I’ve posted an article on George Wythe, who was a signer of the Declaration of American Independence in 1776 and an important figure in the history of Virginia in the colonial period and the early years of the Republic. His first wife, Anne Lewis (1726-1748), is my 1st cousin 8x removed in the Waller family line, which I have recently been researching. In addition to signing the Declaration of 1776, Wythe was the first American law professor, a noted classics scholar and Virginia judge, as well as a prominent early opponent of slavery. He also served as one of Virginia’s representatives to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention. Wythe taught and was a mentor to Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, Henry Clay and other men who became American leaders. In John Trumbull’s painting “The Declaration of Independence”, Wythe is in profile farthest to the viewer’s left. Trumbull’s painting was used for the back of the U.S. $2 bill, but Wythe’s image was cut out of that depiction. Other Waller family relations that I have discovered and written articles on are Edmund Waller (1606-16887), English poet and politician; Benjamin Waller (1716-1786), an eminent lawyer in colonial Virginia; Littleton Waller Tazewell (1774-1860), U.S. Senator and Governor of Virginia; Edwin Waller (1880-1881), signer of the Declaration of Texas Independence (1836) and first mayor of Austin, Texas and Sam Rayburn (1882-1691) of Texas, the longest-serving Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. (7)
The following article was posted on the Los Angeles Times website (7 May 2013, 7:38 PM):
(by Eryn Brown)
The history of Europe is written in its people’s DNA.
The Huns and the Slavs made incursions into Eastern Europe about 1,500 years ago. Migrants moved from Ireland to England in recent centuries. Populations in Italy and Spain have been comparatively stable.
None of this is breaking news. But scientists were able to see it anew by examining the patterns of genes in 2,257 people now living in 40 countries on the continent.
It’s surprising “how much past history was still evident in the patterns we’ve seen,” said Peter Ralph, a computational biologist at USC who reported the findings Tuesday in the journal PLOS Biology.
Ralph and his former postdoctoral advisor, Graham Coop, a geneticist at UC Davis, conducted their analysis by looking at the Population Reference Sample data. The data include language and country-of-origin information for several thousand European people, along with DNA sequences covering 500,000 locations on the genome that are known to vary from person to person.
Coop and Ralph used computer programs to ferret out sequences that were identical or nearly identical and used the matches to figure out who was related to whom.
Following the DNA trails they encountered, the researchers were able to confirm that Europeans living near one another were more closely related than Europeans living farther apart.
They were also able to put a time frame on the genetic relatedness they saw, by examining the length of the DNA segments the people shared.
The DNA sequences you have in common with each of your parents are quite long, the chunks you share with each of your four grandparents are half as long, and the bits you share with each of your eight great-grandparents are half as long again.
“The longer ago an ancestor is, the shorter the chunk is likely to be,” Ralph said.
Out of the roughly 3 billion base pairs in the human genome, Coop and Ralph looked for shared segments that were on the order of millions of base pairs long; statistically, matches any shorter could be a chance result. They calculated that these segments could reveal shared ancestry stretching back about 100 generations, or 3,000 years.
It turned out that pairs of people living as far away from each other as Britain and Turkey shared the DNA chunks 20% of the time, the researchers discovered. That meant that each pair would have to have had at least thousands of common ancestors over the last 1,000 years, they wrote.
Going back a few thousand years, Coop and Ralph were able to show that everyone on Earth is related to everyone else.
“It’s a nice illustration of how interconnected human ancestry is,” said John Novembre, a professor of human genetics at the University of Chicago who was not involved in the research. “It’s been expected theoretically, but here they show it empirically.”
Coop and Ralph also looked at the length of the shared DNA segments to link genetic differences among populations to historical events and trends. Among other things, they found that modern-day Italians were not as closely related to one another as people in other countries were. That could reflect relative stability in the region that is now Italy, they said.
The researchers found more recent shared ancestry — that is, longer chunks of shared DNA — among some people from southeastern Europe. That could be a genetic signature of the influxes of Huns and Slavs into the region around the time of the fall of the Roman Empire, they wrote.
John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison who was not involved in the research, said that although the new research was interesting, there were many “key insights” about humanity’s past still waiting to be revealed in the human genome.
