Analysis of the ancestry of Anthony Coombs, who lived in Maine between 1684 and 1730 and his link to the Comeau family of Port-Royal, Acadia. A link between him and Antoine Comeau, son of Pierre Comeau was established via documented genealogy and especially a DNA analysis between descendants of Anthony Coombs and Pierre Comeau. These two paths give the indication that Anthony Coombs was in fact Antoine Comeau.
Born around 1661 in Port-Royal, Antoine Comeau was the 5th son of Pierre Comeau and Rose Bayon. Pierre Comeau was one of the first settlers in Acadia, New France, born around 1597, probably in France. He and Rose Bayon had 9 children documented through censuses taken in Acadia, between 1671 and 1686. Here was the documented details of the Comeau family, in Acadia during that period:
The 1671 census was the first acadian census. The Comeaus were seen within two households in Port-Royal, the eldest son, Etienne, being head of his own household by that time:
On this census, Antoine was listed under Pierre’s household and was 10 years old.
In the 1678 census, the Comeau family was spread around multiple households in Port-Royal. Pierre Comeau was now listed as a widower, Antoine still listed as living with his father, and was at the time 17 years old:
Pierre Comeau Widower
Pierre 18 1660
Jean 14 1664
Anthoine 17 1661
Jeanne 16 1662
12 cattle 1 compass 4 oxen 14 acres
The next acadian census, we still see Antoine listed under Pierre’s household, at 24 years old:
This is the last documented trace of Antoine Comeau in Acadia.
The first mention of Anthony Coombs is in 1684 in Wells, Maine, where he was an apprentice blacksmith, alongside Lewis Allen. Lewis Allen was in fact Louis Allain (c.1654-1737) a man who transited between New England and Acadia. He married Marguerite Bourg around 1690 and died in Port-Royal in 1737. Here was the mention of Anthony Coombs from the Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, Noyes, Libby & Davis, page 161:
When Louis Allain went to Port-Royal, he left Anthony in charge of the land in Wells. From the above document, Anthony married Dorcas Wooden, daughter of John Wooden and Mary Johnson) in Wells, Maine on september 5th, 1688. Another source mentioning the marriage was from the Old York country records:
Anthony relocated in Rochester, Massachusetts in 1704, getting a piece a land in exchange for his services as a blacksmith as documented in the Mattapoisett and Old Rochester, MA book, page 41:
Anthony Coombs and Dorcas Wooden had eleven children, mostly in Massachusetts, as seen in the different towns’ vital records:
Frances (1708) and
The last mention of the couple was in 1722 and they are presumed dead before 1730.
ANTOINE COMEAU vs ANTHONY COOMBS
From a genealogical standpoint, some observations can be made:
- Anthony Coombs (or Comes as it is sometimes written in the records) was easily interpreted as an anglicized version of Antoine Comeau.
- From his proximity to Louis Allain, known acadian who lived in Port-Royal, we can guess that Allain could have contacted and hire Antoine in Port-Royal around 1684 to assist him in New England.
- The name of Anthony’s children can be associated with names in the first Comeau generations, a known tradition: Mary to Marie, Peter to Pierre, Ithamer to Etienne?, John to Jean, Hannah to Anne, Frances to Françoise, Jane to Jeanne.
- It has been said that Anthony had French ancestry and was groomed to be educated for the church and fled to New England. One famous recollection of this is William Carey Coombs book The story of Anthony Coombs and his descendants.
To further this hypothesis, a DNA study was conducted between male descendants of Pierre Comeau and male descendants of Anthony Coombs. Two studies took place:
- A Y-DNA study that established the link between males as to a common ancestor. The tests were conducted at AncestryDNA and Family Tree DNA.
- A haplogroup and subclade study between a Comeau descendant and a Coombs descendant, done within the Geno2 project at National Geographic.
To this date, nine individuals participated in the study. Four descendants of Pierre Comeau and five descendants of Anthony Coombs. Seven tests were done at AncestryDNA and two at Family Tree DNA. Here are the results:
As can be seen from the results, there was a direct link between the two families. We even see that a Comeau candidate had a direct match on 37 markers with a Coombs candidate. The other tests had only one mutation of 1 degree between them at the most.
The FTDNA Comeau project site is located here.
Haplgroup and subclade study
To further the DNA analysis, a descendant of Anthony Coombs and a descendant of Pierre Comeau participated in the Geno2 project at National Geographic to determine their paternal branch. Both tests came back with same the paternal branch, R-CTS11567.
In light of the results from the DNA studies and the logical extrapolations surrounding Anthony Coombs, we can assume that Anthony Coombs was in fact Antoine Comeau, son of Pierre Comeau and Rose Bayon, born c.1661 in Port-Royal.
ACADIAN-CAJUN Genealogy & History
Combs-Coombs &c., a Nonprofit Historical/Genealogical Research Group
The story of Anthony Coombs and his descendants (1913) by William Carey Coombs
The New England historical and genealogical register (1874) by New England Historic Genealogical Society
Genealogical dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire by Noyes, Sybil; Libby, Charles T. (Charles Thornton), 1861-1948; Davis, Walter Goodwin, 1885-1966
Mattapoisett and Old Rochester, Massachusetts : being a history of these towns and also in part of Marion and a portion of Wareham (1907) by Leonard, Mary Hall
The Genographic Project at National Geographic
Family Tree DNA – Comeau project
Ancestry – Comeau family group