Thursday 28 February 2008

The first DNA success story

The DNA project is going better than I ever expected. Although it has only been running for around five months I already have nineteen participants – most projects are considered to be doing well if they manage to attract one participant a month! I am very grateful to everyone who has agreed to take part and in particular I would like to thank Pieter Cruse who has made a very generous donation which has been used to pay for three test kits.

The first big success story from the project is that it has been possible to validate the paper research and identify the genetic signature of the key Cruwys Morchard line from Devon. The male line at Cruwys Morchard died out in 1804 with the death of Henry Shortrudge Cruwys, the then Lord of the Manor. He was succeeded by his daughter, Harriet, who had married George Sharland in 1794. Their son George Sharland succeeded to the Cruwys Morchard estate and in 1831 changed his name to Cruwys by royal licence, and was thenceforth known as George Sharland Cruwys. Because the Y-DNA used for genealogical testing is passed directly from father to son, a Y-DNA test on a descendant from this line would therefore give us the genetic signature of the Sharlands, and would tell us nothing about the Cruwys Y-DNA.

Fortunately however it has been possible to identify other likely descendants of the Cruwys Morchard line. One person who is descended from the Winkleigh Cruwys line has now taken the test along with another tester who is descended from the Cornish Crewes line. These two men are believed to share a common ancestor in John Cruwys of Cruwys Morchard, who was born about 1449. John was the son of Sir Thomas Cruwys, who died at, or shortly after, the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, leaving his then 22-year-old son as his heir. The Winkleigh line is thought to be descended from Thomas Cruwys, the great-grandson of John Cruwys and his first wife Elizabeth Whitley. Thomas was the second son of John Cruwys of Cruwys Morchard and Anne Keynes of Winkleigh. He was buried in Winkleigh in 1596. The Cornish Crewes line has been meticulously researched by Tom Johns, now sadly deceased. His research was published in 2001 in a booklet entitled "Crewes of South Cornwall, and their ancestors in Liskeard, Cornwall and Cruwys Morchard, Devon". Tom has been able to prove through wills, inquisitions post mortem, parish registers and other documents that the Cornish Crewes line are descended from Anthony Cruwys/Crewes the son of John Cruwys of Cruwys Morchard by his second marriage to Mary Fraunceys. Anthony moved from Cruwys Morchard to Liskeard in Cornwall where he married Joanna Bealbury, the eldest daughter of a wealthy merchant, John Bealbury. The Cornish line have their own coat of arms and have consistently used the Crewes spelling.

By getting a descendant from each of these two lines to take the Y-DNA test it was hoped that the two results would be sufficiently close to prove that the two men do indeed share a common male ancestor. Needless to say, not everything went according to plan. When the 12-marker results for the Cornish Crewes tester came through in mid January, there was only a match on 10 of the 12 markers. In addition there was a two-step difference on one of the markers, giving a genetic difference of three. According to the Family Tree DNA calculator, based on these results, there was only an 18.14% probability that the two men shared a common ancestor within the last sixteen generations. The results were not at all promising and I had convinced myself to expect the worst when the 25- and 37-marker results came through. We then had an agonisingly long wait as the lab was unable to get definitive results and had to re-run the test three times before the result was finally made available this week. The 25- and 37-marker results both came through on the same day and to my astonishment the two testers matched on every single one of the remaining markers. The 10/12 match had been transformed into a 35/37 match. The FTDNA calculator now predicted that the probability of the two men sharing a common ancestor within the last 16 generations was 97.49%! Finally I had the result that I wanted but hadn't dared to expect.

I have since learnt that this apparent 10/12 mismatch is what is known as a false negative. It demonstrates the importance of testing the maximum number of markers. Other project administrators have reported similar cases, and a good example can be found in the Kerchner surname project.

The other DNA results can be seen on the project website. It has now been possible to allocate people into specific genetic groups based on their DNA results, though it is too early to draw too many conclusions at this stage. A number of results are still awaited, and some kits have only just been sent out in the post. There are some potentially interesting tests in the pipeline and I hope to be able to report on some more exciting results in the near future.

