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.

Some Ancestral Churches, East Norfolk

I recently on one particularly sunny winter's afternoon, took a quick tour around a small selection of medieval churches within the dense geographical cluster in my mother's family tree.

Reedham St John the Baptist

My Ancestry Place report for Reedham, Norfolk.

1771-08-05 Marriage Maye, Judith (I0328) and Shepherd, James (I0327)

1793-01-28 Marriage Shepherd, Judith (I0323) and Goffen, Richard (I0320)

1793-10-11 Birth Goffen, Edward (I0324)

1793-10-11 Birth Goffen, Edward (I1321)

1795-10-26 Birth Goffen, Richard (I0314)

1795-11-01 Baptism Goffen, Richard (I0314)

1799-02-24 Birth Goffen, William (I1318)

1803-06-05 Birth Goffen, John (I1319)

1805-10-06 Birth Goffen, James (I1320)

1818-03-24 Death Goffen, William (I1318)

1841-06-06 Census Shepherd, Judith (I0323) Age 68, independent. Widow.

1851-03-30 Occupation Goffen, Richard (I0314) Inn keeper and master carpenter. Brick Kiln pub, Reedham riverside.

about 1852 Birth Goffen, Sarah Anne (I0302)

1861-04-07 Census Goffen, Richard (I0314) 65 year old carpenter with wife and children. By the river.

1861-11-04 Burial Goffen, Richard (I0314) Age 66

1863-04-04 Death Goffen, John (I1319)

1895-07-24 Death Goffen, James (I1320)

Freethorpe All Saints
My Ancestry Place Report for Freethorpe, Norfolk

calculated 1771 Birth Waters, Robert (I1378) 

calculated 1772 Birth Ransby, Elizabeth (I1379) 

calculated 1804 Birth Waters, Mary (I0307)

1804-01-29 Baptism Waters, Mary (I0307)

1808-06-26 Birth Waters, Judith (I1469)

1810-01-11 Birth Waters, Martha (I1470)

1813-01-03 Baptism Waters, Elizabeth (I1471)

1814-05-22 Baptism Waters, Elisa (I1472)

1823-07-23 Marriage Waters, Mary (I0307)

1823-07-23 Marriage Waters, Mary (I0307) and Key, William (I0306)

1826-06-11 Baptism Key, Maria (I1377)

1828-06-01 Baptism Key, Susan (I1376)

1846-02-06 Birth Key, Sarah Ann (I0309)

1848-02-20 Birth Key, George (I0301)

1848-03-13 Baptism Key, George (I0301)

1851 Census Key, William (I0306) Near the Green, age 47 born at Norwich, with wife Mary and two children including George age 3

1851 Occupation Key, William (I0306) Agricultural labourer

1851 Census Waters, Robert (I1378) Near the Green. Age 80 with wife Elizabeth.

1851 Census Ransby, Elizabeth (I1379) Age 79, living near the Green, with husband Robert, in Freethorpe. Place of birth - Freethorpe.

1855-01-16 Burial Waters, Robert (I1378) Age 86

1870-03-01 Marriage Goffen, Sarah Anne (I0302) and Key, George (I0301)

about 1885 Birth Key, Florence (I0070)

1891-04-05 Census Key, George (I0301) 43 year old carpenter, born Freethorpe, with wife Sarah and four children, including sarah, age 20, working as domestic servant

1891-04-05 Census Key, Florence (I0070) Age 6, with parents and siblings. Born Freethorpe. Father was a carpenter.

1901-03-31 Census Key, George (I0301) 53 year old carpenter with Sarah and son George.

1901-04-05 Census Goffen, Sarah Anne (I0302) Age 48 born at Reedham, with carpenter husband George Key.

