I am a Western Eurasian

The Caucasus.  By NASA/MODIS - Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_rec.php?id=1939) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

I grew up in the age where archaeology was the main driver behind our understanding of the distant past.  It still plays an important role in helping us to understand our human past before writing, and to sometimes correct our understanding of our past ever since the advent of writing.

During the past 24 months however, there has been a silent revolution.  It has been read by what is inside of us, the story of human DNA, and a foray into exploring and mapping ancient human DNA.  It is rewriting the prehistory of Western Eurasia.

First of all, we have to stop retaining ideas that somehow, Western Europeans are an isolate population.  We are the result of admixture after admixture, across Eurasia.  The DNA of humans from Ireland to Iran is strikingly similar.  We are a combination of different admixtures from different populations that lived 1) North of the Caucasus, 2) South of the Caucasus, and 3) Europe.  The Caucasus, as in the photo above, has been the great division between peoples, that allowed local Western Asian populations to divide, that then to admixed in both Western Asia, and in Europe.

This revelation is not yet widely known.  Even many professional archaeologists remain unaware, or skeptical about this new tool.  New migrations and admixture events are being discovered, into Europe, and across Eurasia that contradict previous consensus.

The Founder Populations

Europe

The latest evidence suggests that the earlier humans and their cultures of Ice Age Europe, did not survive all of the fluctuations in climate.  A new genome arrived and established 14,000 to 7,000 years ago, as represented by the Villabruna Cluster of human remains.  These last hunter-gatherers appear to have less Neanderthal DNA, and a closer relationship to Near East populations than did earlier Europeans.  They may have migrated into Europe when much of the Aegean Sea dried towards the end of the Ice Age.  These late hunter-gatherers may have contributed DNA to modern Western Eurasians both inside Europe, and in West Asia. When Early Neolithic Farmers arrived in NW Europe, it was probably the descendants of the Villabruna Type that they encountered.  They may have admixed with them.  A genetic legacy from these populations appears to be blue eyes.

South of the Caucasus

The Fertile Crescent spawned the Neolithic Revolution of Agriculture.  A distinctive genetic "ghost" population that has been named the Basal Eurasians significantly contributed to their DNA, along with other hunter-gatherer populations within the area.  Their descendants, the Early Neolithic Farmers, took agriculture, wheat, barley, sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs - along with pottery production, and polished flint axe heads across the Levant, to North Africa, Anatolia, and then on to Europe.  Along the way, they may have admixed with the hunter-gatherer populations that they displaced.  Today, their surviving DNA signal in Europe, is strongest in Sardinia, followed by the remainder of Southern Europe.

North of the Caucasus

Arable agriculture made only a temporary appearance on the Pontic and Caspian Steppes, but was soon replaced by pastoralism and a very different way of life.  The horse was well adapted to life on the Steppes, and humans there domesticated it.  Mounted on horses, they could control larger flocks and herds of livestock.  They also introduced wheeled carts, enabling them to easily mobilise to the best pastures depending on season and climate change.  They also encountered and mastered the new copper then bronze working technologies.  Steppe pastoralists could range long distances across the Steppe Corridor across Eurasia. They were also adapting by natural selection to a dairy based diet, with a rising percentage of lactose tolerance into adulthood.  A significant contribution to their DNA came from a group of Siberian hunter-gatherers known to population geneticists as the Ancient North Eurasian.  The copper age archaeological culture associated with this genetic group is the Yamna or Yamnaya.

Yamna Culture Tomb.  By XVodolazx (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

What happened in Europe?

Villabruna types entered Europe around 15,000 years ago, perhaps from the Near East.  They may have replaced earlier groups of European hunter-gatherers.

Early Neolithic Farmers from south of the Caucasus, then spread into Europe around 7,000 years ago, both across the Balkans into Central Europe, and also along the Mediterranean coast, bringing agriculture and pottery.  They may have at times admixed with hunter-gatherers within Europe.  However, their much better abilities at food production created a wave of displacement that must have been hard to resist.  They could rear so many more children.  By 5,000 years ago, their descendants dominated Europe.

