Generation Eight. The great great great great great grandparents.


Above, the parish church of Strumpshaw in Norfolk.

5 x great grandparents (Generation 8)! Now that is difficult. My percentages really start to fall away at this generation - only 51% named (compared to 89% of Gen. 7). What a challenge.

Right, what I do have:
  1. Edward Brucker. b.1757 Long Wittenham, Berkshire, England.
  2. Elizabeth Brucker (nee Gregory). b.1761 Long Wittenham, Berkshire, England.
  3. brickwall
  4. brickwall
  5. John Edney. b.1743 Whitchurch, Oxfordshire, England
  6. Mary Edney (nee Crutchfield). b.1740 Whitchurch, Oxfordshire, England.
  7. brickwall
  8. brickwall
  9. brickwall
  10. brickwall
  11. David Durran. b.1782 Steeple Ashton, Oxfordshire, England.
  12. Ann Durran (nee Lardner). b.1782. Lived Deddington, Oxfordshire, England.
  13. William Waine. b.1770. Lived Tadmarton, Oxfordshire, England.
  14. Elizabeth Waine (nee ?). Lived Tadmarton, Oxfordshire, England.
  15. brickwall
  16. brickwall
  17. brickwall
  18. brickwall
  19. Henry Baxter. b.1763 Dereham, Norfolk, England.
  20. Mary Baxter (nee Bennett) b.1763 Norfolk, England.
  21. brickwall
  22. brickwall
  23. brickwall
  24. Jane Barker. Norfolk, England
  25. brickwall
  26. brickwall
  27. brickwall
  28. Sarah Barber. b.1782 East Tuddenham, Norfolk, England.
  29. brickwall
  30. Elizabeth Harris. b.1768 Swanton Morley, Norfolk, England.
  31. John Smith. b.1731 Attleborough, Norfolk, England.
  32. Judith Smith (nee Dennis). b.1745 Coston, Norfolk, England.
  33. Richard Smith. b.1775 Attleborough, Norfolk, England.
  34. Mary Smith (nee ?). Lived Attleborough, Norfolk, England.
  35. William Hewitt. Lived Attleborough, Norfolk, England.
  36. Elizabeth Hewitt (nee ?). Lived Attleborough, Norfolk, England.
  37. John Freeman. Lived Attleborough, Norfolk, England.
  38. Anne Freeman (nee ?). Lived at Attleborough, Norfolk, England.
  39. Peter Peach. b.1730. Maxey, Northants, England.
  40. Mary Peach (nee Rippon). b.1734 Maxey, Northants, England.
  41. brickwall
  42. brickwall
  43. Peter Riches. b.1755 Old Buckenham, Norfolk, England.
  44. Mary Riches (nee Harrison). b.1756 Old Buckenham, Norfolk, England.
  45. William Snelling. Lived Carlton Rode, Norfolk, England.
  46. Mary Snelling (nee Lewell). b.1753 Kenninghall, Norfolk, England.
  47. brickwall
  48. brickwall
  49. brickwall
  50. brickwall 
  51. brickwall
  52. brickwall
  53. brickwall
  54. brickwall
  55. brickwall
  56. brickwall
  57. brickwall
  58. brickwall
  59. brickwall
  60. brickwall
  61. John Goodram. Lived Morningthorpe, Norfolk, England.
  62. Lydia Goodram (nee Hammond). b.1749 Morningthorpe, Norfolk, England.
  63. brickwall
  64. brickwall
  65. John Curtis. Lived Hassingham, Norfolk, England.
  66. Ann Curtis (nee Annison). Lived Hassingham, Norfolk, England.
  67. John Rose. b.1775 Strumpshaw, Norfolk, England.
  68. Martha Rose (nee Rowland). b.1779 Strumpshaw, Norfolk, England.
  69. Benjamin Larke. b.1751 Cantley, Norfolk, England.
  70. Mary Larke (nee Marsh). b.1769 Norfolk, England.
  71. Thomas Dingle. b.1757 Moulton St Mary, Norfolk, England.
  72. Mary Dingle (nee Ginby). Lived Strumpshaw, Norfolk, England.
  73. Henry Rose. b.1779 Strumpshaw, Norfolk, England.
  74. Margaret Rose (nee Ling). b.1781 Acle, Norfolk, England.
  75. brickwall
  76. brickwall
  77. brickwall
  78. brickwall
  79. Benjamin Merrison. b.1759 Repps-with-Bastwick, Norfolk, England.
  80. Lydia Merrison (nee Norton). b.1774 Strumpshaw, Norfolk, England.
  81. brickwall
  82. brickwall
  83. John Briggs. b.1753 North Burlingham, Norfolk, England.
  84. Elizabeth Briggs (nee Jacobs). Lived Strumpshaw, Norfolk, England.
  85. brickwall
  86. brickwall
  87. brickwall
  88. brickwall
  89. Alexander Goffen. b.1705. Lived Rollesby, Norfolk, England.
  90. Anna Goffen (nee ?). Lived Strumpshaw, Norfolk, England.
  91. James Shepherd. Lived Reedham, Norfolk, England.
  92. Judith Shepherd (nee Maye). b.1749. Lived Reedham, Norfolk, England.
  93. William Nichols. Lived Halvergate, Norfolk, England.
  94. Elizabeth Nichols (nee Thurkettle). lived Halvergate, Norfolk, England.
  95. brickwall
  96. brickwall
  97. Thomas Tovel. Lived Wrentham, Suffolk, England.
  98. Hannah Tovel (nee Brown). Lived Wrentham, Suffolk, England.
  99. George Smith. Lived Toft Monks, Norfolk, England.
  100. Elizabeth Smith (nee Wittham). Lived Toft Monks, Norfolk, England.
  101. brickwall
  102. brickwall
  103. brickwall
  104. brickwall
  105. brickwall
  106. brickwall
  107. James Porter. b.1727. Lived at Blofield and Limpenhoe, Norfolk, England.
  108. Elizabeth Porter (nee Mollett). Lived at Blofield and Limpenhoe, Norfolk, England.
  109. William Springall. Lived at Strumpshaw, Norfolk, England.
  110. Susanna Springall (nee Mingay). Lived at Strumpshaw, Norfolk, England.
  111. Jacob Wymer. b.1756 Moulton St Mary, Norfolk, England.
  112. Elisabeth Wymer (nee Moll). Lived at Moulton St Mary, Norfolk, England.
  113. brickwall
  114. brickwall
  115. brickwall
  116. brickwall
  117. John Thacker. b.1764 Woodbastwick, Norfolk, England.
  118. Ann Thacker (nee Hewitt). b.1774 Salhouse, Norfolk, England.
  119. brickwall
  120. brickwall
  121. Abraham Daynes. Lived at Wicklewood, Norfolk, England.
  122. Elizabeth Daynes (nee Moore). b. 1748 Wymondham, Norfolk, England.
  123. brickwall
  124. brickwall
  125. brickwall
  126. brickwall
  127. Robert Page. b.1752 Wymondham, Norfolk, England.
  128. Elizabeth Page (nee Hardment). b.1751 Bunwell, Norfolk, England.