1905-11-21 Birth Curtis, Ernest William (I0047)

1916-09-17 Marriage Turner, Mary Ann Elizabeth (I1259) and Curtis, Herbert Henry (I1250)

Strumpshaw St Peter My Ancestry Place Report for Strumpshaw, Norfolk

1747-11-24 Marriage Rowland, John (I0291) and Dawes, Sarah (I0292)
before 1773-03-16 Birth Rose, Robert (I0256)
1774-04-10 Marriage Cossey, Martha (I0346) and Norton, David (I0345)
before 1774-12-04 Birth Norton, Lydia (I0340)
before 1775-03-18 Birth Rose, John (I0248)
1777-01-00 Death Norton, David (I0345)
1777-10-19 Marriage
Banns
Briggs, John (I1526) and Jacobs, Elizabeth (I1557) Both single, of Strumpshaw
1779-01-05 Marriage Rowland, Joseph (I0281) and Symonds, Ann (I0282)
before 1779-03-17 Birth Rose, Henry (I0242)
before 1779-11-15 Birth Rowland, Martha (I0249)
calculated 1781 Birth Briggs, Susanna (I0311)
before 1782-03-28 Birth Rose, Susannah (I1034)
before 1784-10-28 Birth Rose, Mary (I1035)
1785-08-05 Baptism Dingle, Robert (I1448)
1787-01-04 Baptism Dingle, William (I1449)
1788-07-10 Baptism Dingle, Anna Maria (I1450)
1790-06-29 Burial Rose, Henry (I0242) Pauper
1790-06-29 Burial Rose, Henry (I0254) Age 43. A married man and a pauper
1790-10-06 Baptism Dingle, Mary (I1451)
1792 Baptism Dingle, George (I1452)
1794-02-00 Death Gorll, Mary (I0255)
1795-08-11 Baptism Dingle, Elizabeth (I0258)
1801-10-27 Marriage Rose, John (I0248) and Rowland, Martha (I0249)
1802-03-02 Marriage Rose, Henry (I0242) and Ling, Margaret (I0243)
before 1802-06-15 Birth Rose, Margaret (I0244)
1802-08-02 Marriage Rose, Robert (I0256) and Nicholls, Ann (I0825)
1803-05-09 Marriage Briggs, Susanna (I0311) and Key, William (I0310)
before 1804-04-01 Birth Rose, John (I0251)
before 1804-10-10 Birth Rose, Fitt (I0827)
before 1805-06-16 Birth Rose, James (I0252)
before 1807-10-27 Birth Rose, Charlotte (I0828)
before 1809-05-12 Birth Rose, Rebecca (I0253)
before 1810-07-28 Birth Rose, Henry (I0829)
1819-01-27 Marriage Merrison, Lydia (I0342) To William King
1819-04-00 Death Symonds, Ann (I0282)
before 1823-12-07 Birth Rose, James (I0887)
before 1825-05-08 Death Rose, Amelia (I0886)
before 1826-10-22 Birth Rose, Amelia (I0888)
1827-01-09 Marriage Wilson, Ruth (I0944) and Rose, James (I0252)
1827-11-06 Marriage Curtis, William (I0209) and Rose, Mary Anne (I0210)
1828-01-03 Marriage Shorten, Thomas (I1019) and Rose, Rebecca (I0253)
1828-02-07 Marriage Tungate, James (I0847) and Rose, Charlotte (I0828)
before 1828-05-26 Birth Rose, William (I0889)
before 1830-09-03 Birth Curtis, William (I0199)
before 1831-05-02 Birth Rose, John (I0890)
1831-07-01 Marriage Wigg, George (I1031) and Rose, Martha (I0883)
1832-10-04 Marriage Rose, Susanna (I0832) and Rose, Henry (I0829)
before 1834-12-07 Birth Rose, Robert (I0891)
before 1836-02-07 Birth Rose, John (I0834)
before 1837-07-23 Birth Rose, Edward (I0892)
before 1838-04-14 Birth Rose, Samuel (I1022)
about 1839 Birth Tungate, George (I0852)
1839-06-03 Marriage Griffin, Jemima (I1033) and Rose, Richard (I0885)
before 1840-07-12 Birth Rose, Maria (I0893)
1841-08-15 Marriage Rose, Fitt (I0827) and Tungate,
Maria (I0830)