Eurasian Steppe Pastoralists from north of the Caucasus, then spread into Eastern Europe around 4,100 years ago.  Why wasn't there a resistance from the Early Neolithic Farmers living there?  Latest research suggests that the Steppe Pastoralists had contracted a plague strain known as Yersinia pestis from Central Asia.  The current favoured hypothesis is that they may have accidentally spread this disease to less resistant Neolithic Farmer populations in Europe.  Some plots in Neolithic activity do indeed suggest a crisis at this time.  Therefore, the Steppe Warriors could easily dominate the depleted and weakened social structures of the Neolithic Europeans.  They brought with them, an Indo-European language, that appears to be the ancestor of most present day European languages.

In Europe, the fusion had a clear sex bias, with many Neolithic mitochondrial DNA haplogroups surviving, while Steppe Y haplogroups such as R1A still dominate today.  The fusion also seemed to give rise to a new archaeological culture known as the Corded Ware.

We know that the Yamnaya expansion didn't stop at all in Eastern Europe, it continued into Western Europe.  A fusion culture may be the Bell Beaker of the Early Bronze Age.  Again, a sex bias, with some mtDNA haplogroups surviving, but a strong dominance of Steppe Y haplogroups including the many clades of R1b.  Indeed, some of this domination is strongest on the Western edge of Eurasia, in places such as Iberia, Ireland, and Scotland, where later admixture events failed to reach - but the Steppe Pastoralists had dominated, particularly in male haplogroups.

How does this relate to this East Anglian?

According to the latest K7 Basal-rich test by David Wesolowski of the Eurogenes Blog, my ancestral breakdown of my autosomal DNA, around 14,000 years ago would be:

  • 57% Villabruna-type (Europe and the Near East)
  • 29% Basal-rich (Middle East)
  • 14% Ancient North Eurasian (Siberia)

My Y haplogroup (L-SK1414) ancestor would have most likely been an ibex hunter in the area of present-day Iran and Iraq, possibly in the valleys of Mesopotamia, and or the Zagros Mountains of Iran.

My mtDNA ancestor would have been Eurasian - by 4,400 years ago, a woman of the Yamnaya, on the Pontic and Caspian Steppes, in a pastoralist tribe.

So, you get where this is taking me.  Step back into prehistory, and what DNA is revealing to me is that my ancestors were NOT all in Britain, or even all in Europe.  They were scattered across Siberia, the Steppes, the Caucasus, the Zagros, the Middle East, the Levant, and go further back, to Africa.

Alternatively, the equally recent Global 10 test, run by my friend Helgenes50 of the Anthrogenica board, resulted in:

  • 55% Baalberge_MN (European Middle Neolithic)
  • 38% Yamna_Samara (Eurasian Steppe Pastoralist)
  • 7% Loschbour:Loschbour (Late Eurasian hunter-gatherer)

These two tests may not actually conflict, as they are essentially tests referring to the Eurasian populations of two different time periods, with different admixtures.  The K7 Basal-rich test refers to my proposed ancestral populations towards the end of the last Ice Age.  The Global 10 test refers to more recent admixture leading up to the Bronze Age. 

I am a Western Eurasian.

Was our Y ancestor a Druze?

From an image published by Ashley Van Haeften and copied here under Creative Commons Licence Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Within hours of publishing my most recent hypothesis: Was our ancestor a Baloch Lascar, I receive news of an incredible rare event.  Someone else on the FTDNA Big Y tested to Y Haplogroup L L-SK1414 (L1b2c).  The sample belonged to a Druze genetics project, and was taken from a man from the Druze town of Zaroun (Matn District) in Lebanon.  The project administrator told me "his ancestors -at least for the past 1000 years- should have been either residents in Mount Lebanon or migrated as many other Druze families from the Idlib region in NW Syria (Jabal el Summaq Mountain)".

