Searching for Antiquity
Most indications are that the family name originated in Devon, in southwest England. The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes began to arrive in Britain during the 4th and 5th centuries, driving the Britons to the remote areas of Dunmonia (now Cornwall and Devon), Wales, and the far north. This was followed by the Danes, who attacked Britain during the 8th and 9th centuries and exerted a strong influence on the language. Following the Norman conquest of England in 1066, William the Conqueror ordered a survey to be taken of the island. Completed in 1086, the Domesday Survey shows a place called "Danescome" in the vicinity of what are now Crediton and Cheriton Fitzpaine, in Devon. Over time the spelling of this place evolved into "Dunscombe." The New dictionary of American family names states that the name is of English derivation, and means "one who came from Dunscomb (Dun's valley") in Devonshire. The suffix "combe" is a common one in Devon. To this day there are places called "Higher Dunscombe" and "Lower Dunscombe" in this vicinity. There is evidence to surnames "de Dunscombe", "Doenescom", and "de Dunscom" being in existence in 1200.
A notation in the book "Domesday book" states that "William held Dunscombe from Ralph. Saeger held it before 1066. It paid tax for ˝ hide. Land for 3 ploughs, which are there, with 2 slaves. 3 smallholders. Meadow, 3 acres; pasture, 30 acres. 8 cattle; 17 pigs; 45 sheep; 17 goats." I have a note here that this referred to William of Poitou and Ralph of Pomeroy.
Another note in the same work states "Dunscombe. In Cheriton Fitzpaine parish, (West) Budleigh Hundred (14). It is held with the Ogwells (34, 27-28 note) in Fees p. 791; see FA I pp 364, 426 and OJR in TDA 35 p, 281."
The Dunscombes of Devon & London
Our Dunscombe line migrated from London to Bermuda about 1623. Thomas Jadwyn, a London merchant, had invested in The Virginia Company. Through this investment he acquired shares of land in Bermuda, as the island came to British attention when George Somers' expedition to relieve Jamestown, Virginia, shipwrecked there in 1609. Jadwyn left shares of his Virginia properties to his son Robert, the only surviving child of his first marriage to Lucy Skillicorne. He left his Bermuda shares to his daughter Hannah and her husband, Thomas Dunscombe ("To my son Robert all my lands in Virginia except such lands there as is or shall be allotted to go with my two shares in the Sommer Islands. These two shares and the land going with them to my son in law Thomas Dunscombe, Hanna his wife, Phillip and Thomas their sons…") (At this point Bermuda was also known as the Somer Islands). Hannah and her sister Susanna were children from Thomas' second marriage, to Elizabeth. The two girls and Robert were apparently the only of thirteen children to survive to adulthood.
Thomas Dunscombe and Hannah had married April 7, 1618 at St. Michael Paternoster Royal in London. She had been baptised there on May 11, 1600. Thomas was baptised February 1, 1595 at St. Dunstan And All Saints Church in Stepney, Middlesex, London. Prior to sailing for Bermuda they had three sons, Jadwin, Philip, and Thomas. Jadwin was baptised January 28, 1619 in St. Mary Aldermary With St. Thomas the Apostle in London. While in Bermuda they would have five more children: John, Samuel, Nehemiah, Susannah, and Hannah. We can assume that all of the Dunscombes (often spelled henceforth without the concluding "e") to come out of Bermuda derive from the marriage of Thomas and Hannah, despite the sometimes spotty Bermuda records.
Tracing the Dunscombes back from Thomas has taken many years, but I am now confident that I can take the line back another three generations. Knowing that Thomas was active in London during the first part of the seventeenth century, I searched the International Genealogical Index, compiled by the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints. Much of this data is now available online at www.familysearch.org. I was looking for records relating to Thomas Dunscombe about 1600, and found the following records of baptisms:
1. Thomas, baptized February 2, 1591/92, London, son of Christopher Dunscombe - Film 183580 page 241 reference # 8482.
2. Thomas, baptized February 2, 1593 in Crediton, Devon, son of Walter - Batch C050741. (This Thomas is cited in the Oct. 19, 1613 will of his cousin, also Thomas, son of John and Joan, # 6, below).
3. Thomas, baptized February 10, 1594 in Perrannthnoe, Cornwall, son of Benedict - Batch C0222322
4. Thomas, baptized February 1, 1595 at St. Dunstan Stepney, London, son of Christopher
5. Thomas, baptized February 6, 1597 in Willesborough, Kent, England - Batch C047561
6. Thomas, died 1613, son of John and Joan (his will mentions his mother Joan). Buried 11/1/1613 as per the register of All Hallows, Bread Street, London.
Thus numbers 1,2,4 and 6 are related. The IGI also confirmed the marriage of Christopher Dunscombe to Grace Walker on May 8, 1581. Christopher had earlier been married to Sysley Comar, on June 20, 1577.
I concluded the most likely of these candidates to be the Thomas who migrated to Bermuda to be the second of Christopher's, number 4 above, based on their location in London. Number 1 above had presumably died in infancy, as his parents used the name again on the later child, number 4 above. Number 2 seems to have been more situated in Crediton than London; and number 6 above died in 1613.
The 1582 London Subsidy Rolls, a tax documents, includes the following Dunscombes: Christopher: (Cordwainer warde, Allhallowes Precincte): 10 pounds; John: (Bredstrete Warde, Allhallowes Parishe) 50 pounds; George : (Bredstrete Warde, Allhallowes Parishe): 16 pounds;
I soon located a copy of Christopher's will, written 1600, in the possession of the Public Record Office in London. The will is very short, and the only family member mentioned is his wife, Grace. Fortunately I also uncovered the will of Christopher's brother, John, written 1586. This extensive will mentions John's mother Thomazine, then living on the family farm in Devon, along with many siblings, nieces and nephews, including a brother, Christopher, Christopher's wife, Grace, and another brother, Walter, establishing the relationship between Thomas's 1,2,4 and 6 above, plus other siblings.
This tenuous link between the Bermuda and the London/Devon Dunscombes remained until I came upon verification from two sources. One is a book written in 1914 by Admiral Sir Cyprian Bridge. Bridge was a son of Sarah Christianna Dunscombe and the Rev. Thomas Finch Hobday Bridge. Sarah was the daughter of John Dunscombe, he born in Bermuda 1777 and died Liverpool, England, 1847. John sold the family property at Spanish Point, Pembroke, Bermuda to the government in 1816, which in turn used it as a residence for the royal admiral. The property is now the site of Admiralty House Park. He and his wife, Eliza nee McGill of Middletown, Connecticut, settled in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada where he became a successful businessman. Sarah and Thomas Bridge wed in 1835 and Cyprian was born in 1839.
Following a long and distinguished naval career, Cyprian Bridge wrote a memoir titled "Some Recollections." The first part of the book contains some family history. The section on the Dunscombes clearly establishes a link between the Bermuda branch and those in Devon:
"Those who came to England in the second half of the sixteenth century settled at Dunscomb in Devonshire. They did not hold the freehold; but I cannot say under whom they held the land. The house disappeared long since; but I have a photograph of the ruins of the gateway, taken fifteen or sixteen years ago (1900), which shows that it must, when perfect, have had an imposing appearance."