1841-12-06 Burial Briggs, John (I1526) Living at Wickhampton. Age 90
before 1842-06-18 Birth Rose, Maria (I0837)
before 1843-09-03 Birth Rose, Samuel (I0894)
1843-10-05 Burial Dingle, Thomas (I1446)
1845-10-00 Death Rose, John (I0248)
1847-04-08 Marriage Rose, James (I0887) and Gymer, Mary (I0895)
before 1848-09-10 Birth Rose, Hannah (I0897)
1850-02-18 Marriage Rose, John (I0890) and Hendry, Agnes (I0920)
before 1850-04-07 Birth Rose, Elizabeth (I0898)
before 1850-06-09 Birth Rose, Emma (I0842)
before 1852-01-04 Birth Rose, Mary Ann (I0899)
before 1852-08-08 Birth Rose, George (I1009)
before 1854-05-16 Birth Rose, James (I0900)
1854-08-13 Baptism Rose, Robert (I0230)
before 1854-11-05 Birth Rose, Frederic (I1002)
before 1854-12-31 Birth Rose, Sarah (I0844)
before 1855-05-27 Death Rose, Emma (I0842)
before 1855-06-25 Death Rose, Sarah (I0844)
1857-02-00 Death Rose, John (I0834)
before 1857-03-30 Death Rose, Hannah (I0897)
before 1858-06-06 Birth Rose, William (I0845)
1859-05-26 Marriage Hendry, Margaret (I0915) and Rose, William (I0889)
before 1860-01-26 Birth Rose, John Henry (I1006)
before 1861-01-12 Birth Rose, Rachel (I1025)
1861-12-04 Burial Rowland, Martha (I0249)
1862-03-00 Death Rose, Susanna (I0832)
before 1864-02-24 Death Rose, Mary Ann (I0838)
before 1864-03-18 Birth Rose, Rachel (I1027)
1864-10-19 Marriage Mitchell, Richard (I0938) and Rose, Maria (I0893)
before 1864-11-16 Death Rose, John (I0890)
before 1865-08-06 Death Rose, Rachel (I1025)
before 1865-08-06 Death Rose, Rachel (I1027)
1872-02-20 Marriage Rose, Mary Ann (I0899) and Alexander, Frederick (I0906)
before 1873-01-05 Death Rose, John (I0251)
1876-01-01 Marriage Rose, George (I1009) and Broom, Alice (I1010)
1876-04-18 Marriage Rose, Elizabeth (I0898) and Thompson, George (I0905)
before 1876-07-02 Birth Rose, William (I0930)
before 1878-05-26 Birth Rose, Herbert (I0932)
before 1879-05-04 Death Marshall, Elizabeth (I0881)
before 1879-07-13 Birth Rose, Laura (I1013)
before 1882-03-12 Birth Rose, Alice Maude (I1015)
before 1882-10-15 Birth Rose, Anna (I0934)
before 1884-12-16 Birth Rose, Henry Herbert (I1008)
before 1884-12-21 Death Rose, Henry Herbert (I1008)
before 1886-03-21 Birth Rose, Henry (I0935)
1886-10-18 Marriage Rose, James (I0887) and Manthorpe, Mary Ann (I0896)
1887-07-07 Marriage Scott, Sarah Elizabeth (I0846)
and Rose, William (I0845)
before 1891-01-22 Death Rose, Anna (I0934)
1891-02-00 Death Rose, Fitt (I0827)
1895-03-30 Marriage Thrower, George Frederick
Cooper (I1012) and Rose, Edith
(I1011)
1895-04-00 Death Rose, Henry (I0829)
before 1895-05-03 Death Rose, George (I1009)
1900-04-21 Marriage Rose, Laura (I1013) and Benns, Clement Claude (I1014)
1901-04-27 Marriage Rose, William (I0930) and Nobbs, Mary Elizabeth (I0931)
1902-11-29 Marriage Rose, Alice Maude (I0933) and Rose, Herbert (I0932)
1902-11-29 Marriage Rose, Alice Maude (I1015) and Rose, Herbert (I1016)
before 1903-10-23 Death Rose, Edward (I0892)
before 1926-06-19 Death Susanna (I0923)
before 1943-12-24 Death Rose, James (I0900)
before 1949-04-23 Death Rose, Mary Mendham (I0907)

Was our Y ancestor a Baloch Lascar?

