In my last post, I told you how I came up with the hypothesis that my great great great grandfather William Warner (1808-1845), the one who married Sarah Leitch in Quebec City in 1832, was the son of William Warner (born 1789), of the village of Howden in West Yorkshire, and his wife, Sarah Benson.
.In this post, I’d like to tell you how I was able to use DNA testing to confirm that hypothesis and, going one generation further back, to show that I’m also descended from William Warner and Elizabeth White who were married in Howden in 1776.
Here’s what happened.
Backing historical evidence with DNA evidence
A few years before my father died in 2017, he and I both had DNA tests done with testing kits from Ancestry. One of the features of that service is that it lets you identify other people who have also been tested and who have bits of DNA that match your DNA. The more DNA you and they have in common, the closer you’re related. If one of those people has created a family tree on Ancestry, you may be able to figure out precisely how they are related to you.
If (a) someone’s DNA matches yours and (b) the historical documents you or they have been able to find suggest that you might be descended from a common ancestor, then you have pretty solid proof that the relationship between you is what you say it is. The DNA evidence reinforces the historical evidence and vice versa.
That’s what happened in my case.
Finding the descendants of my Yorkshire ancestors
To understand how it happened, let’s go back to William Warner (1808-1845) and his father, William Warner (1789-?), who came from Yorkshire to Canada, together with the rest of their nuclear family, in the late 1820s. The elder William was the son of yet another William Warner who, according to church records, married a woman named Elizabeth White, in Howden, Yorkshire, on October 20, 1776.
Pardon a brief expression of frustration, but all this would be so much easier if my ancestors hadn’t kept naming their sons “William” again and again!
Anyway, church documents show that William and Elizabeth had at least nine other children besides the William who is my four times great grandfather.
In order to prove that this is indeed the family I am descended from, I would need to find at least one cousin who (a) has DNA that matches mine or my father’s in the right degree and (b) can be shown by documentary evidence to be a likely descendant of one of the younger William’s brothers or sisters.
In fact, I’ve found not one but nine people who, according to both the documents and the DNA, are descended from one of William’s sisters: either Elizabeth, Martha, or Mary.
Descendants of Elizabeth Warner, my four times great grandfather’s eldest sister
Please refer to the two left-hand columns in the diagram above.
Let’s start with William’s eldest sister, Elizabeth (1777-1872), who married Thomas Rook (1780-1854) in Howden on August 1, 1801. Two of their children, Mary (1804-1883) and Thomas (1807-?), each have a descendant whose DNA matches mine or my father’s.
Match No. 1: Bernard, my fifth cousin once removed (Victoria, Australia)
Mary Rook married John Mapplebeck (1800-?) in Snaith, Yorkshire on December 18, 1823. One of their great grandsons, Bernard, was born in Yorkshire in the 1920s but emigrated to Tasmania in 1965. He later moved to a small town in Victoria, Australia. He is our first DNA match (column one in the diagram).
Genealogical ethics constrains me from publishing Bernard’s full name or that of any of my other living cousins. To do that I would need their consent. I’m taking the liberty of sharing their first names, in the hope that they’ll find it acceptable.
Match No. 2: Carol, my fifth cousin once removed (Goole, Yorkshire)
Mary’s brother, Thomas Rook, married a woman named Ann (we don’t know her maiden name). A great granddaughter of theirs, Carol, is the other DNA match descended from Elizabeth Warner. She lives in Goole, Yorkshire, just a few miles from the church in Howden where her Warner ancestors, William and Elizabeth, were married 244 years ago (column two in the diagram).
Descendants of Martha Warner, my four times great grandfather’s other older sister
Please refer to columns three through six in the diagram above.
Martha Warner (1780-1833), another of William’s older sisters, married Miles Norton (1783-1863) in Stillingfleet, Yorkshire on Nov 25, 1806. Their daughter Sarah (1810-1886) has three descendants whose DNA matches mine or my father’s. Another daughter, Emma (1822-1869), has two more.
