DNA: SNP model from Wikimedia Commons

Progress on our family tree using DNA evidence has been slow. Cousin matches are either with people where we have no idea how they fit into our tree, or with cousins whose place in the tree we already know. The second kind of matches are useful, however, because they help to predict where on our  tree those otherwise unlinked matches might belong.

When we received our first DNA results in July 2016 one of the first matches I contacted was A B. She was predicted to be Greg’s 4th cousin with AncestryDNA stating Greg and AB shared 21.6 centimorgans across 2 DNA segments. She had a private tree, so I was unable to view what links there might be between our tree and hers. Her member profile gave no hint as to where in the world she was.
Later in the month AB replied and shared her private tree with me. Neither of us could see where the link was. We both uploaded our DNA kits to GedMatch.com, which confirmed the link, giving slightly more information than AncestryDNA had provided:

Comparing Kit A828918 (*G C Y) and Axxx (*AB)
Minimum threshold size to be included in total = 500 SNPsMismatch-bunching Limit = 250 SNPsMinimum segment cM to be included in total = 7.0 cM

Chr  Start Location End Location Centimorgans (cM) SNPs 
8 22,956,646 32,079,918 12.6 1,731
12 64,128,525 77,383,427 13.3 2,210

Largest segment = 13.3 cMTotal of segments > 7 cM = 25.9 cM2 matching segmentsEstimated number of generations to MRCA = 4.6
441334 SNPs used for this comparison.

At the time no other kits uploaded to GedMatch matched AB and Greg. AncestryDNA also showed no shared matches.

AncestryDNA offers a view of surnames and places of birth that two trees have in common. We noticed early on that there were a large number of places in Lincolnshire from AB’s tree and some close to those on our family tree.

The orange markers are birthplaces on AB’s tree. The blue from our tree, and the green are birthplaces appearing on both trees.

Because of the Lincolnshire birthplaces we looked at both Dawson and Plowright lines as possible connections but came to no conclusions.

In September AB looked again at her tree, focusing on her great grandfather John William Gibbons. AB had noticed that she and her father shared DNA with an AncestryDNA match, To2, and that Greg also shared DNA with To2, although not the same segments (hence not showing as a shared match).  AB found that her shared ancestors with her father and To2 were John Gibbons and Frances. Frances was possibly the daughter of Robert Atkin and Frances Smith.

Greg had no forebears with the surname Gibbons in his tree but looking at his DNA matches there were some matches who had Gibbons in their tree, in particular several had Rebecca Gibbons (1843-1897).

Rebecca was born in Moulton, Lincolnshire, the daughter of Thomas Gibbons. In 1866 she first married William  Noble Waite (1845-1879). They had five children and emigrated to the United States in the 1870s. William Waite died in Utah. Rebecca’s second marriage was to Lemuel Sturtevant Leavitt (1827 – 1916) in 1882 in Utah, USA. I had noticed that several of Greg’s DNA matches had Leavitt as one of the surnames.

Lemuel Leavitt was a Mormon pioneer who travelled overland to Utah at the age of 21 in 1849.

I used Wikitree to document some of my research on the branch and connect the branch to the wider single tree. Lemuel Leavitt was on the tree but I needed to create a profile for his wife Rebecca. Several ancestry trees included Rebecca but she was not well researched and facts were sometimes factually wrong, for example on one tree she was shown as being married to Lemuel Leavitt in 1850.

I found a possible Gibbons link to our tree, an 1826 marriage record in Horbling in Lincolnshire for Thomas Dawson. The spouse was Ann Gibbons, who lived there.

Greg’s 4th great grandfather was Thomas Dawson (1775 Gunby, Lincolnshire – 1861 Bennington, Lincolnshire). He was married to an Ann.  I wondered if this was Ann Gibbons of Horbling.

AB identified Rebecca Gibbons Waite Leavitt in her tree, confirming a link to the trees for the descendants of Lemuel Leavitt and Rebecca Leavitt formerly Waite nee Gibbons with whom we shared DNA. These descendants had apparently not yet researched Rebecca’s parents or origins.

In early November the  General Register  Office of the United Kingdom launched a new index of birth registrations. This revised index included mother’s maiden names. From this, AB discovered the record of Betsy Dawson’s birth in 1838. Bestsey was the youngest child of Thomas Dawson and Ann. The birth index showed the mother’s maiden name Gibbons. Bestsey appeared n the 1841 census with her parents Thomas and Ann and sibling Isaac (1831-1872). Isaac was Greg’s great great grandfather. There were two other siblings, Eliza and William. This gave us confidence that we had correctly identified the 1826 marriage of Thomas Dawson to Ann Gibbons as being the marriage of Isaac Dawson’s parents.

Thomas Dawson married Ann Gibbons at Horbling which is 5 miles from Aslackby, where AB’s Gibbons forebears lived.

We started to speculate. AB gave a surname to the wife of John Gibbons. She wrote:

I have added a surname to Frances (Atkin/s), wife of John Gibbons at the top of my tree. This is what is in many other people’s tree, and its true that the marriage dates seem to fit. HOWEVER – the reason why I am not sure is that the records for the parish of Aslackby for this time period have not yet been fully digitised, but are at the archives. I need to look at them anyway for my mum’s tree.
So having added the surname ATKINS it has thrown up some hints from other trees and in a couple there is a daughter ANN born 1801 Spalding, sister of my George and of Thomas – the ancestor of the LDS’s. I do feel that this would be about the right generational distance between our families.
I am not convinced about the accuracy of the online trees but it is worthy of further investigation.

The next day on the lincstothepast website AB found a baptism for Ann on 16 December 1801, daughter of John and Frances Gibbonds, at St Mary and St Nicholas Church, in Spalding, 15 miles from Horbling .

This was the only ( I think) church in Spalding at this time, as st Pauls was built by my Quinton ancestors ( as labourers)  in mid / late 19thC. St Mary and St Nicholas was the church where John Gibbons and Frances Atkin were married.

The date seems to fit the age Ann Dawson when she died. In identifying a forebear I would not normally rely on such a slim connection but the DNA seems to be another piece of evidence, in particular the additional DNA matches to several descendants of Rebecca Gibbons.

In conclusion, DNA is really just additional evidence, to be reviewed with documents and indexes. Given the DNA evidence I am reasonably confident we have identified the maiden name of Greg’s great grandmother Ann Dawson (1801-1842) and we now know who her parents were: John Gibbons (1780-1840) and Frances Atkins (1772-1856). This means that Greg and AB are 5th cousins, within the range predicted by AncestryDNA and GedMatch.

Mapalist Gibbons Lincolnshire

Places associated with research into Ann Dawson nee Gibbons (1801-1842) Map created using MapAList


simplified tree, click to enlarge