Friday 21 August 2009

DNA article in Family History Monthly

The October issue of Family History Monthly is now on sale in the UK. It is a DNA special with a four-page article by yours truly on DNA testing. There is also an interesting article by Chris Pomery on the use of DNA in the Dr Crippen case, and a competition to win a free DNA test from Family Tree DNA. I am currently the project administrator of three DNA projects at Family Tree DNA. I have two surname projects for the surnames Cruwys/Cruse and Kennett. I also run a geographical project for the county of Devon. I would be delighted to hear from anyone interested in joining these projects.

Saturday 15 August 2009

DNA Projects for the British Isles

I find that I am increasingly spending time advising people on which geographical projects to join at Family Tree DNA. I always recommend that people should test within a surname project wherever possible as you are most likely to have a match with someone with the same surname. (For a basic introduction to DNA testing please read my article here.) However, there are many surnames for which no projects have yet been established. The prospect of setting up a surname project might well be a daunting task for some people. If you are hoping to get an elderly relative to take a test on your behalf you will want to ensure that his or her DNA is stored before it is too late, and there will not necessarily be time to wait until a suitable DNA project has been established. A useful alternative in such situations is to test with a geographical project. In this way you can benefit from the discounted project pricing and the free 25-year archival storage provided by Family Tree DNA. Some geographical projects focus on both Y chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Others focus specifically either on Y-DNA or mtDNA. Geographical projects can be a particularly useful repository for mtDNA results as you are most likely to have a meaningful match with someone from the same location. Family Tree DNA have an alphabetical list of geographical projects on their website, but it is a time-consuming task sorting through the list to see if there is a project for a particular area of interest. I have therefore compiled this list of geographical projects relating to the British Isles for the benefit of UK researchers. Once you have tested with Family Tree DNA you can join as many other relevant projects as you wish. There are some overlapping projects and it will usually be possible to join both projects. I have excluded from the list some projects which no longer appear to be active. If you know of any projects which are missing from the list please get in touch and I will be happy to include them. All the projects at Family Tree DNA are run by volunteer administrators who decide on the criteria for joining their projects. Some projects have very specific requirements, whereas others are very broad.

English DNA Projects
There are currently very few English geographical projects, and a number of the projects in this list, including my own new Devon project, have only been set up in the last few years. There will no doubt be many new projects established in the months and years to come as more people from the UK get their DNA tested. If anyone is interested in running an English county project and would like some idea of the work involved please get in touch. I would be particularly interested in hearing from anyone who might be interested in setting up a Somerset project as I have a number of people who have expressed an interest in joining such a project. The following is a list of all known active projects for English counties and regions:

Birmingham and West Midlands mtDNA Project
Project members must have a paper trail back to Birmingham or those areas close by in the West Midlands (Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire). Only those people who have taken a high-resolution mtDNA test (HVRI and HVR2) are eligible to join.

Colchester Camilla Project
The Colchester Camilla Project was set up in February 2011. It is a geographical project for everyone with a direct paternal or maternal ancestral line originating in or around the town of Colchester in Essex. The project is aiming to show a genetic link with the DNA taken from human remains of people who lived in or around Colchester during the Romano-British period (43AD to 410AD). Further information on the archaeological findings in Colchester can be found here.

Cornwall Y-DNA Project
A new Y-DNA project established in July 2011. The project is restricted to those who have a good paper trail to Cornwall on their paternal line.

Cornwall mtDNA Project
This project is for anyone with an ancestor on the direct maternal line who lived in Cornwall.

Devon Y-DNA and mtDNA Project
My Devon DNA Project was only established in March 2009 but has already attracted over 130 participants. The project is open to everyone with a direct paternal or maternal ancestral line from Devon, and participants must have a documented paper trail to Devon. The project specifically excludes deep-rooted lines from America where the only connection with Devon is in the 1500s or 1600s, as these pedigrees are prone to error and are very difficult to verify. There is also the possibility of a non-paternal event leading to the introduction of non-Devon DNA.

East Anglia Y-DNA and mtDNA Project
The East Anglia DNA Project is for anyone whose paternal or maternal line can be traced to East Anglia. For the purposes of the project East Anglia is defined by its historical boundaries, which include the counties of Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, plus northern Essex and southeast Lincolnshire. Although the bulk of the participants have been tested at Family Tree DNA the project is hosted on an external website and is therefore able to accommodate results from other testing companies.

Hampshire Y-DNA Project
The Hampshire project is open to anyone with a direct paternal line from Hampshire.

Manx Y-DNA Project
A new DNA project launched in August 2010 by Guild of One-Name Studies member John Creer.

