Friday, 2 May 2008

Another DNA breakthrough

The DNA project continues to provide surprises. We now have a big breakthrough with the large Australian tree. The vast majority of the Cruwyses in Australia are descended from John Cruwys and Elizabeth Prichard who married in 1817 in Westminster, London. Their son, John George Cruwys, died in 1877 and two years later his widow Sarah Cruwys emigrated to Australia with her family. They sailed on the Blair Athole, arriving in Sydney on 4th March 1879. Despite much searching we have been unable to find any record of the baptism of John Cruwys senior. However, a descendant from this line has taken the DNA test and his results have now been received. He matches on 34 out of 37 markers with an English tester who is descended from the Wiveliscombe Cruwys tree. This line goes back to John Cruwys and Jone Lee who married in 1708 in Oakford in North Devon. Their son Richard Cruwys moved to Fitzhead in Somerset where he married Betty Moor. Later generations of the family settled nearby in Wiveliscombe. In 1794 Richard's son John Cruwys tried unsuccessfully to bring a claim against the Cruwys Morchard estate in the Court of Chancery. He claimed that he was a descendant of John Cruwys of Cheriton Fitzpaine, the shoemaker mentioned in the will of the Reverend John Cruwys of Cruwys Morchard.

The 34/37 match indicates that the two men have a 91.75% probability of sharing a common ancestor within 16 generations and a 99.21% probability of sharing a common ancestor within 24 generations. Further research will now be necessary to establish precisely where the two lines link, but at least we now have a focus for our research.

The testers from the Australian and Wiveliscombe trees rather surprisingly both belong to haplogroup G. They are predicted to be in haplogroup G2 but a haplogroup backbone test is required to confirm this prediction. Haplogroup G is very rare in the British Isles and only around 1% or 2% of men belong to this haplogroup. Further information on haplogroup G can be found here. Further information about the DNA project can be found here.

What this result also means is that we now have two distinct Cruwys groups, which is somewhat unexpected in view of the rarity of the surname. (There were only 126 people with the surname Cruwys in the 2002 UK Electoral Register.) The first haplogroup G result was so surprising that I initially assumed that it was a rogue result and was perhaps the result of a so-called "non-paternal event" in more recent times. With the two matching results from two men with the same surname this is clearly not the case. Oakford is just a few miles away from Cruwys Morchard, the ancestral parish of the Cruwys family. It seems inconceivable that the surname could develop independently in the same area of North Devon. I would therefore guess that there has been a non-paternal event in the distant past in one of the two Cruwys lines. The picture will become clearer as we test more people and more results are received. It is proving to be a most interesting voyage of discovery.


excited_T said...

Very excited to hear about these results Debbie! Very powerful evidence for a single origin of the Cruwys name, despite the "non-paternity event".

What's your theory about where this Haplogroup G comes from?

Debbie said...

It's difficult to say at this stage. The Cruwys family are believed to have come to England from Normandy or Flanders in the twelfth century, but I don't yet have sufficient results to decide which is the authentic Norman line back to Sir Richard de Cruwes. The other possibility is that some Roman blood was introduced into Devon during the Roman occupation. I've been sent some interesting links:

It would appear that there were Roman "fortlets" in both Tiverton in Devon and Wiveliscombe in Somerset. Oakford is midway between these two places.