Wednesday 20 February 2008

William Cruwys and Mary Jane Wonson

An enquiry from Mark Wonson has prompted some research into a previously unknown Cruwys line which has its roots in Brushford, Somerset. Mark has kindly sent me a copy of the marriage certificate of Mary Ann Wonson and William Cruwys, who married in 1856 in Bradninch, Devon. Mary appears as Mary Ann on her marriage certificate but in all other records her name is given as Mary Jane. She was the daughter of William Wonson, a farmer, and Elizabeth Broom. Mary Jane's husband William was one of three children born to William Cruwys, a farmer, and his wife Elizabeth Webber. William senior was born in 1793 in Brushford, Somerset, the son of John Cruwys and Margery Holcomb. John unfortunately died before the 1841 census and his place of birth is not known so it is not presently possible to take this line back any further.

William Cruwys and Mary Jane Wonson had four known children, all of whom were born in Wolborough, Devon (now known as Newton Abbott): William Henry, born in 1856, John Albert, born in 1858, Elizabeth born in 1859, and Lawrence born in 1861. They possibly had a fifth child, Mary Ann Cruwys, born in 1865. I have not been able to find any record of William Henry after the 1871 census. John Albert Cruwys moved to Bromley in Kent where he married Elizabeth Ann Bradford in 1886. He worked as a groom/coachman and later became a refreshment caterer. Elizabeth died in 1866 age 6. Lawrence moved to London and married Sarah Louisa Hicks in 1899 in Camberwell. Before his marriage Lawrence worked as a butler to William Walrond, baronet, of Bradfield House in Uffculme. Lawrence appears to have moved to London shortly afterwards to join the civil service. He qualified as a messenger to the Metropolitan Police Courts Service on 6th November 1896. By the 1901 census he was working as a police court usher.

Thursday 7 February 2008

The Cruses of Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire

David Cruse has kindly sent me details of another Cruse family which he has been working on. This Cruse line is from the small market town of Wootton Bassett in North Wiltshire The tree begins with Gabriel Cruse who married Alice Loader on 20th January 1615/6 in Wootton Bassett. They had one son, Gabriel, baptised rather hastily on 14th April 1616 just three months after their marriage, and four daughters, Elinor, Elizabeth, Anne and Avis. Gabriel junior married Catherine Helliar on 10th June 1634 in Mildenhall, Wiltshire. Gabriel and Catherine had two known sons, Francis, baptised on 26th March 1657, and William, baptised on 18th February 1665/6. Francis went on to marry and to produce three sons. The younger son, William, disappears from the Wootton Bassett records. It is possible that he is the William Cruse who was buried in Ogbourne St George in 1717, who is at the head of our large Berkshire tree, but a lot more research is presently needed to prove or disprove this hypothesis. The name Cruse makes its final appearance in the Wootton Bassett registers with the burial of 21-year-old William Cruse on 28th September 1805. There are a number of wills on the National Archives' Documents Online website which relate to this family which I hope to explore in due course. I would be interested to hear if anyone has any further information. Are there any living descendants out there?

Friday 1 February 2008

John Cruwys - from Devon to Australia

Another long-standing mystery has finally been solved which has been a very special surprise as it involves a member of my own family, my great-great-great uncle, John Cruwys. John was last sighted in the 1851 census when he was a widower aged 32 working as a gardener and living at West Street, Millbrook, in the parish of Maker in Cornwall with his 13-year-old son, William, a printer and bookbinder. I could find no trace of John and his son in any of the subsequent censuses and there was no corresponding record of their deaths in the GRO indexes. I have been aware for some time of the few Cruwyses in the Australian records, mostly in Victoria, who do not fit into the large Australian tree, but until now I had been unable to place them. Little did I realise that they were all my own relations! Sharon Hindmarsh in Australia had done some research on my John when reconstructing her own family tree to see if she could find any connection with her own family. She has very kindly sent me all the details of her research, and I now have an almost complete pedigree for John and his family in Australia.

John Cruwys was born in 1816 in the small village of Mariansleigh in North Devon. He was the son of William Cruwys, a husbandman and shoemaker, and Margaret Eastmond. John married Ann Rowe on 26th July 1838 at the Independent Chapel in Chulmleigh, Devon, and they had two children, William, born in 1839, and Mary Ann, born in 1842. John was a shoemaker at the time of the 1841 census but by 1845 he had become a labourer. The so-called Hungry Forties was a time of economic depression. The situation was compounded by the potato blight and famine in 1845-7. Many of the people from North Devon emigrated during this period, with a large contingent (including John's brother William) settling in Prince Edward Island, Canada. John stayed behind in Devon, but one can only imagine that by 1845 his circumstances had become desperate as his wife, by now expecting another baby, decided to have an abortion. Abortion had been made illegal in 1803 but the death penalty was withdrawn in 1837 and consequently the number of abortions rose dramatically in the 1840s. Abortion was widespread and easily accessible, and became a popular form of birth control. Without modern medicine and sanitation the procedure would have been a risky undertaking, which was probably done by a local woman in her own home. Tragically Ann did not survive the operation and she died on 26th February 1845, leaving John to bring up his two young children on his own. The next account of John in the English records is in 1848 when he was committed for trial at the Exeter Assizes for stealing a cow and sentenced to twelve months' hard labour. A transcript of the newspaper report of the trial and the story of John's attempted escape from prison has been published on the Chulmleigh page of Genuki.

