Six Generation Ancestral Fan Chart

Its not going to get any more complete than that.  The only two missing ancestors were unrecorded fathers.  That should pretty much reflect the paper background to my autosomal DNA.  It also illustrates quite well, how a complete ancestry fans out, doubliing in number each generation.  Of course, over enough generations, it starts to reduce again, as common ancestors shared by more than one line, start to appear.  Hence the homogeneous nature for example, of the English.

It is also not a proportional representation of where my autosomal DNA comes from.  At meiosis, I recieve 50% of my DNA from my mother, and 50% from my father.  However, before that, randomness creeps in, along with chromosome exchange, so that it's quite possible that I have inherited no DNA at all from some of my G.G.G grandparents for example, while others may be over-represented in my DNA.

I created the Fan Chart using the Open Source Gramps genealogy database software.  I'm really enjoying that program.

I do wish that 23andMe would hurry up.  Thirty four days since sending my sample, and so far it's reached a queue for testing in an American lab.  Judging by the moans and groans on their forums, I might have to wait for a total of three months in order to see results.

18th February 2016

Photography

I took the above photograph using Ilford Delta Professional 400 film, loaded in the Bronica SQ-A, fitted with a PS 150mm f/4 lens.  I developed the film in Kodak D-76 t 1:1.

I've fallen into such a bad state with my photography.  I feel as though I have lost my ability to take interesting photos any more.  I've hardly touched medium format for a while.  When I do photograph, it's mainly using 35mm film compacts.  I do have a couple of cassettes of Rollei Retro 400S to develop some time.  Mainly shot on a recent day trip to York.  I don't expect any of my shots to be particularly magic though.

Running with dogs

The running is going well.  I still struggle to stop the lurcher from pissing at every tree, lamppost, hedge, but our times have improved something closer to my old running times.  My weight loss haltered for a while - stuck at the 11 stone 8 pounds mark for too long.  However, weight loss is not my object so much as health and fitness.  Still, I was pleased when I stood on the scales today and saw 11 stone 5 pounds.  Cool.  That's a healthy BMI of 24.  It was a very unhealthy 29 back in November.

The blender is cool.  I'm glad that I went for the 1200 W monster.  It chews and spits everything in it's path.  I've found it handy not only for making smoothies, but equally, healthy quick soups.  I simply load it with whatever vegetables are at hand, add some stock - and blend it just like a smoothie - but then I put it into a pan and cook it for a little while on the stove.

Genealogy

My paper ancestry continues to expand, thanks mainly to searchable indexes online.  I now have no less than thirty of my thirty two G.G.G grandparents named.  The only two that are still missing on the fan chart are unlikely to ever surface, as in both cases, the ancestors were illegitimate.  I think that I've done well since recovering my old .gedcom file from the Internet. How many people can name thirty of their great great great grandparents?  Five generations back no less.

One challenge was breaking through an old block with my great great grandmother Ann Smith of Attleborough, Norfolk.  Years ago, I hit a block.  I knew her 1835 birth date from her headstone in Attleborough.  I knew that her maiden name was Peach - not a local name.  I knew on 19th Century censuses that she stated her place of birth to be Eaton, Lincolnshire.  That was a bit odd for my Norfolk ancestors.  I had found her on one census, living in the same household as a Sarah Peach that appeared old enough to be her mother, or maybe an aunt.  Only that Sarah Peach was a washer woman that had been born in Hockwold, Norfolk.

A recent search online, bit by bit, placed all of the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together.  Sarah was the mother of Ann.  Sarah Peach was one of my G.G.G grandparents.  But Peach was her married name.  Despite being described on censuses as unmarried, she had briefly been married in the East Midlands.  Something happened to that marriage.  She was born in Hockwold, Norfolk in 1812, and christened as Sarah Riches.   Her parents were Benjamin Riches, a labourer who himself had been born c.1779 at Old Buckenham, Norfolk, and Elizabeth Riches (nee Snelling) who had been born at Banham, Norfolk.  Something later took Sarah Riches out of Norfolk, all the way to the Lincolnshire area.  In 1835 at Holywell in the East Midlands, she married a David Peach. Five months later, their daughter Ann Peach was born not at Eaton in Lincolnshire, but at Etton in what is now Cambridgeshire.  I never see David Peach again.  Instead, Sarah and her daughter Ann turned up six years later in Attleborough, Norfolk, living there with her parents who had moved there from nearby Hockham. 

