Looking for my John Davey

Back in 1990, after 10 years of teaching full time, I earned the right to Long Service Leave so took off for three months around the world. West coast America to see Disneyland and the canyons, Alaska to fly above the Arctic Circle and visit an inuit town, Europe to see the large towns and famous buildings like Eiffel Tower and Leaning tower of Pisa, sail in the Greek islands, travel down the Nile and climb in the Pyramid of Giza but most of all visit the country of my ancestors Great Britain.

Very little was digitized at this time, many records were on microfilm or in original records. So I spent a few days at the Devon Archives when they were located in the middle of Exeter. I was trying to find out who my John Davey was, where he came from, who were his parents and siblings. I stayed in a B&B in Clyst Honiton.

What did I know about John Davey before I left?

  • John was my great great grandfather who married Annie Dixon in 1859. He was 26, she was 18. Until his death in 1888, they raised seven sons and five daughters to adulthood. They lived in English Town, near Evandale, Tasmania
  • John was born in Devon, England. He was brought out to Tasmania as a farm servant to George Meredith on the East Coast of Tasmania.  John was Church of England and could read and write. He arrived in Hobart Town aged 20 on 13 February 1855 on board ‘Wanderer‘.  John was occasionally mentioned in the ‘Meredith papers’ which are housed in the State Library Archives in Hobart.  He was recorded last at ‘Cambria‘ in January 1857.  His wages at this time were 7 pounds and 10 shillings per quarter.

By the time I had finished my research at the Devon Archives, I had the feeling that my John Davey was born in Coffinswell in 1836. In fact, I started with a list of 50 John Davey born around 1835 in Devon and by the end of my research was down to 7 possibilities but the most likely being the one born in Coffinswell. I added this to my tree on Ancestry and of course, it has now been copied by many relatives onto their trees.

I now know better than to do this.

Since that trip to England 30 years ago, I have been to New Zealand to visit cousins there – one of John Davey’s daughters married and moved to New Zealand. She had a birthday book which she handed down through her family so I asked the current owner if they could send me any names relating to the Davey surname.

One of these was John Davey born 21 January 1834. Could I assume this was my John Davey? But the Coffinswell John Davey was born in 1836? How to prove who was my real John Davey?

Thirty years have now passed

If only I had checked those John Davy (note different spelling) births in Devon, I would have made an immediate hit but instead it has taken me 30 years until a match in mum’s DNA linked back to a person who had an ancestor Luke Davy in Devon. How was this Luke Davy related to my John Davey?

They were siblings. So mum and her DNA match named Ivor are 3rd cousins sharing 99cM across 5 segments.

This John Davy was born  21 January 1834 in Clyst Honiton, Devon, England. He was one of  12 children born to John and Mary Anne Davy nee Jennings in Heavitree area of Devon, England.

My reminder from this is to search all probable spellings of a surname. Sometimes my John was a Davey other times a Davy.

Readers: Have you made a mistake with a person on your tree? How did you go about fixing it?

Check your tree!

Was reading the feed in my Facebook groups and came across an interesting post in Louise Coakley’s private group about Using DNA for Genealogy in Australia and New Zealand. PS Remember to answer questions if requesting to join.

As I have many trees on Ancestry.com, I thought I would check out some of these posts about an in depth guide to Ancestry. There are 11 parts to this guide so far and the first one was about trees.

My trees

I have 7 trees I am owner of on Ancestry. My main tree is Wyatt family tree and that is where I add in all my matches as I work out where they are in my tree. So I use matches from myself, but also my mother, father and brother.

Because I had no idea of my father’s side of the tree until recently, I also began one labelled DNA Wyatt Dad Kevin. This is a lot of mirror trees based on dad and his half brother Kevin’s common matches to try and work out where they all intercept. But I wont be using this much now as I have now got dad’s side of the tree back a few more generations since a new close DNA match appeared a few weeks ago. This tree is private and not searchable.

When I was trying to work on dad’s DNA and whether he had Samoan ancestry, I asked a couple of his Smith cousins to test and I created trees to match them as well. I don’t add to these unless DNA matches ask for information through the messaging system. By the way, no Samoan and these are now half cousins as well.

I have done the same for a few of mum’s cousins who have tested at my request, so I have 3 trees created for them. Two are public and linked to DNA tests, one has now been made private but searchable as the person has now died who did the test for me.

Next step

So I went into my DNA matches list to see what the trees were like for my matches. I only looked at those up to and including 4th-6th cousin.

DNA matches tree types

 

Out of 340 matches I checked

  • nearly 50 % have a linked tree I can look at, but some of them may only have a few names of parents or grandparents or might even all be labelled ‘Living’.
  • nearly a quarter of my matches have no tree at all but if they are high up in my matches I might still be able to work out where they fit on my tree. In fact, I have worked out 9 of the 81 matches that have no tree.
  • an unlinked tree just means the owner of the tree hasn’t linked their DNA to the tree yet. I have 59 unlinked and 12 that are unlinked but also private. From those 71 matches, I have worked out how 6 of them link into my tree.
  • out of the 20 linked but private trees, I have 4 with common ancestor mentioned and I have proven these to be connected correctly to my tree.
  • I also have two that say the tree is unavailable but clicking on those words takes me to their page and a tree I can click on. One I have matched and is added on my tree, the other I have a good idea where it links but not proven yet.

As I mainly work on my parents DNA match lists, I probably have, in reality, a lot more matches added to my tree than I have from my match list. As I work out where the person fits in my tree, I add this in the note section of their profile page. As my parents are one further generation closer to the ancestors, I usually add these notes on their matches rather than mine.

From this image you can see I know where the person fits in my tree (the orange star), they fit into three family lines on my mother’s side and the ancestor couple we have in common is George and Martha Davey nee Colgrave.

Readers: If you have a tree on Ancestry, does it have your DNA linked to your name on the tree? Is your tree public, or private? If private is it also searchable? Do you use the notes section and the colour coding for your matches?