Scientists in England are conducting a search in Suffolk for the DNA of the man who founded the first English-speaking colony in America. Scientists are planning to take DNA from the skeletons of two women who died 400 years ago in an attempt to discover more about an English explorer, who historians said was one of America's founders.
Archaeologists believe they have found the remains of Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, who was born in Grundisburgh, and is said to have founded the first English-speaking American colony in Virginia in 1607. To confirm their suspicions, they propose to make cross-checks with the DNA of Gosnold's sister or niece, who are both thought to have been buried in Suffolk churchyards in the 1600s.
Church officials believe the project is the first of its kind in the UK and said all proper legal steps will be taken before graves are disturbed.
Records show that Gosnold's sister, Elizabeth Gosnold Tilney, lies in the chancel of All Saints' Church in Shelley. His niece, Katherine Blackerby, is believed to be buried at St Peter and St Mary Church, Stowmarket.
The searchers expect to photograph the remains a using a mini-camera that will be attached to a tube and inserted into the graves. The experts say it will not be necessary to exhume remains, but that samples can be taken after digging a narrow shaft in specific areas.
That means there would be no need for reburials or religious services. A genealogist has been working on this and traced 13 generations after Gosnold. The family then seems to have died out, we can find no living relatives.
The driving force behind the project is the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, a historical society based in Richmond, Virginia. Association officials said research showed Bartholomew Gosnold established the Jamestown settlement, in what is now Virginia, in 1607 and died a few months later aged 36.