Surname Saturday: Chinn (other spellings: DeCheyne, Cheyne, Chynn, LeChein)

Tonight I start my "Countdown of Ancestors". (With homage to Randy Seaver of, who has been doing this for a long time and provided the inspiration to attempt my own version!)

There are 28 surnames I have identified in my direct ancestry.  That sure doesn't seem like much after researching these families for over 40 years (off and on!).  For some ancestral names, I have little information.  Hoping these posts might find fellow researchers.

Tonight:  Nancy Chinn
Here is my connection to Nancy Chinn, my 4th great grandmother:

Looking at the hints on my ancestry tree, there are 25 member trees that show different parentage for Nancy than what I have.  So would love feedback on this.

My only documentation at this time is a pamphet sent to me by the Des Moines County, Iowa Genealogy Society titled:  "The Pioneer Ross Family in Burlington and Southern Iowa" by William Junken, Nancy's grandson.  The pamphlet was published in 1911.  Portions of the story were published in the Burlington Hawk-Eye newspaper in Burlington, Des Moines County, Iowa.

The excerpts below refer to Nancy and her husband, William 'Captain' Ross AND a connection to George Washington's mother! (where is Genealogy Roadshow when I need them?)
Captain Ross migrates to Kentucky
Nancy Chinn, wife of Captain Ross.  Chinn Family story.

The only record I have, is actually just a reference from
"Source Citation: Source number: 1558.067; Source type: Family group sheet, FGSE, listed as parents; Number of Pages: 1.
Source Information:
Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.
Original data: This unique collection of records was extracted from a variety of sources including family group sheets and electronic databases. Originally, the information was derived from an array of materials including pedigree charts, family history articles, querie.
This database contains marriage record information for approximately 1,400,000 individuals from across all 50 United States and 32 different countries around the world between 1560 and 1900. These records, which include information on over 500 years of marriages, were extracted from family group sheets, electronic databases, biographies, wills, and other sources."

This is the family group sheet from my tree on

Things to do:  
  • Obtain probate records for Nancy's father and grandparents
  • Obtain probate records for Nancy's husband, Captain Ross
  • Obtain birth/marriage/death records for Nancy's children
  • Obtain obituaries for Nancy's children.
  • Write to historical and genealogical societies in Virginia and Kentucky for further information.
  • There are currently no graves listed on nor for a Nancy Ross in Fayette County, Kentucky.
I have checked on Animap and the borders of Fayette County, Kentucky have been stable since the early 1800's.

I have submitted DNA tests on, and  So far, no Chinn matches.  

Also looked at World Family Names on and found the info below.  (Screen prints used with permission of Alex Singleton of
I love how shows name distribution throughout the world.  I should probably do this for all the alternate spellings of the name as well.

UPDATE!  Nancy's grandfather, Charles a  'love child'? (Most trees identify Charles as Nancy's father.)
I found this on ancestry's message boards, which tells the story of Rawleigh Chinn, married to Esther Ball (half sister of George Washington's wife).  The marriage became difficult and they separated.  Rawleigh became involved with Esther's cousin, Margaret Ball Downman with whom he had 3 children, one of which was Charles, Nancy Chinn's grandfather.  Look for the posting by plinkmusic  for the full story.  Here is a snippet:
Since Rawleigh did not get a divorce, he and Margaret could never marry. Despite this, they had three sons, eldest Charles (born 18 Oct 1723 in Richmond Co), Christopher and Elijah. Margaret was, between about 1728 and 1735 repeatedly taken to court for 'adultery', fornication, leud character and at least twice for having an 'illegal' child. On occasion, Rawleigh too would be brought in on charges. Rawleigh died about 1741, and left to his 'godsons', "the sons of Mrs. Margaret Downman", land (in Prince William County) and personal effects, for the most part, equal to his other sons. "


  1. I have CHINN in my tree in Dorset, England I don't know if this helps but it may give a clue to where the family may have originated.
    There is a Dorset OPC which can be searched


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