Sylvester Estes (1596-c1647), Sometimes Churchwarden, 52 Ancestors #31

Sylvester Estes was baptized on September 26, 1596, in Ringwould, Kent, England, in St. Nicholas Church.  His parents were Robert Eastes and Anne Woodward.

Sylvester died sometime after 1646 when son, Abraham, born about 1647, was conceived, and before 1649 when his wife Ellin (also spelled Ellen) died, with a will that states she was a widow.  In case there is any question, based on Y DNA testing, Abraham, the last child born to this couple, did belong to Sylvester and this was not a case of a widow having a child after her husband’s death and the child taking the deceased husband’s surname.  That has happened in the Estes line in the US, but not in this case.  The Y DNA of Abraham’s male Estes descendants clearly matches that of the English Estes line.

Sylvester likely spent the first 40 years of his life in the Ringwould area.  We know he was active in St. Nicholas Church in Ringwould, because the parish records note him as “sometimes churchwarden.”

st nicholas ringwould entry

What does a churchwarden do?  They are a volunteer or lay official with responsibilities of maintaining the church and churchyard, making or paying to have repairs made, keeping the peace, caring for the poor and setting a good example for the rest of the flock.  Some churchwardens also collected taxes from anyone who owned or rented property and were responsible for coordinating the maintenance of roads within the parish.  Two church wardens were selected each year, one by the minister and the second by the people.  The vestry, typically made up of the wealthy landowners in each parish, determined the responsibilities of the churchwarden in their parish.  The churchwarden and the overseer of the poor, if they were separate people, were typically amongst the prominent men of the parish.  In towns, churchwardens were generally of the merchant class, and in rural areas, of the yeoman class.

In the late 14th to 18th centuries, yeomen were farmers who owned land (freehold, leasehold or copyhold). Their wealth and the size of their landholding varied. Often it was hard to distinguish minor landed gentry from the wealthier yeomen, and wealthier husbandmen from the poorer yeomen.

Yeomen were often constables of their parish, and sometimes chief constables of the district, shire or hundred. Many yeomen held the positions of bailiffs for the High Sheriff or for the shire or hundred. Other civic duties would include churchwarden, bridge warden, and other warden duties. It was also common for a yeoman to be an overseer for his parish. Yeomen, whether working for a lord, king, shire, knight, district or parish served in localised or municipal police forces raised by or led by the landed gentry.

If this was true for Sylvester, it might provide us with a clue as to the possible cause of his death.

Stewart Estes, on his web page, refers to Sylvester as a “husbandman and yeoman,” but doesn’t mention his source.

Churchwardens were responsible for dealing with charitable causes.  Many churchwarden account books remain.  Aside from maintenance, the charitable causes to which churchwardens allocated the parish funds were manifold, ranging from bounties paid for hedgehogs, ravens, foxes, help to their own poor, donations to less well-off parishes and ransoms for Christian captives of Algerian pirates.  The fact that Sylvester was a churchwarden at some time(s) in his life indicates that he was a trusted and well-respected member of the community.

Sylvester Eastes married a local girl, Ellin Martin, on November 24, 1625, in the church in Ringwould.

estes martin marriage

They married in their home church, where they had been raised, in this lovely chancel, at the altar.

ringwould altar

Sylvester and Ellin had several children, the first 7 or 8 of which were baptized in Ringwould, but beginning in 1638, they apparently moved up the road to Nonington.   Of course, Google maps today routes you on main roads, but you can see that utilizing the local roads, Waldershare was only a couple miles from Ringwould and about the same distance from Nonington.  Great Hardres is another matter and it’s probably another 3 or 4 miles west of Nonington.

hardres map

Sylvester’s wife, Ellin Martin, was reported to have been born about 1600 in Great Hadres, also spelled Great Hardres.  With her last child born in 1647, she certainly would have not been born any earlier than 1600 and quite possibly, later.

Great Hadres is an area not terribly far removed from Ringwould, but also not extremely close.  Furthermore, I cannot find any actual source for that location of her birth.  The church records in Ringwould show several Martin christenings, marriages and burials, but not Ellin’s.  Unfortunately, the Great Hardres records don’t begin until 1764 although the Bishops transcripts reportedly begin in 1563.  They are not transcribed.

If Ellin was born in Great Hardres, the local church and cemetery are probably full of Martin ancestors. The church below is St. Peter and St. Paul at Upper Hardres Court.  Parts of this church date from the 1200s.  A newer church was built 3 miles away in the twin village of Lower Hardres in the 1800s, but this earlier would have been the church in which Ellen Martin was baptized in about 1600.  I would surely love to see these church records.

hardres church

Sylvester and Ellin’s children born from 1638 on, who are reflected in records, were born in Nonington and baptized at St. Mary’s Church, shown below.

nonington church crop

Regardless of whether Abraham was baptized here or not, Sylvester and Ellin and their family attended this church, walked these grounds and sat inside this building for a decade of their lives, the last decade of their marriage

nonington church interior

Unfortunately, no baptismal record for their last child, Abraham, my direct ancestor, has been found.  It’s very likely that he too was born in Nonington.  These are the only Estes members of the Nonington church in this timeframe.

The children of Sylvester Eastes and Ellin Martin are:

1. Robert Eastes, baptized 10 September 1626, Ringwould, Kent, died 1692 and buried 23 June 1692, Waldershire, Kent, married Elizabeth, who died in 1676 at Waldershire, Kent, and was buried 8 August 1676. Married second Margaret Coachman, 26 June 1688, Hadres, Kent. Children: Robert (1652), Elizabeth (1653), Susan (1655), Silvester (1657-1692) of Waldershare, Kent;

2. Anne Eastes, baptized 25 November 1627 at Ringwould, Kent, died young;

3. Silvester Eastes, baptized 31 May 1629 at Ringwould, Kent, married — Nash.

4. Susan Eastes, baptized 30 March 1631 at Ringwould, Kent.

5. Thomas Eastes, baptized 20 January 1633, Ringwould, Kent, died 15 April 1682, Pelham, Kent, married Sarah and had children: John (1665) of Waldershare, Kent, and lattr of Acrise, Kent.

6. Richard Eastes, baptized 5 October 1634, at Ringwould, Kent.

7. Mary Eastes, baptized 2 October 1636 at Ringwould, Kent.

8. Anne Eastes, born 1637 at Ringwould, Kent.

9. Nicholas Eastes, yeoman, baptized 9 December 1638 at Nonington, Kent, married Jane Birch, died 1665, Sutton, Kent. Children: John (?-1715) of Sutton.

10. Elizabeth Eastes, born 1639/40 at Nonington, Kent.

11. Ellen Eastes, baptized 11 December 1642, Nonington, Kent, died 1729 and buried 26 December 1729 at St Leonard’s, Kent. Ellen married Moses Eastes, 23 December 1667, at Deal, Kent. Moses was baptized 12 November 1643 at St Leonard’s, Kent and died at Deal, 19 March 1707/8 & buried 23 March, at St Leonard’s, Kent. Children: Richard (1667/8-1668), Constant (1669-1708), Aaron (1671) & Samuel (1674/5), of St Leonard’s, Kent.

12. John Eastes, baptized 29 December 1644 at Nonington, Kent.

13. Abraham5 Eastes, born 1647 at Nonington, Kent, married Anne Burton (widow), 29 December 1672, at Worth, Kent. Abraham immigrated to Virginia and remarried there, having several children. Abraham died in 1720, leaving widow Barbara, who was the mother of at least his younger children, if not all of his children.  Although Barbara’s last name is widely reported to be Brock, there is absolutely no documentation of such.  If you find original source documentation for Barbara’s last name, meaning not unsourced or recopied Ancestry trees, please, PLEASE send it to me.  You can be the hero of the Abraham Estes family!!!

All of this leaves me with questions.  What happened to Sylvester?  Why is there no baptism record for Abraham, nor a burial record for Sylvester in Nonington or in Ringwould?  Did they move someplace else where Abraham was born and Sylvester died?  Did Sylvester die before Abraham was born, perhaps forcing Ellin to move?

The records for Nonington are existant and transcribed, but there are no burials recorded for the years 1646-1648, so if Sylvester died in Nonington, those records are lost.  Christening records for that time period are recorded, but Abraham is absent and there are no Estes records from 1644 (John’s birth) forward.

And finally, who were Ellin Martin’s parents?  The Martin records from the Ringwould church records are as follows:


March 5, 1575 – Roger Howell and Beatrix Martyn, married

Nov. 19, 1576 – William Martin and Margaret Clarke, married

April 16, 1677 – Thomas Martyn, son of William christened

Nov. 1, 1579 – Nicholas Martyn, son of William christened

Nov. 8, 1579 – Nicholas Martin, son of William buried

Jan. 22, 1580 – Emlin, daughter of William christened

April 23, 1584 – John Martyn, son of William christened

May 24, 1584 – Margaret Martyn, daughter of William buried

June 24, 1584 – William Martyn and Elizabeth Harte married

July 25, 1584 – John, son of William buried

April 21, 1597 – Elizabeth Martyn, wife of William buried

January 10, 1607 – Margaret Martin, daughter of Thomas christened

April 13, 1614 – William Martin, an aged man, buried

April 28, 1614 – Margaret Martin, daughter of Thomas buried

May 29, 1621 – Nicolas Martin and Elizabeth Whitten married

July 23, 1622 – Margaret Martin, daughter of Nicolas christened

November 24, 1625 – Silvester Esties and Ellen Martin married

July 29, 1627 – Thomas Martin, son of Nicholas christened

Aug. 6, 1627 – Thomas Martin, son of Nicholas buried

July 27, 1628 – Jane Martin, daughter of Nicholas christened

Jan. 9, 1630 – Thomas Martin, son of Nicholas christened

Sept. 15, 1633 – Ellenor Martin, daughter of Nicholas christened

April 12, 1635 – Nicholas Martin, son of Thomas and Elizabeth

January 21, 1637 – John Martin, son of Nicholas and Elizabeth

September 13, 1640 – Elizabeth Martin, daughter of Nicholas and Elizabeth christened

April 4, 1643 – Mary Martin, daughter of Nicholas christened

Nov. 14, 1644 – Wilman Martin, wife of Thomas, buried

Dec. 29, 1647 – John Martin, son of Nicholas buried

March 24, 1664 –William Martin buried

April 16, 1688 – Daniel Martin and Margaret Bradly married

Feb. 28, 1699 – Nicholas Martin, buried

April 16, 1716 – Mary Martin buried

It’s possible that Ellin was the daughter of William Martin, the old man who died in 1614.  It’s unclear whether the William that marries in 1584 to Elizabeth Harte is the same William who has been having children, or if this is a second William.  Elizabeth, the wife of the William who marries in 1584 is buried in 1597.  This could be Ellin’s mother, if Ellin was born a few years before 1600, but that would put Abraham’s birth when Ellin was age 50 or older, which is unlikely.

Ellin might be Thomas’s child.  The first record of Thomas is in 1607 when one of his children is baptized.  One thing is for certain, whoever her parents were, it’s likely they were church members in 1625 when Ellin married Sylvester Estes, assuming they were still living.  Young women didn’t simply run off and join a church of their choosing in a location where their family was not located.

Ellin died in 1649, leaving Abraham, only 2 years old, on orphan.  Ellin had a total of 13 children, 11 living at that time, with Robert, the oldest at age 23.  At the time she made her will, she was living at Waldershare.  Did she move there after Sylvester died to live with Robert, perhaps, if he was able to find work?  Or had the family perhaps already moved there and both Abraham’s baptismal and Sylvester’s burial record would be found in the Waldershare church records?  Find My Past claims to have indexed the records for Waldershare, and I found no burial record for Ellin Eastes in 1649.  I also found no birth or baptism for Abraham no death or burial for his father, Sylvester.

