The Search for Davises through Y-DNA. Family, or not?

by Timothy W. Davis

In the Fall of 2009, we discovered four potential cousins, each with an intriguing possibility.

1. DDJ traced his oldest known ancestor to William Davis, b. 1617 in Wales. Where he was born in Wales is unknown; however he immigrated to the Roxbury area of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in about 1635. Could he be a cousin of our William Davis, the immigrant, born about 1663 in Llanstephan, Radnor (Powys), Wales? Our paper-trail does not extend beyond our immigrant’s father, also a William, born in about 1640. Do we have a common ancestor and finally are able to find our family further back in history? The Y-DNA results will tell us, if DDJ agrees to participate in our project.

2. DSM has a paper-trail to his oldest known ancestor Henry Davis, b. 1759 in New Jersey. We, on the other hand, have a descendant from our William Davis, the immigrant, through William’s son, Rev. John F. Davis, to his grandson Henry Davis, born about 1759 in Shrewsbury, Monmouth, New Jersey…but there our Henry’s line stops. Could the two Henry’s be the same individual? Would a matching Y-DNA indicate that DSM has provided us with the extension of our Henry Davis’s line?

3. DRLJ’s oldest known ancestor was Thomas Davis, born 1702 in Wales…or New Jersey. Could Thomas be an unknown son of William Davis and his first spouse Elizabeth Brisley/Brinley? They were known to be living in the Chester, PA area, very close to New Jersey, or could he be another “William Davis” family line from Wales? The Y-DNA will tell us if DRLJ is family.

4. DPD has a paper-trail to a Robert Davis, born 1591 in Dorchester, Dorsetshire, England, his oldest known relative. It is very possible that Robert Davis could have immigrated to Wales and fathered William Davis, b. 1617 (see DDJ above), or another son, producing our family “patriarch” William Davis, b. 1640 in Wales. The Y-DNA results will tell us if DPD is a member of our family.

Fortunately, each of the individuals agreed to participate in our family project and had a natural, male descendant in their line be Y-DNA tested. Being a “natural” male descendant means that to the individual’s knowledge, he is a direct descendant from the ancestor, without his lineage being the result of adoption or from a father outside the family.

The Results in reverse order

4. DPD agreed to the Y-DNA67-marker test and discovered that his haplogroup is R1b1b2, an extremely common haplogroup for Davises. However, he found one exact match and another match which was 6 markers off at 37 DYS markers in the Davis Surname Project database.

3. DRLJ also agreed to the Y-DNA67-marker test and also was haplogroup R1b1b2. However, he had no close matches, including DPD.

2. DSM took six months of agonizing thought (and emotion) before agreeing to test. Curiosity finally pushed them (brother and sister) to take the plunge and do the Y-DNA67-marker test. Their (his) results have opened a new world for them. His result was haplogroup I1, almost as rare a haplogroup for Davises as our I2a. They found several matches that have extended their known family into England. Our Henry Davis, born about 1759, however, remains without known descendants.

1. DDJ was our final chance for a match, and in many ways, was the most intriguing possibility: William Davis, born 1617 in Wales…cousin, uncle, or bust? DDJ is a descendant from William with his first spouse through their son John. Additionally, we found, through research and extending a line to the present, a cousin of DDJ who descended from John’s brother Joseph. If we have a match, we open our family to a more distant ancestor in Wales, we identify a new branch of the family and welcome two new living cousins to our group.

Answer: haplogroup R1b1b2a1b. But, although disappointed that we did not have a match, DDJ had his own match, and added a branch to another major Davis family: Foulke Davis, born about 1610 in Wales. DDJ had three exact matches at 67 markers within this family of about 10 participants, all three of whom have different branches which do not have an identified common ancestor in the paper-trail.

However, through Y-DNA we know they are all part of the same family. The knowledge of their match means they can use the paper-trail and other written information from the various branches of the family to research the historical record to find missing ancestors.

And our tale is not done. As we identify potential, or paper-trail, cousins who agree to test, we will be meeting cousins and extending the known members of our family.

Current Searches

DAW, a paper-trail cousin, descendant from Joseph, son of Rev. John F. Davis (son of William Davis with first spouse, Elizabeth Brisley) has agreed to the Y-DNA67-marker test. We do not have a descendant from Joseph in our test group, so DAW’s results will give us a first look at the common markers and mutations (differences from the common markers in the family) on this line. Results for the first 12 markers should be completed by April 2 and all of the 67-marker results by the end of April 2010.

Hopefully, by late March 2010, we will have extended the line from Thomas “William” Davis, son of William Davis with his second spouse, Elizabeth Pavior, to living cousins. If successful, this will be the first time a son, other than James, of William Davis with his second spouse, Elizabeth Pavior, will have been extended to living descendants.

The living cousins who agree to do the Y-DNA67-marker test will be breaking new ground for us. Not only will they give us our first look at a new line, but they will answer (hopefully) the question of which brother, Rev. John F. Davis (from William and Elizabeth Brisley) or James (from William with Elizabeth Pavior) has specific mutations.

Strangely, because William’s spouses should not have an influence on a Y-DNA Marker number, all of the descendants from Rev. John F. Davis have the number 22 at DYS Marker YCA IIb, and all of the descendants from James have number 20 at DYS marker YCA IIb.

Since Rev. John F. Davis is the only brother who survived to adulthood from William and Elizabeth Brisley, the only way we will be able to determine who originated that mutation is through one of the five sons from William and Elizabeth Pavior: Thomas “William” Davis (1712-1786), Edward Davis (1716-1794), William Davis III (1724-1795), Joseph Davis (1728-1797), or James (1720-1777).

As of this writing, the only branch we have extended to living cousins is James. Will our new found cousin(s), descendants from Thomas “William” Davis, match the DYS YCA IIb marker from John or James? The Y-DNA67-marker results will tell.

See chart: “New Lines To Prove and Non-matching Lines, ” on Proven Lines page. The four lines referred to above are listed on the chart by their oldest ancestors: Thomas b 1702, Henry b 1759, Robert b 1591 and William b 1617.

Posted March 12, 2010