Who my great great great great grandfathers were, and what they did. Generation 7. Male ancestors.

Just who were my Generation 7 direct male ancestors - my 4 x great grandfathers?  What were their occupations?  Where were they, and how did they support themselves and their families?

  1. John Brooker. b.1788, Long Wittenham, Berkshire, England. Agricultural labourer.
  2. Thomas Edney. b.1785 Whitchurch, Oxfordshire, England. Thatcher.
  3. John Shawers (Shuarze?). b. circa 1800 Switzerland. Copper smith.
  4. Benjamin Durran. b.1810 North Aston, Oxfordshire, England. Tailor.
  5. John Bennett. Lived Norfolk, England. b.1788. Farmer.
  6. Samuel Baxter. b.1787 Dereham, Norfolk, England. Brick layer.
  7. Charles Barker. b.1795 Dereham, Norfolk, England. Shoe maker.
  8. James Alderton Barber. b.1803 Swanton Morley, Norfolk, England. Agricultural labourer.
  9. Raphael Smith. b.1775 Attleborough, Norfolk, England. Agricultural labourer.
  10. Robert Hewitt. b.1782 Attleborough, Norfolk, England. Agricultural labourer.
  11. John Peach. b.1770 Maxey, Northants, England. Shepherd.
  12. Benjamin Riches. b.1779 Old Buckenham, Norfolk. Agricultural labourer.
  13. Benjamin Barber. b. circa 1772. Lived Halesworth, Suffolk, England. No trade found in records.
  14. Brick wall
  15. John Ellis. b. 1773 Lived in Tasburgh, Norfolk, England. Agricultural labourer.
  16. James Gooderham. b.1786 Hempnall, Norfolk, England. Agricultural labourer.
  17. William Curtis. b.1808 Hassingham, Norfolk, England. Marshman, agricultural labourer, and steam engine driver.
  18. Samuel Larke. b.1795 Cantley, Norfolk, England. Agricultural labourer.
  19. William Rose. b.1804 Brundall, Norfolk, England. Agricultural labourer.
  20. Thomas Barker. b.1801 Moulton St Mary, Norfolk, England. Agricultural labourer.
  21. William Key. b.1778 Postwick, Norfolk, England. Agricultural labourer.
  22. Robert Waters. b.1771 Freethorpe, Norfolk, England. Mole catcher.
  23. Richard Goffen. b.1731 Strumpshaw, Norfolk, England. Carpenter.
  24. John Nichols. b.1786 Halvergate, Norfolk, England. Agricultural labourer.
  25. Thomas Tovell. b.1785 Wrentham, Suffolk, England. Agricultural labourer.
  26. Edward Tammas. b.1774 Langley, Norfolk, England. Agricultural labourer.
  27. William Lawn. b.1761 Norfolk. Lived at Halvergate, Norfolk, England. Agricultural labourer.
  28. William Springall. b.1788 Halvergate, Norfolk, England. Agricultural labourer.
  29. Brick wall
  30. William Thacker. b.1796 Salhouse, Norfolk, England. Agricultural labourer.
  31. Reuben Daynes. b.1781 Brandon Parva, Norfolk, England. Agricultural labourer.
  32. Robert Quantrill. b.1797 Norfolk, Lived Wymondham, Norfolk, England. Weaver.


