Childers/ress James River

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About us

The Earliest Known Childers Ancestor

(progenitor to Abraham and Philemon Childers who settled in the James River Virginia area, circa 1650)

After careful consideration of what we believe to be facts, the James River Research Team has concluded that our most distant known and proven Childers/Childress ancestor to be named "Chelders."  Documented proof of the existence of this family line was discovered decades ago in the church records of the St. Peter's Church in the ancient city of Hunslet in the Leeds Parish of Northwest Yorkshire County, United Kingdom.  We have examined transcriptions of very early baptisms, marriages and burials at this website and believe that the conclusions reached by a committee formed by Mrs. Walter Zeboski in the 1980's were correct.  Among many entries in the above church records was the November 26, 1637 baptism of one "Philemon Chelders," one of the two earliest known ancestors of the Childers/Childress surname in America.  Our earliest "proven" ancestor is believed to be Ralph Chelders, born ca. 1592 in the United Kingdom and our "Master Gedcom" lists him as such.

The reader will find numerous entries for individuals with the surname of Chelders in the very earliest part of our Master GedCom file now available online.  Interestingly, while there were about 55,000 individuals in the 2000 U.S. Federal Census with the surname of "Childers" or "Childress," there were none with the surname of "Chelders," indicating a disappearance of the surname before the immigration to America in the 17th century.

Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the history of Leeds can be traced to the 5th century when the Kingdom of Elmet was covered by the forest of "Loidis", the origin of the name Leeds. The name has been applied to many administrative entities over the centuries. It changed from being the appellation of a small manorial borough, in the 13th century, through several incarnations, to being the name attached to the present metropolitan borough. In the 17th and 18th centuries Leeds became a major centre for the production and trading of wool.   (source:

The James River Viking Clan is a Childers/Childress family history research group established in 2013 currently made up  of nearly 100 individuals whose surname is Childers or Childress (or derivative thereof) and whose connected paternal ancestries have been firmly established by genetic testing of their Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA).  As such, we have chosen a clan name (James River Viking Childers/Childress) to distinguish our family lineage from several unconnected or far removed bloodlines who share our surnames, but not our complete Y-DNA signature.  

A progression of traditional family history searches conducted by various Childers/ress genealogists over past decades indicate that the origin of our clan dates back to the 17th century, coincidental with the arrival of our common ancestors in Colonial America and their settlement along the James River, near present-day Richmond, Virginia. The timing is supported by a simplified genetic analysis procedure that statistically translates minor Y-DNA signature differences (mutations) between individuals to the maximum number of generations back to their Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA).

Beyond our English heritage, Y-DNA passed down to us through our paternal ancestors correlates well with that of many modern-day inhabitants of the Scandinavian countries.  This finding indicates that we most likely trace back through the Viking population, almost certainly via their 300-year long history of raids, invasions, and partial conquests of the British Isles beginning just before the 8th century.

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