Name’s the same, but Y-DNA shows SC, MD Sansburys not related

When you have an unusual surname, you can’t help but wonder whether you are related to everyone who shares it. In 1840, Ancestry tells me, 25 Sansbury families lived in America, spread out among nine states.1

State# of Sansbury families% in U.S.
South Carolina832
Maryland416
Kentucky312
New Jersey312
Ohio312
Massachusetts14
Missouri14
North Carolina14
Virginia14

In reality, this number is inexact. Alternate spellings may not have been captured. Some households may not have been counted. Still, we are talking about relatively small numbers so the possibility of genetic connections seems possible.

Fifty years earlier, in 1790, the First Census of the United States counted a grand total of 11 Sansbury households:2

State# of Sansbury families% in U.S.
Maryland982
South Carolina19
Vermont19

As we stepped back in time, the Sansburys appeared more concentrated in Maryland. Heads of household Thomas, John, Eleanor, Francis, Electious, and Richard all lived in Prince Georges County. Another Richard made his home in Anne Arundel County, a Thomas in Montgomery County, and an Isaac in Charles County.

In South Carolina that year, there was only Daniel, counted in the Cheraws District. His 10-member household included six males under 16, one 16 and over (himself), and three females (no age ranges recorded).3

Daniel served in the Revolution in 1781-82 as a private.4 However, his origins have been elusive. A compiled genealogy speculates he came directly from England, possibly Wiltshire, and was not related to the Maryland Sansburys because the name Daniel was uncommon among the Maryland group. Naming patterns, or a lack thereof, can certainly provide clues. However, with no clear documentary trail, how can anyone know for certain Daniel’s line didn’t come through Maryland?

How, indeed?!

Two years ago, I wrote about my father’s first Y-DNA match. Because Y-DNA is only passed down from fathers to sons, this was both a thrill and a huge relief. This fifth cousin of mine descended from Daniel’s son James Sansbury, brother to my ancestor Elias Sansbury.

Last year, the search for an ancestral home for Daniel took a giant leap forward when a Sainsbury researcher in Canada with known roots in Somerset, England, matched both my father and the other descendant of Daniel! We have no idea how many generations back we’ll find a common ancestor, but we know we have a shared Y-DNA contributor I’m hereby dubbing “Adam Sainsbury” sometime after the adoption of patrilineal surnames. Cousin Mike has since determined his Somerset Sainsbury line traces back to Wiltshire.

Now comes a new revelation! A direct male descendant of Richard Sansbury, who arrived in Maryland on the Crown Malaga in 1680, reached out to me via this blog.5

He took a Y-DNA test and the exciting results came through this past week! We can definitively say Daniel Sansbury of South Carolina was not related to Richard Sansbury of Maryland! The test-takers on those respective lines belong to different haplogroups (R-M269 vs I-M170) and their STR marker values do not correspond with each other.

In and of itself, this would not prove anything. After all, it would only take one misattributed father on either of the Sansbury lines to ensure a Y-DNA mismatch. Fortunately, though, FamilyTreeDNA processed the Y-DNA results for Richard’s descendant at the same time as the sample from another member of our Sainsbury-Sansbury project who tested to help trace the origins of a known Saintsbury ancestor in England. And they match!

In other words:

South Carolina Sansburys match one English Sainsbury line and this one Maryland Sansbury line matches a completely different English Sainsbury/Saintsbury line!6

If it sounds like I’m hedging a little on grouping all of the Maryland Sansburys together, it’s because I am. More testing is definitely needed on these and other similarly named lines to determine whether and how they relate to one another. More breakthroughs await!

Are you a direct male Sansbury/Sainsbury/Saintsbury willing to take a Y-DNA test to contribute to this project? Please get in touch!

#sansbury #sainsbury #genealogy #YDNA #52ancestors


3 thoughts on “Name’s the same, but Y-DNA shows SC, MD Sansburys not related

  1. I suspect the two Wiltshire families are related, but not on the patrilineal line—as this amazing discovery has shown. The Westbury family seems to appear later in the records. And one branch of that Sainsbury family used an alias—Hurne—for several generations. It could be that that Westbury “patriarch” of that Sainsbury line was the illegitimate son of a Sainsbury woman. He would have inherited her name, but his Y-DNA would have been that of his father. (Named Hurne, perhaps?) More amazing discoveries await!

    Liked by 1 person

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