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.  "A Portrait of an Indian Gentleman," by A. Smith, 1841.  No.  This portrait was not one of my ancestors.  It is believed to have been painted in England.  However, my Asian Y ancestor must have been here previous to 1700.  This relates to my Y line, inherited down my father's, father's father line and so on.  Descendants for example of Reginald J Brooker, should share this heritage.  My Y-DNA research indicates that I had an Asian ancestor, that most likely moved to Southern England sometime between 1,800 and 500 years ago.  I did find this portrait however, on Wikimedia Commons, whilst searching the subject of who my Y ancestors in Asia were, and why one may have travelled to England.

Let's start a little further back.  My Y-DNA is West Asian in origin.  I share my current terminal Y-DNA SNP (L-SK1414) with a guy that is a Balochi speaker from Makran in SW Pakistan, close to the border with Iran.  I also match fairly well (on STR tests) with a guy who's paternal line hailed from the town of Birjand, South Khorasan, Iran.

Now, although my Australian Y cousin with ancestry in South Khorasan didn't know of any family Balochi link - it's possible.  Balochi, have lived in that region of Eastern Iran.  It may, just may, be a link.  Who are and were the Baloch?

Origins of the Baloch People

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.  Iranian Baloch khans in Qajar era, c. 1902.  The Baloch people today are spread across Western and Central Asia, mainly found in SW Pakistan, SE Iran, and Afghanistan.  

The pink areas display the main Balochi areas today.  The red outline suggesting likely homelands for my Y-DNA.  Also marked by red spots, are the homes of the two recorded L-SK1414 in that area.  It is estimated that there are 15 million Baloch people across the World today.  The Balochi language is Iranic.  It has been ascribed by linguists as belonging to the North-West Iranic family, close to Kurdish.  Yet the Balochi today, are in the South-East of the Region.  The traditional origin story told by the Baloch people, is that they were Arabic, and originated in Syria.

However, linguists and historians today usually suggest that they were in fact, refugees from Arabic expansion, that migrated mainly east and south east, over several centuries (starting circa 7th Century AD) from an area close to the Caspian Sea in Northern Iran.  This puts Birjand incidentally, on the route of that migration.  It also leads from what I consider to be the homelands of the mother clade - Y hg L1b (L-M317), between the Caspian and Black seas.  Today, the majority of the Baloch are Sunni Muslim (some are Shia).  However, many early migrants from the North West may have ascribed to other religions including Zoroastrianism.  An attack on Persia by the Seljuk Turks from Central Asia during the 11th Century AD, may have accelerated Baloch migration to present day Balochistan. Today, the Baloch of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan are divided into an estimated 130 tribes.

As for Balochistan itself, when Alexander of Macedonia, passed through it, during the 4th Century BC, it was known as the Kingdom of Gedrosia.  Balochistan has long been sandwiched and pulled between the great empires of Persia, and India.  Even today, it is divided between these two political boundaries.  A large region with a sparse population, but a firmly stamped ethnic identity.

According to Akhilesh Pillalamarri "In the 1500s, Balochistan like Afghanistan to its north, became divided into zones of control between the Safavid Persian Empire to its west and the Mughal Empire to its east. This approximately reflects the Iran-Pakistan border today."

Could this friction even have lead my Y ancestor to move?  When did European ships appear on the coastline?

That's the Baloch hypothesis.  Now for the next, the Lascar hypothesis.

The Asian Lascar

By National Maritime Museum from Greenwich, United Kingdom [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons. Three lascars on the Viceroy of India.