The Druze

The Druze are a Levant community, dispersed primarily through Syria, Lebanon, and Israel.  They consider themselves an Arabic culture, but they follow their own faith system, which according to Wikipedia: "The Druze faith is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion based on the teachings of Hamza ibn-'Ali, al-Hakim, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates and Akhenaten.".


What makes the Druze particularly interesting to population geneticists, is that they stopped accepting converts one thousand years ago.  They marry within their community only.  Therefore they potentially represent a snapshot of the medieval Levant population, without more recent admixture.  A recent genetic study of the Druze confirms this history:

"The researchers also found that there is no evidence of new genes entering the Druze gene pool over the last 1,000 years. In other words, no additional groups from the outside joined this community. In addition, the researchers found evidence of genetic differences between Druze populations from different regions: Lebanon, the Golan Hights, the Upper Galilee and the Carmel Mountain. This strengthens the evidence that marriages take place only within each clan.

When they went further back in time, the researchers discovered another interesting finding. It came to light that, 500 years prior to the beginning of the Druze religion, around the 6th century AD and at the time of the birth of Islam, a genetic group began to take shape that formed the basis of the Druze community’s ancestors.

According to this study, the Druze genome is largely similar to the genome of other Arab populations in the Middle East. They also found a few genetic elements in the Druze genome that originated from Europe, Central and South Asia (the Iran region) and Africa.".

Source.

Studies have found that although a variety of both Y and mt haplogroups can be found in the Druze community, they appear to have been isolated for that time period.  So a haplotype found within the Druze, would have been in the region of North-West Syria and Lebanon, during the 11th Century AD.

Druze Clerics During the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate era (late 19th Century AD). See page for author [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

How does this change my perspective on my Y origins into Europe?

L-SK1414 now looks more dispersed across Western Asia, from the Levant, to Pakistan.  That might mean that my medieval Y migrant from Asia to England didn't take a Lascar route from the Persian Gulf / Arabian Sea after all.  It could be that they traveled from the Levant along the Mediterranean, or even across Europe?  They may not have a Balochi connection - they could have been of many Asian ethnicities.  It's a good example of how easy it is to develop a hypothesis based on too little evidence.

As for the origins of L-SK1414, I'm now looking a little more south, and a little more central.  Favourite suggestion now is Tigris and Euphrates Valleys, and the Zagros Mountains, in Iraq and Iran.  L-SK1414 could have dispersed westwards to the Levant, and eastwards to Makran, SW Pakistan.

Here is the distribution of recorded Y haplotype L-SK1414 so far in Western Asia:

Note the centralised nature of the Iran / Iraq "Cradle of Civilisation" to L-SK1414.  Could our Y ancestors have passed through Ancient Mesopotamia?  Now there's an interesting thought!

My Ancestral Events Mapped

Here I map the ancestral events as recorded on my Gramps genealogical database.  These events can be baptisms, marriages, census records, etc.  The larger the dot, the more events for that particular parish.  I have modified images of Southern England from OpenStreetMap.org Copyright attribution-sharealike 2.0 generic.

My Mother's Ancestral Events.

This includes the recorded events for my mother's 134 recorded direct ancestors and siblings.  As you can see, her known ancestry over the past 330 years has been incredibly localised!  All English.  All East Anglian.  Almost entirely in Norfolk - with one line drifting back to nearby Suffolk.  An incredibly dense cluster in East Norfolk, around the River Yare in Broadland.  Sure enough second cousin and third cousin marriages have been detected in her tree.

My Father's Ancestral Events

This includes the recorded events for my late father's 116 recorded direct ancestors and siblings.  A little more travelled over the past 330 years, although I feel that the events record has a bias in research to show this - as indeed, I estimate his known Norfolk ancestry over the past 330 years to amount to at least 70% of his combined heritage.  Nonetheless, some of his lines trace back temporarily to London, then back mainly to Oxfordshire and the Thames Valley.  All South-East English again.

None of this makes my family any more special than any other family anywhere else in the World, with any type of recent heritage and admixture.  Indeed, the English are a particularly admixed population. However, in testing commercial DNA tests for ancestry, I feel that we offer a good reference sample of SE English, and even East Anglian Norfolk.