It seems likely that this information was passed down to Bridge by his mother, who had probably been told it by older members of her family. The fact that we then have Dunscombes, most likely born before 1800, telling descendants that the family came from Devon is enough in my mind to confirm my earlier Devon conjecture beyond reasonable doubt.
The Bermuda-Devon link is further supported by Rosemary Ffolliott's "The Pooles of Mayfield and other Irish families." The book includes a brief family tree showing Christopher Dunscombe of London, a son Edward, who migrated to Ireland, and Christopher's father, John Dunscombe of Devon, with John the father of Christopher living in the year 1566. The parallels between Poole's assertions and John Dunscombe's 1586 will are obvious, with the will adding John's mother's name and Poole adding his father's. We thus have a lineage traceable back to John and Thomazine Dunscombe, living on a farm called Dunscombe ("I wyll and devise too my saide mother Thomazine Dunscombe the use and occupation of all and singular the househoulde stuff plate and other implementes (?) and thinges whiche I shall have at the tyme of my decease at or within the ffearme or Barton of Dunscombe in the countie of Devon" - will of John Dunscombe, 1586). As John died in 1586 having fathered five traceable children (John, Joane, Joan, Elizabeth
and Thomas, verified through the registers of All Hallows, Bread Street, London and/or his 1586 will), we might place his birth sometime around 1530, making it likely that his parents were born shortly after the discovery of the America.
Unfortunately many of the old Devon records were destroyed by German bombing during World War II. However, in 2016 I received a series of e-mails from Julian Dunscombe, previously unknown to me. He was kind enough to send me scans of notes taken by a presumed ancestor of his, Nicholas Dunscombe. Nicholas visited the parish registry at Crediton on July 12, 1856 and took extensive notes of entries relating to the Dunscombe and related families. These agree with findings found in other sources from the time, notably the 1586 will of John Dunscombe, son of John and Thomazine. The most salient finding was the clear notation that Thomazine's (spelled "Thomasine" in Nicholas's notes) maiden name was "Bodley."
That the Bodley family was closely associated with the Dunscombe's is supported by several items. One is a brief writeup on the Dunscombe farm found on the Devon Museums website (www.devonmuseums.net). Along with a photo of the structure is the commentary "Dunscombe is an ancient farm almost opposite Downes and until comparatively recently owned by the Bullers. However before that and indeed going back at least to the 16th century, it was owned by the Bodley family who had their roots in Exeter and who were connected with Thomas Bodley who founded the Bodleian Library in Oxford." John Dunscombe's 1586 will referred to the barton, or farm, called "Dunscombe" located near Crediton. Is it possible the Bodley family owned the farm and that it passed into the Dunscombe family when Thomazine Bodley married John Dunscombe? Or was the Bodley farm entirely different from the Dunscombe, perhaps being named "Dunscombe" due to its location in Dunscombe as opposed to its being owned by the Dunscombe family? Other records also place the Bodley family in the vicinity of the Dunscombe farm at or before this time.
Another source referencing the Dunscombes in Devon was found on Rootsweb in 2005, on a page related to "Royal Courtneays/Carew/Alcock/McDougall/Glines." Citing a work titled "Cork and County Cork in the Twentieth Century, Hodges, Rev. Richard J.; Contemporary Biographies, edited by W.T. Pike, Two in one publication, 1st is about places and the second is about persons; W.T. Pike & Co., Brighton, 1911: "Page 113, Mount Desert, Cork, the seat of the Dunscombe family formerly part of the Earl of Clancarty's property, was purchased by William Dunscombe, one of the Lord Justices of Ireland, in 1703. The Dunscombe family can trace a royal descent from Thomas, of Woodstock, created Duke of Gloucester 1375, son of Edward III. They were seated for many generations in Devonshire where they gave the name to Higher and Lower Dunscombe in that county. Edward Dunscombe settled in St. Finbarry's, Cork (Ireland) in 1596. This Edward was a son of John and Thomazine and a brother to Christopher, the father of the Thomas Dunscombe who married Hannah Jadwyn and moved to Bermuda in 1623.
Tracing the family beyond this point has been problematic. I have not made serious attempts to search the Devon records. I have seen a reference in "British Chancery Records, 1386-1558," to a Richard and a Thomas Dunscombe in Devon. Some Devon records suffered damage during the German air raids of World War II, but information there may yet exist. And we do have the Nicholas Dunscombe notes. I have, however, uncovered two competing theories. One of these claims the Dunscombes are of ancient Saxon origin, meaning they had lived on the British Isles for many years, perhaps centuries. The other claims they moved from France, settling in Devon later, perhaps as late as the later part of the sixteenth century, raising the possibility that John, husband of Thomazine, may even have been born in France.
Saxon or Norman?
Most of the lineages I have found agree the family is of Saxon origin. The various editions of the noted Burkes lineages I have examined are in agreement on this point. Burke, Bernard A. A genealogical & heraldic dictionary of Great Britain & Ireland, states "The family of Dunscombe claim Saxon origin. Their native county was Devonshire where in times now forgotten ere the Norman subjugated the Saxon they gave name to Higher and Lower Dunscombe and in common with others of their race suffered under Norman sway. It has been handed down in ancestral archives that the progenitor of the first William Dunscombe Esq. hereinafter mentioned was engaged in the Crusade to Palestine as a knight's attendant. Having survived his expedition and after braving many a danger and enduring privations still greater his eyes were at length gladdened with the sight of the land of his fathers arrived in London where he became located."…
"William Dunscombe Esq of London b. in 1475 d. in 1510 leaving by his wife named Clement a son Captain Clement Dunscombe who d in 1590 leaving Edward Dunscombe Esq his son then residing Saint Finnbarry's in the city of Cork He m in London Catherine sister of the Rev Henry Noble afterwards Urney co Tyrone in Ireland and d in 1631 leaving him surviving a son."
Interestingly this claim about the crusades is echoed in the 1895 obituary of Edward Dunscombe: "One of Dr. Dunscomb's ancestors was taken prisoner during the crusades, and sent to Constantinople. As he was a marshal of France, a great ransom was asked for him, but he preferred to remain in captivity rather than to have his family despoiled. He was a prisoner for some years. He became acquainted with a distinguished Arab, the principal physician of Saladin I, whom in order to beguile the time, he requested him to instruct him in his art. He consented to do so, under the condition that he would bind himself with an oath to practice medicine, and that his eldest son, and the eldest son of his descendants in a direct line from generation to generation, should do the same."
From Burke's "History of the landed gentry of Ireland": "The Dunscombes are an old race capable of being traced to a very remote period in Devon. Some were among the Pilgrim Fathers who sought a home in America and Edward Dunscombe who is stated to have been a son of Christopher Dunscombe and grandson of John Dunscombe of Dunscombe Devon 1566 settled in Cork Ireland…"
One other lineage whose citation I do not have states "This family, of Saxon origin, came originally from Devonshire to London whence they removed to Ireland towards the close of Queen Elizabeth's reign. The first who settled in that country was Edward Dunscombe, Esq. of Saint Finnbarrys, in the City of Cork, who went over in 1596 (or 1598 - copy illegible). He died in 1631, and was father of Colonel Noblett Dunscombe, who m. Mary, dau. of Alderman Martel, and died in 1651, leaving an only surviving son."
