1. Our Burgess DNA

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    everal years ago I read about a school teacher Adrian Targett who was a genetic match to a 9000 year old skeleton found in a cave in Somerset, England. The test they used was looking at the mitochondrial DNA. I remember thinking how fascinating it would be to have my DNA tested and see if it could tell me something about my ancestry from thousands of years ago. I was not aware that in a few short years testing would be available commercially.

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    n the mean time I came to appreciate the limitations of traditional paper trail genealogies. Civil registration started in 1837. The first useful census in England occured in 1841. Parish records started in the late 16th century and for most parishes what is available today dates to the beginning of the 17th. Gravestones were not as universal as one would hope. Exploring County record Offices may yield additional information to take you further back like manor rolls and hearth tax records but most people if they are lucky get as far back as the mid 1700s. Looking at a surname distribution map we can see that there were a very large number of Burgesses in Cheshire and Lancashire, however there were also lots of Burgesses in Scotland, Hereford, Cornwall and Sussex. So while there may be many others researching the same surname, some close and some farther away. What we end up with is multiple islands of Burgess families in different parishes, with no way of linking them because the paper trail has run out. That is... untill now.

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    rofessor Michael Burgess has setup the Burgess DNA project using Family Tree DNA as a testing lab Michael was able to establish a genetic profile for all of the major Burgess lines of the United States. As is the case with many surnames, the Burgess name is shared by many genetically distinct families. So far, there are over 100 participants with about 30 different genetic lines.

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    bout a year ago, I decided to try it out. I sent in for a testing kit, it consists of two vials with two plastic cheek swabs. A simple exercise of rubbing the inside of my cheek and mailing the sample back to the lab. Then I asked my 5th cousin in England to also send in a sample. The paper trail indicates our common ancestor John Burgess was born in Davenham, Cheshire and later moved to Bakewell Derbyhsire where he married Jane Boam. I am descended from his son Peter and my 5th cousin was descended from the other son Thomas.
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    s it turns out we matched 23 out of 25 markers! I was elated because this proved over 15 years of research confirming my line all the way back to my ancestor John. The fact that the match is not perfect means that either my cousin or I have slightly diverged from our ancestor John's markers. Ideally we would test a descendant of John's third son Joseph to triangulate on the modal values of our genetic line. I know that Joseph may have descendants either in Wilmslow, Cheshire or Toxteth Park, Liverpool.

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    he paper trail has recently added a new twist. John Burgess was born in Davenham to a Peter Burgess who additionally had another son Thomas. This Peter was the natural son of Elizabeth Burgess and supposed father John Hughes. This has its good and its bad points. This would suggest that the line ends at Peter and so any other genetic Burgess matches will have to come form one of the other known branches in the line. This could help identify descendants of John Burgess my 2XGreat grandfather who mysteriously disappears from English records sometime before 1881. Family lore has it that he emigrated to Philadelphia and founded another line. It also means that potentially a Hughes or some other surname will match the genetic markers and take the family line in a new direction. The ancestors of Elizabeth cannot be traced as the tests depend on the Y-chromosom only carried by males.
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    NA is poised to become one of the pillars of genealogical research, after parish and census records. Our DNA does not limit itself to recent history but rather trails back to the beginning of humanity and the ancestor common to us all. This means that we can sample a person's DNA and compare their results to others and compute a degree of relatedness. Potentially DNA could also tell us where geographically our ancestors were localized perhaps for thousands of years. See the exciting work National Genographic is doing on global human migration through history. To see where our genetic branch fits look for R1b1b2, or simply R1b. This branch of humanity is the most common group among europeans and is believed to have expanded throughout europe as humans re-colonized after the Last Glacial Maximum 10 to 12 thousand years ago.
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    f you are interested in participating please let me know. We are interested in all Burgess families. For the latest project news and the detailed DNA results visit the official website at Millefleurs