My sixth A to Z challenge: visiting England, Scotland and Wales

This year, from late April through May, Greg and I will be visiting England, Scotland and Wales, travelling from Land’s End to John o’Groats.

Thirty years ago, in 1989, when we last visited the United Kingdom, we knew very little about our family history. I remember driving in Cornwall past a sign pointing to St Erth. Greg said that he thought some of his forebears came from there. We didn’t take the road, however, for at that time these and other family history connections meant very little to us.

For our trip this year I want to be better prepared. We will be visiting many places where our forebears lived and I hope this contributes to our knowledge of our family history.

During April I will be writing about the places we plan to visit and our family’s connections to them.
#AtoZChallenge 2019 badge

Links to my past challenges can be found at A to Z challenge index page

DNA: finding new connections with the latest tools

AncestryDNA and MyHeritage have recently released new tools for showing how you might be related to your DNA cousins. Both companies look at your tree and the tree of your DNA cousin. If those trees do not connect, the company tentatively connects them using in addition other public trees in their databases.

Cousinships found in tentatively-connectly trees of course need to be verified. However, although you may seem to descend in the way suggested by the tentatively-connectly trees it is possible that you could be also descended from other ancestors not presently shown on the family trees. Confidence that the DNA match is from a particular couple increases with tree completeness. This confidence increases for both you and your match if your are able to establish that there are likely no other shared ancestors. Increased confidence that you are indeed related to the suggested DNA cousins comes from sharing common ancestors and simultaneously sharing DNA other cousins who also descend from the same common ancestors

AncestryDNA’s new Thrulines tool has given me many more Common Ancestor Hints to look at. I decided to look at DNA cousins who are also descended from my fifth great grandparents Dominique Pierre La Mothe (1731 – 1807) and his wife Susannah La Mothe nee Corrin (1741 – 1803). ThruLines suggests that my father may be related to 8 DNA matches through Dominique Pierre Lamothe.

ThruLines_for_Dominique_Pierre_Lamothe 1.jpg
One of these matches is me; another match is one of my second cousins, my father’s first cousin once removed. These relationships are well documented. We have met my father’s third cousin, R, and I also have confidence in the documentation of that match. However, we have not met H, my father’s 3rd cousin once removed. The relationship corresponds with my family history researches, and the shared 21 centimorgans of DNA fits within the range of a 3rd cousin once removed relationship as predicted by the shared centimorgan tool at

Four matches descend from other children of Dominique and Susannah La Mothe.

ThruLines_for_Dominique_Pierre_Lamothe 2.jpg

These matches were all new to me. I had not previously corresponded with these cousins, nor was I aware that our trees had common ancestors. The shared DNA is small, but is greater than the 7 centimorgan small-match-limit usually suggested for genealogical significance. The number of shared centimorgans corresponds with the hypothetical relationships.

I decided to review cousin C who is predicted to descend from Frederick John Dominique Lamothe (1805 – 1864). I had not previously documented his descendants. The family tree attached to C’s DNA has only 27 people: she lists paternal grandparents and her mother, who died in 2015; there are no maternal grandparents listed. Thrulines incorrectly shows C’s grandfather’s information as common from her tree, but that does not correspond with the only public member tree attached to her profile, so perhaps C has a private but searchable tree on

I traced 13 children of Frederick John Lamothe, of whom five were daughters. His youngest daughter Ann Jane Lamothe (1857 – 1929) married William Galloway (1854 – 1909) on 5 August 1879 at Lezayre, Isle of Man. They had ten children. The second oldest was William Edward Galloway (1884 – 1967). That he was the father of Jean (1927 – 2015) is documented on a 1951 US Border-crossing document from Canada to the US. Her husband is also named in the document, further confirming the family relationship to C. I am satisfied with the genealogical links between C and Dominique Pierre and Susannah Lamothe based on baptism, marriage, death, and census records as well as the border-crossing record.

My father has eight matches at MyHeritage where MyHeritage has build speculative trees that may explain how Richard Rafe Champion de Crespigny and some of his DNA Matches are related. Of these I had already determined the connection for six and been in contact with the six cousins. The other two matches are his cousins, brother JJ and sister MJ, whose DNA kits are administered by Jo M, the daughter of JJ. My father shares 31.3 centimorgans of DNA with MJ and 8.3 centimorgans with JJ. The shared DNA figures are within the range appropriate for 5th cousins.

