Monday, 20 February 2017

Still more adventures in DNA discoveries

A couple of years ago, I researched a friend's ancestry. We had decided that we must be related, as our Scots ancestors lived in many of the same places. Researching his line didn't shed any light on any possible relationship.

In December, my friend sent off his DNA sample to AncestryDNA. The results came a couple of weeks ago, but still no relationship confirmed by that test.

This morning, I compared our DNA data on another utility. Turns out we're distant cousins. The estimated number of generations to our most recent common ancestor is 7.4. We share 7.9 Centimorgans of DNA in chromosome 10 -- the chart below summarizes our relationship.  But hey! I've had people with whom I share less DNA reach out to me. What's a centimorgan you ask? Here is an explanation.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Ancestral Homes -- Groby Old Hall

Last week, I set my PVR (or DVR) to record an old episode of BBC's great Time Team series focusing on Groby Old Hall in Leicestershire. Why? Well, I remembered that I have ancestors who lived there -- Sir John Grey of Groby (abt 1432-1461), Lancastrian knight, and Elizabeth Woodville (abt 1437-1492). Their links to me are still works in progress -- for now, we're cousins.

The Dictionary of National Biography has one of their extensive entries (almost all entries in this resource are extensive) on John Grey, whose formal title was 8th Baron Ferrers of Groby. Here's the beginning of that entry (bottom right in the image on the left).

Sir John was killed fighting for Henry VI's Lancastrian forces in the second Battle of St Albans during the Wars of the Roses, leaving Elizabeth a young widow with two young sons. Elizabeth went on to re-marry. You'll recognize her name as the bride of Edward of York of that Plantagenet family of mine, who went on to become King Edward IV. Theirs was a love match, so say several historians and biographers.

Lady Jane Grey (1536/7-1554), who was queen for nine days in 1553 and then executed at the age of 17 is a member of this Grey family and my 5th cousin 14x removed. Hers is a sad story. She never wanted to be queen, but found herself a pawn in scheming and plotting orchestrated by her mother, Lady Frances Brandon, who was a granddaughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, and others.

But back to Old Groby Hall. It was inherited by the Grey family in 1445 and in their hands until 1554. You can read more about the Greys of Groby here. There is so much history--including my own history--at Groby. To find a documentary about a place where my ancestors lived is a bit of a thrill, I admit it.

The archaeological results of the Time Team's work at Old Groby Hall are here.

The never ending story continues.....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Loyalist Flag Raising at Ontario Genealogical Society 2017 Conference

As I mentioned here, I'm looking forward to the Ontario Genealogical Society's annual conference in Ottawa in June. Anyone reading my blog who has an interest in United Empire Loyalists will want to know that there will be a Loyalist Flag Raising at Ottawa City Hall on Friday, June 16 at 11 a.m. as part of the Conference program. Here are more details.

The best deal on accommodation for the conference is the student residence at the conference  venue, Algonquin College. But the residence is now sold out. Early bird rates to register for this not-to-be-missed conference end on Mar 31. Check the conference website now to book your attendance.

Me? I'm not a Loyalist descendant, as my earliest immigrants to Canada from the United States were New England Planters, arriving before the Revolutionary War, or arrived long after that time.

The never ending story continues.....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The Eyemouth Fishing Disaster 2 -- the book and song

Recently I wrote about the Eyemouth Fishing Disaster. I had first started reading about this a few months ago, and it was on my list (don't we all have one of those?) to research further. As I wrote, I learned more about the disaster from a newly discovered (thanks to AncestryDNA) 5th cousin once removed, and also learned that at least two of my ancestors died on that October 1881 day.

Back cover, Black Friday
Well, that lovely cousin mailed me -- all the way from Wales -- a copy of Peter Aitchison's book about the disaster, published originally as Children of the Sea, but in its second edition, renamed Black Friday.

The book arrived yesterday. There are photographs and maps included. Here is its back cover, which gives more of a description about the back story, the disaster and its aftermath.

I started this book last night and can't wait to read all of it.

