Friday, March 21, 2014

Some Descendants of Henry West (1629-1703) of Salem [Article Four]

Wests in Essex County, Massachusetts:
Some Descendants of Henry West (1629-1703) of Salem

Compiled by Joy Ikelman, 2014. Disclaimers apply. Note: The use of double dating, such as 1630/1631, reflects the difference between the Julian and Gregorian Calendars.

Background: Judah West (b. 11 Sep 1765; d. 9 Apr 1825) was added to West DNA Family Group #5 in 2007. He is a descendant of Thomas West (b. 1630/1631; d. 23 Dec 1720). Thomas West had a brother, Henry West (b. 1629; d. Sep 1703). Therefore, Henry West is also part of FG#5. This is the fourth in a series of articles about this line of the FG#5 West families.

Currently (March 2014) Henry West (1629-1703) is the earliest documented member of Family Group #5.

Ten Generations
Dr. Harry Irwin West, Jr. (1925-2004) was the foremost genealogist for Henry West (1629-1703). In 1997, he published Descendants of Henry West (1629-1703) of Salem, Massachusetts with some Collateral Lines of Interest (Anundsen Publishing Co., Decorah, Iowa, 256 pages). He traced his line back ten generations to Henry West.

Dr. West’s publication has great detail on the dates, marriages, migrations, and lives of this West family. The following summaries were compiled from his publication.

Six generations of this family lived in Salem before the first family members moved to “The West” (Indiana). The first three generations were mostly saddlers by trade. Saddlers made harness, bridles, saddles, and other leather goods. The saddler trade was taught from one generation to the next, or by apprenticeship. Henry West (1629-1703) was a saddler. Sons Samuel and Henry were taught the trade by their father. Grandsons Samuel, John, and Daniel were also saddlers.

By the 1750s, the Wests of Salem were fishermen, ship owners, master mariners, merchant marines, privateers, and importers.

1760s: The Wests owned and managed shipping vessels for fishing, and also for foreign trade.

1770s: West-owned merchant ships travelled as far south as the West Indies and north to Newfoundland, carrying supplies for coastal businesses.

During the Revolutionary War, all six of William West’s (1728-1803) sons became privateers: William, Nathaniel, Ebenezer, Edward, Thomas, and John. They “played significant roles in furthering the cause of the Revolution through their exploits on the high seas as privateers,” and William West “played a significant role in backing such ventures.” (West, p. 32) Ebenezer and Edward West spent several years on a British prison ship.

1790s: Wests owned and captained voyages to Cuba, South America, and Europe. Ebenezer West (b. 1758) was the first captain from New England to sail to China.

1800s: Captain Thomas West (1777-1849) sailed his cargo vessel from Boston to Calcutta on a trade route that took eleven months to complete. Hamburg was added to the route later. He made 21 voyages. He was a privateer during the War of 1812.

1840s: George West (1810-1852) owned 28 vessels. Benjamin West (1820-1877), brother to George West, owned 22 vessels.

The Triangle Trade
Dr. West wrote: “William West [1728-1803] was a merchant, a distiller, and collector of the excise tax. At that time the distilling business in Salem was quite common. Molasses came from the West Indies by ship, in this case was landed at William West’s wharf, jutting out from the passage way over the North River, and was then made into rum. The rum saw ready local consumption, but most was used as export, replacing French brandy in many parts of the world.” (West, p. 31-32.)

The West family shipping business was part of the Triangle Trade. The rum was exported to ports abroad where resale brought profits to the buyers. The buyers used the profits to buy slaves from West Africa, who came through the Middle Passage to work the sugar cane plantations in the West Indies. The molasses was then shipped to New England to make rum. For more information on the Triangle Trade go to:

William West’s ships worked two sides of the Triangle Trade—import of molasses and export of rum. New England’s profit from the Triangle Trade was one reason that the anti-slavery clause was kept out of the Declaration of Independence.