Ann went on to marry my great great grandfather in 1857.  They settled in Attleborough, where they went on to run a builders business, a beerhouse, and a builders supply yard - all from the Grapes in the town.

Her mother Sarah didn't disappear.  She never married again, but she did give birth to two more children.  She worked throughout as a char woman or laundress in Attleborough.

Another mystery solved, and another pair of G.G.G grandparents into the bag.

Now when I eventually get my DNA results from 23andMe (33 days so far), I'll have a good idea of where that autosomal DNA came from.

Gramps software

I'm a big fan of Open Source.  I do run Linux on my netbook, but I do use Microsoft 7 64 bit on a desktop for various reasons.  When I need some software, I like to see what Open Source software is available first.  I needed a program to open that .gedcom, and downloaded GRAMPS both onto my Linux netbook, and onto my Windows PC.

What a cracking program!  The controls and depth of the database can be a little intimidating.  I can see that it is one of those applications that needs a bit of skill.  However, so much depth to it, so many ways of logging sources, citations, places, and relationships.  Brilliant software, who needs to buy an end user license?  More on Gramps here.

Ancestry - progress via free online records

My direct ancestry fan chart looked a little bit too uneven (the above chart is the improved chart, after the following research).  I had compiled no ancestry for one of my great grandparents - my father's maternal grandmother, Emily Smith (nee Barber).  All that I knew of her origin, was that although she married and settled with my great grandfather, in Norwich, that she was born in 1859 in the South Norfolk village of Hedenham.  For some reason, perhaps a lack of resources back then (I conducted most of my family history 20 - 15 years ago pre-Internet), I had never traced any further back on her line.  My Ancestry Fan Chart highlighted this Gap of data.

I haven't really got the time to travel over to Norfolk Record Office at the moment, but I did have the recent opportunity to spend several hours online.  Internet Genealogy can be a bit pricey though.  Someone has to gain access to records, digitalise them, index them.  This service is provided by a number of commercial website companies, but of course, they have paid subscriptions.  I guess that if I was to start genealogy afresh, that I might be tempted to invest in an annual subscription with one of those companies.  If I didn't live in the country of my ancestry, then even more so.  As it is, I'm lucky, as the vast majority of my ancestry over the past three or four hundred years appears to be quite local, so that I can easily visit local archives and church yards.

So how did I get on with my Free Internet Genealogy Experiment with great grandmother Emily Smith (nee Barber)?

Conclusion - the story that I uncovered

This is a story of three generations of rural working class families, in South Norfolk, and just over the border in NE Suffolk.

On the 16th September, 1794, John Ellis married Elizabeth Beckett at the parish of Tasburgh in South Norfolk.  They were G.G.G.G grandparents of myself.  Tasburgh is a small village that straddles an old Roman road.  The couple then settled in the neighbouring parish of Saxlingham-Nethergate.  Their first two children, John, and Elizabeth, were baptised there.

Sometime around 1796, they moved slightly to the south, to the parish of Hempnall, Norfolk.  They settled there for may years, and Elizabeth gave birth to a further nine children by 1818, at Hempnall.  One of those was my G.G.G grandfather, James Ellis, who was born on the 16th April 1812, and was baptised shortly after at the parish church of Hempnall. At least one of the baptisms recorded that the father, John Ellis, was employed as a labourer - as with most rural working class men, he was an agricultural labourer.

G.G.G grandfather James Ellis, grew up to marry a woman named Esther.  They eventually settled in Esther's parish of birth - a few miles to the east of Hempnall, in the village of Hedenham, Norfolk.  However, at first, they may have spent some time even further east, in the village of Ditchingham, Norfolk.  They first had two daughters, including my G.G grandmother, Maria Ellis, who was baptised at Hedenham on 29th September 1834.  But in 1838, they had a son named Benjamin, who was baptised at nearby Ditchingham.  All later children - six of them, between 1841 and 1850, were born at Hedenham again.  During both the 1841 and 1851 censuses, the Ellis family were recorded as living in Hedenham.  James was recorded as working as an agricultural labourer in 1851, as was his twelve year old son Benjamin.