Our Y ancestor may have moved to Southern England for all sorts of reasons:  merchant, diplomat, adventurer, slave, hostage, prisoner of war, trader, mercenary, servant, religious convert, refugee, etc.  Genetic genealogists tend all too often to cling to known historical events such as battles.  I'd be very wary of that. 

With that in mind... here is one new possibility (as opposed to a probability), that I am presently considering.  

The Lascar.

Lascar derives from al-askar, the Arabic word for a guard or soldier.  When European ships first started to sail the trade routes to India and the Middle East, they often suffered losses of life on the way.  Subsequently, they would recruit new sailors at their ports of call.  Arab traders had scattered seamanship and sailing skills along the coast line around the Persian Gulf, and the practice of Lascars may have already been established before the first Portuguese ships picked them up.  The European practice of taking on Lascars is believed to have started as early as the 16th Century.  It continued through to the 20th Century.  Just about in time, to account for my Y-DNA in Southern England, that turns up during the early 18th Century in two surname families.  It's possible.

Apparently, the Lascars received even poorer food and water than even the late British sailors that they replaced.  Therefore, many jumped ship when they reached England.  Their intentions may not have been immigration, but they couldn't risk the return voyage.  This, it is said, was the very first root of the present day Asian settlement of Britain. It has been speculated that the portrait at the top of the post, may have been of a former Lascar, or ... servant!  Why not though, a traveller that has succeeded?

Why would a 16th or 17th Century European trading ship visit Balochistan?  Did it?  Our ancestor may have already moved either westwards or down to an Indian port.  He may have been a professional sailor!

It's one possibilty.

By National Maritime Museum from Greenwich, United Kingdom [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons. Lascars at the Royal Albert Dock in LondonThree lascars on the Viceroy of India. 1936.

My Family and Abraham Lincoln

Okay, honesty time.  I have (not yet) found any proven connection between myself and the 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln.  The title is a little tongue in cheek, but it's my blog, and I have a serious dearth of famous ancestors in my recorded family tree.  What I have recently discovered though, is that the Norfolk village of Swanton Morley is an ancestral hot spot on my father's side, and that the paternal ancestors of Abraham Lincoln, did indeed also hail from that village.  Therefore it is not unreasonable to speculate, that at some point since the Medieval, we do indeed share ancestry with the 16th President of the USA.  Lincolns did indeed remain in the parish until modern times, along with my Harris and Barber ancestors.

Lets start with my Reginald John Brooker, paternal grandfather's pedigree:

My grandfather's parents separated while he was young, and he was brought up at Northall Green Farm by his maternal grandparents William and Harriet Baxter.  When he was a boy, he would play by hanging by his arms from the nearby railway bridge.  His older sister Gladys would sometimes be allowed to visit.  She remembered happy times and yellow flowers on that farm.  Northall Green Farm is technically in (East) Dereham, but is actually located nearer to the village of Swanton Morley.  Many of his genes from his mother's side really had not travelled far.  He had some very old ancestral associations with his home - both in East Dereham, and in Swanton Morley.

Reginald as a boy in 1920.  He is on the second row from back, on our far left.  Standing, plain dark top, round spectacles.

His mother's side of the family also had an undesired association with the nearby Mitford & Launditch Union Workhouse at Gressenhall.  His grandparent's that reared him, had both been born in that workhouse.  They had both been born illegitimate of unmarried mothers.  However, I recently discovered that they both claimed to know and to name their biological father's on their marriage registration.  His grandparents married at the church in Swanton Morley.  As I was to discover, many of the bride's ancestors at least, had previously processed through the same building over the centuries.

Harriet (my great great grandmother) claimed at her wedding that a William Barker was her biological father.  He was from a Dereham family.  I'm not chasing up that line for now, instead, lets go up her mother's line.  Her mother was Harriet Barber, born 1826 in ... Swanton Morley.  Harriet disappears after the birth of her daughter.  Hopefully she went on well in life, perhaps married and changed surname.  In 1847, she would have had to wear a yellow jacket of shame in Gressenhall Workhouse.