Lt. Benjamin West (1755-1775)
Lieutenant Benjamin West of Salem, son of Samuel and Mary Massey West died at the Battle of Bunker Hill on 17 Jun 1775. A memorial stone is located at the Harmony Grove Cemetery in Salem.

Benjamin Franklin West (1818-1854)
Benjamin West, son of Thomas West and Elizabeth Mosely, was noted for his ship paintings. His work is found at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem:
The more famous Benjamin West, artist of Pennsylvania, is part of West DNA FG#3.

Capt. Nathaniel West (1758-1851)
Nathaniel West, one of William West’s sons (mentioned in the “Mariners” section) was well-respected in Salem. A miniature portrait is at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. View it at:

Some of the furniture from Nathaniel and Elizabeth Derby West’s Oak Hill estate home is in the Art of Americas Wing at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. An example:

In 1834, Captain West built a home on the site of the West estate in Salem. Today this home is part of Salem Inn.

Nathaniel West, Jr. (1788-1843)
A portrait of this ancestor is at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He was the son of Captain West, above. View it online at: Nathaniel West and his wife Mary Bowles West moved to Indianapolis in 1836 to buy land. He was a lawyer, merchant, farmer and manufacturer. He owned a cotton mill and a grist mill. He was a State Senator from 1841-1843.

Nathaniel West, III (1814-1896)
Nathaniel West bought land in Kentland, Newton County, IN. This was the g-g-grandfather of genealogist Dr. Harry Irwin West. Descendants moved to AL, CA, CO, FL, ID, IL, ME, MN, ND, NH, NY, OH, SD, TX, WI, WY and also to England, France, Italy, and Jamaica.

Line of Henry West (1629-1703) to Dr. Harry Irwin West, Jr. (1925-2004)
Here is a very brief accounting of ten generations from Henry West to Harry Irwin West, Jr. A more complete lineage, with additional branches of this family tree, will be posted on the West Family DNA Project—Group #5 Web site in the future.
1. Henry West (1629-1703)
    2. Samuel West (1666/1667-1732)
        3. Samuel West (1691-1776)
            4. William West (1728-1803)
                5. Nathaniel West (1758-1851)
                    6. Nathaniel West (1788-1843)
                        7. Nathaniel West (1814-1896)
                            8. Charles H. West (1862-1937)
                                9. Harry Irwin West (1888-1977)
                                    10. Harry Irwin West, Jr. (1925-2004)

Next: More about Thomas West (1630/1631-1720) of Salem and Bradford

Sunday, March 9, 2014

More about Henry West (1629-1703) of Salem

Wests in Essex County, Massachusetts:
More about Henry West (1629-1703) of Salem

Compiled by Joy Ikelman, 2014. Disclaimers apply. Note: The use of double dating, such as 1630/1631, reflects the difference between the Julian and Gregorian Calendars.

Background: Judah West (b. 11 Sep 1765; d. 9 Apr 1825) was added to West DNA Family Group #5 in 2007.[1] He is a descendant of Thomas West (b. 1630/1631; d. 23 Dec 1720). Thomas West had a brother, Henry West (b. 1629; d. Sep 1703). Therefore, Henry West is also part of FG#5. This is the third in a series of articles about this line of the FG#5 West families.

Currently (March 2014) Henry West (1629-1703) is the earliest documented member of Family Group #5.

Dedicated to Dr. Harry Irwin West, Jr.
Dr. Harry Irwin West (1925-2004) was the foremost genealogist for Henry West (1629-1703). In 1997, he published Descendants of Henry West (1629-1703) of Salem, Massachusetts with some Collateral Lines of Interest. He traced his line through Samuel West (b. 1666)—Henry West’s first son. [2] Dr. West earned his PhD in physics from Stanford University in 1955. He retired from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California, in 1990, after 45 years of service. [3] He spent many years researching his ancestry.

I have verified all of Dr. West’s early Salem-related information against original records. In the “Reference and Additional Notes” section, I have cited the original source. Then I have referenced the page number from Dr. West’s publication, if he also used the information.

