Do you believe that the dear departed can guide us from beyond? Well I don’t, but I came very close yesterday; I’ll explain, but first I need to tell you the background to this story…
Back in 2004, as I have probably mentioned elsewhere in this blog, I met, for the first time, two gentlemen; we shared a day trip, touring around some Dorset villages. The two men were old friends – Orlando Ridout IV, a very distant cousin of mine from Maryland and the late William (Bill) Ridout of Berkhamsted; their lifelong genealogical mission was to prove that they were related thereby sharing with me our common ancestor, William Ridowte (1554-1621) and his wife Agnetha (née Barnard). Sadly, once yDNA testing had entered the public arena, it transpired that a non-paternal event somewhere in Bill’s line meant that he didn’t match Orlando genetically and thus their research was unfulfilled.
When Bill died he generously gifted his entire collection of manuscripts, transcriptions, wills and trees to the Somerset & Dorset Family History Society. Such was the enormity of the documentation that this, together with a not inconsiderable wealth of other Ridout material led to the Society appointing me as their Ridout Archivist. As a result of my new ‘duties’ I brought a lot of files home with me to Wales after an earlier visit to Sherborne this year. Tomorrow I am returning these files but had already decided to keep one back because I wished to update and correct several errors in the accompanying Gedcom. The file in question just happened, by pure coincidence, to belong to Bill Ridout whose earliest ancestor was recorded simply as: ‘Robert Ridout of Holnest, died 1716 in Minterne Magna. Married Ratchell.’
Another coincidence was that yesterday one of the members of my Ridout yDNA project had emailed me and asked me to interpret a recent result that he’d had. His enquiry had caused me, for the first time in several months, to look at the Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) website where both our results are posted. Whilst I was online anyway I thought I might as well look at my own matches, which I do infrequently; being a female I obviously can’t submit a sample to the yDNA study but had my own autosomal DNA tested out of curiosity. In the years that my FTDNA results have been posted I’d only ever matched a couple of members of my own family which was of little value in forging new genealogical pathways! To be honest I am pretty certain that my lineage back to William Ridowte is as accurate as I can make it, bearing in mind that I’ve nothing but my own research on which to base this hypothesis. One such assumption is that my x8 grandfather was John Ridout (1631-1672), a yeoman farmer of Sherborne, and his wife Alice (née Toogood); the couple had several children in the mid 1660s.
Back to yesterday… I looked at my atDNA results and, as I have done before, searched for anyone who had a common link to me and also had ‘Ridouts’ in their family tree. I was very surprised, to say the least, to find a ‘hit’ that I’d never seen before, to a lady whose paper trail led her back to Robert Ridout, born about 1660/1 and his wife Ratchell – the couple who were undoubtedly Bill’s ancestors and the first names on the paperwork that I decided to keep back from taking back to the Centre tomorrow! This finding was so exciting that this morning I absentmindedly tried to shampoo my hair with shower gel 🙂
There is a very strong possibility that Robert was a son of my ancestors John and Alice and, indeed, there was an appropriate baptism in Sherborne – but I need to do more thorough research on this. The lady is calculated by FTDNA to be related to me, maybe even as close as fourth cousin. If this were true then this would be the first DNA connection I’ve ever made with another branch of my Sherborne Ridout family since I started studying my family history back in 2004! Not only that but, if the connection is genuine, I will have finally proved that Bill and Orlando were in indeed distant cousins as they had always aspired to be… and that would be the best result of all.
UPDATE… It seems that I became excited rather precipitously about the above as it turns out that, whilst my atDNA match and I may well share Ridout connections, we’re not anywhere near as closely related as we first thought. We share stretches of DNA on two chromosomes, one of which is the X-chromosome. Since females receive one X-chromosome from their mother and one from their father (who received it from his mother), if they share a stretch of X-chromosome it is not possible for the two women to sharing DNA from their male ancestor. This means, amazingly, that although we may share a Ridout paper trail (if we can find the common link) we are undoubtedly connected through a different common family name and, to find that name, we would have to both know several generations of womenfolk in our trees in order to compare them. As they say, watch this space!