The claims made in these lineages are remarkably similar, with the exception of the father of the Edward who relocated to Ireland. One states a lineage of William to Clement to Edward. Another states John to Christopher to Edward. Note the death dates for Edward and Noblett in the above paragraph, 1631 and 1651, agree with those stated in Ffolliott's "Pooles of Mayfield" which also claims a lineage of John to Christopher to Edward. The later lineage matches the one detailed in the 1586 will of John Dunscombe, Christopher's brother.
I have seen one conflicting lineage. As stated in "The abridged compendium of American genealogy" Vol. III, "The Dunscombes, Duncombes, or D'Engaines, from Engen of Ingen nr. Boulogne, are of Norman origin. Richard and William de Ingen accompanied William the Conqueror at the invasion of England in 1066. The former in 1086, held a barony in Bucks. And (Domesd.) Vitalis D'Ingen, his son, time of Henry I, had Richard, who m. a dau of Alberic de Ver, Earl of Oxford, and was Baron of Batherwick, Northants. His son, Richard D'Engaine, 1165 held in Bucks from Paganel of Dudley (BLACK Book of the Exchequer); and had (1) Vitalis, ancestor of the Barons D'Engaine by writ, 1296; (2) Ralph D'Engaine (written Dungun or Dungeom in the testa de Neville) who held Holcombe, Oxford, and in 1253, as Ralph D'Ungun, was Lord of Tingewick, Bucks. (Testa: Rot. Hundr.) From him descended the Dengaines Dunguns or Dungeoms, gradually written Duncombe and Dunscombe, Lords of Brickhill, Bucks, 16th cent, and in the female line, the Earls of Feversham and the Baronets Duncombe."
The Virkus book goes on to state that the Thomas Dunscombe who settled in Bermuda was descended from the D'Engaine lineage, and that Thomas' son Samuel is the father of the Daniel Dunscombe who was the first of the family in New York City, circa 1700; descendants of whom participated in the American Revolution. My research indicates that this is unlikely, as neither Samuel's 1706 will nor any other record I am aware of mentions a son named Daniel.
Both the Virkus and the uncited lineage claim the same coat of arms for the Dunscombes, even though their lineages conflict. I will raise the possibility that this Norman theory may actually relate to the Duncombe family, and the Saxon theory to the Dunscombe's. M. Jackson Crispin, in his book "Falaise roll: recording prominent companions of William, Duke of Normandy at the conquest of England" states on page 123 that from Richard D'Engaine, and the same family from Engen, or Ingen, near Boulogne, France, descend the lords of Brickhill, Buckinghamshire, and in the female line the earls of Feversham and the baronets Duncombe." Note the similarity with Virkus, except the "Dunscombe" spelling has been excluded. Unlike the variant forms "Dunscombe" and "Dunscomb" which refer to the same family, the "Duncombe" and "Dunscombe" families may be entirely distinct. This is the same claim made by Margaret Buchanan in her book "The DuVals from of Kentucky from Virginia 1794-1835" discussed below.
I discovered the following note on page 201 in "The history of the city of Exeter" by George Oliver, "… Thomas de Kerdyngton was reappointed on 11 February 1407-8. The same patron, Richard Donscambe or Dunscombe admitted 1 August 1419 on Kedyngton's death. The same Patron Dunscombe died 7 June 1421." Exeter is a major city in Devon, so there may be a connection between this Richard Dunscombe and later Dunscombes in Devon.
The following citation may also well refer to a family member. As stated in John Dunscombe's 1586 will: "I John Dunscombe cytizen and marchant taylor of London…." From "Devon: its moorlands, streams, & coasts" by Rosalind Northgate, page 38: "Crediton had for a long time a very important trade in woollen goods, which were made here as early as in the thirteenth century. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth it was one of the principal centres of the manufacture in the county, and, indeed, caused Exeter so much jealousy that weavers, tuckers, and others, petitioned the authorities until it was ordained that the serge-market should be removed from here, and a weekly one set up in Exeter, to the great and natural indignation of Crediton. 'Their market for kersies hath been very great, especially of the finer sort,' says Westcote, 'for the aptness and diligent industry of the inhabitants ... did purchase it a supereminent name above all other towns, whereby grew this common proverb-as fine as Kirton spinning ... which spinning was very fine indeed, which to express, the better to gain your belief, it is very true that 140 threads of woollen yarn spun in that town were drawn together through the eye of a tailor's needle; which needle and threads were, for many years together, to be seen in Watling-street, in London, in the shop of one Mr Dunscombe."
To return to the Saxon/Norman theories, Ffolliott, in her "Pooles of Mayfield…" elaborates that "The Dunscombe family is of Saxon origin… originated in Devonshire, on an estate called Dunscombe. In the reign of Elizabeth one Christopher Dunscombe moved to London and his son Edward came to Ireland and settled in the city of Cork in 1596. They have been closely associated with the government of Cork city, several of them having been Sheriffs, Mayors or M.P.s."
Margaret Gwin Buchanan, in her "The DuVals of Kentucky from Virginia 1794-1835: descendants and allied families" offers the most complete discourse I have seen, and further addresses the likely differences between Dunscombe and Duncombe:
"The family of Dunscombe are of Saxon origin. They are an old race capable of being traced to a very remote period in their native County of Devon, where in ages now forgotten, ere the Norman subjugated the Saxon, they gave name of Higher and Lower Dunscombe, and in common with others of their race, suffered under Norman sway (obviously taken from Burke, above). It has been handed down in ancestral archives, that the progenitor of the first William Dunscombe, Esq. (b. 1475, London; d. 1540; m. Miss Clement) was engaged in the Crusade to Palestine, as a king's attendant (echoing again the 1895 obituary of Edward Dunscombe). Having survived his perilous expedition, and after braving many a danger, and enduring privations still greater, his eyes were at length gladdened with the sight of the land of his fathers. He arrived in London, where he became located.
As respects their standing in Ireland, Edward Dunscombe, Esq. (grandson of William Dunscombe mentioned in previous paragraph), resided at St. Finbarry's, in the City of Cork, 1590, and, beyond question, the family of Dunscombe is one of the oldest in that city, and with it the name is indelibly identified, for on Dunscombe's Marsh the greatest portion of the flat of that city has been built. Edward Dunscombe, the Irish immigrant, d. 1631; m. Catherine Noble." (note the similarity to the Burke lineage above. Burke has a line of William to Clement to Edward. Buchanan has William to unknown to Edward. Both Ffolliott and the 1586 will of John Dunscombe support a line of John to Christopher to Edward. I would argue the will, as the primary source, is most likely correct, but that William may well be an earlier generation, i.e. William to John to Christopher to Edward, or perhaps William to Clement to John to Christopher to Edward. The unusual name Clement interestingly appears again in the family a few years later. Christopher had a brother named Walter who resided in Devon (the same Walter who is the father of a son Thomas as sited in the baptism records listed above). Walter had another son, George, who fathered a son named Clement, as cited in the 1613 will of Thomas Dunscombe, son of John (d. 1586) and Joan, seeming to strengthen the linkage between our Devon Dunscombes and William/Clement).