Henry West, Sexton
Henry West’s name first appeared in Salem records in March of 1661: [4]

            Agreed with Henry West to ringe the bell and make cleane the meetinge house for the years insuinge and to be pd for the yeare five pounds more he is to have 18d for each grave he shall Digge onely from the midell of 10th mo to the midell of the 12th mo he shall be allowed as he and the pties by whom he is imployed shall agree and if they cannot agree with him then they are at libertie to agree with any other
                also laide out to Henry West on the north side of Tho: Tucks frame a plott to build a house of 2 Rodd in lenth and 20 foote in bredth at one end and 18 foote the other end.

Henry West was paid 5 pounds a year for ringing the bell, caring for the meeting house (which was also the church), and digging graves between December (the tenth month, Julian calendar) and February (the twelfth month).

We do not know if the house lot was part of the agreement.  He kept his sexton job until 1670/1671: “Hennery West Desir’d to be Dismis’d from Ringing the bell, And the Towne Reffer’d it to the Select men to make choice of another . . . “ [5]

Henry West, Saddler
Henry West was born in 1629. [6] His earliest years are a mystery. There is no documentation that the Thomas West (b. ca 1600) living in Essex County, MA, was the father of brothers Henry and Thomas. [7] We do not know if Henry and his brother were born in England, in America, or if they lived elsewhere in Massachusetts before Salem.

Henry West was a saddler—making saddles, harnesses, and bridles. [8] He would have been apprenticed to someone to learn this trade before he started his own business in Salem. Was he apprenticed in England? Was Henry apprenticed in Massachusetts Colony? Was his father a saddler? We do not know.

Henry West taught his sons Samuel and Henry, Jr. the saddler trade. His grandsons Samuel, John, and Daniel were also saddlers. [9] A line in his Will (1703) mentions the Saddler tools [10]:

        Item. I give unto my Sonns Samuel & Henry all my Tools & all my Stock of Sadlery Wares to be Equaly Divided betwixt Them also ye remainder of my Cloths.

On 29:9:1675, Henry West and Hilliard Veren, Sr. inventoried the estate of Samuell Crompton (or Crumpton). [10] Crompton had been a saddler in Salem. Perhaps Henry was asked to inventory this estate because of expertise in his trade.

Henry West’s Salem Properties
The land that was originally given to Henry West in 1661 was a house lot in town, across from the town common area. This was located at Washington Street and Essex Street in today’s Salem. [12] In 1671 or 1680, he sold this land to John Marston [13], whose descendants would later marry into his brother’s (Thomas West’s) family.

On 2 Jun 1670, he bought “twenty rods of land” in Salem from Edmond Batter, adjacent to Batter’s house. On 17 Jun 1670 he bought twenty more rods of land from Batter. [14] These are lots in town. This land was eventually willed to son Henry. [15]

Henry West also bought land from in Salem from “John Hathorn Situated in Salem nigh Mr. Parkmans.” This was willed to son Samuel. [16] A map Part of Salem in 1700 shows two separate lots labeled “Henry West.” These are across the street from each other on what today is near the corner of Summer Street and Essex Street. [17] This may have been the location of Henry’s house and his saddler shop. The map shows Parkman’s lot next to West’s lot.

Dr. Harry West (1997) wrote that this property is part of the Salem Inn, at 7 Summer Street. Nathaniel West (1756-1851), g-g-grandson of Henry West, built a house there in 1834. “The land had originally been the site of the West Estate where he was born.” [18]

Henry West Marries Elizabeth Merriam
        Henry was married to Elizabeth Merriam 7 Sept. 1664 by her father, George Merriam of Concord. The Merriams were from Tunbridge, England. Elizabeth was the second child of this family born in the new world. There are good records of the family from as early as the 16th century. The children of Henry and Elizabeth were . . . Elizabeth (1665-before 1672); Samuel (1666,7-1732); Susannah (1668-    ); Henry (1670-1715); Elizabeth (1672-    ); and, Mary (1675-ca 1750,2). [19]

Henry West was 35 years old; Elizabeth Merriam was 23. Henry and Elizabeth West, and brother Thomas West joined First Church, Salem, and baptized their first children at the church on 25:1:1665. [20] Elizabeth West died on 26 Aug 1691, at the age of 50. She is buried at the Charter Street Cemetery in Salem. [21]

Henry West, Freeman and Tithingman
On 29 Apr 1668, Henry West (age 39) and Thomas West (age 37) took the oath of freemen, along with nine other men. [22] Freeman status meant they were given privileges such as the right to vote and serve on juries. Sometimes this status meant that a man was finally free of all paid service to others—such as apprenticeships, or paying for passage to the Massachusetts Colony.  

