Thursday, 29 November 2007

DNA update

The DNA project is now well under way, and I have been gratified by the number of people who have shown an interest and who have agreed to be tested. We now have nine testers, four from England, two from Australia and three from America. One representative from each of the following lines is now participating in the project:

Crewes of Gerrans, Cornwall, England

Crews of Georgia, USA

Cruse of Berkshire, England
Cruse of Rode, Somerset, England
Cruse of South Africa (of English origin)

Cruse of Clark County, Kentucky, USA
Cruse of Virginia/Kentucky, USA

Cruwys of Winkleigh, England
Cruwys of Wiveliscombe, England

Thus we now have a reasonable cross-section of testers representing some of the key families. The tests from the Gerrans and Winkleigh descendants are particularly important as these two families both have strong documentary evidence to prove a descent from the Cruwys Morchard family. The common ancestor for these two lines is John Cruwys of Cruwys Morchard (born c. 1449), who inherited the Cruwys Morchard estate after his father, Thomas, died at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. The Winkleigh family are descended from John Cruwys, the eldest son from John senior's first marriage to Elizabeth Whitley. The Cornish Crewes, who settled in Gerrans and Liskeard, are descended from Anthony Crewes, one of four sons born to John senior's second wife Mary Fraunceys. There was of course no standardised spelling of surnames at this time. The Crewes spelling was later adopted by the Cornish family while the Cruwys spelling was used by the Devon family. It is of course not possible to test a representative of the current Cruwys family at Cruwys Morchard as they are all descended from a female line through George Sharland (1802-1874), the eldest son of Harriet Cruwys (1771-1847) and George Sharland (1758-1831). George Sharland junior was given the right to use the additional surname Cruwys by Royal Licence in 1831 and was at the same time permitted to bear the Cruwys arms.

So far we have received two sets of results, both of which are from our American testers. The two testers (a Crews and a Cruse) had a perfect 12/12 match at 12 markers proving that they both share a common ancestor. The results can be seen on the project website. Interestingly, too, the first two testers both belong to haplogroup I1a. A haplogroup is an indication of your deep ancestry, the family tree from many thousands of years ago from which you originate. Haplogroup I1a is one of the rarer haplogroups and is an indication of Viking ancestry, although the haplogroup is also found in Northern Europe, particularly in north Germany, Denmark, the British Isles and the old Norman regions of France. Further information about the I1a haplogroup can be found on this Wikipedia page.

It is far too early yet to draw any firm conclusions but it will be very interesting indeed if all the Crews and Cruses in America do indeed descend from the same person. Unfortunately they will have to wait a little longer to find out if their results match with those of any of our other testers in England and Australia. The postal strike in England caused delays with the receipt and despatch of some of the kits, and most of the results are now not expected until the New Year. All the remaining tests except for one have been done at 37-markers. It takes longer for these results to come through but they are much more accurate.

We are all looking forward to the results with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. I'm hoping that we might finally have a few answers but I have no doubt that there will also be a few surprises and unexpected discoveries in store.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Cruwys of Mariansleigh

I was very pleased to find in my inbox when I returned from holiday an e-mail from Samantha Hill in New Zealand. Sam is a regular reader of Cruwys News and has been researching her Cruwys family for a number of years. Sam is descended from the Mariansleigh Cruwys family. She is the great-granddaughter of George Herbert Cruwys and Anna Agnes Jackson who married in Deptford, London, in 1899. We have had a most useful exchange of information and Sam has been able to fill me in on some of the later generations of her family. She has also solved the long-standing mystery of Jill Cruwys, the England cricketer, who played in the England team, captained by Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, which won the first Women’s Cricket World Cup in 1973. I'd never previously been able to fit Jill into any of my existing trees as the names of her parents were not known. Sam tells me that Jill was the youngest child of Leslie Jackson Cruwys and Margaret Elizabeth Gosling. She is the first cousin of Sam's mother. Jill Cruwys tragically died of breast cancer in 1990 at the age of 47.

The Mariansleigh Cruwys family is the most numerous of all the surviving Cruwys branches. Unfortunately it has not been possible to trace the tree further back than the late 1700s as no baptism has yet been found for the earliest known ancestor George Cruwys, a mason, who died in 1856 in Mariansleigh. George married twice. His first wife was Ann Eastmond, who died in 1841. They produced six children. George’s second wife was Mary Ann Bartlett. They married in 1842, and the marriage certificate informs us that George's father was George Cruwys, a malster. We know from the 1851 census that George junior was born in Mariansleigh. His birth date varies from source to source and he was born any time between about 1781 and 1788. Unfortunately the Mariansleigh parish registers are not very well preserved and there are gaps for this critical period. I’ve also had searches done of the Bishop's Transcripts, but again there are gaps and no record of George's baptism has been found. The best hope now is to find a living Cruwys descendant from this tree who is willing to take a DNA test.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007


We were away on holiday in Malta over half-term and I've had a lot of catching up to do since we've been back, hence the lack of posts. If I haven't replied to your e-mail as yet then I promise I will do so shortly! In the meantime I'm posting a few photographs of my Maltese highlights. Malta was once the home of the Knights of St John who have left a remarkable architectural legacy. Unfortunately today much of the island is over-developed and is scarred by back-to-back apartment blocks and hotels, which form a continuous sprawl along most of the coast from St Paul's Bay down to Valetta, the fortified capital built by the Knights after the Great Siege of 1565. The photograph below shows the Siege Bell Monument in Valetta which commemorates the award of the George Cross to Malta in World War II and honours those who lost their lives during the Siege of Malta from 1940 to 1943.The Palazzo Parisio in Naxxar is the finest stately home on the island. It was built in 1733 by Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena, and was lavishly refurbished by the Maltese banker and philanthropist, Giuseppe Sciculuna, at the end of the nineteenth century. The formal gardens contain an exotic collection of Mediterranean plants with a colourful backdrop of bougainvillea on the walls.Gozo is Malta's sister island, and is just a short 30-minute ferry crossing from Malta. It is much greener and much less spoilt than Malta. The Azure Window (below) in Dwerja on the west coast of Gozo is one of the island's natural wonders.