Buchanan continues "To the present day there is a town in Devonshire named Dunscombe. It is my intention to learn something of the history of this town so that it may be recorded in a future revision of this record.
We have elaborated, too much perhaps, on the origin of the family. There are two reasons for this. First, to correct the impression that we are of Irish origin. Second, that we are of Norman origin.
"The Dunscombe family in America originated from the original London family, and not from the Irish immigrant, Edward.
"The family of Dunscombe is supposed to be of Norman origin, and Dunscombe is defined as a variation of Duncombe in a book titled "Norman People." In order that we may present the problem for further study we quote from page 232 of this book:
"The Duncombes, or D'Engaines, from Engen of Ingen nr. Boulogne, are of Norman origin. Richard and William de Ingen accompanied William the Conqueror at the invasion of England in 1066. The former in 1086, held a barony in Bucks. And (Domesd.) Vitalis D'Ingen, his son, time of Henry I, had Richard, who m. a dau of Alberic de Ver, Earl of Oxford, and was Baron of Batherwick, Northants. His son, Richard D'Engaine, 1165 held in Bucks from Paganel of Dudley (BLACK Book of the Exchequer); and had (1) Vitalis, ancestor of the Barons D'Engaine by writ, 1296; (2) Ralph D'Engaine (written Dungun or Dungeom in the testa de Neville) who held Holcombe, Oxford, and in 1253, as Ralph D'Ungun, was Lord of Tingewick, Bucks. (Testa: Rot. Hundr.) From him descended the Dengaines Dunguns or Dungeoms, gradually written Duncombe and Dunscombe, Lords of Brickhill, Bucks, 16th cent, and in the female line, the Earls of Feversham and the Baronets Duncombe." (note this matches word for word the lineage from Virkus above, save for the deletion of "Dunscombe" from the beginning - Virkus has lumped the Dunscombes in with the Duncombes, while the work Buchanan cites has drawn a distinction).
Buchanan continues: "There is another version of the origin of the name "Engaine." We quote from T.C. Banks' "Dormant and Extinct Baronage of England," V.1, pp. 292-294, pub. London, 1807: "Richard Engaine, in the time of the Conqueror, to whom he held the office of chief engineer, hence the name D'Engaine, from "De Ingenlis'.
Space does not permit us to go into the many reasons why we are inclined to the opinion that the family is of Saxon origin, and it does seem quite a coincidence that Duncombe and Dunscombe could be so similar, and yet not of the same ancestry."
Buchanan concludes with a brief discussion of Thomas Dunscombe and Hannah Jadwyn, their migration to Bermuda, and their link to the New York City Dunscombes of the 18th century, repeating what I believe to be the error, noted earlier, that Samuel, son of Thomas and Hannah, immigrated to New York City about 1663 and fathered a son named Daniel. In all likelihood there was a Bermuda-New York connection at this time, supported by DNA testing (below) but the link remains a frustrating mystery.
Most of the above would lead to the conclusion that the Dunscombes were of ancient Saxon origin, perhaps settling around the ancient place called "Danescome", a place now in existence for upwards of a thousand years or more; the spelling gradually evolving into "Dunscombe" (both higher and lower.) Yet one more voice, previously cited, begs to differ. We hear once again from distant cousin, Admiral Cyprian Bridge, from his book "Some recollections":
"The family, though called Dunscomb, was of French origin. The members of it were Protestants who were driven out of France, and came to England in Queen Elizabeth's reign. I have sometimes heard relations say that the family came to England on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. This is a mistake, as it had been in England more than a hundred years. The family was of very ancient nobility, seated near Sedan. The heads of it were Seigneurs of Hault-bois, an old feudal lordship. It was common to speak of them as Marquis de Hault-bois, but they never had the title of Marquis. In France, I find, "the head of a noble family often assumed, at his own hand, the title of Marquis," and his acquaintances usually so designated him, much as people called an ecclesiastic Abbe, though he may not have been an abbot or have ever been near an abbey.
The title of Seigneur was of itself evidence of the antiquity of the Hault-bois. They belonged to the old feudal noblesse de l'epee. They intermarried at least twice with the ducal house of Choiseul. The Hault-bois claimed descent from the family of the famous Godfrey de Bouillon. Godfrey was a recognized Christian name amongst them. A nephew of my mother's, my first cousin, bears it at this moment. They also kept, for many generations, some portions of a gold chain, said to have belonged to Godfrey de Bouillon himself; and two of my mother's sisters had each a finger-ring made out of these fragments.
Some years ago, a nephew of mine was staying at a country house in northern France, when a niece of the lady of the house showed him an old M.S. report, presented to the King (Louis XIV, I think) by an ancestor of the lady, in which the Hault-bois family was declared to be noble et maintenance noble. A commission had been ordered to inquire into the right of certain persons and families to be included amongst the noblesse. Many could not prove the right; but the Hault-bois were shown to have proved theirs.
Those who came to England in the second half of the sixteenth century settled at Dunscomb in Devonshire. They did not hold the freehold; but I cannot say under whom they held the land. The house disappeared long since; but I have a photograph of the ruins of the gateway, taken fifteen or sixteen years ago (1900), which shows that it must, when perfect, have had an imposing appearance. (Note: Odd that Bridge neglects to mention that his great grandmother was Christiana Dunscomb, nee Godfrey. The nephew, Godfrey, Bridge refers to is Godfrey Dunscombe (1845-1920), son of John Josiah William Dunscombe and his wife, Caroline Birche Durnford. Godfrey was born in Montreal and later moved to New York City where he became a stockbroker).
Like the oldest noble families of France in general, the Hault-bois had no family name, but were called after the estates on which they resided. The members of the family who migrated to England followed this custom and called themselves Dunscomb, which thus became their family name. They did not entirely lose connection with friends of their family in France till a comparatively recent date. My mother, who was for some time at school in Paris, which she left in June 1830, only a few days before the "Revolution of Three Days," was twice visited by the celebrated Lafayette, then an old man. She told me that after the revolution just mentioned, she frequently met refugee French nobles at her father's house in England. As I am recording some of her recollections, I may mention that she remembered having been taken to see Charles X at dinner, it having been an old custom of the kings of France to dine occasionally in public."
The items mentioned by Bridge seem so certain and specific that one must wonder if he is not correct, despite the Saxon-evidence to the contrary. Perhaps both are true - the place "Dunscombe" existed for centuries. It is likely that the family took their surname from the place. But it may also be true that our Dunscombe's did move to this location during the 16th century, and also took the name of the place as their surname. So, if Bridge is correct, they are connected to the place in Devon that bears their name, but not to the Dunscombe's who had been in Britain for centuries. DNA testing may be the best method of determining the truth (see discussion below). At any rate, despite a preponderance of Saxon evidence, I would not discount the value of family tradition. ALso to consider is the possibility there may have been a French branch of the family, perhaps introduced through a female line.