“Europe happens to have a really good genetic sample and really good match of geography to genetic variation,” Hawks said. “In some other parts of the world, like Africa, things are not so simple.”
Researchers have examined the genomes of African Americans to try to learn about their recent history, Ralph said.
The technique could also prove useful in studying other living things, he added: A survey of humpback whale DNA could shed light on population sizes in the pre-whaling era, for instance, or the genes of a particular kind of tree might tell scientists something about how that species has responded to glaciation in the past.
I have started publishing my research on the family line beginning with my 9th great grandparents, Cornelius Dabney (1631-1694) and Susanna Swann (1643-1724). They are my ancestors through both a son and a daughter. Cornelius arrived in Virginia by 1664 (perhaps as early as 1649), and Susanna was born in Virginia in 1643. At this time, it is not definitely known from whom Cornelius Dabney is descended. Many claims have been made that Theodore D’Aubigne was his father, and that that Theodore was a descendant of the French Huguenot Théodore-Agrippa d’Aubigné (1552–1630), who was a poet, soldier, propagandist and chronicler. Whether or not Theodore D’Aubigne is actually the father of Cornelius Dabney is unproven, and it appears unlikely to be the case. There are more plausible theories that the Dabneys of Virginia were descended from Dabneys who had resided in England for centuries and were not French Huguenots at all. Even under the Huguenot scenario, there seems to be agreement that the Virginia Dabneys migrated from England (or Wales), where they had lived for some years as refugees.
According to some family traditions, Cornelius Dabney’s second wife, Susanna, is considered to have been of the family of Chief Totopotomoi and Cockacoeske. This is plausible and supported indirectly by a persistent family tradition among the Dabneys of Indian descent. If it is true, Susanna was most likely a granddaughter of Chief Totopotomoi and Queen Cockacoeske (perhaps by an English father), or possibly even a daughter, making Totpotmoi and Cockacoeske my direct ancestors (either 10th or 11th grandparents). I have included an article on these Indian leaders under “Notable Kin”, even though the relationship has not been proved and probably never will be.
Descendants of Cornelius Dabney include Patrick Henry (the orator and Governor of Virginia), Dabney Carr (brother-in-law of President Thomas Jefferson), Lady Nancy Astor (first woman to sit in the British House of Commons), Zacchary Taylor (President of the United States) and his daughter Sarah Knox Taylor, the first wife of President Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy. Cornelius Dabney is the 3rd great grandfather of Zachary Taylor, as is another of my ancestors, Richard Lee, making President Taylor my 4th cousin 6x removed on his mother’s side (through Dabney) and my 3rd cousin 8x removed on his father’s side (through Lee).
I haven’t worked on this line for over a year, but I decided to post what I have so far. More will be added later on the Dabney line up to the point at which it connects to the Waller and Carr family lines. (21)
I’ve started to assemble and write up my research on the family line founded in Virginia by my 8th great grandfather, John Waller (1673-1754), who arrived in the colony from England in about 1696, and his wife, Dorothy King (1677-1758). I was wondering (due to the common surname) if there was a connection between this man and the English poet Edmund Waller, and I have outlined the probable connection in an article I have posted on Edmund. (Probable, because there is some uncertainty regarding the identity of John Waller’s paternal grandfather, although the stated line has been accepted by many family historians). Edmund was a distant cousin of John Waller, i.e. his 2nd cousin 3x removed. Edmund is my 2nd cousin 13x removed. He was the eldest son of Robert Waller of Coleshill, Hertfordshire, and Anne Hampden, his wife. He was the 1st cousin John Hampden (1595-1643), the English politician and one of the Five Members whose attempted unconstitutional arrest by King Charles I in the House of Commons of England in 1642 sparked the Civil War. Edmund Waller was descended from the Waller family of Groombridge Place, Kent. Early in his childhood his father moved the family to Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, where Edmund later built a large home known as Hall Barn. (22)
Here’s an interesting story involving my paternal 10th great grandfather, Roger Williams (1603-1683): In 1817, Brown University acquired a mysterious book, which is now part of the John Carter Collection of the Brown library. The 234-page book is subtitled An Essay Concerning the Reconciling of Differences among Christians. The book’s author was unknown, and it had no title page. The most curious aspect of the book, however, was that almost every square inch of white space was covered in a cryptic scrawl made up of strange characters dashed off in one or two strokes. For librarians, the only clue to the origins of the handwriting came from an accompanying note, barely legible itself, which said in part: The margin is filled with Short Hand Characters, Dates, Names of places &c. &c. by Roger Williams or it appears to be his hand Writing…brot me from Widow Tweedy by Nicholas Brown Jr. (dated 11 Nov 1817). But how could historians be sure? And, more importantly, what did it say? All attempts to decipher the writing failed. The book was largely forgotten, and the mystery remained an unsolved puzzle for nearly 200 years.