MJ Theory_of_Family_Relativity™_-_MyHeritage

My Heritage demonstrates how the two trees combine and gives a level of confidence about the match, in this case 82%. While I did not have these cousins on my tree previously I have now added these descendants to my tree on the basis of birth, death, marriage, and census records.

MyHeritage provides a chromosome browser and lists segment details. I have painted these matches on to my father’s DNAPainter profile. The overlaps of the segments all correspond with forebears who descend from Dominique Pierre Lamothe and Susannah Corrin. To date 25% of my father’s DNA has been attributed to named forebears.

2019 07 03 DNA_Painter___Profile_-_Rafe_de_Crespigny

In his talk Essential Considerations for DNA Evidence, presented at RootsTech 2019, Blaine Bettinger, an American genetic genealogist claimed that “Without a report of tree completedness, it is nearly impossible to evaluate the use of DNA in a genealogical conclusion, even if it is soundly supported by documentary evidence!”

I last looked at tree completeness in May 2018 when I could name 45 of the possible 64 5th great grandparents I had. I did not split my result between my father’s family history and my mother’s but when I reviewed the statistics, it appeared that 44 of my possible 5th great grandparents that I know of are on my father’s side. That is, I know the names of 68% of my father’s fourth great grandparents, the generation that includes Dominique and Susannah LaMothe. I have improved my knowledge slightly. I now know 70% of my father’s 3rd great grandparents and 42% of my father’s 4th great grandparents, i.e. those forebears he would share as most common recent ancestors with fifth cousins. The overall tree completeness score at the 5th cousin level for my father is that we know 106 of a potential 127 individuals or 83%: 17% of the tree is unknown.

2019 03 07 tree completeness 6 gen from RdeC

Chart showing the fourth great grandparents of Rafe de Crespigny. (Generated using MacFamilyTree)


In the case of the Thrulines match with C, her tree has only 27 people and could not be regarded as complete.

In the case of the MyHeritage tree maintained by Jo M and associated with the matches of MJ and JJ, the tree has only 84 people and is also incomplete. Jo M has trees on but they show that Jo M has shown only 41 of the people associated with the trees of JJ and MJ up to the 4th great grandparent level, or 32%; thus her tree could be said to be 68% incomplete.

AncestryDNA’s Thrulines tool and MyHeritage’s Theory of Family Relativity tool are similar. Both tools have come up with matches at the fifth cousin level that seem plausible. In verifying the lines of descent and contacting the matches, I have discovered a little more about the descendants of my forebears. One cousin, Jo M, has shared pictures she took of our forebears’ graves on the Isle of Man. She has also traced the La Mothe family line further back than I have.

Related posts


Trove Tuesday: 35 years ago

It is disconcerting to see personal experiences fading into the historical past.

Yesterday, 18 February, was my wedding anniversary; Greg and I have been married for 35 years.

My memories, of course, are of the church, the bells, the gown and so forth, while the historical fact is now an item in the National Library’s digitised collection of Australian newspapers (most cease at 1956, but the Canberra Times, where our wedding news was reported, has been digitised up to 1995).

De Crespigny Anne wedding 1984

(1984, February 19). The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 – 1995), p. 18 (SUNDAY EDITION). Retrieved February 19, 2019, from

In the newspaper wedding photograph I am wearing a Honiton lace veil that my grandmother wore at her wedding and was worn by various ladies of the Cavenagh-Mainwaring family. My English cousins kindly sent it to Australia for me to continue the tradition.

1984_02_18_wedding with Cassie Jodie and Vanessa

Greg and I on our wedding day with our attendants Greg’s nieces Cassandra and Jodie and my cousin Vanessa

Anne wedding 1984 with veil

Me on my wedding day with the veil


my grandmother Kathleen Cudmore on her wedding day 10 June 1933

Yesterday, 35 years later, Greg and I had lunch with friends and spent an enjoyable afternoon at the National Gallery of Victoria. These events will not reach the newspapers, though perhaps this blog might help to make them discoverable, a (very little) part of history.


Greg at the National Gallery of Victoria on our wedding anniversary

DNA – successfully finding some most common recent ancestors

AncestryDNA has a new map feature currently in Beta mode and a group of AncestryDNA users is trying out the feature before it is launched.

ancestry dna beta matches map

I tried it by selecting one of Greg’s matches, SB, a person who is shown as being from Australia.