Thankfully Ellin left a will.

ellin martin will

Translation of Ellin’s Will:

In the name of God, Amen, the fifth day of April 1649, I, ELIN ESTES [sic] of the parish of Waldershire [sic] in the County of Kent widow, being sick in body but in perfect memory thanks be given to God, do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following,

First, I bequeath my soul to Almighty God hoping by the mercy and merits of Jesus Christ to enjoy Everlasting life and my body to the Earth to be buried at the discretion of my Executor hereafter named.

First, I give to my son, THOMAS ESTES, twenty pounds of current money of England to be paid to him as followeth, that is to say, ten pounds at his age of twenty and one years of age and ten pounds when my youngest child shall come to the age of twenty and one years.

Item, I give to my son, RICHARD ESTES, the sum of five pounds when he shall attain to the age of twenty and one years.

Item, I give to my son, NICHOLAS ESTES, fifteen pounds to be paid to him when he shall attain the age of twenty and one years.

Item, I give to my son, JOHN ESTES, twelve pounds to be paid to him when he shall attain the age of one and twenty years.

Item, I give to my son, ABRAHAM ESTES, the sum of twelve pounds to be paid to him when he shall attain to the age of one and twenty years.

Item, I give to my daughter, ANNE ESTES, twelve pounds to be paid to her at her age of four and twenty years or day of marriage which shall first happen.

Item, I give to my daughter, SILVESTER NASH, five pounds when my youngest child cometh to the age of twenty and one years.

Item, I give to my daughter, SUSAN ESTES, the sum of twelve pounds to be paid to her when she shall attain to the age of one and twenty years or day of marriage which shall first happen.

Item, I give to my daughter, MARY ESTES, ten pounds to be paid to her when she shall attain to the age of one and twenty years or day of marriage which shall first happen.

Item, I give to my daughter, ELIZABETH ESTES, ten pounds to be paid to her [next few words crossed through but said: “when she shall attain”] at her age of one and twenty years or day of marriage which shall first happen.

Item, I give to ELLIN ESTES, my daughter, ten pounds to be paid to her when she shall attain to the age of one and twenty years or day of marriage which shall first happen.

And I do nominate and appoint ROBERT ESTES, my son, whole and sole Executor of this my last Will and Testament and I give to my said son, ROBERT ESTES, all my goods, chattels and household stuff paying my debts and legacies and funeral expenses.

In witness that this is my last Will, I do hereby publish and declare this to be my last Will and Testament in the presence of those whose names are hereunder written:

Thomas Jenkin, John Peers

Ellin Estes, her mark

Ellin’s will was proved at London before Sir Nathaniel Brent, Knight, doctor of laws and Master or keeper of the Prerogative Court the sixth day of December in the year of our Lord God one thousand six hundred fifty one by the oath of Robert Estes, the son of the deceased and Executor therein named to whom administration of all and singular the goods, chattels and debts of the said deceased which any manner of ways sworn the same will was granted and committed, he being first legally sworn by virtue of a commission in that behalf issued forth well and truly to administer the same.

Why did Ellin’s will have to be proven in London?  Was this standard for the time?

And why did Annie have to wait until she was 24 instead of 21, like her sisters?  Was Annie the “wild-child” of the group, or was she somehow otherwise challenged?

Given that two of Ellin’s children, son Thomas and daughter Silvester Nash, who was obviously married by this time, were to receive 10# when Ellin’s youngest child turned 21, this might imply that there was an assumption or perhaps an arrangement that these two oldest, adult, siblings would raise the younger children after Ellin’s death – and withholding their inheritance share helped to assure that the children received attention and didn’t die of neglect.  Now there’s a morbid thought.

I have often wondered who raised Abraham, given that he is my direct ancestor.  There might be a clue in the fact that Ellin’s daughter, Ellen, born in 1642, married Moses Estes, born in 1643.  They married December 23, 1667 at St. Leonard’s church in Deal, implying that this was Ellen’s home church at that time.

Moses Eastes was Ellen’s 2nd cousin once removed.  Robert Eastes (who married Anne Woodward) was the brother of Henry Eastes, a mariner, who had married Mary Rand.  Robert was Henry’s executor in 1590.  Henry had son Richard (who married Agnes Dove) and they had son Richard born in 1578 (who married Sarah Norman) and they had son Moses born in 1643 who married Ellen Estes.  This Moses Estes was buried in March of 1707 in St. Leonard’s churchyard in Deal, stone shown below, so the Estes family had gone full circle, with Sylvester and Ellin’s daughter, Ellen returning to the same church that her great-great-grandfather, Nicholas, attended.  Ellen’s grandfather, Robert Eastes, was Moses’s great-grandfather, Henry’s brother.

sylvester and jone sons

Ellen made 6 recorded generations of Estes at St. Leonard’s and her children’s baptisms and burials make 7.

moses eastes stone

Moses’s stone is the oldest known Estes tombstone.  He was followed in death by Ellen in December of 1729, although we don’t know where in the churchyard she is buried.

Moses and Ellen had four children: Richard, January 1667 who died as an infant, Constant, born December 1669, died November 1708, Aaron, born February 1671 and Samuel, born February 1674.

Unfortunately, there are no females to continue the line since daughter Constant died unmarried and without issue at age 36 and is buried beside Moses, so we are unable to obtain the mitochondrial DNA of Ellin Woodward Estes through her daughter Ellin.  Hopefully, Ellin’s daughters Silvester Nash, Susan, Mary, Annie or Elizabeth had daughters who have descendants through all daughters, back to Ellin.  If this describes you, I have a DNA scholarship for you and we can discover what secrets Ellin Martin’s mitochondrial DNA might hold.

The fact that these two families, both descended from sons of Sylvester Eastes and Jone, obviously kept in touch and lived in relatively close proximity might suggest that Richard Estes and Sarah Norman Estes might have helped raise Sylvester and Ellin’s orphaned children.  Abraham, their youngest child, who would have had no memory of his parents, named his youngest son Moses Estes.  He would have been age 20 when his sister married Moses, so he was obviously close to Moses, probably before Moses married his sister.  The fact that Ellen’s home church was St. Leonard’s in Deal and not the church in Waldershare where her oldest brother lived is also suggestive that Abraham’s children were living in Deal, perhaps with their Estes cousins.


There is something to be said for reading all of the records of an institution, like a church.  You can note things like large gaps in records and other, more subtle, changes that could signify important historical events.

For some reason, in the early-mid 1640s, something changed either in the Ringwould church or the surrounding area.  There are no more Martin or Estes christenings, and only burials until the old guard is gone.  There are a few Estes entries over the next hundred years but not many.  The old names disappear from the register and new ones take their places.  The English Civil War took place about this time, 1642-1651 and there was significant military action in this region.  I don’t know if that had something to do with this, or perhaps church politics were at play, or both.  In 1643, the castle at Deal was under a 5 month long siege, so the Dover, Walmer and Deal area might not have been the best place to live.  Ringwould, of course, was on the main road connecting those locations.  Moving inland some might have been considered safer.  And fishing with all of the military activity surrounding the local castles along the coastline was probably highly disrupted, although it seems very unlikely that Sylvester was a fisherman.  This might explain the move to Nonington in the 1640s, but it doesn’t explain why they moved in 1638 or why Ellin was in Waldershare in 1649.

Let’s take a look at what was happening in Kent during this timeframe.

King Charles

Charles I, born in 1600, was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649.

Charles was the second son of King James VI of Scotland, but after his father inherited the English throne in 1603, he moved to England, where he spent much of the rest of his life. He became heir apparent to the English, Irish and Scottish thrones on the death of his elder brother in 1612. An unsuccessful and unpopular attempt to marry him to a Spanish Habsburg princess culminated in an eight-month visit to Spain in 1623 that demonstrated the futility of the marriage negotiations. Two years later he married the Bourbon princess Henrietta Maria of France instead.

After his succession, Charles quarreled with the Parliament of England, which sought to curb his royal prerogative. Charles believed in the divine right of kings and thought he could govern according to his own conscience. Many of his subjects opposed his policies, in particular the levying of taxes without parliamentary consent, and perceived his actions as those of a tyrannical absolute monarch. His religious policies, coupled with his marriage to a Roman Catholic, generated the antipathy and mistrust of reformed groups such as the Puritans and Calvinists, who thought his views too Catholic. He supported high church ecclesiastics, such as Richard Montagu and William Laud, and failed to successfully aid Protestant forces during the Thirty Years’ War. His attempts to force the Church of Scotland to adopt high Anglican practices led to the Bishops’ Wars, strengthened the position of the English and Scottish parliaments and helped precipitate his own downfall.

From 1642, Charles fought the armies of the English and Scottish parliaments in the English Civil War. After his defeat in 1645, he surrendered to a Scottish force that eventually handed him over to the English Parliament. Charles refused to accept his captors’ demands for a constitutional monarchy, and temporarily escaped captivity in November 1647.

Re-imprisoned on the Isle of Wight, Charles forged an alliance with Scotland, but by the end of 1648 Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army had consolidated its control over England. Charles was tried, convicted, and executed for high treason in January 1649. The monarchy was abolished and a republic called the Commonwealth of England was declared. In 1660, the English Interregnum ended when the monarchy was restored to Charles’s son, Charles II, who was greatly loved for his easy-going ways, and partly because the populace was weary of the 10 years of Cromwellian and Puritan rule.

The downfall of Charles I took many Kentish men right along.

The Kentish Uprising of 1648

Civil disturbances broke out in London and Canterbury during December 1647 over Parliament’s attempt to suppress traditional Christmas celebrations. In London, the lord mayor personally intervened to calm the situation, but at Canterbury the mayor was driven out of the city, along with several magistrates and clergymen. The Kent county committee was obliged to mobilize the Trained Bands to restore order.

At the commencement of the Civil War Parliament held all 3 castles.  When Parliament declared that Christmas Day should henceforth only be observed by a fast, it spurred an uprising in Kent, along with a mutiny.

A Royalist rebellion broke out in Kent after the county committee at Canterbury had attempted to suppress a petition calling for the return of the King and the disbandment of the New Model Army. Canterbury, Rochester, Sittingbourne, Faversham and Sandwich were seized by Royalist insurgents on May 21, 1648.

The following day, at a meeting in Rochester attended by many of the local gentry, an armed gathering of Kent Royalists was scheduled to be held at Blackheath on May 30th in support of the petition. On  May 26th, Dartford and Deptford were seized by insurgents. A naval revolt broke out on May 27th when ships of the Parliamentarian fleet declared for the King.

General Fairfax had been preparing to march north against the threat of invasion from Scotland. With rebellion so close to London and the danger that the Kent insurgents would be joined by Royalists from Essex and Surrey, Parliament ordered Fairfax to deal with the immediate threat. On May 27th, Fairfax mustered his troops on Hounslow Heath. Colonel Barkstead secured Southwark to the south of London, while the Trained Bands under Major-General Skippon were mobilized to defend the city itself. By May 30th, Fairfax had advanced to Blackheath. On rumours of his approach, the Royalists at Deptford and Dartford dispersed. Leaving a detachment at Croydon to act as a rearguard against any threat from Surrey, Fairfax bypassed the insurgents’ stronghold of Rochester and marched for Maidstone where an army of Kent Royalists was assembling on Penenden Heath.  The main body of Kentish rebels was decisively defeated by Fairfax in the bloody Battle of Maidstone on June 1st.

fairfax march through kent

Sandown Castle declared for King Charles, who was at that time imprisoned on the Isle of Wight.  Deal and Walmer Castles then changed their allegiance from Parliament to the deposed monarch as well.  These were the last three fortified posts to hold out for King Charles.