Now let's just step away from the Ellis family for a moment, and look at another ancestral family, the Barbers, living at this time, just over the county border to the south, in a little hamlet of South Elmham, named St Michaels.

G.G.G grandparents Robert and Mary Ann Barber, were both born in the county of Suffolk sometime around 1794.  They were raising a family in St Michaels, Suffolk.  Between 1818, and 1841, I found records of at least eight of their children, all born in St Michaels, S.Elmham.  One of them was my G.G grandfather George Barber, who was born in 1830.  During the 1841 census, eleven year old George was living with his parents and siblings in St Michaels.

Then something went wrong.  Perhaps the father, Robert Barber, died.  Perhaps they fell into extreme poverty, or even an illness struck the family.  With very little welfare, such events were often a tragedy to 19th Century rural working class families.  After 1841, the family disappear.  I lose trace of Robert and Mary Ann Barber.  Instead, in 1851, I find my twenty year old G.G grandfather, George Barber, is humiliated as an inmate of Shipmeadow Workhouse - the Union workhouse of the Wangford Poor Law Union.  Meanwhile, his thirteen year old younger brother, and nine year old younger sister are recorded as lodging with the Wigg family household in St Michaels.

Back over with the Ellis's, also in 1851, my G.G grandmother Maria Ellis was recorded as working as a live in servant in a household of the Buck family in Hedenham, Norfolk.

Seven years later, in 1858, George Barber married Maria Ellis, somewhere in the Wangford district of Suffolk.

G.G Grandparents George and Maria Barber (nee Ellis) settled in the brides home parish of Hedenham, Norfolk, where between 1858 and 1868, they reared four daughters, including my great grandmother Emily Barber, who was born at Hedenham in 1859.  George's occupation was recorded again, as agricultural labourer.

During the 1861 census, the family are living at Old Gravel Pit, in Woodton, Norfolk - close to Hedenham.  Emily was aged one.

During the 1871 census, Emily, age now eleven, had a recorded occupation - Crow Keeper, which I understand to mean that she earned money for scaring birds from the fields.

However, by 1881, Emily had left her family, and had moved to the City.  She was now recorded as living at The Chantry, St Stephens, Norwich where she worked as a domestic servant for a John Rayner (a solicitor's clerk), and his family.  Emily most likely met my great grandfather Frederick Smith in Norwich, where they married sometime between 1881 and 1884, and proceeded to raise their own family, including my paternal grandmother, Doris Smith.

Methods

So how did I piece that together from free online research?  I added three generations to Emily's line, and extended that section of my ancestry fan chart without even leaving home, or paying a penny.  I made a story, I found probable tragedy, encountered some large families, identified their class, added new locations to my ancestry, such as Tasburgh - and even my first ever discovered ancestors from over the county border into Suffolk.  I found that my great grandmother (I'll borrow a photograph to scan later) Emily Smith, earned money as a girl, working as a Crow Keeper!

The main source was Family Search, the genealogical website hosted by the Church of the Latter Day Saints.  This is a cracking free website.  On it I could find and search a database of UK censuses from between 1841 and 1911.  This enabled me for example, to locate a few ancestors locations when otherwise they would have been missing.  The website also has an impressive database of transcribed parish registers and Bishops transcripts.  In some cases, the original documents were also available as digitilised images.  The search facility for all of their documents took a little getting use to, in order to get the best out of it, but what a free service!

Another useful website was FreeBMD.  This database was critical in tracing and confirming the marriage of George Barber to Maria Ellis in 1858. Although it only gives access to the indexes of state birth, marriages, and deaths, that along with correlations through the search facility of FamilySearch.org gave me enough information for that event.

Finally, in a search like this - you have to use Google Maps, in order to get a picture of where your ancestors lived, use Street View to see them, and the maps to see exactly where the parishes are in relation to each other.


A Day at the Record Office

I took the above photograph of Besthorpe church graveyard, a few weeks ago on Rollei Retro 400S film, that was loaded in an Olympus XA2 camera, then developed in Ilford LC29 chemistry.

