Wednesday, March 27, 2013

DAVENPORT (Part I: The DNA Projects)

The ravages of colonial/nationalist wars included the inestimable loss of many records that would have 'filled-in the blanks' making our earliest American family history more complete and accurate.  One modern -and increasingly popular- method used for providing 'proof' of ancestry is DNA testing of potential descendants.  There are at least three main DNA branches of the Davenport family in America for which some records  exist:
1652 Virginia
THE JAMES RIVER DAVENPORTS   Lancelot Davenport is listed on the ship rolls of The Duty which was dispatched by the Virginia Company to America, landing in Jamestown in early 1620. He was in the service of Mr. Edward Blaney, a colonial agent for the Virginia Company of London with a plantation on the south side of the James River, Virginia Colony. In 1639, Lancelot became a landowner, with 50 acres of land in James City County "due for his personal adventure."  This unusually small parcel was his 'headright' provided by the King.  It is believed that within two generations, part of his family moved from King William County into the area called Pamunkey Neck.  The early James River Davenports were noted as literate people, skilled as clerks, bookkeepers, and public servants. The fact that Lancelot worked in the colony for almost 20 years before earning his acreage has some researchers wondering if he engaged in a long apprenticeship and married later in life. Another plausible theory is that Lancelot was sent to the colonies as a convict serving a 20-year sentence.  Since he was probably 'indentured' to Mr. Blaney, it seems more likely that he, as most did, earned his 'freeman' status within four years after arrival.  If true, it would help us to imagine Lancelot's American family beginning with a child of Martin Davenport's age.  If not true, then Martin was probably descended from one of the Boston Davenports (see below).

Our family line stretches back to early descendants of Davis Davenport[My research shows Davis as son of Martin Davenport who was born and died in King William Co., VA.  Although the link between Lancelot and Martin is generally agreed-upon as father/son, records are sparse and speculative.]  According to a 1696 land survey, Davis owned a plantation and landing in Pamunkey Neck.  The early Pamunkey Davenports were small-farm tobacco planters, but -unlike Lancelot- typically illiterate.  Another group settled in the "Northern Neck" area; these were the Tidewater Davenports who were slave-owning, gentlemen planters with possible aristocratic background. 

Yankee Rebel Tavern
Mackinac Island
The Mackinac Davenports have connections to Michigan's Mackinac Island through "The Yankee Rebel" Ambrose R. Davenport.  Born in Virginia in 1771, Ambrose served in the army under General "Mad Anthony" Wayne and was assigned to Mackinac in 1796.  Upon leaving the military, he remained on the island to work in the fur trade.  When the British took control of the fort at Mackinac in 1812, Ambrose was temporarily deported to Detroit as a prisoner of war along with the entire garrison and some other islanders.  Refusing to swear allegiance to the British crown, he is quoted as having said
"I was born in America, and am determined, at all hazards to live and die an American citizen." 
He was able to return to his wife and children at the close of the war and lived out the remainder of his long life on Mackinac Island.  Descendants from his six children remained in the Great Lakes region, settling in Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin.  \[The Yankee Rebel Tavern, located on a side street of downtown Mackinac Island, honors the memory of Ambrose.]
Ambrose Davenport historic cabin in Hubbard's Annex, Mackinac Island, MI

Additional info on the Davenport DNA project can be googled, including the following from:
From the Davenport DNA Project
"The "original" Davenport can be traced back to Ormus De Davenport, (one of many spelling variations), alive at the time of the Norman Conquest around 1066 AD in the Cheshire area of England. Almost 800 years later, in 1851, Amzi Benedict Davenport published the first major Davenport genealogy. Although Amzi concentrated on his own line, the Rev. John Davenport, (founder of New Haven, Connecticut), he and others were able to document the line back to Ormus. Twenty five years later he published a newer updated edition. Today, except for a few minor instances, that research has stood the test of time. Because of Amzi's research, it is Ormus that most Davenports hope to trace back to.
In the 1600's, five Davenports resided in the Boston area. They were the Rev. John (1597-1670), Thomas "of Dorchester" (abt 1604-1685), Humphrey (bef 1622-abt 1680), Capt. Richard (abt 1606-1665), and Lancelot (abt 1594-?). All supposedly originated in England and shared the same family crest, but no genealogical link has been found to prove any connections.
One of the original goals of the Davenport Surname DNA Project was to determine if these five Davenport lines were related and, if any were descended from Ormus. In the project's first year, we discovered Rev. John and Thomas shared a common ancestor, while Humphrey did not. Surprisingly, we also discovered that they match the descendents of Richard Davenport, born in England in 1642, and settling in Virginia and then Albemarle, North Carolina. We have not found descendents of Capt. Richard or Lancelot yet.
The next step was to confirm an English connection. In 2005 we began an extensive search for Davenports of known Cheshire ancestry. We found a few and some matched the Rev. John/Thomas/Richard lines. This was encouraging, we were on the right track. Finally, we were able to locate a Bromley-Davenport who was willing to donate his DNA.. The Bromley-Davenport's are one of the few remaining lines with documentation back to Ormus.
The Bromley Davenports matched the others. This means the Rev. John, Thomas of Dorchester, Albemarle's, and several other individuals of "unknown English ancestry" all have a common Davenport ancestor with the Bromley Davenports. It's official now, DNA corroborated our common descent from Ormus De Davenport; but the who, where, and when - we don't yet know. As more markers and participants become available, that day may come."
- - Posted on 5 Jun 2006


  1. Do you have any further info on a Henry White who owned land near Davis Davenport and was mentioned in the 1696 James Taylor survey ("the old Henry White place")? I am particularly interested in any White/Wyatt research you may have run across. Thanks. Laurel Durham

    1. Laurel, I double-checked the names I have in Davis' tree since children often married into neighboring families ...but no White or Wyatt so far.

  2. I am a Davenport from Mackinac island would love some info