This is my first DNA success story from my brother’s kit on AncestryDNA. I am very pleased about this one as it gives extra assurance that my paper trail is valid for the very common surname Davis. It clearly shows the benefits of testing siblings, as this match did not appear for my own kit.
It also demonstrates how families spread around the world can find their common roots through the versatility of DNA analysis. I was born in Northumberland, England and now live in Norway. The two kits that matched belong to people in Italy and Australia. The probable common ancestors lived in Shropshire, England.
If you would like to know more about our DNA and paper trail links to John Davis and his wife Mary take a look at the article: “MRCA: John Davis and/or Mary ??” on my page DNA plus paper.
Since Davis is such a common name I got off to a slow start in pinning down my Davis line, but they were kind enough to leave a trail of breadcrumbs for me. Fortunately, they took in other family members in need of a place to live. I have several census records where an additional member of the household has helped me to verify that I have the correct family:
In 1881 Charles Morrall (transcribed Morrell) is a lodger with my great great grandfather George Davis and his two daughters in Choppington, Northumberland. Charles turned out to be George’s nephew.
In 1861 John Davis (transcribed Davies) is a boarder with Mary Morrall (mother of Charles) at Dudley in Worcestershire. John is brother to Mary Morrall and to my great great grandfather George Davis.
In 1841 my 3rd great grandparents John Davis and Mary are living in Madeley, Shropshire with their 4 children: Sarah Ann, George, Mary and John.
In 1871 John Davis senior is living with his daughter Sarah Edge in Ironbridge, Shropshire.
This all gives an extra degree of assurance that the George Davis, with parents John and Mary, in the 1841 census really belongs to me.
I believe this couple may be my 7th great grandparents. I am currently looking for additional proof that I have identified the correct people. James Rutherford and Jane Nixon married at Simonburn in Northumberland on 23rd May 1738. Vicar clearly had a problem writing in a straight line. The whole page slopes downhill and gets progressively worse as you get nearer the bottom.
Some of you have asked me why it takes so long to find ancestors a few centuries ago. Just to give you an indication of the challenges in reading records, here is one of the more legible: Baptism of my 4th great grandmother Mary Hutchinson at Felton on 13 Nov 1791. Her parents were Joseph Hutchinson and his wife Mary. Joseph and Mary lived at Felton Moor and I subsequently discovered that her name was Mary Brown.
My great great grandparents, George Davis and Sarah Ann Corbett, have kept me out of mischief for years trying to get to the bottom of their interesting tales. It now looks as though I may be about to meet another Davis/Corbet combination that is going to tie me in knots. This current idea is still very much at the exploratory stage as I have not ruled out all other possibilities.
My 3rd great grandfather, John Davis, baptized four children in Madeley, Shropshire. The baptismal records indicate that their mother was called Mary. There are a few possible marriages between a John Davis and a Mary, but one of those looking most likely is in 1821 at Much Wenlock. Unfortunately, the indexes just give her name as Mary C and there is no image available online.
If this is correct, then one of the promising possibilities for a Mary C born in Much Wenlock is a Mary Corbet. I am now looking to see if I can prove this connection from other sources. However, if I do manage to prove it, then I will be facing yet another brick wall, as her baptismal record from February 1799 states: “Mary (base) daughter of Anne Corbet”.
When I started on this journey I knew little about my Thornton line except that my maternal granny, Margaret Jane Henderson, was given the same Christian names as her mother Margaret Jane Thornton. I have subsequently tracked down another 6 generations of Thorntons back to 7th great grandfather Henry Thornton, born in the late 1600s. They lived in and around Hartburn, Northumberland.I have confirmed from the baptism of Robert Thornton, born 1703, that his father was a Henry Thornton. If I am correct in my theory that Henry married Jane Read, then this is going to open up some interesting lines going back from Henry and Jane to Civil War times and beyond. I still have some more digging to do to prove that this theory about Henry and Jane is correct before I add the new finds to my tree and publish them here.