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Imagine my amazement to find I am somehow related to Silas Cole – the Tasmanian convict! 

Coles Bay, a picturesque locality in Tasmania was later named after him.  Silas was known to collect and burn shells from the Aboriginal middens in the bay area to make lime. He often described the beauty of the bay to his friends when he took his lime to sell for the mortar to build the township of Swansea.

Silas was born in Chilbolton, Hampshire in England in 1820. He was tried at the assizes at Southampton on the 24th February 1842 and transported to Australia for ten years.  You can read more about Silas on Wikitree.

Silas Cole, the convict

I’m hoping someone out there can help me work out exactly how we are connected, my research to date is the subject of this blog post.

How did I get here?

The search for Arthur George/George William Courtney my maternal 2nd Great Grandfather has the focus of my research for many years.  Unfortunately, I am still searching for his origins.  ‘George’ is my mothers paternal great grandfather.  Along the way however I have encountered some tantalising questions about other possible relatives, Silas is one of them. 

In my search for George I adopted the following process to find potential matches that might have been clues:-

  • Tested the DNA of my mother, 3 of her siblings and a paternal 2nd cousin.  All 4 siblings and the paternal cousin have their results on FTDNA, My Heritage and GEDmatch.  Only my mother and her great nephew are at AncestryDNA;
  • Visually phased the DNA of the 4 siblings to establish the segments that belong to each of their 4 grandparents; 
  • Identified and analysed the segments that belonged to Abigail Courtney, George’s daughter.  Due to the lack of cousin matching, many segments can only be identified as paternal 1 or 2.  To date, the split between the two paternal grandparents Abigail Courtney and Edward Roberts remains unclear for 10 of the 23 chromosomes;
  • Reviewed all known Abigail Courtney segments to determine whether they came from her father George Courtney or her mother Abigail Paice.

Unfortunately, research to date suggests Silas may actually be connected via my maternal 2nd great grandmother Abigail Paice, the wife of George Courtney. So it does not help me in my quest to find ‘George’ but it has been an interesting research exercise!

How triangulated groups and clustering techniques have helped me identify my new distant cousin, Silas!

Firstly, using ‘segment triangulation’ I discovered a triangulated group of DNA matches all matching my family on Chromosome 21, segment size being around 23cMs. Visually phasing suggests they had been inherited by us from Abigail Courtney. Matches in this group also had a common ancestral location of Hampshire, England.

Secondly, using the matches from the triangulated group who tested at AncestryDNA I was able to identify a larger cluster group using shared matches identified via DNAGedcom, suggesting both groups may share the same common ancestor. It was from the cluster group and ‘tree triangulation’ that the possible connections to Silas and Jane emerged.

Click here to see an expanded view of this chart

Silas Cole and his wife Elizabeth Martin were two convicts who lived in Tasmania, Australia.  They married in Australia.  Silas was from Hampshire England, whilst Jane Martin is said to have been from Ireland.   Given this and in view of the number of Hampshire connections I suspect the match is probably coming from the Cole side.  However, this is by no means certain.

Shelley Crawford’s ConnectedDNA cluster analysis provided more information. In the AncestryDNA cluster below, TB is a match who appeared in both the triangulated group on Chromosome 21 as well as matching in the AncestryDNA ‘Cole’ cluster. TB does not have any known Cole ancestors, but connects to our family on the Paice line. A key match connecting the Paice and Cole groups in the AncestryDNA cluster is JG who sadly has not responded to messages and has a very limited tree on Ancestry.

Another match in the triangulated group on Chromosome 21 is shown as * on the 23andMe cluster diagram below. They are an outlier on this cluster of 45 matches mainly in the same area of Chromosome 6. Based on visual phasing these are probably also Courtney-Paice segments. Matches in this group warrant further investigation as they may provide additional clues.

Shelley Crawford Cluster Analysis

Ancestral origins of Silas Cole and his wife

This is what we know about the ancestors of Silas. So far, we don’t have much information regarding his paternal Cole line. I have also researched his wife Jane Martin, but have been unable to ascertain her origins in Ireland, although some researchers suggest she may have been from Cork (click the embeddable family tree link below for more information on Wikitree).

https://www.wikitree.com/treewidget/Cole-18802/ embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

Two matches in the AncestryDNA cluster (uncle/niece) trace their line back to Martha HADEN who married William CARTER at Chilbolton in 1815, however no father was listed on Martha’s baptism. Samuel COLE born 1770 marries her mother Jane LADEN or HAYDEN five years after Martha was born. The couple goes on to have at least 6 more children together. So perhaps Samuel was also the father of Martha? If so, then our connection may well be on Silas’ paternal Cole line.