Recently the secret code was cracked by undergraduate researchers at Brown University, and the hero of the project was Lucas Mason-Brown, a 21-year old senior, who will graduate next month. In some ways he was an unlikely candidate for the role. He is a math fanatic who attended Belmont (Massachusetts) High School and plans to pursue theoretical math professionally. But something about the shorthand begged for his attention. “I was sort of instantly captivated,” he said. As mathematics major, Mason-Brown had no pretensions to being an expert in 17th century manuscripts or theology. By his own admission, he knew absolutely nothing about Roger Williams. However, he succeeded through a mix of statistical analysis and historical research to reveal the meaning of the ciphered text. Earlier suspicions were confirmed as the analysis revealed some of last writings of Roger Williams which were previously unknown. Historians call the now-readable writings the most significant addition to Williams scholarship in a generation or more.
Today I finally got a hit on the site from a visitor in Wyoming. This means that since 10 Aug 2012 (when I started keeping track) I have received visits from all 50 states of the Union as well as the District of Columbia. Before today, the most recent new state was represented by Montana on December 19th of last year. As of today I have received visitors from a total of 48 countries, including Mongolia, whose first visitor also arrived at the site today. (25)
I have added a page under “Notable Kin” for Clarence Don Clark (1851-1930), my 2nd great grand uncle. He was an important political leader in the early days of the Territory (later State) of Wyoming in the late 19th century. His sister, Harriet Allen Clarke (1839-1898) is my paternal 2nd great grandmother. Their ancestry is discussed under the heading of Joseph Clarke (1618-1694) and his wife, Margaret. Clarence Don Clark was an American teacher, lawyer, and politician from New York. He participated in the constitutional convention for Wyoming’s statehood and was one of that state’s first congressmen. He served as both a United States Representative and United States Senator. In 1881, Clark moved from Iowa to Evanston, Wyoming and practiced law before becoming the Prosecuting Attorney of Uinta County (Wyoming), a job he held from 1882-84. In 1889, he began his political career as a delegate to the Wyoming constitutional convention. Upon the admission of Wyoming as a State into the Union was elected as a Republican to the Fifty-first Congress of the United States. He was reelected to the 52nd. He was a member of Congress from 1 Dec 1890 to 3 Mar 1893) after unsuccessfully running as a candidate for reelection in 1892. Clarence Don Clark was subsequently elected as a United States Senator from Wyoming in a special election to fill a vacancy in 1895, and was reelected to that seat three times, serving from 23 Jan 1895 until 3 Mar 1917. While in the Senate, he served on the Committee on Railroads (54th through 59th Congresses), Committee on Judiciary (59th through 62nd Congresses) and Committee on Geological Survey (63rd and 64th Congresses). He lost a bid for reelection to the Senate in 1916, and he resumed the practice of law in Washington, D.C. In 1919, he was appointed as a member of the International Joint Commission in 1919, and served as its chairman from 1923 until his retirement from active pursuits in 1929. (26)
Thomas Hutchinson (1711-1780) was a businessman, historian and a prominent Loyalist politician of the Province of Massachusetts Bay in the years before the American Revolution. A successful merchant and politician, Hutchinson was active at high levels of the Massachusetts government for many years, serving as lieutenant governor and then governor from 1758 to 1774. He was a politically polarizing figure who, despite initial opposition to Parliamentary tax laws directed at the colonies, came to be identified by John Adams and Samuel Adams as a proponent of hated British taxes. He was blamed by Lord North (the British Prime Minister at the time) for being a significant contributor to the tensions that led the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War.