Sarah Norton married Joseph Granger (1810-1881), probably in Yorkshire. By the time their first child was born in 1831, they were living in upstate New York, on the south shore of Lake Ontario, in a town that also bears the name of Ontario.
Match No. 3: William, my sixth cousin (New York State)
The third DNA match I’ve identified (column three in the diagram) is William, a great great grandson of Sarah and Joseph’s daughter, Elizabeth Granger (1831-1925). To the best of my knowledge, he lives in the same part of upstate New York as his ancestors did.
Matches Nos. 4 and 5: Nettie and Melinda, my fourth cousin twice removed and fifth cousin once removed (New York State)
Sarah and Joseph also had a son, William Granger (1849-1913). His granddaughter, Nettie, and Nettie’s daughter, Melinda, are both DNA matches for my father and me (column four in the diagram). They also live in New York State.
Matches Nos. 6 and 7: Tanya and Brandon, my sixth cousins (Utah and Alaska)
Coming back to Martha Warner and Miles Norton’s other daughter, Emma Norton married George Simpson (1822-1913) in Hemingbrough, Yorkshire on April 27, 1845. They lived the first twenty years of their marriage in Yorkshire but emigrated in the 1860s to the United States, where they settled in Utah.
Among Emma and George’s great grandchildren were two sisters, Ella Sarah Davis (1921-1996) and Ethel May Davis (1924-2014), both of Utah.
Ella married Jack Burns Taylor (1916-2008) in Tooele, Utah on December 7, 1939. Their granddaughter Tanya is a DNA match (column five in the diagram). She is from Utah but I believe that she now lives in Idaho.
Ella’s sister Ethel married Wesley Bartholomew Ercanbrack (1919-1993) in Provo, Utah on January 23, 1945. Their grandson Brandon is a DNA match (column six in the diagram). He was born in Utah but now lives in Alaska.
Descendants of Mary Warner, my four times great grandfather’s younger sister
Please refer to the right-hand column in the diagram above.
Mary Warner (1799-1860), the younger sister of William Warner (1789-?), was born in Howden on July 4, 1799 and married John Lofthouse in the same town on December 12, 1825. They spent the rest of their lives in Yorkshire as did their daughter Ann Lofthouse (1834-1890) and their granddaughter Emma Fairburn (1863-1906), Ann’s daughter.
Matches Nos. 8 and 9: Frederick and Ruth, my fourth cousin twice removed and fifth cousin once removed (Southampton)
Emma’s daughter, Freda Constance Fowler (1905-1979), was born in Yorkshire but eventually settled in Southampton, where her son Frederick and her granddaughter Ruth were born and still live. Frederick and Ruth are both DNA matches (the right-hand column in the diagram).
The final word
So, to wrap it up, I’ve identified nine distant cousins – Bernard, Carol, William, Nettie, Melinda, Tanya, Brandon, Frederick and Ruth – who, according to historical records, can trace their ancestry to one of three daughters (Elizabeth, Martha or Mary) of William Warner and Elizabeth White of Howden, Yorkshire. Each of those nine also carries some bits of DNA that match bits of my DNA or my father’s.
Those DNA links reinforce the findings of the historical records and therefore – as I argued in Part 1 of this story – support the hypothesis that my ancestry goes back to William, the brother of Elizabeth, Martha and Mary, and from there to his parents, William and Elizabeth’s.
My aim in this post was to show, using multiple DNA links that are consistent with the historical records, that the hypothesis was correct.
I rest my case.
Note: You may have noticed that I didn’t say anything about four of the DNA links on the right-hand side of my diagram: the ones for my cousins who live in Oregon, Massachusetts, Ohio and Texas.
Because they are closer cousins, descended from the William Warner (1789-?) and Sarah Benson who came to Canada, I can only use those links to show I descend from that younger William, but not that I am descended from his parents, the elder William Warner and Elizabeth White. It was this latter point that I was trying to prove with this exercise.
I’ll probably say more about those less distant cousins in a future post.
Note: this post was updated in January, 2022 to correct some errors in the chart showing the descendants of William and Elizabeth.