Putting our Hows in order - September 2019

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Putting our Hows in order - September 2019

Post by mardler »

Hello everyone. Difficult to believe that our year is 3/4 gone already. For most of our readers, the sun is getting lower in the sky every day. As I look out of my window here in Norfolk (England) the river is close to flood levels, the temperature is set to drop a few degrees in the next few hours and yet more torrential rain is due to arrive. It's time to pack away the boat (almost) and the golf clubs, and hunker down for more genealogy!

This month in numbers
As a consequence of the cooler temperatures and bad weather already, I'm pleased to say that we added over 1,600 people this month, finishing at over 158,000 people.
Long-term readers of this column may remember that we have a checklist of Howes/House/etc marriages in England and Wales from the start of civil registration in 1837 up to 1950. There are almost 24,000 of them. We keep track of how many marriages we have in our database (close to 19,500) and for how many we know the actual location. This month, the latter number went through 8,000, that is, over 1/3 of the total. About two-thirds of those came from finding copies of the marriage register online, and the rest from a combination of buying certificates, finding the original register entries in record offices, and "marriage challenges" by Guild of One-Name Studies. I wish there were fully reliable indexes of marriages for such a long period from other places, because I'd use them too, but there just aren't.

RootsTech London and beyond
By the time of my next newsletter I will have spoken about this study at RootsTech in London. I do hope that some of our readers will be able to attend. Please do let me know if you are coming and I'll look out for you. If you don't attend my session I will be on the Guild of One-Name Studies stand/booth for most of the rest of the time. I'm getting excited about speaking and the rest of the event!

If you do come, and if you have a smart phone, do consider loading up the FamilyTree app from the good folks at FamilySearch. It has a function built within it called "Relatives around me". To make it work effectively, you need a tree at FamilySearch in which you are connected. Hence, I'm telling you in advance. Put in two or three generations as a minimum. Then, when you are in the show, surrounded by other genealogists, you turn on that feature and see if you have any distant cousins in the vicinity! The first time I saw the app was in Salt Lake City when people attending the same dinner were finding 3rd, 4th and 5th cousins. I even had a 5th cousin match during the conference, but there was a mistake in the person's tree, now corrected!

Talking of Salt Lake City, I'm pleased to say that I have been selected as an Ambassador for RootsTech again. So that means I will likely have another free ticket to give away and more interviews to play back after the event. So pleased!

And finally, one of my fellow speakers in London has written a super blog about how RootsTech changed her life. I really enjoyed the article. Hope you do too: https://thegenealogygirl.blog/2019/09/0 ... e-my-life/

Howes in the news and other genealogy stuff
- First up this month, an absolutely fantastic story about how a 1957 university class ring found its way back to the original owner's son:
https://now.tufts.edu/articles/1957-tuf ... y-homeward

- Ian Howes, a native of Gibraltar, has just completed a 75-mile, 3-day run across Fuerteventura, a largely desertified island in the Canary Islands and raised £3,000 (about US$4,000) for charity while doing it. My cousin and co-worker, Ian Howes, has been in touch with his namesake who told him that his family had lived on The Rock for three generations. We hope to learn more about his family in due course. You can read about his exploits and just how tough a race this was here: https://www.chronicle.gi/ian-howes-comp ... es-sables/. You'll need to register to read the entire article.

- Get your hankies out for this tear-jerker. Two Korean women, adopted by separate families and growing up thousands of miles apart rediscover each other and their Korean heritage. Brilliant, must-watch video from MyHeritage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVDArJv ... i=76677498

- Do you have ancestors from Bristol in England? If so, you need to know that Ancestry.com now has Bristolian records online. Bristol was for many years the second largest city in England and straddles the Somerset/Gloucestershire borders but has a separate parish register collection. Many people went into the city from the surrounding area to marry, just as they did in my own home town. So if you have ancestors even from the surrounding areas but can't find their records, go take a look.

- You know how much I like free stuff! Well, I didn't give this any publicity in advance for a conference run by MyHeritage because I figured that not a lot of people would want to go to Amsterdam for a conference. I lived there for four years and it's an expensive city. However, MyHeritage has made all of the sessions available online, for free. There are many really good speakers listed. Wish I had had time to watch them, but I've been busy! Will try! Anyway, here you go: https://blog.myheritage.com/2019/09/myh ... i=77218211

Calling all Howes/House/Howse/Hows/Howze/Houze men and, ladies, your Howes brothers, husbands or cousins!
The Howes Family Association had its triennial meeting on Cape Cod this last weekend. Talking with Mark Howes, one of the organizers in advance, I shared with him the following note. I hope you find it interesting and that it prompts a few people to consider taking a yDNA test, or having a male Howes relative do that.
Searching for the origins of Thomas and Mary Howes
Greetings from England, HFA members! I spend my summer months over here; otherwise I would like to have come to meet many of my correspondents.