Tithingman status was given to Henry West and brother Thomas West on 11:4:1677. [23] A tithingman maintained order during church services, enforced the Sabbath laws, and monitored disorderly conduct. The tithingman worked under supervision of a constable.

Henry West seems to have had more than his share of tithingman duties. He and a fellow tithingman would walk in the Town of Salem, often in the evenings, looking for illegal activities. Tithingmen were supposed to be given respect. This didn’t work out very well.

In 1677, Richard West (not related) heard an outcry at John Mason’s house. He found people drunk and fighting. Then, Henry West showed up at the scene.

        Henry West testified that Mr. Samuel Gardner came looking for his man and they went in together, whereupon Goody Mason tried to strike him with an andiron, calling “thou West, thou Harry, thou Devil!” several times. Someone took the andiron away from her and she took up a chair. She was very much in drink, not being able to stand upon her legs, but fell down. Mackene and one Humphrey Williams were also observed to be much in drink. Urged by Mr. Gardner to do his duty as tithingman, deponent [Henry West] requested assistance of [Peeter] Joy as he appeared to be the soberest, but he refused.

The wife of John Mason was “fined to be whipped for drunkenness, and abusing by words and offering to strike Hen. West, a tithingman.” Peeter Joy, “the soberest” at the party, was fined for refusing to assist Henry West. [24] From this account, we learn that Henry was called “Harry.” And, at least once, he was called the Devil.

In an incident in 1678, Henry West and William Dounston, tithingmen, were going on their rounds and found constables smoking and drinking. [25] They believed this set a bad example and said so. One of the constables left with them. They passed a drunk on the street. The drunk constable ignored him, “but goodman west spak to him and asked from wenc he came.” Dounston asked the constable for help:

      . . . but he Replyed that wee Could not Requir him but said it was an abus atorrity and said that he must bear testimony because he was in drink but he was willing to goe thence and wee broft him away and by the way he said I have ben a Captain for the kontry and fout against the Ingans and now to be handled by such pitiful fellows a pox tack you al with many other unkoomly words till we cam to mister gidnes hous.

Henry West usually kept his cool around “unkoomly words,” but not always. In 1678, he was accused of swearing. The witnesses against him were long-time irritants who had been previously hauled to court by West. [26]

Petitions Signed by Henry West
Petition to Repair Reverend Higginson’s Property. A petition of 30 Jun 1668 requests attention to the property of Reverend John Higginson. [27] This petition states that the issue had been brought up in two Salem town meetings but was not given the proper attention. The petitioners asked the court to take care of this, as “any sad in convenyencies may follow to the dishonor of God, the discouragement of the ministry & dishonor of ye people heare.” The elder Thomas West (b. ca 1600s) made his mark; Henry West signed his name after him. This does not confirm that the two men were related, but that they knew each other. Henry West was a member of First Church, Salem, and Thomas West was a long-time friend of Reverend John Higginson.

Petitions Against Imposts. In October 1668, the General Court (in Boston) declared increased imposts—equivalent to taxes—upon imports, exports, cattle, and grain. [28] There were individual town responses from Salem, Marblehead, Springfield, Northhampton, and Hadleigh (Hadley) signed by more than 500 men. Their petitions stated that merchants were unfairly targeted. Henry West and his brother Thomas West signed the petition for Salem. The pleas of the various towns did not stop the imposts, but there were a few compromises to the plan.