In June, Colonel Rich focused on the castles, one by one.  Dover was recovered on June 5th.  Then Rich turned to Deal, Walmer and Sandowne.  He first laid siege to Walmer about June 15th.  Conditions were terribly cold, wet and appalling.  The Governor of Walmer Castle taunted his oppressors by hoisting a flag painted with a coffin to remind them of their inevitable fate. Another time, soldiers faked an explosion and threw a dummy of the governor over the ramparts and pretended to surrender in order to tempt the Roundheads into the gatehouse where they could attack.  It didn’t work.  On July 12th Walmer fell.

The Parliamentary forces then focused on Deal, an altogether more protracted and bloody affair.  Rich didn’t have enough forces to surround both Deal and Sandown castles, so the castles were able to come to each other’s aid.  There were several attempts to raise the siege, the most deadly being on the night of August 13th when 800 soldiers and sailors landed under cover of darkness to aid Deal Castle.  The marshaled inland, preparing to attack the Parliamentary camp from the rear.  However, a deserter raised the alarm and in the ensuing fight, many were killed, 300 fled to Sandown castle and another 100 or so made it back to the fleet.  Another attempt on August 18th failed as well.

On August 17th, Cromwell decisively defeated the Scottish forces at Preston in Lancashire, effectively ending all Royalist hopes of victory.  Garrisons in the castles were discouraged by news of Cromwell’s victories in the north which was conveyed by notes attached to arrows fired into the castles on August 23rd.  Two days later, on August 25th, Deal surrendered followed by Sandown on September 5th, ending the Kentish Rebellion or Kentish Uprising of 1648.

Colonel Rich surveyed the damage at Deal Castle, saying, “The castle is much torn and spoiled with grenadoes, as Walmer was, or rather more.”  Parliament ordered the renovation of all 3 castles.

In January, 1649, Charles, King of England, was executed by beheading before a vast crowd who rushed forward to soak their handkerchiefs in his royal blood.  England was yet in turmoil and would remain so until the death of Cromwell in 1658 when King Charles I’s son, Charles II was invited to return to England as King.

We don’t know how Sylvester felt about the Uprising.  Did he support the deposed King Charles or Parliament?  Did his position within the community dictate that he was in the militia which was fought and was brutally defeated at Maidstone?  We do know, from later records, that this was a tough time for the people of Deal, literally caught in the crossfire.  Had Sylvester already died by this time?  Was Ellin trying to raise those children alone?  We know that Abraham was born about 1647 and Sylvester died before his wife in 1649.  Did Sylvester lose his life in the Kentish Uprising of 1648?

Autosomal DNA Matching within Projects

Family Tree DNA was gracious enough to establish projects for genealogists – in fact – that’s one of the first things they did.  However, when they established projects, some 14 or 15 years ago, the first projects that existed were Y DNA projects.  The Y DNA, of course, is passed from father to son, along with the surname, so the projects were called “surname projects.”

Women, of course, are genealogically jinxed because their surnames have historically changed in every generation, with marriage, and sometimes multiple times, with multiple marriages – so which surname project would they join?  The answer is, it varies, and more often than not, the answer is none.  They roam around like homeless nomads.  Mitochondrial DNA tools and data bases lag far behind those of Y or autosomal DNA.

There are four types of projects at Family Tree DNA.

  1. Surname projects
  2. Haplogroup projects
  3. Geographic projects
  4. Mitochondrial DNA lineage projects

Mitochondrial DNA lineage projects have never really caught on, probably because there is no good way to find them, but the other three types of projects are very common and widely used.

In upcoming articles, we’re going to look at each type of project, what it provides, to whom, and any special challenges it might have.

However, there is one universal challenge with projects and that’s how to find and handle autosomal matches.  Autosomal testing didn’t exist when projects were first defined, and now we don’t quite know how to handle autosomal testing and people who descend from specific lines but not through the Y chromosome.  In other words, my paternal grandmother was a Bolton, but it’s not my surname – should I and could I join the Bolton project?  In the past, assuredly, the answer would have been “no,” because the Bolton project is a Y DNA project – but is the answer still no?  That depends on the project and the administrators, and we’ll discuss these types of issues in the upcoming Surname Projects article.

However, regardless of the type of project, there is one question that gets asked a lot, and the answer is always the same.

Can I compare my autosomal DNA to other project members?

And the answer is…..drum roll please….yes.  However, not in the way you might expect.

All projects and types of projects, and all tests, except Big Y, SNP and factoids are included in the advanced matching features available on every participants home page at Family Tree DNA.  This means that you can see who you match, within each project you have joined, on each kind of and combination of kinds of tests.

Sign on to your personal page, and under “My DNA,” under either Y DNA, mtDNA or Family Finder, you have an “Advanced Matching” option.

y dna options

Selecting the Advanced Matching Option will show the following options.

advanced matches

Selecting Family Finder and then the project where you’d like to see who you match, in this case, “Speaks,” and then clicking on “Run Report” gives you the following.

speaks ff match

Within the project, you can see who you match, if they have had their Y or mtDNA tested, and if so, the haplogroup, and their estimated relationship range (to you) utilizing Family Finder.

Now, let me tell you what this DOESN’T mean.

It doesn’t automatically mean that you match these people on this same family line.

I want to say that again, and louder, because this is one of the most common erroneous assumptions I see.

autosomal does not

You have to do more work, chromosome matching and triangulation to determine how you match these people, and on which lines.

And it does not, DOES NOT, mean that if you are both members of a geographic project, like the American Indian project, for example, that you are American Indian because you match someone in the American Indian project.  You might match them on a completely different non-Indian line.

It also DOES NOT mean that these people who match you, match each other.  You can determine that, but you’ll need to utilize the matrix tool to see who matches whom.  In fact, in the example above, Stacy and Lola-Margaret do not match each other.

You simply cannot assume.  You know what assume does….

No jumping to conclusions either, no matter how excited you are or how promising a match within that project looks to be.  Conclusion jumping works functionally the same as assume.

If this seems a bit confusing to you, let me explain.

Autosomal DNA tests test and include your DNA that you received from all of your ancestral lines.  It reaches back in time reliably 5 or 6 generations, and often further, in terms of matching to your genetic cousins.

DNA Pedigree

At 5 generations, you have 32 separate ancestral lines, and at 6 generations, you have 64 different ancestral lines.

Y surname projects typically focus on one line, the blue Estes line above.  Mitochondrial DNA is the same, focusing on the red circle matrilineal line above  But your autosomal DNA match within the Estes project could reflect an Estes line match, or any of your 31 genealogical other lines at 5 generations.  People who join projects typically do so because of their relationship with one particular line, like the Estes line – but autosomal has the capability to and does reach across all lines – so just because you match someone in the same DNA project does not mean that’s where your genetic match comes from.  Of course, it’s a wonderful hint, especially if you’re an Estes and it’s the Estes project, and a great place to start looking – but it’s NOT a given.  And of course, in haplogroup and geographic projects, the connection is even less apparent.  The Y DNA and mtDNA haplogroup fields are also another great hint and can quickly eliminate, or suggest, those possible lines.

Are you curious to see who you match in different projects?  Take a look.  You never know what kind of surprise might be waiting.

Big Y Price Reduction and New Matching Feature

It has been a busy week in the world of the Y chromosome.  Today, Family Tree DNA announced a new feature for their Big Y matching product, as well as a permanent price reduction to $595.

Their new feature makes it easier to determine how far up or down the haplotree your matches reside.  This used to be intuitive, based on the old-style haplogroup names like R1b1a2, when compared against R1b, for example – which was obviously three branches upstream.  Now that R1b1a2 is known as R-M269 and R1b is known as R-M343, there is nothing intuitive about this – which is why Family Tree DNA introduced this helpful tool.

ftdna 7-28 announce

You can see how  Big Y matching works at this link.

There are two parts of the Big Y test, the results themselves, of course, and matching to others.  The power in all of DNA testing is in who you match, and how, and the Big Y is a research tool to more fully define the Y tree, and your family branches too.  Of course, to do that, you’ll need members of those branches to test.

Competition seems to be a good thing.  Earlier this week, Full Genomes Corporation (FGC) introduced a competing product in the same financial space as the Big Y.  Debbie Kennett reported on their new Y Prime offering which is priced at an introductory special of $599.  One of the benefits of the Y Prime over FGC’s previous Y Elite test, aside from price, is the fact that the DNA is no longer being sent to China, but is being tested here in the US.  Of course, Family Tree DNA tests have always been processed in the US and are currently performed in their Gene by Gene lab in Houston, TX.

There are other differences between Family Tree DNA’s Big Y and FGC’s Y Prime, aside from the increased coverage that Debbie reported in her blog.  One difference is that your results from FGC are not online.  There is no matching either, with any other customers.  You receive your FGC report personally, via e-mail, as a file, and you cannot integrate the results with the people who are testing at, and matching at, Family Tree DNA.  In fact, Family Tree DNA is the only DNA testing company providing Y testing, online results, matching, projects and integration.

Competition seems to be a good thing for the consumer, though, because Family Tree DNA has reduced their Big Y price to just under the FGC price, by $4.  So, in essence, it’s no longer a financial decision.

I’ve been wanting to test several of the men in my Estes surname project, and we’re almost to the price point where I can do so.  Regardless of the increased coverage at FGC, I will be testing through Family Tree DNA.  I feel that the online results, matching capability, the surname and haplogroup projects, and having the ability to maintain the STR marker matches and the SNP matches in the same data base provides a service that is unequaled.  From my perspective, DNA testing without matching and analysis tools would be pretty much pointless.

Robert Eastes (1555-1616), Householder in Ringwould, 52 Ancestors #30

Robert Eastes, reported by family researchers as a mariner, was born about 1555, probably at Deal, Kent, and died about 1616, at age 61 in Ringwould, Kent. He married Anne Woodward on December 2, 1591 at St. Nicholas Church in Sholden, Kent, just a quarter mile or so up the road from St. Leonard’s Church of Deal where the Estes family was a long-time member.

St Nicholas Sholden interior

Robert Eastes and Anne Woodward were married in St. Nicholas church at Shoulden, in this chancel, minus the carpet of course.  Anne would have walked up this aisle 423 years ago.

Anne Woodward was born about 1570/1574.  Baptism records began to be kept in 1569, so hopefully a record for her still exists in some location and has simply yet to be found.  It’s likely that her family attended the church at Sholden as well and she may well have been born there and baptized in this very font that still exists in the church today.

St Nicholas Sholden bapistry crop

Anne made her will on April 21,1630. She was buried on May 18, 1630 at Ringwould, less than a month later. Her will was probated on June 9, 1630, and listed nine children.  Unfortunately, the archives cannot locate Anne’s will and now claims that it doesn’t exist.  Perhaps it is filed under a different surname spelling.

Robert and Anne spent the first few years of their married life at Sholden, moving to Ringwould by September, 1595, according to baptismal records of their children.

Robert’s parents were Sylvester, a fisherman, who died in 1579 when Robert would have been 24 years old, and Jone, his mother, who was buried at St. Leonard’s Church in Deal in 1661, when Robert would have been about 6.  Eighteen years later, Sylvester died, but would be buried in Ringwould for some unknown reason.  There is no record of Sylvester remarrying.  So when Robert Eastes married Anne Woodward in 1591, neither of his parents could attend his wedding.

