Our missing great grandparent

The above photograph is of my great grandfather, John Henry Brooker, with his partner Mabel Tanner.  Taken at Sheerness, Kent, in 1933.

The previous article was pretty much about this guy's ancestry, but I had to scan and post this photograph of him, to complete the story.  His father Henry Brooker, age 17, was still living with his father and two sisters in the village of Harpsden, Oxfordshire, in 1881.  By 1883 though, he had moved into Victorian London, and then married Elizabeth Shawers in Fulham.  I guess that London served as a magnet to young people born into the villages nearby.  Henry exchanged his skills of working with horses on the land, with those of working with horses in the streets.  He became a carter or carman.  Perhaps the docks offered work to Henry.  He moved first towards Deptford in SE London.  It was there, that Elizabeth gave birth to my great grandfather John Henry Brooker in 1884.

After 1891, they moved out further east along the Thames.  They settled in Lewisham.  John Henry Brooker went to school in Lewisham.  He appears to have exhibited some sort of educational skills, because at age 16 in Lewisham, he was recorded as a pupil-teacher.

Maybe it was because the Woolwich Barracks were located so close, that young John was drawn to it.  

Sometime also around this time, our great grandmother, Faith Eliza Baxter, moved from rural Norfolk, down to London, to work in service - following her older sister Polly.

Faith and John met. Young soldier meets young house maid, house maid falls pregnant.  They married, back at Faith's home of East Dereham in Norfolk, in February 1906.  John H was recorded as a "gunner in the 65th battery, RFA".  Their daughter, Gladys Evelyn Brooker was born at Dereham, Norfolk in early 1906.  I interviewed my great aunt Gladys by telephone many years ago.  She told me that John was posted to Ireland.  I've since found that his battery were posted to the army barracks at Ballinrobe.  Gladys told me that Faith accompanied him with a young Gladys.  The story that she was told was that John turned violent.  Then one night, Faith struck her soldier husband while he slept, and fled back to her parents in Norfolk.  My grandfather, Reginald John Brooker was born at Dereham, Norfolk, in 1908.  

In 1911, Faith was living at Northall Green Farm near to Dereham in Norfolk - where her parents lived, but in another house on the farm, headed by a single 27 year old farm labourer called Robert Hayes!  He states his place of birth as being Lancashire.  Faith is listed on the census as age 26, and married.  Young Gladys, age 5, and her little brother, Reginald, are in the same house.  So is their baby sister Winifred Hayes Brooker.

Gladys told me that Faith left Reginald to be reared by his maternal grandparents, William and Harriet Baxter, at Northall Green Farm, Dereham, while she was brought up by her single mother Faith, who later moved to Norwich. 

Several years later, the Great War exploded across Europe. A medal card at the National Archives, confirms that John was dispatched in the first wave:

Above photograph of a WW 1 6 inch Howitzer gun.  By Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence (WW1 Department of Militia)/Library and Archives Canada/ [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Gladys told me that he remained in the Army, until the end of the War.  Here is the thing.  I'm presently making more efforts to trace more service records.  There is the possibility that they were among many records that were destroyed years later, by bombing during World War II.  Gladys did tell me that there was at least one attempt at a marriage conciliation between John and Faith, after John's mother encouraged him to make an approach - but it never worked out.  John and Faith went on to lived separate lives.  I don't believe though, that they ever legally divorced.

Above photograph of Faith Brooker, nee Baxter.

John then disappears from our family history.  On the back of the top photograph, Someone has written "Us & family at Sheerness July 1933".  I understand that the lady in the photograph was his partner Mabel, who he lived with for many years.

On the 1939 Register, on the outbreak of WW II, John was living at 50 Corbylands Road, Chrislehurst & Sidcup, Kent.  He was working as a clerk, at H.M Civil Service (Post Office Engineering Department).  John was recorded as married.  Mabel is there with him.  She is recorded as Mabel Brooker but also as single, and her occupatuion was "unpaid domestic duties".

Then in Dereham, sometime during the late 1940's, my father, just a boy, sees a motor car pull up in the street outside the family home.  Few people that he knew could afford a car.  An old man left the car, and walked up to the front door.  My father ran to the door in order to greet the stranger.  My father, all of his life recounted it.  He opened the door, looked up at the old stranger, and instinctively asked "are you my grandfather" without ever seeing him before.

