DNA Match Profile: The Sainsburys of Codford St Mary, Codford St Peter and Heytesbury

UPDATE: January 31, 2020. Family trees showing matches between this Sainsbury family and the Sainsburys of north Somerset are available as PDFs to view or download here:

As we looked for Sainsburys in the family trees of other Ancestry users who match our Somerset cousins — all in an attempt to locate the family and place of origin of our earliest known Sainsbury ancestor — one of the most interesting clusters we found lived in the area around Codford St Mary and Codford St Peter in Wiltshire in the very early 1700s. (This cluster was first described in an earlier post.) Other towns in the same area where member of this family lived include Heytesbury, Warminster and Corsley.

These communities lie in Wiltshire’s scenic Wylye Valley which, according to Wikipedia, “is dotted with small chocolate box villages composed of thatched cottages and stone-built pubs.”

In 1801 the combined population of both “Codfords” was about 600.

Map of Codford St Peter and Codford St Mary, circa 1880.

Overview of these matches

We started our search for matches to descendants of this family using the surname Sainsbury but we added other surnames as our knowledge of this particular family grew. Other surnames that revealed DNA matches to descendants of this family included Sparey (Spary, Speary) and Moody.

Overall, we found nine matches to descendants of these Codford Sainsburys in the DNA results of seven of our 20 Somerset Sainsbury cousins.

These matches are outlined in this family tree. The names at the bottom are the Ancestry user names of our Somerset Sainsbury cousins. The Ancestry names of those they match have been removed for privacy:

This tree has been updated. Check the PDF download at the top of this post for the latest version. Descendants of William Sainsbury b. c. 1744 were removed from the latest version when it came to light (1/31/20) that Edward’s son William was baptised in 1732 and had a different set of descendants.

The matches include three shared matches, which (if they all match at the same chromosomal location — which is currently beyond the scope of this project) greatly increases the reliability of the connection between these two Sainsbury families:

  • In one case (the first column on the family tree) a set of half third cousins in Canada and two additional Somerset Sainsbury descendants share a match to an Australian parent and child. (This match was described in an earlier post called Anatomy of a Match).
  • In another case (the third column in the family tree) two first cousins in Canada share a match to a descendant in England.
  • And in the third case (the last column in the family tree) one of our Somerset Sainsbury cousins in England is a match to two Australian descendants who are first cousins.

So what does this tell us?

The number of matches, and the number of duplicate matches, in this set suggests a strong genetic connection between the Somerset Sainsburys and this Sainsbury family.

Were Richard and Edward brothers?

Our own ancestor, Richard Sainsbury, was married in 1745 and had children in the 1740s and 1750s. That would likely put him, age-wise, on a par with the Edward Sainsbury in this tree, whose children were born in the 1730s and 1740s.

Edward was baptised in Heytesbury in 1705, the son of a Thomas Sainsbury:

One possible explanation for these genetic connections is that Richard and Edward were brothers. This would make our Somerset ancestor, Richard Sainsbury, the uncle of this children listed in the top row of the family tree (above).

This Sainsbury family likely lived in Tytherington, Wiltshire rather than Heytesbury itself. Thirteen years after Edward’s baptism there is another Sainsbury baptism in Heytesbury, this time for a William Sainsbury, son of Thomas “of Tytherington.” William was likely Edward’s brother.

There are no Sainsbury baptisms in Heytesbury between 1706 and 1717. But this gap in births opens up the possibility that Richard Sainsbury (b. ? – d. 1785), the ancestor of the Sainsburys of North Somerset, was a child of Thomas Sainsbury of Tytherington, Wiltshire:

The early 18th-century Thomas Sainsbury family of Tytherington, Wiltshire

When compared to the other clusters of 18th-century Sainsburys we identified in this project, this cluster’s multiple and duplicate matches are among the strongest indications that the descendants of Edward Sainsbury and Mary Miles of Heytesbury may be cousins to the Sainsburys of North Somerset.

Edward died in 1777 and was buried in Codford St Mary. Unfortunately, he left no will. If he had, it might have been our chance to discover some small bequest to “my brother Richard of the county of Somerset,” and we would therefore have had the documentary proof we need to connect these two families.

However, Edward did witness the 1736 will of John Sly of Codford St Mary. His signature (as “Edward Sansbuary”) is on the last page of that document:

The signatures of Edward Sansbuary and John Harwood, and the mark of John Harwood’s wife, Finata, on the 1736 will of John Sly of Codford St Mary

As the notes below describe, there are some significant, unverified assumptions in all this. It’s not certain, for example, that the Oliver matches in this tree are descendants of Edward Sainsbury.

We’ll need more genetic matches, and hopefully more documentary evidence, before we can definitively say that Richard Sainsbury of North Somerset was born between 1706 and 1716 in the Heytesbury area of Wiltshire, or that he was the son of Thomas Sainsbury and the brother of Edward and William Sainsbury of Tytherington, Wiltshire.

Steve Sheppard / By-Way to Tytherington / CC BY-SA 2.0



There are two significant, unverified assumptions in this cluster of genetic matches:

Note 1. Mary SAINSBURY (bap. 1742, Codford St Peter) married William OLIVER in Codford St Mary in 1769. There is only one documented child in the church records: a son named William. In the next generation, there is a Jonathan OLIVER bap. Codford St Peter in 1797, the son of John and Ann OLIVER. The speculation here – based on these DNA matches, is that Jonathan’s father, John, was the son of Mary SAINSBURY and William OLIVER.

Note 2. William SAINSBURY married Betty DYER in Heytesbury in 1768. They were both of Heytesbury. There is no baptism of a William SAINSBURY, son of Edward and Mary, in the area around this time. However, if William was about 25 at the time of his marriage, he would be the right age and in the right area to be a son of Edward and Mary. The speculation here, based on these DNA matches, is that William was the son of Edward SAINSBURY and Mary MILES.


River Wylye. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Wylye

‘Sheet 058’, in Map of Wiltshire (Southampton, 1878-1890), British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/os-1-to-10560/wiltshire/058 [accessed 4 September 2019].

‘Table of population, 1801-1951’, in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 4, ed. Elizabeth Crittall (London, 1959), pp. 315-361. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/wilts/vol4/pp315-361 [accessed 4 September 2019].

Disclaimer: As with any research project, when new evidence comes to light, former theories may change. This blog post includes theories and conclusions developed from the best available evidence at the time this post was written. It may be corroborated or refuted by later research. This post must therefore be considered in the context of all information presented in earlier and later posts.

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