Was our Y ancestor a Druze?

From an image published by Ashley Van Haeften and copied here under Creative Commons Licence Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Within hours of publishing my most recent hypothesis: Was our ancestor a Baloch Lascar, I receive news of an incredible rare event.  Someone else on the FTDNA Big Y tested to Y Haplogroup L L-SK1414 (L1b2c).  The sample belonged to a Druze genetics project, and was taken from a man from the Druze town of Zaroun (Matn District) in Lebanon.  The project administrator told me "his ancestors -at least for the past 1000 years- should have been either residents in Mount Lebanon or migrated as many other Druze families from the Idlib region in NW Syria (Jabal el Summaq Mountain)".

The Druze

The Druze are a Levant community, dispersed primarily through Syria, Lebanon, and Israel.  They consider themselves an Arabic culture, but they follow their own faith system, which according to Wikipedia: "The Druze faith is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion based on the teachings of Hamza ibn-'Ali, al-Hakim, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates and Akhenaten.".


What makes the Druze particularly interesting to population geneticists, is that they stopped accepting converts one thousand years ago.  They marry within their community only.  Therefore they potentially represent a snapshot of the medieval Levant population, without more recent admixture.  A recent genetic study of the Druze confirms this history:

"The researchers also found that there is no evidence of new genes entering the Druze gene pool over the last 1,000 years. In other words, no additional groups from the outside joined this community. In addition, the researchers found evidence of genetic differences between Druze populations from different regions: Lebanon, the Golan Hights, the Upper Galilee and the Carmel Mountain. This strengthens the evidence that marriages take place only within each clan.

When they went further back in time, the researchers discovered another interesting finding. It came to light that, 500 years prior to the beginning of the Druze religion, around the 6th century AD and at the time of the birth of Islam, a genetic group began to take shape that formed the basis of the Druze community’s ancestors.

According to this study, the Druze genome is largely similar to the genome of other Arab populations in the Middle East. They also found a few genetic elements in the Druze genome that originated from Europe, Central and South Asia (the Iran region) and Africa.".

Source.

Studies have found that although a variety of both Y and mt haplogroups can be found in the Druze community, they appear to have been isolated for that time period.  So a haplotype found within the Druze, would have been in the region of North-West Syria and Lebanon, during the 11th Century AD.

Druze Clerics During the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate era (late 19th Century AD). See page for author [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

How does this change my perspective on my Y origins into Europe?

L-SK1414 now looks more dispersed across Western Asia, from the Levant, to Pakistan.  That might mean that my medieval Y migrant from Asia to England didn't take a Lascar route from the Persian Gulf / Arabian Sea after all.  It could be that they traveled from the Levant along the Mediterranean, or even across Europe?  They may not have a Balochi connection - they could have been of many Asian ethnicities.  It's a good example of how easy it is to develop a hypothesis based on too little evidence.

As for the origins of L-SK1414, I'm now looking a little more south, and a little more central.  Favourite suggestion now is Tigris and Euphrates Valleys, and the Zagros Mountains, in Iraq and Iran.  L-SK1414 could have dispersed westwards to the Levant, and eastwards to Makran, SW Pakistan.

Here is the distribution of recorded Y haplotype L-SK1414 so far in Western Asia:

Note the centralised nature of the Iran / Iraq "Cradle of Civilisation" to L-SK1414.  Could our Y ancestors have passed through Ancient Mesopotamia?  Now there's an interesting thought!

Some Ancestral Churches, East Norfolk

I recently on one particularly sunny winter's afternoon, took a quick tour around a small selection of medieval churches within the dense geographical cluster in my mother's family tree.

Reedham St John the Baptist

My Ancestry Place report for Reedham, Norfolk.

1771-08-05 Marriage Maye, Judith (I0328) and Shepherd, James (I0327)

1793-01-28 Marriage Shepherd, Judith (I0323) and Goffen, Richard (I0320)

1793-10-11 Birth Goffen, Edward (I0324)

1793-10-11 Birth Goffen, Edward (I1321)

1795-10-26 Birth Goffen, Richard (I0314)

1795-11-01 Baptism Goffen, Richard (I0314)

1799-02-24 Birth Goffen, William (I1318)

1803-06-05 Birth Goffen, John (I1319)

1805-10-06 Birth Goffen, James (I1320)

1818-03-24 Death Goffen, William (I1318)

1841-06-06 Census Shepherd, Judith (I0323) Age 68, independent. Widow.

