Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2002-07 > 1028126981

From: Abigail Ann Young <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] Wingfield Family DNA Project
Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2002 11:00:37 -0400
References: <>

Oh dear. I think that this could be used as a demonstration of poor
genealogical reasoning, and I fear, also of poor use of genetic genealogy

Mr Preston writes:

> We do now have tests pending with for additional
> descendants of John Wingfield ( and his brother, Robert
> (, both sons of Thomas of York River (1664-1720). Hopefully, we
> can also someday test another descendant of the third brother, Thomas
> ( As soon as is ready, we are more than ready to
> see those 24 loci results, so they can be compared with our Group 1 and Group
> 2 tests for the same two Wingfield men's descendants, shown at our DNA
> website:

But it remains unproven that John, Thomas, and Robert were brothers. All
three men were active in Virginia at much the same time, John and Thomas in
St Paul's Parish, Hanover County and Robert in St Peter's Parish, New Kent
County (the same county as that in which we have evidence of Thomas 'of
York River'). According to Mr Preston's web site, a documented descendant
of John of Hanover County and a documented descendant of Thomas of Hanover
County were tested against a documented descendant of Sir John of
Tickencote. The tests showed a 12/12 match between John's descendant and
Thomas' descendant and a 10/12 match between those two men and Sir John's
descendant. I cannot see that that proves either that John and Thomas were
brothers or that the common male-line ancestor of all three men was Sir

BTW, in this letter Mr Preston says that it was a descendant of Robert of
New Kent County, not one of Thomas of Hanover County that was tested, and
that no descendant of Thomas of Hanover Co has been tested yet. The web
page to which he makes reference appears to state the opposite.

> I will also be adding additional supporting genealogical info to the above
> website as LINKS, as there seems to be a wider interest in Wingfield DNA +
> genealogy results than had been expected. Much of the supporting data has
> already appeared over the past 15 years in the Wingfield Family Society
> Newsletter, published and issued quarterly by WFS President Robert E. Carr.
> See for Newsletter availability.
> Sir John Wingfield (d.1631) of Tickencote, England, was surely the MRCA of
> our Tickencote Wingfield primary testee (SC3.1) and the above three sons of
> Thomas of York River -- Thomas, John, Robert. The DNA of descendants of all
> 3 (T, J & R) has been tested against the paper documented descendant (SC3.1)
> of Sir John (d.1631) through his son, Richard, and all 3 (Thomas, John,
> Robert) tests were a "match" with SC3.1. While it could be said, as
> challenged, that the MRCA could have been "earlier" than Sir John (d.1631),
> it CANNOT be said, based on DNA results, that their MRCA could NOT be Sir
> John (d.1631). He is the "paper" documented ancestor of SC3.1, and -->

Yes, agreed -- we cannot say that it was not Sir John. But as I understand
it, with two mutations indicated in a test of 12 loci, we also cannot say
for certain how many generation back the common ancestor was.

> We know that Sir John Wingfield (d.1631) was also the documented father of
> John Wingfield, York Herald (d.1678), as recorded in "MUNIMENTS OF THE
> ANCIENT SAXON FAMILY OF WINGFIELD," page 10, by Lord Powerscourt. We also
> know, same page, that John Wingfield, York Herald, had a son, Thomas, therein
> described as "of York River, Virginia." That proves in written
> documentation the 3 generations downward -- Sir John Wingfield (d.1631) -->
> John Wingfield, York Herald (d.1678) --> Thomas Wingfield of York River
> (1664-1720), are Father, Son, Grandson, and --

Well, yes, though it should be pointed out that Lord Powerscourt also says
that the Thomas Wingfield who was the son of John Wingfield, York Herald,
died without issue. Lord Powerscourt, an early 20th-c antiquarian writer
on family history, is regarded as 'gospel' for the connection between the
Thomas Wingfield baptised in St Benet's Parish, Paul's Wharf, London in
1664 and the Thomas Wingfield who died in St Paul's Parish, New Kent
County, Virginia in 1720, but not for the information that this Thomas died
without issue.

I am not a geneticist but I am an historian. This is not proof. It is an
indication for further research but it is not proof.

The problem, which I cannot find that the Wingfield Family Society is
willing to acknowledge, is that Wingfield is a common surname in Surrey and
Kent, two of the counties from which there was an influx of immigration to
late 17th and early 18th century Virginia. Anyone familiar with the
parishes of early modern Kent will see many familar names in the records of
early modern Virginia. I can readily believe that many of these English
Wingfields have a connection, perhaps fairly far back, with the Sussex
Wingfields or the Tickencote Wingfields that were a branch of the Sussex

As far as I can see the DNA data is consistent with a distant connection,
even between John and Thomas, and certainly between John, Thomas, and Sir

> We know that our selected Wingfield DNA testees are "paper documented" back
> to their respective ancestors, Thomas (1693), John (1695), Robert (1697).
> That only leaves a one-generation gap lacking in written documented proof
> connecting the 3 sons, T J & R, to their father Thomas of York River. The
> reason for this lack of paper proof lies in the destruction of the original
> Vestry Book & Register of St. Peter's Parish, New Kent County, Virginia. It
> does not exist. What does exist is the handwritten copy of the original (or
> a copy of an even earlier copy of the original), created in the mid-1700s. I
> have read this handwritten copy on microfilm (LDS), and it is missing a major
> portion of births during the period of the 3 sons -- 1693, 1695, 1697. The
> balance of the surviving copy contains scrawled images of animals and other
> figures obviously scribbled by children, and includes such graffiti as "I am
> Nicodemas." Under those conditions, one would have to ask if the records
> that are included are really all that trustworthy as "proof." Who was the
> keeper of that paper "proof"? Eight-year-olds? Six-year-olds?