There is another clue in the previously cited 1895 will of Cyprian's uncle Edward: "…One of Dr. Dunscomb's ancestors was taken prisoner during the crusades, and sent to Constantinople. As he was a marshal of France…." These two contemporaries both claim a French connection in the family history.
Bridge and Ffolliott can be used together to focus the move of the family from France to England, if that is in deed true. Ffolliott states John Dunscombe (father of Christopher) was living (though not necessarily in England) in 1566. Bridge states they arrived "in the second half of the sixteenth century" and that they had arrived prior to 1585 (…"I have sometimes heard relations say that the family came to England on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. This is a mistake, as it had been in England more than a hundred years"). Christopher was married in England in 1581, placing the arrival, if Bridge's statements are accepted, at between 1550 and 1581. If we take Ffolliott to mean the elder John Dunscombe was living in England in 1566, we can narrow that time period to between 1550 and 1566.
The Bermuda Years
Whether from Britain or France, by about 1623 Thomas and Hannah Dunscombe and their sons Philip, Thomas, and Samuel had left London and settled in Pembroke Parish, Bermuda on the land Hannah's father, Thomas Jadwyn, left them in his will. Speculation is their eldest son, Jadwin, stayed in England. Samuel signed an affidavit in 1705 mentioning his parents and siblings:
"The affidavit of Samuel Dunscombe and Thomas Sears, both of Pembrok Tribe, and aged each of them seventy three years or thereabouts. These deponents being duly sworn upon the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God upon their oaths do say that they severally knew Hannah Jadwyn, one of the daughters of Thomas Jadwyn, formerly of London, cutler, deceased, who had issue Robert Jadwyn, who died without issue, the said Hannah Jadwyn, and Susannah Jadwyn, alias Sharrowe, who has also no issue living, that these deponents knew of or have heard that the said Hannah Jadwyn intermarried with Thomas Dunscombe, late of these islands, by whom she had issue Jadwyn, Philip, Thomas, John, the said deponent Samuel, Nehamiah, Susannah, and Hannah, that Jadwyn Dunscombe died without issue and that Philip Dunscombe had issue Thomas Dunscombe now living, who was born in these islands, never in England, that these deponents, as either of them ever heard, of these, all the rest of the children of the said Hannah, except the deponent Samuel Dunscombe, are dead, and no issue living. And that they had heard the last will and testament of the said Thomas Jadwyn, formerly cutler of London, read, which said will bears the date the 4th day of November, 1626, and that they verily believe the above-mentioned Hannah Jadwyn to be and always reputed to be the eldest daughter of the said Thomas Jadwyn, the testator, from whom the said Thomas Dunscombe now living survives aforesaid. And further these deponents say not.
"Sworn to before His Excellency the Governor Samuel Dunscombe
this 8th day of November, 1705
the mark of
Lisa Jadwin's "Jadwin families" website states that Robert Jadwin had three sons, conflicting with Samuel's affidavit, although Robert and all three sons were deceased by 1705. It is uncertain how much contact Samuel would have had with family living in Virginia and Maryland. His error on this fact might cast some doubt over his other statements about just who had surviving issue, but it also seems likely he would be aware of the situation with those living in Bermuda. The site is online at:
Thomas and Hannah were involved as witness in a witchcraft trial in 1653:
"Christian Stevenson. Here ffolloweth several attestations taken agaynst Christian Stevenson and Alice Moore upon suspition of witchcraft. The examynation of Christian Stevenson taken before Capt Josias fforster Gounor Capt Roger Wood and the Secretary the 9th of Maye 1653. 1. Christian Stevenson having been accused in open court by John Midleton to be a witch and she being now examined she denyeth it & saith that she is noe witch yt being then demanded of her how she came by the duggs & markes of a witch that were found on the inside of her cheekes she answered that those markes came by reason of an Impostume of the one side And the other came by a ragged Tooth on the other side and this was about 5 yeares since and saith that Goody Todd badd her lay the curd of a lemon possett unto the said impostume and Mrs. Dunscombe was then present whch curd brake it And it hath bin ever since and the other by the ragged tooth aforesd which was filed by Thomas Dunscombe & farther saith not 2. Thomas Dunscombe being examyned saith that if he did file any such Tooth of Goody Stevenson it was more than he remembers 3. The wife of Thomas Dunscombe being then examyned also sayth that she doth remember that Goody Stevenson askt her husband to file a Tooth but whether he did file it or noe she knoweth not & further saith not."
Following this testimony and that of others, Stevenson was hanged on May 20, 1653.
The task then becomes tracing the lineage forward from Thomas. It is certain that we descend from the John Dunscombe who was born in Bermuda in 1777. Catherine (Dunscomb) Colt (1834-1921) wrote:
"Grandfather John Dunscombe came from Bermuda about the year 1790 in his own sailing boat to visit his brother who was Yale College. Knowing Capt. McGill of Middletown Conn. he looked up the man & was invited to stay with Capt. McGill who also owned vessels, & had been to Bermuda. Capt. McGill had several daughters & our Dunscomb fell in love with the eldest Eliza whom he married before returning to Bermuda to which place he took his bride."
It was John who sold the family property at Spanish Point Bermuda and settled in St. Johns, Newfoundland where he became a prominent merchant. John was the son of Edward Dunscombe and Christiana Godfrey:
"First I give to my Son John Dunscomb my late dwelling House at Spanish Point with the Land and Appurtenances thereto belonging bordering on the Land of Mr Peter Godfrey also one Lot of the Land I lately purchased of Mr. Thomas Joel… "
As previously mentioned the records in Bermuda are incomplete for long stretches of time. The line from Thomas, who died circa 1660, to this Edward, presumed to be born about 1705, requires some conjecture. I will endeavor to explain my conclusions based upon many years of consideration. There exists a will dated 1733 for an Edward Dunscombe. In it Edward mentions his sons, William and Edward. In his 1790 will citied above, the later Edward mentions he has a brother named William. Could the Edward who died in 1790 and his brother William, who died in 1813, be the Edward and William mentioned in the 1733 will of the earlier Edward? This seems improbable. In his 1733 will Edward names his son Edward as co-executor, so the son must have already been an adult, placing his birth sometime before ca. 1710. The Edward who married Christiana Godfrey did so in 1768, unusually old if they are one and the same. Also, William dying in 1813 makes him seem too old to be a son of the Edward who died in 1733. This William did not marry until 1773.
So the wills indicate an Edward dying in 1733 leaving sons Edward and William, and an Edward dying in 1790 leaving a brother William (along with our ancestor John, previously mentioned). The most likely scenario seems to be that one of the sons of the Edward who died in 1733 also had sons he named Edward and William, or at least this is what I thought for many years. However in 2019 I had correspondence with Margie Lloyd at the Bermuda National Trust. The Trust has been publishing a series of books on architecturally significant Bermuda properties. Among these is one titled "Pembroke" which states flatly that the Edward who died in 1733 was indeed the father of the Edward who died in 1790. The book also details several Dunscombe-owned properties, most notably at Spanish Point, later the Admiralty House, and a house further south named "Olive Hill." The later property was passed on to Edward Dunscombe (died 1895 in Tennessee) who sold it in the 1860's.