SB is an estimated 4th cousin DNA match sharing 22 centimorgans across 2 segments. I had messaged her twice a year ago when her match first came up but had no response. She has a small tree attached to her match showing two living parents and four deceased grandparents. Details for the grandparents showed:

  • Paternal grandfather: name but no middle names, death place Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, no birth or death dates
  • Paternal grandmother: name including middle name, death place Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, birth year 1927, no death date
  • Maternal grandfather: name but no middle names, birth and death place Sunshine, Victoria, Australia, birth and death dates 28 July 1915 and 12 November 1979
  • Maternal grandmother: name but no middle names, birth place Maryborough, Victoria, Australia and death place Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, birth year 1924 and death date 1 August 2005.

SB shares DNA with Greg’s 2nd cousin HS. It would seem on the basis of this connection that the most common recent ancestors will be on Greg and HS’s Dawson or Edwards  line. HS and Greg share great grandparents Henry Dawson (1864 – 1929) and Edith Caroline Dawson nee Edwards (1871 – 1946).

Using the Victorian birth, death and marriage indexes, I developed a private non-indexed tree based on the data I had for SB. I started with the maternal grandparents. But I did not seem to be coming across familiar surnames and was quickly reaching back to the UK and areas that did not match those where Greg’s forebears came from.

I next looked at the paternal grandparents. I was having trouble finding their marriage and identifying the death of the paternal grandfather. However I successfully found the death date of the paternal grandmother from a death notice on the Ryerson index, a free index to death notices appearing in Australian newspapers. (The death notice is recent and can be viewed online.) Using the deceased search facility for the Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust, I was able to find the burial site of the paternal grandmother and confirm the death details of the paternal grandfather, who had been buried in the same plot. From there I was able to trace the paternal grandfather’s pedigree using the birth, death and marriage indexes. It was reasonably quick and trouble-free. Within 3 generations I had a surname I recognised.

bailey c v death

index record from the registry of Births Deaths and Marriages Victoria

Charlotte Victoria Edwards (1834 -1924), born St Erth, Cornwall, United Kingdom, and died Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia, was already on my main family tree although I did not know she had come to Australia and did not have her marriage or death details. Charlotte is Greg’s 1st cousin 4 times removed and SB’s 3rd great grandmother. Greg and SB are 5th cousins once removed. Their most common recent ancestors are Greg’s fourth great grandparents John Edwards and Jane Edwards nee Gilbert.

Charlotte was the daughter of Greg’s fourth great uncle James Edwards (1805 – 1883), and the granddaughter of Greg’s fourth great grandparents John Edwards and Jane Edwards nee Gilbert. James Edwards married Mary Nicholas and they had at least six children of whom Charlotte was the third oldest.

Charlotte and her family arrived in Portland, Victoria on 30 January 1855 on the Oithona, which had left Southampton on 16 October 1854. There were 344 immigrants on board. James Edwards was a 50 year old agricultural labourer from Cornwall. He was accompanied by his 47 year-old wife Mary and two children, Elizabeth aged 9 and John aged 4. Their religious denomination was stated to be Church of England and James and Mary, but not their two children, could read and write. The disposal register listing their disembarkation intentions noted he was “on own account” and address Portland. Three older daughters, Mary (Mary Ann), Jane and Charlotte were enumerated separately as they were then 23, 22 and 19. All girls were said to be Church of England and they could all read and write. The register stated that Mary went to Mrs Nicholson of Portland, Jane went to Thomas Must of Portland and  Charlotte went with her father. One sun was enumerated separately. James was 17. He was described as an agricultural labourer from Cornwall, his religious denomination was Church of England and he could read and write. The disposal register noted he was “on own account” and address Portland.

oithona list showing james, mary, jane and charlotte edwards 30796_125513__087-0-00328

Passenger list from the “Oithona” showing James, Mary, Jane and Charlotte Edwards as single passengers. Image retrieved from from database held by Public Records Office Victoria.Register of Assisted Immigrants from the United Kingdom. Microfiche VPRS 14.

Also on the Oithona was Charlotte Thomas nee Edwards (1811 – 1887) and her husband William Thomas, a mason. Charlotte Thomas was the sister of James and Thomas Edwards.

James’s brother Thomas Edwards (1794 – 1871) had arrived in Victoria in 1849. I assume James Edwards and Charlotte Thomas and their families came out as their brother Thomas recommended immigration to them. I do not know however if they met up in Victoria.