Following this visit, my late Aunt Margaret actually got to stay with john, at his home in Kent.  She told me that she met Mabel.  When people came to the house, she was asked not to mention that she was John's granddaughter.  It appears that they never married, and I expect that was because John never received a divorce from Faith.  However, they lived as a married couple, and wished to remain that way.

The last record that I have of John was 1966.  John died late 1966, at Christchurch, Hampshire.  Perhaps they moved to the south coast for their retirement.  His will left his worldly goods to Mabel Tanner, commonly known as Mabel Brooker.

Our exotic Y Haplogroup L1b

A Y haplogroup is a genetic marker that is passed down on a paternal line.  From great grandfather, to grandfather, to father, to son, and so on it goes.  The mt-DNA haplogroup on the other hand, is a genetic marker on the maternal line.  Together, they represent only two lines of descent.  The below illustration demonstrates these two markers on our own family pedigree fan chart over recent generations:


What is exciting about these two human haplogroups, is that by recording their mutations, and plotting them both against both the geographical distributions of present-day populations, and of archaeological human remains, we can start to paint a picture of past movements and origins in population genetics across thousands of years.  We can start to see how some of our ancestors moved across the World during prehistory.  Haplogroups offer a personal touch.

My recent 23andme test reported that I have inherited an mt-DNA haplogroup H6a1 from my mother, and a Y haplogroup L2* from my father.  

My brother, sisters, and my sister's children should also share the mt-DNA haplogroup H6a1.  This mt-DNA haplogroup has recently been recognised as originating in Eurasia.  It mutated from earlier haplogroups from Central Asia.  Current thought based on recent evidence (2015) suggests that it was carried into Western Europe during the early Bronze Age, circa 5,000 to 3,500 years ago, by pastoralists that spread out of the Eurasian Steppes north of the Black Sea in the Ukraine and South Russia area.  These Steppe pastoralists have been associated with an archaeological culture known as Yamnaya, and H6a1 has been detected in female human remains there.  Archaeologists suggest that their success was in domesticating strains of horses, that they could ride, in order to manage larger herds and flocks of grazing livestock.  Another success may have been their development of wheeled carts, that could be horse drawn.  Whatever the factors were, they appear to have been so successful, that their descendants spilled out from the Steppes, dominating Bronze Age Europe.  Therefore based on current evidence and thought, it might seem fair to imagine that we have direct maternal ancestors that 5,500 years ago were women in this Eurasian Steppe Culture.  That is the personal touch of the haplogroup.

But what about the Y haplogroup L2* that we inherited from our father, and our paternal line?  My brother and my son should share this Y haplogroup.  I'm making this post to better understand this heritage.

Y Haplogroup L


Distribution Haplogroup L Y-DNA

Distribution of Y haplogroup L today.  Above image by Crates (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

There were a number of surprises from my personal 23andMe DNA test results.  However, that my Y haplogroup is L2* was perhaps the biggest shock.  I take back all reservations that I had about DNA testing for ancestral purposes.

The 23andMe introduction that accompanied my reported Y haplogroup suggested "Haplogroup L is found primarily in India, Pakistan and the Middle East. The L1 branch is especially common in India, while L2 and L3 are more common further north.".  This is not an English haplogroup.  It is not even a European haplogroup.  It is regarded here as South Asian, spreading down from Afghanistan to Sri Lanka, and across from Iran and into Eastern Turkey.  The above map illustrates the distribution of the Y Haplogroup L as we presently know it.  However, the Y haplogroup L has sub groups, that until recently were designated as L1, L2, and L3.  These subgroups were not distributed equally across the above geographic distribution.

"M76 (current L1a1, former L1) is the most common subgroup in India, while M76 and M357 (current L1a2, former L3) have approximately equal weight in Pakistan. M317 (current L1b, former L2) is rare in the Indian subcontinent. Iran seems to have all three major subgroups, while Turkey appears primarily M357. Other papers have found additional markers. For instance, L1b can be divided into two subgroups, M247 and M349. The people who do not belong to L1 have not been studied in academic papers, but only in personal genetic tests. Their ancestry is European, but it is possible that this group is present in the Middle East or Caucasus, where few people have tested". (Marco Cagetti).