Petition Against Ashby’s Ordinary. In 1670, Henry West signed with other men of Salem requesting that Anthony Ashby be kept from having an “ordinary.” [29] An ordinary was a public place for drinking—a pub. Ashby was apparently a menace and unfit for such an endeavor; he’d already been selling beer without a license.

Petition Against the New Meeting House. In July 1680, there was a petition by some selectmen to build a new meeting house (which was also First Church) in Salem. Only 2/3 of the townspeople could fit in at once for the “publike worshipe of god upon the Lords day.” [30] The freemen responded that they had witnessed:

      . . . great Indeavours in a private way to draw many of the free men of this place to signe a writeing for the Aproveing of the building of a new meeting house we conceaiving such a practice to be illegall and tending to devition & disturbance their being noe apparent nessesite of itt doe by subscribing hereunto declare against the thing and maner of proceeding at this time desireing that when there shall be need It may be done in a faire Legall way by mutall Concurenc with out disturbance to the peace of the church and towne.

In other words, some of the freemen (including Henry West) knew there was some illegal maneuvering going on. Their counter-petition worked. No new meeting house was built in 1680. Records show that it was enlarged in the early 1700s. [31]

During the Salem Witch Trials . . .
        Henry West, sen., and John Mascoll, jr. were empowered, 1693, to inspect “the families of Salem and take an account of all inmates or strangers, that are now in or may hereafter come into towne and returne their names to the selectmen every moneth, and if used be, to warne them to depart.” [32]

Twenty years before, in 1673, the General Court had declared that inhabitants of Salem, Boston, Charlestown, and Portsmouth should “not entertain strangers except by leave of the Government or his Deputy, or two magistrates.” Violation was punishable by a fine. It is doubtful that there was much crowd control during the time of the “Salem Delusions” (February 1692 to May 1693). It is very likely that Henry West witnessed most of the events, including the hangings.

Henry West’s Will and Inventory
The title of the Will is “The Last Will and Testament of Henry West of Salem, Massachusetts, 1703 October 4.” Dr. West says this was the cover sheet of the Will, but the estate inventory is dated 25 Sep 1703. The Will was proved 30 Sep 1703 according to the Probate List for Essex County. Dr. West concluded that Henry West probably died earlier in September. He was 74 years old. [33] His final resting place is unknown.

