On the trail of the Brookers of Oxfordshire

The Parish Church of All Saints, in the South Oxfordshire village of Rotherfield Peppard.  Taken on my phone cam during a recent ancestor hunt in this area.  Rotherfield Peppard is the location of my earliest verified Brooker ancestors.

Background

Many years ago, perhaps nearly twenty years ago, I had traced my surname family line to a John & Elizabeth Brooker that lived in the South Oxfordshire village of Rotherfield Peppard during the 1841 census.  My trail came to a dead end with that John Brooker.  He was my G.G.G.G grandfather, and was born circa 1787.  John fathered another John, who fathered Henry, who fathered John Henry, who fathered Reginald John, who fathered my father.  My surname trail has been stuck there ever since.

Until perhaps very soon into the future.  I lost interest in genealogy around twelve years ago or so.  Really, my interest started to drift away perhaps soon after discovering the above dead end on my surname line.  Then an impulse buy of a 23andMe kit this January, and inspired by the new genetics side of the interest, I returned to genealogy a few months ago.  I discovered the advantages (and some of the downfalls) of 21st Century Internet Genealogy.  I've expanded my family tree in several directions using these new resources.  But that old surname, that continued to frustrate.

You see that 1841 census, it left me with a teaser.  Later censuses record the actual parish of birth, and actual age of each person in England & Wales.  The 1841 census however, merely asked people if they were born within the county of residence or not, and summarised their ages into five year round ups.  Elizabeth stated that yes, she was born in Oxfordshire.  John on the other hand said No!  He was born outside of Oxfordshire.  I remember the long drive home from the Oxfordshire County Record Office many years ago, and considering that answer.  I knew that the nearest other county was Berkshire, and that I kept seeing Brooker families in Berkshire.  I speculated that he most likely was from Berkshire.  It was a bit of a surprise, because my wife at that time, and the mother of my children had ancestors herself nearby in Berkshire.

The Y Factor

That 23andMe DNA test revealed a number of surprises.  One of them was that I had an incredibly rare Y-DNA haplogroup for North-West Europe.  As a Y haplogroup, "L" is mainly found in any percentages in South Asia, particularly in South India, and also around Pakistan.  My actual sub clade however, is rarer, and is mainly found south of the Caucasus in Western Asia, where Anatolia meets the Levant.  One ethnicity that it has been linked to are the Pontic Greeks that traditionally lived around the Black Sea.  I'm presently investigating it with a thorough ftDNA Y111 STR test, followed by an ftDNA Big Y test.  Yes, I've chucked too much money at it.

Okay, it's just a genetic signal, just a marker.  It doesn't have any value nor effect on who I am.  But it does link me to a part of the World in a kind of personal, measured way, that I never imagined.  I do want to know, so far as I can, how this Y haplogroup got into Europe, into North-West Europe, into Britain, and into my Brooker surname line.  Can I use it to link to any distant Y cousins, that live today or perhaps in the past (ancient DNA) in other ethnicities?  Will any Brookers directly descended from the same Oxfordshire cluster of Brookers, ever test, and record their haplogroup online?  If I don't test and record myself, then no, that will never happen.  I'm not expecting recent cousins.  I hope to merely find very distant cousins.  In a sense I already have.  I have many in India, Pakistan, Armenia, Syria, Chechnya, etc.  We all do.  However I know have a link that I can measure.

This has forced me to re-launch my investigation in my surname line.  Will I find any clues to how and when it entered the line?

"There aren't many Brookers around here"...

It should be easy right?  Even local genealogists have said to me "there aren't many Brookers around here".  Wrong. There are a lot in the Thames Valley, and they've been there quite some time.  Most researchers of the Brooker surname, end up in Kent/Sussex.  That is because Kent is the English county, with the highest density of the Brooker surname today in telephone directories etc.  At first, I thought that my Brooker line came out of Kent, because my great grandfather lived at Sidcup for many years.  However, I later discovered that his father actually originated in South Oxfordshire.  There are scatters of Brookers across England.  There's even one family established in Suffolk.  The Oxfordshire / Berkshire Brooker cluster however, is second only to the Kent/Sussex cluster.  They've been in the Thames Valley quite some time.

