John & Elizabeth JARVIS of 16th-century Upavon, Wiltshire

In 2019 and 2020 we identified and classified the genetic connections that dozens of north Somerset Sainsbury descendants have to others with a SAINSBURY in their family trees.

A pattern emerged to suggest our earliest Somerset SAINSBURY ancestor may have been the Richard SAINSBURY born in Urchfont, Wiltshire in 1708. (See DNA evidence of our Sainsbury origins in Eastcott, Wiltshire.) This was subsequently proven through Y-DNA test results. (See Y-DNA proves Urchfont origins of north Somerset Sainsburys.)

Baptismal register of Richard SAINSBURY of the Escott (now Eastcott) in the parish of Urchfont. Sept. 5, 1708. The parish register used “Saintsbury” as the surname, but members of the family signed their name as “Sainsbury.” Source: Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre (645/5).

Triangulated matches

In 2019 and 202 we refocused our search to see if we could find triangulated matches (also called triangulation groups) that supported this pattern of Urchfont-centred SAINSBURY matches.

We might have found none, in which case that Urchfont pattern could have been safely set aside as a red herring. Instead, we’ve found several.

Triangulated matches are a lot of work to find and prove—especially among cousins whose common ancestors lived more than 400 years ago—but they provide a much higher level of evidence than last year’s broad scan. (See Looking for a long shot: Triangulated matches to distant Sainsbury cousins and How do you find triangulation groups?)

With the cooperation of many Somerset SAINSBURY cousins—and the cooperation of many descendants of the Urchfont-area families with whom our cousins share segments of DNA—we found triangulation groups that strongly suggest our SAINSBURY family originated in Urchfont, Wiltshire and surrounding villages. (See A Sainsbury-Ruddle triangulation group and The DNA of Thomas NOYES and Alice MERIWEATHER of Fullaway, Wiltshire.)

Some of these groups relied on a direct, patrilineal Sainsbury descent among the Sainsburys of Urchfont to make sense of the DNA inheritance. However, we now know our own surname line is not related to the Sainsburys of Urchfont and area on a direct male line prior to the birth of John Sainsbury the younger in 1664.

How, then, can we make sense of DNA apparently inherited from earlier ancestors in that direct Sainsbury line? Ancestors such as John and Elizabeth JARVIS of Upavon, Wiltshire?

A second John & Elizabeth JARVIS triangulation group

This is the second triangulation group that tracks back to John JARVIS (c.1535-1585) and his wife Elizabeth (c.1535-1602) who lived in Upavon, Wiltshire in the mid- to late-1500s. (The first was described in A Sainsbury-Ruddle triangulation group.) John and Elizabeth’s daughter, Dorothy JARVIS, moved from Upavon to Urchfont where she married John SAINSBURY (1555-1634) in 1587.

Jarvis Street in Upavon, Wiltshire; the name is likely associated with the family of John and Elizabeth JARVIS of 16th-century Upavon. Source: Old Upavon. Upavon Village Website.

Unlike some, this triangulation group was relatively easy to find and verify:

  1. The Ancestry match list of a Somerset SAINSBURY cousin in Canada (TLH) includes an Australian descendant of John JARVIS (1729-1786) of Upavon, Wiltshire and, later, Siddington, Gloucestershire (HC). John JARVIS (1729-1786) was a descendant of John and Elizabeth JARVIS of 16th-century Upavon, Wiltshire. They were direct ancestors of Richard SAINSBURY of Urchfont.
  2. Another Somerset Sainsbury cousin in Canada (DF) also matches the Australian descendant of John JARVIS (1729-1786). The two Somerset SAINSBURY descendants in this group are second cousins and share DNA on chromosome 16. These Canadian cousins were already on GEDmatch and MyHeritage. Their Australian match (HC), a descendant of John JARVIS (1729-1786), was willing to upload their Ancestry DNA file to those sites to check for triangulation.
  3. GEDmatch and MyHeritage confirmed all three share a matching segment of DNA. It seems, therefore, they form a triangulation group, and their most recent common ancestors are John and Elizabeth JARVIS of 16th-century Upavon, Wiltshire.
  4. Others with the same segment of DNA were subsequently identified on MyHeritage. One is a first cousin of the Australian match (RA). Another had a family tree that could be quite easily traced (with one unverified but likely link; especially likely given this DNA evidence) to John and Elizabeth JARVIS (NC).

So, in a nutshell, all five people in this triangulation group share an identical segment of DNA, which means they almost certainly inherited it from a common ancestor:

All five people in this triangulation group share an identical segment of DNA on chromosome 16.
  • Two people in this group (HC and RA) can confidently trace their family to John and Elizabeth JARVIS of 16th-century Upavon.
  • One (NC) has an ancestral line that very likely goes back to the same couple. (There is a gap in the parish records in one generation, but other evidence points to this JARVIS line. See downloadable tree, below.)
  • Two (TLH and DF) are Somerset SAINSBURY cousins.

But how was this DNA inherited by Somerset Sainsbury cousins?

To judge from the evidence of parish records, this JARVIS DNA would have been inherited from John SAINSBURY the younger’s paternal great-grandmother, Dorothy JARVIS. However, we know this can’t be the source of this DNA, because Y-DNA evidence proves John SAINSBURY the younger’s biological father was not John SAINSBURY the elder, grandson of Dorothy JARVIS.

