Searching for Kerley Roots in Dorset and Southern England, Part 1

I’m waiting for the ftdna.com to complete my 111-marker y-dna test results. (All values are in except for markers 38 through 67. When those are in, I’ll have more to say on this subject.)

In the meantime, I want to spend to some time on England’s County of Dorset, particularly the seacoast town of Bournemouth.

Why Bournemouth?

One of my family history theses has been pieces of evidence suggesting that several of my ancestral lines – going back centuries – were involved with ships and the sea.

I’ve been prompted by Edie Kearley, who is very much involved in a “Surname project”, this one for the names Kerley, Kearley, Curley and other similar sounding surnames. She had found me because the vikingsandvirginians.com website has included a lot of seemingly random entries about the name Kerley.

Let me review why the Kerley name appears on these pages. When I took the ancestry.com y-dna test, a person surnamed Kerley (with whom, so far, I have been unable to establish contact) has y-DNA values that are the same as mine, except for three that are only one number off.  The ancestry.com calculations suggest a Most Recent Common Ancestor within historic time.

In search of a Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA)

There is an advantage to descending from persons who lived in England, in French Normandie, and in the American Colonies, because so many records exist, albeit in a myriad of locations. I believe that powerful search engines such as Google can help identify data sources that would not have been considered in traditional methods of family history research.

I support the traditional methods of proving relationships with records that establish birthdates, mother and father, place of birth, siblings and supplementary information for each individual in a family tree. But one needs clues to know where to look for such documentary evidence.

Finding a MRCA in Historic Time

I believe that traditional genealogy can be supplemented with other methods that use DNA results to help decide where to look for clues.

Sorting Through Clues I Already Have (Part One)

In my 5-11-13 vikingsandvirginians.com post entitled  17th Century Saunders, Crump and Kerley Immigrants to Virginia I made note of the following passage to Virginia from England:

“1642 Richard Kerley, sponsored by Hugh Gwyn (unknown)

[WHB – in 1642, Hugh Gwyn also sponsored John Averry (unknown).]”

The following information is  from History of the Gwin Family by Jesse Blaine Gwin pub. 1961

pg. 12 VIRGINIA Col. Hugh Gwynne was an early settler in Gloucester County, Virginia and was a member of the Virginia House of Burgess in Jamestown, 1652-1690. Some of the Descendants of Hugh Gwynne changed their name to Gwin, Gwinn or Gwyn.

Col. Hugh Gwynne was very prominent in the early Colonial Days and was closely associated with the Washington’s, the Reades, the Randolphs, the Carters and other leaders of that time.

The name Hugh Gwynne (Gwyn, Gwin) occurs frequently in the Colonial records. He is known to have owned, in addition to Gwynne Island. 6000 acres on the Potomac in Westmoreland County and 700 acres in Isle of Wight County. Not much is known about Col. Hugh Gwynne’s family as Gloucester County records were destroyed but Media Research gives his children as Elizabeth, Hugh, and Rev. John. Rev. John came over in Cromwell’s time and was pastor of Abington and Ware Parishes. He is recorded as the father of Edmund Gwin who married Lucy Bernard. They were the parents of Lucy and John Gwin.

There may have been earlier arrivals of Gwins in America, but if so none of them represent permanent settlers . It is recorded in Americans of Gentle Birth that Capt. Peter Wynne, of the Kings Council, came over with Capt. Newport on the ship Mary and Margaret. It should be repeated here that the Gwyns and Wynns are from the same family in the Old World. . . . 

WHB: Neither Gwyn and Kerley are common surnames, so establishing a linkage between Hugh Gwyn and Richard Kerley in the mid-17th century is a useful place to start some additional research. There is ample evidence that a Hugh Gwyn was an early landowner in Tidewater Virginia (on the peninsula in which Gloucester County, VA is located).

There are Gwyns and Richard Kerleys throughout the 17th and 18th centuries in Dorset. A century after Hugh Gwyn sponsored Richard Kerley’s passage to England, another Richard Kerley is identified with the seaboard community of Bournemouth in Dorset, and two small communities nearby.

One must always keep in mind that all the early and mid-17th century England was a time of religious struggles that led to the English Civil War, and in 1649, the beheading of King Charles I and the creation of the Puritan Commonwealth.

Any journeys between England and the American colonies should be considered in the context of the polticial situation and the relation of powerful persons to the English sovereign (whether king of Commonwealth Protector) or to such persons with power.

If John Gwyn was both a Virginia landowner from the 1620s and a sponsor of immigrants to Virginia, Gwyn’s relationship to the crown and Kerley’s relationship to Gwyn is worth considering.

That might be one of the subjects considered in Part 2 of this discussion.

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