Signature for Henry West, from his Will dated 1700/1701. He was

about 70 y.o. at the time. This was in the genealogy by Dr. Harry West

Next: Some Descendants of Henry West (1629-1703) of Salem

References and Additional Notes
1. West Family Group #5 results at
2. Harry Irwin West, Jr., 1997: Descendants of Henry West (1629-1703) of Salem, Massachusetts with Some Collateral Lines of Interest. Anundsen Publishing Co., Decorah, Iowa, 256 pages.
3. Don Johnston, editor, 2004: “Harry Irwin West,” Newsline, Public Affairs Office, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, July 30, 2004, p. 2.
4. Essex Institute, 1913: Town Records of Salem, Massachusetts, Volume II, 1659-1680, Salem, Massachusetts, p. 24. West, p. 9-10. The date of the meeting was 6:1:1661—that is, March 6, 1661 according to the Julian calendar.
5. Sidney Perley, 1926: The History of Salem Massachusetts, 1638-1670, Volume II, Salem, Massachusetts, p. 64. The bell had been installed in 1638. Perley wrote: “After being in use more than a score of years, the old bell was removed, and a new one was bought for eighteen pounds in 1657, and it was raised and hung at an expense of five pounds.”
6. The birth year of Henry West is determined by several court records that mention his general age in years. For example:  “Henry West, aged about forty-nine years, and John Norton, aged about forty years, deposed. Sworn, 10:4:1678.” [EIQC:7:56] Also, “Henry West, aged about fifty-six years, and John Maskoal [Mascoll], aged thirty-four years, testified . . .” (25 Jun 1685). [EIQC:9:473] These court depositions point to 1629 as his year of birth. West, p. 5.
7. William Richard Cutter, 1908: Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, Volume I, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York, p. 559. Cutter wrote that Thomas West (b. ca 1600) was the father of Henry and Thomas West. This cannot be documented or verified. I have found no wife, children, Will, or death date for this Thomas West (as of March 2014).
8. Robert Charles Anderson, 1996-2011: “Edmond Batter,” The Great Migration, New England Historical and Genealogical Society, Boston, p. 207. Essex Land Records:6:108 and Essex Land Records:3:86 refer to the transactions of Edmond Batter, merchant, and Henry West, saddler.
9. West (1997), various pages.
10. Essex Will Probate No. 29341. West, p. 17-19. The estate inventory mentioned “Sadles Ware & Sadlers Tools” worth 20 lbs.
11. George Francis Dow, editor, 1917: Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Volume 6. Essex Institute, Salem, Massachusetts, p. 103. Also referenced as “EIQC,” with volume number, and page number. EIQC: 6:103. The Quarterly Courts documents contain about 35 references to Henry West, from 1666 to 1685—estate inventories, juries, grand juries, witnessing in cases. He was very much involved in the Town of Salem.
12. William P. Upham, 1904: “Notes on the Report of the Authenticity of the First Meeting House in Salem,” The Essex Institute Historical Collections, Volume XL, Salem, Massachusetts, p. 25. A map on page 28 shows the location of the Fogg property, which was adjacent to Henry West’s.
13. There is confusion between two sources. Upham (p. 25) listed the date as 1671, and cites the original source as Essex Deeds Book 5, Folio 74. Dr. West (p. 11) gives a date of 2 Apr 1680 from Essex Deeds Book 5, Leaf 347. West quotes the sale: “Henry West sells to John Marston, Jr. (carpenter) land lately given to him by the town of Salem with a dwelling house two or three poles Bounded on the west by the land of Ralph Fogg, north by the common land or street and the south by land or property of Thomas Tuck (lately). Henry West sig. & sealed; Eliz. West, mark.” I did not have access to the Essex Deeds Books to verify either possible dates.
14. Anderson, p. 207.
15. West, p. 17. “Item. I give to my Sonne Henry Westt ye homsted where I now dwell viz the dwelling house out housing Shope & garden & yards & Land with the appertenanus there onto belonging to be to him said Henry West & ye hiers of his body. . .”
16. Ibid. “Item. I give unto my eldest Sonne Samuel Westt one des what I formerly gave him that piece of land which I lately bought of Coleo. John Hathorne Situated in Salem nigh Mr. Parkmans to be to ye said Samuel West his heirs & assigns for ever.”
17. William W.K. Freeman, compiler, 1933: Part of Salem in 1700, From the Researches of Sidney Perley. James Duncan Phillips, Salem, Massachusetts.
18. West, p. viii and p. 33. Pictures of the “Captain Nathaniel West House” at Salem Inn are at the Web site: Dr. Harry Irwin West was a direct descendant of this Nathaniel West.
19. West, p. 10, page 4A. Dr. West cites EIHC:4:44 as one source for this information.
20. Dr. West cites EIHC:16:8 as the source for the church membership. I could not find this. However, this is also in Essex Institute, 1974: The Records of the First Church in Salem, Salem, Massachusetts, p. 108. Dr. West gives the date as 4:11:1665, which is a typographical error. The date of church membership is 4:1:1665 and the baptism occurred on 25:1:1665. Henry and Elizabeth West’s daughter Elizabeth, and also Thomas West’s sons Samuel, Joseph, and Benjamin, were baptized on this day according to the First Church records (p. 27).
21. Jane Devlin, transcriber, 1849: “Inscriptions from the Burying Grounds in Salem, Massachusetts,” New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol. 3, April 1849, p. 128-132, and July, p. 276. Online at This is also known as Burying Street Cemetery on Charter Street, Salem. “Here lyes ye Body of Elizabeth West, Wife to Henry West. Aged 50 yrs, d. 26 Aug 1691.”
22. EIQC:4:38. West, p. 11.
23. EIQC:6:290. Salem Town Records, Vol. II, p. 240. West, p. 11.
24. EIQC:7:3. West, p. 14.
25. EIQC:7:110-111. West, p. 14-15.
26. EIQC:7:81. He was admonished by the court but not fined.
27. EIQC:4:44-45. Reverend John Higginson came to Salem in 1659 and was pastor of First Church until his death in 1708.
28. Wm. B. Trask, compiler, 1855: “Petitions Against Imposts, 1668,” The New England Historical and Genealogical Register and Antiquarian Journal, Volume IX, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts, p. 81-91.
29. EIQC:4:315 and 325.
30. EIQC:7:402-403.
31. Upham, p. 28 (map). The original meeting house was built in 1634 and enlarged in 1639. It was enlarged again in 1670, 10 years before the petition, and not again until 1718.
32. Joseph B. Felt, 1845: Annals of Salem, Volume I, Second edition, James Munroe & Co., Boston, p. 166 and 359. West, p. 15.