If Robert was born in 1555, he waited quite some time before marrying.  In 1591, he would have been 36 years old.  I have to wonder, especially if he was a mariner, if the English war with Spain might have had something to do with his delayed marriage.  During this war, the coastline of Kent was on high alert.  The Spanish Armada was expected to attack at any minute, and indeed, in 1588, they did move up the English Channel in an arc preparing to attack England.

armada 1588

However, between the weather and the English “Navy” such as it was with few warships and mostly conscripted merchant and fishing boats, the Spanish were defeated off of the coast of France.

Nonetheless, the watch for the Armada had been underway in Kent, between Dover and Deal, night and day in specially constructed watchhouses, along the Kent coastline that was preparing to take the brunt of the battle.

signal station

Deal and the rest of the coast prepared, as best they could.  Deal is reported to have had six vessels ready, along with the men to man them.  Robert, at his age, 33 at the time, had to be involved in some capacity.

The English fleet may have been victorious, but they weren’t out of harm’s way yet.  The English fleet anchored in the Downs to allow their victorious crews to be paid off before they were demobilised and dispersed.  However, a gale wind blew for several days, stranding the entire fleet.  An infection caused by “sour beer” disabled the crews.  The gale, still blowing, made the transportation of supplies, food and medicine to the stranded ships impossible.  The crew, without pay, turned mutinous.  Slowly, boats managed to land thousands of sick and wounded seamen who then lined the beaches, “dying where they lay,” at Deal, Sandwich, Margate and Dover.  Sir John Hawkins, pirate, treasurer of the Navy, hardened seaman, slave trader and adventurer wrote that, “It would grieve any man’s heart to see them that have served so valiantly to die so miserably.”  Anything that could touch his heart must have truly been horrible.

If Robert were a mariner, he was understandably busy, not to mention that warfare disrupts commerce.  Maybe he couldn’t afford to marry until 1591.  Or maybe, he just hadn’t met the right young woman.  But he did marry and he and Anne had a family.

It’s interesting, because Anne, based on the marriage and birth date of her first child was three months pregnant then they married, which may have been why they married when they did.  I noticed in Ringwould that church records were pretty unforgiving and very direct about illegitimacy if the parents remained unmarried at the time of the child’s birth.  However, Robert and Ellen married and there is nothing in the child’s baptism record that indicates anything “odd.”

While today, we think of a wedding as a definite legal dividing line between married and unmarried, in the past, marriage was more of a process. In fact, the betrothal was the beginning of the marriage process and that is when sexual relations, referred to as spousals, began as well.  Children conceived while betrothed but before marriage were considered legitimate as long as the couple married.[1]

The term “processual marriage” is sometimes used to describe these arrangements, that is, “where the formation of marriage was regarded as a process rather than a clearly defined rite of passage” (S. Parker Informal Marriage, Cohabitation and the Law, 1750-1989).

It is no longer generally recognized that the Anglican marriage service was an attempt to combine elements of two separate occasions into a single liturgical event. Alan Macfarlane develops the point in detail: “In Anglo-Saxon England the ‘wedding’ was the occasion when the betrothal or pledging of the couple to each other in words of the present tense took place. This was in effect the legally binding act: It was, combined with consummation, the marriage. Later, a public celebration and announcement of the wedding might take place — the ‘gift’, the ‘bridal’, or ‘nuptials’, as it became known. This was the occasion when friends and relatives assembled to feast and to hear the financial details. These two stages remained separate in essence until they were united into one occasion after the Reformation. Thus the modern Anglican wedding service includes both spousals and nuptials (Macfarlane).

This pre-modern distinction between spousals and nuptials has been largely forgotten; indeed, its very recollection is likely to be resisted because it shows a cherished assumption about the entry into marriage — that it necessarily begins with a wedding — to be historically dubious. Betrothal, says Gillis, “constituted the recognized rite of transition from friends to lovers, conferring on the couple the right to sexual as well as social intimacy.” Betrothal “granted them freedom to explore any personal faults or incompatibilities that had remained hidden during the earlier, more inhibited phases of courtship and could be disastrous if carried into the indissoluble status of marriage.”

It has also been forgotten that about half of all brides in Britain and North America were pregnant at their weddings in the 18th century (L. Stone, “Passionate Attachments in the West in Historical Perspective,” in K. Scott and Mr. Warren [eds.], Perspectives on Marriage: A Reader). According to Stone, “this tells us more about sexual customs than about passionate attachments: Sex began at the moment of engagement, and marriage in church came later, often triggered by the pregnancy.”  This certainly could have been the case with Robert Eastes and Anne Woodward.

The children of Robert Eastes, and Anne Woodward are:

1. Matthew Eastes, baptized 11 June 1592 at Sholden, Kent, died as infant.  He is likely buried in the church yard at Sholden.

sholden roadside

It’s also likely that they lost a second child, between Matthew and Sylvester, given the 4 year birth span.  Alternatively, another child could have been born but the birth record no longer in existence or baptized elsewhere.

2.  Sylvester Eastes, baptized 26 September 1596 at Ringwould, Kent.

3. Alice Eastes, baptized 26 March 1597 at Ringwould, Kent.  She married Thomas Beane, 28 October 1628 at Ringwould, Kent, and had children: Christopher (1628); Richard (1632) of St. Mary the Virgin, Dover, Kent; Mary (1636) of Great Mongeham, Kent; Sarah (1638) of Westminster, London; Judith (1642); and, Thomas (1643) of All Hallows Staining, London.  Notably, her children were all baptized in different locations.

4. Matthew Eastes, mariner, born 1601, Ringwould, Kent, died 1621, buried 4 June 1621, St Leonard’s, Deal, Kent, he married Margaret Johnson, 23 November 1620, Deal, Kent. Margaret died and was buried 15 October 1622, St Leonard’s, Deal, Kent. Children: Martha (1621) of Deal, Kent, and William (1621-1687) of Ringwould, Kent.

5. Robert Eastes, Jr. was baptized 29 May 1603, Ringwould, Kent, he married Dorothy Wilson, 31 January 1634, Ringwould, Kent. Children: Robert (1635), Thomas (1636), Sylvester (1638), Sarah (1640), infant (1643) of Ringwould, Kent, Matthew (1645-1723) and Richard (1647-1737), both born at Dover, Kent and died in America.  Matthew and Richard constitute the “Northern Estes” line in America.  They settled in Strafford Co., NH and then moved on to Essex Co., MA.  David Powell details this line on his website.

6. Thomas Eastes, baptized 2 June 1605 at Ringwould, Kent, died in 1671, at Ringwould, Kent.  He married Joan Wilson, 21 November 1636, at Ringwould, Kent. Joan died 1672, at Walmer, Kent. Children: John (1642), John (1645), Joan (1645) and Robert (1647) of Ringwould, Kent.

7. Susan Eastes, baptized 30 October 1608 at Ringwould, Kent.

8. John Eastes, baptized 3 March 1610 at Ringwould, Kent, he spent the latter years of his life in poverty, living on parish assistance. John died in 1684, at Ripple, Kent. He married unknown, and had son John, born 1642 of Eastry, Kent.

9. Female Infant Eastes, born in 1616 at Ringwould, Kent, died at birth.

In 1601, when James I ascended the throne, he declared the war with Spain officially over and the people of Kent could relax a bit.  However, the long years of  tensions along the coast might have encouraged some folks to move a ways inland.  Robert was reported to be a mariner, but the only record I have been able to find indicating his occupation was at his death and lists him only as a householder, meaning one who heads a house.  However, given that Robert’s mother died when he was young, and his father was assuredly a fisherman, as well as his son Matthew, it’s likely that Robert was too.

From 1595 until their deaths in 1616 and 1630, respectively, Robert and Anne would count Ringwould as their home church.  It’s very likely that they lived in very close proximity as well, as the various churches in the villages were only a couple of miles apart.  Ringwould was less than a mile from the sea and a couple miles from Deal where the fishing fleet was centered.  If Robert were fishing, it would not make much sense for him to move away from the area where fishing occurred.  Ringwould was a farming area.

If you drew a circle half way between Ringwould and all of the other adjacent churches, that circle would certainly include Robert and Anne’s home and wouldn’t be more than a mile distant from Ringwould at any point.

ringwould aerial crop

In the satellite photo, above, St. Nicholas church is located by the C in Church Lane and the cemetery takes up the rest of the churchyard.  The photo below is the church from the main road, take from about the location of the blue dot to the right of “A258” and looking over the field to the church and churchyard.

st nicholas ringwould main road

The small village of Ringwould lies on the A258, known as Dover Road, the main road between Dover and Deal, it has a population of about 350, this has remained roughly the same for the last 200 years, although the number of houses in the village has doubled in that period. Today Ringwould is a quiet village with a Pub, a Church and a village hall. The school moved to Kingsdown in about 1980 and the Post Office closed not long after.  Today, there isn’t even a convenience store.

The village was first recorded more than 200 years before the Domesday survey, in an Anglo-Saxon Charter dated 861 AD under the name of Roedligwealda (the forest of Hredel’s people). The site of a Roman period farm has been identified close to the present Ripple windmill; which is in the parish, although metal detector finds and other relics which have been found, suggest that the area was populated well before the Roman invasion. The oldest coin ever found in England was discovered by a metal detectorist working close to Ringwould. It seems probable that the village was established sometime during the Anglo-Saxon period, probably in the 6th century AD, a thousand years before the Norman Conquest of 1066.  In 1326, King Edward II granted a charter giving permission for a weekly market and an annual fair in Ringwould on the feast of St. Nicholas celebrated on December 6th each year.

By the late Norman period the timber Anglo-Saxon Church had been replaced by the present parish church which is thought to have been built about 1130. It has grown with the settlement and still contains a record of the alterations made through the centuries in its fabric.

The church originally had a wooden spire, but in 1627, the villagers petitioned the archdeacon to demolish the spire and replace it with a flint and brick tower.  The villagers requested that they be allowed to keep the lead worth 28 pounds which would help offset the expenses anticipated to be 100 pounds to build the new tower.  The new tower was to have pinnaces or ornaments, but today only the cupola remains.  For many years, the year 1628, in iron figures, probably created in the forge just down the path, was affixed to the tower.  There were originally 5 bells in the new tower, one original bell from the 1300s, 4 added in 1628, and a 6th added in 1957.  Hence, the name of the local pub, Five Bells.

Anne Woodward Eastes would have been involved with the petition, although, being a woman, she may not have been allowed to sign.  She would have watched the new tower being built, as it was three years before her death.   During the construction, services went on as normal.  There is an Estes marriage and christening during this time.

As late as the 1940’s Ringwould was still very much a manor village, with the squire, the Monins family, living in Ringwould House and a fair proportion of the village residents working on the manor property and living in houses owned by the manor.  The Monins family is the historical manorial patron family beginning with Richard Monins in 1727, but it’s unclear who the earlier manorial family would have been.  This is very interesting as it suggests that the Estes family in the 1600s would have likely been doing the same thing and very likely worked for the manorial family.

The following church records provide us with a glimpse of the events in the church most assuredly attended faithfully by our Estes family.  Note that the transcribed records that I photographed at the church do not agree entirely with the records extracted by Estes researchers from original documents earlier, as reflected in the list of children given above.  Roy Eastes in his book The Eastes-Estes Families of America – Our English Roots, stated that Donald Bowler utilized the Bishop’s returns.  The records in the Ringwould church are from their own books, not duplicate copies sent to the Bishop.  either set of records could certainly have omissions for various reasons.

September 26, 1596 – Silvester Estey, son of Robert, christened

Silvester is the son of Robert Estes who married Ann Woodward at Shoulden on December 2, 1591.  Their first child, Matthew, was baptized at Shoulden in 1592.  Silvester is their second child and the first record of an Estes in Ringwould except for the burial of Robert’s father, Sylvester, in 1579.