My actual 23andme (ISOGG 2009) assigned L2* mutation should, using the latest designations, be referred to as L1b or, L-M317. I am seeing suggestions that L-M317 may have originated as recently as 10,000 years ago, between Levant and the Iranian plain. My haplogroup L-M317 appears to be strongest in clusters across Western Asia, between Iran and Turkey, with reports in Iraq, Armenia, Georgia, Anatolia, the Chechen Republic, and the Russian Federation.  It is not South Asian.  Marco Cagetti suggests that it is at very low frequency in Southern Europe, less than 1%.  However, this table might suggest that there are stronger pockets of Y Haplogroup L in pockets across Italy.  It has been observed in Portugal, Spain, Italy, and along the Mediterranean.  A sub-clade, L-M317 M349, is found in the Levant, but also clusters in in Central Europe including Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland.  M349 is subsequently believed to have originated in the Levant.

What about in England?  L1b doesn't appear to have been well documented or researched here.  The FTDNA Y Haplogroup L Project has mapped only three L submissions in the UK - including one undisclosed, one M349, and a single L-M317 - this one in the Basingstoke area, not a hundred miles from my surname carriers in South Oxfordshire.

The chances are, that my L1b will pan out to belong to the L1b1a M349 sub-clade.  It could relate the Rhine-Danube cluster recorded in Central Europe at the FTDNA Y Haplogroup L project.

So how did it get here?  Where do the European L1b's come from?   Some researchers suggest that it could actually be in quite old in Europe.  It could have spread westwards out of the Levant with the Neolithic Revolution, carried by the first farmers.  If this is the case, then it may have been severely displaced by the arrival of new waves of haplogroups that arrived in Europe later, during the Early Bronze Age, leaving just a few clusters to survive.  My Y could be a remnant of earlier European farmers, that were largely displaced by the same wave of haplogroups from the Steppes that carried my mt-DNA into Europe.

Alternatively, it may have arrived here any time later - during the Later Neolithic, or as is a popular theory, it could have been spread into Europe from the Pontic Greek clusters around the Black Sea, or from elsewhere, via the Roman Empire.  It may have even spread into Europe during the medieval.  Some people suggest Byzantine movements in Southern Europe as one possible source.  Others claim links between their L1b and Ashkenazi Jews in their ancestry - either known, or suggested by autosome ancestry composition testing.

It has been suggested that I commission a BIG Y test, but I cannot justify that cost. I think that it is worthwhile commissioning a Y STR test, in order to examine and provenance it. Then should future research bring up any new understanding, I'll be able to best place our lineage within it.  I've ordered the FTDNA Y111 test next.

East Anglian Ancestry

http://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright

The above map has been modified from an original copied from © OpenStreetMap contributors

I have plotted my ancestral places that are tagged in my Gramps genealogical GEDCOM database.  These Places represent events -births, baptisms, marriages, or residence, etc.  These Places  belong to my direct ancestors, although they may also include siblings of ancestors.  Overall, I have modified this map in order to illustrate the distribution of my East Anglian (almost entirely of the County of Norfolk, with a few over the border in Suffolk) ancestors over the past 350 years - as so far revealed by paper genealogical research.

The BLUE markers represent the places of my father's recorded ancestors.  The RED markers represent the places of my mother's recorded ancestors.  The more events recorded for any place, the larger the marker.  You can click on the image in order to see a full resolution image.

The RED markers include pretty much all events for my mother's ancestors, as presently recorded in my family history database.  She has no recorded ancestry from outside of Norfolk, for the past 350 years.  She has an incredibly strong Norfolk ancestry.  Particularly in the East of Norfolk.

The BLUE markers do not cover all of my father's recorded ancestors, as I have also detected ancestry for him in Oxfordshire, London, and possibly Lincolnshire.  These ancestors lived outside of the mapped area.

When my mother and father initially met each other in 1956, they believed that they came from quite different parts of Norfolk, from opposite sides of the City of Norwich, with my father moving from East Dereham to my mother's neighbourhood in the Hassingham area.  Yet this map suggests that over the past 350 years, some of their ancestors have lived much closer.  The chances of them both sharing common ancestry during the Medieval, or even more recently are good.

