and they keep coming ... the Moll Family of Ranworth, Norfolk

I'm on a fresh family tree run.  Well, actually, this one I'm sort of restoring, after once trimming the branch out.  I found them a while ago, but then noticed that one baptism would have made the proposed mother around sixteen.  It can happen, but I don't see such young motherhood very often in my tree, so I cut a branch off.  When in doubt - cut it out.

The Moll family lived during the 18th century in Ranworth, and the neighbouring parish of South Walsham in glorious Norfolk.  Here's my Tracey on her phone earlier this year nearby at Ranworth Broad:

Isn't she lovely?  Getting back to the subject, a fresh look at the Moll Family using online genealogy, and I saw my mistake.  That early Moll baptism belonged to another mother / wife of the father, from an earlier marriage.  It all fit after all.

I descend from them through my maternal grandmother, born Ivy Tovell.  Let's start this time from the top, as far back as I can safely get on this line at the moment.

My 7th great grandfather Abraham Moll lived in the Norfolk parish of Ranworth.  Where was he born?  He couldn't have been the Abraham born at Hoveton, Norfolk in 1719.  He'd be too young.  He could have been the Abraham Moll born at Edingthorpe, Norfolk, in 1696.  Just the right age.  However, that's about 20 miles away.  Did people move that far back then?  Sure.  My Thacker family line for example, shifted around East Anglia.  But most in my experience did not.  Therefore I like more evidence before accepting an origin just like that.  When you go back much earlier than 1780, that extra quality evidence rapidly evaporates for the masses.  That is where many, many, online genealogists go wrong.  Particularly if they don't live locally, they just go for the nearest with the same name, and about the right date.  If I had done that, maybe I'd now be back to Charlemagne like they usually are.  But I wouldn't believe the pedigree.  They shouldn't either.

So the earliest record - the baptism of his, and his wife's son Abraham (junior) at Ranworth in 1728:

I then have baptisms at Ranworth for four more of their children, including my 6th great grandfather Solomon Moll.  The last record for Abraham (senior) though was his burial at Ranworth in 1745:

6th great grandfather Solomon Moll was quite interesting.  Born at Ranworth in 1731, rather than the usual agricultural labourer, he was a cordwainer (a shoe maker).  Over the years he apprenticed a number of young men in South Walsham, Norfolk, for example:

Solomon the shoe maker, married my 6th great grandmother Rebecca Johnson, in 1759 at South Walsham St Mary's:

and she was to give birth to my 5th great grandmother Elizabeth Moll at South Walsham in 1763.

I don't know when Rebecca died, but widower Solomon married a second time in 1805, to a widow named Elizabeth Ebbage.  He must have been about 74 years old.  Good on him.  Maybe it was love.  Companionship at least.

His daughter Elizabeth Moll married widower, Jacob Wymer at nearby Moulton St Mary in 1785.

Moulton St Mary.  One of my favourite local rural churches.  The walls, exposed by conservation work are covered with medieval murals.

My 4th great grandmother Mary Wymer was born at Moulton, Norfolk in 1789.  She married a local farm worker named William Springall at nearby Halvergate (on the edge of the marshes) in 1811.  They had at least seven children at Halvergate between then and 1834.  One of them was my 3rd great grandmother Elizabeth Springall.  She married local lad William Lawn over the marshes at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk during 1831.  They settled at Tunstall, next to the marshes close to Halvergate.  William was interesting.  Although a marshman and labourer, he served as the parish clerk at Tunstall for 33 years.

Their daughter, my great great grandmother, Eliza Lawn, was born at Tunstall in 1849.  She married George Tammas-Tovell at Tunstall in 1866.

Here she is, the old lady sitting on the right of the photo:

An interview with one of my late great aunts recalled that as an old lady, she'd sit long periods in front of a mirror, brushing her long grey hair.  In the above photo, she poses with her son, grandaughter, and great grandaughter, my mother's sister.  Probably taken at Halvergate or Reedham.

Stats Update

The boring stuff.