Harriet's father in turn had also been born illegitimate - a feature of incredible frequency in this particular line of our family tree.  What prompted such illegitimacy?  Was it poverty?  He (my G.G.G Grandfather), was born in Swanton Morley in 1803, the baseborn son of Sarah Barber.  His name was James Alderton Barber.  In adult life, he tolled as a farm labourer in the Swanton area.  

His mother actually had no less than six children born in the village of Swanton Morley between 1803 and 1818, whilst somehow avoiding marriage!  Neither do they all appear to have had the same father.  a Mr Alderton may have fathered two including our ancestor.  A Mr Sissons at least one other (a common custom in illegitimacy was to give the biological father's surname as a "middle" name).  Maybe I should try to chase up and eliminate which local Mr Alderton was likely to be our ancestor, but such trails are tenuous.  I really don't know how she survived in this early 19th Century rural community.  I sniff a fantastic story, if only I could dig it up.

However, lets go back down to her son, James Alderton Barber of Swanton Morley.  He married at least three times.  Perhaps making up for his mother.  His second marriage in 1825 was at Swanton Morley church to our ancestor Jemima Harris.  

James and Jemima Barber were to go on to have no less than eight children baptised at Swanton Morley Church between 1826 and 1842.  Jemima herself, my G.G.G Grandmother, was born ... you guessed it, illegitimately ... the daughter of Elizabeth Harris of Swanton Morley.  I really find it fascinating, the level of illegitimacy on this line.  A local socio-economic history would be very interesting.  This family is full of mothers, rather than fathers.  They may have been strong and independent.  Or they may have been victims.

G.G.G.G Grandmother Elizabeth Harris herself was baptised in that same church in Swanton Morley in 1768.  Her parents had narrowly avoided yet an earlier illegitimacy event themselves by marrying a few months earlier - at Swanton Morley of course, in 1767.  They were Solomon Harris and Elizabeth Bradfield.  We're going back now aren't we.  Swanton Morley is starting to feel as one of our many genealogical homes.  Hey, I still live only around 15 miles away from there today.

Here she is today.  All Saints Church, Swanton Morley, Norfolk.

I only know of two children of Solomon and Elizabeth Harris.  Our ancestor Elizabeth, and her sister Martha.  I hope their parents had a successful life.  Back then, life was far more precarious than it is today.  Okay let us step back another few generations.  Elizabeth was baptised in nearby East Dereham in 1745.  The daughter of an Allen and Rachel Bradfield.  What great names!  As for Solomon, he turns out to be a Solomon Junior.  He was the son of Solomon Harris and a Mary Aimes? of Swanton Morley.  Solomon Senior married Mary at Swanton Morley in 1725.  I'm not sure of her maiden name.  The hand ascribed registers are so poor - Aitkjens?  I've gone for Aimes.  They had at least three children baptised at All Saints, Swanton Morley between 1725 and 1736.

The view today from Swanton Morley Church.

Solomon (senior) was himself baptised at this same church in 1702.  He was the son of my G.G.G.G.G.G Grandparents Francis Harris and Thomasin Sniss?.  They were married at Swanton Morley in 1701.  Francis must have been pushing it a little, as it appears that he had married a Susan Thirston in Swanton Morley in 1682.  He was recorded as a wiidower at the marriage to our ancestor Thomasin.

Francis himself?  I can see earlier Harris's in the Swanton Morley registers - but just when I think that they just might record Francis's baptism - they fade and blur.  So I can speculate - but not link. They were in the Swanton Morley area at the same time, at least for a few centuries, as Abraham Lincoln's ancestors.  Hey - there are those undeclared paternities.  I don't want to spread rumours.  But did our family play a part in the making of the USA?

