Friday, August 27, 2010

Devon Family Historian and the Devon DNA Project

The Devon Family Historian
and the Devon DNA Project

August, 2010

Debbie Kennett has just published an article entitled "DNA Testing And The Devon DNA Project" in the August, 2010 issue of the Devon Family Historian. In the article, she mentions that partial sponsorship is available for the HAM DNA Project, among others.

Debbie tells me that the Devon Family Historian is circulated to all members of the Devon Family History Society. They are one of the largest family history societies in the UK with around 5000 members. She believes that only the Cornish Family History Society is larger. Debbie says that she hopes the article will at least raise awareness of the possibilities of DNA testing and perhaps encourage a few more people to test.

I've already had a new inquiry about the DNA testing as a result of the article. She descends from Walter Ham, who married Margery Minkings on 26/03/1758 in Maker, County Devon.

In the article, Debbie provides a review of the development of DNA testing over the past 10 years. She gives a good description of the Y-chromosome tests, the Mitochondrial DNA tests, and the Autosomal DNA tests. She then follows with general information about the surname DNA Projects and the (geographical) Devon DNA Project.
For a little perspective on what I have for Devon, I will include here a summary of occurrences in our book. County Devon (HAM surname) FREQUENCIES from "A Short History of the HAM Surname in Virginia & NC"

Devon in the 1500's total references: 29

Devon in the 1600's total references: 34

Devon in the 1700's total references: 23

The 1700's saw the most significant migration of the HAM surname moving from Colyton, but it would appear that there were also evacuations in lesser quantities from Ashwater, Halberton, Hemyock, Oakford, Plymouth, Shute, Tiverton, and Uplowman.
Marvin Hamm (of the HAM DNA Project) has written me with Census information that has:

Devon with 161 Ham's listed for the 1861 Census.

For reference, Marvin found about 18 HAM's in Plymouth in 1861. And, indeed, Marvin tells me that the 1861 Census shows no HAM families in the towns of Ashwater, Halberton, Hemyock, Oakford, Shute, Tiverton, and Uplowman. This agrees with the differences in our book, and may be an indication of migration, although the destination is not yet clear. We have not yet determined if these HAM families could have moved to Cornwall, or whether or not they could have migrated to America.

The best evidence we have to date for migration is for one of the first progenitors of the HAM surname in the U.S., William HAM of Maine. Originally contracted to fish, he was part of the Trelawney expedition. The Trelawney expedition originated from Plymouth. The Maine HAM lines have done some research in the area of Devon, but to date, neither the Maine HAM lines nor the Devon HAM lines have tested for Y-DNA.

There is a little town called "Ham" (now called Ham Ward) near the city of Plymouth. There have been several Mayors of Plymouth named Trelawny, but near the time frame of 1635 there were Mayors:

1626-27 Thomas Sherwill 1627-28 Robert Trelawney
1628-29 Nicholas Sherwill and Abraham Colmer 1629-30 William Hele
1630-31 John Bownd
1631-32 John Waddon Jnr 1632-33 Philip Andrews
1633-34 Rob Trelawney Jnr 1634-35 John Martyn Jnr
1635-36 Thomas Crampporn 1636-37 John Cawse

Having a small town named Ham near Plymouth, and associated with the Trelawney Expedition does provide a clue that this HAM line may have originated from this small town of Ham, near Plymouth in County Devon.

Copies of some of the Trelawney documents can be ordered from the UK National Archives.

Hopefully, the article in this month's Devon Family Historian will encourage a few more people to test for DNA.
Some internet links that might be useful:
Searching the UK National Archives at:
Plymouth City Council
List of Mayors from 1600 to 1700
A map of the area shows the area known as Ham, near Plymouth:,54192&st=4&ar=Y&mapp=newmap.srf&searchp=newsearch.srf&dn=795&ax=248899&ay=54192
If you are a member of the Devon Family History Society, you can download the Devon Family Historian article in Adobe PDF format.

Devon Family History Society
PO Box 9
The Devon DNA Project: www.familytreedna/public/Devon

A Short History of the HAM Surname in Virginia & NC