The 23andMe DNA results are in!

The results were uploaded to my 23andMe profile today.  I posted/registered the sample from the UK, nine weeks ago.  The sample traveled to the USA lab via a NL holding depot.  It took six weeks to process the sample and results, from the time of being marked as arriving at the USA lab.  I feel very fortunate, as many 23andMe customers are reporting a seasonal log-jam that is delaying the process.  My results though were comfortably within the proposed time frame.

There were a number of pleasant surprises.  The results were far from boring.  

Genetic Risk Factors

On the health side that we UK customers can presently still enjoy - there was only good news.  Although I have a family history of Alzheimer's that is strong on my father's side, there was no identification of any genes in my DNA, that have so far been associated with increased risk of the illness.  If my father did have these genes, I didn't receive them.  It does not mean that I will never be at risk to the illness, but it gives me some comfort.  Indeed, all of my 23andMe genetic risk factors were good.  There was no bad news.

Traits

An amusing little trait, that IS identified by the DNA analysis, is on Asparagus Metabolite Detection.  When I eat asparagus, my urine smells strongly.  It confirms for me - that the system works!  It also correctly identifies that I have a sweet tooth, that I have blue eyes, etc.

Now to the genetic genealogy goodies.

Ancestry

Y-DNA

The genetic marker that I inherit from my strictly paternal lineage - father's father, father, and so on, going back.  On paper, I've traced this back to a John Brooker, that lived in Oxfordshire, but was born outside of that county, perhaps in nearby Berkshire, circa 1785.  Of course, that is if no-one ever lied in forms over who the father was.

This one was a shocker.  A little background first.  Although my paper ancestry over the past 350 years is overwhelmingly localised in parts of the county of Norfolk, in East Anglia, my paternal-line surname carrier, that should be the donor of my Y chromosome marker, or Y-DNA, can be traced to Oxfordshire, in Wessex.  Out of my eight paper great grandparents, seven were Norfolk born and bred.  However, the exception was my paternal great grandfather.  Therefore I would not expect my Y-DNA to belong to any local Norfolk gene-pool.  It is the least representative lineage for my heritage.  This is why I feel that people can sometimes place too much value on their haplogroups.  I did however, expect it to belong to a common English or British haplogroup such as the Y-DNA R1b group.

I was in for a surprise.  It is exotic L2*.

From initial research including an Internet search, this haplogroup forms only a rare back scatter across Europe.  It appears more commonly across Western Asia and the Sub-Continent, from Turkey to Southern India.  It is most common in Pakistan, where it may originate, circa 30,000 years ago.  It is not a common European Y-DNA haplogroup.  I need to more carefully research this in the near future, but I'm in awe to find that I have an exotic Y-DNA.  It does conjure up images of one of my paternal ancestors being a Syrian archer, or Persian mercenary in the Roman Army, fathering a child, while stationed in Britannia, or perhaps elsewhere in Roman Europe.  But that might be too fanciful.  Anyway, I'm having pheasant curry for dinner tonight.

This genetic marker should be shared with my son, and my brother.  A few of my first cousins will also have it.

mt-DNA

The genetic marker that I inherit from my strictly maternal lineage - mother's mother, mother and so on back.  On paper, I've traced it back to a Mary Page, who was born in 1802, in Norfolk.  I like the maternal line, as it is actually the most biologically secure.  Few forms lie about who the mother is.  I'd expect my mt-DNA to be a haplogroup firmly established in East Anglia.

A nice one to have.  It is H6a1.

This haplogroup belongs to the Helena group.  However, it is not ancient European.  H6 is believed to have mutated from H around 30,000 years ago in Central Asia.

H6a1 has recently been associated with the Yamnaya migration into Western Europe, from the Eurasian Steppes to the north of the Black Sea, some 4,000 to 5,500 years ago.  In Europe itself, it could be associated with a number of Early Bronze Age cultures, the Corded Ware culture.  It has been linked with the R1b Y haplogroup, that dominates Western European countries such as Ireland, France, and the British Isles.  Recent studies have indeed suggested a significant displacement of people in Western Europe, that occurred in late prehistory, with the arrival of pastoralists from Eurasia.  This migration is also associated with the rise of the dominant Indo-European linguistic group of Europe.  If H6a1 does indeed prove to be linked to the Indo-European explosion of the early Bronze Age, I'd be very happy.  I like to imagine one of my maternal ancestors 5,500 years ago, accompanying a band of prehistoric pastoralists, that are heading westwards into Europe with their horses.