Paice connections within the Triangulated Group

After several years of researching the members of the triangulated group on Chromosome 21, the research points to our shared ancestors being Jonathon PAICE and Elizabeth SKEAT, my maternal 5th great grandparents. Others in the group also share Jonathons parents Thomas PAICE born c1716 and his wife Elizabeth, my maternal 6th great grandparents. This suggests the segment on chromosome 21 was inherited by my family from Jonathon PAICE b1746. Another match in the AncestryDNA C21 cluster also shares Thomas and Elizabeth. On Chromosome 15 there is yet another match sharing Jonathon and his wife, further supporting this conclusion. If the analysis is correct, my relationship to most of the matches in the triangulated group is 7th cousin.

Click here to see an expanded view of this chart

So how does this Paice family connect to the Cole family? Could Thomas’ wife Elizabeth whose maiden name is unknown be a clue? Thomas Paice was born before 1708 and there is a big gap in the documented genealogy for Silas with his oldest documented ancestor on his mothers side b1741. However if Samuel Cole 1770 comes from the same Cole family as Silas then perhaps we need to be further exploring his paternal ancestry.

Chilbolton and Barton Stacey parishes

Research of the Chilbolton and adjacent Barton Stacey parishes revealed both the Paice and Courtney names were common. Some of the early records include:-

  • 1787 – Elizabeth PAICE (daughter of James and Sarah Paice) married James BALL in Barton Stacey
  • 1799 – Mary PAICE (daughter of James and Sarah Paice) married William BATT at Barton Stacey

Whilst the Ball surname is a common occurrence in my DNA matches, it is Mary PAICE who is of most interest here. Her son James BATT, a farm labourer of Barton Stacey, was tried on 11 July 1837 for stealing a sheep belonging to William COURTNEY and transported for life to Van Diemen’s Land in 1838, leaving his wife and seven children in Barton Stacey.

The Courtneys of Barton Stacey have been of interest to me for many years as they are possibly connected to my HINXMAN and PAICE families. Could this be a reference to the William COURTNEY, gentleman, of Barton Stacey whose son was named Jacob Hinxman COURTNEY? I have always wondered if this family was connected somehow to my missing Arthur George/George William Courtney. Was there was some familial connection to Thomas HINXMAN b1711, the 2nd great grandfather of Abigail PAICE and father in law of Jonathon PAICE. Hinxman is such an unusual name. By 1881 Jacobs daughter Elizabeth Courtney BOUND has servants by the name of JOYCE; whilst Kate PAICE (Abigail’s half niece) is living nearby and working as a servant in a JOYCE household! Elizabeth’s son is named Arthur Courtney BOUND, but born in 1879 so too young to be my missing man! All too many co-incidences I fear!

Interestingly, we have a cluster of AncestryDNA matches from Tasmania, one of whom includes the great granddaughter of Sarah BATT, James BATT’s granddaughter, with a match of 23cMs. James had two sons also transported to Tasmania in 1846, William and Charles. James’ transportation was shortly after the Swing Riots of 1830 in which many in Barton Stacey and the surrounding parishes were involved. This match is also on GEDmatch and triangulates with ‘SB’ on chromosome 15. SB is shown the triangulated group chart referred to earlier – this suggests we possibly have a connection via James BATT’s maternal grandfather James PAICE who is thought to have been born before 1745.

Another smaller DNA match of interest is to a descendant of Joseph PAICE (who later married Mary Ann O’NEIL), Joseph is another convict transported to Australia. He came on the Neptune in 1837, after being convicted at the Worcester Assizes, arriving in Van Diemen’s Land in 1838, the same time as James BATT. To date, I have been unable to establish his origins. One of Josephs sons is named Silas PAICE! No corroborating DNA evidence has yet been found for this AncestryDNA match, but it does sounds very promising.

Thomas Paice of Kingsclere

Thomas PAICE and his wife Elizabeth, my 6th great grandparents, had at least 7 children all baptised at Kingsclere, Hampshire, between 1739 and 1756. He was the son of Guilhelm (William) and Elizabeth PAICE. The parishes of Barton Stacey and Chilbolton are only about 4 and a half hours walk away from Kingsclere, so it is quite conceivable that his descendants may have moved south over the next 50 years or so. One of their sons named James PAICE was born abt 1742/3 in Kingsclere. He is the right age to perhaps be same person as the father of the Paice girls Elizabeth and Mary (grandfather of James Batt) referred to earlier. If so, it could connect our Thomas PAICE to the Paice family living in Barton Stacey, but the exact nature of the connection to the Cole family still remains unclear. Perhaps the answer lies in uncovering the maiden names of the many females mentioned in this story.

Map of Hampshire district c1830 – Thomas Moule

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This post is clearly only part 1 of (hopefully) a 2 part post! Do you know more about the families mentioned in this post? If you are connected to any of them (particularly if you have DNA tested) I would love to hear from you to help solve this mystery.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me via this blog or by private message at Wikitree or Facebook.