So, on returning to genealogy, I start to use the new Internet resources.  FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.co.uk, FindMyPast.com.  I search for John Brooker born circa 1787 anywhere, but particularly in Berkshire.  I narrowed it down to about three candidates, and then by a process of elimination down to one, my most likely candidate.  I check censuses to see if John Brooker of Berkshire disappears before my validated John Brooker of Oxfordshire emerges on the 1841 census, married to Elizabeth, with several kids.  Finally, I settled on my favourite.  He was born at Hurley, Berkshire.  Only four miles away from a major bridge over the Thames into Henley, Oxfordshire, and seven miles from Rotherfield Peppard.  I even travelled down to the area, to check it out.  It was all so plausible.  I'd cracked the puzzle after all of these years.  Noone else on Ancestry.com sharing my Brookers had come up with the same answer.  Most were stuck at 1841, or later.  One had a silly proposal to a highly improbable ancestor.  I had reached Hurley.

In Hurley, I took this new extension back to another John Brooker, before him a Richard Brooker, before that another Richard Brooker, as well as some of the maternal lines.  A cracking breakthrough.  I was back to G.G.G.G.G.G.G grandparents on my surname line.  I was chuffed, even announced it here and on Facebook.  Hurley was the ancient home of the Brookers.

And what a beautiful village!  The church at Hurley above.

But it was incorrect.  A nagging feeling that I really had not searched thoroughly enough, that this John Brooker of Hurley, totally disappeared before mine appeared in Rotherfield Peppard.  I want all of my genealogy to be well validated and properly sourced.  But particularly for my surname line.  I'm spending a lot of money on those Y chromosome tests.  I don't want to tag it to a bad, untrue ancestry.

So I took another look.  I found a doppelganger in the Hurley area.  He had children there, in the parish next to Hurley.  He fit the John Brooker born in Hurley during 1789 even better than my ancestor.  I had rushed, messed up.  I was too quick to accept the link.  I made another mistake.  It meant deleting a whole bunch of ancestors from my family tree.  But it had to be done.

So many Johns and Elizabeths

I kept looking online.  I kept seeing other John Brookers.  I even kept seeing more John and Elizabeth Brooker families!  Everything that I checked out on Ancestry.com and FindMyPast.com fails tests.  I need good evidence.  It was the free LDS service at FamilySearch.org though that provided the next candidate.  I see references to a number of children born to a John and Elizabeth Brooker at Sonning, Berkshire.  The children were all slightly older, and had different names to any of those later at Rotherfield.  I looked up Sonning.  Sonning Common was actually north of the Thames, right next to Rotherfield Peppard!  I even discover that my G.G.G grandfather John Brooker (Junior) was living there in 1841!  Eureka (again)!

I'm recording everything now.  I even buy some marriage and death certificates from the GRO, looking for any link whatsoever.  Any correlation.  Any new note or mention.  I also start to purchase CD-ROMS of transcripts of parish registers from the Oxfordshire FHS, and to consult them by email.  When I look closer, I can see that if this family really were mine, then the mother, Elizabeth, must have been incredibly young at marriage, around sixteen.  I'm starting to have doubts again.  A researcher from Oxfordshire FHS replied.  They explain the confusing situation with Sonning Common.  It belonged to a parish south of the river, in Berkshire.  They also doubted the connection.  The births just didn't fit.  My CD-ROMS start to arrive.  They didn't fit.

I'd chased the wrong connection again, for a second time.

If you don't succeed at first...

The latest attempts.  I'm not giving up yet.  Hurley was wrong.  Sonning was wrong.  I can still get this.  Then the other night, I played with some more online searches, and I see something on the 1861 census of Rotherfield Greys, that I hadn't spotted before!  There was an old couple living in another neighbouring parish by the name of John and Elizabeth Brooker.  Not only that, but the 1861 census recorded their parishes of birth.  This John Brooker was born at Long Wittenham, Berkshire.  Elizabeth was born at Drayton, Oxfordshire.  It fits.  Elizabeth Brooker born inside Oxfordshire, her husband John born outside of Oxfordshire!  And so close!  Have I done it this time?

