21 July 2009
|Mayor of Bideford Cllr Andy Powell swabs the DNA of Barnstaple businessman Philip Milton (right)|
THE search for ancestors of the Lost Colonists of America is starting in earnest in North Devon with a Barnstaple businessman submitting his DNA for testing.
Financial advisor and Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Philip Milton is among the first to have answered the call of Mayor of Bideford Andy Powell, who is trying to establish whether people from the Bideford area were among the founding fathers of America - more than 30 years before the Pilgrim Fathers set sail from Plymouth.
Keen to establish the town's part in the early colonisation of the continent, Mr Powell is seeking local people whose surnames match with the 117 known names of the Lost Colonists of Roanoke Island in North Carolina, who disappeared without trace in the 1580s.
He hopes to establish that they were not "lost" but joined with the native American people to become the first permanent English settlers and that they included men and women from Bideford.
It is documented how ships from Bideford, captained by Sir Richard Grenville, were involved in the colonisation attempts made by Sir Walter Raleigh from 1584-1590.
Information he has discovered convinces Mr Powell of the likelihood that Bideford took part.
Many Native American people carry European DNA, he pointed out. In conjunction with a study in the US using DNA he is hoping to prove the existence of DNA from the Lost Colonists and from people emanating from Bideford and North Devon.
He is asking that people with the same surnames as the Lost Colonists who can trace their family history back at least 300 years to make contact with him.
After reading of Mr Powell's quest in the Gazette, Mr Milton was one of the first to come forward.
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