This genetic marker will be shared with my mother, my brother, my sisters, and their children.  A few cousins will also share it.

Ancestral Composition

This is an area that I've been trying to understand recently.  It uses computer analysis, to compare my autosome DNA to a number of others in reference populations from around the World, which then composes suggested ancestry in percentages.  This magic attempts to look not at a few genetic markers or haplogroups, but at all of the patterns in my autosomal DNA, to predict likely ancestry on any lineages that survive in my DNA.

Previous to receiving my results, I recently revised and bolstered up my paper genealogy based family tree,  I now have 172 direct ancestors listed, going back to Generation 14 during the 17th Century.  I noted that all, and everyone of my paper recorded ancestors were English.  All of them.  That includes all of my eight grandparents, all of my sixteen great great grandparents, and thirty of my thirty two great great great grandparents.  That is 100% English.

Now, I'm sure that you'd agree, I should be expecting my 23andMe ancestry composition to give 100% English, right? Well no.  They can't presently identify an ethnic group like the English.  Instead, I should expect my results to fall 100% into the British & Irish category.

100% British & Irish?  No, I'll give this one early.  it was 32% British & Irish on speculative mode.  More on this further down.

My paper research before I received my results also revealed just how concentrated, most of my ancestry has been over the past 350 years.  I compiled the below map of East Anglia.   The BLUE marking the places of ancestral events from my family tree on my father's side; and the RED marking the places of ancestral events on my mother's side.  The larger the marker, the more events recorded.

I also made a map based on East Norfolk during the 4th Century AD, before sea levels fell, and drainage changed the coastline.  I then marked out the area of my mother's ancestry on that.

 The point that I was trying to make was that I believe that my ancestry may have been more exposed to the North Sea Immigration waves of the 4th to 11th centuries AD.  More exposed than your average person of British & Irish heritage.  I also suggested that East Anglia, very much a part of the North Sea World, was particularly attractive to Early Medieval migrants from Frisia, Schleswig-Holsten / Angeln, North Saxony, and from Denmark.

On reviewing the 23andMe DNA Ancestry Composition of an admittedly small sample of other users with strong English heritage, I concluded that the average ethnic English person receives the results:

100% European

60% British & Irish

10% French & German

2% Scandinavian

25% unidentified broadly NW European

People of Irish heritage, or even Americans with either Irish or British ancestry, tend to score a higher percentage of British & Irish than do the present day ethnic English.  23andMe has a generous and growing reference population in it's British & Irish database.  However I hypothesised that 1) the 23andMe B&I reference is skewed to the Irish, and away from English.  It is also possible that it is distorted by a case of genetic drift by testing Americans of British origin.  2) that the British & Irish designation may actually be inadvertently looking at DNA that arrived in the British Isles largely previous to the early medieval North Sea migrations.  To the British and Irish genes that have been here since late prehistory.  On the other hand, the French & German, the Scandinavian, and perhaps some of the undesignated Broadly NW European percentages that are usually assigned to the ethnic English, may actually reflect early medieval migration from across the North Sea.  The computer analysis is simply unable to distinguish some of the DNA from that of present day French, Germans, or Scandinavians, because of ancient admixture.

I'm told that this would not be the case, that 23andMe ancestral composition could not detect such deep, ancient admixture.  However, what if I am correct about my own heritage - that I likely have enhanced levels of Anglo-Saxon and perhaps Norse heritage, because of the geographical location of so many of my ancestors?  Should I not expect even lower percentage of the 23andMe British & Irish category, and even higher percentages of other NW Europeans from across the North Sea?  So what was my 23andMe ancestry composition percentages (speculative mode)?

100% European.  Broken down into:

94% NW European.

3% South European.

I'll get to the South European later, but what about this North west European?  Let's break it down into 23andMe's sub categories:

32% British & Irish

27% French & German

7% Scandinavian

29% undistinguished broadly NW European

Oh my goodness.  It correctly fits my prediction.  I have more than double the average percentage of F&G and Scand for English people.  Despite having a paper researched genealogy that is 100% English, 23andMe's ancestry composition based on a generous reference sample size of 1251 sets, gives me 32% British & Irish.

So a predicted, but still incredibly exciting result.  I'm chuffed to bits.  It does in my eyes, blow 23andMe's British & Irish designation out of the water though.  Their reference samples do not appear to match the East English.  Instead, their software misreads some of the English DNA for French & German, or Scandinavian.  I'm suggesting that this is because of ancient admixture, during the 4th to 11th centuries AD, with North Sea immigration.  I invite others to knock my suggestion down.