March 28, 1598 – Allice Estey daughter of Robert christened.

It looks like they lost two children here or the births aren’t recorded.

June 2, 1605 – Thomas Estis, son of Robert christened.

They may have lost a child here.

Oct 30, 1608 – Susas Estis, daughter of Robert christened.

March 3, 1610 – John Eastis, son of Robert christened.

And perhaps lost another child here.

Nov. 4, 1616 – Robert Eustace, householder buried.

Dec. 22, 1616 – daughter of Robert Eustace, not baptized, buried.

These two records, of Robert’s death and then just 6 weeks later, of Anne losing the child she was pregnant with when Robert died, are simply profoundly sad.  I can see the grieving woman, with her children, ranging in age from 6 to 20, and heavily pregnant, standing in the churchyard beside the casket as they lowered it into the ground, burying her husband.  A few weeks later, she would return to the same cemetery to bury her youngest child, just like she buried her oldest child years before.  Life then was not easy, nor was it fair.  My heart still breaks for her, almost 400 years later.

Anne did, however, live to see two of her children married and she would have certainly attended those weddings.

November 24, 1625 – Silvester Esties and Ellen Martin married

Silvester and Ellen would name their first child after Silvester’s deceased father, Robert.

Sept. 10, 1626 – Robert Esties, son of Selvester christened.

Silvester and Ellen’s second child was a daughter that they named after Silvester’s mother.  She was, assuredly at the baptism of those children and it was most certainly a joyful day.

Nov. 25, 1627 – Anne Esties, daughter of Selvester christened.

October 20, 1628 – Thomas Beane and Alice Esties married.

Anne’s second child married, another joyful day of celebration.

May 31, 1629 – Selvester Esties, daughter of Selvester christened.

Note that Selvester is now a female in this generation.  This is not the only female Sylvester in the Estes family.

March 20, 1630 – Susan Esties, daughter of Selvester christened.

May 18, 1630 – Anne Esties, widdowe, buried.

watercolourSt. Nicholas Church at Ringwould, more than 800 years old, dating from about 1130, is near and dear to my heart.  It is a smaller church than beautiful and majestic St. Leonard’s in Deal.  It’s a country or manorial church in the vernacular of that day and time, meaning is was supported by the manorial family who owned the land.  It reminds me in many ways of the simpler country church where I grew up.  Of course, it was a very different time and place, but the cohesive bond formed by church members in a small church probably wasn’t any different then than now.  St Nicholas, even today reflects a feeling of warmth and intimacy.  You know that everyone knew everyone else and probably everything about everyone too.  In 1578, the year before Sylvester Estes was buried in the churchyard, the church was recorded as having 60 communicants, meaning those taking Communion.  By 1640, 60 years later and 10 years after Anne died, they had 170 communicants – so it was a growing community.

The church then was the center and focal point of the community.  Important events occurred there, transactions took place on the porch of the church, and it was the center of the lives of the people, both religiously and socially.  The church was expanded at least three times, as shown below.


Church in 1807 by F.PetrieThe Victorian renovation in 1867-1869 was extensive and swept away much of the original interior of the church, including the box pews, pulpit, choir stalls and sadly, the original baptismal font.  They also removed the “rendering” on the outside of the church and replaced it with flint facing.  This drawing is before the renovations to the exterior.

The church in Ringwould was also physically at the center of the original village.  Church Lane curves around the church and cemetery, the main road abutted the church lands and a path approached the church, just wide enough for a coffin carried by 2 men on either side.

st nicholas ringwould church lane

This approach is from Church Lane.

In front of the church is one of two giant yew trees, remnants from Anglo-Saxon pagan days of worship, the hollow one being dated as 1300 years old, so a seedling in about the year 700, and a second one, below, 1000 years old.  A Bronze age village is known to have existed here and Saxon graves were recorded nearby.

st nicholas ringwould yew2

Two doors welcome visitors today.  This looks to be the older door.

st nicholas ringwould front

The green door is the second entryway and the one utilized today with a porch.

st nicholas ringwould side

The old footpath, below, passes the forge before arriving at the church “gate.”  This, of course, would have been the original way that the villagers arrived at the church.

st nicholas ringwould cart path

This gate wasn’t present at that time, but it’s likely that some gate was to prevent the livestock from grazing in the churchyard.

st nicholas ringwould cart path entrance

They walked up this walkway, carrying gifts, children and sometimes, caskets.  We are walking in the footsteps of generations.

The porch was added in the 1300s and was likely a very welcome addition.  Some of the rites, such as baptism, started outside the church and had been open to the weather.

st nicholas ringwould porch

Walking around the end of the church to the side with the porch provides a beautiful view of the hand carved crosses on the roof.

st nicholas ringwould carved cross

The porch also includes a 12th century Mass Dial, used like a sun dial, before the advent of clocks so that the priest and others could tell the times of the several daily services.

Mass Dial







There are several “Crusaders Crosses” well cut into the stonework fo the original main door frame.  Legend has it that the Crusaders returning from the Holy Land would blunt their swords on the doors of the first church they saw.  The last of the Crusades ended in 1291.

Entering the church through the porch, we see the very unique atmosphere found only in the seafaring communities near the waterfront in Kent.

st nicholas ringwould porch window

st nicholas ringwould porch window2

Flint was used routinely for churches in this part of England.  In fact, there is a sign at the Five Bells Pub on the corner that says they have the “Oldest Flint in Kent.”

five bells flint

I’m not quite sure how they determined that this was older than the rest, but it’s just a block away from St. Nicholas Church.  This would imply that this building is perhaps older than the church, or maybe simply reflects that the flint on the church was added in the 1800s.  But, back to the church.

st nicholas ringwould nave windows crop

Entering the church, we see the stained glass windows in the chancel, where our ancestors would have watched the Catholic priests, then later the Protestant ministers, deliver the message, be it inspirational, damning or comforting.

Today, the pulpit is just outside of the chancel in the nave.  These are not the original pews, but this is where our ancestors sat.

st nicholas ringwould interior

Looking to the left, we see the alcove where the organ is found today, but would have been originally a place where candles were lit in the Catholic church to saints.

st nicholas ringwould interior left

Beautiful stained glass windows in Norman arches.  This church was built in the 1300s, with renovations in 1638 when the tower was built.

st nicholas ringwould windows crop

And of course, the sedilia, the seats for the priests, carved into the walls.  I looked for a piscina nearby but did not see one.  It could have been behind something or removed during the Victorian renovations.

st nicholas ringwould sedilia

St. Nicholas has lots of small beautiful stained glass windows tucked into arches

st nicholas ringwould windows2

st nicholas ringwould windows3

st nicholas ringwould windows4

st nicholas ringwould windows5

Of course, a window and statue for St. Nicholas, the church’s patron Saint.

st nicholas ringwould windows6

st nicholas ringwould windows7

st nicholas ringwould windows8

st nicholas ringwould windows9

st nicholas ringwould windows10

st nicholas ringwould tapestry

This beautiful tapestry hung in the church.  The message of Madonna and child is universal in the Christian world.  This is the church where Anne Woodward Estes raised her children after Robert’s passing in 1616, so the message of the Holy Mother would certainly have resonated with her.

st nicholas ringwould bapistry2 crop2

The bapistry where our ancestor, Silvester, would have been baptized, as well as some of his children.  Unfortunately, this bapistry is from the late 1800s.

St Nicholas Ringwould bapistry

Anne was buried in in the churchyard in 1630, preceded by her husband and unbaptized daughter in 1616.  The fact that her daughter was unbaptized meant that the child was either stillborn or died very quickly after birth and was therefore not named.  Later, there were at least three more Estes burials reflected in the records, none with stones that survive today.

Yes, we know that Anne, Robert and their unnamed daughter are here, in addition to Robert’s father, Sylvester, so let’s take a walk around the churchyard in the cemetery.

st nicholas ringwould yew3

Many of the stones are quite aged, from the 1700s, and this church does not appear to have removed older stones.

st nicholas ringwould churchyard

The cemetery, or churchyard, is beautiful, it’s ancient trees speaking to the age of the bones and dust that lie here as well.  There are likely burials here from at least the 1200s.

st nicholas ringwould churchyard2

Tombstones weren’t utilized until the late 1600s, but I do wonder if people took mementos and left them when visiting the graves of their loved ones.  Did Robert have an anchor on his grave or something from his line of work?  Did Robert visit his father, Sylvester, the fisherman’s grave?  Did Anne take flowers to put on her daughter’s grave that assuredly lay beside her husband?  Were all of the Estes family buried together, or scattered about the churchyard?

This yew, as well as the second one, would both have been old trees by the time that Robert and Anne died.  Did they stand in their shade.  Did Sylvester play among these trees as he grew to adulthood?  Did he court Ellen Martin here?  Kiss her maybe?

st nicholas ringwould churchyard3

These are the three windows in the chancel of the church with the yew in the side yard.


The beautiful stone cross visible above.

st nicholas ringwould churchyard5

Graves not arranged, but scattered everyplace.

st nicholas ringwould churchyard6

st nicholas ringwould churchyard7

Most of these stones are illegible today.

st nicholas ringwould churchyard8

I wonder if the vacant spots were known burial locations of ancestors and were intentionally avoided, or if they just haven’t been reused.

st nicholas ringwould hollow yew

The oldest, hollow, yew.

st nicholas ringwould hollow yew2

I find this starkly beautiful and wonder if it was hollow when our ancestors lived here.  If so, you can count on the fact that the kids played here.  A hollow tree would have been unavoidably attractive to little boys!

st nicholas ringwould churchyard11

A door bricked in and no longer in use on the back side.

I don’t know what the orange bubble on the photo is beside the yew tree, above.  Some say dust on the camera lens, but others suggest that bubbles like this are spirits manifesting themselves.  If that could possibly be true, we know whose spirit is here.

st nicholas ringwould churchyard9

st nicholas ringwould churchyard10

st nicholas ringwould churchyard12

There are newer graves here, but they are off to the side.

st nicholas ringwould churchyard13

View from the second yew.  A woman we met at the church said that when she was a child, the men used the wood from the yew for arrows for archery practice.  I’m guessing that was a very old tradition.

st nicholas ringwould churchyard14

And of course, with all of these old English churches, there is always someone buried just outside the door.

We may not know where, but we know that the family rests here someplace, and we have visited them.

Anne was buried here in May 1630 after writing her will a month earlier.  She would have been about 60 years old.  Not old by today’s standards, but then the average life expectancy was about 37, although that was likely partly because of infant mortality.  In other words, if you survived childhood, you might have lived beyond 37.  For women, childbirth was extremely risky as well, but she survived all of those risks.  She clearly had some warning that the grim reaper was about to visit because she had the opportunity to make a will.  I wish the burial records told us why or how people died.

What record we do have of Anne’s will, reported by Donald Bowler who did the original research, says her will referred to 9 children. In the records above, we show 5 children living and “room” for four more.  Were those children’s baptisms simply not recorded, or were they baptized in a different church?  Perhaps the transcriptions are incomplete.  We know one set of records is from the bishop’s copies and one is from the actual church records.  Or, were the 9 children in her will actually 9 individuals, perhaps a combination of children and grandchildren?  Without her will, we’ll never know.

Obtaining Robert’s DNA Without Digging Him Up

What we do know is that Robert and Ellen Woodward Eastes’ son, Silvester, from whom I descend, married Ellen Martin in this same church.  Silvester had two sons, Abraham and Richard, and descendants of both lines have DNA tested.