Well that was fun.  Five hours in a stuffy archive centre, wheeling through microfilms, with not much to show for it other than sore eyes.

I'm still concentrating solely on that mtDNA line - my strict maternal line.  I had got back to my G.G.G Grandmother, Sarah Daynes (nee Quantrill).  She stated on several censuses that she was born around 1827 at Wymondham, Norfolk.  She most likely was the thirteen year old family servant, Sarah Quantrill, employed during the 1841 census in the Long household at Wymondham.  It looks like she had to look after forty year old James Long, a farmer, and several of his children, some a similar age to her.  She went on to marry Reuben Daynes at Besthorpe, Norfolk on the 26th April 1849.  She appears to have remained at Besthorpe for most if not all of her remaining life.  Turnpike Road Cottages, to be precise, which I believe to be close to Morley and Wymondham.  Her husband Reuben, was a labourer, still employed in at the age of seventy.  He lived to a good old age, although by the age of 78, he was forced to turn to parish relief.  They were still living at Turnpike cottages in 1901.

So, we know by census that mtDNA G.G.G Grannie Sarah was born circa 1827, at Wymondham, and that her father was a labourer named Robert Quantrill.  I slowly scanned through the Wymondham baptism registers from 1813 until nearly the late 1830s.  Wymondham had a lot of babies.  Surely, by reason of thought, I should find the baptism of Sarah, and perhaps some siblings?  That would be the normal next step.

Nope, nada.  I wasted hours.  Although I know that there are splashes of the Quantrell/Quantrill/Quantrele surname around mid Norfolk (Bunwell and sometimes Norwich crop up on searches), it didn't crop up much in the Wymondham parish registers.  Which can also be a good thing.However, in this case, I found a mere five of them, and none particularly helpful.

  • One daughter of a Richard Kett and Sarah (nee Quantrill) in 1822
  • One daughter of a William Quantrele and his wife Ann (nee Blake) in 1824
  • Two daughters in 1826 and 1827 of a John Starling and his wife Maria (nee Quantril).

So where the hell were their children, or at least mtDNA Sarah, baptised?  I can immediately think of three top options to research, but they are not easy:

  • Nonconformist.  I have a hunch though, that they were not.
  • A nearby parish - but so many possibilities!  I could be looking for months or years.
  • Something happened to the family, such as moving far away for years, or death / break up - hence Sarah working as a servant at thirteen years of age.

Then, just before I had to go and walk a mile to move the car before I got a ticket, I quickly glanced through the Wymondham Marriage Register, and I found:

Robert Quantrill bachelor of this parish & Mary Page of this parish by banns 12th October 1818.

G.G.G mtDNA Grannie Sarah, born nine years after that marriage, claimed that she was born in Wymondham, and also claimed that her father was a Robert Quantrill.  They fit, it is so tempting, that I have provisionally claimed Mary Quantrill (nee Page) to be my next generation back, my G.G.G.G mtDNA Grannie.  However, it's not good paper genealogy.  Really I need to verify her as a direct ancestor.  I could have the wrong couple, or it could have been the right Robert Quantrill (the only Robert Quantrill so far spotted in Wymondham), but an earlier marriage.  I at least need to see Sarah named as the daughter of a Robert & Mary Quantrill, born of them around 1827, perhaps in Wymondham or nearby.  This would be pre-state birth registration, and before anything I can find on a census.  I can't find her or any siblings in the Wymondham baptism registers, so where next?  I need her baptism.

On the positive, I'm making some progress.  Before my recent campaign, all of my mother's recorded ancestors had been very much East or Broadland Norfolk.  That is where her autosomal DNA would largely originate for I suspect, many centuries.  Quite interesting, because the Far East of East Anglia is where some researchers such as Stephen Oppenheimer, have suggested the strongest genetic evidence of Anglo-Saxon admixture.  Place-name evidence there also strongly suggests Danish Viking  settlement.  The shores of East Anglia were the places where immigrants were most likely to beach.  I have also previously read that the sea levels dropped very slightly around the eighth century AD, making areas such as Norfolk Flegg, easier to drain for settlement by immigrants from across the North Sea.