I'm particularly interested in how these commercial DNA companies are failing to discriminate ancient or population admixture, from recent (350 years) family admixture.  Some populations they are able to detect with some certainty and accuracy.  However, others such as the English, not at all.  They are unable - despite their claims otherwise, to break recent autosomal admixture on lines over the past ten generations, from earlier, sometimes much earlier population admixtures.

I'm looking forward to seeing if the new Living DNA test fares any better, with it's rich British data set.

DNA.land - raw file comparison

Comparing the ancestry results of two raw files from the same tester (myself) uploaded to DNA.land.

Myself.
Paper trail and family history 100% SE English, mainly East Anglian. 249 direct ancestors named in documentary research.

23andMe result before phasing (spec mode):
100% European broken into
94% Northwestern Europe
3% Southern Europe
3% unassigned European

Broken down further to:
32% British & Irish
27% French & German
7% Scandinavian
29% Broadly NW European
0.5% Iberian
2.4% Broadly South European

23andMe result after phasing with one parent (spec mode):
100% European
96% Northwestern European
1.8% Southern European
2.2% Broadly European

Broken down further to:
37% British & Irish
22% French & German
1% Scandinavian
36% Broadly NW European
1.8% Broadly Southern European

FT-DNA Family Finder My Origins.
100% European

Broken down further to:
36% British Isles
32% Southern Europe
26% Scandinavia
6% Eastern Europe

Now I am comparing the two raw files for the same person, uploaded to, and analysed for ancestry, by DNA.land:

23andMe V4 raw file for myself on DNA.land:

100% West Eurasian.
77% North West European
19% South European (broken into 13% Balkan / 6.1% South/Central European
2.4% Finnish
1.3% Ambiguous

FT-DNA FF raw file for myself on DNA.land:
100% West Eurasian
75% North West European
25% Balkan

Just for more information:

My mother's 23andMe raw file on on DNA.land:
100% West Eurasian
80% North West European
10% South European (broken into 7.7% South/Central Europe / 2.4% Balkan)
6.4% Finnish
2.3% Sardinian
1.5% Ambiguous 

Conclusion

Phasing on 23andme suggested that I inherit (in spec mode) nearly 1% Southern European from each parent. That each of my very East Anglian parents had a Southern European ancestor within the past 300 - 500 years is highly unlikely, considering 1) the paper trail, and 2) local history in this rural area. Therefore I feel that this reflects much older background ancestry for the local SE English population. Ancient DNA calculators also predict that I have higher than average levels of ENF/EEF than other local populations such as the Irish and Scottish, and lower levels of ANE. This appears associated with my Southern European flavour that some tests suggest as a minority percentage. FT-DNA suggested 32% Southern European! Some commentators have suggested that this might indicate significant French admixture to the SE English population, perhaps during the Norman and Medieval periods, carrying a southern signal higher into lowland Britain. Earlier admixture into Lowland Britain from the south, is also possible during late prehistory and the Roman period.

DNA.land has been noted for a bias to predicting both Balkan, and Finnish ancestry for testers, and my results are no exception. I feel that as with all current autosomal DNA test/analysis for ancestry, that DNA.land has a way to go. As with the other predictors, it is very successful at recognising me as 100% European (although ironically my Y-DNA is Western Asian). It is fair at spotting me as NW European, but NOT as successful as 23andMe. Below that level, once again it falls down - but I feel that this is understandable, as most predictors fail down for anciently admixed populations such as the English. They are far more successful at spotting for example, Irish/Scottish. For the English, we tend to be ripped across different European populations. The Southern European element is a particular surprise - but all of the testers so far have been confused by this background signal. Dienekes has himself, suggested Southern European DNA coming into England with the Normans:

http://dienekes.blogspot.co.uk/2016/...-ancestry.html

I'm starting to settle with this hypothesis, although I still have some interest in possible Southern European admixture earlier.