Brooker Surname and a new project

Above map modified from "© OpenStreetMap contributors".  The red dots represent baptisms of BROOKER (including derivations such as Broker, Brocker, etc) between 1550 and 1600.  The larger the red dots, the more baptisms in that parish.

The area focuses on South-East England.  There was also a secondary cluster in Warwickshire, and stray families in Manchester, Yorkshire, Devon, and Norfolk.  However, I have not catered for all of those on the above map.  See the below larger scale map for Brooker baptism counts in those areas by county.

The Blue dots and notes mark ancestral birthplaces and dates of my recorded surname ancestors in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, and Deptford, London.  My line traces back reasonably securely to a John Brooker born at Long Wittenham, Berkshire, circa 1722.

The Purple dot and text represents Thomas Chandler of Basingstoke, Hampshire.  Living there circa 1740's, he appears to have shared my Y-DNA markers L-SK1414 judging by some of his Chandler surname descendants that have tested.  At some point before 1722, we must have shared Y line (paternal) ancestors.

From this map I can conclude that during the late 16th Century, the BROOKER surname was most common in Sussex, Kent, Surrey, and Hampshire.  There was a secondary cluster in Warwickshire.

Distribution of BROOKER baptisms AD 1550 - AD 1600 by English County.  County boundaries modern, but East and East Surrey united for historical purposes.  Includes records of derivations of Brooker surname.

Surname Origin

This interesting surname derives from two possible origins. Firstly it may be of English topographical origin from the Old English word "broc", a brook, stream, plus the agent suffix "-er", used to describe a dweller at, hence "dweller at the brook". There is also a place called Brook in Kent and Wiltshire, from the same Old English word "broc" as above. Also the name may be an occupational name used to denote a broker, originating from the Anglo-French word "brocour", one who sells an agent in business transactions. The earliest recordings of the surname appear in the 13th Century (see below). John le Brouker was recorded in the 1327, Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. William le Brocker was listed in the 1326, Feet of fines Rolls. The Close Rolls in 1332, record a Elena Brocker. Kirby's Quest for Somerset recorded an Adam Brocker in 1328. Geoffrey Broker, aged 17, an immigrant to the New World, sailed aboard the "Merchant's Hope", bound for Virginia in July 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Brokere, which was dated 1296, Subsidy Rolls of Sussex, during the reign of King Edward 1, "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Source: Surname.com

Discussion

A weakness with the data will be that the sources may be selective and biased, due to incomplete transcripts, register survivals, etc.  However, it gives me an indication of just where my surname may have originated before John Brooker married Mary Gardiner at Oxford College chapel, on the 1st November 1746.  They were recorded as residing at Long Wittenham, Berkshire.  Mary Gardiner appears to have hailed originally from a family a few miles to the south of Wittenham, at East Hagbourne in Berkshire.  I also found families of Brooker in that same parish, including a suitable John Brooker candidate born in 1722.  However, on reflection, and in discussion with another researcher that also claims descent from the Hagbourne John Brooker, I decided to delete that connection.  Hagbourne John Brooker married another woman, not Mary Gardiner, and did not move to Long Wittenham.

I then chose the next best candidate.  Further afield, a John Brooker born 1722 at Chieveley in Berkshire.  I have to confess a bias to that direction as it lead towards Basingstoke (I'll get back to that further down).  However, once again, I can see evidence to eliminate him.  I need to consider another John Brooker at Oxford next.  So many John Brookers!

Why am I looking for a link to Basingstoke?  Because several people that have tested their Y chromosome DNA with Family Tree DNA, appear to have the same Y DNA data as myself.  Incredibly rare, and hailing from Western Asia, L-SK1414.  These several other testers are all from the paternal surname Chandler.  They form a small but distinct cluster in the Chandler Surname Y-DNA projects, very distinct from other Y-DNA in the group.  Some of them have traced their surname lines to a Thomas Chandler, that lived at Basingstoke early to mid 1700s, the same time as my 6 x great grandfather, John Brooker that married Mary Gardiner and settled at Long wittenham.  Basingstoke is about 32 miles south east of Long Wittenham as the crow flies.

At some point, the Y-line descendants of Thomas Chandler, and myself, must have shared a common Y grandfather.  Some point most likely between 2,000 years ago, and 400 years ago, and most likely, in Southern England.  Convenient for the Coast and for ports that our Asian Y ancestor may have arrived at by vessel.  Most likely I feel, in the Sussex or Hampshire region.  Look at the clusters in the top map around Southampton, Chichester, and Brighton during the 16th Century.