My Ancestry tree currently contains the records of 2,876 family members.  Including 306 direct ancestors for myself and my siblings.

Generation 3 (grandparents) has 4 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 4 (great grandparents) has 8 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 5 (2nd great grandparents) has 16 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 6 (3rd great grandparents) has 31 individuals. (96.88%)

Generation 7 (4th great grandparents) has 57 individuals. (89.06%)

Generation 8 (5th great grandparents) has 68 individuals. (53.12%)

Generation 9 (6th great grandparents) has 64 individuals. (25.78%)

Generation 10 (7th great grandparents) has 42 individuals. (8.59%)

Generation 11 (8th great grandparents) has 13 individuals. (1.37%)

Generation 12 (9th great grandparents) has 1 individual. (0.05%)

I have 148 direct ancestors recorded for my father.

I have 156 direct ancestors recorded for my mother.

I have 468 direct ancestors recorded for my children.

And another breakthrough - more Wymondham ancestry

This one is on my mother's side, close to my maternal line.  The ancestor below is my mother's, mother's, mother (my 2nd great grandmother), Sarah Thacker of Rackheath, born as Sarah Ann Elizabeth Daines, at Besthorpe, Norfolk, in 1849.

Her parents were Reuben Daynes and his wife, born Sarah Quantrill.  3rd great grandfather Reuben had moved to Besthorpe from the nearby parish of Brandon Parva.  The Quantrill family were a Wymondham family.

Rueben Daynes (the junior) was the son of Rueben Daynes (the senior), my 4th great grandfather, and Sarah (nee Lake) of Brandon Parva. My 4th great grandfather Rueben had also been born at Brandon Parva, back in 1781.

The church at Brandon Parva on a bike ride last summer.

Rueben Daynes (senior) was the son of Abraham and Elizabeth Daynes of Brandon Parva, Norfolk.  That far I had discovered.  Now I have extended back on Elizabeth's ancestry.

I now know that my 5th great grandmother Elizabeth, was born Elizabeth Moore, and that the couple were married at Wicklewood, Norfolk back in 1764.  Rueben was a late child:

Quite clear, it states that she married Abraham Daynes of Brandon Parva.

Elizabeth herself was born at Wymondham, and was baptised there in 1748, the daughter of William and Abigail Moore:

My 6th great grandparents William Moore and Abigail Blasey, had been married a few years earlier, in Wymondham during 1745:

Abigail Blasey was local, and had been baptised at Wymondham, the daughter of Samuel and Bridget Blasey in 1724:

My 7th great grandparents, Samuel Blasey / Blazey and Bridget Lord, were married at Wymondham in 1722:

Samuel Blasey was baptised in Wymondham in 1700, the son of my 8th great grandfather, Charles Blasey.  The paper trail runs out.  I suspect that Charles Blasey / Blazey had also been born at Wymondham, around 1672, quite likely the son of a Robert Blazey.  But I haven't found that documentary evidence.

I will say that during the late 17th Century (1670's - 1701), there were Blasey, Quantrill, Moore, and Page families in Wymondham.  That might suggest that we have some pretty old Wymondham ancestry on mother's side of the tree.  Some of father's were not far off either, with some of his ancestors in nearby Attleborough, Coston, Great Hockham, Swanton Morley, and East Dereham.

I'm really pleased to find this breakthrough, the second in recent weeks, even after 29 years of researching family history.

It's also great to find such a strong ancestral link to a Norfolk market-town that I especially love.

Wymondham

Recent breakthroughs in Ancestry

I was stuck for months with 279 direct ancestors on record, when suddenly over the past few weeks, it's grown to 296, with a total of 2,806 family members in the whole tree.