And yet, my mtDNA line skips away from that Eastern fringe, into South Norfolk.  I didn't expect that.  In Besthorpe, it is only a parish away from some of my father's autosomal ancestors at Attleborough, and not so far away from his mtDNA at Hedenham in South Norfolk.  My parents grew up in very different districts of Norfolk, at least thirty miles apart, with the City of Norwich in between.  Yet follow the genes back, and you can start to see how earlier admixture between their ancestors could well have taken place within the past five hundred years.  The recent POBI (People of the British Isles) genetic survey (2015) suggested that despite admixture from many waves of immigration going back over thousands of years, that the present day English are very homogeneous.  The same survey also said that the patterns of the old Anglo-Saxon kingdoms still show on their genetic map.

I've only followed the mtDNA line back five or six generations so far.  However, I can't help noticing that it is swirling around South and East Norfolk.  It is more mobile than many of the autosomal lines.  Perhaps women were more likely to move over the past few centuries to new parishes, to their husbands?

I say swirling - I have got back so far to Wymondham.  That is the same South Norfolk market town that my parents retired to.  I even lived there for a while.  My mother, my sister, my niece, who all share my mtDNA, still live there.  Yet no-one was aware that we had ancestors there in the town.


1st February 2016

Photography

The above photograph was captured on my favourite little Olympus XA2, loaded with Rollei retro 400S film.  I have been really concentrating the past three months on compact camera 35mm b/w photography.  On one hand, I use the Yashica T2 AF compact, loaded with Kodak Tmax 400, that I then develop in Kodak Tmax developer; on the other hand, I use the XA2 loaded with Rollei Retro 400S, that I usually develop in Ilford LC29.

The Tmax camera produces smooth, clean, "nice" b/w negatives.  The Retro 400S camera produces high contrast, rough and ready negatives, that often suffer from underexposed / under developed - but above all, high contrast and grainy.  On the latest couple of films, I've been setting the XA2 exposure one stop up to ISO 200, and I've added a minute to developing time.  They look better.  However, it is because Retro 400S looks so odd and high contrast that attracts me to it.  It makes interesting images.  The film (as I understand), was initially produced for aviation aerial photography, and has near infrared range - for better cloud and mist penetration.  Even with no infra red filter, it produces some interesting infra red-like results.  I like it so much, I recently bought a ten pack.

Running with dogs

I've just completing my 23rd run in the campaign.  Last month, with the dogs, I ran over 60 miles.  Go our canicross team.  I feel pretty confident at keeping it up.  I have let the strength training go, but I'll pick that up again when I feel ready.  Nutrition plans, I've been pretty good.  Okay, I slip a little from time to time, but I have eaten one hell of a lot of vegetables and fruit over the past three months.  Weight loss really slowed down after losing a stone and a half.  I'm lucky to lose a pound a week.  Still, I'm not going to let it put me off.  This is a long term thing, not just a weight loss diet.

The below image is from Rollei Retro 400S in the XA2.

Ancestry

 Right at the moment I'm feeling a little concerned and annoyed with 23andMe.com.  I don't think that they are really looking after their European or outside-of-the-USA customers as well as they should be if they are serious about our markets.  All information, updates, and shipping appear to be two class - USA, and Others.  I'll let this journal know how it goes, and to be fair, it is early days.

On the paper maternal genealogy chase, I have today received from the GRO, a copy of the marriage certificate between my great great great grandparents, Reuben Daynes, and Sarah Quantrill, on the 26th April 1848, at Besthorpe parish church.  Reuben's father is confirmed as Reuben Daynes (senior).  It tells me that Reuben Dayne senior was actually a publican.  Sarah's father was a Robert Quantrill, a labourer.

In my search for my mtDNA line, I must return to the Norfolk Record Office next, and search for a family of Quantrill's, headed by a Robert Quantrill.  On more than one census, Sarah claimed that she was born at Wymondham, Norfolk, around 1827.  I'll first look for baptisms of any Quantrill children in Wymondham or Besthorpe, around 1815 - 1840.  I have seen what may have been my Sarah, staying with a family of Long's in Wymondham, age 13, in the 1841 census.