Working forward from John is easy. Although he left no will, there are many records concerning the children of John and his wife, Eliza (or Elizabeth) McGill. From the previously cited Dunscombe family bible notes of Eliza (Dunscombe) Colt:
"Grandmother Dunscomb as I said went to Bermuda, after the birth of my father, Grandfather Dunscomb moved to St. John's Newfoundland, where he had the position of Lieutenant Gov. & as the Gov. was away for some time he had to take his place. All the rest of his children were born there & when my father was 15 years old Grand Mother
came to New York to have the children educated. The gentleman to whom she had letters advised her to go to Newark, where there was at that time a famous school for boys. It was there that my Aunt met Mr. Carrmann. After some time Grand Mother returned to Newfoundland but my father decided to remain. (?) enter Columbia College and was in the same class with Hamilton Fish. After he graduated he studied medicine & took his degree but never practiced, going into business instead, was at this time he took long trips to Central and South America as well as Bermuda where he met my mother. Eliza Dunscomb his sister married Mr. Homer Carrmann of N.Y. Their only child died, & both are buried in Trinity Cemetery. Edward Dunscomb their next child was my father."
"My father Edw. Dunscomb married Ann Mary Seon, she was the only child of Daniel Seon of Bermuda. Daniel Seon married Miss Catherine Manly all Bermuda"
John (son of Edward and Ann) "… was born at Klein Steinstrasze in Halleace Salle (upon the River Lache), Preussen, Thursday afternoon one o'clock 9/30/1847." This being Germany, where the family had moved for a period of years, though for unknown reasons.
We have a birth certificate showing a Cecil Dunscombe, child of John and Katharine Dunscombe, born at Saginaw, Michigan on September 20, 1887 (although it records him as female!). So our lineage now reads:
Edward (d.1733) - Edward (d.1790) - John (d.1847) - Edward (d.1895) -
John (d. 1925) - Cecil (d.1918) - (Cecil) Edward (d. 2011).
We then need to work backwards and connect the Edward who died in 1733 with the Thomas who first settled in Bermuda. There is record of an Edward Dunscombe being active in Bermuda during the relevant time period:
The 1696 "Association Oath Rolls", listing at least some of the males on Bermuda at the time, records an Edward Dunscombe in Hamilton Tribe.
On June 12, 1698, Philip, son of Edward and Hannah Dunscombe, is baptized.
On June 5, 1722 Edward Dunscombe is a witness for the King in trial of John Lewis, on charge of murder of Francis Landy (Assize Courts 102/5:105).
On May 5, 1727 Edward Dunscombe, shipwright, Pembroke, is listed in Court Action Books of that date (Assize Courts 101/4)
On August 21, 1729 Edward Dunscombe is named as uncle and executor of the will of Thomas Dunscomb (who married Rebecca Greenway and Prudence Waterman, this Thomas being a son of Thomas, grandson of Philip, and great grandson of Thomas and Hannah) (Wills Book 6, pg. 183).
The Edward who died in 1733 mentions his wife, Hannah, in his will. If this Edward fathered a child in 1698, we can approximate his birth at 1675. We know from the previously mentioned 1705 affidavit of Samuel Dunscombe that his parents, the Thomas and Hannah who first migrated to Bermuda from London, did not have a son named Edward. Samuel's testimony creates another problem. It seems to indicate that, as of its writing in 1705, there are very few surviving male heirs of Thomas and Hannah:
"…that the said Hannah Jadwyn intermarried with Thomas Dunscombe, late of these islands, by whom she had issue Jadwyn, Philip, Thomas, John, the said deponent Samuel, Nehamiah, Susannah, and Hannah, that Jadwyn Dunscombe died without issue and that Philip Dunscombe had issue Thomas Dunscombe now living, who was born in these islands, never in England, that these deponents, as either of them ever heard, of these, all the rest of the children of the said Hannah, except the deponent Samuel Dunscombe, are dead, and no issue living."
Samuel clearly rules out Jadwyn as the father of Edward. Philip wrote his will in 1679, listing sons Thomas and Philip. Thomas wrote his will in 1688, once again with no mention of a son named Edward. (The researcher may find many references to this 1688 will including a son Edward. This is apparently the result of an error, as I have personally examined and transcribed a photocopy of the will, and Edward is not in it. However, genealogical notes on the Dunscombe family obtained in 2019 from the Bermuda National Trust indicate that Thomas Dunscombe (son of Thomas and Hannah) had an (unnamed) "bastard" son).
There is a record of a John Dunscombe marrying Elizabeth Estlack (or Eastlacke) in 1660 and a son of theirs, John, being baptized in 1661. After that there are no further records of John. The 1696 Association Oath Rolls mention a Nehamiah, but there is no further reference to this name until a1727 assessment. No wills for John or Nehemiah have been found.
This evidence points to Philip's son Thomas as the father of Edward - Samuel clearly states that as of 1705 the only living grandchildren of Thomas and Hannah are Thomas, son of Samuel's brother Philip, and the children of Samuel himself. But, Thomas, the son of Philip, wrote his will in 1702 and mentions only one son, also named Thomas. The matter is further complicated by the will of this Thomas, written 1729, which notes sons Thomas and William, and an uncle - Edward.
If this Thomas had an uncle named Edward, he would be the brother of Thomas's father, also Thomas. That would make him a son of the Philip whose will was written 1679 - with no mention of a son named Edward. It would also violate the 1705 affidavit of Samuel, who clearly states that Philip's only living son as of 1705 is named Thomas. There is an obvious conflict between the 1729 will of Thomas and the 1705 affidavit of Samuel.
What other points might shed some light? Bermuda has always been divided into "tribes" or "parishes." The original Jadwyn/Dunscombe land was in Pembroke Tribe. The 1696 Association Oath Rolls can serve as a kind of census, placing males in the tribes in which they lived. The Roll shows the following Dunscombes:
Hamilton: Edward and Nathaniel Dunscombe, and Jadwin "Downscombe"
Pembroke: Thomas, Thomas, and Samuel
We might identify these as the brothers Philip and Thomas, sons of the Philip whose will was written 1679; Thomas, the son of this Thomas and grandson of 1679 Philip (and the nephew of Edward); Samuel, the only surviving son of Thomas and Hannah (and the author of the 1705 affidavit); Nathaniel, son of this Samuel; and Edward, uncle of the younger of the two surviving Thomas's. Jadwin is an unknown (note the affidavit states Jadwyn, son of Thomas and Hannah, died without issue, although it is possible he was in Bermuda when the Oath Roll was taken in 1696. Jadwyn Dunscombe appears to have remained in London with his Jadwyn grandparents when his parenst and brothers moved to Bermuda. He is alsi the only child of Thomas and Hannah to appear in his grandmother Elizabeth Jadwyn's 1637 will).
The Roll may only have captured people on the island at the time it was taken. Samuel wrote his own will in 1705 and mentions sons Samuel, Joseph, Benjamin, and Jonathan, all who would have been adults by this time and none of them are included.