Survival of records is the real issue here. We have no proof that Thomas
'of York River' had sons. The fact that there are gaps in the surviving
records does not make it any more or less likely that the baptismal records
for Thomas Wingfield's sons are lost because it makes it no more or less
likely that he had sons. We have no proof that Thomas, John, or Robert were
closely related to one another. We have no documented link between any of
them and the Wingfield family of Tickencote except the DNA testing and it
cannot prove what it is being asked to prove -- the test is not 'fine'
enough to prove that two men were brothers in the absence of hard evidence.

> Commentators on this DNA List have correctly pointed out that "paper proof"
> is only alleged proof, only as trustworthy as the writer who presented it.
> Fraud can be passed off as paper proof. I have seen it tried, as a Past
> Registrar for my Thomas Jefferson Chapter of the Sons of the American
> Revolution, and I have personally rejected applicants for attempted
> fraudulent "proof." Haven't we now turned a corner in genealogy, where the
> proof of DNA has catapulted us beyond the first rung on the ladder of the
> future? And we cannot go back down. We can only ascend. Where we are now
> means that "paper proof" alone, without the support of DNA, will soon be
> regarded simply as "poof" -- not "proof"!
> Wingfield DNA results have shown us that the only other possible candidate as
> the father of T J & R -- Robert Wingfield, a brother of Jarvis Wingfield,
> both sons of William & __ (Dix) Wingfield) -- cannot be their father because
> of a DNA non-match with our primary descendant (Testee SC3.1) of Sir John
> (d.1631). There is a match of only 8 out of 24 loci between SC3.1 and the
> Jarvis Wingfield testee , as shown in Group 3 of our Wingfield DNA website
> above. Jarvis's descendants are accounted for through his documented will,
> thus, only his brother, Robert, was in question as a possible ancestor of T J
> & R.
> Thomas of York River was the only Wingfield other than the above sons of
> William & __ (Dix) Wingfield who maintained a continuing footprint in
> Virginia -- 40 years (1680-1720), during the period of possible parenthood
> for T J & R -- the mid-1690's to 1700. There was no other Wingfield male
> who had a continuing presence in Virginia in that time frame. Most Wingfield
> "immigrants" appeared briefly as a name in some record and nothing further
> was heard of them. Many may have never actually come to America. Fraud was
> frequent in attempting to obtain headright land. Whatever the reasons,
> there were no other Wingfield men in Virginia with a continuing presence at
> that time.
> Repeating, repeating -- there were no other Wingfield men in Virginia who
> could be candidates to be the father of the 3, T J & R. If anyone can point
> to any other Wingfield man and tell me that man could have been the father of
> T J & R, I would have to ask for a breath check. There are no others in the
> records. No other Wingfield men were in Virginia, other than momentary blips
> in some paper record. Our "Wingfield Immigrants Register" on our DNA website
> above, and on the official Wingfield website names all
> known Wingfields whose names ever cast a shadow outside Great Britain.

But why should we assume that John, Thomas, or Robert were themselves born
in Virginia? Why is it any more likely that they were born in Virginia than
that they were themselves immigrants from England, here casting their
shadow for the first time?

> As to the question whether the above 3 (T J & R) were brothers, their DNA is
> a match. Thomas (1693) and John (1695) both signed as witness to land deeds
> in Amelia County, VA, for John's father-in-law, Charles Hudson. A son of
> Robert (1697) married a daughter of John (1695). These relationships, while
> not "proof," show a relationship closeness among the 3. Taken with the DNA
> match back to MRCA Sir John (d.1631), and taken with the paper documentation
> of all the generations except the one missing generation, these relationships
> do count in our evaluation of proof.

It does seem quite likely that these men were associated. It seems plain
that they were cousins. Perhaps they came from the same parish, or
neighbouring parishes, in Kent or Sussex. But we have no proof that Sir
John was their common male-line ancestor.

More work needs to be done in primary documents in England -- but what we
really need is for more early Virginia records to make their appearance!

Abigail Ann Young

I think this discussion should probably now be taken off the DNA list and
on to the Wingfield list, so I have add a cc: and set the follow-ups
acordingly. AAY

Abigail Ann Young (Dr), Associate Editor/Records of Early English Drama/
Victoria College/ 150 Charles Street W/ Toronto Ontario Canada M5S 1K9
Phone (416) 585-4504/ FAX (416) 813-4093/
List-owner of REED-L <>;
<>; REED's home page
<>; our theatre resource page
<>; my home page

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