Finally... The two raw files for one person, have produced slightly different results. The FT-DNA raw file has I believe, more tested (but different?) SNPs than the 23andMe file. It would be interesting to know the differences. DNA.land, using the FT-DNA FF file, does not see Finnish, or South/Central European, but enhances the Balkan.

Gedrosia and our DNA

Attribution: Fielding Lucas, Jr. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This post is partly an excuse to upload and store the above creative commons image.  My Y-DNA terminal SNP (L-SK1414) twin was a Balochi speaker in Makran, SW Pakistan.  In classical times, Makran was located in the Kingdom of Gedrosia.  It's almost ironic that an open source range of autosomal DNA testers on GEDmatch have been named after Gedrosia.

Gedrosia was a dry, mountainous country along the northwestern shores of the Indian Ocean.  The indigenous name for Gedrosia is thought to have been Gwadar.  It was conquered by the Persian king Cyrus the Great (559-530 BC). The capital of Gedrosia was Pura, which may survive today as modern Bampûr.  In 326 BC, The Macedonian king, Alexander the Great disastrously crossed the Gedrosian Desert, on the return from his campaign in India, and lost 12,000 of his men to the savage conditions.

Image of Gwadar Bay by wetlandsofpakistan (Gwadar - West Bay) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

So, although the GedrosiaDNA GEDmatch heritage calculators may have little to do with the legendary land that may have been host to my Y ancestors, out of interest, how do our atDNA test results tally with the GedrosiaDNA calculators?  These calculators are designed to measure Ancient Eurasian Admixture.

My results (using an FT-DNA raw file) against those of my mother (23andMe raw file).

My Eurasia K9 ASI Oracle:

  • 39% Western Hunter-Gatherer
  • 27% Early Neolithic Farmer
  • 15% Eastern Hunter-Gatherer
  • 12% Caucasus Hunter-Gatherer
  • 7% SW Asian
  • 1% Siberian East Asian

Mother's Eurasia K9 ASI Oracle:

  • 40% Western Hunter-Gatherer
  • 26% Early Neolithic Farmer
  • 14% Eastern Hunter-Gatherer
  • 12% Caucasus Hunter-Gatherer
  • 6% SW Asian
  • 1% Siberian East Asian

My Gedrosia K3 Oracle:

  • 97.5% West Eurasian
  • 2.5% East Eurasian

Mother's Gedrosia K3 Oracle:

  • 96% West Eurasian
  • 4% East Eurasian

My Gedrosia K15 Oracle:

  • 40% Western Hunter-Gatherer
  • 25% Early European Farmer
  • 21% Caucasus
  • 5% Burusho
  • 5% SW Asian
  • 3% Balochi
  • 1% Siberian

Mother's Gedrosia K15 Oracle:

  • 40% Western Hunter-Gatherer
  • 24% Early European Farmer
  • 18% Caucasus
  • 4% Burusho
  • 3% Kalash
  • 2% Siberian
  • 1% Balochi

My Ancient Eurasia K6 Oracle:

  • 40% West European Hunter-Gatherer
  • 39% Natufian
  • 21% Ancient North Eurasian
  • 1% East Asian

Mother's Ancient Eurasia K6 Oracle:

  • 41% West European Hunter-Gatherer
  • 38% Natufian
  • 19% Ancient North Eurasian
  • 2% Ancient South Eurasian
  • 1% East Asian

Conclusions

We both appear to have inherited around 40% of our DNA from ancient Western (European) Hunter-Gatherer populations, nothing unexpected there.  Western Hunter-Gatherers not only lived in Europe, but appear to have contributed to some later Eurasian populations such as the Yamnaya and Early European Farmers.

We both have low counts of Ancient North Eurasian - particularly my mother, who scores only 19% ANE (Upper-Paleolithic genomes from the Lake Baikal region of Siberia, identified as Malta, Afontogora 2, and Afontogora 3, dated to 17 to 24 kya).  It has been noted during online discussions, that the English appear to have slightly lower percentages of ANE than do their close neighbours.  ANE is sometimes used to indicate Yamnaya ancestry (ANE was a component), that spread from the Eurasian Steppes into Western Europe during the Early Bronze Age.

