My genes update

This is an update on my earlier blog on my DNA tests. Since the blog was written in 2014 four other Grannums have undertaken DNA tests and we all have close paternal matches – in addition three of them match as genetic cousins. Because of the genetic evidence suggesting that were possibly related within about 5 generations we used personal and online indexes and linked documentary evidence to join two previously unknown family groups, rewrite the family tree for one family and take both families back several generations to the 1840s. The testers have joined the FamilyTreeDNA Grannum project at

Paternal DNA markers – the highlighted sections indicate differences. The red are faster changing STR markers


In 2011 I discovered a Y-chromosome match with someone from Panama whose grandfather Arnold Grannum came from Barbados. It took me sometime to contact the person but in the meantime I contacted other Grannums from Panama to see if they could help and provide any further clues on Arnold and his descendants.
From correspondence it was believed that Arnold was one of three brothers children of a David Grannum possibly of different mothers. One of the brothers, Hugh Parker Grannum, settled in New York and another, George Sinclair Grannum, settled in Jamaica.

What was known about the families in this article in 2014

We could not find birth information for Arnold or Hugh Grannum in my database or online. I decided to search (which has indexed most early Barbadian baptism/birth and marriage records) using just first names for Arnold Worrell and Hugh Parker and found them!:

  • David (indexed as Davis) Hugh Parker born 19 March 1882 to Sarah Warner
  • Harold (sic) Worrell born 28 October 1886 to Jessie Reed. I double-checked his name against the baptism register (p1598 St Michael’s, Cathedral 14 Dec 1886) and it does say Harold but this is copy and the clerk may have made a transcription error – or maybe he chose Arnold later.
The fathers are not recorded on the baptism registers which suggests that the mothers were unmarried.
These dates were subsequently confirmed by other documentation:
  • Arnold’s death certificate (found among family papers) confirms his date of birth as 28 October 1886, father David and mother Jessie Reid; Arnold gave different ages on the Panama census returns (on Familysearch) which put his dates of birth between 1875 and 1891;
  • Hugh’s US Old Mans draft card and Social Security death index (both on Familysearch) confirmed his date of birth;
  • George’s marriage in 1894 to Louise Duffus in Jamaica is also on familysearch, he is aged 27 and so born c1867 and records his father as David Grannum:

Jamaica, Scotch Kirk Kingston, 17 July 1894, marriage between
George Sinclair Grannum, 27, bachelor, clerk, 13 East Queen Street, Kingston, father David Grannum
Ambrosine Louise Duffus, 21, spinster, 109 Princess Street, Kingston, father Edward Duffus