Seymore

One recent breakthrough was on my father's line back to Oxfordshire.  I knew that my 4th great grandmother Brooker (nee Seymore) was born circa 1795 at Drayton, Oxfordshire.  Scanning through the digitally photographed parish registers of both Drayton St Peters, and then Drayton St Leonards, between 1780 and 1805, I had that eureka moment when I found this:

Actually, I found three baptisms of an Elizabeth to this couple, John and Phoebe (Faby) Seymour, as well as other children, and then their marriage in 1790:

So Phoebe (Faby), was a Godfrey before marriage, and a spinster.  I've traced some of the lines back a bit further:

It looks as though around 1720, the Seymore family moved from the area of West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, to the villages of Lewknor and Aston Rowant in Oxfordshire.  Not a dreadful distance, only around nine miles.  I'll have to investigate these new ancestral villages in Oxfordshire sometime.

Edney

I've also made a little progress on another close by line, also on my father's Oxfordshire lines.  My 3rd great grandmother Brooker was born Mary Ann Edney in 1845 in Shiplake, Oxfordshire.  I've managed to extend that branch a little further back:

The Edney family has recently provided me with the furthest back DNA match on my paternal line.  DNA matching suggests with a moderate confidence level, that I and another British tester share identical by descent segments of DNA with a predicted relationship of 5th to 8th cousins.  Ancestry sees a relationship on our trees that it thinks is behind those segments:

I'm very keen to find these DNA matches, to biologically verify my research, where it can (over the most recent 8 - 10 generations).  However, I'm particularly concerned about proving or disproving my paternal line beyond Generation 3, as I had a slightly colourful great grandmother on that line.  The Edney match does indeed support, that my documented great grandfather, was indeed my biological great grandfather, but really I need more verification.  I'm looking for matches with common ancestry in Oxfordshire or Switzerland, in order to do just that - alternatively a Y-DNA match from another tester descended on the Y line from an Oxfordshire / Berkshire Brooker family.

Barber

I've been trying very hard to breakthrough on a Suffolk based branch on my father's side.  I have a brick wall above my 3rd great grandfather Robert Barber, born somewhere in Suffolk, around 1796.  I do have some good candidates, 

As you can see, a baptism of a Robert Barber of Halesworth, at a non-conformist chapel in Beccles during 1797.  Tempting to claim them as ancestors, if I could, then I could actually go back a few more generations on that line.  But I'm not convinced this is the right one.  There were a lot of Barbers in Suffolk at that time.  This is the thing about genealogy - you have to make that call, that decision to add, or not to add.  The further that we go back, the less the resources, and the more missing.  Then perhaps, we are forced to sometimes make slightly more generous decisions.  I do struggle with that though.

As a side note, I have ordered Robert's death certificate from the GRO.  He died quite young in 1846, and it smashed his young family apart, some ending up in the workhouse.  I'd like to know what happened.

His son George got out of Shipmeadow Workhouse and got work at a farm labourer in the Hedenham / Woodton area of Norfolk.  He married and settled there.  They had a number of children, including a daughter named Emily Barber.  When she was 11 years old, during the 1871 census, she was recorded as working as a "crow keeper" (children employed to scare birds from fields):

Emily later moved to Norwich, to work as a servant in a Solicitor's household.  There she met a young wheelwright from Attleborough, called Fred Smith.  They married at the bottom of Grapes Hill.  They were very congregationalist new chapel.  They raised their children in a terrace house in Suffolk Street, Norwich, including my father's mother, Doris Smith.

Here's Emily, with her son Sid Smith, who was a First World War veteran from the Western Front:

My Drover Ancestors - walking in footsteps

I've recently, through DNA matching, reinvestigated my Peach ancestors of the Maxey area of Northamptonshire.  The men of this family were usually recorded as drovers or shepherds.  Below for example, are some of my Peach drovers as they stayed for the night at an inn in Hoe, Norfolk during 1851. Young James there, walking livestock from the other side of the Fens, was the 20 year old younger brother of my 3rd great grandfather, David Peach.