This might support the findings of the POBI (People of the British Isles) 2015 study, that not only emphasised the homogeneous nature of the English, but also suggested that the old Anglo-Saxon kingdoms could still be detected as localised gene pools to today.

I have previously created the below map, using red dappling to mark out the main zone of my mother's ancestry, onto a map of East Norfolk, as it would have appeared during the 5th Century AD, before sea levels fell, and drainage works created the more recent Norfolk coast:

My hypothesis is that my mother's ancestors clustered in an area of East Anglia, that would most likely have experienced an influx of North Sea immigration between the 4th and 11th centuries AD from Frisia, and perhaps Angeln and Denmark.

I also modified the below map from Wikimedia Commons.  Attribution is: By Nilfanion [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.  This map, as the legend states, illustrates the distribution of my recorded direct ancestors (bother on my father's and mother's sides are in RED) across the wider area of England at a single generation level, based between 1756 to 1810.  It suggests a combined ancestry, concentrated in Norfolk, East Anglia, but with a few lineages in Wessex / Mercia.



Where do we come from?

I can answer that now.  A set of maps that demonstrates the geographic spread of my direct ancestry back seven generations, to the early 18th Century.

I used a cropped relief map of England from Wikimedia Commons.  Attribution is: By Nilfanion [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.

The red dots mark the locations of each ancestor, preferably a birth or baptism place, if not, then the next best provenance.

Grandparent Generation

All four ancestors of this generation are represented on this map.  All four are located in the county of Norfolk, in the East of England.  These ancestors were born between 1900 and 1910 in England only.  They represent two generations back from myself or my siblings.

Great Grandparent Generation

All eight ancestors of this generation are represented on this map.  Seven are located in Norfolk, in the East of England.  These ancestors were born between 1859 and 1885 in England only.  They represent three generations back from myself or my siblings.

Great Great Grandparent Generation

All sixteen ancestors of this generation are represented on this map.  They are concentrated in Norfolk again, but with single representatives each in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, London, and Oxfordshire.  These ancestors were all born between 1830 and 1865 in England only.  They represent four generations back from myself or my siblings.


Great Great Great Grandparent Generation

Thirty of the thirty two ancestors of this generation are represented on this map.  The other two were undeclared fathers.  The main cluster is still in Norfolk, with a particularly dense cluster in the east of the county, around the River Yare.  Outside of East Anglia, I also had ancestors at this generation in Oxfordshire, London, and Lincolnshire.  These ancestors were all born between 1794 and 1837 in England.  They represent five generations back from myself or my siblings.

Great Great Great Great Grandparent Generation

Now the paper ancestry starts to fade away, with only 42 provenance ancestors out of 64 biological ancestors for this generation (seven generations back).  Therefore the map might lose some detail.  None-the-less, it seems to show the pattern settling, with most of my ancestry only deepening in Norfolk, and strongly clustering around the River Yare in East Norfolk.  Almost entirely restricted to East Anglia, except for a few emerging clusters in Wessex.

Surnames

The recorded surnames of my known direct ancestors are overwhelmingly of Medieval English form: 

Brooker, Curtis, Smith, Thacker, Tovell, Tammas, Hewitt, Lawn, Peach, Goffen, Norton, Barber, Baxter, Ellis, Hagon, Porter, Becket, Shawers, Key, Rose, Ford, Daynes, Quantrill, Crutchfield, Freeman, Larke, Waters, Ransby, Ling, Rose, Riches, Snelling, Merrison, Cossey, Shepherd, Durran, Edney, Hedges, Dove, Britiff, Harris, Tibnum, Mitchells.Briggs, Nicholes

The surnames Tovell, Thacker, Daynes, Ransby, and Hagon - all from my mother's Norfolk side, could hint at an Anglo-Danish influence.

