Immigration into East Anglia

Hear a sentence like "immigrants in Eastern England", and many people might think of the recent immigration from countries such as Poland, Lithuania, and Romania.  However, I'm interested in the longer picture, and how that has impacted the genetic genealogy of East Anglians.

I have noticed, that my mother's 23andMe ancestral composition, is more similar to those of some Dutch testers, than most Irish, Scottish, or West British testers.  23andme has reported at least one small segment shared with a Dutch tester.  My mother on Ancestry Composition speculative mode, scored only 36% "British & Irish", followed by 13% "French & German", 4% "Scandinavian", 2% "South European", and 40% unassigned "Broadly NW European".

My first reaction was that the 23andme calculators and references were confused by relatively ancient admixture, specifically Early Medieval Immigration between the 5th and 11th centuries AD.  The Anglo-Saxon and Viking periods.

However, I'm beginning to review how I see the history of East Anglia.  I think that like many people, I've underplayed the contribution not only of earlier unrecorded immigration events, but also of ongoing later immigration from the European Continent, into East Anglia.

A shock historical suggestion, is that during the late 16th Century, almost a third of the population of the City of Norwich, belonged to an immigrant community of Dutch, Flemish, and Walloon protestants, that had recently settled there, as refugees from persecution on the Continent.  I don't know how many of these immigrants, into centres such as Norwich, Ipswich, kings Lynn, and Great Yarmouth, left descendants in East Anglia.  My parent's recorded Norfolk ancestry is very rural - outside of Norwich.  However, how much DNA did these more recent immigrants leave behind in Norfolk, and East Anglia as a whole?

The immigration events of the 5th to 11th centuries AD into East Anglia, were most likely the most significant.  However, I believe it is wrong to see them as the only immigration events.  The POBI Study found DNA evidence of an earlier, perhaps late prehistoric immigration from the Continent.  Caesar claimed that the people that he called the Belgae had recently immigrated to South East Britain, from the area that is now Belgium.

Neither were the Anglo-Saxon, Dane-Law, nor Norman immigration events the last to the region.  It continued as a background, with occasional known events, such as the Strangers from what is now Belgium and the Netherlands, to Norwich.  East Anglia has always had stronger connections to across the North Sea, than some other regions of Britain. Therefore it should be no suprise, that my mother, with her strong recorded East Norfolk ancestry, has an autosomal ancestry composition, that resembles the Dutch, more than the Welsh or Irish.

I visited the Bridewell Alley Museum today, for the first time for many years, and picked up a new book: Strangers.  A History of Norwich's Incomers by Frank Meeres 2012.  It's full of references to the history of immigration into Norwich.  I thought that it might be useful, to harvest some of the continental immigrant surnames mentioned in this book:


  • Addurge (French)
  • Asger (Bruges, Belgium).
  • de Norwege (Norway)
  • Dutchman
  • Glasier (French)
  • Hensser  (Dutch)
  • Isborne 
  • Jevort (French)
  • Johnson (Dutch)
  • Kempe de Gaunt (Ghent)
  • Kenneton (French)
  • Mouner  (French)
  • Oreng (French)
  • Peterson (Dutch)
  • Petirson (Dutch)
  • Rijsel (Flemish)
  • Tiphany (French)

In 1343, a boat capsized at Cantley.  It had passengers from Latvia and Sweden.

The Strangers 1560 - 1600 AD

In 1571, a return of the Strangers, recorded that there were 4,013 Strangers in Norwich.  This included 868 Dutchmen, and 203 Walloon men.

  • Bateman
  • Clarebote (Winnezele)
  • Clapettia
  • Clercke (Dutch)
  • Baet
  • Bake (Ypres)
  • Bartingham (Dutch)
  • Coene (Ypres)
  • Dedecre (Dutch)
  • De Linne
  • De Mol
  • De Turk (Flanders)
  • Der Haghe
  • Des Passett
  • Faber (East Flanders)
  • Goddarte
  • Gruter (Antwerp)
  • Herjtes (Flemish)
  • Hodgeson (Dutch)
  • Johnson (Dutch)
  • Keerlinck (Ypres)
  • Lewalle (Walloon)
  • Moded (Antwerp)
  • Navegeer
  • Le Dente
  • Poultier (Dieppe)
  • Powells (Dutch)
  • Steene (Dutch)
  • Vamboute (St Jans-Kappel)
  • Van Brugen (Dutch)
  • Waells (Houtkerke)
  • Wervekin (Ypres)

These are just the surnames of some of the Norwich Strangers, mentioned in the above book.  Just how much did they, and others, contribute though, to the genealogy of Norfolk and East Anglia.  Most belonged to aspiring classes of artisans and merchants.  Weavers, printers, hat makers, etc.  How much of their DNA might have seeped into the surrounding countryside?