That I haven't found many Berkshire, and only one Oxfordshire Brooker baptism between 1550 and 1600 could suggest that my surname most likely trails down through Hampshire between 1600 and 1746.  There is always however, the possibilty of a relationship in the other direction to the Gloucester cluster.  That goes against the Basingstoke Y hypothesis, but it is a possibility.  Where did the Gloucester cluster originate?  For that matter, where did the more significant Warwickshire cluster originate?  Did it move there from South East England during the medieval, or does it converge from an independent surname origin?

If the surname line is still true to my Y-DNA at Generation 9 (John Brooker of Long wittenham), and the existence of the Chandler L-SK1414 does support that my Y-DNA most likely would have been in that part of Southern England at that time, then just when did the Brooker and Chandler families last share a common Y-DNA father?  The convergence could be the result of a non parental event in either direction.  Even a series of non parental events.  Alternatively, it could predate the emergence of peasantry surnames during the 14th Century.  The above quote from the surname website suggests some aristocracy were using the surname as early as AD 1296.  However, many peasant and commoner families would have been slower at adopting a surname.

Some more recent Brooker surname distributions.

From PublicProfiler.org.

1881 Census of Brooker


Modified from PublicProfiler.org.  © All Rights Reserved

1998 of Brooker

Modified from PublicProfiler.org.  © All Rights Reserved

Brooker Surname Study

But for now, I'm stuck at that marriage in 1746.  Therefore I'm launching a longer term surname research project, starting with collecting baptisms of Brooker, Brocker, Broker, Browker, etc. Between 1550 to 1600, and then moving forward.  Screenshots of my baby database below:


Time Travelling back through my ancestry timeline - Super Family History

The Dance of Cogul, tracing by Henri Breuil.

A Timeline for my ancestry based on current evidences.

3,000,000 years ago.

In Africa.  Eastern and / or maybe Southern Africa.  Hominids.  We call them Australopithecines, and in some ways, they resembled modern chimpanzees but that were adapting to walking upright bipedally, in open environments.  They made stone tools.  They had an omnivorous diet.  They were my ancestors three million years ago.  As they were for all of us.  Natural Selection was the big, very slow kicker for prehistory.  Things changed very, very slowly,

200,000 years ago.

The first hominids that are regarded rather loosely as Anatomically Modern Human emerging in Africa.

At this time, most of my ancestors still lived in Africa, but some of my non-anatomically modern ancestors had already migrated out of Africa, and had dispersed across Eurasia for some time.  They included those archaic humans that anthropologists presently call Neanderthals and Denisovans. 

50,000 years ago.

Most likely by now, most of my hunter-forager ancestors had left Africa.  An early out-of-Africa base appears to have been Arabia and the Middle East.  Some of my ancestors had met now, after long family separations (I have 328 Neanderthal variants in my DNA, according to 23andMe), it was the birth of the Eurasians.  The last Ice Age encroached.

14,000 years ago.

People had been learning to live with the climatic fluctuations of the last Ice Age.  Each hardening of climatic conditions had frozen Eurasian human populations into isolated conditions that increased genetic drift.

Where were my hunter-forager ancestors 14,000 years ago?  Most likely in pockets dispersed across Western Eurasia, from South-West Europe, across to Central Asia, and from Arabia up to Siberia.  My direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor at this time, most likely lived somewhere between what today is Syria, and Pakistan.  He could for example, have been an ibex hunter in the Zagros Mountains of Iran.  My direct maternal ancestor (mtDNA line) most likely lived in another pocket of hunter-foragers somewhere in Central Asia, such as what is now Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, the Siberian Plain, or nearby.  Some of her, or other of my ancestors at this time, had shared ancestry with a Siberian tribe of mammoth hunters, that archaeologists now call the Mal'ta–Buret' culture.  Other of my ancestors of this time may have most likely lived in the Caucasus, Southern Europe, Middle East, and Arabia.

5,600 years ago.

Many people in Western Eurasia were adapting to a new way of living, where farming and agriculture, with a range of domesticated species of animal and plant were spreading, often carried along in waves that are marked in our DNA.  The Neolithic Revolution that had affected my ancestors had occurred a few thousand years earlier in South-West Asia, in an area that we call the Fertile Crescent - the Levant, and down the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys. Some of my ancestors may have been early pioneers of this new way of life in the Middle East.

My direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor may have lived in one of the Uruk farming settlements in Babylonia, or could have been a Neolithic farmer in a number of cultures spread across what is now Iraq, Iran, or Pakistan.  He alternatively could be one of a number of specialists that early civilisation was generating - a potter, a weaver, or a miner.

My direct maternal line had drifted out of Central Asia, and onto the Eurasian Steppe Corridor.  My mtDNA ancestor was most likely living now on the Pontic and Caspian Steppes - what is now Ukraine, Southern Russia, or Kazakhistan.  Her people would have most likely herded domestic livestock including horses, cattle, goats and sheep.  They were mastering the horse and using the first wheeled wagons. On the Steppe corridor, they had access not only to trade with the civilisations south of the Caucasus, but to other cultures, and their materials.  They were experimenting with some of the earliest metallurgy including copper working.