I have 3% Balochi compared to 1% Balochi for my mother.  It may mean nothing, but it could just perhaps indicate something in the autosomes that associates on my paternal side with my Y-DNA story.  The indicators (particularly K15) suggest that I have more SW Asian ancestry, presumably from my paternal side - again, it just could associate with what we know about my Y haplogroup L-SK1414.

We have around 24-25% Early European Farmer ancestry, representing early Neolithic descendants of an admix of WHG and "Basal Eurasians".  This signal apparently peaks around 80% in modern Sardinians.  However, the "Natufian" reference are higher - 38-39%.  According to GEDmatch: "Natufian was an Epipaleolithic culture that existed from 12,500 to 9,500 BC in the area of Israel. They were derived about 50% from an original Out-of-Africa population, referred to as Basal Eurasians. If you are a European and show Natufian admixture, this does not imply that Natufians interacted with your ancestors. All it means is that Natufian like admixture was mediated to you via intermediaries, such as the early European Farmers from the Near East".  I'm not sure what to make of that.



Y Haplotype L1b2c

By Hellerick (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.  Modified by Paul Brooker.

I've created this distribution map of known Y haplogroup L, L1b2c or L-SK1414. This is my Y-DNA haplotype.  Not a lot of dots there are there?  This is how rare that this clade is.  L1a and L1b most likely (in my opinion) originated during the last Ice Age circa 18,000 years ago, south of the Caucasus, and west of the Caspian Sea in Western Asia.  In other words, in the area of present day Armenia, Azerbaijan, and North-west Iran.  Again, I emphasise, that is just my opinion, looking at present-time evidence.

Y haplogroup L itself may have diverged between L1 and L2, not so much earlier, or so far away from this region.  Again, just my present opinion.

My sub clade of L1b, is so rare, that it is impossible to say.  As can be seen from the map.  However, this is my blog, so I'm going to push out on this one.  My very best guess would be further to the East than it's parent.  I suspect South East of the Caspian Sea, in what is now Eastern Iran.  I could well be wrong.  We have so few tests from nearby Afghanistan for example.  So far, the SNP SK1414 has only been reported twice.  1) in Makran, SW Pakistan, in a Balochi speaking man.  Balochi is an Iranian language, closely related to North-West Iranian languages.  Researchers suggest that the Balochi people of Makran, largely migrated from south west of the Caspian.

The only other guy in the world so far confirmed is little old me, an Englishman.  I trace my surname (direct paternal) line back to the Thames Valley of Oxfordshire / Berkshire 270 years ago.  If my biological line follows that.  A number of STR testers of English descent appear connected to me by STR analysis.  They all descend from Thomas Chandler, who lived around the same time as my earliest recorded ancestor - only 32 miles away at Basingstoke.

From all of the evidence, I conclude that my Y ancestral line moved, probably in one generation, from Western Asia, perhaps from he edge of Persia, to Southern England conservatively between 2,000 and 400 years ago.  Although I would speculate between 1,600 and 600 years ago - during the Medieval or close by.

Two Fathers and more Online Genealogy

The above photograph is of my great great grandfather, William Bennett Baxter, born at Gressenhall Workhouse, Norfolk, England, in 1846.

Well, I've finally updated my Gramps genealogical database for the first time for months.  It's grown!  It now includes details for over 1,600 ancestors and family relatives.  I have to admit, a lot of the swell is down to online genealogical research, using Findmypast.co.uk, Ancestry.co.uk, Norfolk FHS, BMD, FamilySearch.org, etc.  I DON'T ever resort to copying off other people's trees, although I do at times, when I'm stuck, check them to see how other's think, as the hints that they should be.  To be honest though, I often don't agree with their conclusions.  

I do use Search.  I do use transcriptions - but whenever the original image is available (as it increasingly is now), I do verify with it.  Quite often, transcribers get it wrong.  I do also enjoy browsing through digitalised images of parish records, looking for siblings and clues.