Fan Chart up to most recent six generations:

Earlier Origins

The years and generations represented on the maps pretty much cover the past three hundred years of industrialisation and globalisation.  Much earlier, I'd expect less movement.  Therefore I feel that it would be safe to assume, that back to at least the medieval period, that my ancestry was concentrated in East Anglia, with a secondary patch in the Wessex area of England.  The recent POBA (People of the British Isles) 2015 study, suggested that the old Anglo-Saxon kingdoms continued to act as localised gene pools into the high medieval period.

Before that, we had a period of immigration waves into lowland Britain.  The POBI study, supported a number of other recent studies based on genetic profiling, archaeology, and place-name study, to suggest that Anglo-Saxon immigration accounted for no more than 30% to 40% of lowland British DNA, and that the majority of English heritage had existed in the British Isles previous - perhaps to influxes of genes during the Bronze Age or earlier.  Genetic profiling of human remains in Cambridgeshire, of people identified as 5th Century immigrant (Anglo-Saxon), suggests the closest present day profile as Dutch or / and Danish.  The kingdom of East Anglia identified with the Angles ethnicity, that historically provenance their origins to the region of Angeln, on the Danish and German borders on the Baltic coast.  However how elites identify their origin, is often not based in fact, neither is their origin always shared by their subjects.

East Anglia fell to the Danish army, and subsequently to Danelaw control periodically during the late 9th to early 11th centuries.  Some parts of East Norfolk such as Flegg, are particularly rich in Old Danish place-names.  POBA 2015 failed to identify a Danish presence with their genetic profiling, but the place-name evidence and historical sources contradict this finding.  The 7th to 9th centuries saw a slight reduction in sea levels, that enabled the draining of new lands in East Anglia for settlement.  The same districts are rich in Old Danish place-names, strongly suggesting immigrant settlement.

Conclusion

POBI 2015 suggests that I have ancestors that have lived in lowland Britain, since at least the Bronze Age, and most likely, much earlier.  That very likely ties me to lowland British ethnicities of the Bronze and Iron Ages.  The dominant power in East Anglia during the Later Iron Age was the Iceni federation, famous for the Boudiccan revolt against Rome.

POBI 2015 and other studies, suggests an Anglo-Saxon immigration that accounts for 30% - 40% of English ancestry.  My strongest cluster is concentrated in the river valleys of East Norfolk, exactly the sort of landscape that I would expect any North Sea immigrants during the 4th to 11th centuries to concentrate.  Therefore, I would expect a high probability of actual Anglo-Saxon immigrant ancestry (based on recent studies, from the Netherlands area, and perhaps North Germany / Denmark).  Based on place-name evidence the area was later heavily influenced by the Danish.

When I receive my 23andMe DNA results, based on their genetic profiling of Y chromosome, mtDNA, and on general autosomal calculators, in their ancestry results, I would expect to see overwhelming British & Irish percentage.  However, will their autosome crunchers also predict a percentage in the Scandinavian, French & German, and North-West European 23andMe categories?  As autosomal DNA is so random, what will the results display?

23andMe

Still waiting for the results.  23andMe are not giving a very rapid service.  For starters, I received a sample kit with a Netherlands return address.  That apparently was a holding depot, where they stockpile some of the European samples, so that they can ship them to the USA cheaper.  My sample reached a US lab, but continues to sit in a queue.  It has now been 37 days since I sent my registered sample off, and the box is still in a queue, waiting to be tested.  Other customers are reporting some long waits further down the process in quality control.  I expect a long wait.

Six Generation Ancestral Fan Chart

Its not going to get any more complete than that.  The only two missing ancestors were unrecorded fathers.  That should pretty much reflect the paper background to my autosomal DNA.  It also illustrates quite well, how a complete ancestry fans out, doubliing in number each generation.  Of course, over enough generations, it starts to reduce again, as common ancestors shared by more than one line, start to appear.  Hence the homogeneous nature for example, of the English.

It is also not a proportional representation of where my autosomal DNA comes from.  At meiosis, I recieve 50% of my DNA from my mother, and 50% from my father.  However, before that, randomness creeps in, along with chromosome exchange, so that it's quite possible that I have inherited no DNA at all from some of my G.G.G grandparents for example, while others may be over-represented in my DNA.

I created the Fan Chart using the Open Source Gramps genealogy database software.  I'm really enjoying that program.

