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.
What have we done so far?
The first step in our genetic genealogy adventure — to find the family and place of origin of our earliest Somerset Sainsbury ancestor, Richard Sainsbury — was to gather information about the Sainsbury ancestors of all the matches we found on Ancestry to a large set of Somerset Sainsbury cousins. (Thanks to all those cousins, and to all those who will decide to participate in this project!)
Our next step was to analyse that information for patterns and to identify clusters of matches who descended from a single Sainsbury ancestor at a time when our Somerset ancestor was likely born (i.e., the early 1700s).
An overview of those clusters appeared in a previous blog post. They were each described in a series of DNA Match Profiles over the past couple of months.
It’s now time to take stock of what we’ve learned, and consider where we go from here.
Overall, when we look at the four Sainsbury families that emerged as the strongest possibilities for our Somerset ancestor’s family of origin (i.e., those clusters with the most, and most multiple matches) it’s reasonable to assume there must be a Sainsbury ancestor common to at least two of these families. And surely that common ancestor — if he exists — can’t be too many more generations back. (Famous last words?)
So one avenue of pursuit over the next while is to see if we can find a common ancestor for at least two of these families.
Now that we’ve used (and continue to use) DNA tests to look for our Somerset ancestor’s place of origin, these families and these research areas are our strongest candidates for further investigation:
The Sainsburys of Castle Combe
DNA Match Profile: The Saintsbury family of Castle Combe
This is one of the smaller clusters in terms of number of matches, but it is significant because it includes the highest number of multiple matches to descendants of a single couple. In this case, the couple is William Saintsbury and Mary Askew or Asque of Nettleton, Wiltshire:
- A pair of fourth cousins from the Somerset Sainsbury clan match a documented descendant of William and Mary’s son, Joseph Sainsbury (aka Saintsbury, Sainsberry), who was born in Nettleton, Wiltshire around 1734 and lived in Marshfield, Gloucestershire near Bristol.
- A pair of second cousins from the Somerset Sainsbury clan match a documented descendant of William and Mary’s daughter, Anne Sainsbury (bap. 1745 in Nettleton).
- Three Somerset Sainsbury cousins match a possible descendant of Betty Saintsbury who married Isaac Barrington in 1752 in Hullavington, Wiltshire.
Multiple matches are important in genetic genealogy because when two known cousins match a third possible cousin it’s very likely they all inherited the same piece of DNA from a common ancestor. This “triangulation” presents some of the strongest evidence in genetic genealogy.
To confirm this triangulation, the individuals who share these matches would need to upload their DNA results to a genetic genealogy site with a “chromosome browser” (e.g., GEDMATCH Genesis (free) or MyHeritage) to see and compare the exact location of the DNA they share.
In addition to the relatively high number of multiple matches in this cluster, it may also be significant because it is nearest to the Bristol area where our earliest Somerset Sainsbury ancestor, Richard Sainsbury, lived in the mid to late 1700s.
- One way forward on this cluster would be to contact and encourage those involved in these matches to share their DNA results on a genetic genealogy site with a chromosome browser.
- That would enable a comparison to either confirm the likelihood of a common ancestor (if they share the same segment of DNA), or show that they match each other on different segments and therefore do not share a common ancestor.
The Sainsburys of Codford St Mary and Codford St Peter
DNA Match Profile: The Sainsburys of Codford St Mary, Codford St Peter and Heytesbury
This cluster is one of our largest in terms of number of matches. It includes a set of second cousins in Australia who share DNA with a single Somerset Sainsbury descendant. It also includes a mother-daughter pair who share DNA with 6 Somerset Sainsbury descendants.
However, there’s something very interesting about that mother-daughter pair who enjoy so many matches to Somerset Sainsbury cousins. We’ve looked more closely at the connection — and it doesn’t appear to be on a Sainsbury line.
