Moses Grigg’s Father
By Dan Wharton
With enormous acknowledgment to the Grigg Family Association and its Grigg DNA Project; the Owen DNA Project; and specifically all of the Grigg and Owen historians who helped support the DNA projects and/or provided the detailed background cited below, namely Dick and Angie Grigg, Addie Grigg (financial), Gary Grigg, Bill Kennedy, Cleo Grigg Johnson Gilchrist; Karen Grubaugh, Mary Lee Barnes, Jane Owen Hillard and Whit Athey
Two new important pieces of information have come to light in the last two months that, combined, strongly suggest that Moses Grigg’s (1748-aft. 1830) father was Edward Owen (abt. 1705?-abt1769) of Dinwiddie and Lunenburg/Halifax Counties, Virginia (See Appendix I for a detailed history and analysis of Edward Owen).
Moses Grigg’s Y DNA, as represented by two descendants through his sons William A. Grigg (1772-1846) and Jacob Gregg (1784-?), is an exact match with a descendant of Edward Owen’s probable son John Owen (abt. 1741-1819) of Halifax County, Virginia and Chester County, South Carolina. There are additional exact DNA matches of the Moses Grigg lineage and seven other Owen-surnamed individuals including two men descended from probable grandchildren of Edward Owen: These presumed grandchildren are Burd/Bird Owen (cr. 1760-aft 1808) and Larkin Owen (1779-1848), perhaps sons of Solomon Owen (abt 1734-aft 1807). The other five Owens matching the Moses Grigg line also could be descendants of Edward Owen (see Appendix II, Grigg Family DNA results followed by Appendix III, Owen DNA results for descendants of John, Burd, and Larkin Owen).
These exact matches are especially compelling in that the Moses Grigg line does not match any of the literally dozens of Grigg, Grigg, Gregg, and MacGregor lines DNA tested to date. These Grigg, Griggs and Gregg lines represent many, if not most of the Grigg families (and variations) of colonial America, north and south, as well as some current British lines.
The second important piece of information comes from the 1748 list of tithables of Lunenburg County, Virginia by Cornelius Cargill. On this list, we find the same Edward Owen listed in immediate sequence after Aaron Pinson, Sr. and Aaron Pinson Jr (see Appendix IV). By way of the 1757 will of Aaron Pinson Sr naming “Moses Grigg” as his “grandson,” we have long ago established that Moses Grigg’s mother was a Pinson, mostly likely Sarah Ann Pinson (born abt 1730), identified in the will of her godfather and possible maternal uncle, Christopher Rambo in 1747. She is missing from her father’s will in 1757 and could be presumed dead after an equally presumed and relatively brief marriage to a Grigg (but see below).
Moses Grigg is identified as a tithable and nephew of Thomas Pinson in 1764 thereby further establishing his relationship to the Pinsons as well as a birthdate of about 1748 (tithable at age 16). Sarah Ann’s only sister “Elinor” married a Wiles (probably Thomas Wiles, son of Stephen Wiles, a witness to Aaron Sr.’s will) after 1757 as she was still named by her maiden name in her father’s will. We might exclude Elinor as Moses’ mother in that the task of providing a cow and calf to Moses Grigg “upon the day he shall come of age” was assigned to Thomas Pinson. Also, there is some question about Elinor’s birthdate given that Thomas Wiles was born about 1744. Although we have recorded Elinor’s birthdate as 1726, it seems unlikely that she was born before 1740. Her daughter, Mary Wiles Clanton, was born in 1784 and later uses the name Pinson for at least one of her children, Sarah Pinson Clanton (thereby confirming a Pinson connection). We have also excluded the possibility of Moses being Aaron’s grandson through one of his sons by comparing the Y DNA of the Pinson sons’ descendants and they are definitely not a match (also in Appendix II).
While DNA evidence alone can only narrow the likelihood of a close family connection to an entire lineage (the Edward Owen family in this case), it is the known historical facts that narrow the focus to a single individual. The close proximity of Edward Owen himself to the Pinsons in at least the same year in which Moses Grigg was born is an important filter to other members of the extended family. Could Moses’s father have been Edward Owen’s sons or brothers or nephews? One might exclude the sons by age, mostly or entirely being younger than the approximately 17 or 18 year old Sarah Ann Pinson in 1747/48 (if her estimated birthdate of 1730 is correct). One might also exclude them on the grounds of the likelihood that an Owen marriage would have been the outcome of an Owen-Pinson relationship if both of the principals involved were not married. Although we might never know if Sarah was already married or betrothed to a Grigg in 1747/48, it is very likely that Edward Owen was married, having married “Joyce” as early as 1731 and certainly before 1740 when Edward and his wife are identified as the parents of a daughter, Elizabeth, in Bristol Parish Register, Henrico (Prince George; Dinwiddie) County, Virginia. Their most documented offspring is John Owen, as noted above, who was born 1741 or 1742 or perhaps later. The oldest of the presumed sons is Joseph Owen born approximately 1732. In 1748, Edward lists only one tithable male (himself) in his household indicating that his oldest son was almost certainly younger than sixteen years (Joseph appears to be a tithable of Edward’s in 1749). If any of the several other Owens in Lunenburg/Halifax counties were Edward Owen’s brothers or nephews (not unlikely), this has yet to be confirmed.
One additional piece of information from 1748, the probable year of Moses Grigg’s birth, might also be interpreted as relevant to the question of Edward Owen’s relationship with Sarah Ann Pinson. Karen Grubaugh notes something of a mystery regarding Edward Owen’s sudden relocation some distance away from the Pinsons:
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