In their book Joseph Vick of Lower Parish, Isle of Wight County, Virginia and His Descendants, John Beatty and Di Ann Vick said on page 3 ““JOSEPH1 VICK, planter of Lower Parish, Isle of Wight County, Virginia, was probably a native of Gloucestershire in England. His exact place of birth is unknown….”
You do not have to look far on the internet to find pedigrees that say that Joseph1 was born in Gloucestershire, England, and that he was the son of Richard who was also born in Gloucestershire.
Since John and Di Ann could not find any record of Joseph1 being born in Gloucestershire (or England), one of the goals of the Vick Y-DNA Surname Project is to answer the question of Joseph1’s ancestry. This will require combining genetics with traditional research. Where was Joseph1 born and who was his father? While Y-DNA cannot directly answer those questions, it can help focus our research in a geographic area and narrow down the list of possible recent common ancestors. Perhaps if we have a better idea of where to look, we may find answers to our questions. Y-DNA can also rule out recent common ancestry with a person who does not share the Y-DNA signature of Joseph1’s descendants. While it would be best if we could find a written record of Joseph1’s birth that was supported by DNA evidence, we may have to settle ultimately for circumstantial paper evidence that is supported by Y-DNA test results.
Since Joseph1 lived in Southeastern Virginia, it is highly likely that he either came from England or was of English descent. The Tidewater area of Virginia was settled by Englishmen, and according to Albion’s Seed by David Hackett Fisher there was a “mass migration…of southern English cavaliers and their servants to the Chesapeake Bay region between 1640 and 1675.”
If Joseph1 was English or of English ancestry, we may be able to find someone in England or of proven English patrilineal descent that matches his Y-DNA signature. A look at the 1841 Census of England reveals where it is most likely that Joseph1 or his ancestor could have been born. The 1841 census shows that 85 percent of the people with the Vick surname lived in just three counties in England – Gloucestershire (53 percent), Hampshire (18 percent), and Sussex (14 percent).
Using census information, we can then focus our Y-DNA search on where it is most likely to bear fruit. The fact that Y-DNA can prove that two men do not share a recent common patrilineal ancestor (i.e. within the approximately 800 years that surnames were used in England), can be very helpful. By comparing the Y-DNA signature of men in each of these three counties we can determine if we can rule out any of the men as sharing a recent common patrilineal ancestor with the Joseph1 patrilineal descendants. While it would not be practical to test every man or every line from these counties, we could start with those that appear to have the greatest probability of success and hope that we get lucky. Throughout this blog when I use the term “ancestor” I am referring to the male line only (since Y-DNA is only passed from father to son).
We are fortunate because early on Lannes Ray Vick convinced Arthur Stanley Vick to join the Vick Y-DNA Surname Project. Stan could prove his ancestry to Gloucestershire, and he agreed to be Y-DNA tested. Stan believed that he shared a recent common ancestor with Joseph1. Stan’s line is as follows: Arthur Stanley, Valentine, Frederick, Walter, Elihu, Emanuel, John, William, William.
Stan’s Y-DNA signature showed that he did not share a recent ancestor with the descendants of Joseph1. Since it is important to check multiple lines to ensure there are no errors in pedigrees or lab results, we were again very lucky when Franklin James Vick of Saskatchewan, Canada, joined our project. Frank also had proven roots to Gloucestershire, and the most recent common patrilineal ancestor of Stan and Frank was Elihu (christened about 1759 in Standish, Gloucestershire). Frank’s line to Elihu is Franklin James, Henry William III, Henry William II, Henry William I, Miles, Elihu. Frank also did not have the Y-DNA signature of the Joseph1 descendants, but he matched Stan. The fact that the two matched told us that it was highly unlikely that Joseph1 and Elihu shared a recent common ancestor.
Next, we must see if we can find any other Vick lines in Gloucestershire that do not share a recent common patrilineal ancestor with Elihu and that have a living male descendant who is willing to test his Y-DNA. We cannot rule out the possibility that Joseph1 did come from Gloucestershire. It is possible his line is unrelated to Elihu’s. The Joseph Vick, born in 1813 in Gloucestershire, England, and who moved to Jo Daviess County, Illinois, in 1842, may share this line. Y-DNA testing of a paternal line male VICK descendant of Joseph could help resolve this question.
Hampshire is the next county of interest in England. James Vick “the Seedsman” founder of the Vick Seed Company and Vick’s Illustrated Monthly Magazine, was born on November 23, 1818, in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England. He immigrated with his parents to the United States in 1833. He eventually lived in Rochester, New York. Lannes Ray Vick found Albert F.W. Vick, a descendant of James. Albert tested his Y-DNA. Albert’s line is Albert Fisher Woodruff, Albert Fisher Woodruff, Albert Fisher Woodruff, James, James “the Seedsman,” James C., James, James, Joseph, John, John. Again, the results showed that Albert and the descendants of Joseph1 did not share a recent common ancestor. Also, Albert’s Y-DNA signature did not match the one Stan and Frank share. Since Albert does not match Stan and Frank, the Vick surname appears to have multiple origins in England.
We need to recruit at least one more descendant of James (from a different son of James) to see if another descendant matches Albert. We also need to recruit other Vicks from Hampshire to test. The descendants of Charles J. Vick (born July 1826 in Sub Deanery, Chichester, Sussex, England, and who moved to Rochester, NY, about 1841) may share a recent common patrilineal ancestor with the descendants of James. Y-DNA testing of a paternal line male VICK descendant of Charles could help resolve this question.
We have yet to find a male Vick with proven roots to Sussex to test. When we do find someone who is willing to be tested, it will be interesting to see if he matches any of the English Vick clans we have found thus far (i.e. Elihu’s, James “the Seedsman’s” or Joseph1’s – assuming Joseph1 does have English ancestry). We know there are at least two English clans, and maybe three, if Joseph1’s was English.
We also have members of the Vick Y-DNA Surname Project who trace their roots to Denmark, Germany, Norway, and even Africa (no doubt the descendant of a slave). None of those Vick clans shares a recent common ancestor with the Joseph1 descendants. So, we are looking in places other than England.
Looking at even deeper roots we have found that Joseph1’s Y-DNA signature matches those found in a couple of men with ancestry from Norway. These men lived in Shetland and Orkney off of mainland Scotland. Professor Stephen Oppenheimer of Oxford University examined James Larry Vick’s Y-DNA signature and compared it to the small number of research samples that had the same Y-DNA signature. In an e-mail on February 18, 2007, Professor Oppenheimer said, “While, with these very small numbers, it is impossible to date the movement to from Norway to Shetland/Orkney, the information is nonetheless very specific and places your male ancestor most likely as an invader from northern Norway and ultimately from Asia.”
Our search continues for Joseph1’s oldest ancestors. Since these ancestors will predate the use of surnames and written records, Y-DNA will be our only way to recognize them.
If you are a male with the surname Vick and you are interested in joining the Vick Y-DNA Surname Project contact Ray Vick (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Larry Vick (email@example.com) for more information.