Nidderdale Y-DNA and mtDNA Project
A new Y-DNA and mtDNA geographical project launched in 2011 by Guild of One-Name Studies member Nigel Brooks. The project is open to everyone with a direct paternal or maternal ancestral line originating in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the county of North Yorkshire.

Northumberland Y-DNA and mtDNA Project
This project is open to "all with any association with the county of Northumberland".

Oxfordshire Y-DNA and mtDNA Project
The Oxfordshire DNA project is a dual DNA project which is collecting Y-DNA and mtDNA results for people with a direct paternal or maternal ancestral line from Oxfordshire. Participants must have a documented paper trail to Oxfordshire prior to 1900.

Ravenstonedale DNA Project
A DNA project for people with any of the surnames found in the parish of Ravenstonedale in Westmorland. Participants must have a documented paper trail to an ancestor who lived in Ravenstonedale before 1800. The project accepts Y-DNA, mtDNA and  Family Finder results.

Saddleworth Surnames DNA Project
A new Y-DNA project established in December 2013 which is investigating the surnames of Saddleworth in Yorkshire. Updates are posted on the project's Saddleworth History Blog.

Yorkshire Y-DNA and mtDNA Project
A new project established in July 2013 for people with proven or suspected Yorkshire heritage on the direct paternal or maternal line.

Irish DNA Projects
The Ireland Heritage Project is the largest country-specific project in the world with almost 5,000 Y-DNA participants and over 1000 mtDNA participants as of March 2013. The project has its own website with background information on the project and tips and resources for researching in Ireland. The Y-DNA and mtDNA projects have separate project pages at Family Tree DNA:

Ireland Heritage Y-DNA Project

Ireland Heritage mtDNA Project

These projects welcome respectively those with paternal or maternal lines of Irish origin regardless of whether or not the county of origin is known.

Munster Irish Y-DNA Project
This is a research project focusing on the historical families of Munster present in pre-Norman times, studying the ancestral haplotypes prevalent in the province.

Ulster Heritage Y-DNA Project
The Ulster Y-DNA Project aims to "further the study of Ulster surnames, families, clans, and tribal affiliations of the people of Ulster and their descendants throughout the Diaspora". The project is open to anyone with Ulster ancestry which includes "Ulster families of Native Irish, Hebridean Gael, Ulster Scot and English Settlers, Norman, Welsh, Frisian, Manx, etc., origins".

Ulster Heritage mtDNA Project
The Ulster Heritage mtDNA Project is open to all men and women who have Ulster ancestry.

Irish clans
There are in addition a number of projects devoted to the various Irish clans. A listing can be found on the Clans of Ireland website.

Scottish DNA Projects

Scottish DNA Project
The Scottish DNA Project (formerly the Scottish clans projects) was established in October 2001. It was one of the very early geographical projects, and is now the largest geographical with over 5,500 members as of March 2013. The project is now administered by the Genealogical Studies team at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. The Scottish DNA blog provides news and updates from the project.

Border Reivers Y-DNA Project
This project has been set up to test the Y-DNA profiles of members of the families found along the Anglo-Scottish Border who are collectively known as the Border Reivers. A full list of surnames associated with the Border Reivers clans can be found on the Electric Scotland website. The project is also open to descendants of 'transplants' to Ulster, the United States, Canada, Australia, and around the world.

Isles of the Hebrides Y-DNA and mtDNA Project
This project is open to those people whose ancestors in either the direct paternal or maternal line resided on one of the Isles of the Hebrides.

Mid Argyll Y-DNA Project
A study of a group of families from mid Argyll who are often referred to as the MacLachlans of Dunadd (Clann Mhic Lachlainn of Dunadd).

Orkney Y-DNA and mtDNA project
The project has not defined the entry criteria, and appears to be open to everyone with ancestry form Orkney.

Shetland Islands Y-DNA and mtDNA Project
The Shetland DNA Project is "only open to those who can show with genealogical records that their ancestor in either the direct paternal or maternal line resided in Shetland in the 1800s or earlier". In addition the ancestor's name should appear in the Shetland families database. A patronymic naming system was common in the Shetlands among Norse families until the 1800s and DNA testing will help researchers to make genetic connections further back in time.

Scotland and the Flemish People Y-DNA Project
A project focusing on Scottish families with Flemish roots. The project is being developed in tandem with Scotland and the Flemish People, a research project run by the Institute of Scottish Historical Research at St Andrews University

Individual Scottish clan projects
There are numerous individual Scottish clan projects, many of which will include a variety of different surnames. The Clan Donald DNA Project is now "the largest family-based genetic genealogy project in the world" and was the first project to acquire 1,000 members. A listing of Scottish clan projects can be found on the Scotland DNA Project website.

Welsh DNA Projects

Wales Y-DNA and mtDNA Project
The Wales DNA Project is attempting to collect the DNA haplotypes of as many persons as possible who can trace their Y chromosome and/or mtDNA lines to Wales. Project members are required to submit an ancestral chart.

