Wednesday 11 October 2017

The Lazy Vicar?

I only started seriously researching my mother's side of the family in 1990 (Dad's side had all the attention prior to that) and quickly realised that noone had a clue as to my 2* great grandmother Jane GIBSON's ancestry.
This was also one of the brickwalls I hoped that DNA would one day help chip away at when I began testing back in 2007 (finding a direct female line descendant for her mitochondrial DNA - which is still to find a match, but we live in hope).
2010 began adding in assorted cousins testing autosomal DNA to see where that would lead.
So 7 years later.....

A couple of days ago I convinced myself, and a fellow researcher, that after 27 years we've finally cracked the brickwall of who on earth Jane GIBSON was, and who her parents were.

Apologies to your mother, Jane. All these years I've been assuming you were illegitimate.After all no father is shown on your 1840 marriage certificate in Martock, Somerset, nor your 1906 death certificate in Taranaki, New Zealand.
All we had from one English census and your death certificate were an approximate age, and birthplace of Somerset, along with a supposed birth date (6 Apr 1812) scribbled on a flier in the Waitara Genealogy Rooms.
No candidates were obvious for your baptism in Martock, the presumed parish of interest.

Over the years I've seen people assign Jane to several versions of her parents, all well copied to other trees via Ancestry/MyHeritage etc by people who simply don't check the likelihood of the data:
1) a William Gibson of Chatham, Kent who seemed to have absolutely no connection to Somerset
2) a William who supposedly died in 1867, Somerset  - which wasn't borne out by the England/Wales death register.  (Closer inspection of this one led to the FamilySearch tree where his siblings were in Somerset alright - but in Massachusetts.)
3) a William and Jane (SIMPSON) GIBSON of Scotland, which Jane would have been 15 when daughter Jane born, down in the other end of the country.

Although I've no idea why William seemed so popular as her father's name, it has turned out to be rather prescient.

Back in May this year a flurry of activity with a couple of other researchers (thank you Sue and Rick) identified a potential candidate over in Queen Camel, the other side of Yeovil from Martock, but still only 12 miles or so away.
A Jane conveniently baptized on the April the 12th 1812 to a William GIPSON and wife Mary who married at Suton Montis in 1804 (Mary being nee HANHAM or HANNAM).
The birth date is spot on for a baptism 6 days after the unsourced birth date we have.

Pity that the mother was a Mary not a Jane, and how come this looked to be perfectly legitimate daughter Jane?
There things lay, as conjecture, until a couple of days ago.

Throw an Ancestry DNA match into the mix to myself, not particularly close but creeping up into the "potentially significant" category at 18cMs, predicted Distant cousin (range 5th to 8th cousin).
In itself, not looking likely to yield an easy result given a small attached tree with nothing immediately springing out as the connection - recent-ish Canada, ie after the 1921 census, so few clues as to where they came from, surnames not obviously connected.

What drew me to investigate further however were the shared matches  - a couple of known Andrews/Gibson "cousins" and a mother/son pair who regularly show up as matches to a lot of the former.
* Ancestry only shows these if they are 4th cousins or closer to the test taker

So I went looking for more clues.
Perhaps another match had that surname in their tree? (ignoring the fact that at the level of my missing 3* great grandparents there are potentially 32 different surnames, and therefore only a 1 in 32 chance I'd be on the right track here).
Yes. But their tree stopped back in the 1870s in Australia.
At least that was reasonably easily remedied and tracked further back - to guess where (no prizes)?
Queen Camel, Somerset.
But what was the connection?
A spot of tree validation for the names of the wives using the invaluable new GRO birth index for England and Wales which provides the maiden surname of the mother soon provided the potential link:
John Jones WINDSOR had married an Ann GIPSON in 1829, at Queen Camel.
Census data showed her as born around 1810 - and sure enough, Ann appeared in the baptisms found back in May as a sister of our potential Jane.
Was this the connection?

Working on the assumption that William GIPSON and Mary HANHAM, who married in 1804 at Sutton Montis were highly likely to be Jane's missing in action parents, further digging around in the far reaches of my, and assorted cousins', DNA matches also turned up another descendant of Ann (married John Jones WINDSOR), along with a descendant of Jane and Ann GIPSON/GIBSON's brother William.

Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger said, “Once is happenstance.  Twice is coincidence.  Three times is enemy action.”

One family tree with a DNA match that can link back to a likely sister of Jane
One DNA match of the same surname, that has subsequently been proven to also link to the same Ann GIPSON
I'll count that as Once is happenstance.

I'll count the descendant of Ann & Jane's brother William as Twice is coincidence.
Add in DNA segment data from GEDMatch (thank you Doug for uploading to there from Ancestry, it really does add the source data to the suggested DNA connections).
Was the segment concerned at a spot I had mapped to being from my ANDREWS/GIBSON ancestry?
Did Doug and I share it with any other known ANDREWS/GIBSON cousins?
YES (thank you Ross)
And did that other cousin and I also match at that spot (triangulation).

I'll count that as Three times is enemy action.

But why "The Lazy Vicar"?
I can easily concede that a son-in-law as informant for the death of his 94 year old mother-in-law, or the registrar recording the information, might have simply written Jane's name in as both the deceased and her mother.
I was rather more wary of the lack of a father on her 1840 marriage certificate.
After all he was still alive and well and living in Queen Camel at the time, with two unmarried daughters still at home in 1841.
Passing this doubt on to Sue brought back a prompt response that she still remembered that when she was researching the Martock registers all those years ago when we were both starting out on this side of our respective families, she thought it odd that so many of the certificates lacked fathers for either or both parties. Were they all really illegitimate?
With the Martock register images now readily available on Ancestry I had a quick check around the time Simon and Jane married - and yes, Sue's memory was correct.
An unusually high number of certificates do not have a father shown.
For the DNA purists out there, yes I know that I have not eliminated all potential other sources of that segment of DNA from the tree of my match - but after all, he does also show several other DNA segment matches to descendants of Simon ANDREWS and Jane GIBSON.
In addition, I and another cousin show matches on Ancestry to at least three descendants from two of Jane's siblings.

Would you be convinced?
I am - at least for now.

1 comment:

  1. Lorna, great detective work! I've had several similar experiences with DNA. Exhilarating to add names to the tree when they have been long missing!

    One of my nagging mysteries was trying to determine the parents of a 4th great grandfather. His adult life was well documented. Trees of DNA matches with his surname all pointed to one location. Finally I added a mother and father for him on my Ancestry tree. Soon I had a new DNA circle. Pretty sure I've deducted the right parents. I'd love to eventually find a paper trail to confirm what DNA shows to be most likely.