1851-03-30 Occupation Goffen, Richard (I0314) Inn keeper and master carpenter. Brick Kiln pub, Reedham riverside.

about 1852 Birth Goffen, Sarah Anne (I0302)

1861-04-07 Census Goffen, Richard (I0314) 65 year old carpenter with wife and children. By the river.

1861-11-04 Burial Goffen, Richard (I0314) Age 66

1863-04-04 Death Goffen, John (I1319)

1895-07-24 Death Goffen, James (I1320)

Freethorpe All Saints
My Ancestry Place Report for Freethorpe, Norfolk

calculated 1771 Birth Waters, Robert (I1378) 

calculated 1772 Birth Ransby, Elizabeth (I1379) 

calculated 1804 Birth Waters, Mary (I0307)

1804-01-29 Baptism Waters, Mary (I0307)

1808-06-26 Birth Waters, Judith (I1469)

1810-01-11 Birth Waters, Martha (I1470)

1813-01-03 Baptism Waters, Elizabeth (I1471)

1814-05-22 Baptism Waters, Elisa (I1472)

1823-07-23 Marriage Waters, Mary (I0307)

1823-07-23 Marriage Waters, Mary (I0307) and Key, William (I0306)

1826-06-11 Baptism Key, Maria (I1377)

1828-06-01 Baptism Key, Susan (I1376)

1846-02-06 Birth Key, Sarah Ann (I0309)

1848-02-20 Birth Key, George (I0301)

1848-03-13 Baptism Key, George (I0301)

1851 Census Key, William (I0306) Near the Green, age 47 born at Norwich, with wife Mary and two children including George age 3

1851 Occupation Key, William (I0306) Agricultural labourer

1851 Census Waters, Robert (I1378) Near the Green. Age 80 with wife Elizabeth.

1851 Census Ransby, Elizabeth (I1379) Age 79, living near the Green, with husband Robert, in Freethorpe. Place of birth - Freethorpe.

1855-01-16 Burial Waters, Robert (I1378) Age 86

1870-03-01 Marriage Goffen, Sarah Anne (I0302) and Key, George (I0301)

about 1885 Birth Key, Florence (I0070)

1891-04-05 Census Key, George (I0301) 43 year old carpenter, born Freethorpe, with wife Sarah and four children, including sarah, age 20, working as domestic servant

1891-04-05 Census Key, Florence (I0070) Age 6, with parents and siblings. Born Freethorpe. Father was a carpenter.

1901-03-31 Census Key, George (I0301) 53 year old carpenter with Sarah and son George.

1901-04-05 Census Goffen, Sarah Anne (I0302) Age 48 born at Reedham, with carpenter husband George Key.

1905-11-21 Birth Curtis, Ernest William (I0047)

1916-09-17 Marriage Turner, Mary Ann Elizabeth (I1259) and Curtis, Herbert Henry (I1250)