140 years since the Battle of Isandlwana

Today is the 140th anniversary of one of the battles of the Anglo-Zulu
War. Several years ago I wrote a short piece about a cousin, a soldier who fought there. I thought I would republish it.

When my son asked me to write about the Zulu wars for the letter Z of the 2014 A to Z blogging challenge, I found a second cousin four times removed, Henry Germain Mainwaring (1853-1922), who served in the Zulu war of 1879.

Henry Germain Mainwaring was a Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot. He sailed for South Africa on 2 February 1878 and was there until 20 December 1879.

H. G. Mainwaring of the 2/24 Regiment. Photograph from the “Ron Sheeley Collection”

From 20 January 1879 the 24th Regiment was camped at Isandhlwana, an isolated hill in the Zulu kingdom in the east of Southern Africa. B Company of the Second Battalion had been left to guard the stores and hospital at Rorke’s Drift ten miles away. Rorke’s Drift was a mission station and the former trading post of James Rorke, an Irish merchant. It was near a ford, known as a drift, across the Buffalo River, which formed the border between the British colony of Natal and the Zulu kingdom.

On 22 January, Lord Chelmsford, British Commander-in-Chief,  took the second battalion of the 24th, with the artillery and some of the Natal Native Contingent away from the camp to seek battle with the Zulus, who had been reported to be south-east of the camp. 1,800 British and Colonial troops were left in the camp including 585 men of the 24th Regiment, the only British regular infantry regiment among them. While Chelmsford was absent, the camp was attacked from the north-east by a force of Zulu warriors, said to number 20,000. Of the 1,800 British forces, about 300 survived. These had fled south-west across the Buffalo River; of the 585 men of the 24th only ten survived.

The Battle of Isandlwana, 22 January 1879.  Charles Edwin Fripp (1854-1906), 1885 (c). A small band of the 24th gathered in a square around their Regimental Colour. In the aftermath of the battle there were several groups of bodies found which indicated that men had gathered themselves together to fight to the last. In the background rises Isandhlwana Kop which, significantly, is shaped like a Sphinx, the badge of the 24th.

Chelmsford and his troops arrived back at camp that night. John Price, of the 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment, wrote to his parents:

We arrived in camp about nine o’clock at night, and all the tents were burned to the ground, and where we had to sleep was a very uncomfortable place among the dead bodies all night…  from

Henry Germain Mainwaring, a Lieutenant in F company of the 2nd Battalion of the 24th Regiment was among those with Chelmsford.

The mission station at Rorke’s Drift was attacked by several thousand Zulu warriors on the afternoon of 22 January and the battle continued overnight. 140 British and colonial troops, including 36 men in the hospital, defended the garrison. Chelmsford’s troops arrived at 8am on the morning of the 23rd. Seventeen British soldiers had been killed, ten wounded, and 450 Zulus had been killed.

Alphonse de Neuville - The defence of Rorke's Drift 1879 - Google Art Project
The defence of Rorke’s Drift 1879 Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville  via Wikimedia Commons

The battle was reported around the world. In New Zealand, in the Otago Witness of 22 February 1879, Mainwaring’s name was listed as one of the officers of the 24th Regiment which had been in the battle and “almost completely annihilated” in the “massacre”.

The remainder of the 24th cleaned up after the battle and buried the dead. Mainwaring made a map of the battlefield showing the graves of those who were killed and were buried.

Mainwaring received a medal and clasp for the South African Campaign of 1877, 1878, and 1879. He was promoted to Captain in 1880. In the First World War he served as a Brigadier General.

Location of the Zulu Kingdom, Southern Africa, ca. 1890 by Seb az86556 [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
1879 map of Zululand with Rorke’s Drift and Isandhlwana highlighted by red arrows


The Mallee kids

A useful source of information about my family is an album of photographs that came to me from my parents-in-law Peter Young (1920 – 1988) and Marjorie (1920 – 2003).

A few years before he died Peter spent an afternoon going through the photos with me, explaining where they were taken and naming the people in them. I wrote this information on the backs of them, and I’m very glad that I did, for without this it would be very difficult now to work out who was who. Even so there are gaps. I can’t identify all the people in every photograph.

The photos below are of Peter’s cousins, who lived at Carwarp, near Mildura. He called them the Mallee kids.

Peter’s mother Elizabeth Young nee Cross (1900 – 1949) was one of ten children. One of her older brothers, George Murray Cross (1890 – 1962) served in World War I, was wounded in France and returned home in 1917. In 1918 he married Elsie Agnes Brown (1889 – 1959).