One more surprise from my Ancestry Composition:  A South European 2.7%.  Broken down into 23andMe's sub categories:

0.5% Iberian

2.4% undistinguished broadly South European

This looks real.  It appears that I have a small percentage of South European heritage.  Most likely from Spain, Portugal, or Basque.  I probably have Iberian ancestry that I have not yet detected using paper genealogy.  Either that, or it's an anomaly, a incorrect interpretation.

Neanderthal Ancestry

Finally, how much Neanderthal DNA do I have?  How much of my DNA was shared by the archaic humans that lived across parts of Eurasia, between 350,000 to 30,000 years ago?  Evidence of early admixture events between Neanderthal and anatomically modern human populations?

An estimated 2.9%.

That's just slightly above the average of 2.7% for modern Europeans.  So I am not more Neanderthal than most others.  Sorry to disappoint.

All in all, very happy that I spent the money.

East Anglian Ancestry

http://www.openstreetmap.org/copyright

The above map has been modified from an original copied from © OpenStreetMap contributors

I have plotted my ancestral places that are tagged in my Gramps genealogical GEDCOM database.  These Places represent events -births, baptisms, marriages, or residence, etc.  These Places  belong to my direct ancestors, although they may also include siblings of ancestors.  Overall, I have modified this map in order to illustrate the distribution of my East Anglian (almost entirely of the County of Norfolk, with a few over the border in Suffolk) ancestors over the past 350 years - as so far revealed by paper genealogical research.

The BLUE markers represent the places of my father's recorded ancestors.  The RED markers represent the places of my mother's recorded ancestors.  The more events recorded for any place, the larger the marker.  You can click on the image in order to see a full resolution image.

The RED markers include pretty much all events for my mother's ancestors, as presently recorded in my family history database.  She has no recorded ancestry from outside of Norfolk, for the past 350 years.  She has an incredibly strong Norfolk ancestry.  Particularly in the East of Norfolk.

The BLUE markers do not cover all of my father's recorded ancestors, as I have also detected ancestry for him in Oxfordshire, London, and possibly Lincolnshire.  These ancestors lived outside of the mapped area.

When my mother and father initially met each other in 1956, they believed that they came from quite different parts of Norfolk, from opposite sides of the City of Norwich, with my father moving from East Dereham to my mother's neighbourhood in the Hassingham area.  Yet this map suggests that over the past 350 years, some of their ancestors have lived much closer.  The chances of them both sharing common ancestry during the Medieval, or even more recently are good.

This might support the findings of the POBI (People of the British Isles) 2015 study, that not only emphasised the homogeneous nature of the English, but also suggested that the old Anglo-Saxon kingdoms could still be detected as localised gene pools to today.

I have previously created the below map, using red dappling to mark out the main zone of my mother's ancestry, onto a map of East Norfolk, as it would have appeared during the 5th Century AD, before sea levels fell, and drainage works created the more recent Norfolk coast:

My hypothesis is that my mother's ancestors clustered in an area of East Anglia, that would most likely have experienced an influx of North Sea immigration between the 4th and 11th centuries AD from Frisia, and perhaps Angeln and Denmark.

I also modified the below map from Wikimedia Commons.  Attribution is: By Nilfanion [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.  This map, as the legend states, illustrates the distribution of my recorded direct ancestors (bother on my father's and mother's sides are in RED) across the wider area of England at a single generation level, based between 1756 to 1810.  It suggests a combined ancestry, concentrated in Norfolk, East Anglia, but with a few lineages in Wessex / Mercia.



More Places with Family History

I recently had another little bash at Internet Genealogy, principally using the NORS online database at the Norfolk FHS website, and FamilySearch.org.  I think that the ancestors will soon dry up from these resources, but I clutched several new families, and a few new ancestral locations.

All of this new batch are on my mother's side of my Norfolk ancestry.  I'm pleased that some of my recent additions have centred on Moulton St Mary's.  It's my favourite church in that area.  I took the above photo of it years ago.  I discovered that one of my ancestors, Thomas Barker, was born there around 1801.  I've seen Moulton a few times recently.  During the same research, I discovered that two other ancestors - Robert Waters, and Elizabeth Ransby were also married at that church, in 1795.  Otherwise, the Waters appear to have been a Freethorpe family.  Both were born at Freethorpe around 1771.  Their children were all to be baptised at Freethorpe.  I think that a nice idea for a series of future posts, would to be to focus on one ancestral parish or location at a time.  Associate it with my ancestors that lived there or passed through, see what Internet local history and any photographs that I can dig up.

