Threadgill Men: Take a Y-DNA Test to Prove Link to English Clockmaker, Deodatus Threlkeld

Men with the Threadgill surname are needed in a Threlkeld DNA Project. 

Deodatus Threlkeld was a 17th century English clockmaker. He is famous for crafting pendulum clocks in Northumberland. His oldest son, Deodatus II, emigrated to America through Bermuda in the 1720s and may be the forefather of many American Threadgills.

Deodatus II likely had an illegitimate son born in Bermuda.

County and church records in Bermuda and Virginia provide evidence to link Deodatus II and John Threadgill as father and son. The spelling of the surname evolves through the documents, from Threlkeld to Threadgall to Threadgale and, ultimately, to Threadgill. 

Deodatus II married a widow (Sibella Harmer Merritt) with a young daughter (Elizabeth Merritt) while living in Bermuda in the early 18th century. His stepdaughter, Elizabeth, married Isaac Edwards—also of Bermuda. 

Deodatus II named Elizabeth as an heir in his 1728 will in Norfolk County, Virginia. She’s described as the wife of Isaac Edwards. Elizabeth is placed third in line for inheritance, behind a namesake son, Deodatus III, and John Threlkeld. John is presumed to be an illegitimate son of Deodatus II, born to a Bermudian woman, Jimima Burrows.

About a year after Deodatus’s death, Elizabeth is recognized in the will of her mother. Sibella’s name is written as Siball Threadgall in her Virginia will. We know Siball Threadgall is the woman referenced in Deodatus II’s will – as his “well beloved wife”, Sibell Threlkeld – because of the reiterated references to Bermuda and Elizabeth Edwards. Both wills are recorded in Norfolk County. Records in Bermuda also connect Sibella and Elizabeth as mother and daughter before their emigration to Virginia.

In 1748 the Albemarle Parish Register of Surrey County, Virginia—a county adjacent to Norfolk- lists Isaac Edwards as the godfather of John Threadgale’s oldest son, William. The same parish register records Elizabeth Edwards’s death in 1752. 

Issac Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, are the relatives that link Deodatus Threlkeld II to his supposed illegitimate son, John Threlkeld/John Threadgill and John’s children in Virginia. Three generations of Threlkeld/Threadgill records in Bermuda and southeast Virginia mention Issac and/or Elizabeth. 

DNA Testing Will Support or Deny the Records

The records, however, never refer to John Threlkeld as the “son of Deodatus Threlkeld II”-probably because of John’s illegitimate birth. While the indirect evidence is strong, DNA evidence would support or repudiate the records.

A Threlkeld DNA Project is ongoing at Family Tree DNA. Men with the surname Threadgill can help prove or reject the hypothesis that many American Threadgills descend from the English Clockmaker, Deodatus Threlkeld. 

If you are a male with the Threadgill surname and believe you descend from John Threlkeld (Threadgill), please consider joining the FtDNA Threlkeld Project. Your Y-DNA test results can help prove or disprove a Threlkeld lineage in America.

If you have questions, please contact the author.

The Will of Deodatus Threlkeld II (written 26 August 1728, Norfolk County, VA)

In the name of God Amen, the twenty-sixth day of August in ye year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred and twenty-eight, and in ye first year of ye reign of our Sovereign Lord King George ye Second, I Deodatus Threlkeld of Norfolk County in Virginia, Mariner, being in low health of body but of good and perfect memory – pleased be God, I do make this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following, that is to say, first I bequeath my soul into ye hands of God that gave it, and my body I recommend to ye earth to be buried in a decent Christian manner at ye discretion of my executors nothing doubting but at ye General Resurrection I shall receive ye same again by ye mighty power of God, and as trusting my worldly estate I give and dispose of it in manner and form following:

Imprimus – I will that all my debts as I shall owe and my funeral charges be truly paid.

Item – I give and bequeath to my well beloved wife Sibell Threlkeld one half of my real and personal estate as long as she shall live.

Item – Ye other half I give and bequeath to my son Deodatus Threlkeld both real and personal estate and at his mothers death I give ye other half – that was his mothers to my son Deodatus Threlkeld and his heirs lawfully begotten. I give to my son Deodatus Threlkeld my Gun and Sword, shoo buckels and sleeve buttons and to his heirs, but if my son Deodatus should dye before ye age of one and twenty or be married then ye half that was Deodatus Threlkeld shall come to John Threlkeld ye son of Jimima Burrows in Bermuda, and if John Threlkeld should dye before ye age of One and Twenty or be married to come to ye children of Elizabeth Edwards ye wife of Isaac Edwards and their heirs successively.

Item – I will that my friends Thomas Scott and John Tucker be Executors, and my childs part be taken care of and I do hereby utterly disannul and revoke all and every other former testaments, wills, legesies, requests and executions by me in any way made or named, willed or bequested. Ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament In Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal ye day and year above written.

/s/ Deod. Threlkeld

Signed and Sealed in the presence of us

Martha Scott X her mark
Mary Ballingtine X her mark
Elizabeth Scott

Proved in Open Court Sixteenth day of May 1729 by Martha Scott, Elizabeth Scott now Hughes…… Sibell Threlkeld the wife…… (not legible)

Executors did not act, and administration was given on 16 May 1729 to Sibell Threlkeld


Boddie, John Bennett, and John Bennett Boddie. 1967. Historical Southern families. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co. Vol XX, pg 177; Brunswick County, VA, Order Book 7, page 131.

Boddie, John B. Births, Deaths, and Sponsors, 1717-1778: From the Albemarle Parish Register of Surry and Sussex Counties, Virginia. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co, 1964. Pgs 39 and 139.

Hollis Hallett, C. F. E. 1993. Early Bermuda wills, 1629-1835: summarized and indexed, a genealogical reference book. Bermuda: Juniperhill Press. Pgs 182, 377 and 577.

McIntosh, Brief Abstracts of Norfolk County Wills 1710-1753. Pages 119-120 and 150-151.

The Virginia Genealogical Society. Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly and Magazine of Virginia Genealogy. Vol. 33, No. 1, page 68.

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