Month: January 2020

A crack in the case?

A distant Edwards family match opens a new line of research

Last year we completed the first phase of our search for the origins of our ancestor Richard Sainsbury (? – 1785) of north Somerset.

In that phase we collected all the Ancestry DNA matches that about 20 of our Somerset Sainsbury cousins have to other Sainsbury descendants.

We did this to find distant, unknown cousins whose own trees might help us break through our brick wall. (For a project overview, see the About page on this blog.)

The theory was if we could pool all the matches to “unknown” Sainsbury descendants from such a large group of known Sainsbury cousins, an answer would emerge from the results.

So we expected to see a single large cluster of matches emerge. That cluster would be a family tree of our “nearest distant” Sainsbury cousins, and it would also indicate our earliest known Sainsbury ancestor’s family of origin.

If a single large cluster had emerged, our search would have been over.

But instead of single large cluster of “unknown” Sainsburys, we found three large family clusters (all in Wiltshire): one in Urchfont, one in Potterne and one in the Wylye Valley.

One big Sainsbury family?

So, do all three of these families have a common Sainsbury ancestor one or two generations back?

Apparently not, as this chart shows:

This chart shows the known ancestries of those three families.

The Richard Sainsbury (1708 – ?) at the bottom of the first column might be our Somerset Sainsbury ancestor. The Urchfont cluster we identified is the only one that includes a Richard Sainsbury of an age that could make him our ancestor.

The heads of the the other two families: Jonathan Sainsbury of Potterne and Edward Sainsbury of villages in the Wylye Valley, are indicated near the bottom of the other two columns.

As can be seen, their lines have been more difficult to trace than the Urchfont line. However, going back a few generations from the Potterne and Wylye Valley individuals shows no known connection among any of these families.

Cherchez la femme

We’re at the point where genetic matches to the families of the Sainsbury wives and mothers in these trees might come into play. It’s time, as they say in detective novels, to cherchez la femme.

This week, while examining the ancestry of a match in the Potterne Sainsbury tree, I noticed something … interesting:

Ancestors of a “Sainsbury” match: Elizabeth Sainsbury of Potterne outlined in orange, James Giddings of Urchfont outlined in blue.

Although the Sainsbury in this person’s tree led to their classification as a descendant of the Sainsburys of Potterne … the name Giddings (outlined in blue on this tree) caught my eye because it is a distinctly “Urchfont” name. . .

At the same time, I’d been building a family tree for Richard Sainsbury’s grandmother, Em Edwards Sainsbury (1639 – 1700), and found that her niece, Mary Edwards, married Charles Giddings in 1695.

A little more searching revealed Charles and Mary’s third child, James Giddings (1701 – 1786), is the same James Giddings outlined in blue on the family tree — an ancestor of this apparent “Potterne Sainsbury” match.

Is this an Edwards match?

If the Richard Sainsbury b. 1708 Urchfont, Wiltshire is the same as the Richard Sainsbury buried in Nailsea, Somerset in 1785, then an Edwards family connection could explain the DNA match between one of our Somerset Sainsbury cousins and two siblings who descend from Richard Sainsbury’s great-uncle, Robert Edwards, as shown in this tree:

If the shared DNA indicated in this tree comes from the Edwards family of Urchfont, it would move what we’d thought was a Sainsbury match out of the Sainsburys of Potterne family tree and into the Sainsburys of Urchfont family tree.

It could therefore be a (tiny) piece of genetic evidence that the Richard Sainsbury baptised in Urchfont in 1708 was the ancestor of the Sainsbury family of north Somerset.

In the weeks ahead, as work continues on some of our other best leads (summarized at the top of this recent blog post) let’s also explore the genetic connections between our Somerset Sainsbury cousins and the Edwards family of Urchfont.

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.