Instead, based on a large set of matches shared between the mother-daughter pair and a set of four Somerset Sainsbury cousins (well, two confirmed and two highly likely) it appears they share DNA from a Hinton (or earlier) ancestor:
Further investigation into the Hinton family of Codford St Mary and Codford St Peter in the 1600s and early 1700s revealed important family and economic connections to families based in Urchfont, Wiltshire.
Urchfont is the site of a significant set of Sainsbury matches identified in our data collection and analysis.
So it’s possible that a 17th-century Sainsbury from Urchfont (or one of the other clusters we’ve identified) migrated to Codford St Mary or Codford St Peter, and married, or at least had children with, a Hinton or related family member.
- In an upcoming blog post we’ll look more closely at the family and economic connections between the Hinton and related families of this area (e.g., Flower, Withers, Compton, Baverstock, Thring) and the Sainsbury and related families (e.g., Rosier, Withers, Amor) of Urchfont.
The Sainsburys of Worton in the parish of Potterne
DNA Match Profile: The Sainsburys of Worton and Potterne, Wiltshire
The head of the family that forms this genetic cluster with a set of Somerset Sainsbury cousins was a Jonathan Sainsbury who was likely born around 1710. One of his Australian descendants is a match to 6 Somerset Sainsbury cousins.
Age-wise, Jonathan would have been about the same age as our earliest Somerset Sainsbury cousin — so it’s possible they were brothers or cousins. However, the only likely individual in the parish registers is a Jonathan Sainsbury, son of Samuel Sainsbury who was baptised in nearby West Lavington in 1706.
Jonathan did not have a brother named Richard. Or in any case, there is no Richard Sainsbury baptised in West Lavington around the same time.
It’s also a bit unclear who Jonathan’s father was because there were two Samuel Sainsburys having children in the same area at the same time.
- Clarify which Samuel Sainsbury was Jonathan’s father and see whether there is any family connection to the Richard Sainsbury who was baptised in Urchfont in 1708. (That 1708 baptism is the only one for a Richard Sainsbury in the area during a timeframe that would make it possible for him to also have been the ancestor of the Somerset Sainsburys.)
- Investigate whether Jonathan’s wife, Elizabeth Hutchins, may herself have been a Sainsbury descendant. If she descends from the Urchfont family, for example, that would link two of the genetic clusters we found (i.e, the Worton family and the Urchfont family).
The Sainsburys of Eastcott in the parish of Urchfont
DNA Match Profile: The Sainsbury family of Eastcott in the parish of Urchfont
In our search for the place of origin of our ancestor, Richard Sainsbury, the 17th–century Sainsbury or Saintsbury family of the hamlet of Eastcott is probably our best bet.
Not only do we have many matches among our Somerset cousins to descendants of this family, but it is the only cluster we found that includes a documented Richard Sainsbury.
Nothing has yet appeared to undermine the theory that the Richard Sainsbury who was born in Eastcott (known at the time as Escott) around 1708 is the Richard Sainsbury who married Mary Willis in Portbury, Somerset in 1745.
The Richard Sainsbury who was baptised in Urchfont did not die young. (There is no infant burial in the church register.) Nor did he marry in the parish in the next few decades.
He may also have been part of a web of economic and family connections between Urchfont and the Bristol area. (See A Day of Coincidence: Urchfont Connections.)
- See whether the Goldney Family Papers at the University of Bristol mention a Richard Sainsbury or Saintsbury as an employee or other associate in the years between 1720 and 1785.
- Identify a male descendant of the Urchfont Sainsbury family for a Y-DNA test; compare the results with of two Somerset Sainsbury tests to see if the results suggests a indicate a recent common ancestor.
- Investigate Somerset Sainsbury DNA matches for descendants of ancestral families common to this Sainsbury family (i.e., Wilkins, Nutland, Edwards, Ruddle).
- A significant set of matches to descendants of those families would tend to corroborate the theory that Richard Sainsbury of Urchfont (bap. 1708) is Richard Sainsbury of North Somerset (bur. 1785).