The Welsh Patronymics Y-DNA and mtDNA Project
The Welsh Patronymics project was launched on 6 December 6 2002 and focuses on the patronymic-style surnames (Williams, Jones, and Roberts, etc) which are found in Wales.

The British Isles Y-DNA and mtDNA Project
If there is no surname project for your surname and none of the geographical projects listed above meets your requirements another alternative is to test with the British Isles DNA Project. This is the largest geographical DNA project in the world with 4,552 project members at the time of writing. The project is very broad in its scope. It "is open to persons whose family history or surname indicates a paternal or maternal lineage originating in the British Isles, or who have a family tradition pointing back to the British Isles". Participants can therefore join even if they have not identified an ancestor who lived in the British Isles.

Other geographical projects
There are many other geographical projects for other countries and regions, and it is not possible to provide details here. There is however a very useful listing of DNA projects with 50 or more members on the World Families Network website where most of the large geographical projects can be found. DNA Ancestry is the only other testing company which hosts geographical projects. Their website does not have a public listing of geographical projects. The majority of Ancestry projects are however very small and are mostly duplicates of existing projects at Family Tree DNA. If anyone knows of any other geographical projects for the British Isles do let me know and I will add them to my list.

This page was last updated on 23rd May 2016.

© 2009-2016 Debbie Kennett

Thursday 6 August 2009

Genealogy companies in the news

There have been some interesting developments in the genealogical world in the last few days. On 3rd August it was announced that will be selling shares to the public for the first time in what is known as an initial public offering (IPO). A report can be found on the Techcrunch website. As part of the process Ancestry were required to file a Registration Statement with the Securities and Exchanges Commission in America. The full document can be read online here. There are some interesting facts and figures concealed in the small print:

- In the six months ending 30th June 2009 Ancestry had 990,959 subscribers, compared to 913,683 in the equivalent period in 2008.

- Revenues from subscribers in the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries collectively were 74%, 19% and 7%, respectively, in the first half of 2008 compared to 76%, 16% and 8%, respectively, in the first half of 2009.

- Ancestry plan to launch a new multi-language website called later this year. No further details are provided.

- The BBC television programme "Who do you think you are" was largely responsible for an increase in Ancestry subscribers in the UK: "Our subscriber additions were 569,851 in 2006, principally driven by the airing of “Who Do You Think You Are?” in the United Kingdom, and 479,663 in 2007".

- Ancestry have already purchased "product integration" in anticipation of the launch of the US version of “Who Do You Think You Are?” in 2010. They are no doubt hoping that the programme will have a similar impact on subscriptions in the US. (The US programme was initially scheduled to be shown in April 2009 in the US and in the summer of 2009 in the UK, but was postponed at the last minute for unknown reasons and the revised dates have not yet been announced.)

Yesterday it was reported in The Guardian that Ancestry was one of the companies in the running to purchase Friends Reunited and Genes Reunited from ITV. The other prime candidate was Ancestry's main UK rival Brightsolid, the parent company of and Scotland's People. In the event Brightsolid emerged as the eventual winners and the news of the purchase was officially announced today on their website. There was another report on the acquisition on the BBC website. (As an intriguing aside I was amused to learn from the BBC report that the German equivalent of the reality TV programme "I'm a celebrity… " is known as "Ich bin ein Star"!)

I suspect the future of Friends Reunited is now in doubt as it has effectively been superseded by Facebook. In contrast, Genes Reunited is a thriving community with nine million loyal members, and it has proved to be an effective way of making contact with other family history researchers in the UK. The interface is however very clumsy and there is plenty of room for improvement. It will be interesting to learn what plans Brightsolid have for the site in the coming months.

Monday 3 August 2009

Criminal trial records now online

Criminal trial records from the 18th and 19th century are now available online on The new database contains details from 1.4 million criminal trials in England and Wales which were reported to the Home Office between 1791-1892. The records have been extracted from Series HO 26 and H0 27 at the National Archives in Kew. If you have a subscription to Ancestry you can search the database here.

I have so far found eleven Cruwyses in the database. Of these, six were listed under the surname Cruwys, four were indexed under the name Crewys, and one was listed as a Crewis. In the latter case the name was mis-spelt in the original record. The details provided are somewhat sketchy and I have not yet been able to identify all the people involved. I hope that it might be possible in due course to locate newspaper reports or the original trial records to find out further information. I have transcribed all the Cruwys entries below and included notes in italics on the possible identities. In addition there are 42 Cruses, 47 Cruises, 23 Crews, and 6 Crewes in the database. I have not yet made any attempt to extract details of the criminal cases for these other variant spellings.

