Monday, February 15, 2010

Will of Elizabeth OLYVER

The Will of Elizabeth OLYVER

Wife of Jerome HAM, Bristol

Perhaps no other immigrant captures the imagination of HAM researchers than that of Jerome HAM. For over 40 years, genealogists have written about him in books, posted numerous messages to the internet, and have added Jerome HAM to their genealogy charts for numerous HAM lines.

For over a decade, I have received numerous emails and inquiries regarding Jerome HAM. Some claim that he was born in Bristol, England. Some say he was born in Germany. Some say he was born or married in 1577. Some say he was born in 1580. Others have that he was born in 1650. Many say that he died in York County, Virginia.

Many believe that he was the single immigrant ancestor to all of the HAM lines in Virginia.

Nearly all of the inquiries that I get do not have him listed correctly.

In April, 2008 I posted a Poll about him for genealogists on the HAM Country Blog in April, 2008, just to see how well Jerome HAM was understood. That poll included a quick survey of information from, Rootsweb WorldConnect, and the FamilySearch web site.

[ click on image to enlarge ]

That survey returned over 700 family trees for Jerome HAM. About 97% of the Jerome HAM family trees on the internet have bad information about Jerome HAM.

This past month I was asked to respond to an Ancestry message board post about him.

The 40 year old myth persists.

Today, I would like to examine the will of Elizabeth OLYVER, wife of Jerome HAM of Bristol. Her will was published in 1893 in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register (NEHGS), volume XLVII. (You will want to examine pages 126, 127, and 128.)

On page 126, the will of John OLYVER, merchant of the City of Bristol is listed. To be buried at St. Stephens parish. The will was proven in London on Feb 6, 1597. Mentions wife Elizabeth and children:

Robert OLYVER, lands in the County of Gloucester, and in the parishes of Wickwarr, Cromholde, and Yate.
Henry OLYVER, the youngest son, 20 pounds yearly.
Thomas OLYER
Mary OLYVER the profits and commodities from his part of the "presage" lease for three years.

Also mentioned is his father Thomas OLYVER and his mother Margaret COXE, widow.

To his wife Elizabeth OLYVER, he gives his land in long Ashton, in the County of Somerset. However, it would appear that wife Elizabeth does not afterwards live in Ashton, as we see in the will of Richard COLE (from NEHGS, vol XLVII, page 127):

Locations mentioned in the will of Richard COLE:

Richard COLE, of Bristol, alderman, files will on Jun 16, 1599 (will proven Jul 17, 1599).

A store house on the Key in Bristol, one “in the late tenure of Elizabeth HAM, late wife of John
OLYVER, merchant, in the parish of St. Stephens; all during her natural life.”


The will of Elizabeth HAM is given in NEHGS vol XLVII, pages 127 and 128:

"Elizabeth HAM, wife of Hierom Ham of the City of Bristol, gentleman, late wife and executrix of John Olyver of the said city merchant."

Elizabeth files her will Dec 24, 1619, and was proven Oct 30, 1628. In it, we find husband Hierom Ham (or Jerom Ham - it is spelled both ways in the will). She mentions her children from her first husband John OLYVER, but no children are mentioned by Jerome HAM.

From the notes on the top of page 127, we find that John OLYVER had married Elizabeth ROWLAND in Aug, 1577. John OLYVER dies in Jan 1597-98 and his widow Elizabeth marries Jerome HAM on Feb 18, 1599-1600. Elizabeth HAM files her will in 1619.

In review, Jerome HAM was merchant and Town Clerk of Bristol from 1581 to 1621. Elizabeth ROWLAND married John OLYVER in 1577. Elizabeth OLYVER marries Jerome HAM in 1599/1600 and is apparently too old to have children after that time.

So, it should be obvious that the HAM Country survey detected a number of errors from the survey for the Poll of April, 2008. For example, if you look at the web page from the Ancestry search, you will find among the genealogies listed is a Jerome HAM being married in 1577. Obviously, not correct when checked against the records.