Strumpshaw St Peter My Ancestry Place Report for Strumpshaw, Norfolk

1747-11-24 Marriage Rowland, John (I0291) and Dawes, Sarah (I0292)
before 1773-03-16 Birth Rose, Robert (I0256)
1774-04-10 Marriage Cossey, Martha (I0346) and Norton, David (I0345)
before 1774-12-04 Birth Norton, Lydia (I0340)
before 1775-03-18 Birth Rose, John (I0248)
1777-01-00 Death Norton, David (I0345)
1777-10-19 Marriage
Banns
Briggs, John (I1526) and Jacobs, Elizabeth (I1557) Both single, of Strumpshaw
1779-01-05 Marriage Rowland, Joseph (I0281) and Symonds, Ann (I0282)
before 1779-03-17 Birth Rose, Henry (I0242)
before 1779-11-15 Birth Rowland, Martha (I0249)
calculated 1781 Birth Briggs, Susanna (I0311)
before 1782-03-28 Birth Rose, Susannah (I1034)
before 1784-10-28 Birth Rose, Mary (I1035)
1785-08-05 Baptism Dingle, Robert (I1448)
1787-01-04 Baptism Dingle, William (I1449)
1788-07-10 Baptism Dingle, Anna Maria (I1450)
1790-06-29 Burial Rose, Henry (I0242) Pauper
1790-06-29 Burial Rose, Henry (I0254) Age 43. A married man and a pauper
1790-10-06 Baptism Dingle, Mary (I1451)
1792 Baptism Dingle, George (I1452)
1794-02-00 Death Gorll, Mary (I0255)
1795-08-11 Baptism Dingle, Elizabeth (I0258)
1801-10-27 Marriage Rose, John (I0248) and Rowland, Martha (I0249)
1802-03-02 Marriage Rose, Henry (I0242) and Ling, Margaret (I0243)
before 1802-06-15 Birth Rose, Margaret (I0244)
1802-08-02 Marriage Rose, Robert (I0256) and Nicholls, Ann (I0825)
1803-05-09 Marriage Briggs, Susanna (I0311) and Key, William (I0310)
before 1804-04-01 Birth Rose, John (I0251)
before 1804-10-10 Birth Rose, Fitt (I0827)
before 1805-06-16 Birth Rose, James (I0252)
before 1807-10-27 Birth Rose, Charlotte (I0828)
before 1809-05-12 Birth Rose, Rebecca (I0253)
before 1810-07-28 Birth Rose, Henry (I0829)
1819-01-27 Marriage Merrison, Lydia (I0342) To William King
1819-04-00 Death Symonds, Ann (I0282)
before 1823-12-07 Birth Rose, James (I0887)
before 1825-05-08 Death Rose, Amelia (I0886)
before 1826-10-22 Birth Rose, Amelia (I0888)
1827-01-09 Marriage Wilson, Ruth (I0944) and Rose, James (I0252)
1827-11-06 Marriage Curtis, William (I0209) and Rose, Mary Anne (I0210)
1828-01-03 Marriage Shorten, Thomas (I1019) and Rose, Rebecca (I0253)
1828-02-07 Marriage Tungate, James (I0847) and Rose, Charlotte (I0828)
before 1828-05-26 Birth Rose, William (I0889)
before 1830-09-03 Birth Curtis, William (I0199)
before 1831-05-02 Birth Rose, John (I0890)
1831-07-01 Marriage Wigg, George (I1031) and Rose, Martha (I0883)
1832-10-04 Marriage Rose, Susanna (I0832) and Rose, Henry (I0829)
before 1834-12-07 Birth Rose, Robert (I0891)
before 1836-02-07 Birth Rose, John (I0834)
before 1837-07-23 Birth Rose, Edward (I0892)
before 1838-04-14 Birth Rose, Samuel (I1022)
about 1839 Birth Tungate, George (I0852)
1839-06-03 Marriage Griffin, Jemima (I1033) and Rose, Richard (I0885)
before 1840-07-12 Birth Rose, Maria (I0893)
1841-08-15 Marriage Rose, Fitt (I0827) and Tungate,
Maria (I0830)
1841-12-06 Burial Briggs, John (I1526) Living at Wickhampton. Age 90