The above photo, taken on the Yashica T2/Tmax 400 film, is of my mother, my surviving mtDNA donor, standing next to (not the donkeys) a headstone for a William Quantrell.  I don't yet know if he was a relative, but this is at Besthorpe church last week, and this William was several years older than my Sarah.  He could potentially be an older brother of Sarah, and therefore my G.G.G.G uncle.  If he indeed is, then his bones in that graveyard would contain the same lineage of mtDNA as myself and my mother here.



Chasing the mtDNA II

Okay, I posted this photograph of Sarah Thacker below, but here is a fresh scan with a little bit of enhancement using open source software Gimp 2.2.

I visited the Norfolk Record Office yesterday, for the first time in many years.  Indeed, when it has moved a few times since I would haunt the basements of Norwich Central Library, and is now in a much larger complex on the edge of the City, at the County Hall.  I didn't have any need to access the original registers - everything they had for me is now on either microfilm or microfiche.  Staff were pleasant and helpful.

What did I learn?  Unfortunately, I didn't get any further back on my maternal line yesterday.  I did fill in some details and siblings.  I did go back another generation on Sarah's father, the Daynes of Brandon Parva, Norfolk.  I also discovered her parents, Rueben and Sarah Daynes (nee Quantrill), were not as I thought married in Wymondham, but nearby in Besthorpe.  I found the banns in a transcript, but however, the parish marriage registers for 1849 are missing.  Presumably still at the church.  I feel that I need to see their actual marriage next.  It should verify their ages, and give me the name of Sarah Quantrill's father.  That might help me locate Sarah's baptism and her mother.  It is her mother that I most want to find.  She would be the next generation around to donate that mtDNA.  Sarah was born circa 1827, I believe in Wymondham, or maybe again, in Besthorpe.

I left the record office, and visited my mother.  We then took a look at Besthorpe Church.  The church was locked, I tried to telephone the vicar, but no answer.  Many of the headstones had unfortunately been moved, but I did find one in memorial to a William Quantrell".  He was born a few years before my Sarah Quantrell, so it is quite possible that he was an older brother, if the family originated in Besthorpe.  A thought was, if he was indeed the brother, then his remains somewhere in that church yard would carry our mtDNA - from his mother.

I was playing with the idea of going back another day, to see if the vicar does have that missing marriage register.  However, with time and petrol, I've ordered a copy of the state document from the GRO (General Register Office) online.  Hopefully the certificate will arrive next week.  Then I'll have another go at seeing if I can trace Sarah Quantrill's mother.

My mtDNA and paper genealogy

The above photograph is believed to be of my maternal line great great grandmother Sarah Thacker (nee Daynes), who was born at Besthorpe, Norfolk in 1849.  One of my mtDNA donors?

While waiting for my 23andMe DNA results to process, I've returned to researching some of my genealogy, after a very long break from it.  I carried out most of my family tree research over twenty years ago, before Internet search facilities.

A few thoughts on commercial genetic profiling for ancestry

Let me just expand on my newcomer take on commercial genetic profiling.  Although I have finally subscribed to a genetic profiling service, I have been aware of the criticisms of such companies, particularly with regards to their claims to map ancestry.

Commercial genetic profiling companies, that offer services direct to the individual, all appear to have their markets in North America, particularly in the USA (where they all seem to be based) There are many millions of people in the New World, that feel disconnected from their heritage and family roots.  Grandpa said "we came from Poland", an Aunt said that "we had a Cherokee princess in the tree", a cousin claimed that great great grandma was Italian.  Of course, the traditional answer is to trace your ancestry on paper, using genealogical methods.  It is very time laborious, can take many years, and can incur an expense in order to access many documents and many different archives.  As a hobby, it never ends.  And then there are dead ends.  Genealogy is actually a little bit of a misnomer, as it traces records of descent rather than genes, and we don't know who really cheated, or what skeletons have been lost in the wardrobe.  People lie, or even make mistakes when they fill in paternity forms.

So it seems that for those interested in their roots, genetic profiling not only tells a truth that paper genealogy does not, but it is far easier, faster, and in the long term, cheaper.  Genetic profiling companies have done their market research, and can sniff a profit.  This is a big and growing market, as people become further distanced from their roots by the acceleration of globalism.  People want to know who their forbearers were!