Further reading:

The New England Historical and Genealogical Register

The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 1893 volume XLVII on Google Books:

The HAM Branches by Donna Ham

A Short History of the HAM Surname in Virginia & NC

Friday, February 12, 2010

Faces of America

Faces of America

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is now running the series Faces of America on PBS. The Harvard scholar turns to the latest tools of genealogy and genetics to explore the family histories of 12
renowned Americans. Family histories range from Meryl Streep's eighth great-grandfather, who fought in Metacom's War (an English-American Indian conflict in 1675-76) to today's figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi.

The Promise of America

Feb 10th - Feb 16th

Utilizing genealogical and genetic tools, Henry Louis Gates Jr. unearths the family histories of 12 prominent Americans in this series, beginning with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, director Mike Nichols and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi.

The first episode is also now available on line:

Becoming American

Feb 17th - Feb 23rd

The many pathways to America are explored via the ancestral stories of Stephen Colbert, chef Mario Batali, Jordan's Queen Noor and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi.

Making America

Wednesday, February 24 — Mar 2nd

The peopling of the New World is recalled via the ancestral stories of Meryl Streep and Eva Longoria. Included: Streep's eighth great-grandfather, who fought in Metacom's War (an English-American Indian conflict in 1675-76).

The Record Within

Mar 3rd - Mar 9th

Combining the documented stories of some of the guests' last known ancestors with DNA evidence, the series travels backward through time to reveal both distant relatives and surprising shared ancestral connections.

PBS website:

Local Listings:

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Charles Darwin Y-DNA

The Y-DNA of Charles Darwin

Deep Ancestry Analyzed

The Genographic Project analyzed the DNA of Charles Darwin (1809-1882). Darwin wrote "On the Origin of Species," the first authoritative work on evolution, following Jean Baptiste de Lamarck (1774-1829).

According to the project director Spencer Wells, Darwin's great-great-grandson tested for deep ancestry at the Genographic Project. G-G-Grandson Chris Darwin migrated from England to Australia in 1986, and now lives near Sydney. (Charles Darwin was from Shropshire in southern England.)

A panel of Genographic scientists gave a public presentation on the results at the Australian Museum in Sydney which included Dr. Spencer Wells, Dr. Ajay Royyuru, Dr. John Mitchell, and Dr. Simon Longstaff.

The complete article at the Genographic Project "news" area is no longer available, but Dienekes' blog reveals that Darwin was Haplotype R1b:

More on Darwin:

Story from The Telegraph

Tourist Guide to Darwin's home:

Somerset and Dorset Family History Society

Somerset and Dorset Family History Society
A Decade of DNA Testing

The Greenwood Tree, the journal of the Somerset and Dorset Family History Society, has published their February issue. In it, Debbie Kennett wrote a brief article on DNA testing, which mentioned the HAM DNA Project. ("A Decade of DNA Testing," published in "Greenwood Tree.")

The journal is distributed to those who are researching family history in the counties of Somerset and Dorset.

In "A Decade of DNA Testing," Debbie explains that Y-DNA has been used as a tool to confirm documentary research about a surname. She wrote on the subject of DNA testing, and notes that the editor only wanted a short article.

Quote from the article:

"The HAM(M) project will provide 50% of the cost of a test. Other projects will no doubt have similar offers."

O.K., not quite clear there. The editors probably kept the article too brief. The HAM
DNA Project can provide 50% of the cost of the test for individuals with financial difficulties, and only if the funds are available within the HAM DNA General Fund. A number of Y-DNA Projects have similar offers.

Thanks Debbie, it is good to seen the HAM DN
A Project mentioned in a local journal.

Debbie writes:

"Circulation of the journal is quite small (probably just a few
thousand) so there is no guarantee that anyone with your surname will actually read the article."


If you would like to subscribe to the journal, more information can be found below.

Somerset & Dorset Family History Society
PO Box 4502
Sherborne DT9 6YL, England

The Greenwood Tree web site is located at:

Magazine can be purchased from the web site.

More information participating in the HAM DNA Project can be found at: