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: March 2, 2020. For updated analysis see Interim report on genetic evidence of our Somerset Sainsbury origins.
UPDATE: November 4, 2019. The family tree showing matches between this Sainsbury family and the Sainsburys of North Somerset will be updated as additional matches come to light. The current chart is available as a PDF to download here:
Since March, 2019 we’ve been searching the Ancestry DNA matches of nearly two dozen Somerset Sainsbury cousins who’ve volunteered to help this project — all in an effort to find others whose 18th-century Sainsbury ancestors might indicate our own ancestor’s place and family of birth.
Why so much searching?
Even when children have the same two parents and the same four grandparents, the DNA they inherit is distinct. We’re looking for traces of DNA inherited from a single ancestor who lived 300 years ago. So the more tests we examine among his descendants and likely distant cousins, the more accurate our research becomes. Check out this page from Ancestry for more information about DNA inheritance: DNA: The Building Blocks of Life
As the number of matches grew we saw distinct geographic patterns emerge. These geographic clusters are the subject of this series of “DNA Match Profile” blog posts. Earlier posts described 18th-century Sainsbury (or Saintsbury) families in these places in Wiltshire:
This post describes a Sainsbury family that lived in Worton, Wiltshire in the early 1700s. The DNA matches between descendants of this family and descendants of our Somerset Sainsburys suggest a close connection between the two families. But is it close enough to claim our earliest Somerset ancestor, Richard Sainsbury, was born into this family?
Here’s what we know…
In a 1985 history of Worton, author B.M.H.C. Crane wrote:
There are no, nor were there, any famous families, no large estate, no earth shattering events have happened here. Worton is a village of the ordinary: Ordinary people doing ordinary things, leaving only slight marks of their passing.
In 1801, about 50 years after Jonathan and his family lived in Worton, the population was 326. According to a brief history of the village, the clay-heavy land was principally used for dairy farming.
Between 1739 and 1749 Jonathan Sainsbury and his wife, probably Elizabeth Hutchins, lived in Worton and had six children baptised in Potterne.
It appears each of those children lived to adulthood because there are no infant burials for any Sainsbury children in Potterne in the same period.
Eight different matches to 10 different cousins
During our search for Sainsburys we pretty much came to expect we’d find a match to a descendant of this family in the match list of any Somerset Sainsbury cousin we investigated. In terms of number of matches this cluster is about equivalent to the matches we found to the Sainsburys of Heytesbury and area.
Jonathan was not a common name among 18th-century Sainsburys. In fact, there is only one baptism for a Jonathan Sainsbury around the years that would make him of marriageable age by 1730.
He therefore seems to have been the son of Samuel Sainsbury and Elizabeth Chapman who was baptised in West Lavington, Wiltshire on 27 Aug 1706.
Jonathan’s eight children were born between 1732 and 1749. This is about the same time as our earliest Somerset Sainsbury ancestor, Richard Sainsbury, and his wife were having children in Clapton in Gordano, Somerset. Age-wise, then, Jonathan Sainsbury of Worton and Richard Sainsbury of Clapton in Gordano may have been brothers, which would explain these DNA matches.
Were Jonathan and Richard brothers?
Jonathan’s parents, Samuel Sainsbury and Elizabeth Chapman, did not have a documented child named Richard. However, there are gaps in the record of their children’s births, which holds out the possibility that they could have had a son named Richard.
In fact, if there are children missing from the record (because those children were not baptised, or because the registers have not survived) it’s likely they would have used the name “Richard” for any son they had because it was Elizabeth’s father’s name.
The possibility of other children
Samuel Sainsbury and Elizabeth Chapman were married in West Lavington in 1694, but the baptism of their first recorded child doesn’t appear until 1699. It’s therefore possible they had other children (including a Richard?) in that five-year period after their marriage.
Their last recorded child was baptised in 1711, so again, there’s the possibility that they had other children after that date. These “windows of opportunity” for other children are indicated by the grey boxes at either end of this family tree:
We also don’t know if Jonathan was closely related to Edward Sainsbury and his family, who were the subject of the previous blog post about Sainsbury matches centred around Heytesbury. That investigation will be the subject of future research.
Jonathan died intestate in 1770, so we don’t have a will that might have given us more information about his life and family.
What do do have, however, is the rather wonderful, determined signature of Jonathan’s 24-year-old son, George, on an estate administration document of 1770:
Overall, the number of matches between the Somerset Sainsburys and this family seems to suggest “there’s something there.” But what that something is, we don’t yet know.
However, the purpose of this post (and all posts in this DNA Match Profile series) is to describe and document the matches we found with the help of so many cousins. Further research and interpretation will follow as we try to identify the family and place of origin of our earliest Somerset Sainsbury ancestor, Richard Sainsbury.
The next blog post will look at the matches we’ve identified to descendants of a 17th- and 18th-century Sainsbury (aka Saintsbury) family of Eastcott (aka Escott) between Easterton and Urchfont, Wiltshire.