Since we first began to correspond, Yvette, my cousin (whom I wrote about in my previous post), and I have trusted our instincts, which told us we must be related genetically. The Eastern North Carolina communities where our grandparents were born and raised had given us a cultural relationship. Recently, I discovered evidence that Yvette and I share an ancestor named William Willoughby, born about 1624, who emigrated from Dorchester, Dorset, England, in the middle of the 17th century and eventually settled in Dorchester County, Maryland. If my deductions are correct, the relationship makes Yvette my 9th cousin 1x removed.
The immigrant William Willoughby of Dorchester County, Maryland, who wrote his will in 1712, might have married more than once. However, I think his wife Hannah was the mother of Andrew Willoughby Sr. b. 1670-1680 (who married Anne Dent 1684-1755). I believe Hannah also was the mother of Mary Willoughby b. 1679 (who married William Wofford IV ca 1674-1764). My cousin Yvette appears to descend from Andrew and Anne Dent Willoughby, while I descend from William and Mary Willoughby Wofford.
Following the Willoughbys forward or backward in time gives a fairly intricate portrayal of certain English colonists’ inherent sense of entitlement. In England, the Willoughbys actually possessed titles. Today, some Americans find the archaic concept of class privilege absurd. On the other hand, some of the same Americans are fulminating against every effort to achieve the level playing field this country long has claimed to be. Fall down seven generations, stand up eight.
As for my Willoughbys in North America, because the two generations following William were women, the surname Willoughby disappeared among Woffords, Bobos, and Throckmortons as my ancestors moved from Maryland through Virginia to Ohio in a predictable migration pattern.
In Yvette’s lineage, the Willoughby surname disappeared after three generations in Maryland, when Mary Willoughby married John Jenkins Jr. and left Maryland for Eastern North Carolina a couple of decades prior to the American Revolution. Three generations of Jenkinses later, I theorize, Irena “Rena” Jenkins, who was born in 1824/25, married William Thomas Bond, 1827/28-1867, probably in Bertie County, North Carolina, USA, where they resided. From what I can piece together, their son George Thomas Bond, 1840s-1877, who was white, married twice, to two women of color: Mary Winslow b. 1844 (who I think was biracial), and Missouri Overton d. 1926 (who descended from free people of color). George Thomas Bond, 1840s-1877, had at least two children with Mary and two children with Missouri, and all of his children were described as black. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had photos? As far as I can tell, my cousin Yvette descends from one of the children of George Thomas Bond and Missouri Overton.
If new information is discovered, it could confirm or change these assumptions about our lineage. For now, Yvette and I are pretty confident that we were right all along. Our genetic relationship is just distant enough to be undetectable by standard Ancestry DNA tests but not so distant that we couldn’t sense immediately, in our hearts, that we were family.
Do try this at home.
Hi, cousin! I know Yvette’s reading, because she asked me if I planned to write this update. Please get in touch if you’re another of our cousins with family history to share.