When they married George and Elsie Cross moved first to Ouyen then to Ginquam West, close to Mildura. Not long afterwards, they took up a wheat and sheep farm at Carwarp, about 30 kilometres south.

The Mallee dry and harsh, tough to farm, and many Soldier Settlers couldn’t make a go of it. George Cross, however, ran his farm there until near to his death in 1962 when his son Alex  took it over.

One of George’s grand daughters remembers the farm was

640 acres & dry land cropping. Wheat & sheep as l recall. He apparently said that if it were irrigated, he could grow anything. It’s now a winery !

Some of the frustration of Soldiers Settlers can be detected from a letter George Cross wrote to the Soldiers’ Settlement Board in 1923: “My wife and family left here on the 10 January last as I did not consider that the camp we were living in was fit for any woman to live in. I have since pulled it down and there is no possibility of their return until such time as someone at your end comes out of their trance and gets the job done.” His wife and children rejoined George Cross at the end of the year.

The Cross’s farm was 640 acres, 1 square mile (just under 260 hectares), the size of the average Soldiers Settler farm. It was new country, not previously cultivated.

In 1929 George Cross gave evidence to a committee looking at the size of viable farms (see below).

In 1935 an inspector of George Cross’s wheat and sheep farm noted “ the eldest boy assists with all the farm work”. Jim Cross was then 16 years old. “The Limits of Hope”, a history by Marilyn Lake of post-WW1 Soldier Settlement, notes that the work of grown-up children often contributed significantly to a farm’s success.

George and Elsie Cross had five children:

  • James Murray (Jim) 1919 -2007 born Ouyen
  • Alex Watson (Alex) 1921 – 2005 born Mildura
  • Caroline Elsie (Carol known as Elsie when young) 1923 – 2017
  • Frederick George (Fred) 1924 – 2003
  • Beryl Lillian (Beryl) 1934 – 2006

The following photos are from the collection of my father-in-law

cross jim and alec 1923

Jim 3 years 10 months, Alex 2 years; 1923

Mallee kids wood carting

Jim & Alex carting wood Christmas 1924

Elsie and Fred Christmas 1924

Elsie and Fred Christmas 1924

cross fred 10 months 1925

Fred Cross age 10 months in 1925

“This was taken at a Birthday party last August. I put a mark near Jim & Alex. I am in the shade of the tree with Fred in my arms & Elsie is along side of me.” Caption presumably by George Cross. Fred was born September 1924 and looks about 2 in the photo so I think the photo dates from August 1926. Jim would have been 7, Alex 5 and Elsie 3.

mallee kids 1

The Mallee kids: Jim Elsie, Fred and Alex Cross

mallee kids 2 dam

“This was taken from the lower end of the dam looking towards the house.”

mallee kids 5 dam and tank

“This is rather a good view, only the top of the mill is cut off. Better luck next time”

mallee kids 4 building

“Do you recognise this building?” I am not sure why FJ or Ann Jane Cross should recognise the building – was it moved from Homebush to Carwarp?

mallee kids 3 tank and mill

“This is a good view of the mill & tank. The three boys up the ladder. Alex at the top.”

cross george murray pioneer 1929 06 21 pg 8

“HOME MAINTENANCE” AREA FOR FARMERS (1929, June 21). Murray Pioneer and Australian River Record (Renmark, SA : 1913 – 1942), p. 8. Retrieved from

Sources and further reading

  • For the Empire. Welcome to Corporal George Cross (1917, November 7). Avoca Free Press and Farmers’ and Miners’ Journal (Vic. : 1900; 1914 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved from
  • Wedding Bells. Cross – Brown (1918, July 17). Avoca Free Press and Farmers’ and Miners’ Journal (Vic. : 1900; 1914 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved from
  • “HOME MAINTENANCE” AREA FOR FARMERS (1929, June 21). Murray Pioneer and Australian River Record (Renmark, SA : 1913 – 1942), p. 8. Retrieved from
  • Public Record Office Victoria
    • File of G. M. Cross, DSL 217. Cross to CSB, 22 March 1923. VPRS 749, item 69, quoted in Marilyn Lake, The Limits of Hope: Soldier Settlement in Victoria 1915–38 (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1987) p. 155.
    • VPRS 5357, P0, unit 2667 : Land Selection And Correspondence Files 01695/198.6 GEORGE MURRAY CROSS THOMAS LANIGAN WILLIAM LEAMON CARWARP WEST 1 1A 695–2–0
    • VPRS 5714, P0, unit 2409 : Land Selection Files, Section 12 Closer Settlement Act 1938 [including obsolete and top numbered Closer Settlement and WW1 Discharged Soldier Settlement files] C11768 GEORGE M CROSS CARWARP WEST 1 1A 695–2–0
    • Will and probate VPRS 28/ P4  unit 2858,  item 595/791 and VPRS 7591/ P3  unit 477,  item 595/791 George Murray CROSS Date of grant: 23 May 1963; Date of death: 12 Aug 1962; Occupation: Farmer; Residence: Carwarp
  • Marilyn Lake, The Limits of Hope: Soldier Settlement in Victoria 1915–38 (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1987) pp.155, 164