There is a problem with the connection.  The ages are wrong.  According to the 1841 census, my ancestor John was born between 1787 and 1791.  The 1861 John was born 1781 - according to the enumerator.  Equally, in 1841 Elizabeth was recorded as being born between 1797 and 1801.  This 1861 Elizabeth was recorded as being born 1786.  They're too old.

However...  a search for a John Brooker baptised at Long Wittenham, produced two transcripts of a John, son of Edward and Elizabeth Brucker baptised 17th January 1789.  Wow, if this is the same guy at Rotherfield Grey in 1861, then his age is wildly out, and he fits into the age of my 1841 John after all.  It can happen.  They were old.  They could be deaf, or the person reporting to the enumerator could have had senile dementia.  A neighbour could have helped out, but got their ages wrong.  How many John & Elizabeth Brookers could be in the Rotherfield area?  I have yet another expensive Oxfordshire FHS parish register transcript CD-ROM on the way.  I feel increasingly pressured to spend a few days in the Oxfordshire and Berkshire record offices.  Long Wittenham has changed county.  It is near to Abingdon, on the south side of the Thames, and it was in Berkshire at that time.  It is now in Oxfordshire.  Drayton, is on the other side of the river, not far away.  The couple in must have met and married in that area of the Thames valley, and later, moved around twelve miles down river to the Rotherfield area.

Are they my 1841 couple though?  I have decided to add them to my tree - but subject to removal or verification, as I research them further.  If that baptism date pans out, with no earlier doppelganger being born in Long Wittenham, I'll start to feel happier.  If they do work out, then I have already found two new generations by the looks of it.  As I said above, this John, was the son of an Edward and Elizabeth Brucker.  He in turn, may have been the Edward Brooker baptised at Long Wittenham on 16th January 1757, to another earlier John and Mary Brooker.  It's taken me to a new and unexpected area of the Thames Valley.

Lessons to be learned

I doubt that anyone else ever reads these lengthy boring posts.  However should there be anyone out there, this is what I can pass to you:

  • Internet Genealogy is hazardous.  Not just because of the forest of diseased, incorrect, badly researched, badly sourced trees out there, that Family History websites push into your face.  It is also hazardous because it is incomplete, but easy.  It is easy to believe that all paper records are online.  They are not by a long chalk.  Even the paper record is actually incomplete.  Many parish records have been damaged, lost, destroyed.  Some even evaded them.  Some have not been handed over to archives.  It is too easy with Internet Search to look for a Joe Bloggs, find a Joe Bloggs, any, and to grab them.  However, did you grab the right one?  Was it simply the only one on the Internet, in that particular database entered transcription?
  • Don't be at a rush to grab your Joe Bloggs.  Take your time.  That is my weakness.
  • Don't be afraid to have doubt.  Keep going back.  Check, verify, check again.


Number of ancestors report

I'm continuing to have some success in adding ancestors to the tree, while at the same time I'm verifying, adding sources and citations, and adding flesh to bones.  I've been hitting Ancestry.co.uk and FindmyPast.com pretty hard while I can.  I also sometimes use the NORS facility on the Norfolk FHS website.  Finally, I've collected my old paper records and certificates from my old days in pre-Internet genealogy.

In some cases I have removed some proposed ancestors.  During a moment of weakness, I allowed the My Heritage website to add some branches to my tree from those of other researchers.  I wont do that again.  Looking closely, and checking for sources myself, I disagree with the authenticity of them.  I also found that I was barking up the wrong service record for my great grandfather.  I'll learn by these mistakes.

New branches or ancestors that I've recently uncovered include the Particular Baptist Tovel family of Suffolk, and the Daynes of Garvestone, Norfolk.

I found another handy feature on the open source Gramps genealogy software.  A Number of Ancestors Report.  It generated the below stats for me.