Blofield has cropped up a few times as well.  My ancestors Thomas Dingle and Mary Ginby for example, were married there in 1782.  Thomas Dingle was from "Bradiston", which I eventually ascertained was Brayderston, a hamlet on the Blofield side of Strumpshaw.  Mary Ginby on the other hand, came from a family of Gynby, in a new village for the tree.  Several miles to the north, from the village of Woodbastwick, close to Salhouse. 

Most of my mother's paper ancestors lived on the loam soils north of the River Yare in East Norfolk.  However, sometimes I find lineages that have crossed the river from the south.  I found that this was the case with my ancestor Mary Gorll.  It turns out that she was born during 1741 in the small town of Loddon.  Spellings of her family surname in Loddon, varied from Gorll to Gall, Gaull, and Gaul.  She went on to marry my ancestor Henry Rose, at Loddon in 1768, and later they crossed the river to settle in Strumpshaw.

Finally, I also got a bit lucky with my Merrison / Morrison ancestors.  Benjamin Merrison married my ancestor Lydia Norton at Lingwood in 1796.  They raised their children at Lingwood, including my ancestor Hopeful Barker (nee Morrison).  However, I didn't know where Benjamin Merrison originated from.  Without transcripts and online indexing, I'd have been very lucky to find stray ancestors like Benjamin - people that move from more than one or two parishes away.  It turns out that he was baptised as Benjamin Marison in 1759 at the hamlet of Repps-with-Bastwick, between Thurne and Bastwick, near to the River Thurne.

There you are.  New families on my mother's side - Gaul, Ransby, Morrison, Gynby.  New ancestral parishes in Norfolk - Loddon, Braydeston, Woodbastwick, and Repps-with-Bastwick

Software for Genealogy

My experience

I first took an interest in genealogy around 1989.  My interest grew, as did my very badly kept scraps of notes.  During the following decade, a number of computer databases designed for genealogy came onto the market, but I could only afford a used 8 bit Amstrad  computer, and merely had to do with typing it all up on Locoscript word processor.  In 1998, I finally moved onto a Windows 3.1 PC.  I soon came across an early version of Family Tree Maker - perhaps version 3 or 4.  I had to install it using a pile of floppy disks!

I then used FTM to compile my family tree, complete with scanned photos.  I could use it to print trees, albeit only on A4 sheets.  I do wish that I had been more careful to conserve and record all of my sources back then.  I wasn't a very methodical researcher.  The program also allowed me to produce a GEDCOM file, which I could use on other genealogical databases, or, it promised, to share online, as soon as I had the ability to connect to this new Internet thingy.

I indeed upgraded to a Windows 98SE PC, and even, with a 56k modem, connected to the Internet.  I think that I bought a newer CD-ROM version of FTM.  One of my first actions on the Internet was to upload my .ged (GEDCOM) file.  I'm not too sure to who, what server, or what they did with my data.  I wasn't too wise about the commercialisation of the information super highway at that time.  It may have ended up with Ancestry.com enterprise, who no doubt have sold and resold it on.

Eventually my interest in genealogy drifted away.  Quake 3 Arena was much more fun than typing in ancestors to a database.  I did at some point around 2006, upload my gedcom to a web server, so that it could be downloaded from my own ancestry pages.  I eventually gave up that subscription.  Life moved on.  I went through family break up.  Lost all of my old poorly kept notes, my hard drives, everything.

Then a few months ago, I randomly decided to take a DNA test with 23andme.  My interest in my roots rekindled by the prospect of genetic ancestral profiling, I dug up my old ancestry pages from a web archive service, and was surprised to find that they had also archived my gedcom file.  I downloaded it.  Now I needed some software in order to open it.  I always look first for Open Source software.  I found Gramps 4.2.

Gramps 4.2

Gramps is available free, and Open Source on both Windows and on Linux.  It may be available for other platforms as well, I don't know.  I've installed Gramps 4.2 onto my Windows 7 64 bit PC.  I've also installed Gramps 4.0 onto my Lubuntu 14.04 (Linux) netbook.  The screenshots that I've uploaded to this post, were taken on the Windows PC.  There are differences between my two versions on two platforms, and I won't go into all of those.  I'm mainly interested in updating and generating .ged GEDCOM files, bearing in mind, my past experiences in losing data over the years.  As long as I don't faff around too much on attributes carried by Gramps native features, that are not carried over by the GEDCOM format, the programs both run great.  I haven't yet played too much with images.  My understanding is, that you need to host the binary files in folders on your hard drive - then GRAMPS  merely points / looks at them.  That isn't something (as I presently understand) that is supported under GEDCOM.