However, and this is what concerns me - can these companies really, honestly, deliver ancestry? 

I'm new to it all, but I can see where some customers feel a bit robbed.  They want what they call Deep Ancestry, to know if they are descended from traditional historical groups such as the Celts or the Vikings.  They sometimes want to know exactly which European countries that their ancestors came from.  "Was it Serbia or Slovakia?".  Some of the customers at 23andMe on their forums get rather upset that the company doesn't provide this service, but when judging autosomal evidence, merely indicates which regions of Europe might be involved.  Britain is lumped in with Ireland for example.  They want to know more than that.  Some other companies do promise more definitive results, but are they really honest?  Some third parties will allow you to upload your data, then use some computer wizardry to give you your more precise results.

But is it all really good science?  My suspicions is that it is not.

There are two problems.

  1. As I have raised with my recent posts on the Anglo-Saxon origins, there are many origin myths within traditional histories.  People such as the Celts were not ever even a biological population.  History is written by victors, and has frequently been corrupted in order to make  political points that are now lost on us.  For all too long, we have seen history as consisting of one biological population against or replacing another, when the truth that keeps emerging, is that of people taking on new cultural identities, and of genetic admixture.
  2. Humans like to wander, and they like to have sex.  Human genes have been wandering all over Europe since prehistory.   They are mixed up through admixture.  Genes have a limited appreciation of the borders of nation-states - borders which are often modern political constructs. 

I'm saying that we Europeans are all mixed up.  There has been very little isolation, and a lot of immigration.  You cannot divide us up into neat little sub races.  It's a 19th/20th Century racist fantasy.

That is autosomal information.  Each generation back, we double our lines back.  I have four grandparent, eight great grandparents, sixteen g.g grandparents and so on.  It doesn't multiply forever of course, local genetic pooling kicks in, what some might call inbreeding.  I have a pair of ancestors on my mother's side, that are my g.g.g.g.g.g grandparents twice over.  Two of their great great grandchildren that were 3rd cousins to each other married.  This sort of event will increase as you go back into your ancestry, until we all trace our ancestry back to a small population of anatomically modern humans some 70,000 years ago - give or take the odd Neanderthal or two.

Autosomal evidence can be really hit and miss.  It's all of that general DNA from your mixed up ancestry.  Under the natural law of random selection, it's quite easy as I understand it, to lose any and every SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) from some quite recent ancestors.  Every reproduction randomly dumps half of your ancestor's combined DNA.  Please tell me if I misunderstand this, I am no expert.  I've seen claims on profiling forums that your recent ancestry up to between 300 and 500 years can safely be provenanced from your autosomal DNA.  I smell a fish.  I'm really not convinced.  If someone that knows better can convince me otherwise, please do so.

When I get my results, I'm not expecting no surprises.  I'm expecting autosomal ancestry of British/Irish, maybe some confusion with Scandinavia, and French/German, due to the general Western European blur.  If I do get a surprise though, well that would be interesting.

The two haplogroup markers that I am more interested in, than the general autosomal ancestry, are of course the mtDNA and the Y chromosome.  I'm blessed being male, women only get the mtDNA.  These two markers stand out of the general ancestral DNA.  The Y chromosome represents my strictly paternal lineage.  My mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) represents my strictly maternal lineage.  They both mutate very rarely, at known rates and therefore have been used to successfully map origins.  They have been used for example, to mark waves of movement across Eurasia, and original movements into Europe.  They have been used to date Y chromosome Adam, and Mitochondrial Eve.  Not that humans nor our hominin heritage have ever been reduced to a genetic bottleneck as severe as one couple, but the ancient populations where all present day human populations can trace shared their direct paternal / maternal lineage ancestry.  For Y chromosome Adam it is 300,000 to 200,000 years ago.  For Mitochondrial Eve it is 200,000 to 100,000 years ago.  No, they were not a couple, there was never a first couple.

Y chromosome and mtDNA are far more interesting than the general autosomal DNA, even if they represent only two narrow lines of descent.  As we increase our knowledge and data, so we can start to say that a particular haplogoup mutated from another, and passed most likely, through a certain route towards you.