Robert and Ellen also had son Matthew, who had two sons, William and John, who founded the Northern US Estes line.  We have DNA results from both of these sons’ lines as well.

This means that Robert Estes is our oldest ancestor we can confirm genetically in the Estes line.  If a male Estes, a direct descendant of one of the sons of Robert’s father, Sylvester, or grandfather, Nicholas, were to test, then we could confirm yet another generation or two up the tree – but today, we’re lucky to have Robert confirmed.  That’s 12 generations for some of our DNA participants.

When a man has descendants who test through at least two different sons, we are able to “reconstruct” his Y DNA, for the most part, based on his descendants’ values.

In our case, we aren’t limited to two descendants, we have 25 proven descendants through 2 sons and 4 different grandsons.

What does this tell us about Robert’s DNA?

It gives us the ability to reconstruct Robert’s DNA values through a process called triangulation.

When the men from Robert’s 2 sons lines all match, we know, easily, the value of Robert’s DNA at those markers. It’s the same as both sons’ lines.

When it doesn’t match, then we have to look and see if we can figure out where the mutation took place in the various lines in question, and from that, if we can usually determine the oldest ancestral value of the marker in question.

The genealogy of Robert’s descendants looks roughly like the chart below.

robert eastes gen

*See footnote 2

This chart means that Robert and Anne Woodward Eastes had two sons who are represented in our testing, Sylvester and Matthew.  Matthew had two sons, William and John, and today, several generations later, 10 to 12 to be exact, we have one proven descendant from each of those two sons whose DNA kit numbers are shown.  Robert and Anne’s son Sylvester had two sons, Abraham and Richard, noted in green on the chart below.  Richard’s descendant who DNA tested still lives in England, but Abraham was the immigrant to Virginia, and he has 22 kits with solidly proven descent to six of his eight sons.  The other two sons have tentative (unproven) links, but I did not use their information in this study because they are unproven.

robert eastes dna

You can see on the chart above that of the first 18 markers, all except three match exactly, so we can easily fill in the values for all of those markers for Robert.  Note that you can double click on the image to see a larger version.

Now, let’s look at the other three markers where mutations have occurred.

In Abraham’s case, I’m using a composite value created by using this same triangulation method.  For the other’s we have only one kit from a descending line, so we are using that value.

The first marker with a discrepancy is 391.

robert eastes marker 391

Unfortunately, determining Robert’s original value of this marker, 10, or 12, or even possibly 11 if each line mutated in opposite directions, is impossible.  Why? Because both of Sylvester’s descendants have a value of 12 and both of Matthew’s descendants have a value of 10.  This means that we have confirmation back to those men, and the mutation likely took place in the generation between Robert and his sons, Sylvester and Matthew.  To make things even more complex, some of Abraham’s descendants have a value of 11, but there are more values of 12 than of 11 in his son’s lines, so his composite has a value of 12.  This marker may simply be very prone to mutation in the Estes family.  If another of Robert’s sons’ descendants were to test, they could break the tie, but until then, we simply won’t know.

The second marker with a discrepancy is 439.

robert eastes marker 439

In this case, determining the value is possible, because even though there are three different values showing, 11, 12 and 13, one each of Sylvester’s and Matthew’s descendants have a value of 12, so Robert’s value is most likely 12 as well.  Checking Abraham’s composite, it’s clearly a 12, so no issue there.

The third marker with a mutation is 447.

robert eastes marker 447

This call is easy, because three of the 4 descendants, including both sons Sylvester and Matthew have a value of 26, so the 25 is clearly the mutation.  Therefore, Robert’s value has to be 26.

So Robert, who has been dead and buried in an unmarked grave since 1616, 398 years, can have his DNA values determined, and without digging him up!  Not that we could do that anyway.  His values are as shown below, except for marker 391 which could be either 10, 11 or 12.

Robert Eastes triang markers

Now, if I could just find someone who carries Anne Woodward’s mitochondrial DNA, I’d be ecstatic!  Of course, that would have to be descended from her through all females to the current generation where it could be a man – and yes, in case you were wondering, there is a scholarship for anyone fitting that bill!


[1] Before or After the Wedding by Adrian Thatcher at

2. Since this article was written, a third son of Robert and Anne Woodward Eastes has been documented, through son Robert Eastye and Dorothy Wilson, their son Richard born 1647who married Elizabeth Beck and subsequently immigrated to the US.  Richard died in 1737.  The descendant’s results can be viewed as kit number 264340 in the Estes DNA project.

WDYTYA – How DNA Might Have Been Used – Cynthia Nixon

I do love these Who Do You Think Your Are (WDYTYA) and similar shows, because like most everyone, I love a good mystery, especially a true story – and a good genealogy mystery tops them all.

And, of course, you never know what tidbit might be lurking for your own situation.

We had a hiatus of several months since last season, so I remembered what I liked and forgot what I didn’t.  As a long-time genealogist, I find myself talking to the TV – saying things like, “You can’t assume that,” and other similar comments to rather gargantuan leaps of faith.

I have to remind myself that it IS, after all, a TV show, and a lot of research (I hope and pray) is done behind the scenes but not shown to the audience.  After all,, marketing king of easy-peasy “just enter your ancestor’s name” and it will all just be here waiting for you is sponsoring this series….so it has to look quite simple and doable for the viewing audience.  I mean, who wants to know that there could be two people in the census with the same name, in the same county….yes…really.

But my real frustration last season came with the knowledge that in many cases, DNA could have been reasonably and successfully used, and wasn’t.  So, this season, I’d like to talk about how DNA might have been used.

Ancestry provides a recap of the Cynthia Nixon episode as does TLC, and it really was a good one with lots of cliffhangers, of course.  For future episodes, GeneaBloggers published a WDYTYA bingo card.  What fun!

This episode begins as a professional genealogist puts together Cynthia’s first several generations via the census and presents her with a scroll of that information.  If you’re playing WDYTYA Bingo, I think you get two points for this.  The rest of the show focuses on Cynthia’s 3X great grandmother, Martha Curnutt.

Marriage records on show a Martha Curnutt marrying Noah Casto on 15 August 1839 in Missouri. But no Martha and Noah Casto appear in the 1850 census. There’s only Martha, Mary (10), Noah (7), and Sarah (6)—all under the name Curnutt. A quick count shows Noah could have served in the Civil War. And a search of military records yields pay dirt: Noah’s mother Martha applied for a pension in 1881.

That pension record shows that Noah, the father, died in 1842, and further research shows that in 1843, Martha was indicted for murder and then found guilty of manslaughter for killing her husband, Noah Casto, with an ax “between the eyes” while he slept, after he threatened her life.  If you’d like to read a discussion about murder vs. manslaughter, Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, who watched the show with a group of genealogists, wrote a wonderful article about manslaughter and murder and this case.  Be sure to read the comments too.

Cynthia discovered that Martha had apparently been severely abused, based on a newspaper article.  At that time, there was no protection nor recourse for abused women.

More awful still is an unnamed informant’s account that the victim “had been in the habit of treating his wife in a manner too brutal and shocking to think of.” Cynthia is devastated to learn her 3x great-grandmother endured such horrible treatment.

But Martha fared little better in prison. Convicted of manslaughter, she was the only female inmate, was abused by people she was hired out to work for, was subjected to inhumane conditions, and in the fall of 1844 gave birth to a daughter (Sarah) fathered by someone associated with the prison. It was most likely the scandal that would accompany the story of her treatment in a state facility that led to her pardon in 1845.

An article written by a former inmate details Martha’s treatment, including the fact that she was originally allowed to work for the warden at his home, but his wife, Mrs. Brown, abused her so terribly that she ran away, was returned to prison and kept in her cell being given nothing for days, which I presume means no food or water.  That was followed by the fact that “in the fall” she delivered a child.  Knowing the dates of the trial in 1843 and that the child was born in the fall of 1844, it became evident that the child was not her deceased husband’s child, and was conceived in prison.

When Martha was in labor, Mrs. Brown would not help her, nor allow anyone else to do so.  Finally, one (male) inmate was allowed to “attend her,” but nothing, not even clothing or heat in her cell was provided for the baby.  Obviously, the warden’s wife was hoping the child would die, but Sarah didn’t, nor did Martha.  The next month, Martha was pardoned by the governor over the signatures of a long list of politicians and very influential men.  Obviously, since the mother and child didn’t die, there was a scandal brewing.

So, the question is, and certainly the scandal revolves around the identity of the Sarah’s father, the child born in prison in the fall of 1844.

We know Sarah lived at least until the 1850 census, and assuming she lived to marry and have children of her own, let’s talk about DNA options.

If Sarah were a male and had male descendants to the current generation, this would be a relatively easy case to solve….but she is a female and carries no Y chromosome, which would have been passed from the father to a male child, so we can’t test that.

Therefore, our other testing alternative would be to test the autosomal DNA of a descendant of Sarah and see if any portion of the her autosomal DNA matches with descendants of the warden’s family.  This assumes, of course, that Martha was not otherwise related to Warden Brown.

If in fact, Sarah’s descendants do match the DNA of the warden’s descendants, that would be highly suggestive that Warden Brown was Sarah’s father, especially if the amount of shared DNA would be the right percentage to be about 4 generations removed, or roughly third cousins who could be expected to share about 1% of the DNA of their common ancestor.

Not all third cousins will share DNA, or not in large enough segments to be above the matching threshold of the DNA testing companies, but many will, and all we would need would be enough and proof that the DNA in question is indeed descended from the same Brown family.

Here’s my own third cousin match at Ancestry.  He and I tested intentionally, knowing we are cousins, to map our DNA to specific ancestors (at Family Tree DNA) and to see if we match other cousins (at Ancestry.)

ancestry third cousins

Of course, Sarah is not Cynthia’s direct ancestor, the older daughter, Mary is – so finding out who Sarah’s father was does not further Cynthia’s own genealogy.  Plus, testing Cynthia’s DNA would not have been beneficial other than to have a basis for comparison on Martha’s side.  But testing a descendant of Sarah would certainly have answered a burning question about Martha’s time spent in prison – and might very likely have answered the question about why Mrs. Brown obviously hated Martha enough to try to kill her in various inhumane ways; by withholding assistance while Martha was in childbirth, not to mention essentials like food and heat.

Had Sarah’s descendants taken the DNA test, especially if they had entered the warden’s name as a potential ancestor in their tree, they might well have discovered that they had “shakey leaf” hints that connected them with other people who descend from Warden Brown’s family.  If they were lucky, an actual descendant of Warden Brown himself would have tested and they would match.  In fact, maybe the producers could have found a direct descendant of Warden Brown who was interested in revealing the truth, whatever it was.

However, without a chromosome browser or any other type of comparison tools, they would be unable to prove that the match to that individual was indeed Brown family DNA – and they would have simply have to infer, allow you to believe, that the genetic match was the same as the shakey leaf match.  You can see, above, that Ancestry skates on this issue by saying “it looks like you have a shared ancestor.”  Indeed it does, but that doesn’t mean the shaky leaf ancestor is the one that you share genetically.  However, given the other leaps of faith in the series, I doubt that this “little detail” would have deterred the storyline much.  And indeed, it would have been very interesting.

In order to prove the genetic connection, one could have the people who tested, and matched on the Brown line, download their results to and compare their actual DNA segments there.  They could also transfer their DNA to Family Tree DNA who does have comparison tools.  Of course, that opens the door to DISPROVING the shakey leaf “tree” match as well as proving it, and it’s certainly not in the same spirit or as easy as just accepting, on faith, the “shakey leaf” hint as fact.  DNA Genealogy wrote a nice summary of vs GedMatch here and why those “shakey leaf” first impressions are sometimes not correct.