Asides from her, I most likely had a number of other ancestors living in these pastoralist cultures on the Steppes at this time. Perhaps around 28% of my ancestors 5,500 years ago, lived there.

Other ancestors of mine at this time, were dispersed across Europe.  They include the Neolithic European farmers.  They had descended largely from populations that had previously lived in the Levant and Anatolia (what is now Turkey and the Middle East).  Some of my Neolithic European Farmer ancestors could have even lived in Megalithic Britain, but most likely, many of my European Neolithic ancestors lived elsewhere on the Continent, in for example, the Rhine valley, Danube valley, Italy, or Iberia.  Many of them had ancestry that had hopped westwards along the Mediterranean, the first farmers from Anatolia and the Levant (50% of my ancient admixture), but with a smaller admixture of hunter-gatherer ancestors that had previously lived in Europe (12% of my ancient admixture). Did this 12% admixture include the surviving DNA of any of the last Mesolithic hunter-gatherers of the British Isles?  I'd like to think so, but possibly not.

4,600 years ago.

My Copper Age, horse riding Steppe ancestors had migrated westwards into Europe.  There they had admixed with the earlier European Neolithic people.  Their DNA appeared in a Copper Age fusion culture across Central Europe (Poland, Germany, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, etc) that we call the Corded Ware Culture.  My direct maternal ancestors (mtDNA line) were most likely of that culture for a time.  Their mtDNA markers turn up associated with it.

Aside from her, some of my other ancestors would have been in the Corded Ware Culture.  However, the westward movement of DNA from the Steppes didn't end there.  In Western Europe, it triggered the birth of another culture, that archaeologists call Bell Beaker Culture.  Much of the Y-DNA of the Steppes, was carried into the Rhineland Bell Beaker men.  Some of my ancestors could have belonged to the Bell Beaker culture in Iberia, or Western France.  However, what is more likely is that at least some of them belonged to the Bell Beaker culture that had settled in the Lower Rhine Valley (The Netherlands and NW Germany).

Many of my ancestors at this time may have played a part in the Corded Ware and Bell Beaker cultures of Europe.  mtDNA (H6a1 and H6a1a) very close to my direct maternal line has been found in both cultures, including in a Bell Beaker context in the Netherlands.

My direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor was an exception.  He most likely was living somewhere around what is now Iran, possibly as a farmer in the Bronze Age civilisations there.  Ancestors in Southern Europe were less affected by the Copper Age Steppe migration event (mainly in their Y-DNA), and continued to carry mainly Neolithic European Farmer DNA in their autosomes.

3,600 years ago.

I want to just stop here, to record that some of my Bell Beaker Culture ancestors had crossed the North Sea from the Lower Rhine (Netherlands) to settle in South East Britain.  Their descendants were living in Bronze Age Britain.  I can't say with any degree of certainty, if my direct maternal (mtDNA line) ancestor was a part of this migration, or whether her line was still on the European Continent, and crossed later.  Either are equally feasible.   I would have had other ancestors, perhaps the majority at this time, scattered across the European Continent, but most likely, some in what is now Germany, France, Scandinavia, and Southern Europe.

My direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor was most likely still in the area of Iraq, or Iran. Perhaps for example, he was an Assyrian.

2,600 years ago.

I'd estimate that perhaps around 38% of my ancestors were now living in Iron Age Britain.  My Iron Age British ancestors would have lived in the round houses and would have farmed the land.    Some people refer to the culture of the British Isles at this time as Celtic.  Some of my ancestors may well have belonged to a tribal federation, that was later known as the Iceni.

This may or may not have included my direct maternal (mtDNA line) ancestor, who could have been a Briton, but may have equally lived along with many of my other ancestors - in an Iron Age Germanic culture in the Netherlands, Northern Germany, or Denmark. Others may have lived further to the south and west in Europe in other cultures  such as the Gauls.  I have a great great great grandparent from Switzerland.  His ancestors at this time, could have been dispersed through a number of tribes across Central and Southern Europe.

My direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor was most likely still in the area of the Middle East, or Iran. Perhaps for example, he was a subject of the Persian Empire.

1,700 years ago.

Lets stop here a moment.  Roman Britain.  Perhaps 40% of my ancient ancestors living here at the time.  Britain had been occupied by the Western Roman Empire for some time.  My ancestors in Britannia would have very much identified as Romans, although they largely descended from the Iron Age Britons. However, there were traders, soldiers, and merchants from further afield here.  That might have even included my direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor, that could for example, have traveled to Southern Britannia from Assyria or Persia, or perhaps even from the Eastern Roman Empire in Anatolia and the Levant.

Meanwhile many of my ancestors were living in Germanic pagan tribes across the North Sea in what is now the Netherlands, Northern Germany, and Denmark.  Others may have been living in Roman Gaul, Tuscany, or elsewhere on the Continent.

1,000 years ago.