before 1842-06-18 Birth Rose, Maria (I0837)
before 1843-09-03 Birth Rose, Samuel (I0894)
1843-10-05 Burial Dingle, Thomas (I1446)
1845-10-00 Death Rose, John (I0248)
1847-04-08 Marriage Rose, James (I0887) and Gymer, Mary (I0895)
before 1848-09-10 Birth Rose, Hannah (I0897)
1850-02-18 Marriage Rose, John (I0890) and Hendry, Agnes (I0920)
before 1850-04-07 Birth Rose, Elizabeth (I0898)
before 1850-06-09 Birth Rose, Emma (I0842)
before 1852-01-04 Birth Rose, Mary Ann (I0899)
before 1852-08-08 Birth Rose, George (I1009)
before 1854-05-16 Birth Rose, James (I0900)
1854-08-13 Baptism Rose, Robert (I0230)
before 1854-11-05 Birth Rose, Frederic (I1002)
before 1854-12-31 Birth Rose, Sarah (I0844)
before 1855-05-27 Death Rose, Emma (I0842)
before 1855-06-25 Death Rose, Sarah (I0844)
1857-02-00 Death Rose, John (I0834)
before 1857-03-30 Death Rose, Hannah (I0897)
before 1858-06-06 Birth Rose, William (I0845)
1859-05-26 Marriage Hendry, Margaret (I0915) and Rose, William (I0889)
before 1860-01-26 Birth Rose, John Henry (I1006)
before 1861-01-12 Birth Rose, Rachel (I1025)
1861-12-04 Burial Rowland, Martha (I0249)
1862-03-00 Death Rose, Susanna (I0832)
before 1864-02-24 Death Rose, Mary Ann (I0838)
before 1864-03-18 Birth Rose, Rachel (I1027)
1864-10-19 Marriage Mitchell, Richard (I0938) and Rose, Maria (I0893)
before 1864-11-16 Death Rose, John (I0890)
before 1865-08-06 Death Rose, Rachel (I1025)
before 1865-08-06 Death Rose, Rachel (I1027)
1872-02-20 Marriage Rose, Mary Ann (I0899) and Alexander, Frederick (I0906)
before 1873-01-05 Death Rose, John (I0251)
1876-01-01 Marriage Rose, George (I1009) and Broom, Alice (I1010)
1876-04-18 Marriage Rose, Elizabeth (I0898) and Thompson, George (I0905)
before 1876-07-02 Birth Rose, William (I0930)
before 1878-05-26 Birth Rose, Herbert (I0932)
before 1879-05-04 Death Marshall, Elizabeth (I0881)
before 1879-07-13 Birth Rose, Laura (I1013)
before 1882-03-12 Birth Rose, Alice Maude (I1015)
before 1882-10-15 Birth Rose, Anna (I0934)
before 1884-12-16 Birth Rose, Henry Herbert (I1008)
before 1884-12-21 Death Rose, Henry Herbert (I1008)
before 1886-03-21 Birth Rose, Henry (I0935)
1886-10-18 Marriage Rose, James (I0887) and Manthorpe, Mary Ann (I0896)
1887-07-07 Marriage Scott, Sarah Elizabeth (I0846)
and Rose, William (I0845)
before 1891-01-22 Death Rose, Anna (I0934)
1891-02-00 Death Rose, Fitt (I0827)
1895-03-30 Marriage Thrower, George Frederick
Cooper (I1012) and Rose, Edith
(I1011)
1895-04-00 Death Rose, Henry (I0829)
before 1895-05-03 Death Rose, George (I1009)
1900-04-21 Marriage Rose, Laura (I1013) and Benns, Clement Claude (I1014)
1901-04-27 Marriage Rose, William (I0930) and Nobbs, Mary Elizabeth (I0931)
1902-11-29 Marriage Rose, Alice Maude (I0933) and Rose, Herbert (I0932)
1902-11-29 Marriage Rose, Alice Maude (I1015) and Rose, Herbert (I1016)
before 1903-10-23 Death Rose, Edward (I0892)
before 1926-06-19 Death Susanna (I0923)
before 1943-12-24 Death Rose, James (I0900)
before 1949-04-23 Death Rose, Mary Mendham (I0907)