I think that it is typical for a family tree - recorded ancestors as a percentage of the biological generation, really start to rapidly fall away from Generation 8 (G.G.G.G.G Grandparent Generation).  Until then, most of the missing ancestors are down to illegitimacy events:

Number of Ancestors Report 11 April 2016

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 29 individuals. (91%)

Generation 7 has 49 individuals. (77%)

Generation 8 has 37 individuals. (29%)

Generation 9 has 26 individuals. (11%)

Generation 10 has 16 individuals. (3.5%)

Generation 11 has 4 individuals. (0.4%)

Total ancestors in generations 2 to 11 is 191. (9.53%)

The Three Ages of Genealogy

The above image was made from an opportunistic photocopy of a photograph held by a second cousin.  it is a portrait of Samuel William "Fiddler" Curtis.  He was one of my sixteen great great grandparents, and was born at Hassingham, Norfolk in 1852.  He worked as a teamster - an agricultural labourer that drove a team of horses in the fields.

1. The Past - Record Office Genealogy.

This was how I did genealogy almost exclusively twenty two years ago.  It still exists as a method.  It is still the most qualitative, and traditional research method.  It could be represented by a pair of white gloves - the sort that many record offices and archives insist that readers wear, while handling conserved records.  There is of course a cost.  Some parish registers for example, will suffer from handling, regardless of the level of care.  Otherwise I would recommend that all present day genealogists should practice it from time to time - in order to reference to the most original documents, or simply for the experience of handling these wonderful links to our ancestors.  I remember reading some parish records that I knew had been personally kept by my parish clerk ancestors.  I visited county record offices in Norfolk, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, and Glamorgan.  I visited archives and the GRO in London.  Genealogy meant leaving the house and travelling.

Twenty two years ago, Digital Genealogy was in it's infancy.  The "IGI" was on microfische.  Censuses up to and including 1881 were available on microfilm.  Some parish registers were just starting to appear in the microfilm/fische room, but for many, I had to produce my readers card, don the white gloves, and carry a soft lead pencil.  Good times.  But sometimes frustrating.I had many dead ends.  If an ancestor moved more than a few parishes away, and preceded a census, you had to either spend years looking in so many parishes - or rely on a bit of luck.  You could of course find other researchers with shared interests.  They would advertise these interests in the columns of genealogy magazines, and in printed annual directories.

By the time that my personal interest drifted away from genealogy, things had already changed an awful lot.  Many more records had been photographed onto film or fische - to protect the original records from a growth of interest in family history.  Here in Norfolk, amateur genealogists were encouraged to use the film/fische reading rooms, rather than access the original documents.  Although some negatives were hard to read, it was much faster than ordering and waiting in a reading room by a ticket system.  People were also increasingly using the Internet as a way of sharing.  The IGI moved online.  We were also using database software programs such as Family Tree Maker, and sharing our .gedcom files online.

I then totally moved away from genealogy totally, for perhaps 12 years.

2. The Present - Internet Genealogy

My interest in genealogy and family history returned after that long break way.  What had changed?  What do I think of the current scene?  So many documents have been digitally photographed, transcribed, indexed, then fed onto online databases.  It's incredible.  Within a few months, my family tree has grown and grown.  I've picked up so many dead ends.  The IGI has evolved into FamilySearch.org, an incredible free online resource.  National archives have growing online collections.  There are commercial online subscription based resources galore competing - Ancestry, FindmyPast, MyHeritage, TheGenealogist, GenesReunited, FamilyLink, Genealogy, etc.  FreeBMD grows.  We can not only browse the England & Wales census online, but since I started researching 22 years ago, we now also have 1891, 1901, and 1911.  With a subscription we can even view them from our homes.

It gets much better though.  So much has been transcribed and indexed - then added to databases.  This means that we can database Search for missing ancestors.  This is the greatest advantage to Internet and database transcriptions - this ability to find them, where we might not have looked.  Also to find new details, to flesh out the bones of our ancestors - military records, criminal records, transportations.  In the old days, we would have needed to either visit a number of difficult archives in London, or hire an experienced professional genealogist to do this for us.  This is the sort of stuff that can now be accessed by the amateur from the comfort of the home.  There is a lot that is positive about the Present.

