Blencowe Families' Association Newsletter Vol. 19 No. 2 August 2004

The DNA Survey

Nine DNA analyses have now been completed and the results are quite exciting. One participant received his personal analysis and said, "It's Greek to me!" but, displayed side-by-side on the cover, it soon makes sense. First to come to hand were those of descendants of James Blincoe, who was recorded in Maryland in 1671. Allen Blincoe of Dayton OH is directly descended, ten generations down from James; John Blincoe of Issaquah WA shares the same ancestry. Allen descends from Benjamin Carroll Blincoe (1809-c.1852), John from Ben's brother Carroll Carrollton Blincoe (1811-1876); the DNA of the male chromosomes is identical.

Noel Blincoe of Pacifica CA can only trace his descent back to his grandfather Joseph A Blincoe who was born in Loudoun Co. VA in 1851. His DNA is closely similar to that of Allen and John, differing at only two points (and the numbers in the diagram show only a 'one-step shift). It is pretty clear that Noel's grandfather descended from one of the very early Blincoes who did not move on from Virginia to Kentucky.

Now comes the exciting bit! John ('Al') Blencowe of Norfolk is a great grandson of Thomas Blencowe (1828-1904) a pharmacist who emigrated from Towcester in England in 1873. Thomas' ancestry can be traced back, via Marston St Lawrence to 14thC Adam Blencowe of Blencow. If you look at the diagram you will see that Al, Allen and John share identical DNA; the American descendants of 'the Immigrant James' can be confident that their lineage goes directly back in unbroken male line to the common ancestor.

This does not tell us where James came from; ships sailed to Colonial America from London, Bristol, even Westward Ho!, and there were particularly close ties between the tobacco planters of Virginia and the Cumbrian port of Whitehaven. I have speculated that James was born in 1651, the son of James and Susannah Blencowe of Marston St Lawrence and that he was taken to America by John Lee, a contemporary at Oxford University of John Blencowe (later Sir John) of Marston St Lawrence and son of Richard Lee of Virginia. Of course, James might have been one of the Cumbrian Blencowes, but I find it suggestive that James named his daughter Susannah.

I turn now to 'my lot': my great grandfather Joseph told the Census-taker that he had been born c.1806 at Long Buckby near Whilton, but I have failed to find any record. My DNA was completely different from the ones discussed above. Keith Blincow also submitted a sample; he descends directly from John Blencowe of Whilton who was born c.1650 and was Parish Clerk at the end of the 17thC, Keith and I share an identical 'Y' chromosome; I have no doubt of our "Blencowe" ancestry, it just means that at some time before 1650 a male Blencowe was born out of wedlock (or, less likely, was adopted). The same applies to Roger Blencowe, one of the Blencowes of Wisconsin who now lives in Texas, His family group emigrated, first to Upper New York State, from Gawcott near Buckingham and probably came from Helmdon near Marston St Lawrence. DNA differs from both mine and Al's.

Edward Blincoe descends from Robert the foundling born in London c.1792, believed by the family to have been the illegitimate son of a Blencowe parson. No records have been found to confirm this but there is a similarity between his DNA and that of Roger. There are four points of difference, one of them a two-step jump; Diahan Southard who coordinates our project at Relative Genetics Inc, advises that these differences are too great to have arisen by mutation in the mere two centuries since Robert's birth. However, it looks to me that Edward could look to the Helmdon/Gawcott line for his ancestry, although whether there is a parson lurking in the background is another story!

I have left to the last the result of Chris Blencowe of Toronto whose DNA is identical with the first three discussed above. Chris' family line traces back to a farmer in West Sussex, the only Blencowe group in that part of U.K. The 'tree' opposite shows a possible link back to the senior line of the Blencowes of Blencow. Hugh is a very unusual name amongst the Blencowes and Hewe, the son of the Rev Christopher Blencowe of Edenhall (c.1498-c.1565) could be the same Hugh who was recorded in Storrington in W. Sussex in 1590. Four subsequent generations using the name Hugh are to be found recorded in towns and villages near Storrington, then there is a gap until maybe two generations later Chris' ancestor farms in the neighbourhood. It seems to me highly likely that Chris, his brother, and some distant cousins in Germany are the last repsentatives of the senior line of the Blencowes of Blencow - believed to have died out when Henry Prescott George Blencowe died in Tunis in 1927.

What comes next? Well, I hope that these exciting results will encourage others to participate in the project. Representatives of the main family groups are invited to give it serious thought:

old line
Blencowe Families' Association   Vol. 19 No. 2 August 2004
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updated: 22 June 2005