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DNA Clarifies Chilton-Winslow Relationship

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 12:59 pm    Post subject: DNA Clarifies Chilton-Winslow Relationship Reply with quote

This article is about the results of our Y-DNA project. It was published in the Chilton's Children "The Chilton Chat" in April, 2006.
DNA Clarifies Chilton-Winslow Relationship

In February of this year the Winslow Family Y-DNA Project proved that the descendants of Timothy Winslow, born about 1654, are not direct descendants of John Winslow and Mary Chilton. The project used the relatively new concept of Y-DNA genetics to verify that there is no genealogy connection between the Timothy descendants of today and John Winslow and Mary Chilton of almost 400 years ago.

For more than five decades, the descendants of Timothy Winslow, sometimes referred to as the Southern Winslows, have been searching for definitive proof of Timothy’s father. A great number of reports have speculated that Timothy’s father was Joseph Winslow, the son of John Winslow and Mary Chilton. Most of the speculation was based on subjective evidence that places Joseph in North Carolina at a time that was consistent with Timothy’s appearance there and the entries in John Winslow’s will that leaves monies to Joseph’s children at a time before the birth of Joseph’s recorded children. This led to the speculation that Joseph probably had an earlier, unrecorded marriage that produced Timothy.

Y-DNA analysis depends on the genetic markers found in the Y-chromosomes of males. These genetic markers are only passed from father to son, to son, to son, etc. Each time the father passes on his genetic material to a son, there is a possibility of a change (or mutation) that might occur in one of the genetic markers. However, these mutations occur very infrequently. This allows us to use these genetic markers as a fingerprint for a specific branch of a family.

Many people have asked me if we had “to dig up” John Winslow or Mary Chilton to obtain their genetic material for testing. Fortunately, modern DNA analysis does not require nor did we use any genetic material of our ancestors. The process used is called triangulation. With this method, we use a combination of genealogy records and DNA results of living descendants as a way to prove relationships while cross checking our results to ensure its accuracy.

Very simply, we use genealogy records to determine potential candidates for Y-DNA testing. Those candidates are living male descendants of the various branches of the ancestors we wanted to prove. In our case the branches that we needed for the proof were descendants of John Winslow, Kenelm Winslow (brother of John Winslow), and a descendant of Timothy Winslow. Actually, we try to obtain at least two participants from each branch to ensure that genealogy records and the DNA results correlates for each branch.

If the project could show that John, Kenelm and Timothy descendants all had similar DNA results, we could be sure they were all related. It is a little bit like a three-legged stool: If all the legs are the same then the stool is solid — if all three branches of DNA are the same, then our relationship proof is solid.

The Kenelm descendants were some of the first to respond to our request for participants in April 2005. They had good genealogy documentation and their DNA results confirmed their records.

By the end of 2005 we had also recruited a number of Timothy descendants and produced an early win. It had always been believed that Timothy had two sons, Thomas and John. Even though they were recorded to be about the same age and lived in the same area, there had never been documented proof that they were brothers. The DNA results from the descendants of both of Timothy’s sons match 100 percent. We now had confirmation that they were indeed brothers and the sons of Timothy.

However, the match between the Timothy descendants and the Kenelm descendants was not conclusive. If Timothy was the grandson of John Winslow and Mary Chilton then Kenelm would be Timothy’s granduncle. It could be the distance of the relationship that was causing the DNA not to match closely. We knew we would have to locate a documented descendant of John Winslow to have definitive proof.

In mid-January 2006, a documented descendant of John Winslow agreed to participate in our project. His DNA results showed that he matched very closely with the Kenelm descendants, confirming that John and Kenelm were brothers. However, the John descendant did not match closely enough for John to be Timothy’s grandfather.

An interesting result was that even though the DNA analysis indicated that Timothy was not John’s grandson, they did have a common ancestor that lived about 1000 years ago. This would have been at a time before surnames were common and therefore no way of confirming the relationship with any records.

In less than a year, Y-DNA analysis was able to disprove the connection between the Southern Winslows and John Winslow and Mary Chilton, putting an end to the five decades of uncertainty.

There is significant research currently underway focused at identifying who Timothy’s father might really be. Just knowing that descendants of John Winslow and Kenelm Winslow are not possibilities reduces the scope of our investigation significantly. I’m sure DNA analysis will be integral in confirming any potential father candidates in the future, and the Winslow Family Y-DNA Project will continue to help Winslow family members connect with their ancestors by bridging gaps in their recorded genealogy.

Read more about the >> Winslows & the Chiltons

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