And yet, knowing our SAINSBURY line goes back to Urchfont, and knowing that Dorothy JARVIS was the only member of that JARVIS family having children in Urchfont at the time suggests there is almost certainly a genetic connection.

And so . . . did Dorothy JARVIS have any male descendants in Urchfont at the time of John SAINSBURY the younger’s birth (1664) and of an age to have been his father?

If so, that fellow could have passed down this segment of “JARVIS” DNA from his ancestor, Dorothy JARVIS, to his biological child, John SAINSBURY the younger (1664-1719), through whom it could have been inherited by some of his Somerset Sainsbury descendants.

And in fact, there is one candidate.

John Ruddle (1633-?)

John RUDDLE was born in Urchfont in 1633 to John RUDDLE and Edith SAINSBURY. Edith was the daughter of Dorothy JARVIS SAINSBURY. Hence, if John RUDDLE (1633) were the biological father of John SAINSBURY the younger, it would explain the presence of this JARVIS DNA among Somerset Sainsbury cousins.

John Ruddle, husband of Edith Sainsbury and father of John Ruddle (1633), named as son-in-law and overseer in Dorothy (Jarvis) Sainsbury’s 1634 will. Urchfont, Wiltshire. Wiltshire, England, Wills and Probate, 1530-1858. Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre; Chippenham, Wiltshire, England; Wiltshire Wills and Probates; Reference Number: P2/S/501.

A search of parish records and family trees indicates that Dorothy (JARVIS) SAINSBURY was the only source of “JARVIS” DNA in Urchfont in the early 17th century. Among her male descendants only John RUDDLE (1633) was of an age to have fathered John SAINSBURY the younger.

John RUDDLE (1633) is therefore our leading candidate as the undocumented, biological father of John SAINSBURY the younger (1664-1719) of Urchfont. If this is the case, it would explain the presence of what are almost certain “Upavon JARVIS” genes among a set of Somerset Sainsbury cousins.

The family tree:

The five individuals in this triangulation group are shown in the following tree, which indicates how they may have all inherited their identical segment of DNA:

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.

6 thoughts on “John & Elizabeth JARVIS of 16th-century Upavon, Wiltshire

  1. Hi Mike, Another triangulation is always good news. A paper link between the two Richards would be ideal but not looking likely at the moment. I bought the WFHS transcripts for Upavon. It didn’t contain anything new for the JARVIS clan, it seems the missing information is actually missing from the original parish records. Bob.


  2. Thanks, Bob. Paper proof of Richard Sainsbury’s migration would be great. I think the Goldney papers at the University of Bristol hold out some hope. A cousin was going to go there this past spring to take a look — to see if Richard Sainsbury is listed in the account books for the Goldney’s holdings in Clapton in Gordano. (For details, see: ). And then Covid struck. In the absence of paper documentation, this research may be revealing high-quality DNA matches that can stand in for research source.


  3. Hi Mike – This is so interesting! You are going so far back in time that I’m wondering about the likelihood of these matches having other common ancestral couples as well? Have you looked at tree completeness?


    1. Hi Jen,

      Thanks very much for your comment and questions. As you’ll see from this reply, I’m more than happy to talk about tree completeness and other factors in all this work!

      I’ve been considering other lines during these investigations, but I haven’t made that part of the blog posts — to keep them as simple as possible. (I realize they are already quite dense.) However, in this case, for example, there was no other shared line to explain the shared DNA. Beginning with cousins helps, because it narrows the field of possible lines that include the shared ancestors. Then geography can come into play as a “top-level” filter to remove other lines.

      In this case, the two “Somerset Sainsbury” cousins share a set of great-grandparents whose ancestors came from: Wiltshire (Coombe Bissett); London (East End); north Somerset, Wiltshire, London, and Kent; Warwickshire and Kent. The Australian cousins share a set of ancestors whose origins are: Gloucestershire (via Wiltshire); unknown England; Somerset (Bath); and Ireland.

      Gloucestershire, Ireland, Kent, London, and Warwickshire aren’t common to both, so those lines can be disregarded. That leaves Somerset (but two different parts of the county) and Wiltshire. The Coombe Bissett lines were well researched, but there was no surname overlap with the Australian cousins. So, really, that left the JARVIS line to explain the shared DNA – and provide additional evidence that Richard Sainsbury of Urchfont migrated to north Somerset some time before 1745.

      Since this is a triangulation group, if the JARVIS line is correct, it should also have been possible to find someone else with the same segment of DNA whose tree goes back to the same couple. NC was one such match, and sure enough, it was possible to trace his tree back to the same JARVIS couple.

      In this case, no other ancestors showed up as MRCA candidates. I’ve actually found multiple MRCAs surprisingly rare in this research. When I do find them, I note them in a report of all matches: But in this series of blog posts, I only choose one MRCA (again, for simplicity). It would either be the most recent couple, or if candidate couples are at the same generational level, I choose the one with the best documentation.

      In either case, as long as those MRCAs are above the level of my family’s earliest known Sainsbury ancestor, I see them as adding additional ways to arrive at the same conclusion – that north Somerset Sainsbury descendants share DNA with documented descendants of the Urchfont family because that’s where our earliest known Somerset Sainsbury ancestor, Richard Sainsbury, came from.


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