DNA: variations in DNA matches between companies

My father has a second cousin once removed, ‘GH’. I am GH’s 2nd cousin twice removed.

GH’s daughter administers his DNA kits. She asked me an interesting question. On the DNA evidence, is this the same person:

  • Ancestry – AnneYoungAU on Ancestry (shares 33 cM with my father)
  • Family Tree DNA – Christine Anne Young (shares 93 cM with my father)
  • GEDmatch – Anne Young A947648 (shares 63.5 cM with my father)
  • My Heritage – Anne Young (shares 56.3 cM with my father)

If they are the same person, how can the results be so different?

Also, on the DNA evidence, are these the same person:

  • Ancestry – RRC001 (shares 110 cM with my father)
  • Family Tree DNA – R. Rafe Champion De Crespigny (shares 134 cM with my father)
  • GEDmatch – RD A587626 (shares 113 cM with my father)
  • My Heritage – Richard Rafe Champion De Crespigny (shares 98.3 cM with my father)

DNA aside, of course, we know that they are the same two people. The first is me, the second is my father.

The reason that the amount of shared DNA seems to vary so widely has to do with different assumptions and techniques used to calculate genealogically significant DNA. As a species we share DNA with other forms of life, but much of this is irrelevant genealogically. Discarding the parts we share as living beings and concentrating on what we share as family relatives introduces different emphases. The result is apparent differences between DNA analysis by different companies.

AncestryDNA explains it in these terms:

“If you choose to upload your AncestryDNA raw DNA results to another website, they will look different for a number of reasons. Other companies do not use the same algorithms, database or methods to translate the data. Only AncestryDNA has access to the unique information available on Ancestry, including the family trees and records to help power the accuracy of the results. In addition, the proprietary algorithms that we use to calculate results are based on documented family trees and a one-of-a-kind, comprehensive database of DNA samples from around the world.”
Curious about the detail, I used DNAPainter, an online chromosome mapping tool, to investigate a little further.

I was interested to see the variation in what segments my father and I shared with GH so I painted the matches from MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA and GedMatch at DNAPainter using the default parameter excluding segments under 7 centimorgans and also experimenting with including all segments greater than 1 centimorgan (the lowest threshold allowed).

Reviewing the data for segments of 7 centimorgans or more I found that MyHeritage did not include matching segments on chromosome 1. The segment matched with GH corresponds to a known pile up area and is indicated with grey shading on the DNAPainter diagram. It probably indicates shared DNA without genealogical significance.

dna painter profile for gh 7 cm compare

DNA profile comparing matches for GH with Rafe and Anne: 7 centimorgan threshold

Reviewing the data for all segments greater than 1 centimorgan I found that Family Tree DNA and GedMatch included these segments whereas MyHeritage did not. I shared some small segments with GH but my father did not indicating that I did not inherit these segments from the most common recent ancestor GH, my father and I share. In general 7 centimorgans is considered necessary before a segment is possibly inherited from a common ancestor.

dna painter profile for gh 1 cm compare (1)

DNA profile comparing matches for GH with Rafe and Anne: 1 centimorgan threshold

The MyHeritage estimates of shared DNA make sense in view of the 7 centimorgan threshold and by not including the shared DNA at the pileup region on chromosome 1. Unfortunately because the detail of the match at AncestryDNA is not revealed by that company I cannot comment on what data they chose to include or exclude for their match.

All this is a reminder that DNA matching, though a technique of great precision, makes certain assumptions, and operates within recognised limits. Its apparent accuracy will occasionally seem to vary. Be careful how you interpret DNA results. You are indeed related to the fly  you just swatted- you murdered a distant cousin – and you are related to yourself, since your DNA, though analysed differently by different companies is all yours. Somewhere between you and blowflies are your cousins and other family members, not all of whom you’d want to claim for immediate relatives.