What can be depressing is that the margin for error has not only increased through badly transcribed indexes, but the ease of Internet search, and of copying previous research - duplicating error has greatly increased.  When I uploaded a skeleton direct ancestral tree to MyHeritage, I was plagued by the website, to add other people's work to my tree. However, when I look at their trees, very often, I don't agree with their conclusions.  I see what I believe to be errors.  Wrong generations married up.  Desperate looking links from parents many miles away - that when I investigate them, I can't verify.  I've very quickly learned to distrust other people's online trees.  I'll use them only as suggestions to investigate.

3.  The Future - Genetic Genealogy

The title of this section is a bit of a tease.  I was a bit of a sceptic of genetic genealogy.  Even now, I feel that people wishing to use DNA evidence for extending family trees should in most cases, save their cash.  However, I can see that one day in the future, genetic genealogy could be a serious tool.  What it presently lacks, particularly outside of the USA, is data!  It can only work, when enough people have recorded and shared enough DNA data online.  Even then, for anything else than measuring quite close relationships up to say, second or third cousin, autosome DNA does not offer much to the genealogist.  Most of our DNA is autosome.  Very useful for checking for recent non-paternal events.  Useful for example, for finding close biological relatives.

What I think will be of more use in the future, will be haplogroup DNA.  The Y-DNA and mt-DNA, and then - only when many, many more people, have submitted and recorded their DNA.  Even then, it will not produce a family tree.  It will identify common biological relations between researchers and other submitters.  Y-DNA will increasingly tie to surnames - and also mark the non paternal events where the haplogroup jumps from one surname to another.  FamilyTreeDNA are the forerunners in that field, with their DNA Projects.  Surname and geographic projects link actual family lines to certain haplogroups, clusters of haplogroups, STR markers, SNPs etc.  It's a great idea, but it's in it's infancy.

Imagine a future though, where not only most researchers have registered DNA data, but that of past generations - parents, grandparents, and even ancient DNA from archaeological sites.  This is where genealogy overlaps with anthropology.  Traditional genealogy traces ancestors from recent centuries.  DNA haplogroups show promise for tracing the general movements, admixtures, displacements of ancestors from thousands of years ago.  At the moment, genetic genealogy rarely supports traditional genealogy - rather, it compliments it with very different material.  In the future though, as if we continue to tie more SNPs and STRs to actual family lines, it'll start to mean something more to the historical period.  Actual surnames will start to attach to clusters.  At least that is how I see it.  I'm sure that the shareholders of the DNA testing companies would also like us to see that vision.

My transported great great great grandfather

Discovery at Deptford

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.  Not actually the Justitia, but the Discovery Prison Hulk also at Woolwich around about the same period.

I'm using my free 14 day trial at Ancestry.co.uk, to see if I can pick up any new details for the family history.  Whenever I see an ancestor suddenly disappear out of the records from his wife and children, I tend to think either desertion or death.  But this is not always the case.  Sometimes there is another reason.  That is the lesson of today's story.

Back in the pre-Internet days when I carried out much of my genealogical research, I came across a bit of a puzzle on my grandmother Doris Brooker's (nee Smith) side of the family.  According to a marriage register and a 19th Century census, my great great grandmother Ann Smith was born circa 1835 in Lincolnshire, as Ann Peach.  That was as far as I got back in the days of traditional paper based genealogy.  In recent months, with my return to Genealogy within the Age of the Internet, I made a break through.  She was actually born 27th July 1835 at Etton, near to Peterborough, to a David and Sarah Peach.  Her mother Sarah, had been born as Sarah Riches at Hockham back in Norfolk.  Later, Sarah returned to Norfolk without David.  She and her daughter Ann appeared as servants in Attleborough, Norfolk, where young Ann met my great great grandfather Robert Smith.  Sarah worked in Attleborough as a char lady or washer woman for many years after.  She never appeared to marry again, but did go on to give birth to a few more children, that went on to carry the Peach surname.

So where did her husband David Peach go?  They were actually married four months before the birth of Ann, at Holywell in Lincolnshire.  How Sarah ended up there remains a mystery.  Few of my ancestors moved as far at that time.  I have not so far been able to trace his roots.  I was trying to do so, when I just browsed on the records at Ancestry.co.uk, that answered the question, where did my great great great grandfather David Peach go to?