I believe that the majority of my ancestors now lived in early medieval southern Britain, although some may have still lived further to the south in places such as Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Spain, or Italy.  If he didn't arrive earlier, perhaps my direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor arrived in Wessex about now, as for example, a specialist from the Middle East, working for the Roman church.  Many of my ancestors in South-East Britain had arrived from across the North Sea over the preceding centuries, with Germanic tribes such as the Angles, Frisians, Danes and Saxons.   Archaeological artifacts in Norfolk correlate best with some sites in Northern Germany, towards the border with Denmark.

This would have included Anglo-Saxon ancestors of my mother, that most likely rowed past the decommissioned Roman shore fort at Burgh, and perhaps moored at Reedham.  It may have included Danish ancestors of her that a few centuries later settled the district of Flegg in East Norfolk.  DNA shared on the Continent in places such as modern day Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, and Denmark reflects strongly in my ancestral DNA tests.  Much of it may have arrived during these early medieval immigration events.

My direct maternal (mtDNA line) would most likely be in East Anglia or nearby by now.

500 years ago.

Exchange between South East Britain and the European Continent didn't end.  It is possible that I had more ancestors arrive here from Normandy, Medieval France, and the Spanish Netherlands.  However by 500 years ago, It is possible that most of my ancestors now lived in Tudor England.  There would most likely still been a minority of later ancestors migrating from elsewhere, although I so far only see one great great great grandparent from Switzerland, in my genealogical record.  It is likely that my direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor was living in Southern England, and that my direct maternal (mtDNA line) ancestor was living in East Anglia.   I trace his line back to the Oxfordshire / Berkshire border, and her line back 300 years ago to the village of Bunwell in Norfolk.

It is likely that the majority of my Tudor ancestors were living in East Anglia by now, particularly in the County of Norfolk.  Many of the men would be transitioning from medieval peasant status to that of free rural labourers or some into farmers or tradesmen.

300 years ago.

It is highly likely that by now, all of my ancestors (except the Swiss line at Generation 6, arriving 160 years ago), lived in South-East England.  The majority in Norfolk, East Anglia, perhaps as high as 77% East Anglian, also a cluster in the Thames Valley of Oxfordshire and Berkshire, and a smaller cluster around Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire.

Their trades included agricultural labourerers, shepherds, horsemen, marshmen, smallhold farmers, watermen, carpenters, inn keepers, hawkers, etc. They were the English rural working classes of the 18th Century.

Their recorded surnames included:

Moore, Gunton, Mar, Mollett, Portar, Beck, Breeze, Cruchfield, Lewell, Mingay, Wittham, Thurkettle, Gardiner, Ursul, Upcroft, Neale, Neville, Hammond, Bennett, Read, Bradfield, Aimes, Sniss, Wick, Bligh, Frances, Rippon, Saunderson, Goodram, Seymore, Waine, Blaxhall, Jacobs, Yallop Brucker, Gregory, Hardiment, Hardyman, Briting, Hill, Harrison, Brown, Harding, Creess, Tovel, Osborne, Nichols, Bond, Bowes, Daynes, Brooker, Curtis, Smith, Baxter, Shawers, Edney, Tovell, Key, Tammas-Tovell, Thacker, Lawn, Tammas, Hagon, Hewitt, Springall, Porter, Rose, Larke, Annison, Barker, Brooks, Ling, Rowland, Gorll, Dingle, Marsh, Symonds, Dawes, Goffen, Waters, Briggs, Nicholls, Shepherd, Maye, Morrison, Merrison, Norton, Cossey, Harrington, Barber, Peach, Dennis, Durran, Freeman, Hedges, Crutchfield, Quantrill, Page, Dove, Rix, Sales, Britiff, Goffin, Coleman, Tibnum, Mitchells, Ellis, Beckett, Riches, Snelling, Ransby, Nicholes, Harris, Shilling, Wymer, Moll, Ginby, Gynby, Gaul, Edwards, and Gall.

50 years ago.

I was a small child in Norfolk.  Born English, to a local East Anglian family.  Yet look back at my ancestral timeline.  My ancestry is from all over Europe, and even from across Western Asia, and before that from Africa.  We are all cousins in one large global family.  Much of my family timeline, will also be your timeline.


That's time travelling through my own ancestry.

Warham Camp


Another day off today, another local photo trip. I hope no-one here thinks that my photo tours in East Anglia are some sort of narcissistic attempt at educating others. Far from it. I'm so bloody lucky to have been born into a land of ancestors, that I want to share my time travel accounts with cousins here that today, live far away.

Warham Camp screamed out at me this morning. Never visited this one. An Iron Age site in North Norfolk. We call these monuments "hillforts" because in other parts of the British Isles they are often built on top of hills. Here in the lowlands of Norfolk, we don't have much in the way of hills. That doesn't mean that we didn't have an Iron Age. Iron Age Britain - is often referred to as Celtic Britain. I'm really not sure what Celtic is - I can see very clearly that it's different to different people. But, for myself, I understood Celtic as as the collection of loosely related Iron Age cultures of the British Isles and the Atlantic Seaboard of Western Europe.