Further reading

  • “International Society of Genetic Genealogy Wiki ISOGG Wiki.” Identical by Descent, International Society of Genetic Genealogy, 23 Nov. 2018,

Book making with MyCanvas

In my personal genealogical research I use the online tools at to keep track of my forebears and the dates, events, sources, stories, and all the various documents and images directly and indirectly associated with them.

The core of this is my tree, of course. For safety I have a separate backup version of it compiled with FamilyTreeMaker. I use this to print reports and keep copies of relevant images and documents.

I also have copies of my family tree at MyHeritage and FindMyPast. MyHeritage is good for producing charts and I’ve found its DNA services very helpful. FindMyPast has been handy with access to early British and Irish newspapers as well as additional records.

I enjoy sharing our family history on the Web but, like many people, I also enjoy seeing it in print. For Christmas 2018 I decided to produce a book about our Young and Sullivan family history for my husband and his brother and sister. I used MyCanvas.

MyCanvas downloads data from and inserts basic names, dates, and events into various templates. It also downloads pages with formatted records, census records, for example.

To this I added photos, images of certificates, and some of my online research journal entries. I added text here and there and highlighted items in the records where our family appeared.

MyCanvas editing is done on line, using a simple word-processing editor. You can generate and preview pdf versions of the book as you go. When you’re happy MyCanvas prints and binds the book and sends you a copy or copies. All up it costs about a dollar per page.

I am very pleased with the result. My husband Greg, who takes credit for providing the relatives, is delighted to see his name in print. His brother and sister are very impressed and pleased by their Christmas present.


DNA: experimenting with reports from

For a couple of days I have been experimenting with new DNA-analysis tools from developed by Evert-Jan Blom, a Dutch genetic genealogist.

The website automates the retrieval of new genetic matches from AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, and 23andme.

For each AncestryDNA profile I registered I was sent a spreadsheet with details of the match and notes I had taken. GeneticAffairs’s return email came promptly.

AncestryDNA-profile-B S-all_matches

Privatised screenshot of part of a report received from GeneticAffairs showing summary information including notes I have made for genetic matches.

GeneticAffairs also offers a match-clustering report, clusters of shared
matches and group shared matches according to likely branches of the family.

My first report was for my husband’s Greg’s matches, using the default settings.

Auto-Cluster_-_Greg Young 31 Dec 2018

Auto cluster report with names of shared matches privatised

The centimorgan thresholds did not provide enough matches for a useful analysis. I could identify most of the surname groupings.

I then tried a report for my father’s matches, increasing the thresholds significantly.

Auto-Cluster_-_RdeC 1 Jan 2019

This produced too many clusters, many of them quite small. For the three largest clusters they produced relatively small matches at the 4th cousin level. I do not know how we are related to any of the matches in these large clusters.

Changing the thresholds for the analysis of Greg’s matches produced more meaningful clusters.

Auto-Cluster_-_GCY 2 Jan 2019

2nd auto cluster report generated for Greg’s AncestryDNA genetic matches with revised centimorgan thresholds of 1200 cM and 30 cM

As well as the main clusters, additional genetic matches in the columns highlighted with the green and orange arrows give clues about other clusters. For example, those additional genetic matches indicated with the orange arrow give clues about the identity of the most common recent ancestors for the matches in cluster 11. In fact I have confirmed the three matches in cluster 11 descend from our Way forebears.

The second report for my father using revised centimorgan thresholds of 1200 cM and 30 cM produced more meaningful clusters also.

Auto-Cluster_-_R de C 2

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Anne Bray nee Vaux (1550 – 1619)

One of my 12th-great-grandmothers was Anne Bray nee Vaux (1550 – 1619), daughter of Thomas Vaux (1509–1556) and Elizabeth Vaux nee Cheney (1505 – 1556).

In 1556, when she was about six, Anne’s parents died: Thomas in October and Elizabeth in the following month, possibly from the plague. Her brother William was then 21, and sister Maud about 17.

The Vaux enjoyed considerable wealth. Their estate, Harrowden Hall in Northamptonshire, was

… a household of almost fifty people that included grooms, laundresses, the cook, the baker, an embroiderer, the chaplain and the steward. An account book survives for the year of [the birth of Anne’s brother William in 1535 showing] payments for a birdcage, soap, swaddling and, on 14 August, five shillings to buy ale for the nurse.