My Family and Abraham Lincoln

Okay, honesty time.  I have (not yet) found any proven connection between myself and the 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln.  The title is a little tongue in cheek, but it's my blog, and I have a serious dearth of famous ancestors in my recorded family tree.  What I have recently discovered though, is that the Norfolk village of Swanton Morley is an ancestral hot spot on my father's side, and that the paternal ancestors of Abraham Lincoln, did indeed also hail from that village.  Therefore it is not unreasonable to speculate, that at some point since the Medieval, we do indeed share ancestry with the 16th President of the USA.  Lincolns did indeed remain in the parish until modern times, along with my Harris and Barber ancestors.

Lets start with my Reginald John Brooker, paternal grandfather's pedigree:

My grandfather's parents separated while he was young, and he was brought up at Northall Green Farm by his maternal grandparents William and Harriet Baxter.  When he was a boy, he would play by hanging by his arms from the nearby railway bridge.  His older sister Gladys would sometimes be allowed to visit.  She remembered happy times and yellow flowers on that farm.  Northall Green Farm is technically in (East) Dereham, but is actually located nearer to the village of Swanton Morley.  Many of his genes from his mother's side really had not travelled far.  He had some very old ancestral associations with his home - both in East Dereham, and in Swanton Morley.

Reginald as a boy in 1920.  He is on the second row from back, on our far left.  Standing, plain dark top, round spectacles.

His mother's side of the family also had an undesired association with the nearby Mitford & Launditch Union Workhouse at Gressenhall.  His grandparent's that reared him, had both been born in that workhouse.  They had both been born illegitimate of unmarried mothers.  However, I recently discovered that they both claimed to know and to name their biological father's on their marriage registration.  His grandparents married at the church in Swanton Morley.  As I was to discover, many of the bride's ancestors at least, had previously processed through the same building over the centuries.

Harriet (my great great grandmother) claimed at her wedding that a William Barker was her biological father.  He was from a Dereham family.  I'm not chasing up that line for now, instead, lets go up her mother's line.  Her mother was Harriet Barber, born 1826 in ... Swanton Morley.  Harriet disappears after the birth of her daughter.  Hopefully she went on well in life, perhaps married and changed surname.  In 1847, she would have had to wear a yellow jacket of shame in Gressenhall Workhouse.

Harriet's father in turn had also been born illegitimate - a feature of incredible frequency in this particular line of our family tree.  What prompted such illegitimacy?  Was it poverty?  He (my G.G.G Grandfather), was born in Swanton Morley in 1803, the baseborn son of Sarah Barber.  His name was James Alderton Barber.  In adult life, he tolled as a farm labourer in the Swanton area.  

His mother actually had no less than six children born in the village of Swanton Morley between 1803 and 1818, whilst somehow avoiding marriage!  Neither do they all appear to have had the same father.  a Mr Alderton may have fathered two including our ancestor.  A Mr Sissons at least one other (a common custom in illegitimacy was to give the biological father's surname as a "middle" name).  Maybe I should try to chase up and eliminate which local Mr Alderton was likely to be our ancestor, but such trails are tenuous.  I really don't know how she survived in this early 19th Century rural community.  I sniff a fantastic story, if only I could dig it up.

However, lets go back down to her son, James Alderton Barber of Swanton Morley.  He married at least three times.  Perhaps making up for his mother.  His second marriage in 1825 was at Swanton Morley church to our ancestor Jemima Harris.  

James and Jemima Barber were to go on to have no less than eight children baptised at Swanton Morley Church between 1826 and 1842.  Jemima herself, my G.G.G Grandmother, was born ... you guessed it, illegitimately ... the daughter of Elizabeth Harris of Swanton Morley.  I really find it fascinating, the level of illegitimacy on this line.  A local socio-economic history would be very interesting.  This family is full of mothers, rather than fathers.  They may have been strong and independent.  Or they may have been victims.

G.G.G.G Grandmother Elizabeth Harris herself was baptised in that same church in Swanton Morley in 1768.  Her parents had narrowly avoided yet an earlier illegitimacy event themselves by marrying a few months earlier - at Swanton Morley of course, in 1767.  They were Solomon Harris and Elizabeth Bradfield.  We're going back now aren't we.  Swanton Morley is starting to feel as one of our many genealogical homes.  Hey, I still live only around 15 miles away from there today.

Here she is today.  All Saints Church, Swanton Morley, Norfolk.

I only know of two children of Solomon and Elizabeth Harris.  Our ancestor Elizabeth, and her sister Martha.  I hope their parents had a successful life.  Back then, life was far more precarious than it is today.  Okay let us step back another few generations.  Elizabeth was baptised in nearby East Dereham in 1745.  The daughter of an Allen and Rachel Bradfield.  What great names!  As for Solomon, he turns out to be a Solomon Junior.  He was the son of Solomon Harris and a Mary Aimes? of Swanton Morley.  Solomon Senior married Mary at Swanton Morley in 1725.  I'm not sure of her maiden name.  The hand ascribed registers are so poor - Aitkjens?  I've gone for Aimes.  They had at least three children baptised at All Saints, Swanton Morley between 1725 and 1736.