Gramps is a database.  Like any database, it revolves around objects, attributes, and tags.  Some glossy family history software might dumb all of this down a bit.  They want to catch the mass market.  Gramps does not shy away though.  It's real magic is that it offers so many different ways of entering data, in ways that can be tracked to resources, citations, notes, places, even coordinates.  It's a piece of free software that the geek genealogist should love.  Typical of Open Source, it is more functional than pretty.  It's a piece of software that can be daunting at first.  However, if you are methodical, and reasonably pooter-literate, give it a little perseverance, and you soon start to love it.  It's features will encourage tidiness and well documented research.  Why spend out on EULA licensed software?

This week, I've been investigating the Places objects.   I've discovered that you can geo-tag your places - that can be referenced to events, such as baptisms, deaths, census records, etc.  I must have hundreds of places for my family database of 1,435 ancestors / relations.  None-the-less, I've been spending too much time on the pooter, tidying up my place data, and by referring to OpenStreetMap.org, copy and pasting longitudes and latitudes into all of them, along with place-type, alternative names, etc.  It's all about making a better GEDCOM, a better family history database.

So why bother?  Well for one  it's going to be a vastly improved record of my family.  A healthy database.  Not only that, but GRAMPS allows me to plot my ancestors locations - or rather, the locations of "events":

I can see at least one error there - in the sea off the Kent coast.  Some more tidying to do.  By the way - the mapped events include the paper ancestors on my kid's family tree, including those of my Ex.  Alternatively, I can browse the places, hit an option, and in a browser, up pops the location on OpenStreetMaps!

There are many more features to explore on Gramps.  I'll get to them in time.  I've uploaded several of the fancharts that it can generate already on this blog.  There are a range of other reports that it can produce, and web pages.  The generated website is incredibly functional.  It took a couple of minutes to generate pages for every one of my 1,435 family tree individuals.  All with trees galore.  All that I would need is a web host.

As for stability.  I've seen someone complain that it slows down.  Nonsense.  It's fine even with my extensive database.  My Windows version is very slow to launch though - not so the Linux version.  However, when it's up, even on Windows,, it is perfectly functional and very fast.

Some people are also confused on how to load a GEDCOM file at start.  I was.  It's simple.  You need to first create a blank family tree file from the manager.  Then you can import your GEDCOM into it.  You don't see the Import/Export functions until you have first loaded a family tree - just make it a new blank file.   Once you have created a family tree, and imported a GEDCOM - be careful to use that file next time, and not do as I did - import the GEDCOM again.  You'll end up with two of each individuals.  Always back up before and after making any edits.  I like to mail a backup to myself on webmail, so that the GEDCOM is also backed up on two webmail servers.

GEDexplorer

That geo data that I produced on Gramps, is carried over on GEDCOM to other databases and platforms.  I use the GEDexplorer v1.24 ap on my Android smartphone.  This app allows me to view my GEDCOM files on my phone!  It cost me a couple of quid from the Play Store, but it was money well spent. 

The above screenshot shows a view of one part of my tree - the ancestors of my great grandfather Sam.  It's a really nice feature of GEDCOM files and this software, that you can open up your database, look through trees, fan charts, or just the data itself, browsing through ancestors.  Handy if you just get a spare hour here or there to research with - but no lap top!  Easy quick reference of your entire database from a phone.

You see, it's all there.  The beauty of GEDCOM format has reached from my Windows 3.1 machine, to my Sony Z3 phone.  That's a rugged file format.

Now to the point of this entire post really.  Those hours that I've wasted away on giving geo-tag provenances to all of my ancestral places?  The GEDCOM picks up the latitude and longitudes, and GEDexplorer displays them.  Just click on any hyperlinked ancestral event place, such as my great grandmother's place of birth above, and ....

and I can hit the link and look at it in more detail using Google Maps.  Hell, I could even navigate to the actual place.

Progress in Genealogy

As I wait for my 23andMe genetic profiling results (on Step 4 - DNA extraction), I have been spending perhaps a little bit too much time, on the computer, with internet genealogical resources such as FamilySearch.com, and the Norfolk FHS resources, to build up my paper genealogical record.  I'm impressed by the modern online resources, although I'm aware that transcriptions are always prone to error. 

