Image above by Snapshots Of The Past (Wherry leaving Wroxham England) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
An incredibly beautiful sunny day for mid April. I had a day free, mustn't waste it. Mustn't waste life. So on the bicycle, no plan, or idea where I was going. I ride just down the road intending to explore the local back roads, and I passed this old diesel train sitting at the Wymondham station of the Mid-Norfolk Railway, a heritage line that terminates close to my home. I couldn't miss the opportunity, so bought a ticket to the other end of the line at Dereham, and jumped on board the vintage train with my bike.
Dereham (formerly East Dereham), was the hometown of my father. Thankfully I had very little cash with me, so could avoid the temptation of tasting the wares of the Dereham pubs. The journey to Dereham slowly rattled along the old Mid Norfolk railway line. Once there, I came up with the idea of cycling back to Wymondham via some of my ancestral parish churches.
Such a gorgeous day. Perfectly warm enough in T shirt and shorts. Yellow primroses. Buzzards. Narrow country lanes, hedrerows, and tracing the footsteps of some ancestors. I followed a cycle route out of the Mid Norfolk market town, and headed for the village of Garvestone, where some of my mother's ancestors by the surname Daynes (or Daines), had lived during the 18th and early 19th centuries.
The parish church at Garvestone is dedicated to St Margarets. My 6 x great grandparents, Isaac Daynes and Mary Osborne, were married there in 1754. I searched the grave yard for Daynes, but the only one that I found, was not of a direct ancestor. I only found it with the help of a mapped index inside of the church, as the headstone had fallen down and was covered with lichens. I literally excavated it from the vegetation:
Perhaps my Daynes ancestors were unable to afford headstones. I decided to next follow their tracks. They later moved a few miles to the parish of Brandon Parva. Back on the bike:
I had to ride up a hill through a farm yard to reach the pretty church of All Saints at Brandon Parva:
My 4 x great grandfather Reuben Daynes was baptised here in 1785. He later moved with his family to Besthorpe near to Wymondham, where my great great grandmother Sarah Daines was later born. After visiting this church, I carried on cycling home in the sunshine. Beautiful day.
The agent for the Oxfordshire FHS search, did warn that he felt it a little unlikely that my John was the son of John and Ursula Brooker of Hagbourne. The reason being, that other than "John", there is little evidence of other family forenames such as Ursula or Elizabeth. However ... it looks as though Mary Gardiner herself was baptised in 1717 at East Hagbourne. If she hailed from there, then that provides a strong correlation. If I do eventually tie my John Brooker to the Hagbourne Brookers, then I have a fair chance of extending the line back to 1642.
Another interesting thought, is that Hagbourne if accepted, does take us in the right direction for a piece of DNA evidence. We know that in the 1740's, a Thomas Chandler lived at Basingstoke, Hampshire, that shared our Y-DNA. At some point, our Brooker line and that Chandler line must have had a common paternal ancestor. Hagbourne is taking us in that diection. Only 28 miles by road from Basingstoke. A massive assumption here. Chase our paternal Y-DNA line back further, we KNOW that it arrived in Southern England, from Asia, most likely during the Medieval period. Basingstoke is on a direct trajectory between Hagbourne and Southampton docks.
The search goes on.
As I wait for my Living DNA test results, I've been investing more research time into my documentary trail. This has included ordering several birth - marriage - death certificates from the GRO (General Register Office, UK Gov), and further checks, rechecks, and searches online using Ancestry.co.uk, Findmypast.co.uk, and FamilySearch.org.
Filling in the blanks. looking for correlations.
I've recently found an incorrect ancestor. A Nicholls on my mother's side. The usual case. I had found a perfect candidate in one very close parish. I followed their trail, added three generations including heaps of siblings. On recent review though - I find another candidate, in another close parish. Sure enough, when I investigate all of the evidence - this one was far more likely. It was backed by census claims. I even found my previous candidate living with another family years later in a census.