The sources of the answer?  The UK, Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books 1802-1849, and England & Wales, Criminal Registers 1791-1892.  David Peach had been convicted of cattle stealing in an assize court, on the 15th  July 1837.  He was found guilty. His punishment for the crime was Life Transportation.  In this case, it appears that he was first sent to serve as a prisoner, on a prison hulk ship, moored at Woolwich, London.  The ship that was to serve as his temporary prison, was the Justitia.  The prison hulk registers of the Justitia, record that he was 30 years old, was married, had stolen two steers, was literate, and was a shepherd by trade.  He had been incarcerated on the 27th September 1837, shortly after his trial in Lincoln.  Prisoners on the Justitia faced hard labour there, while awaiting transportation.  The prison hulk had been originally launched many years earlier as an East Indiaman named the Admiral Rainier.  It had been converted into a gun ship, an gun store ship, then finally, the old hulk was moored at the Woolwich Warren, and used to hold convicts in preparation for their transportation.

David was not held in the Justitia for long though.  On the 4th October 1837, he boarded the Neptune for transportation to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania).  This was a 644 ton merchant ship built in 1815.  According to her Wikipedia entry: "On her first convict voyage, under the command of William Ferris and surgeon Joseph Steret, she departed Sheerness on the 7 October 1837 and arrived in Hobart on 18 January 1838.[3] She transported 200 male convicts, three of whom died en route.

So that is where he went!

Hobart town in 1841.  From the Tasmanian Archive on FlickrNo known copyright restrictions.

Did my transported ancestor survive the voyage?  Yes he did.  In 1841, he was recorded in the New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia Convict Musters, 1806-1849 list, as police number 1404, a convict from the Neptune, who was employed in service at the Port Arthur Convict Settlement in Tasmania.  According to the Wikipedia entry for Port Arthur: "From 1833, until 1853, it was the destination for the hardest of convicted British criminals, those who were secondary offenders having re-offended after their arrival in Australia. Rebellious personalities from other convict stations were also sent here, a quite undesirable punishment. In addition Port Arthur had some of the strictest security measures of the British penal system.".

[Public domain] A convict team ploughing at Port Arthur.  Wikimedia commons

On the 18th July 1851.  David, residing at Longford, Northern Tasmania, was issued a conditional discharge.  He survived his transportation, forced labour, and life in a harsh convict settlement.  Did he manage to return to England?  I see no sign of him with Sarah.  My guess is that like many, he settled as a free man in Tasmania and died there.  I see no record of a ticket for leave.

Meanwhile back in England, his wife Sarah Peach nee Riches, and young daughter Ann Peach, returned to Sarah's family, who had moved from Hockham to the nearby market town of Attleborough in Norfolk.  Sarah had to survive and rear their daughter Ann with no husband.  She worked hard over the years as a servant, washer woman, and char woman in Attleborough.  She gave birth to at least two more children that carried the surname Peach.  One she christened as David, giving him his biological father's surname (Wilson) as a middle name.  She appears on the records as a hard working, strong, and independent woman.

Their daughter Ann went on to meet and wed local Attleborough boy Robert Smith.  For many years, they jointly ran a beerhouse in Attleborough named the Grapes.  Robert also worked as a bricklayer, and ran a builder supply yard from behind the Attleborough inn.


One of their children was Frederick Smith.  As a wheelwright, he moved to Norwich.  There he met a servant from South Norfolk called Emily Barber.  They married, and reared a family.  The youngest child was a Doris Emily Winifred Smith.  Her father would take her on business to East Dereham, where she met a young Reginald John Brooker.  End of this story.


The Thackers of Norfolk

The above photograph is of my Great Great Grandmother Sarah Anne Elizabeth Thacker (nee Daynes), of Rackheath, Norfolk.

I'm writing this for someone with shared chromosome segments that I've met on Gedmatch - my first potential relative, found through DNA comparisons.  She's in the USA, and has Thackers - which may be a link.  It's not that a common surname here, and very East English.  It has been suggested that the name is an Anglo-Danish variation of Thatcher.  I'm not so sure that it is of any Norse origin.  However, the strongest concentration of the surname in Britain today, is in the Dane Law county of Lincolnshire.  My Thackers though belong to a secondary cluster - also in the Dane Law, the region of East Anglia.

