Saturday, November 22, 2014

DNA and The Surname Society

As The Surname Society continues to grow, I am convinced that this tool will aid me greatly in my pursuit of my own personal ancestors. I have found a lot of them and do travel back a long way into the past with many of them. The advantage to being a late emigrant to North America and knowing each and every one of their emigration stories, where they came from and why they came.

But even with that much knowledge, I do have a couple of lines that need help and they mostly lie in my maternal mtDNA line and my maternal grandmother's father's male line Buller. I hope to meet more people interested in these particular lines although also welcome anyone interested in my 22 personal surnames and the four surnames of our grandsons' French Canadian lines. Although being on My Heritage has been a real eye opener into those French Canadian lines that are a brickwall as there are so many people searching for that information.

My cousin asked me to test on Ancestry DNA and facilitated that process since the DNA testing is not yet rolled out to Canada officially. I had tested her at FT DNA thinking we might share Buller DNA since we are fifth cousins once removed. But we did not share any DNA at all. However, she had matched a known third cousin once removed to me at Ancestry. So I tested and indeed I did match my third cousin once removed in the 4th to 6th cousin with a Very High Confidence of accuracy. In all I have seven such matches at the 4th to 6th cousins with very high confidence. I can place a second one of the matches as she is my fourth cousin once removed in my Pincombe family lines and is known to me. The other five though are a mystery but they have quite small trees and I am likely looking at 3rd or 4th grandparents as being the likely common ancestors. Plus their ancestry is totally American colonial thus far and I do not have any American colonial ancestors. Indeed my first ancestors did not come to Canada until 1818 and it was the emigrant daughter of this family that married the next emigrant in my lines in 1832 and then 1851 the next emigrant arrived to marry the daughter of this couple. Not again until 1908 did I have another emigrant who married the son of the next couple and she was my maternal grandmother. In 1913 my father arrived with his parents and married the daughter of this last couple. So a very shallow history on this side of the Atlantic.

Ancestry DNA has come up with a very unique way of displaying matches called DNA Circles. I do not have any yet because you need four people to make a circle and thus far I just have the two matches and must wait for others to add to their family trees, make them public or simply actually have a tree on line. I am hopeful though that I may find leads to my two lines that are most puzzling.

I am able to name 28 of my 32 3x great grandparents with 100% accuracy and the other two are likely but I would like to have the marriage registration of Edwin Denner Buller and Ellen Taylor and Ellen Taylor's birth registration. Then I would be completely satisfied that Thomas Taylor and Ellen Roberts are indeed my 2x great grandparents  and that Samuel Taylor/Ann Lewis Harborne and Thomas Roberts/Ellen Lawley are my 3x great grandparents. One of the matches (not yet known to me) is quite interesting leading into my grandmother's ancestry but it is my Welch line which is known to me back into the early 1700s.

So hats off to Ancestry for a really great addition to their DNA material.

Slowly trying to work my way back into genealogy but suspect it will be as mentioned earlier into January before I am really back to transcription and blogging on a daily basis.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Slowly moving ahead with transcription and Valentine Blake's, Clerk at Winchcomb, will of 1615 will be a challenge. It is four pages long with an inventory and somewhat of a scrawl (I believe it is his original writing as these are wills from the Diocese of Bristol). Probably I will not complete it for a few days and I believe I will also work on the Cornwall Blake family at the same time.

The new society "The Surname Society" has my time commitment only for meetings and the newsletter (I will primarily be copyediting other submissions which will mean a much shorter time commitment). That brings to three the number of newsletters that I prepare. My Blake newsletter is short (never more than 2 pages unless someone wants to add something) but all written by me and my Guild of one name Studies newsletter for Eastern Canada (trying for twice a year and again written by me). As I approach 70 (2015) I realize that I must continue to pass on some of my commitments to other like minded people so hope that someone will come forward to take on the Guild for Eastern Canada.

The will of Valentine Blake is rather an interesting one as I do have a Martin Blake married to Catherine Vaughan living at Winchcomb but no son Valentine and the father is said to be David. This information from the Blake Pedigree Chart held at the Swindon and Wiltshire Record Office. I did find a bit of information that gives me a possible date of birth for Valentine Blake. It is the recording of a case where he was a deponent 18 Jun 1612 and it is stated that Valentine has lived at Winchcombe for 15 years and that he was born at Fladbury, Worcestershire and he is aged 50 years. Hence a birth year circa 1562. Interesting that he is a curate at Winchcombe where the Blake family had lived earlier but also concurrent with Valentine's time there. Is he related?

Still working away on my exercises for my back which eats into my genealogy time quite markedly actually. I think that is the secret for recovery. When I tore my rotator cap a little more than ten years ago now I went to about half of a dozen therapy sessions which I found to be absolutely excellent. Being directed in such a way is very very beneficial and then doing those exercises for a number of years and my shoulder is completely healed. I hope the same for my back actually. 

The Surname Society

Behind the scence, over the past few months, I have been involved in setting up "The Surname Society" and the details of this new society follow below this paragraph. I have been researching a number of lines, as my readers are aware, aside from Blake and Pincombe. I have wanted to have a place where like-minded researchers of these names (my ancestors) could become more visible to each other. I was approached by the team behind the vision of The Surname Society and asked to join with a group interested in forming such a society and we met in a number of sessions (with me standing, walking and talking on Google+ on my tablet with them throughout most of this time) which has helped to occupy my brain these last few months whilst I was away from transcription! The Society will, I think, be an interesting addition to Genealogical Societies and we hope to see it be quite worldwide. Already I have registered four of my French surnames that I have been investigating as well as a number of English ones. There are some positions that still need to be filled and if anyone is interested please do write to Kirsty or any member of the Committee (see the about us on the website) - we would love to hear from you. I am editor of the newsletter which has proven to be another task that I have managed to put together these past three months and it will go live shortly. Fortunately I have had a lot of input from the committee. We are now open for business and for inclusion of your items as members of the society in the newsletter.


