesbury, Wiltshire

3 matches shared across 2 cousin go back to William Sainsbury (ca. 1744-1805) and Betty Dyer (1747-?) of Heytesbury. Unfortunately, it’s unclear who William’s parents and grandparents were, which means (for now) this line doesn’t get us back far enough to find possible parents for our Somerset ancestor, Richard Sainsbury, who was married in 1745 and was therefore born some time before 1725.

Heytesbury area (Wylye Valley villages), Wiltshire

2 matches shared across 3 cousins that go back to Edward Sainsbury (1705-1777) and Mary Miles of Codford St. Mary, Wiltshire.

Potterne (Worton), Wiltshire

6 matches are shared across 9 cousin that go back to Jonathan Sainsbury (1707?-1770?) and Elizabeth Hutchins of Worton, Wiltshire, and whose children were baptized in Potterne, Wiltshire from 1739 to 1749. Based on age range, our ancestor could have been Jonathan’s brother or cousin. But as with all the DNA clusters we found, there is currently insufficient evidence to draw any conclusions.

Urchfont, Wiltshire

6 matches shared by 5 cousins of which 4 matches certainly go back to John Sainsbury or Saintsbury (1664-1719) and Elizabeth Wilkins (1672-1720?) who had a son named Richard baptized in Urchfont in 1708. Nothing more is known about that Richard Sainsbury except that he was alive in 1720 when he was named in a lawsuit against his mother.

Westbury, Wiltshire

6 matches shared across 6 cousins. This is a complicated cluster because although most of the individuals are in Westbury in the late 18th century, tracing them further back is difficult:

  • One match is descended from William Sainsbury (1685-1756) and Ann Jones (1696-?) who had a son named Richard baptized in Westbury in 1722. Nothing more is known of that Richard Sainsbury.
  • One match is descended from Elizabeth Sainsbury (1772-1846) who married Samuel Otridge or Ottridge in Westbury in 1797.
  • Two matches are descended from a Mary Sainsbury (?-1797?) who married James Elkins in Westbury in 1754.
  • Two matches are descended from Hester Trimby (1773-1843) who was born in Corsley, Wiltshire but whose parents, Edward Trimby or Trinby (ca. 1745-1776) and Betty Sainsbury (ca. 1745-1797), were married in Westbury in 1754.

West Lavington, Wiltshire

This is the largest cluster of matches. It has several sub-groups or branches that go back to various 18th-century couples. Overall, 20 matches are shared across 10 cousins.

Miscellaneous

28 matches across 16 cousins go back to Sainsburys, Saintsburys or Sansburys in various locations in Wiltshire and beyond: e.g., Gloucestershire, Liverpool, London, and Newfoundland (4 matches across 3 cousins).

Unknown

20 matches across 14 cousins could not be traced. This was usually because the Ancestry member’s family trees were private and the owners did not share them for this project.

Sansbury – USA

28 matches across 13 cousins had Sansbury ancestors in colonial America. There were two main clusters: 6 matches traced back to Daniel Sansbury (?-1816) of South Carolina; 15 traced back to 17th-century Maryland. None of these lines could be traced back to specific ancestors in England with any certainty so we won’t be pursuing them in this project.  For more information about the early history of the Maryland Sansburys see:

So what’s next for our Sainsbury project?

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we take a “deeper dive” into some of the clusters of shared DNA matches among our Sainsbury cousins.

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