Thacker Family

I'm going to propose an estimated birth year of circa 1762 for my G.G.G.G.G grandfather John Thacker.  He first appears on my genealogical record on 2nd February 1787, when he married Mary Clarke at Rackheath in Norfolk.  However, tragedy struck.  Mary died a few years later in 1740, and was buried in the neighbouring parish of Salhouse.

John wasn't a widow for long.  He married my ancestor Ann Hewitt on the 26th April 1791 at Salhouse.

I have found records for three of their children.  Thomas Thacker was born in 1793, my G.G.G.G grandfather William Thacker was born 1796 at Salhouse, and his little sister Mary Thacker was born in 1801.

William Thacker married my ancestor Catharine Hagon at Rackheath on 19th May 1819.  Catharine gave birth to at least three children - William Thacker in 1820,my G.G.G grandmother Susan Thacker in 1823, and Thomas Thacker in 1825.  Their children were all later baptised at Salhouse Particular Baptist chapel.  I have very few Baptist ancstors.

William was an agricultural labourer, a farm worker by trade, as were the majority of my 18th and 19th century male ancestors.

Catharine must have died sometime between 1825 and 1833.

On 1st December 1833, William Thacker, now a widower, married Maria Cliborne at Rackheath.

Maria gave him at least three more children - George Thacker, born 1834, John Thacker, born 1837, and Ann Thacker, born 1841.

William Thacker died in 1874.

My G.G.G grandmother Susan Thacker, gave birth to my G.G grandfather, George Thacker in 1847 at Rackheath.  The father was not recorded.

George grew up to be an agricultural labourer and farm worker.  He married my ancestor Sarah Anne Elizabeth Daines (Photo above) in 1870.  Sarah (one of my mtDNA line) gave birth to at least ten children: George Thacker 1871, Ellen Thacker 1878, William Thacker 1876, my great grandmother Caroline Drusilla Thacker 1878, Catherine Thacker 1880, Thomas Thacker 1883, Rubin Thacker 1885, Walter Thacker 1887, Herbert Thacker 1891, and Rose Thacker 1893.

There is a family story about Sarah's strict paternal behaviour.  She was known as "Thacker by name, thacker by Nature" referring to "thacking" - to hit or punch hard.

My mt-DNA great grandmother Caroline married my great grandfather Samuel John Tammas-Tovell.

Exploring Gedmatch Eurogenes

The above grave is of my great great grandparents Robert and Ann Smith at Attleborough, Norfolk.

L1b Y-DNA News

First of all, it's looking good on the Y-Front.  My Y111 sample kit has arrived from FTDNA.  I also sent my 23andme V4 raw data to the administrator of the FTDNA Y Haplogroup.  He replied the next day "the raw data confirms that you are positive for M317 and negative for downstream SNPs M349 and M274. A very rare result for a NW European. It will be interesting to see who are your closest matches at 67 and 111 markers.".

So it doesn't look as though my L1b has anything to do with the M349 Rhine-Danube cluster.  I wonder where it comes from, how and when it got into an English ancestry?  It's starting to dawn on me just how rare it is in NW Europe.  European Y-Haplogroup maps and tables simply don't display or list it, because Y-DNA Hg L is not even considered a European Haplogroup, nevermind on British Haplo-maps.  All of those R1b's and I2's.  Not an L in sight.  I can see that having an unusual haplogroup is a mixed blessing.  Sure it's interesting, but no one knows much about it, because there is so little data on it in Europe, and so little research.

I had my first case of disbelief of my L1b Y-DNA on an FTDNA surname project group.  I reported my Y haplogroup as reported by 23andme (using ISOGG 2009) as L2*  The administrator retorted "It is NOT the "L" haplogroup, instead, it is "I".  So I linked her  copy of my 23andMe Paternal line report.  This time she replied  "Goodness gracious Paul. I administer many, many projects and yours is the first "L" You see, it has problems.

Wouldn't it be just great if I found someone else descended from the Berkshire Brookers by their Y line, that had the same haplogroup?