The family lived for a number of generations, in the area of Stamford, Maxey, and Eye, in what was then the County of Northants, close to Peterborough.  It was the perfect base for the transportation of Welsh cattle, sheep, and other livestock, from the North and West, across the Fen droves, and down to the rich meadows, pastures, and marsh grasses of East Anglia, where livestock could be fattened, before then being driven down to markets including Smithfields in London. Before the railways, this livestock had to be transported the hard way - by foot along a number of trails and droves, that took in watering points, grazing, and were secure from gangs of rustlers.

Many drovers were young men, that later settled as shepherds and labourers.  They were travellers outside of their home areas.  Visitors to far away inns, markets, fairs, and parishes.  Maybe that was an attraction for some local girls, such as my 3rd great grandmother, Sarah Ann Riches, of the South West Norfolk parish of Great Hockham.  These lads from far away, with strange accents.  Did she walk back with my 3rd great grandfather David Peach, all the way back to Northamptonshire?  They married at Holywell Lincolnshire, in 1835.  Sarah must have been heavily pregnant, because she gave birth to their daughter Ann Peach a few months later at Etton, Northants.

The livestock that these drovers were paid to walk many miles were often highly valuable, their monetary value far in excess of the personal value of a poor drover.  They had to be trusted to take care of them, and to behave with honesty.  It would be so easy to sell an animal on the journey, and to claim that it had died of natural causes.  Some drovers broke that trust.  In 1837, my 3rd great grandfather, David Peach, was convicted at Lincoln Assizes of stealing two cattle.  He was taken to a prison hulk ship moored into the Thames.  A few months later, he was transported for Life.  His convict ship stopped off at Norfolk Island, before then moving him to Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania) in 1838.  He was sent to the notorious hard labour Port Arthur convict settlement.  Some years later he was pardoned, but he was not granted licence to return to Britain.

Meanwhile, his young family suffered.  His wife Sarah Ann, with their young daughter, Ann Peach, returned to her family in Norfolk.  A wife of a convict, even if transported for Life, could not remarry.  She had to find means to survive and to raise Ann on her own.  She lived many years in the Norfolk market town of Attleborough, where she scraped a livelihood as a charwoman.  She had two further children.  One, she named David Wilson Peach.  Wilson, most likely the biological father - but she gave him her husband's first name.  Did she still harbour strong feelings for her far away husband?

Other male Peach's in the family continued to drove, as the above 1851 census reveals.  David was literally in another world.  Two of Sarah's siblings, Henry Riches and Maria Hudson (nee Riches), also migrated to Tasmania, albeit during the 1850s as volunteer settlers to the north of the Island.

Walking in footsteps

I had one of those time-traveller moments today.  It occurred to me, as I found a DNA match supporting my descent from these drovers, when I visited a website about them, how I on a personal level, have always been a long distance walker.  From sponsored long distance walks as a kid, until walking the Marriot's Way, and Boudicca Way in Norfolk only this year.  I absolutely love walking through the countryside.  Testing my endurance.  With a dog or two even better.  I've walked the Peddars Way twice, the Fen Rivers Way, the North Norfolk Coast Path, and the Weavers Way.  In 2016, I walked a part of the Pennine Way.  But all of those walks, some of them would have even crossed where my drover ancestors crossed.  With their dogs.  It's almost as though we have that hereditary link.  I'm the descendant of drovers and I walk.  Without knowing it, I have walked in their footsteps.

Here are some of my photos from my 2017 walks.  Perhaps some of these landscapes may not have been too dissimilar to the green lanes and landscapes that they knew (albeit without the huge open fields).

So maybe, just maybe, there is a link there.  The guy that just loves to walk through the East Anglian countryside all day, and those drovers of the Nineteenth Century.  The desire to walk and to explore.

Father to Son documented genealogy V LDNA test results

I received my son Edward's Living DNA results yesterday, 26 days before the deadline (albeit second sample as first failed. Edward was born severely disabled with severe development delay and doesn't always want to give a swab sample). Here I review all of the Living DNA results against what I believe ancestry is based solely on documented genealogical sources. These documented sources are supported only by family history, interviews, thirty years of documentary research - much of it very local, photographs (likenesses), social background (mainly rural working class, many very localised), local social history, and also in my case by DNA cousin matching:



NPEs and genealogical mistakes (particularly over six generations ago) are possible. However, bearing in mind the above factors, I feel that I have a reasonably good documented record to compare DNA-tests-for-ancestry against.