No records of John's sojourn in prison have yet been found. It seems likely that he moved to Cornwall soon after his release to start a new life in a place where his history would not have been known. His daughter, Mary Ann, died in the South Molton Union Workhouse on 25th February 1850 at the age of six. John would have been out of prison by this time but had perhaps had been unable to find work and was therefore forced to leave his daughter behind in the workhouse. After the 1851 census the last appearance of John in the English records is that of his marriage to Eliza Warren on 22nd March 1853 at the parish church in Maker, Cornwall. Eliza is believed to be the daughter of William and Annabella Warren. She was baptised on 21st August 1825 in Tavistock, Devon.

The story now continues in Australia. The Victoria passenger indexes show that a John Crews, aged 38, arrived in Australia on the Seringapatam in January 1855. He appears in the index to unassisted passengers so he had somehow managed to save enough money to pay for his fare. A William Crowes, aged 20, arrived in Victoria in November 1858. He is almost certainly John's son, William, from his first marriage to Ann Rowe. The following year Eliza Cruwys joined her husband and stepson, arriving in Victoria in January 1859 on the Annie Wilson.

John and Eliza had two children in Australia. Their eldest son, Francis Thomas, was born in 1860 in the Sandhurst district of Victoria. It is possible that John was trying his hand at gold mining at this time as this area was experiencing a gold rush. Francis died in 1866 at the age of six from an aortic aneurysm. Some time after Francis's death John and Eliza moved to the Deniliquin district of New South Wales just north of the NSW/Victorian border. A second son, Henry J Cruwys, was born in Deniliquin in 1868.

In 1870 John hit a bad patch where he owed £23.11.00 to a sawyer by the name of Simeon Boyle which he could not repay. He decided to become bankrupt rather than face the prospect of prison, which is quite understandable after his stint in gaol in England. In the sequestration papers John says:

During the last six months I have been residing with my son assisting him as far as my years would permit in his trade of a well sinker receiving from him in return for my food & expenses and I further say that I have neither engaged in any commercial transactions of any sort nor have I kept any books or documents whatsoever.
John also says he has had sickness and death in his family – this latter would have been a reference to the death of young Francis. He also says:

I am upwards of 55 years of age and therefore have no prospect of being able to earn sufficient to satisfy said judgement debt. I have disposed of no property by sale, assignment, hedge deposit or in any other manner to the amount of ten pounds at any one time during the last sixty days nor in fact during the last four years.
John was granted his bankruptcy, but no further references to him can be found after this date. There does not appear to be any record of his death, though it is likely that the record cannot be traced because of a mis-spelling. We know he died before 1901 because this is when his second wife Eliza died at Carrathool near Hay in New South Wales. Eliza left a will and from this we learn that she is a widow with no surviving children. Her second son, Henry J Cruwys, had predeceased her in 1899. His death was registered at Albury, a town which is on the border of NSW and Victoria. In her will Eliza left her money to her brother William Warren of Churston Ferrers in South Devon. The value of her estate was £279.13 10 after debts of £32.4.6 had been deducted.

Although there were no surviving children from John and Eliza's marriage, William Cruwys, John’s eldest son (from his marriage to Ann Rowe) went on to marry and have children. He married Margaret MacKay, the daughter of John MacKay and Sarah Sweeney, in 1874 at St Kilda, Victoria. Margaret was born in 1839 in Newcastle upon Tyne in the north of England. William and Margaret had two children: Mary Ann, born in 1875 in the Hay district of New South Wales, and William John Cruwys, born on 4th July 1878 in St Kilda, Victoria. William served with the Australian Flying Corps in France in World War I. He married Ethel May Grant in 1907 in St Kilda, Victoria, and had two children, Horace Theodore Cruwys and Alvina Rita May Cruwys. There are Cruwyses living in Victoria today who appear to be the descendants of Horace Theodore Cruwys. I am hoping that it will now be possible to make contact with them to share the story.