Gedmatch Eurogene admixture results for an Englishman

GEDMATCH offers free tools for analysing the autosome DNA of your raw data, from 23andme or Ancestry.com.  One suite of tools that are useful for analysing population admixture, are the Eurogene.  As an English person, with strong paper English ancestry - including almost certainly early medieval admixture, I thought that I'd get a comparison out of the way.  See which "works" best for my known ancestry and likely heritage.  I'm trying oracles on my 23andMe V4 raw data, for 1. EU Test, 2. K13,and 3. V2 K15.
1. Eurogenes EU Test
Oracle

1 Cornish 4.6
2 English 5.01
3 NL 6.26
4 West_&_Central_German  6.92
5 Orcadian 7.02
6 IE 7.33
7 FR 7.51
8 Scottish 7.95
9 DK 9.39
10 NO 11.57

A bit strange that it sees me as first "Cornish".  I don't know where it got that reference from.  I have no known Cornish ancestry.  However, 2 and 3 are likely.  As a whole it's not a bad prediction, just that the ball landed a bit to the West.
What about mixed populations?  What are it's favourite admixtures between two populations for me?

1   83.7% English  +  16.3% French_Basque  @  3.11
2   79% English  +  21% ES  @  3.17
3   63.7% English  +  36.3% FR  @  3.18
4   80.2% English  +  19.8% PT  @  3.5
5   51.8% FR  +  48.2% Scottish  @  3.54

Okay, not bad - it's given up on the Cornish.  However, it seems to point to France, Spain, and Portugal as a secondary source.  That is eerie, because 23andme threw up a speculative 2.4% South European including 0.5% Iberian.  I do wonder if I actually do have some unrecorded South European ancestry, even Iberian.

2. Eurogenes K13
Oracle

1 South_Dutch 3.89
2 Southeast_English 4.35
3 West_German 5.22
4 Southwest_English 6.24
5 Orcadian 6.97
6 French 7.63
7 North_Dutch 7.76
8 Danish 7.95
9 North_German 8.17
10 Irish 8.22

I like K13.  The Dutch may be there in admixture, and I know that they do often share some common patterns with SE English.  So I can excuse it making it to position 1.  Then in second place, the ball scores a goal.  Yes, I am SE English.  Most of the other suggestions could represent ancient admixture.

How about two population proposals?

1   65.6% Southeast_English  +  34.4% French  @  2.03
2   84.9% Southeast_English  +  15.1% North_Italian  @  2.05
3   63.5% Norwegian  +  36.5% Spanish_Valencia  @  2.06
4   69.7% North_Dutch  +  30.3% Spanish_Valencia  @  2.08
5   87.5% Southeast_English  +  12.5% Tuscan  @  2.09

It's got the SE English spot on, but all of these Iberians again!  Is it trying to tell me something?

3. Eurogenes EU Test V2 K15
Oracle

1 Southwest_English 2.7
2 South_Dutch 3.98
3 Southeast_English 4.33
4 Irish 6.23
5 West_German 6.25
6 North_Dutch 6.79
7 West_Scottish 6.84
8 French 6.85
9 North_German 6.89
10 Danish 7.26

Very good, except again, a bit skewed to SW England.  However, to be fair, I do have some slightly westward ancestors in the Oxfordshire area.  The rest is spot on.
What does it offer as a hybrid?

1   73.9% Southwest_English  +  26.1% French  @  1.27
2   71.8% North_Dutch  +  28.2% Spanish_Cantabria  @  1.3
3   89.7% Southwest_English  +  10.3% North_Italian  @  1.35
4   91.6% Southwest_English  +  8.4% Tuscan  @  1.4
5   86.4% Southwest_English  +  13.6% Spanish_Galicia  @  1.43

Those Spanish again!  Goes for SW English over SE English as the primary ancestral population.

Out of these predictions, my gut feeling is that they are all good for single population match.  On two population mix, they all suggest Iberian minorities.  Either I have an undiscovered South European ancestor, or something else is going on.  Do other English get this?  I can't really pick a winner.


Our missing great grandparent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Above photograph of Faith Brooker, nee Baxter.

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

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

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

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

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