A new Ancestral Parish - Maxey, near Peterborough

By Rodney Burton [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

This line descends to me via my paternal grandmother, Doris Brooker nee Smith.  Her paternal grandmother was Ann Smith nee Peach. She lived during the 19th Century in Attleborough, Norfolk, but her origins baffled me for years before online genealogical research enabled me to crack it.

I published how I cracked it, and her father's story here.  In brief, her mother, Sarah, was born Sarah Riches near to Attleborough in Norfolk at Great Hockham in 1812.  Then ... somehow, she met a David Peach, from the East Midlands.  He was a shepherd and drover, and I'm best guessing that his vocation brought him into contact with a Norfolk bride.  He may have been droving livestock to Norfolk pastures or markets.  She returned to his home, in Etton.  Etton, is a village on East Midland county borders that has fluctuated in history between Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, and the modern district of Peterborough.  It was this fuzziness that hid his roots from me for a little longer.  They married in Etton in 1835.  Their daughter, and my ancestor, Ann Peach, was born later that year at Etton.

In 1837, her father David Peach was convicted at Lincoln Assize Courts of stealing two cattle.  He was sentenced to Life Transportation to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania).  He went on to be transferred to a particularly tough penal colony in Tasmania.  He was eventually pardoned, but not granted licence to return to England.  Meanwhile, his wife Sarah, and her young daughter, Ann, somehow managed to return to Norfolk, where she found refuge with her parents, now living in the market town of Attleborough.  For a while they went to live on as servants.  For years, Sarah remained in Attleborough, never remarrying, although she had at least two more children.  She worked to support herself and her children as a charwoman or washer woman, working a laundry.

But ... where were the roots of her East Midland Shepherd husband, David Peach?  I suspected that he was local to the Etton area.  Inquiries at various FHS stands at the 2016 Who do you think you are? event in Birmingham had lead me to this position.  Peach's seemed to be local, but the county boundaries kept changing.  I suspected the Stamford area.

Then a fresh search today.  I've recently taken out a month worth of subscription to Ancestry.co.uk.  They appear to have had a lot of Northamptonshire County Council archive records, indexes, and digitalised images added.  There, I found his family!

The ancestors via David Peach that I discovered today (see the above direct tree) were entirely from the parish next to Etton, the parish of Maxey.  This village today belongs to the District of Peterborough, and has been associated with Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire - but back then, fell within the County of Northampton.

The Peach family seem to have been shepherds and drovers for a few generations at Maxey.  David was baptised at Maxey in early 1807, the son of John and Ann Peach of that village.  His father had taken the name of an elder brother that had died as an infant, while their mother was carrying him.  The elder John had been the twin brother of Joseph Peach.  Joseph turns up as a witness at so many 18th Century Maxey weddings that I'm guessing that he had some sort of local office in the parish, or was a particularly popular man!  Our John (the 2nd), was relatively quiet on record, and unfortunately my search didn't reveal his marriage, nor the surname of his own wife Ann.  He did witness his elder brother's Joseph wedding alongside an Ann Mason.  Who knows?

Our ancestor John Peach's parents were a Maxey couple, that married there in 1762 - Peter Peach and Mary Rippon.  I can then trace Mary's baptism and parents in Maxey - she was baptised there in 1734.  Her father was Robert Rippon, a Maxey tailor.  He married our ancestor Alice Saunderson at Maxey in 1710.  Her parents in turn were Christopher and Alice Saunderson of Maxey.

And so ends today's family history lesson.  I now have 243 direct ancestors named in the tree.  I did add new siblings where I could find them by trawling the online digitalised images of the parish records and bishop's transcripts.

Photo of St Peter's Church, Maxey, Cambridgeshire under Creative Commons by Meg Nicol on Flickr

Updated direct Ancestry stats:

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 57 individuals. (89.06%)

Generation 8 has 55 individuals. (42.97%)

Generation 9 has 46 individuals. (18.75%)

Generation 10 has 18 individuals. (3.91%)

Generation 11 has 6 individuals. (0.59%)

Total ancestors in generations 2 to 11 is 243. (12.07%)

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.