Hutchinson’s Boston mansion was ransacked in 1765 during protests against the Stamp Act, damaging his collection of materials on early Massachusetts history. As acting governor in 1770 he exposed himself to mob attack in the aftermath of the Boston massacre, after which he ordered the removal of troops from Boston to Castle William. Letters of his calling for abridgment of colonial rights were published in 1773, further intensifying dislike of him in the colony. He was replaced as governor in May 1774 by General Thomas Gage and went into exile in England, where he advised the government on how to deal with the Americans.
Hutchinson had a deep interest in colonial history, collecting a large number of historical documents. He wrote a three volume History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, whose last volume, published posthumously, covered his own period in office. Historian Bernard Bailyn wrote of Hutchinson, “If there was one person in America whose actions might have altered the outcome [of the protests and disputes preceding the American Revolutionary War], it was he.” Scholars use Hutchinson’s career to represent the tragic fate of the many Loyalists marginalized by their attachment to an outmoded imperial structure at a time when the modern nation-state was emerging. Paralyzed by his conservative ideology and his dual loyalties to America and Britain, Hutchinson exemplifies the Loyalist-as-loser. He sacrificed his love for Massachusetts to his uncritical loyalty to a distant land, where he spent his last years in unhappy exile. (37)
Robert Overton (1609-78) is my 11th great grandfather. He was prominent soldier and scholar, who supported the Parliamentary cause during the English Civil Wars of the 17th century. He fell in and out of favor with the political and religious authorities of his time, and he was imprisoned a number of times during the Protectorate and the English Restoration for his strong republican views. He was imprisoned at various times in two different fortresses on the island of Jersey (in the English Channel), in a castle in Wales and in the Tower of London. Ultimately, family tradition says that he was exiled to the Barbadoes for his political views, and he died there in about 1678. Robert’s son, William Overton, was an immigrant to Virginia in about 1668, and his wife, Elizabeth (Mary) Waters joined him there in 1670. They were previously engaged in England and were married on shipboard immediately upon her arrival in the colony, and they probably left England because of the political turmoil surrounding his father. It is said that the novel, To Have and To Hold, written by Mary Johnston and published in 1900, related the romantic story of Elizabeth (Mary) Waters and William Overton. Johnston based her story on the tradition that Elizabeth Waters fled England, disguised as her maid, to escape a marriage to a nobleman she despised. William‘s life in America was spent in the county of New Kent, Virginia. Part of his land later fell into Mathews and King William counties, and his offspring resided on land which became Hanover and Louisa counties. Some descendants went to North Carolina, thence to Kentucky, and some remained in Kentucky for several generations before moving westward to Texas and other states. Still another group migrated to Tennessee and Louisiana, where several became prominent in state affairs. (55)
I have added a page for Eliza Hart Spalding. She and her traveling companion, Narcissa Whitman, were the first white women to cross the Rocky Mountains. Eliza is my 3rd cousin 7x removed through Stephen Hart (1603-1683), who arrived in Massachusetts in 1631-32 from England and later settled in Connecticut. She changed the history of the West by blazing the trail for women to migrate by land over the Rocky Mountains and helping form the first white settlement in Idaho. Eliza Hart was born in 1807 to Levi Hart and Martha Hart (her parents were 3rd cousins 1x removed) in Kensington, Connecticut. Eliza and her husband, Henry H. Spalding (1807–1851) were prominent Presbyterian missionaries and educators working primarily with the Nez Perce in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The Spaldings and their fellow missionaries were among the earliest Americans to travel across the western plains, through the Rocky Mountains and into the lands of the Pacific Northwest to their religious missions in what would become the states of Idaho and Washington. Their missionary party of five, including Marcus Whitman and his wife Narcissa and William H. Gray, joined with a group of fur traders to create the first wagon train along the Oregon Trail. (94)
I have added a page for Thomas Butts (1641-1703) and Elizabeth Lake (1642-1709), my 10th great grandparents. Elizabeth is the daughter of Henry Lake (1611-1678) and Alice [surname unknown] (1616-1650), whose page I posted yesterday. Thomas was born in England and arrived in Rhode Island by 1662. Elizabeth was born at Dorchester, Massachusetts and later settled in Rhode Island. (76)