I do wish that 23andMe would hurry up.  Thirty four days since sending my sample, and so far it's reached a queue for testing in an American lab.  Judging by the moans and groans on their forums, I might have to wait for a total of three months in order to see results.

Ancestry - progress via free online records

My direct ancestry fan chart looked a little bit too uneven (the above chart is the improved chart, after the following research).  I had compiled no ancestry for one of my great grandparents - my father's maternal grandmother, Emily Smith (nee Barber).  All that I knew of her origin, was that although she married and settled with my great grandfather, in Norwich, that she was born in 1859 in the South Norfolk village of Hedenham.  For some reason, perhaps a lack of resources back then (I conducted most of my family history 20 - 15 years ago pre-Internet), I had never traced any further back on her line.  My Ancestry Fan Chart highlighted this Gap of data.

I haven't really got the time to travel over to Norfolk Record Office at the moment, but I did have the recent opportunity to spend several hours online.  Internet Genealogy can be a bit pricey though.  Someone has to gain access to records, digitalise them, index them.  This service is provided by a number of commercial website companies, but of course, they have paid subscriptions.  I guess that if I was to start genealogy afresh, that I might be tempted to invest in an annual subscription with one of those companies.  If I didn't live in the country of my ancestry, then even more so.  As it is, I'm lucky, as the vast majority of my ancestry over the past three or four hundred years appears to be quite local, so that I can easily visit local archives and church yards.

So how did I get on with my Free Internet Genealogy Experiment with great grandmother Emily Smith (nee Barber)?

Conclusion - the story that I uncovered

This is a story of three generations of rural working class families, in South Norfolk, and just over the border in NE Suffolk.

On the 16th September, 1794, John Ellis married Elizabeth Beckett at the parish of Tasburgh in South Norfolk.  They were G.G.G.G grandparents of myself.  Tasburgh is a small village that straddles an old Roman road.  The couple then settled in the neighbouring parish of Saxlingham-Nethergate.  Their first two children, John, and Elizabeth, were baptised there.

Sometime around 1796, they moved slightly to the south, to the parish of Hempnall, Norfolk.  They settled there for may years, and Elizabeth gave birth to a further nine children by 1818, at Hempnall.  One of those was my G.G.G grandfather, James Ellis, who was born on the 16th April 1812, and was baptised shortly after at the parish church of Hempnall. At least one of the baptisms recorded that the father, John Ellis, was employed as a labourer - as with most rural working class men, he was an agricultural labourer.

G.G.G grandfather James Ellis, grew up to marry a woman named Esther.  They eventually settled in Esther's parish of birth - a few miles to the east of Hempnall, in the village of Hedenham, Norfolk.  However, at first, they may have spent some time even further east, in the village of Ditchingham, Norfolk.  They first had two daughters, including my G.G grandmother, Maria Ellis, who was baptised at Hedenham on 29th September 1834.  But in 1838, they had a son named Benjamin, who was baptised at nearby Ditchingham.  All later children - six of them, between 1841 and 1850, were born at Hedenham again.  During both the 1841 and 1851 censuses, the Ellis family were recorded as living in Hedenham.  James was recorded as working as an agricultural labourer in 1851, as was his twelve year old son Benjamin.

Now let's just step away from the Ellis family for a moment, and look at another ancestral family, the Barbers, living at this time, just over the county border to the south, in a little hamlet of South Elmham, named St Michaels.

G.G.G grandparents Robert and Mary Ann Barber, were both born in the county of Suffolk sometime around 1794.  They were raising a family in St Michaels, Suffolk.  Between 1818, and 1841, I found records of at least eight of their children, all born in St Michaels, S.Elmham.  One of them was my G.G grandfather George Barber, who was born in 1830.  During the 1841 census, eleven year old George was living with his parents and siblings in St Michaels.

Then something went wrong.  Perhaps the father, Robert Barber, died.  Perhaps they fell into extreme poverty, or even an illness struck the family.  With very little welfare, such events were often a tragedy to 19th Century rural working class families.  After 1841, the family disappear.  I lose trace of Robert and Mary Ann Barber.  Instead, in 1851, I find my twenty year old G.G grandfather, George Barber, is humiliated as an inmate of Shipmeadow Workhouse - the Union workhouse of the Wangford Poor Law Union.  Meanwhile, his thirteen year old younger brother, and nine year old younger sister are recorded as lodging with the Wigg family household in St Michaels.