I've also been having a blast building up my family tree database using the free Open Source software Gramps 4.2.  I'm a big fan of Open Source, and this program runs great on both Windows 7 64 bit, and on my Linux netbook.  I can see where Gramps may not appeal to some novices.  It's more functional than pretty, with an abundance of tabs for sources, attributes, notes, etc.  It encourages me to record better quality genealogy, than I did twenty years ago with the mess of my notebooks and pieces of scrap paper.  It also imports and exports GEDCOM format files with ease.  Essential for safe back ups and for sharing.  I can also generate reports and charts such as the above ancestor fan chart.

I'm please with how the above chart for example, has developed over the past few weeks.  I still have plenty to research for free online, so it is far from completed.  Still, considering that it represents a total of seven generations, I think that it is impressively complete.  If the paper was true, then these name should represent where my autosomal DNA has come from over the past few hundred years.

Of course, paper genealogy is not always true.  1) mothers sometimes deceive about who the biological father is, or make a mistake, when filling out birth or baptism forms.  2) genealogists make mistakes.  These errors increase the further back the records.  English/Welsh censuses, give no detail before 1841, civil registration did not exist until 1837, and parish registers before 1812 are often rough notes scribbled down by the curate.  Therefore, go back much before 1790, it's easy to make too much of too little source.

Genealogy is a lot of work.  The general public frequently expect that they can simply print their ancestry off, with a click of a button, and perhaps a Paypal fee.  It doesn't work like that.  It involves years of research for most of us.  However - here is the crunch.  The research is the rewarding part of the journey.

So in this Binary Age, people instead opt for the instantaneous results of Genetic ancestral composition with a commercial DNA lab.  1) it is fast and easy.  2) it tells the truth.  It follows DNA and SNPs, not forms or lies.

How good is it really?

The Dog Runner, and some new genealogy

I took the above photograph of myself on a recent run with the dogs,, using the self-timer function on my thirty five year old Olympus XA2 compact camera.  Taken on Rollei Retro 400S film, that I then developed in LC29

Genealogy - the Barbers of Swanton Morley, Norfolk

I did consider an alternative title for the post, following some more paper genealogical research ... something along the lines of From a long line of bastards.  However, not all family might share my amusement of such a title.  What prompted that thought was some online ancestor-chasing in one particular root of my father's ancestry.  The Barbers of Swanton Morley, Norfolk.

I recently reported on an ancestral root from my father's side of the family, with the surname Barber.  I traced them through my crow-keeper great grandmother to villages in South Norfolk.  However, I'm now on the trail of a totally different Barber family, also on my father's side, but this time from Mid Norfolk.

My great great grandfather, William Bennet Baxter (photograph below), married my great great grandmother Harriet Barber, at Swanton Morley, Norfolk, in 1866.  Both of them had been born illegitimate at the nearby Gressenhall Union Workhouse.  Their connections with that workhouse didn't end there.  Their first two child Jemima, was also born there illegitimately.  Later family members also had connections with that workhouse, that now houses Norfolk Rural-Life Museum.  I often like to think of that building, as the Family Home.  I knew that William Baxter's mother in 1846 was an Eliza Baxter.  She must have had to face the shame of wearing a yellow jacket in the workhouse, to signify that she was an unmarried mother.  She may have also been excluded from the workhouse Christmas dinner, as another shaming.  I've recently discovered that her parents (my G.G.G grandparents) were a Samuel and Frances Baxter (nee Shilling), of nearby East Dereham, Norfolk.

Moving back to the Barbers, starting with Harriet Baxter (nee Barber).  She was born at Swanton Morley circa 1847.  She appeared on one census in Swanton Morley as a young girl, with her grandparents, James and Jemima Barber (nee Harris).  She is named there as a granddaughter of James.  However, who was her mother?  I'm missing a generation.  She was born at the Union Workhouse, and I'm fairly certain that she was illegitimate, and that with the census information, suggests to me that her mother was a daughter of at least James Barber.

So I start searching parish registers for Swanton Morley.  It turned out that G.G.G granddaddy Barber, was born as James Alderton Barber in April 1803 at Swanton Morley.  He married at least three times.  The first marriage I can't find.  The second was my ancestral, he married G.G.G Grannie Jemima Harris at Swanton Morley on 6th December 1825.  She gave him at least seven kids, although at least four of them died young.  Then at the age of 58 years, she died.  He married again before 1861.  Later he had a wife called Amelia.

James had seven children by Jemima.  One of them must have been the parent of my Harriet.  Which one?  I believe that she was illegitimate but carried the Barber surname until married.  That suggests a daughter of James and Jemima.  They had at least four daughters - Hannah, Frances, Jemima (twin of James junior), and Mary Ann.  On checking the burial register of Swanton Morley, things narrowed down.  Hannah had died as an infant.  Jemima died age four (her twin brother died age seven).  Mary Ann died as an infant.  That only leaves Frances, born 1830 at Swanton Morley.  However, it's bad to assume too much in genealogy, so I've decided to pay out for Harriet's birth certificate from the GRO in London.  I should have my answer in a few weeks time.