The two tests in the table below, are my son Edward (left), and myself (right). We are both British by nationality and English by ethnicity. We live in East Anglia, home of many of our documented ancestors. I am mainly of East Anglian ancestry, but with some Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Northants, and Swiss lines. Edward's mother by ancestry is half English (Berks, Wilts, East Anglia, Beds, Somerset) and half Irish.

The "actual documented ancestry" are percentages divided into LDNA sub regions, based on Generation 6 (32 x 3rd great grandparents) with some references to Generation 7 when noteworthy.



Discussion.

Living DNA has made great commercial headway through the use of the POBI dataset, that had been acclaimed by the original team, as demonstrating a distinguishable pattern that aligned well with the Anglo-Saxon period British kingdoms. The reference samples were well chosen, with geographically local born grandparents, and a bias to rural testers over urban (that see more mobility). However, LDNA, we know, have made lot's of alterations with their sub regions.

In both the case of Edward's and my documented East Anglian ancestry, the LDNA saw less than 50% of what I'd expect. I believe that some of our EA went elsewhere - Lincs, SE England, Germanic, Scandinavian, etc.

Edward got a big chunk of Lincs and SE England that I just do not think is real.

I got 10% Tuscan that I don't believe. Something could however correlate to a Swiss 3 x great grandparent. But that percentage? I know it is possible. Edward got no Tuscany.

Edward, with his 25% actual Irish ancestry received 98% GB & Ireland. His father, myself, although 97% actual, received only 70% GB & Ireland. I think that rather like with other test companies - Ireland, Scotland, and Wales look more "British" than do the English on tests. Yet Edward only received a mere 2% Irish on the test! That is an even more serious underscore.

Before I tested with Living DNA, I really was starting to lose faith in autosomal DNA testing for general ancestry. When Living DNA launched, my hopes were raised that with the right references, computing power, and chips, that one day, they could be much more accurate and meaningful than they have been up to now.

After Edward's results, I'm starting to lose a bit of faith again. I feel that these tests are good for pin pointing a corner of Europe at best. Beyond that, there may be average PCA plots, but they are far too fuzzy to base "ancestry composition", my origins", or "ethnicity estimate" percentages on with any degree of certainty or accuracy. Fun yes. Useful to build a personal DNA "ancestral population flavour and PCA plot" yes. But that's all. Beyond that is a roll of the dice. Too many testers take their results far too literally. Too many testers also display brand loyalty.

As for haplogroups, Edward's results were disappointingly basic.

Y-DNA L1

mtDNA H (only 4 mutations listed on the csv file).

Which is more accurate AncestryDNA or 23andMe?

I've been researching my ancestry, on and off, for about 30 years. That included interviewing elderly relatives, family histories, photographs, documents, etc. It progressed onto BMD certificates, Census, and many, many visits to local record offices, churches, and archives across Britain in order to examine parish registers, transcripts, minute books, etc.

These days I have the luxury of online genealogical resources, and the ability of searching online data bases. To cut a long story short, I have accumulated a family history that includes the names of 279 recorded, direct ancestors, 277, of which lived in South East England, particularly in the East Anglian County of Norfolk (the other two were a Swiss 3 x great grandparent and his named father).

At Generation 6 (3 x great grandparent), I can say that on paper, I am 97% South East English (including 75% East Anglian), and 3% Swiss. In other words, pretty much of local East Anglian ancestry. Here is a map showing my recorded ancestors - blue via my father (minus the few in Switzerland), red via my mother:

Okay, I will still have some mistakes in my genealogical research, particularly on more distant lines, where records start to be come more scarce and have less survival. There would also be some NPEs (non parental events). However, if I compare my pedigree with DNA matches / cousins that share common ancestors both in segments and on paper trails, I get this (shaded areas verified with DNA matches to paper trails):
So there is a reasonable verification there.