Devon 1821
Name: Samuel Cruwys
When tried: Lent Assizes 1821
Offence: Rape
Acquittals: No bill

1822 Middlesex
Name: John Cruwys
Age: 40
Crimes: Larceny
Where and when tried: Old Bailey April session
Sentence: Whipped

Further details of this case can be found on the Proceedings of the Old Bailey website. This John Cruwys was born about 1782. He is possibly the brother of the Thomas Cruwys who was born c.1788 in Bristol who was also a carver and gilder. No baptism has yet been located for Thomas Cruwys.

1822 Devon
Name: Mary Crewys
When tried: April Sessions 1822
Offence: Larceny
Acquittals: Not guilty

1825 Shropshire
Name: Edward Crewys
When tried: October session for Shrewsbury 1825
Crimes: Larceny
Imprisonment: 3 months

1836 Devon
Name of offender: John Cruwys
Degree of instruction: Imp[erfect]
Age: 24
At what sessions tried: County sessions 5th January
Offence: Larceny
Imprisonment: 2 weeks

I have no record of a John Cruwys born c.1812 in Devon. It is possible that the age was recorded incorrectly and that his record refers to the John Cruwys who was baptised on 17th November 1816 in Mariansleigh, the son of William Cruwys and Margaret Eastmond.

1847 Middlesex
Name of offender: Thomas Cruwys
Degree of instruction: Imp[erfect]
Age: 14
At what sessions tried: County adj[udicate]d sessions Clerkenwell 22nd June
Offence: Larceny
Imprisonment: 6 months

This Thomas Cruwys was born on 9th May 1833 in Chelsea. He was the son of Thomas Cruwys, a carver and gilder, and Elizabeth Gates.

1848 Devon
Name: John Crewis
Degree of instruction: Imp[erfect]
Age: 32
At what Sessions Tried: County Assizes 10 July
Offences: Cattle stealing
Imprisonment: 1 year

This John Cruwys was baptised on 17th November 1816 in Mariansleigh and was the son of William Cruwys and Margaret Eastmond. I have transcribed the newspaper articles relating to this case and the transcriptions can be found here.

1854 Tiverton, Devon
Name: James Cruwys
Offence: Larceny
Date of sessions at which tried: 28th December
Transportation: Yes (ticked)
Imprisonment (state if also whipped or fined): 2 months (4 days solitary)

There are two possible candidates for this James Cruwys. There was a James Cruwys baptised on 31st January 1813 in Mariansleigh, Devon, the son of George Cruwys and Ann Eastmond. There was also a James Eastmond Cruwys, the son of William Cruwys and Margaret Eastmond, who was baptised on 19th February 1815 in Rose Ash, Devon. However, there is no record of either of these two Jameses being transported and they both died in Devon.

1861 Shrewsbury, Shropshire
Name: William Cruwys
Offence: Perjury
Acquitted and discharged: No bill

This is either William Cruwys, the son of Thomas and Hannah Cruwys, born c.1809 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, or his son William who was born on 15th March 1836 in Shrewsbury. William the elder died in 1870.

1862 Exeter, Devon
County of Devon and City and County of the City of Exeter
Return of all Persons Committed, or Bailed to appear for Trial, or Indicted at the Assizes held at the Castle of Exeter and the Guildhall of the City of Exeter on the 8th day of March 1862, shewing the nature of their Offences and the result of the Proceedings
Names: Edwin Curwood, Richard Bowers, Mary Ann Bowers, Thomas Molland, Mary Molland, Mary Henson, Susan Paine, James Cruwys, Thomas Courtney, Isaac Aplin, Walter Aplin
Offences of which those tried were convicted: Riot and assault
Acquitted and discharged: Jury discharged without giving any verdict

There are again two possible candidates for this James Cruwys. There was a James Cruwys baptised on 31st January 1813 in Mariansleigh, Devon, the son of George Cruwys and Ann Eastmond. There was also a James Eastmond Cruwys, the son of William Cruwys and Margaret Eastmond, who was baptised on 19th February 1815 in Rose Ash, Devon.

1871 South Molton
Borough of South Molton
Return of all Persons Committed, or Bailed to appear for Trial, or Indicted at any Session of the Peace, held during the year 1871, within the jurisdiction of the said Borough shewing the nature of their Offences and the result of the Proceedings
Name: Maria Priscilla Westacott
Offence: Stealing two blankets
Date of session at which tried: 28th December 1871
Imprisonment (state if also whipped or fined): Imprisoned for one calendar month with hard labour

Name: William Cruwys
Offence: Receiving the said blankets, knowing them to be stolen
Date of session at which tried: 28th December 1871
Acquitted and discharged: Acquitted

I have transcribed the newspaper reports relating to this case. The full story can be read here.