All of the child deaths that you see in these 19th century families.  It does sometimes knock you back as you uncover them.  The poor health, lack of welfare, and shear poverty that families had to endure then.

I've got to wait for that certificate to arrive, in order to verify which of James's children was the parent of my Harriet.  However, I went back on the lineage a bit further, and it gets interesting.  G.G.G Grandad James Alderton Barber was born illegitimately in Swanton Morley on the 28th April 1803, to a Sarah Barber.  He was not alone.  Between 1803 and 1818, my G.G.G.G Grannie Sarah apparently had at least six children, all baptised and recorded as illegitimate!  I'll never know the full story, but somehow she survived unmarried.  The first two children carried the middle name Alderton, perhaps suggesting that was the name of their biological father.  A later child carried the middle name Maris, and another was named Sissons Barber.  All could suggest a number of biological fathers.  All were born in Swanton Morley.

I feel a little embarrassed talking about illegitimacy as a subject.  It is no longer seen as something shameful, nor should it be - but it was seen as sinful and irresponsible for a very long time.  The status no longer exists in the 21st Century, with the changes in family structures and a shift away from religion.  That it was treated as so shameful now sounds outrageous.  A side effect of a religious and hypocritical society - taking it out on children, and on mothers.  So when I see an ancestor living in a small Norfolk village during the Napoleonic period, I wonder how she lived, what happened, how was she seen, did her children survive?  She may well have been a colourful ancestor, and the talk of the village.  Or she could have been the tragic victim of abuse?

The illegitimacy wasn't restricted just to her generation.  As I said, her great granddaughter Harriet was also most likely (waiting for that certificate to confirm) illegitimate and born in a workhouse - as was Harriet's husband, and their first child.

Poverty, hypocrisy, and infant mortality.  The great Nineteenth Century.

My Anglo-Saxon Mother (Moder)

This is a follow on from my last post, concerning the mapping of my paper ancestry over the past three centuries.  A noticeable cluster of ancestry (on my mother's side) appeared on the maps from three generations ago, in Broadland or East Norfolk, including the villages of Reedham, Limpenhoe, Cantley, Freethorpe, Stokesby, Beighton, Postwick, Hassingham, Buckenham St Nicholas, Halvergate, Tunstall, South Burlingham, Moulton, and Acle.

That this cluster is so firmly entrenched, suggests that I have had ancestry in that locality for a long time.  I have already postulated that this area would have acted as a prime settlement district for immigrants from between the fourth and eleventh centuries, from across the North Sea.  I thought that I would play on this idea a little more.

The map below shows East Norfolk as it would have appeared during the Fourth Century, with slightly higher sea levels than we enjoy today, and previous to any substantial engineered drainage:

The red dappling, outlines the main cluster of my mother's paper ancestry, that provenances there during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Such a strong cluster would suggest deep roots in that zone.

Very different to the present day Norfolk Broads and Coast.  Great Yarmouth and Breydon Water are replaced by a Great Estuary.  Reedham literally faced the North Sea at the head end of the estuary.  Indeed, 20th Century works in the parish church of Reedham, revealed hidden herringbone decorations made from Roman bricks.  it has been hypothesised, that these bricks may have come from a nearby Romano-British lighthouse.

Revisionist historians and archaeologists have for many years, argued that the Roman forts of the Saxon Shore, were in fact not defensive, defending the province from attack by marauding Anglo-Saxon pirates, but were instead used to control and tax North Sea trade with the province.  Some have even gone so far as to suggest that areas like this were already being culturally influenced by the North Sea Anglo-Saxon world.

The collapse of Roman administration, and the disintegration of much of Roman society, and the Roman way of life, made it easy for Continental adventurers to cross the North Sea from outside of the old Empire, and to settle in Eastern England.  Some of them may have been escaping exploitation from the elites that were gathering power in their homelands.  They knew how to live with a rural barter-economy, without the niceties that the Empire had offered the British.  A recent study of human remains in the Cambridge area, noted that within a very short time, even the local British were adapting the customs and artifacts of Anglo-Saxon culture.  Not only that, but those remains that were genetically profiled as of being of local British origin not only aped the new immigrants, but their burials were higher status and richer.  The poorer graves mainly profiled as newly arrived immigrants from the Low Countries or Denmark.  The researchers suggested that in the case of immigration (rather than invasion), this is what we should expect to see.  The immigrants had to settle for whatever they could get, which would often be poorer land.