I still make mistakes in genealogy, and expect to continue to do so. In this case, I've had to crop away at a bushy branch and replace it relatively, with a twig. It's all about pursuing the truth though, isn't it? To the best our abilities to use data that is available.
The new GRO certificates haven't revealed anything revolutionary so far. All of them though have turned out to belong. The marriage of great grandparents Fred Smith to Emily Barber gave me their non-conformist chapel location in Norwich, their marriage date, and confirmed everything that I knew about them at this point of their life. The death of my 2xgreat grandfather Henry Brooker gave me his death date, cause of death, last job, last address in Dartford, and was registered by my great grandfather (living at the same address as during the 1939 register). without seeing the certificate, I could have never have proven that this was my Henry Brooker on the indexes.
I also purchased the birth certificate of my 3xgreat uncle Henry Shawers. i was hoping that it might give some clues to my elusive 3xgreat grandfather Henry Shawers, and onto his origins. Nothing there I'm afraid, although again, it belonged to the right family. Confirms that he was who I thought.
Now I'm waiting on the marriage certificate of George Barber to Maria Ellis. I have some concerns on this one, touch wood no unpleasant surprises.
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.
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)
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
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%)
I've noticed two perspectives within the broad scope of genealogy where it ties to population genetics.
I have to confess to being more of the latter.
I started out with a pretty well researched paper genealogical record. A family tree. A family history. Researched through oral history, interviews, parish records, state records, and then on to digitalised records in more recent years. A genealogical database of 1,570 individuals for my kids, and 207 direct ancestors recorded for myself - going back to the 1680s. My recorded ancestry was 100% English - dominated by the County of Norfolk. The majority of present day English perhaps have some non-English ancestry, perhaps Irish or Scottish, or something a little further afield. I didn't find any. All English surnames, and English denominations. Some of those surnames however, did echo rather more ancient immigration from across the North Sea.
Autosomal DNA testing for ancestry provided a bit of a surprise. I took a 23andMe DNA test, along with my mother, who's results I phased with to provide more accuracy. The 23andMe Ancestry Composition analysis in standard mode didn't simply see me as English, or even as British. It did see me pretty much as 100% European. Not a hint of Africa nor Asia within the past several hundred years. It saw 86% of my autosomal DNA as definitively North-West European. However, it could only see a mere 17% as distinctly belonging to British & Irish. So, the ancestry test of my autosomal DNA certainly agreed that I was European, NW European even, but couldn't be sure on how English or even British that I was.
23andMe Ancestry Composition in the very unreliable speculative mode rated my British/Irishness at only 37%. The highest percentage of focus - but it saw 22% of my autosomal DNA ancestry as French / German, 1% as Scandinavian, and 2% as South European. So considering my 100% English ancestry on paper, autosomal DNA testing couldn't really be very sure about my ancestry. Even in speculative mode, it had 34% of my DNA as "Broadly NW European", meaning that it couldn't be sure, but somewhere in that corner of that continent.
Fair enough I suppose. I've lost a certain amount of faith in any autosome DNA tests for ancestry to be able to pinpoint the English. You see, even ignoring recent waves of immigration of Irish, Scottish, French, Germans, West Indians, South Asians, etc, etc. The truth is that the English were already a very admixed population even 1,500 years before present. Already a mixture of prehistoric populations, immigrants from across the Roman Empire, then from across the North Sea, from the Low Countries, Northern Germany, Denmark, Scandinavia, etc. 23andMe claim that their product reflects your ancestry 500 years ago. No it does not. It uses modern reference populations. Genes have been circulating around the World for a long time. Autosomal DNA tests for ancestry have really improved. They are pretty good now for recognising a Continent - sometimes even a corner of a continent, as the source of some ancestry. But they cannot pinpoint many populations with accuracy, and they cannot pinpoint the English.