Two Fathers

With traditional documentary-based genealogical research, we of course cannot prove a biological line.  We can rarely identify NPEs (Non-Parental Events).  All that we can do, is do our very best to track names through family interviews, documents and records.  Wherever possible, we should verify connections, check and record sources, look for correlations.  This isn't however always possible.  The genealogist has to then decide whether they have enough evidence to connect an ancestor.

For quite some time, I was proud that I had recorded all of my ancestors up to and including great great grandparent level.  However, at great great great grandparent level (Generation 6), I had three missing direct ancestors.  All three of them were the unrecorded father's of three great great grandparents, born illegitimate in Norfolk during the 19th Century.  I had 29 out of 32 biological ancestors recorded for Generation 6.

Then recently, I cracked two of them!  At least I have one evidence for their names.  Two of my illegitimate born great great grandparents, William Bennett Baxter, and Harriet Barber, were actually a married couple.  They were both illegitimate, and had both been born in Gressenhall Union Workhouse close to East Dereham in Norfolk.  William was base-born there  to a pauper named Eliza Baxter.  That she gave him the middle name "Bennett", and there had been Bennetts in the area, always made me suspect that his biological father was believed to have belonged to a Bennett Family, but which?

Then some research online, and it was a back to basics research that cracked it.  I was sure that I had seen their 1866 marriage certificate or entry, at nearby Swanton Morley before, probably years ago.  But if I had seen it before, and I now suspect that I hadn't, then I missed the key.  They BOTH named their alleged biological fathers in their marriage register entry!  How could I have not seen this before?

William Bennett Baxter claimed that he was the son of a labourer, by the name of ... William Bennett.  Harriet Baxter (nee Barber), claimed that her father was a labourer by the name of William Barker.  It's only their word, on their marriage entry - to their knowledge, but I've accepted that testimony, and have added ancestors on those lines.  I haven't yet found much about William Bennett. But I did quickly find more on my 4 x great grandfather William Barker.  He was a shoe maker in East Dereham, the son of a master boot maker.  Perhaps his family didn't approve.  Two years later he married an Elizabeth Wales.

My Fan Chart of Direct Ancestry, updated. I now have 234 direct ancestors named.

Other New Ancestors

The majority (but not all) of my newly claimed ancestors have been Norfolk ancestors on my Father's paternal side, balancing things up rather nicely.  Some of the newly discovered branches include a substantial number of new ancestors recorded both in Dereham, Norfolk, and in the nearby village of Swanton Morley.  They were two very ancestral homes in my tree.  I've recently extended the Baxter of Dereham line back safely to the 1760's.  I've also traced more of my great grandmother Faith Brooker's (nee Baxter) tree, including her direct maternal line to a Rachael Bradfield of Dereham.  Her daughter Elizabeth was baptised there in 1745.  In 1767, Elizabeth Bradfield married our 7 x great grandfather Solomon Harris at Swanton Morley.

I've also extended the line going back from my paternal grandmother (Doris Brooker nee Smith).  I've found more of her ancestors in the South Norfolk village of Hedenham, stretching back to a James Goodram, the son of John and Lydia Goodrum.  James was baptised at Hedenham in 1780.

Finally, I've tidied a few dates on my mother's side, and even started to reassess the ancestry of my children's mother.

Here is a count of direct ancestors from a Gramps report:

Generation 1 has 1 individual. (100.00%)

Generation 2 has 2 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 3 has 4 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 4 has 8 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 5 has 16 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 6 has 31 individuals. (96.88%)

Generation 7 has 55 individuals. (85.94%)

Generation 8 has 53 individuals. (41.41%)

Generation 9 has 44 individuals. (17.97%)

Generation 10 has 16 individuals. (3.52%)

Generation 11 has 6 individuals. (0.59%)

Total ancestors in generations 2 to 11 is 235. (11.68%)

That's enough genealogy for a while!  Living DNA report next.  Sample was activated and returned.