Back over with the Ellis's, also in 1851, my G.G grandmother Maria Ellis was recorded as working as a live in servant in a household of the Buck family in Hedenham, Norfolk.

Seven years later, in 1858, George Barber married Maria Ellis, somewhere in the Wangford district of Suffolk.

G.G Grandparents George and Maria Barber (nee Ellis) settled in the brides home parish of Hedenham, Norfolk, where between 1858 and 1868, they reared four daughters, including my great grandmother Emily Barber, who was born at Hedenham in 1859.  George's occupation was recorded again, as agricultural labourer.

During the 1861 census, the family are living at Old Gravel Pit, in Woodton, Norfolk - close to Hedenham.  Emily was aged one.

During the 1871 census, Emily, age now eleven, had a recorded occupation - Crow Keeper, which I understand to mean that she earned money for scaring birds from the fields.

However, by 1881, Emily had left her family, and had moved to the City.  She was now recorded as living at The Chantry, St Stephens, Norwich where she worked as a domestic servant for a John Rayner (a solicitor's clerk), and his family.  Emily most likely met my great grandfather Frederick Smith in Norwich, where they married sometime between 1881 and 1884, and proceeded to raise their own family, including my paternal grandmother, Doris Smith.

Methods

So how did I piece that together from free online research?  I added three generations to Emily's line, and extended that section of my ancestry fan chart without even leaving home, or paying a penny.  I made a story, I found probable tragedy, encountered some large families, identified their class, added new locations to my ancestry, such as Tasburgh - and even my first ever discovered ancestors from over the county border into Suffolk.  I found that my great grandmother (I'll borrow a photograph to scan later) Emily Smith, earned money as a girl, working as a Crow Keeper!

The main source was Family Search, the genealogical website hosted by the Church of the Latter Day Saints.  This is a cracking free website.  On it I could find and search a database of UK censuses from between 1841 and 1911.  This enabled me for example, to locate a few ancestors locations when otherwise they would have been missing.  The website also has an impressive database of transcribed parish registers and Bishops transcripts.  In some cases, the original documents were also available as digitilised images.  The search facility for all of their documents took a little getting use to, in order to get the best out of it, but what a free service!

Another useful website was FreeBMD.  This database was critical in tracing and confirming the marriage of George Barber to Maria Ellis in 1858. Although it only gives access to the indexes of state birth, marriages, and deaths, that along with correlations through the search facility of FamilySearch.org gave me enough information for that event.

Finally, in a search like this - you have to use Google Maps, in order to get a picture of where your ancestors lived, use Street View to see them, and the maps to see exactly where the parishes are in relation to each other.


A Day at the Record Office

I took the above photograph of Besthorpe church graveyard, a few weeks ago on Rollei Retro 400S film, that was loaded in an Olympus XA2 camera, then developed in Ilford LC29 chemistry.

Well that was fun.  Five hours in a stuffy archive centre, wheeling through microfilms, with not much to show for it other than sore eyes.

I'm still concentrating solely on that mtDNA line - my strict maternal line.  I had got back to my G.G.G Grandmother, Sarah Daynes (nee Quantrill).  She stated on several censuses that she was born around 1827 at Wymondham, Norfolk.  She most likely was the thirteen year old family servant, Sarah Quantrill, employed during the 1841 census in the Long household at Wymondham.  It looks like she had to look after forty year old James Long, a farmer, and several of his children, some a similar age to her.  She went on to marry Reuben Daynes at Besthorpe, Norfolk on the 26th April 1849.  She appears to have remained at Besthorpe for most if not all of her remaining life.  Turnpike Road Cottages, to be precise, which I believe to be close to Morley and Wymondham.  Her husband Reuben, was a labourer, still employed in at the age of seventy.  He lived to a good old age, although by the age of 78, he was forced to turn to parish relief.  They were still living at Turnpike cottages in 1901.