I'm going to restate my view.  I support a number of recent genetic surveys, also backed up by many archaeologists, that the 5th Century AD Anglo-Saxon Invasion of Britain was exaggerated in it's ferocity by Gildas and Bede, rather like the Daily Mail exaggerates present day immigration and it's "damaging effect".  It was certainly a very major migration, but it appears to have left the lowland British genome with no more than 20% to 40% of it's DNA share.  It seems from recent genetic studies, that the present day ethnic English, inherit more DNA from prehistoric British populations, than they do from Continental Anglo-Saxons.  Not only that, but the immigrants seem to have married into British society, rather than slaughter it.  It was during the later Sixth Century, that emerging elites of the lowland British kingdoms started to claim ethnic identification, and descent from heroic Angles and Saxons.

In this post, I'm not going to particularly distinguish between the Anglo-Saxon settlement of the 5th/6th Century AD, from the hypothesised Danish settlement of the 9th/10th century.  Perhaps we should see them as waves of North Sea immigration, but perhaps not so entirely divorced from each other.  The earlier may have originated more from Frisia and Angeln, and the latter from a little bit further north in Denmark, but the cultures don't seem to have been that much different.  When I was a boy, travelling through the loam soils of Broadland to see my relatives in Cantley, I was always struck by the big Dutch barns on the landscape.  I was told that the Dutch had long had connections to the area.  Maybe my parents underestimated how far back these links across the North Sea went.

This 20% to 40% Anglo-Saxon DNA spreads across all of England.  Even the Welsh and Cornish have a percentage of it.  However, I was intrigued by a comment in Stephen Oppenheimer in his book Origins of the British 2007, when he did just remark that the highest marker was from an East Norfolk sample!

When I look at the above maps, and in relationship to Frisia, Saxony, Angeln, and Denmark, it appears to me that the Great Estuary must have seemed like a magnet to the boat loads of new settlers.  Rivers opening up from the North Sea, to rich arable soils and lowlands.  A recently closed shore fort - tax, customs, and immigration control free!  I can't help but imagine the first boats beaching or mooring at Reedham, Cantley, Halvergate (-gate, another Norse place-name) etc.

Not only that, but during the 6th and 7th centuries, the sea levels dropped.  Desperate settlers could easily create new land with simple drainage methods.  This appears to be particularly relevant to the East Norfolk district of Flegg.  An island surrounded by new marshes, with the sea waters draining away.  Almost every parish on Flegg, finishes with the classic place-name suffix of Danish settlement - Fil-by, Stokes-by, Rolles-by, Ormes-by, Hems-by etc.  That the later settlers left so many place-names must reflect a great land grab by immigrant families.  The settlers had to fit in where they could.  their ability to exploit a drop in sea levels, and to perhaps make use of their engineering skills at draining land, must have been an advantage at settling in this area.  The drained salt-marshes proved top quality grazing land.  The marsh grasses of the Halvergate Triangle were used to fatten sheep, cattle and other livestock for centuries after. The marshes are dotted by small medieval man-made islands known as holmes (from the Old Norse holmr).

Conclusion

I've basically been making claims here, of direct descent from the North Sea Settlers that arrived in the eastern extremes of East Anglia between the 4th and 11th centuries.  I'm daring to suggest that my mother's established deep links with that area, may indicate that she has a heightened percentage of their DNA.  Of course, I could be wrong.  Perhaps there was more shuffling of genes across Britain into and out of that district during the medieval.  Perhaps the POBA 2015 survey was correct in dismissing any Danish settlement.

Why does it matter to me anyway?  I am equally proud of my Romano-British ancestry as I am of my Anglo-Saxon (or perhaps Anglo-Danish) ancestry.  The Romano-Britons seem to have largely descended from late prehistoric Britons - the people that erected all of those round barrows across Britain, that went on to build wonderful hill forts, the people that rebelled against Rome during the 1st Century AD.  However, I'm also proud of having North Sea settler ancestry.  They were the go-getters of their day, that uprooted to look for adventure.  Hard working migrants and pioneers.  Perhaps similar in some respects, to the Europeans that uprooted to settle the Americas, or dare I suggest, to the present day EU immigrants of Britain.

Years ago, I read a fascinating landscape history on this area, called The Norfolk Broads, a landscape history.  By Tom Williamson, 1997.  Unfortunately, I lent the book out.  I really would like to read this again now.