The Romans went to lengths to describe and record the Late Iron Age "tribe" or nation of Norfolk as the Iceni (Ick-ean-ee). Local archaeologists have suggested that this was a Late Iron age confederation of smaller tribes, with at least three centres within what is now Norfolk. The Roman records mark the end of innocence, or prehistory.

Some of my earlier photo tours have emphasised that there were serious power shifts in Iron Age / Celtic Britain before the Claudian Invasion. Elites were shifting, and warring for access to Romano-Gallic trade across the Channel. However, this site, predates this flurry of politics, and is dated to construction around 200 BC or so. However, it's use, appears to have continued through to the Roman period.

On the way, I saw so many towers of so many medieval Norfolk churches. There are 700 parish churches in Norfolk, most of them medieval. You can't walk far before you see a tower. Often you see two or three. I did once read that Norfolk has more medieval church buildings than any comparable chunk of earth anywhere else. I don't doubt it. It is a monument to the agricultural success and national importance of Norfolk to Medieval England. Norwich was the second city only to London until the 18th Century.

I couldn't resist this beautiful round tower example at Little Snoring:



Google Earth took me through miles of beautiful May single carriageway roads to this:



The local information board was good:



I enter the site:







A site needs to be seen in it's landscape:





I can't resist a little molehill archaeology:





Looks like prehistoric ceramic, but maybe Bronze Age. I put it back. One last look:



Then I drove a few miles north to Wells-Next-To-Sea in order to eat whelks. I love the sea air:


Another time travel.


What have the Romans done for us?

I can feel Spring in the air.  So, day off from work, I decided to take a field trip.  Wasn't sure where to when I hit the road, but I ended up at Burgh Castle, the ruin of a Roman Fort of the Saxon Shore.

Information board at Burgh Castle.

Traditionally, the Roman Shore Forts of South-East Britain were seen as Late Roman defensive structures, to protect Roman Britain from attack from barbarians from the other side of the North Sea, outside of the Empire.  This remains a valid view, although I remember attending a lecture by a local archaeologist many years ago, that argued that these shore forts, were a little odd.  With civilian activity inside the forts, and not particularly very defensive.  He was arguing that rather than protect Roman Britain from invasion by Anglo Saxon pirates, they were intended to control and tax heavy commerce across the North Sea.  No I'm not going to take sides, perhaps there was an element of both intentions.

I personally also like to see this fort as a sort of 4th Century AD immigration control.  My mother's 18th and 19th Century ancestors are so strongly clustered nearby at the Reedham area, that I can't help but imagine that at least some of her ancestors lived in East Norfolk way back into the medieval, and perhaps some of them rowed passed this recently decommissioned shore fort during the early 5th century AD.  I imagine them jeering at the now abandoned post of the Empire, as they rowed past.  Arriving into Britain, with fealty free land just for the grabbing, a land of opportunity for rural self sustaining farmers from the Continent.

The view down on the Yare and Breydon Water from Burgh Castle.  Much of this would have been flooded during the 4th Century by higher sea levels and the absence of drainage.

From a population genetics point of view, we are usually told that the 360 year long period of Roman Britain contributed little to our present day DNA.  More important was the contribution of the Early Bronze Age, that carried DNA from the Eurasian Steppes, followed perhaps by the Anglo-Saxon / Danish / Norman Medieval immigration events that followed the collapse of shore forts such as this one.  It is usually suggested that because actual migration from Rome was sparse, and troops were scattered from all over the Empire, that there was little impact on the late prehistoric British genome.

However, whenever an odd haplotype turns up in an old British family, including for example, my own Y-DNA that appears to have originated from the area of present day Iran or Iraq, someone will suggest that it could have arrived during the Roman Empire.  Indeed, in some cases they may well have made their way into North west Europe, even to the British Isles during that time.  Trade and exchange across Western Eurasia was thriving.

I give you Burgh Castle, Norfolk.  They may have built it in order to keep some of my ancestors out.

Norfolk Surnames in the Sixteenth Century

I spent too much money today on reading materials.  I was delighted to find a used copy of The Norfolk Broads A landscape history by Tom Williamson 1997 (Manchester University Press).  I had a copy of this excellent landscape history when it was published, but unfortunately lent it out, and never saw it again.  A brilliant book for tying my mother's East Norfolk ancestors to their ancestral landscape.

The April 2017 edition of Current Archaeology magazine has an interesting article on an excavation of an Iron Age site in Fenland, and is celebrating their 50th anniversary of publication.

The real treasure of today's book shop excavation however, was an old booklet published in 1969 by Leicester University Press in their Department of English Local History Occasional Papers.  It is entitled Norfolk Surnames in the Sixteenth Century by R.A McKinley.  Flicking through it's pages on the way home, sitting on the bus, I was well, almost mind blown - as some of the conclusions knocked down some of my preconceptions of my Norfolk ancestry and heritage.  An old, yellowing booklet that I've never heard of, found on a shelf in a second hand book shop in Norwich.