So, we know by census that mtDNA G.G.G Grannie Sarah was born circa 1827, at Wymondham, and that her father was a labourer named Robert Quantrill.  I slowly scanned through the Wymondham baptism registers from 1813 until nearly the late 1830s.  Wymondham had a lot of babies.  Surely, by reason of thought, I should find the baptism of Sarah, and perhaps some siblings?  That would be the normal next step.

Nope, nada.  I wasted hours.  Although I know that there are splashes of the Quantrell/Quantrill/Quantrele surname around mid Norfolk (Bunwell and sometimes Norwich crop up on searches), it didn't crop up much in the Wymondham parish registers.  Which can also be a good thing.However, in this case, I found a mere five of them, and none particularly helpful.

  • One daughter of a Richard Kett and Sarah (nee Quantrill) in 1822
  • One daughter of a William Quantrele and his wife Ann (nee Blake) in 1824
  • Two daughters in 1826 and 1827 of a John Starling and his wife Maria (nee Quantril).

So where the hell were their children, or at least mtDNA Sarah, baptised?  I can immediately think of three top options to research, but they are not easy:

  • Nonconformist.  I have a hunch though, that they were not.
  • A nearby parish - but so many possibilities!  I could be looking for months or years.
  • Something happened to the family, such as moving far away for years, or death / break up - hence Sarah working as a servant at thirteen years of age.

Then, just before I had to go and walk a mile to move the car before I got a ticket, I quickly glanced through the Wymondham Marriage Register, and I found:

Robert Quantrill bachelor of this parish & Mary Page of this parish by banns 12th October 1818.

G.G.G mtDNA Grannie Sarah, born nine years after that marriage, claimed that she was born in Wymondham, and also claimed that her father was a Robert Quantrill.  They fit, it is so tempting, that I have provisionally claimed Mary Quantrill (nee Page) to be my next generation back, my G.G.G.G mtDNA Grannie.  However, it's not good paper genealogy.  Really I need to verify her as a direct ancestor.  I could have the wrong couple, or it could have been the right Robert Quantrill (the only Robert Quantrill so far spotted in Wymondham), but an earlier marriage.  I at least need to see Sarah named as the daughter of a Robert & Mary Quantrill, born of them around 1827, perhaps in Wymondham or nearby.  This would be pre-state birth registration, and before anything I can find on a census.  I can't find her or any siblings in the Wymondham baptism registers, so where next?  I need her baptism.

On the positive, I'm making some progress.  Before my recent campaign, all of my mother's recorded ancestors had been very much East or Broadland Norfolk.  That is where her autosomal DNA would largely originate for I suspect, many centuries.  Quite interesting, because the Far East of East Anglia is where some researchers such as Stephen Oppenheimer, have suggested the strongest genetic evidence of Anglo-Saxon admixture.  Place-name evidence there also strongly suggests Danish Viking  settlement.  The shores of East Anglia were the places where immigrants were most likely to beach.  I have also previously read that the sea levels dropped very slightly around the eighth century AD, making areas such as Norfolk Flegg, easier to drain for settlement by immigrants from across the North Sea.

And yet, my mtDNA line skips away from that Eastern fringe, into South Norfolk.  I didn't expect that.  In Besthorpe, it is only a parish away from some of my father's autosomal ancestors at Attleborough, and not so far away from his mtDNA at Hedenham in South Norfolk.  My parents grew up in very different districts of Norfolk, at least thirty miles apart, with the City of Norwich in between.  Yet follow the genes back, and you can start to see how earlier admixture between their ancestors could well have taken place within the past five hundred years.  The recent POBI (People of the British Isles) genetic survey (2015) suggested that despite admixture from many waves of immigration going back over thousands of years, that the present day English are very homogeneous.  The same survey also said that the patterns of the old Anglo-Saxon kingdoms still show on their genetic map.

I've only followed the mtDNA line back five or six generations so far.  However, I can't help noticing that it is swirling around South and East Norfolk.  It is more mobile than many of the autosomal lines.  Perhaps women were more likely to move over the past few centuries to new parishes, to their husbands?

I say swirling - I have got back so far to Wymondham.  That is the same South Norfolk market town that my parents retired to.  I even lived there for a while.  My mother, my sister, my niece, who all share my mtDNA, still live there.  Yet no-one was aware that we had ancestors there in the town.