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How reliable are Baptism Records?

Discussion in 'England & Wales BMD registers' started by PeterM, Jun 18, 2021.

  1. PeterM

    PeterM LostCousins Member

    I have traced my paternal family back to my 6x great-grandfather using birth records, marriage records and census records. Beyond 1840 I have relied on Parish baptism and marriage records. My 6x great-grandfather was baptised in 1696 in St Martin’s-in-the-Fields, Westminster, London. He moved to Hampton, Middlesex and worked as Groom to the Stables at Hampton Court.

    I have taken an aT DNA test. In most cases my matches are to my 3x great grandparents with some to my 2x and some to my 4x great grandparents. Except with my paternal line where my only match is to my great grandfather.

    I have recently taken a Y-DNA test. To my surprise there are no matches to my family name but at most levels about 2/3 RDS of the matches are to an Edward Moberley born in 1593 in Cheshire and a John Moberley born in 1657 in Cheshire.

    This suggests that sometime between 1859 and 1593 there has been a change of surname. I have no aT DNA matches to Moberley (or variants). Hence my question – can we rely on Parish Baptism records to tell us the name of birth parents? And when should I expect the name to change?

    I have not found many records for Moberley in the London area. There is one link between the north and London for my family name. There is an Eleazar Coates who is born in Arnold, Nottinghamshire in 1636. He became a London merchant. (Gens Sylvestrina ( Joseph Hunter Author, Google books, p121 written 1846)) He may also be the Eleazar Coates shown as Yeoman of the Guard at Hampton Court.
  2. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    No records are completely reliable - that's one of the reasons I recommend the Ancestry DNA test. As I said in the latest newsletter "Your great-grandfather may have been present at your grandmother's birth, but was he there when she was conceived? Sometimes only DNA can tell us."

    Many fewer people have taken Y-DNA and the number of matches you're likely to get is very small because it will only show matches in the direct paternal line. You only need one NPE event to break the link between Y-DNA and the surname, so there are bound to be matches with people who have different surnames, but whether the NPE is in their line or yours (or both) is a matter for conjecture.

    Moberley/Mobberley is a rare surname so it's likely that someone is running a One-Name Study - this would explain the large number of matches. The fact that the name is so rare might also explain why it doesn't show up in your Ancestry DNA matches (but see my note at the end).

    Coates, on the other hand, is a common surname which originated in multiple locations across England according to the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names, so you wouldn't expect to get a DNA match with the vast majority of modern bearers of the name. Indeed, your own Coates clan might be no larger than the Moberley clan, but without the incentive to carry out a One-Name Study.

    I would suggest ignoring the Y-DNA results and instead focus on validating your Coates research as far back as you can using your Ancestry DNA matches.

    Note: I have DNA matches at Ancestry with 2 genetic cousins who have Moberley ancestors. My wife has 2 with Moberley and 4 with Mobberley. Perhaps it's just chance that you don't have any at all?
  3. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    I forgot to mention that one of the three editors of this enormous work (over 3000 pages) bears the surname Coates, so the likelihood is that the Coates entry is particularly well-researched!

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