33. West, p. 17-19. Dr. Harry West obtained a copy of the Will of Henry West from the Courthouse in Salem. Other West Wills are also recorded there. The Will was signed by Henry West, and Dr. West included a copy of Henry West’s signature in his publication. The estate inventory was valued at about 292 lbs—a higher than average amount of wealth during that time in Salem.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

DNA Testing

FTDNA West Surname y-DNA Results
by John G. West (this article was previously published on the West, Fike and Affiliated Lines on the web site and edited for this blog). 
I want to list some interesting facts about some of the results for the West Surname Project at FamilyTree DNA   Our WEST surname ranks 115th in frequency in the U.S.  Because WEST is a geographic name, it was adopted by many unrelated individuals when surnames came into use.   In addition to the original adoption of surnames, new lines are created when a surname change occurs as a result of adoption, marriage, and other events.  Y-chromosome DNA gives us the ability to identify genetic relationships when the paper record has been lost.

357 males named West have their results posted in the FTDNA results with 117 unrelated lines (of these there are 38 groups with 2 or more individuals). There are 80 (if I counted correctly) of the 117 lines being individuals without any matches, yet!  A number of these 80 may not come from a West ancestor... meaning there was an adoption, name change or a "paternal mix-up." However, some will get matches and will become a group.

Our group is Group #5 (of the 38)... we currently have the most (slightly) with 20 participants matching. We are unique in that among most surnames, we have the value of 10 for marker #385a with few others having that value. Of the 38 groups in our West surname there are only 2 groups of the 38 and none of the unmatched that have a value of 10 for marker #385a. The other group is #27 with only 2 individuals that otherwise do not match our group. This means that there are only 22 of 357 that have that value of that marker in the West surname project!

Being the largest group with 20 participants, we are still only 5.6% of the total tested by the West name. This means that there is a 94.4% chance that if you meet someone by the name of West that they will not be related to you!  Of course, that is assuming that our DNA sampling is even remotely representative of all people named West. I will suggest that it is somewhat reliable to expect that most people you happen upon with the name West will not be related.

The fact that most people named WEST are not related to us, should encourage us to get as many people we meet with the WEST surname to take a y-DNA test. These results can become even more important since we can prove that they are not related and eliminate another line from our research. It will be a way to 'weed' out some of the Lord Delaware and other suspected, but un-related lines!

Hal Beumer and I corresponded for quite some time trying to connect his West family to mine… we finally decided that we could not find any documentation to prove a relationship and agreed to stop correspondence, at least to a time that we might find something new.  Several years later, Hal wanted me to take a y-DNA test to see if I matched with one of his West cousins.  I was really skeptical of the results and felt the cost was too much for me to speculate on this tool for genealogical research.  Hal talked me into taking the test to once and for all settle the question… were we related or not (we thought there might be a good chance that we were related). We were! His cousin and I matched.

As we can see, DNA testing can eliminate an unrelated West line or it can prove a relationship.  Then it is worth all of the time to document that relationship.  If you have not done a DNA test, please consider  taking a test to see who you match.