The book draws on surnames recorded in the County of Norfolk, during the 16th Century AD.  It uses as it's sources several returns, and rolls particularly a military survey, and subsidy roll from between 1522 and 1525.  I want to share at least some of the key points from two chapters of "Norfolk Surnames in the Sixteenth Century": 1) Surnames derived from localities in Norfolk, and 2) Locative surnames originating outside Norfolk.

1) Surnames derived from localities in Norfolk

  • The chapter begins by discussing the problems of using locative surnames in a study.
  • "The two main sources used for this study list 739 persons bearing locative surnames derived from places within Norfolk.  Of these, only 23 were living at the places from which their names were derived.".
  • A table then shows the distances of the persons (still within the County of Norfolk) with these locative surnames from origin.  23 were still at the place of origin, 81 were still within 5 miles of it, 123 were within 6 - 10 miles away, 239 were 11 - 20 miles away, 151 were 21 - 30 miles away, and 122 lived over 30 miles from the locative place of origin.  However, these are the locative surnames that still remain in Norfolk, that appear to have an origin within the County.  Many more would have crossed county boundaries into Suffolk, Lincolnshire, etc.
  • "It seems probable from this evidence, however, that most Norfolk families must have changed their place of residence at least between the period when surnames became hereditary, and the early sixteenth century.".
  • There was no pattern to suggest a large migration from any one part of the County, to another.

2) Locative surnames originating outside Norfolk

  • "In the two main sources, there are 1,260 persons bearing surnames which can be derived with fair certainty from places in England, but outside Norfolk".
  • The author then discusses possible biases, for example, some parts of England appear to have generated more locative surnames than others.  It also suggests that about a third of all English surnames are locative, and proposes a rough approximation, that this could "be about 2,500 persons of outside origin amongst the total of about 18,000 listed in the two main sources, or rather more than 13 per cent".  This suggests quite a few people had been moving from other parts of England, into Norfolk between the 13th and 15th centuries AD.
  • Where were they from?  The two main contributors were the neighbouring counties of Suffolk and Lincolnshire. Some had simply moved from close to the Norfolk county boundary.   
  • Cambridgeshire, another neighbouring county, for some reason contributed far fewer.  The East Midlands was also, surprisingly, not a major contributor of locative surnames in 16th Century Norfolk.  There were no locative surnames from Wales.
  • Here is another surprise, Yorkshire turned our to be a common origin - equally spread through the three ridings.  Each riding of Yorkshire had contributed about 40 persons in Norfolk with locative surnames.  The author does point out that Yorkshire is a big county, and is particularly rich in locative surnames, however: "it is evident that there must have been considerable movement from Yorkshire to Norfolk.  Yorkshire surnames are distributed throughout Norfolk in the early sixteenth century.  They are not particularly concentrated in ports or coastal areas, and indeed, are as widespread in central Norfolk, well away from the sea, as in other parts of the county.".
  • There was also a notable contribution of locative surnames from NW England - Lancashire, Cumbria, and Westmorland.
  • The distribution of these surnames was by no means urban based.  Yamouth and Norwich had lower concentrations than the average.  These migrations look more rural.
  • There were very few surnames of any origin type that could be safely regarded as Welsh.
  • There were very few surnames of any origin type that could be safely regarded as Scottish.
  • The author then moves on to records of other foreign born aliens.  I am aware of the influx of Dutch and Flemish religious refugees, into the City of Norwich during the early 16th Century, however, here I learn something new.
  • "there was certainly a considerable migration of aliens into Norfolk, and foreign immigrants came to reside in many Norfolk villages, not merely in a few ports or large towns.  In 1436, for example, when many aliens took oaths of allegiance, 146 persons who took oath are noted as living in Norfolk.  This was not the whole number of aliens in Norfolk...".  A list in 1440 for example, lists 192 aliens residing in Norfolk at 62 different places.  The author feels that those 15th Century records understate the real percentage of immigrants living in Norfolk at that time.
  • The Continental immigrants did not bring in many new surnames.  Many had no surname listed, or had adopted local surnames.  For example, immigrants listed at Norwich in 1440, included persons by the surnames Rider, Johnson, Forest, Skynner, Couper, Bush, Goldsmyth, and Glasier.  Some surnames marking their nationality did survive in 16th Century Norfolk, such as French, Ducheman, Briton / Brett (Breton) etc.

Brancaster, a North Norfolk village.

In summary, what this book has taught me today:

  1. Many families, despite our ideas of the dying fuedal system, were moving around East Anglia, and even England between the 13th and 16th centuries.
  2. There were relatively few people in 16th century Norfolk, with origins in Scotland, or Wales, and perhaps few from the nearby East Midlands or Cambridgeshire.  However, there was migration down from Northern England, particularly from Yorkshire, but even from NW England.
  3. There were also migrations, from the nearby Continent, and these migrations (and the above Northern English) migrations were not strictly urban.  They reached many villages.