The founder members are delighted to announce the launch of The Surname Society - the online society for individuals, groups and associations with an interest in surname studies, regardless of their location in the world, the surname they are studying, or their level of research expertise.

Focussing on single surname studies, the society meets the needs of researchers in the world of family history and genealogy as it evolves in the 21st century. The Surname Society’s vision is to connect like-minded people by providing facilities which enable members to share knowledge, data and good practice with others. The society allows members to register both worldwide and limited studies and is entirely online. Collaboration is facilitated and encouraged as it is the core ethos of The Surname Society.

Surname researchers collect data relating to all name bearers, either on a global or restricted basis. The society does not mandate study methods and members are encouraged to develop their own approach to the investigation of their surname to advance their knowledge and expertise in areas such as etymology, DNA, name collection and family reconstruction. The Surname Society will help and advise inexperienced members on ways to conduct their study and how to avoid the pitfalls which can occur!

A truly global organisation from the outset, the committee members are located around the world from Australia to England, Spain and Canada and in the first week since its announcement to those who completed the online questionnaire, the society has almost one hundred new and enthusiastic members. 

The cost of membership to The Surname Society is just £5 per annum with no hidden extras. 


I should say that I remain an active member of the Guild of one-name studies. I am both regional representative for Canada East and the National Representative for Canada.

The value to me for this new society follows.You can register as many names as you want on either a restricted or worldwide basis, collaborate with others, share in the educational opportunities offered and a plethora of resources in the Members’ area of the website including a fascinating quarterly e-newsletter and the School of Surnames, with many other developments in the pipeline in due course. 

My two surnames in the Guild are my parents' surnames and they take me down that strictly yDNA path for Blake and the mtDNA path that is represented by my surname Blake and then my mother Pincombe, her mother Buller, her mother Taylor and by family lore back to Roberts, Lawley and Loveday but the last three names are by family lore. Investigating so many surnames on a regional level is part of our mandate. 

But so much is missing from my studies within the Guild (Blake and Pincombe) as there are all those surnames of my autosomal ancestors and they multiply with each generation (two in my grandparents generation, six in my great grandparents generation, fourteen in my 2x great grandparents generation and it continues on back). I look forward to meeting people who are also studying in my areas: Knight, Rawlings, Cheatle, Butt, Buller, Taylor, Gray, Farmer, Lywood, Rew, Routledge, Welch, Coleman, Lambden, Arnold, Peck, Rowcliffe, Siderfin, Cobb, Beard. I have a lot of information on these lines. I could never do a worldwide in-depth collection of all these surnames in my lifetime.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

BIFHSGO - British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa - Dr. Jonathan Vance

We were treated to a rather excellent set of lectures this morning at the BIFHSGO meeting.

Dr. Vance from my alma mater (Western University formerly University of Western Ontario) gave two interesting talks on soldiers of the First World War. Principally looking at the Attestation Papers but also the full record as needed, he is examining the makeup of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) which I rather found very interesting as I have done some tracing particularly of French Canadians in the time period just prior to the First World War. What surprised me was the number of Canadians (particularly French Canadians) who could be found in New England and the midwestern States of Michigan and Wisconsin. I didn't get a chance to ask my question during the question period but did later.

Dr. Vance had talked about the American cohort in the CEF possibly being as high as 20% but I wondered if in his analysis of this particular cohort he would separate out the Canadian born and those born of Canadian parents who were in these border states as my thought is that they would represent a large contingent of this American cohort. I am looking forward to his eventually publishing his paper(s) on this particular subject.

Kudos to BIFHSO for a very good speaker especially just prior to Remembrance Day here in Canada. This Remembrance day will be especially poignant given the recent murders of two of our soldiers - one out shopping (Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent) and the other standing guard at our National War Memorial (Corporal Nathan Cirillo). Undoubtedly the most sacred ground in Canada, our National War Memorial is the place where we especially remember our war dead particularly in this year from the First World War where nearly 68,000 Canadians lost their lives and another over 200,000 injured. For a young country of just 7.2 million at the 1911 Census, this loss of young men was enormous and its impact on Canada following the war was great.

We walked to the War Memorial after the meeting as we have not yet been downtown since the murder of Corporal Cirillo. There were a number of people gathered there and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is becoming covered by flowers once again. God bless our soldiers and keep them safe. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Order of transcription

I have somewhat lost my train of thought in this past couple of months lost to transcription so believe that once I complete the remaining wills in Gloucestershire (Diocese of Bristol) and that is seven in number with the next being from 1615 for Valentine Blake, Clerk at Winchcomb. This will is likely to take me a couple of days to do, then I shall move on to Hertfordshire where there are five wills to do. I will then move on to Huntingdonshire and return to my alphabetical path through the Counties although Somerset and Wiltshire are already completed. I will leave the ones designed Location Miscellaneous as they are a number of locations outside of England and Wales including military. Some have been done for various reasons but most remain to be done and there are probably over 100 of them.

I will also continue the last week of every month plus Saturdays to work on Family Reconstruction and I am still working on Cornwall and will have to take a bit of time to reorient myself to the project.