With these facts and conflicts in mind, I think it most likely that the Edward who died in 1733 was a descendant of the Philip whose will was dated 1679. Note that Edward and his wife Hannah had a son baptized in 1698 who they named "Philip." Note also that Edward is listed as an "uncle" of the Thomas who wrote his will in 1729. This Thomas, like Edward, would also have been a grandson of the 1679 Philip. This would make Edward and Thomas cousins, not uncle/nephew, but it also seems to place Edward squarely in Philip's line.
In effect, we have to choose between the 1705 affidavit and the 1729 will. If Edward is really the uncle of the Thomas who died in 1729, then he is also a grandson of Thomas and Hannah. But the 1705 affidavit states that the only surviving grandchildren of Thomas and Hannah are Thomas, son of Philip, and the children of Samuel. If we accept the affidavit, we must conclude some error in the will. The word "uncle" is often loosely employed. It can be used to denote an older relative, or even a trusted unrelated person. Whatever the case, I give the greater weight to the affidavit. But even if the affidavit is wrong and Edward is Thomas' uncle, that would place him as a brother of Thomas' father, also named Thomas, and as a son of Philip, whose 1679 will therefore failed to include him.
I should mention several persistent errors I have noticed over the years:
1. The Virkus lineage stating that Thomas Dunscombe sailed with George Somers. This seems unlikely, although I have seen claims that Thomas Jadwyn made voyages to Virginia.
2. The same lineage stating the Samuel, son of Thomas and Hannah, relocated to New York City. Descendents of this line might be interested in the research of Thomas Donovan Dunscombe. TDD researched the family for many years, and was in correspondence with my father. He wrote "On our own family, first now known in NYC was William, a mariner, master of the 1680 ship "Elizabeth"; next Daniel, who d. 1699, starting with the next Daniel…" I have nothing in my records linking this William to Bermuda, or to Samuel, Samuel being the commonly-cited link between the Bermuda and the New York family. However, see the note on genetic testing at the conclusion below.
3. That the husband of Hannah Jadwyn was named Philip. This may have been an error made by the noted Bermudian genealogist William Zuill. The error also appears in Mercer's "Bermuda Settlers."
4. That the 1688 will of Thomas Dunscombe mentions a son named Edward
5. That Edward and William were the sons of Thomas and his wife, Prudence Waterman. (although they did have a son named William).
Either way, he's more likely than not in Philip's line. So, from all of the above:
John Dunscombe, living 1566, married Thomasine Bodley, living 1586
Christopher Dunscombe married Grace Walker, May 8, 1581
Thomas Dunscombe married Hannah Jadwyn, April 7, 1618
Philip Dunscombe*, living 1679, married Joanna (White?)
Philip Dunscombe*, living 1702, married (?)
Edward Dunscombe, d. 1733, married Hannah
Edward Dunscombe, d. 1790, married Christianna Godfrey, June 14, 1768
John Dunscombe (1777-1847), married Eliza McGill, July 27, 1799
Edward Dunscombe (1806-1895), married Ann Mary Seon, July 22, 1832
John Godfrey Dunscombe (1847-1925), married Katharine Dunbar Stuart,
September 29, 1884
Cecil Dunscombe (1887-1918), married Marie Benoite Marguerettaz,
May 30, 1915
(Cecil) Edward Dunscombe (1916- ), married Edith Jean Schweikert,
December 2, 1941
Edward A. Dunscombe
Endicott, New York
February 5, 2010, revised April 28, 2020.
Since writing the above I have submitted several DNA samples in hopes of answering some of the lingering questions about our Dunscombe ancestry. One of these was with Family Tree DNA and the other with 23andme. I then submitted the results from one of these to Oxford Ancestors. Their analysis follows:
Results of my genetic testing (total, not just paternal) with the company 23andme yields the following indications of ancestry:
100% European: 35.7% British and Irish; 29.0% Frence & German, 28.4% broadly North European; 1.4% Scandinavian; 2.6% Broadly European; 1.5% Broadly Southern European; 1.0% Italian; 0.4% Iberian.
23andme reports my Y haplogroup as R1b1b2a1a1. R1b1b2 is the most common haplogroup in western Europe, where its branches are clustered in various national populations. R1b1b2a1a2b is characteristic of the Basque, while R1b1b2a1a2f2 reaches its peak in Ireland and R1b1b2a1a1 is most commonly found on the fringes of the North Sea. Haplogroup: R1b1b2, a subgroup of R1b2. Age: 17,000 years. Region: Europe. Example Populations: Irish, Basques, British, French. Highlight: R1b1b2 is the most common haplogroup in western Europe, with distinct branches in specific regions. My results show 3% Neanderthal DNA, compared to an average European percentage of 2.7%.
FTDNA originally reported my Y haplogroup as R1B1. They later changed it to R-M269. The R-M269 lineage is the descendant of the major R-M343 lineage. R-M269 likely originated in Eastern Europe. Your ancestral cousins eventually spread across the rest of Europe, with the highest concentrations of R-M269 found in the United Kingdom today.
My maternal group is H1. Haplogroup H1 is widespread in Europe, especially the western part of the continent. It originated about 13,000 years ago, not long after the Ice Age ended. Maternal haplogroups are families of mitochondrial DNA types that all trace back to a single mutation at a specific place and time. By looking at the geographic distribution of mtDNA types, we learn how our ancient female ancestors migrated throughout the world. Haplogroup: H1, a subgroup of H. Age: 13,000 years. Region: Europe, Near East, Central Asia, Northwestern Africa. Example Populations: Spanish,Berbers,Lebanese. Highlight: H1 appears to have been common in Doggerland, an ancient land now flooded by the North Sea. Mitochondrial haplogroup H is a predominantly European haplogroup that originated outside of Europe before the last glacial maximum (LGM). It first expanded in the northern Near East and southern Caucasus between 33,000 and 26,000 years ago, and later migrations from Iberia suggest it reached Europe before the LGM. It has also spread to Siberia and Inner Asia. Today, about 40% of all mitochondrial lineages in Europe are classified as haplogroup H.
I have submitted several DNA samples in hopes of answering some of the lingering questions about our Dunscombe ancestry. One of these was with Family Tree DNA and the other with 23andme. I then submitted the results from one of these to Oxford Ancestors. OA is a company that specializes in British Isles DNA so they seemed a natural to interpret my Y-chromosome DNA in light of their database of existing British Isles Y-DNA results. The Y chromosome is passed down from male to male and can then potentially be used to trace male lineage. I received the results of Oxford Ancestor's analysis of my Y-DNA in January 2015. Their analysis follows:
"Thank you for requesting our Tribes of Britain analysis. We have now compared your Y-chromosome results with thousands of Y-chromosome signatures from Britain, Ireland, continental Europe and Scandinavia.