(Harrowden Hall was rebuilt in 1719; the Tudor house does not survive.)

After her parents died Anne would have been placed in another household.

About 1568 Anne Vaux married Reginald (or Reynold) Bray (1539 – 1583), the fifth and youngest son of Reginald Bray and Anne, daughter and heiress of Richard Monington of Barrington in Gloucester. Three of Reginald’s older brothers died without issue. His brother Edmund inherited the estate of Barrington; the estate at Steyne (Stean) and Hinton in Northamptonshire was settled on Reginald.

Reginald, aged about 44, died in October 1583 and was buried at Hinton in the Hedges.

Anne and Reginald had one son, William, who died in his father’s lifetime aged about 7. They had five daughters, all Reginald’s coheirs:

  • Mary, born about 1569. On 16 August 1586 at Eaton Bray, Bedfordshire,  she married Sir William Sandys (c 1562 – 1641) of Fladbury, Worcestershire. She appears to have died by 1597 about the time of  his second marriage, to Margaret Culpepper. She appears not to have had children.
  • Anne, born about 1573; she was later the wife of John Sotherton (1562 – 1631), a judge and later a Baron of the Exchequer. John Sotherton married two more times and had two sons and a number of daughters. Anne was possibly the mother of one or more of these children. Anne had died by 1602..
  • Alice, born about 1577. In 1592 she married Nicholas Eveleigh, a lawyer. Nicholas Eveleigh died aged 56 in 1618 when the Chagford Stannary Courthouse collapsed killing him, two of his clerks and seven others, also leaving a further 17 injured. She secondly married Elize (Ellis) Hele, a lawyer and philanthropist who died in 1635. The trust from his will was used to found a number of schools including Pympton Grammar School. Alice died on 20 June 1635, probably childless. She and her second husband are buried at Exeter Cathedral. There is a monument to both of her husbands at Bovey Tracey Church.
  • Temperance, born about 1580. She married Thomas Crew, a politician.
  • Margery, born about 1581. She married Francis Ingoldsby of Boughton and they had a son John.

The Vaux family of Harrowden were a notable Catholic family. Anne’s brother William, 3rd Baron Vaux of Harrowden ( 1535 – 1595), was several times convicted of recusancy during the reign of Elizabeth I. He was committed to the Fleet Prison by the Privy Council, and afterwards was tried in the Star Chamber on 15 February 1581 along with his brother-in-law Sir Thomas Tresham for harbouring the Jesuit Edmund Campion and contempt of court. He was sentenced to imprisonment in the Fleet and a fine of £1,000 (about £263,000 as of 2018).

Anne and her sister Maud however appear to have married Protestants.

Maud (abt 1539 – abt 1581) married Anthony Burgh / Burroughs / Burrows of Burrow on the Hill, Leicestershire. Following Maud’s death, her daughter Frances (abt 1576 – 1637) went to live with her cousin, Eleanor Brooksby nee Vaux, the widowed daughter of Maud’s brother William. Eleanor raised Frances as a Catholic. In about 1595 Frances joined the Canonesses Regular of the Lateran at Louvain in Belgium. According to one history of these Lateran Canonesses, as a child Frances was taken to with her family to attend ‘heretical’ (Protestant) services on Sundays and holy days, but during them regularly fell asleep, a sure sign of her firm commitment to Catholic orthodoxy.

That Anne Bray nee Vaux named one of her daughters Temperance is clearly a mark of her Protestant Puritan leanings. Thomas Crew, Temperance’s husband, was noted for his strong Puritan convictions.

Anne Bray died on 7 May 1619 at the age of 69. She was buried on 12 May at Hinton in the Hedges, Northamptonshire. A plaque in the chancel features the arms of Bray (Ar. a chevron between three eagle’s legs erased a la cuisse S. armed G.) and the arms of Vaux (impaling chequy Ar. & G. on a chevron Az. three roses O.) and the following text:





Arms of Bray and Vaux

The arms of Bray (Ar. a chevron between three eagle’s legs erased a la cuisse S. armed G.) and the arms of Vaux (impaling chequy Ar. & G. on a chevron Az. three roses O.)                                       Bray arms by Wikimedia commons user Lobsterthermidor [CC BY-SA 3.0], retrieved from Wikimedia Commons. Vaux arms generated using Drawshield