So, my paper record said English. My 23andMe autosome DNA test said North-West European, but couldn't even pinpoint British. It suggested admixture. It did however - this is important - only see me as European. Okay, in Standard Mode, it did have a tiny 0.3% that it failed to assign to Europe, nor anywhere. It did not see Asian.
Haplogroups follow two narrow lines of ancestry. The Y follows the direct paternal line, the MT follows the direct maternal. They do not represent the bulk of your ancestry. However, they can tell a more accurate, and longer term story. Ancestry can be lost in Autosomal DNA within a few centuries. In addition, it gets messed up through recombination. Not so with the two haplogroups. So where did mine come from?
There is an awful lot that we will know in future about our haplogroups, that we don't yet know - especially in the case of mt-DNA. However, we do know that my haplogroup, H6a1, did not originate in Europe.
H is common in Europe, and it most likely originated either there, or in South West Asia, during the Upper Palaeolithic. H6 did not originate in Europe. It may be West or Central Asian in origin. H6a1 has not been recovered in any ancient DNA within Western Europe. However, it has been recovered in the DNA of the Yamnaya on the Eurasian Steppes. For this reason, it is generally thought - based on evidence so far, to have been brought into Western Europe during the Early Bronze Age, by the expansion from the Eurasian Steppes at that time.
It isn't too fanciful - based on this evidence, to imagine that my distant grandmothers belonged to tribes of Early Bronze Age pastoralists, living on the Steppes of what is now the Ukraine.
This one has been a cracker for me. Anyone that has followed my blog, might be getting bored with this. I've thoroughly tested my Y-DNA. It's not an exaggeration to suggest that it is quite likely Ancient Persian. Based on current evidence, I believe that my Y-DNA arrived into England within the last millennia - probably between 350 and 800 years ago. I'm still working on it's most likely route here. I do believe that it was most likely still located in the region of Iran circa 1,000 to 2,000 years ago. My nearest 111 STR match is to a guy in Australia who's paternal line lived in Birjand, Eastern Iran. We shared a common ancestor around 2,000 years ago. My terminal SNP is shared on record with only one other man so far - in the world. He was a Balochi speaker that lives in Makran, SW Pakistan - close to the border with Iran. The Balochi are believed to have migrated from North Iran between the 5th and 14th centuries AD.
A bit more distant, I have a Y cousin in the USA that maybe I shared a common ancestor with 3,000 years ago. He is of Azores Portuguese descent on his Y line, but he carries a distinct STR marker that has been associated with the Parsi, who migrated to India and Pakistan, but originated in Iran.
And going further back, the Y haplogroup L most likely originated within the area of Iran and Iraq, during the Ice Age. It would have been carried by Upper Paleolithic hunter-gatherers in that region. 13,000 years, I shared grandfathers with two Pontic Greek Y cousins, who's ancestors lived in Trazbon, Eastern Anatolia. Maybe one Y ancestral son headed to the Black Sea, the other settled at the Caspian Sea? The Ice Age was drawing to a close, but with a ferocity and climate instability that drove bands of people apart and into refuges at that time.
The Parsi connection keeps hinting. They descend from Persians that worshiped the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism. I've just seen a Y haplogroup study of men in Pakistan. The background level of Y haplogroup L-M317 sat at 1.1%. However, in the sample of Parsi men there - it spikes up to 13.3%. That might not be the route however, of my Y line. The SK1414 SNP turned up in that same study, but that was found on the Makrani Boluch man that was tested L-M317, not in the 12 Parsi men that also tested positive for L-M317.
I prefer bridges to walls, and that is what I got. My paper ancestry said 100% English - much of it East Anglian. I'm quite proud of that, but I'm equally proud of my more distant ancestors that emigrated here. I've found North Sea admixture, from places such as the Netherlands and southern Scandinavia. I've found a grandmother in a Bronze Age tribe of pastoralists in the Ukraine. I've found ancient Persians, descending from hunters of Ibex in the Iran / Iraq region. I've found distant cousins in the USA, Iran, Pakistan, Australia, and Turkey.
One species, one family.