Am I the only one who thinks Warden Brown is the most likely candidate to be Sarah’s father?????  Whoever the father was, he was certainly important enough to warrant a pardon for Martha.  That is the one good thing in the landslide of evil that haunted Martha Curnutt.  I hope the rest of her life was much easier.

Finding Your Inner Neanderthal with Evolutionary Geneticist Svante Paabo

Svante Paabo is the father of ancient DNA extraction, beginning many years ago with Egyptian mummies. His lecture style is wonderful and understandable. I would love to attend one of his lectures. Today, he is one of two tenured professors in Evolutionary Genetics at Max Planck in Germany.

His speech if in conjunction with the opening of the exhibition of “Genome, Unlocking Life’s Code” at the National Institute of Health.

Archaic Genomics – this video is very similar to the one above although the Q and A at the end is different.  So if you watch the first one, then in the second one, just skip to the end of his lecture.  There Q&A is very worthwhile in both of these videos.

neanderthal manSvante Paabo documented his path to the Neanderthal genome in his marvelous book, Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes recently published. It’s an amazing book, written in a very personal and approachable manner and easily understood by the non-scientist. It’s an amazing story and we’re lucky to have Dr. Paabo to share it with us.

If you carry Asian or European DNA, you have Neanderthal ancestors, and you’ll want to watch these videos and read this book.






Sylvester Estes (c1522-1579), Fisherman of Deal, 52 Ancestors #29

Sylvester Estes was born probably in or near Deal, Kent, England about 1522, well before baptismal records were kept, beginning in 1559.  He would have married before that time as well, so we don’t know his wife’s maiden name, only that her name was Jone.  Their marriage date of 1545 is estimated based on the birth year of their first known child in 1547 and his birth date estimate is based on that as well, so he could have been born earlier.  Jone Eustes, Sylvester’s wife, was buried on May 15, 1561 at St. Leonard’s Church in Deal, Kent.  Her grave is not marked.  Tombstones were not being used at that time in history.

st Leonard sylvester

Sylvester, described as “emeritus fisherman,” died and was buried on June 7, 1579 in the churchyard at Ringwould, his last name spelled Eastye.  His grave is unmarked as well.

st nicholas ringwould sylvester

What little we do know about Sylvester, aside from his death and burial, comes from a court record.

On December 10, 1549, Sylvester, along with John Lamond, appeared before the Consistory Court of Canterbury (approximately 20 miles from Deal), charged by the Rector of Deal for not paying their tithes from their herring catch.  Lamond asserted that “in the time of his rememberance … he paid no tithe.” Sylvester responded that in the past two years he and his colleagues had taken two or three “last” (a dozen 6-9 pound barrels) and that “the school of herring hath always comined there away but they had not netteth there to take them well before that time.” It has been suggested that the failure to pay the tithe was a political gesture, rather than just oversight, church tithes becoming increasingly unpopular at that time.

Stewart Estes provides the following information about tithes, especially upon fish:

From the above history of Sylvester Eastes, it appears that he may have been an early tax protester. A tithe (from Old English teogoþa “tenth”) is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a usually voluntary contribution or as a tax or levy, usually to support a church. Historically tithes could be paid in kind, such as agricultural products. Farmers had to offer a tenth of their harvest, while craftsmen had to offer a tenth of their production.

In the Middle Ages the tithe from the Old Testament was expanded, through a differentiation between a Great Tithe and a Little Tithe. The Great Tithe was analogous to the tithe in the Bible where one had to tithe on grain and large farm animals. The Little Tithe added fruits of the field: kitchen herbs, fruit, vegetables and small farm animals.

After the Reformation the tithe was increasingly taken over from the church by the state. In England, church tithes remained until the 19th century. The right to receive tithes was granted to the English churches by King Ethelwulf in 855. The Saladin tithe was a royal tax, but assessed using ecclesiastical boundaries, in 1188. Tithes were given legal force by the Statute of Westminster of 1285. The Dissolution of the Monasteries led to the transfer of many tithe rights from the Church to secular landowners, and then in the 1530s to the Crown.

Tithes of fish (and mills) were the last survivors of what were referred to as personal tithes. Traditionally, fish taken from the sea or common rivers were not titheable under the principal that they were ferae naturae or wild animals. The only exception was if a local custom existed.

A 1549 statute made a tithe of fish payable only in parishes where it had customarily been paid within the past 40 years, such as those on the sea coast. This would likely include Kent. The system ended with the Tithe Commutation Act 1836, which replaced tithes with a rent charge decided by a Tithe Commission.

Based on church records, we know that Sylvester and Jone had 3 children.  It’s likely that they had several more who may have died or not been reflected in the records.  If they were married about 1545 and Jone died in 1561, according to the burial record, they would have had 16 years as a married couple to produce offspring, so they could have been expected to have had approximately 8 children.  The births of those children would only have been recorded in church records after 1559.  This suggests that there are several children born, and probably buried, as children.  However, given that daughter Jone was married in Ripple in 1563, it wouldn’t hurt to check the Ripple church records to see if Sylvester and Jone’s children were baptized there.  Marriages traditionally took place in the bride’s church, although just two years earlier, Jone’s mother, Jone, was buried at St. Leonard’s in Deal.

Jone’s untimely death in her 30s would have left Sylvester, a fisherman, with 3 young children and no wife.  His children, at the time of Jone’s death would have been 14, 12 and 6.  It’s likely that his mother, Anny, if she was still living, would have raised his children while he provided for the entire family by fishing.

The three known children of Sylvester Eastes and Jone are as follows:

1. Jone Eastye, born 1547, probably at Deal, Kent, married on 9 July 1563, at Ripple, Kent, located between Ringwould and Deal, to Henrye Baker, born in 1546, they had a daughter, Jone, who married her first cousin Henry Estes, the son of Jone’s brother.

2. Henry Eastye, a fisherman and master-owner of a pinasse (two masted vessel), the Mynion, born in 1549, at Deal, Kent. He married Mary Rand on July 3, 1574, in Deal. “Henry Eastice of the parish of Deale in the County of Kent fisherman,” made his will on April 30, 1590 at Deal. Mary was buried June 19, 1601 at St Leonard’s, Kent.

3. Robert Eastye, mariner, born about 1555 at Deal, Kent, died about 1616 at age 61 in Ringwould, Kent. He married Anne Woodward on December 2, 1591 at Sholden, Kent. Anne was born about 1574 (or in 1570), died between the making of her will on April 21, 1630 and when she was buried on May 18, 1630 at Ringwould. Robert and Anne spent the first few years of their married life at Sholden, moving to Ringwould about 1595.

Due to the change in the English religion from Catholic to Protestant, these children would have been baptized as Protestants, while Sylvester and Jone would have been baptized at Catholics.

In the Ringwould church records, Sylvester’s burial is the very first Estes record, recorded thus:

Jan. 7, 1579 – Silvester Eastye buried

This begs the question of why, with his wife buried at St.Leonard’s 18 years earlier, was Silvester buried at Ringwould?

The second Estes record at Ringwould doesn’t follow for another 17 years, and it’s the christening of Silvester, the son of Robert, who is the son of Silvester buried in January of 1579.  Between 1579 and 1596, Robert has married Anne Woodward at Shoulden in 1591, with their first child, Matthew being baptized there in 1592.

Sept. 26, 1596 – Silvester Estey, son of Robert, christened

Robert Estes and Anne Woodward continued to be members of St. Nicholas of Ringwould until Robert’s death about 1616.

Between 1561 when Jone was buried in Ringwould, to 1591 when Robert was married at Sholden, we have church records of this family involved with four different churches, albeit in close geographic proximity of a mile and a half range.  As you can see, below, the entire circle between all 4 locations, using today’s roads which are not the most direct routes, is only a total of 7 miles.

kent 4 villages


Sylvester saw a lot of changes in his lifetime.  His father died when he was 11 or 12, leaving his mother a widow.  Sylvester may well have been apprenticed to the mariners to learn a trade in order to be able to support himself, and possibly his widowed mother and younger siblings as well.

Changes were afoot in England itself as well.  England was in the process of politically becoming a Protestant nation with the King at the head of the church, instead of a Catholic nation with the Pope at the head of the church.  In the 1530s, Henry VIII wanted to remarry because his wife did not produce a male heir, and his Catholicism prevented that, especially when the Pope refused to annul his marriage.  As a result Henry renounced Catholicism and became Protestant, ordered the destruction of all things Catholic, such as monasteries and abbeys.  The churches “became” Protestant overnight, along with their parishioners.  In some places, of course, there was strong resistance and the resisters were called ‘recussants.’  That did not seem to be a problem in Kent.

In addition to the national issues, there were local and regional problems to contend with as well.

In October 1536, when Sylvester would have been about 14, four Flemish ships entered the Downs, landed and plundered the local boats of their “herrings, hogbushes, arrows and beer.”  A few days later, those same ships robbed a Deal fishing boat of its entire catch and then sent a pinnace ashore on St. Leonard’s Day (November 6  and feast day at Deal’s St. Leonard’s church) to cut the cable of Captain Rychardson’s boat and tow it away.  Rychardson’s inventory of his losses reflects a typical fishing boat of the time – two long bows, sheaves of arrows, barrels of beer, bread, candles, boots and bonnets.  Sylvester’s ship probably was provisioned with the same things.

Piracy, especially in the Downs was very troublesome during this time.  In 1536 Henry VII made it an offense punishable by death in some cases.

Queen Elizabeth, after coming to reign in 1558 did not take kindly to pirates either.  In one month alone, sometime after 1573, William Holstock, commander of the Queen’s Navy, captured pirates of several nationalities from 35 rogue ships and sent about 1000 captives ashore at Deal.  But then, he too turned rogue and captured 15 merchant ships.

In the 1539, Henry VIII ordered the construction of three castles to defend the Downs which were heavily exposed, faced Europe and were the most likely places for a Catholic army to make landfall in England.  Deal Castle was one of the castles, and still stands majestically today.  It was built, along with Sandown and Walmer Castle, in about 18 months in 1539 and 1540 utilizing 1400 men along with local laborers.

This was a very important, high profile project.  In fact, King Henry himself visited the Downs to “inspect his defences” on Easter Sunday in 1539.  He fully expected an invasion from Catholic Europe.

Sylvester would have been 17 or 18 at the time, a very impressionable age, and if he weren’t fishing already, he was surely involved in the castle construction.  If he was fishing, the influx of workers certainly created an unending market for their fish and probably just about anything else you could create to sell to the workers.  It would certainly have been an economic boon for the region around Deal.  It would have been an exciting time to be a young man as well – an era full of adventure.

After the castles’ construction, garrisons were assigned.  King Henry’s policy was to make any defense the responsibility of the local district and that garrisons were drawn from the area and officers were drawn from the local gentry.  Soldiers were expected to provide their own weapons – a dagger, sword, halberd and at their own expense.

The expected attack from Catholic Europe did not materialize in 1540, probably causing everyone along the Kent coastline to heave a collective sigh of relief.  Piracy and smuggling continued in the Downs, but the next threat from another nation would be Spain in 1588, nine years after Sylvester’s death.

Queen Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII, ascended the throne in 1558 and inspected the castles in Kent in 1573.  After leaving Dover, the Queen journeyed through Walmer and Deal before being carried on a litter along the Ancient Highway to Sandwich.  You can rest assured that every person who was able lined the roads to catch a glimpse of the Queen.

queen eliz litter

Perhaps Sylvester Estes, then 51 years old, was among them with his son Robert, just 18.  Did they see the Queen?