For well over 125 years, at least since the publication of the first Howes Genealogy book in 1892, members of the Howes clan in North America have wondered about their origins. No original documentation survives from their immigration. Almost certainly, the clan hails from Southern England, given the distribution of our surname over there. The most frequent occurrence of our name is in Norfolk, Northeast of London, followed by Northamptonshire in the middle of the country, and Gloucestershire, near Bristol in the West of England.

As we well know, Thomas and Mary left the UK before English spellings were in any way standard. So it is possible that they could have been referred to as Howse, House, Houghs or even Howys. The last two spellings have died out but the first two survive, with Howse coming from West of London toward Bristol and House occurring mainly in the counties of Somerset, Dorset and Hampshire to the South of Bristol.

The couple left in the mid-1630s, 100 years after the beginning of church parish registers in England, then the primary means of recording of life events: baptisms, marriages and burials. We have yet to find any evidence of a marriage of a Thomas Howes to a Mary Burr. It may exist and just not yet have been discovered. However, over the past 400+ years, not all of the parish registers have survived. Decrements include fire, flood, German bombing, mice, theft and so on. So it is very likely that we never will find that record.

However, all is not yet lost in our search. Evidence of Thomas's origins are not totally lost. Each Howes male carries with him a y-chromosome which he inherited from his father, he from his father and so on. So you can readily see that the inheritance of the y-chromosome parallels the inheritance of the surname. The y-chromosome does change very slightly over time, with genetic mutation from one generation to another, but the change is not rapid. The result is that almost every Howes male descended from Thomas will carry an almost identical y-chromosome.

I say "almost" because there are some events where the surname and y-chromosome will diverge. These kinds of event include:
- a change of surname for inheritance purposes
- a straying wife giving birth to another man's child
- illegitimacy
- adoption, whether formal or informal.
Fortunately, given the fabulous documentation of the Howes name in the US, we can eliminate the first, third and fourth of these as in any way likely. The second is quite possible, though again given the religious nature of the early settlers, it too will have been unlikely.

Modern genetics give us a way to compare y-chromosomes. Men need to take a specific kind of DNA test, NOT I stress the regular test that we see advertized in TV from Ancestry, MyHeritage, 23 and me, and so on. Those are great for finding recent cousins but are not useful much beyond 6 generations. yDNA tests on the other hand are very focused and can link up males from the same lineage very accurately.

So my proposal to the HFA is that at least two males directly descended from each of Thomas's three sons (Joseph, Thomas and Jeremiah) take a yDNA test. By testing men from each of the three lines, we minimize the chance that any straying wives introducing a non-Howes man's y-chromosome into the Howes gene pool. Such yDNA tests are only available from FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA). Including postage, the full price of a 37-marker test is $179. By joining the Howes/Howe/House project you can obtain a $20 discount from this webpage: https://www.familytreedna.com/group-joi ... roup=House
An even cheaper option exists. As a member of the Guild of One-Name Studies, I can obtain tests for HFA members at only £95 or so, about $120 at today's exchange rates. I don't want your money, but can give you a link to a webpage where you can pay direct using your credit card.

What happens then?
1) With at least six men participating we will have close matches, almost for certain, subject to my proviso above. That will enable us to specify an identifying signature for the Thomas Howes male line.
2) We already have about 100 males named Howes, House, Howse and Howe in our surname project at FTDNA, and I believe about 500,000 other men in FTDNA's entire yDNA database. One or more of them may match with the Thomas Howes line. I hope so. If they do, we will then look into that man's history to see where his line begins. We will research back farther and look for any males who might have emigrated. At least we will find a likely geographic area for our search.
3) If the Thomas Howes line does not match, then we will need to put more effort into encouraging other Howes/House males around the world to take a DNA test. My absolute ideal is that somewhere in the Howes clan there is a person willing to fund such an effort and at least subsidize the cost for other testers. That has happened for half a dozen or so other surnames but most probably we will have to continue to convince people of the value in such an effort.

I hope this effort is interesting for a few people and that we can find some men to take the test. If anyone has any questions, I'm happy to take them at paul@howesfamilies.com or by phone in Florida during the winter months.
Best regards to Howes cousins
All the best for October
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