My mtDNA and paper genealogy

I've finally reached the point of this post.  Yesterday, I thought that I'd give Internet genealogy a crack.  I've done very little genealogical research for many years.  I found out a few new details about my enigmatic paternal great grandfather.  In 1939, I now know the address in Kent, where he and his partner Mabel Tanner were living.  I also learned that at that time, he was employed as a clerk and a civil servant, apparently by the Post Office in their engineering departments.  I imagine a bit of a come down for a guy that served for years as a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery, including throughout WW 1.  I do now remember one late aunt saying that she recalled he was something to do with the Post Office.

I wanted, with my genetic profiling in mind, to see if I can learn anything new on my Y chromosome / mtDNA lines, or in paper genealogical terms, in my strictly paternal and maternal lines.

The paternal was frustrating.  I couldn't advance on it.  Still stuck on my g.g.g.g grandfather John Brooker.  He is recorded on the 1841 census as fathering seven children in the parish of Rotherfield Peppard in Oxfordshire between 1815 and 1836.  He simply recorded N for not born in Oxfordshire.  His age suggests a birth date of c.1791.  The Internet couldn't help much on that one.  I still need to return to the Oxfordshire Record Office, and maybe the Berkshire Record Office, if it does transpire that he came from there.  I need parish registers.  A bit of driving to do.  I need to find his marriage somewhere before (or maybe around) 1815 to his wife Elizabeth.  I do hope that it is in Rotherfield Peppard, but I fear that it is not.

The maternal however, was fruitful.  That I am pleased with, as the strictly maternal line is the safest and most reliable.  With any paternity, you never know for sure, who the father really was.  People lied.  But maternal - as reliable as paper genealogy can ever be.  This is great, because it aligns with my mtDNA route.  Surely the best lineage to research, although as marriage changes the surname most generations in European cultures, not the easiest to follow.  A new surname nearly every generation.  My previous research on the maternal line had only reached a c.1848 date to the ancestor allegedly in the photograph at the top of this post - Sarah Ann Thacker (nee Daines), who lived at Rackheath, Norfolk, but was actually born around twenty miles away at Besthorpe, Norfolk.  Thinking bout it Daines might suggest Scandinavian origins might it not?  Except of course that most English surnames originate long after the Danelaw.

Anyway, I started to find references to her on census, and a free online transcription of Besthorpe baptisms.  She was born in 1849 at Besthorpe.  Her parents had married the previous year nearby at the market town of Wymondham, Norfolk. Her father was Reuben Daynes, a labourer that had been born at Brandon, Norfolk.  This appears to be Brandon Parva, a Norfolk parish between Wymondham and Dereham.  I'll chase that one up later, but I'm for now concentrating on that maternal line.  Sarah's mother was a Sarah Daynes (nee Quantrell), who was born at Wymondham around c.1827.  I can't find her family on the census yet.  She was living in a household of Longs at one point.  Quantrell / Quantril appears to have been a well established English surname locally, with families of them at least at Wymondham, Norwich, and Bunwell going way back.

So, I've traced my maternal line back another generation, and to a new surname and town.  What really pleased me is that none of my mother's family had any knowledge of family in the Besthorpe / Wymondham area.  And yet my mother, a sister, and a niece all live in Wymondham today!  An earlier copy of their mtDNA had lived in that Norfolk market town 175 years ago, but we wouldn't have known that before the new research.  A census also revealed Sarah Thacker (nee Daynes), staying in Besthorpe with her parents and her young son George Thacker.  Confirmation that she is my great great grandmother, and that Sarah Daynes (nee Quantrell) is my great great great grandmother.

I now need to visit the Norfolk Record Office in Norwich, to further confirm my research, and to see if I can go back another generation in my mtDNA story.

The above photograph is of Wymondham Abbey.  Was my mtDNA here?  Is this where Reuben Daynes married my great great great grandmother Sarah Quantrell in 1848?  Taken on the Bronica SQ-A Zenzanon PS 80mm f/2.8 lens, loaded with Ilford HP5+ film, developed in Ilford ID11.