I expected that we would find the Estes family in one church and that the family members would remain within that church for generations.  This also implies that they lived in the same location.  That’s not what we’ve found.  In the 5 known generations beginning with Nicholas and ending with Abraham Estes who immigrated to the US in 1673, we know that the Estes family participated in services in at least 8 churches, not including Sandwich where one can rest assured that Abraham attended church when he was an apprentice there.  That’s a lot of mobility for an early family whose main avenue for transportation would have been on foot.

It’s also somewhat unusual in that early vassalage arrangements would have precluded mobility between farms, let along between towns, and in essence kept the vassals tied to the lands of the monarchy or their lords in perpetuity.  Given that history, finding this much movement, even within a region, just a few years later is quite surprising.  Feudalism, meaning feudal land tenure, began to decline with the War of the Roses in the mid-1400s (1455-1485), effectively ended when the country became Protestant in 1536, but wasn’t abolished in England until 1660.  Under the feudal system, tenants, or vassals, would not have been allowed to move around from place to place.

So, why did they move?  Well, knowing the Estes family, perhaps because they couldn’t, then they could, and did, because they could.

This pattern of movement tells us that the Estes family was likely not tied to land, per se, at least not by the 1500s – so maybe tenant farmers working the lands of others, or craftsmen – or eventually, as we know, mariners.  Mariners are tied to the sea, not the land, so they would have lived relatively close to the shore.  Most of these churches and communities certainly fit that criteria.

The movement of people is more the norm, over time, than not, unless there is a constraining factor.  We do sometimes find families in villages nestled in the mountains of some remote location that haven’t left since the beginning of written records, which is often reflected in the very unusual markers in their Y DNA, suggesting a population bottleneck of sorts.  In other words, mutations happened but no one left to spread them around, so they are only found in a particular region.  For genealogists, these are blessings in disguise, because they can help us pinpoint locations where our ancestor lived, if enough people test.  They will, of course, carry different surnames today, but their DNA will match, especially on unusual markers that have mutated in that region.

We find that often people migrated in groups – probably family units – increasing their chances of survival if there are others available who have a vested interest in helping out if trouble loomed.  Someone else who wouldn’t hesitate to paint themselves blue and hurl projectiles at Caesar’s ships, if the need arose.

So, if we look at the more ancient aspect of the Estes DNA, what does it tell us?  Where did the Estes family come from, before the advent of surnames?  And does it tell us anything about the d’Este family myth?

Who Settled Near Deal?

Let’s start by looking at who settled in the Deal area.  We know that Ceasar said that in the year 55 this area was inhabited by “Belgic and Celtic” tribes, a mixture of Germanic and Celtic stock who had arrived on “these shores a generation before but had continued to trade with their counterparts on the continent.”  He says specifically that:

“The coast (was populated) by Belgic immigrants who came to plunder and make war – nearly all of them retaining the names of tribes from which they originated – and later settled to till the soil. They think it is wrong to eat hares or chickens or geese but they breed them as pets. As the cold is less severe, the climate is more temperate than in Gaul.”

Caesar tells us that his fleet encountered Celts hurling missiles from the soaring cliffs at Dover.  The fleet then sailed 8 miles, hugging the coast until they came to ‘low lying land’ (Saxon, ‘dylle’).

white cliffs map

Warring Britons, their naked bodies daubed with woad and their wild hair stiffened with lime relentlessly rode their sleek chariots into battle and drove the Romans from the shore.

celtic 2 wheel chariot

An Ancient Briton from Barnard’s New Complete & Authentic History of England, 1783, below.ancient briton

I can’t tell you how I wish someone had made a painting of that!  Naked men painted blue with spikey hair in a chariot.  Is that legal?

Caesar tells us more, and it’s complimentary in spite of the naked blue spikey factor.

“The most civilised people are those in Kent which is entirely a coastal area; they have much the same customs as the Gauls. Most of those living further inland do not sow corn but live on milk and flesh and wear clothes of animal skins. All the Britons, though, dye their skins with woad which produces a blue colour and thereby look all the more terrifying in battle.

By far the most civilized inhabitants are those living in Kent.  The population is large, the ground thickly studded with homesteads…and the cattle numerous.

They do not cut their hair but shave all the rest of the body except the head and upper lip. Wives are shared between groups of ten or twelve men, usually made up of brothers or fathers and sons. The children are reckoned as belonging to the man each girl marries first.”

Now, that would play havoc with the DNA is more ways than one.  So, you could wind up being the father to your own brother, or nephew….so you really could be your own grandpa.  Don’t ponder this too long – it will only make you crazy.

We know that the word Deal itself is derived from the Saxon word “dylle” meaning low lying land or “del” referring to a dale or valley.

A Druid shrine was found on the eastern slope of Mill Hill, just a few blocks from St. Leonard’s Church in Deal, rich in Celtic art from the second century BC.

In fact, the “Deal Warrior” was found here with his armour, wearing what looks to be a crown with a LaTene style of incised pattern.

deal warrior

The Celtic LaTene culture followed the Hallstatt in Iron Age Europe about 450BCE.

Halstatt latene 2

Above, an overview of the Hallstatt and La Tène cultural regions. The core Hallstatt territory (800 BCE) is shown in solid yellow, the area of influence by 500 BCE (HaD) in light yellow. The core territory of the La Tène culture (450 BCE) is shown in solid green, the eventual area of La Tène influence by 50 BCE in light green. The territories of some major Celtic tribes are labelled. Map drawn after Atlas of the Celtic World, by John Haywood (2001: 30–37).

celtic europe expansion

This map shows the Celtic expansion in Europe, including the British Isles, and Italy.

Ok, so are the Estes men Celtic?


The good news is that the Estes STR markers are quite unique.  The bad news is that the Estes STR markers are quite unique.  The STR markers, or short tandem repeats, are the marker results that you receive when you order the 12, 25, 37, 67 or 111 marker tests from Family Tree DNA.

The Estes men don’t match men with other surnames at 111, 67 or 37 markers.  In fact, their marker values at that level are very unique.  The good news is that this means that it’s very easy to tell when someone matches the group, or doesn’t.  The bad news is that there are no breadcrumbs left by matching other people.

Breadcrumbs?  What do I mean by breadcrumbs?

A DNA breadcrumb, in this instance, could be one of two things.  First, it could be an extended haplogroup SNP test that would tell me by virtue of who I match closely on STR markers that my ancestor’s haplogroup is likely to be the same as the other person who took the extended testing.  In other words, a poor man’s pseudo SNP test.  No such luck, in my case.

The second DNA breadcrumb would be the matches maps – where are the oldest ancestors of my closest matches found?  This can be important in locating on origin in continental Europe.  In my case, the closest not-Estes matches with locations are 12 and 25 markers.  It’s not that I can’t use these, it’s that they are far back in time, quite far sometimes, so far that the common ancestor may not be on the same twig of the Y tree, especially with haplogroup R, old R1b1a2.

And yes, of course, the Estes men are smack dab in the middle of haplogroup R – in fact, L21.

Estes Y hap

On the first map, below, the locations of the oldest known European ancestors of the Estes matches are shown.  There aren’t many in continental Europe.  Most are in the British Isles.  Keep in mind that none of these hold up (or perhaps didn’t test) above 25 markers, so the common ancestors with these individuals would be far back in time, hundreds to thousands of years – which is exactly what we are looking for – sometime around Caesar’s arrival in the year 55 when the woad covered Celts were pummeling his ships from the white cliffs of Dover.

estes matches map 25

The red balloons below show the oldest ancestors of 12 marker matches.

estes matches map 12

Hey, what are those two in Italy?

Turns out one is in Rome and other shows it’s in France, but it’s still in the right general location to perhaps be an indication that some of the Estes DNA is living in the region.  That doesn’t do anything to put to bed the oral history of the d’Este family.  In fact, it fans those flames a bit.  If those matches held above 12 markers, it would fan those flames a lot…..but they don’t.

However, the general distribution pattern indeed looks like the traditional “Celtic” L21 migration into the British Isles, shown below.

Eupedia L21

It is believed that subgroup L21 was born about 4000 years ago in the Celtic region of Europe, perhaps in Southwest Germany.

A few days ago, Britain’s DNA released information about L21 which equates to their SNP S145.

The map below, for S145 shows their Pretani distribution.  The best definition I could find for Pretani was that the earliest known reference to the people of the British Isles, made by the Greeks between 330 and 300 BC describes them as the Isles of the Pretani, the ‘Pretani’ thus becoming the most ancient inhabitants of Britain and Ireland to whom a definite name can be given. In Ireland these ancient British Pretani (or Britanni) were later to become known as the Cruthin, while in Scotland they became known as the Picts.


While their map does not include any downstream variants, it still meshes with the Eupedia L21 map.  It looks like the Celts stepped ashore in England and started moving north and west and didn’t stop until they had to.  Of course, they were followed by Angles and Saxons and Romans and Normans so they did have some pressure to keep moving.  Apparently not all moved on, because there are still between 13% and 15% in the east and southeast of England, as determined by DNA testing of people whose 4 grandparents lived in that location – implying that they are not recent immigrants to the region.

So, what next?

Ok, so the Estes men are descended from Celts.  Now we at least know that much.

But I’d still like to know if my ancestors were d’Este Kings in Italy wearing crowns, Druid priests in England wearing crowns, or blue woad painted Celts with spiked hair driving chariots while defending the white cliffs of Dover.  Can’t you just see them here?

white cliffs of dover 2

I mean, it does make quite a bit of difference in the telling of the family story.

I want to know more.  I’d like to test for more SNPs to see if I can refine what we know, but which SNPs to test?

The Estes men have joined the R-L21 project and the British Isles by County project, and I’ve asked the administrator for haplogroup L21 for suggestions about how to test further.  Part of the decision about how to test will be financially based.  If he can tell me, based on his experience that what I really need to do is test one or two SNPs based on what he sees in terms of matching within other L21 subgroups, I’ll happily do that.  If he tells me that I need to do the Geno 2.0 or Big Y, I’ll probably do that as well, but I’ll be eating hotdogs and mac and cheese for a few weeks.  But hey, it’s grilling season and genealogy is way more important that eating!

In the L21 project, the Estes men, along with a few thousands of our closest friends are in the group titled “1. L21+ (L11>P312>L21; If you can, test for DF13 status).”  This means, in plain English – you need more testing, so that’s the answer I’m expecting.

What this means is that the testing results are too vanilla to narrow the location origin.  Below are the locations of the oldest ancestors of the “you need more testing” group.

l21 cluster

And for comparison, here’s a subclade of L21 – a group of people who share a terminal SNP further down the tree – and the locations of their most distant ancestors.  If what I’m looking for is a source on continental Europe – this is much more useful than the map above which shows the distribution of L21 over the past 4000 years or so.

l21 subgroup cluster

I did receive a recommendation from the haplogroup L21 project administrator.  Just what I was afraid of – the L21 project administrator wants 2 Big Yfull Y sequence tests from the Estes line – from hopefully our two most divergent men who are definitely from the same family.  This will show which of the SNPs or Novel Variants (personal or family SNPs) they share are actually haplotree branch SNPs and which are family only, meaning much more recent in time.  Makes sense.  I expected this advice, I was just hoping for a less expensive option, but as the administrator says, we are, indeed, the explorers in this new field.  Well, good thing we are Celts now isn’t it!

Now, all I have to find the appropriate Estes male candidates and the funds.  If you have an Estes in your family tree, you can contribute directly to the Estes DNA project towards the tests, which will be about $1200 in total.  Any amount is appreciated and it all helps.

To put this in perspective, raising these funds has to be easier than getting naked, shaving my body, painting myself blue and liming my hair while driving a chariot and throwing projectiles off of the white cliffs of Dover!!!