At the same time, a Facebook friend posted a link to this haunting recording by Chorda, an Edinburgh folk group, of the Eyemouth Tragedy, a folk song written apparently in about 1964 by John Watt of Fife, Scotland. Here are the lyrics that I found online in a couple of places:
Eyemouth Tragedy (lyrics)John Watt By the dire rocks o' Urquhart, though deadly were the signsOut sailed the Eyemouth 'fyvies' with a thousand baited lines.Though a glasslike sea and a cloudless sky made the elders bid them stayBut these are the times the brave men die, but the 'halflins" held the sway. Three leagues from the shore the lines were cast while the wind it held its breathAnd the sails hung limp from every mast and the sea was still as deathFor death was the bride that came that day, cut the ribbons from the creels'Twas a raging wave hit Eyemouth town and took her bonny chiels. There's many a bride has lost her groom as the death-toll quickly grew,Craigs and Collins met their doom, aye, Bargain and Fairbairn tooMaltman, Scott all Eyemouth bred, they died in the wind and rainOh, the flooer o' Eyemouth town lay dead, but her sons would rise again. The grinding turn o' the hearse wheel in October '81Made every man and woman kneel in prayer for Eyemouth's sons,For this was the price they had to pay, the livin' and the deadAnd the price that Eyemouth paid that day tae earn her daily bread.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Monday, 13 February 2017

Why I do what I do: Data Mining the Deceased

A few weeks ago, a fascinating documentary about the business of genealogy, social genealogy and genetic genealogy aired on TV Ontario (TVO), my province's public broadcaster. I wasn't able to watch it then, but just finished watching it online. It reinforces for me why I do what I do -- my passion for genealogy.

Here's the blurb on TVO's website about the documentary:
"More than half of North Americans are fascinated by genealogy and invested in their family histories. The emotional impact of uncovering one’s ancestors, culture and country of origin can be profound, but there is another side to the rise in genealogy that goes beyond human interest. This documentary explores what may be the largest historical enterprise in the world, and one of the largest date-mining operations and how it is driven by big religion, big technology and big business."
The wide-ranging documentary interviews representatives of Family Search, and AncestryDNA; academics and ordinary people in Canada and beyond, all seeking answers about their genetic and family history.

Did you know that the genealogy of every person living in Iceland is tracked back generations? I didn't know that either.

I'm not sure if readers outside of Canada will be able to access the streaming link of Data Mining the Deceased but be warned -- this link will only be available until March 1st. It runs just under an hour. Try to watch it if you can -- it's very good.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Immigrant Ancestors -- Thomas Bliss (abt 1588-1651)

From Immigrant Ancestors
Continuing to look at my 9th grandfathers, we come to Thomas Bliss (abt 1588-1651), who arrived from England and settled first in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1635 with his wife, Margaret Hulins (1595-1684), whom he had married in Gloucester in 1621, and their family. They were fleeing religious persecution.

Founders' Monument, Hartford
By 1639, they were was in Hartford, where he is memorialized as another of my ancestors who were original founders there. I've noted in other blog posts that Hartford was settled by Puritans.

from Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America 
Thomas Bliss was a farmer, and came from a family of farmers in Devon. The always incredibly informative has a good overview of Thomas Bliss' origins and life here.

I've also found a book on, The Genealogy of the Bliss Family that was written in the 19th century by J. Homer Bliss. It is this source that states that my Bliss ancestors  came from Devon.

I can't wait to looking at this more thoroughly. It appears to have an excellent history the family in England, where my Bliss ancestors, Thomas Bliss (my 10th great grandfather) and his oldest son, Jonathan, ran afoul of Charles I in about 1628 and were imprisoned. The family's Devon lands, some of which had been in the family for over 200 years at that time, had to be sold to raise money to free them. But they could only raise enough money to free Thomas. Jonathan, it is said, received 35 lashes and was in poor health the rest of his life as a result. I should say so.

The Bliss Family History Society has an explanation of the origin of the Bliss name. Mark us down as Normans after reading that! There are many other resources about the Bliss family history that I have yet to explore, and sort out fact from not so fact.

I have to think that my ancestors in Hartford and elsewhere knew each other in these early days. After all, the population was small. My Bliss ancestors married into the Webster family

The never ending story continues.....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Researchers find evidence of original 1620 Plymouth Settlement

News of the discovery of the original Plymouth Settlement was widely reported last November, but I came across it again today. A Cape Cod Times article reported on the find in November here. My own first settlers in Plymouth Colony in 1620 were Mayflower passengers Stephen Hopkins, his son Giles, from whom I descend directly, and the rest of their family. Stephen was the first of my immigrant ancestors profiled on this blog.