This linked with the baptism in St Michael’s Cathedral of George StClair Grannum 15 April 1867  (born 4 April), son of David Hugh Clifford Grannum, merchant’s clerk and Angelina, nee Leacock
which led to his parent’s marriage:
Barbados, St Michael Cathedral, 7 March 1867, marriage between
David Hugh Clifford Grannum, 21, bachelor, merchant’s clerk, King Street
Angelina Leacock, 19 Spinster, Lightfoot Lane
Angelina died in 1873: burial, St Leonards Chapel, St Michael, 21 Oct 1873, Angelina Grannum, wife of David Hugh Clifford Grannum. Residence Chapman’s street.
It seems therefore that David did not remarry but had other children with other women. His sons, although registered with their mothers’ names, later adopted their father’s name.
While we researched this family two descendants (of Hugh and Arnold) undertook DNA tests. They matched each other and this encouraged us to expand our research with other family members especially for any surviving papers and to try different approaches searching online resources (eg searching by first names only) to confirm dates and other information.
At the same time we were clarifying information on Arnold and his brothers we received another DNA match. This family who settled in Canada and at the time had traced their family back to a marriage to a Nathan Grannum and Elizabeth Jemmott who married in 1869:
Barbados, St Michael Cathedral, 12 August 1869, marriage between
Nathaniel Grannum, 20, bachelor, merchant’s clerk, Hindsbury Road
Elizabeth Jemmott, 24, spinster, Fairchild Street, father John Jemmott, carpenter
At the time it was believed that he was Nathaniel Carew Grannum who was baptised on 14 Sept 1836 to Jemima Grannum (father unknown). It is also suggested that he had a sister Christian (Christina) Ann Grannum baptised 8 May 1839 to Jemima. A Christina Ann Grannum, married in 1869 aged 30 (so born c1839) and on her marriage certificate she says that her father was Henry Grannum (planter):
Barbados, St Lucy Parish Church, 31 March 1869, marriage between
Benjamin Hunt, 25, bachelor, coachman, Pickerings, father William Thomas Hunt, domestic
Christina Ann Vignor Grannum, 30, spinster, washer, Rock Hall, Henry Grannum, planter
There are now three family groups with close paternal matches – all of whom came from Barbados – we still hadn’t found a common ancestor:
  • Descendants of William Grannum, bn c1700 – descendants now in UK and South Africa
  • Descendants of David Hugh Clifford Grannum, bn c1852 – descendants in Panama, USA and Jamaica
  • Descendants of Nathaniel Carew Grannum, bn 1836 (though his marriage to Elizabeth suggested c1848) – descendants in Canada
We also undertook the FamilyFinder tests which looks at the non-sex pairs of chromosomes inherited from all ancestors. Close relatives will inherited portions of their ancestors’ chromosomes the proportions decreases over time but this test can be used to show genetic cousins going back who have common ancestry for about 5 generations. Matches were found for descendants of David and Nathaniel which suggested that they were 2nd or 3rd cousins so had common ancestry in fairly recent history.
We now wanted to find common ancestry. We couldn’t find further details for David Grannum so tried a forename search again:
  • 9 June 1847, baptism of David Hugh Clifford to Sarah Mina (or Maria) Holder, sempstress. This also fits with his age at marriage.
Sarah also had a son Nathan:
  • 21 November 1849, baptism of Nathan son of Sarah Maria Holder, Government Road, Seamstress; this also fits with his marriage. This Nathan seemed a better fit for the husband of Elizabeth Jemmott – and so revised the family tree.
This exercise was interesting as it demonstrated one of the challenges of Caribbean family history – in that most children were born outside of marriage and therefore registered under their mother’s name but later adopting their father’s name. The possible familial links suggested by the DNA matches encouraged collaboration between several families to look for documentary evidence in family papers and archives. These relationships are not proven but the evidence is convincing and illustrates how in the absence of documentary sources DNA could be a useful tool. It helped that Grannum is unusual name, that all of the families came from Barbados, Barbados was uninhabited when first settled in the 1620s, and Grannums are not found in Barbados before 1735 – so there is a limited gene-pool. Of course not all Grannums from Barbados will necessarily have the same Y-DNA as ours because of slavery on emancipation African-Caribbean people had many options for adopting surnames.

Revised families trees

The next stages of research are going to be more difficult:

  • Who was Sarah Maria Holder? Sarah was probably of African descent and therefore born in the period of slavery and without further information such as name of a former slave holder will make finding further information about her hard.
  • Who was the father of David and Nathan? Their descendants are African-Caribbean but the paternal DNA of their descendants is European and matches my paternal ancestry. I do not have chromosome matches with the others but it may be due to too many generation distant. There are not too many male Grannum adults in the 1840s – another currently unrelated family – the children of Jemima Grannum her daughter Christian Ann Grannum (born 1839) says that her father was Henry Grannum, planter – there was only one adult Henry Grannum at this time – my 3 x great-grandfather. He was married at the time but if he did have an extra-marital relations with Jemima he may have had other affairs.
 We are keen for other Grannums to join the FamilyTreeDNA project and welcome any further insight into their families.


4 responses to “My genes update

  1. Sharon Grannum Lue-Sang

    I believe that George Grannum and Louise Duffus were my great-grandparents.

    • Hi Sharon, I believe that you are. DNA suggests that we are genetic cousins even though at the moment we haven’t been able to join our family trees using documentary sources.

  2. Pingback: Grannum one name study | Caribbean Roots

  3. Pingback: DNA: which test? | Caribbean Roots

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