We are pleased to tell you that, following these comparisons, we have identified your Y-chromosome as being of probable Celtic origin. We arrived at this conclusion by matching the details of your Y-chromosome signature against a reference database which contains details of different chromosomes and their geographical distribution. From this comparison we can infer that your Y-chromosome belongs to a group which is prevalent in Ireland and northern and western Britain. These chromosomes are also found in other parts of Britain, including England, but less frequently. However, they do make up the largest component of the genetic bedrock of both Britain and Ireland, reflecting the largely Celtic patrilineal origin of most British and Irish men.
If you trace your paternal ancestry to Wales, Scotland, Ireland and western England then a Celtic origin for your Y-chromosome is almost certain. If you are uncertain, the historical origin of your surname may help you to do this. If your origins are in southern or eastern England then it is still very likely that you are descended from the original Celtic-speaking people, although there is a slight chance that your ancestry is Anglo-Saxon. Unfortunately, some Y-chromosomes from these parts of Britain are impossible to assign with complete precision.
When the Romans completed their conquest of Britain after the invasion of Emperor Claudius in AD 43, a complex web of Celtic-speaking tribes inhabited the islands. These were conquered one by one and systematically assimilated into the Empire. Only Ireland, northern Scotland and remote parts of Wales escaped Romanization. When the Romans departed around 400 AD to defend Rome itself against barbarian attack, they left the islands to the mercy of Anglo-Saxon invaders from Germany and, later, Vikings from Denmark and Scandinavia. We now know, from recent genetic research, that these invaders did not entirely displace the original Celtic people but they changed the language of southern and eastern Britain to the forerunner of English. Their influence never extended into Ireland, Wales or northern Scotland, where Celtic languages are still spoken today.
The ultimate origins of the Celtic tribes first encountered by the Romans are shrouded in mystery. From what we can tell from archaeological discoveries, Britain was first permanently settled after the last Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago, by hunter-gatherers moving across dry land from Europe on what is now the bed of the North Sea. These were relatively few in number and were augmented over the next three thousand years by a sustained movement of people arriving by sea along the Atlantic coast of France to western Britain and Ireland. Four thousand years later, the first signs of farming appeared, carried along this same Atlantic route. Though the population grew as the native woods were cleared for crops, it does not necessarily follow that these farmers replaced the indigenous hunter-gatherers. It is more likely that the hunters gradually adopted the new agricultural way of life, while being joined by fresh arrivals from Iberia.
About 3,000 years ago, during the late Bronze Age and Iron Age, material artifacts from the thriving Celtic cultures of central Europe, like weapons and jewelry, began to appear in Britain. However, this vivid cultural change seems, from the genetic evidence, to have involved the movement of relatively few people.
Our genetic analysis of your DNA shows that it is likely that you have inherited your Y-chromosome from one of the earliest inhabitants of the British Isles, perhaps even from one of the first settlers who arrived 10,000 years ago. There are intriguing genetic connections between your Y-chromosome and those found in the Iberian Peninsula, especially among the Basques. This suggests that your ancestor took part in the vigorous sea-borne traffic between Ireland, western Britain and the Atlantic seaboard of France and Spain, which archaeologists have long suspected. This connection began with the pre-farming hunters and fishermen and continued with the peoples who built the large stone monuments, the megaliths, which also link these western sites from Spain to Scotland.
Your ancestor must have been successful and fathered sons. Through his sons and grandsons, his Y-chromosome has been passed down virtually unaltered through time to you, where it lives on today in every cell in your body. Requiring no written records for its transmission, your Y-chromosome is a message from the past. It is truly your genetic legacy. If you have sons, it will continue its journey into the future through them.
You can discover more about your ancestors and your Y-chromosome through the Oxford Ancestors website (www.oxfordancestors.com) which includes the opportunity to contact others with the same or similar genetic signatures by clicking on "DNA Connections." You may also like to read Professor Bryan Sykes' book Blood of the Isles, which explores the genetic origins of Britain and Ireland based on his recently completed the-year survey. Blood of the Isles, published in the U.S. as Saxons, Vikings and Celts, can be found in bookshops and signed copies are available via our website.
Thank you for your interest in Oxford Ancestors, and congratulations on discovering more about your ancient ancestry. Please note that the interpretations supplied with your Tribes of Britain analysis are based on the assumption that your paternal ancestry can be traced to Britain and Ireland. The interpretations based on your Y-chromosome signature give what we consider to be the most likely origin of your paternal ancestor or the historical group to which he belonged when he first reached these shores."
Oxford Ancestors talks about "clans" which essentially assign genetic results to a few groups to show ancient origins. Indications are that I belong to the "Oisin" clan, descended from Iberian fishermen who migrated to Britain between 4,000 and 5,000BC and now considered the UK's indigenous inhabitants.
What conclusions, if any, can we reach from the above genetic analysis, when considered in conjunction with the earlier discussion? (see notes under "John Dunscombe, born ca. 1510). We must certainly consider that our Dunscombe line may well be of ancient Celtic origin. This is the gist of the analysis, despite it not being mentioned in the lineage books (Burks etc.) which seem to focus on an Anglo-Saxon origin. The genetic analysis does mention a slight possibility of Anglo-Saxon origin, but this is dwarfed by the Celtic focus. The Celts probably migrated from mainland Europe to the British Isles about 10,000 years ago. The resulting population was supplemented by others arriving from what is now Spain through a sea-route hugging the coast of France. It is likely that our ancestor was in one of these two groups.
I might interpret that the authors of the lineage books were unaware of the ancient Celtic populations and may have attributed the earliest settlement of the British Isles to the Anglo-Saxons.
This leaves the question of Cyprian Bridge's theory that the family only migrated to Britain from France around 1560. I don't think we can rule this out as a result of the genetic analysis. Might our ancestor have been a member of a group which traveled from France to the British Isles thousands of years ago, perhaps leaving some, including him, behind in France? I think that is still a possibility - just because the Y-chromosome profile is predominant in western Britain does not mean it does not also still exist in geographic areas it may have traveled through to get to Britain. It would be interesting to see if the profile is also seen in French Y-chromosome databases. This may come to light as my Y-profile is compared to others who have been tested and have made their results publicly available for matching. There are also indications that my paternal ancestors may have come to the British Isles from the Iberian peninsula 4,000-5,000 years ago, forming a core of the original settlers. If this is true then it may argue against Cyprian Bridge's France theory, although once again the possibility exists that our ancestor may have gone from Britiain to France any time before eventually returning to the British Isles. Perhaps the most that can be said as of this writing is that our Dunscombe Y-chromosome is consistent with that common in western Britain and which has apparently been there for thousands of years. Western Britain of course includes the place called Dunscombe where we know our ancestors to have been circa 1560.
One interesting side note: I have had my genetic results posted publicly for comparison with those of other people for several years now. I have seen many potential matches indicating possible relatives of varying degree, probably in the hundreds. Only a very few have been Y-chromosome matches. One Y-match is with Eugene Dunscomb. I corresponded with his daughter Alice, who stated that her Dunscomb ancestors were the family that had been in New York City since ca. 1700, having come from Bermuda. This match validated the theory that one, unknown member of the Bermuda Dunscombe's relocated to New York City, perhaps prior to 1700, and established the family there, thus scientifically conecting the Bermuda and New York City branches. (EAD)