But I have many other ancestors who arrived after 1620 who were also original residents across in Plymouth Colony. A blog, The Vintage News, included this amazing map of Plymouth Colony in its story today. I like this map because it names the settlements within Plymouth Colony, and the years when each were settled. Many of these place names appear in my family tree. It's remarkable to see this map and to know of my connection to many of the place names in it. For me, this map is definitely a keeper!
from Vintage News Feb 2017

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved

Friday, 3 February 2017

The Eyemouth Fishing Disaster

Recently, a new DNA match contacted me. I absolutely love the DNA discoveries in genealogy. My new match and I are 5th cousins once removed, and both descend from William Young (1760-1846) and Alison Spears (1760-1841), who are my 4th great grandparents, and who raised their family in both Berwick upon Tweed and Eyemouth.

Eyemouth lies just over the Scotland/England border in the Scottish Borders, and today is a mere 13 kilometres up the A1 from Berwick upon Tweed. One website tells me that to walk between the two towns now would take just under three hours. I wonder what the travel time would have been in the horse and buggy era.

The two towns are so close that Berwick area newspapers have always included Eyemouth news. Families, including my many Young ancestors, went back and forth.

Eyemouth's main industry was herring fishing in the North Sea. On October 14, 1881, disaster struck when much of Eyemouth's fishing fleet was wiped out by a fierce storm. That morning, the sea was calm. Fishermen ignored warnings about the coming storm because they hadn't been able to fish during the week, and since they didn't fish on weekends, families would starve. There was no food. Many sources note that no Eyemouth family was left untouched by what came to be called the Eyemouth Disaster, or Black Friday.

It was from scanning headlines of the Berwick newspapers online that I first learned about the Eyemouth Disaster a few months ago. It would be commemorated annually, and was recalled when milestones in survivors' lives were reported up to the mid 20th century.

The Eyemouth Disaster took 129 men who lived in Eyemouth. They left behind at least 78 widows and 182 fatherless children (the numbers vary from source to source). An additional 70 victims came from surrounding villages, leaving behind even more widows and children. Eyemouth's population in 2011 was reported as 3,546. The 1881 census recorded 2,952 residents. What a huge impact the Eyemouth Disaster had on this small community.

This 2006 Scotsman article gives great background about the disaster and why it happened.

from Wikipedia
The disaster has been memorialized in several ways.

A granite monument to all who drowned was commissioned in 1912 and erected initially in the Eyemouth Cemetery after fundraising and other initiatives. The memorial's inscription reads:
Erected by public subscription to the memory of 189 east coast fishermen of which 129 belonged to Eyemouth, who perished at sea on 14th October 1881. 
A beautiful 15 ft long tapestry, recording the names of each of Eyemouth's 189 fishermen who died in the Disaster, was commissioned to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the disaster and hangs in Eyemouth Museum.

An oil painting depicting the aftermath of the disaster was featured on a 2013 Antiques Roadshow (UK) episode.

Black Friday is still remembered 136 years later. In October 2016, to mark the 135th anniversary, a magnificent new sculpture called Widows and Bairns was unveiled in Eyemouth's harbour names each mother and child directly affected, many of whom watched helplessly from shore as fathers, husbands, sons and brothers perished. The women and children are shown looking out to sea.  It remains today Britain's biggest fishing tragedy.

This link on the Eyemouth Museum's website tells more about the Disaster, and includes a short video segment made in October 2016 giving some moving oral history.

After the disaster, efforts were made to help the widows and families financially. Eventually, many family members had to move away from Eyemouth to find work.

Two of the victims that October day were part of my extended family: my 1st cousin 4x removed, William Young (1828-1881), and his son James (1857-1881), who was only 24 and left a wife, and six month old daughter. They were on two different boats that day. William was a nephew of my 3rd great grandfather, George Young (1799-1882).

My new DNA match? She is the direct descendant of William and James; the great granddaughter of that six month old child, and remembers her great grandmother talking about the disaster, which of course she didn't remember, but she certainly grew up hearing all about it, her father, grandfather and other extended family. What a wonderful gift to have those memories shared.

My new cousin has told me about a 2001 book that Children of the Sea: The Story of the People of Eyemouth by Peter Aitchison, a direct descendant of Eyemouth residents directly affected by the disaster. I look forward to reading this book.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2017 All rights reserved