That is my background. The results? Remember, Generation 6:

97% English
3% Swiss

Well before phasing, 23andme gave me:

100% European: 94% NW European. 3% Southern European. 3% Broadly European. Broken down to:
32% British & Irish
27% French & German
7% Scandinavian
29% Broadly NW European
2% Broadly Southern European (including 0.5% Iberian)

After phasing with a surviving parent, it adjusted to:

100% European: 96% NW European. 2% Southern European. 2% Broadly European.
38% British & Irish (23% from father, 15% from mother)
24% French & German (13% from father, 11% from mother)
0.8% Scandinavian (from mother alone)
34% Broadly NW European (22% from father, 12% from mother)
2% Broadly Southern European (1% from father, 1% from mother)

Not very impressive is it?

AncestryDNA gave me:



Still way off, but a lot closer and more precise than 23andme. They also assigned me both to the Southern England Genetic Community, and to the East Anglia & Essex Genetic Community, perfectly correct.

Therefore in summary - I've come to the conclusion that NO current autosomal DNA test for ancestry is capable of accurately predicting your ancestry below a very large region, such as NW Europe - unless your ancestors belong to a particularly well defined population that avoided medieval admixture. They are all inaccurate. More important to me now is that they have fat databases of testers, with a system of searching them alongside family trees, ancestor locations and surnames. However, side by side - for my results, and weighed simply against recorded family history, I have to pronounce AncestryDNA/.com to be more accurate than 23andme.

Genetic Genealogy - DNA Relative Matches

I have new DNA cousin "matches".  This is a very important avenue of DNA testing for genealogy and ancestry that I have simply missed until recently.  Up to now, I've concentrated on DNA testing for general ancestry (or ethnicity as some businesses will call it).  The problem was that I first tested with 23andme, and simply, using their heavy USA customer base, and user unfriendly "experiences", I couldn't find any DNA relatives that actually had paper trails that could correlate to my own.

One of the problems is I feel, is that an awful lot of Eastern English migration to the Atlantic Coast of North America, occurred very early - late 16th to early 18th centuries AD.  As a result, although some generous matching systems (such as 23andme's) suggests much more recent shared ancestry, in reality, our links to our distant USA cousins are so old, that all they do is reflect that my distant cousins have Puritan, New England, and Virginian ancestry from Eastern England.  Even for those that do claim to trace ancestry to those pilgrim fathers - I can't.  Certainly not for the thousands of my direct ancestors for Generations 11 - 14.  I don't think any of us can.  Chuck in a bit of genetic folding, and all that these distant relationships is really telling us is, that we both have some ancestry from south east England between 300 and 600 years ago.

Then I tested with Ancestry.com, Ancestry.co.uk, AncestryDNA or whatever you want to call that genealogy mega-business.  Their matching system is dumbed down to the frustrating level.  No chromosome locations or chromosome browsers for painting.  Instead however, they have the fattest database of testers and customers - some of whom, will like myself, be subscription slaves to their family tree and documentary genealogical services.  Their matching systems may cut out chromosome data - but on the flip side, you can browse trees, surnames, ancestral locations, of your DNA matches.  As a consequence, I've found 14 matches that share DNA, with predicted relationships - that correlate to a paper trail relationship.

In addition I am now scouring GEDmatch, 23andme, and FT-DNA Family Finder for more relative DNA matches.  I'm recording everything (including chromosome locations when available) onto a spreadsheet.  The image at the top of this page demonstrates my DNA matches where they share ancestry so far.  The darker the shade, the stronger the verification.

I'm starting to see how this is a better tool to understanding, or verifying ancestry, than any stupid ethnicity / ancestry composition by DNA.  Family isn't always biological.  However, finding a genetic correlation is the ultimate evidence to strengthen a tree.  It's fascinating to see actual paper research turning up as segments of inherited DNA on matches.