The view today from Swanton Morley Church.

Solomon (senior) was himself baptised at this same church in 1702.  He was the son of my G.G.G.G.G.G Grandparents Francis Harris and Thomasin Sniss?.  They were married at Swanton Morley in 1701.  Francis must have been pushing it a little, as it appears that he had married a Susan Thirston in Swanton Morley in 1682.  He was recorded as a wiidower at the marriage to our ancestor Thomasin.

Francis himself?  I can see earlier Harris's in the Swanton Morley registers - but just when I think that they just might record Francis's baptism - they fade and blur.  So I can speculate - but not link. They were in the Swanton Morley area at the same time, at least for a few centuries, as Abraham Lincoln's ancestors.  Hey - there are those undeclared paternities.  I don't want to spread rumours.  But did our family play a part in the making of the USA?

DNA.land - raw file comparison

Comparing the ancestry results of two raw files from the same tester (myself) uploaded to DNA.land.

Myself.
Paper trail and family history 100% SE English, mainly East Anglian. 249 direct ancestors named in documentary research.

23andMe result before phasing (spec mode):
100% European broken into
94% Northwestern Europe
3% Southern Europe
3% unassigned European

Broken down further to:
32% British & Irish
27% French & German
7% Scandinavian
29% Broadly NW European
0.5% Iberian
2.4% Broadly South European

23andMe result after phasing with one parent (spec mode):
100% European
96% Northwestern European
1.8% Southern European
2.2% Broadly European

Broken down further to:
37% British & Irish
22% French & German
1% Scandinavian
36% Broadly NW European
1.8% Broadly Southern European

FT-DNA Family Finder My Origins.
100% European

Broken down further to:
36% British Isles
32% Southern Europe
26% Scandinavia
6% Eastern Europe

Now I am comparing the two raw files for the same person, uploaded to, and analysed for ancestry, by DNA.land:

23andMe V4 raw file for myself on DNA.land:

100% West Eurasian.
77% North West European
19% South European (broken into 13% Balkan / 6.1% South/Central European
2.4% Finnish
1.3% Ambiguous

FT-DNA FF raw file for myself on DNA.land:
100% West Eurasian
75% North West European
25% Balkan

Just for more information:

My mother's 23andMe raw file on on DNA.land:
100% West Eurasian
80% North West European
10% South European (broken into 7.7% South/Central Europe / 2.4% Balkan)
6.4% Finnish
2.3% Sardinian
1.5% Ambiguous 

Conclusion

Phasing on 23andme suggested that I inherit (in spec mode) nearly 1% Southern European from each parent. That each of my very East Anglian parents had a Southern European ancestor within the past 300 - 500 years is highly unlikely, considering 1) the paper trail, and 2) local history in this rural area. Therefore I feel that this reflects much older background ancestry for the local SE English population. Ancient DNA calculators also predict that I have higher than average levels of ENF/EEF than other local populations such as the Irish and Scottish, and lower levels of ANE. This appears associated with my Southern European flavour that some tests suggest as a minority percentage. FT-DNA suggested 32% Southern European! Some commentators have suggested that this might indicate significant French admixture to the SE English population, perhaps during the Norman and Medieval periods, carrying a southern signal higher into lowland Britain. Earlier admixture into Lowland Britain from the south, is also possible during late prehistory and the Roman period.

DNA.land has been noted for a bias to predicting both Balkan, and Finnish ancestry for testers, and my results are no exception. I feel that as with all current autosomal DNA test/analysis for ancestry, that DNA.land has a way to go. As with the other predictors, it is very successful at recognising me as 100% European (although ironically my Y-DNA is Western Asian). It is fair at spotting me as NW European, but NOT as successful as 23andMe. Below that level, once again it falls down - but I feel that this is understandable, as most predictors fail down for anciently admixed populations such as the English. They are far more successful at spotting for example, Irish/Scottish. For the English, we tend to be ripped across different European populations. The Southern European element is a particular surprise - but all of the testers so far have been confused by this background signal. Dienekes has himself, suggested Southern European DNA coming into England with the Normans:

http://dienekes.blogspot.co.uk/2016/...-ancestry.html

I'm starting to settle with this hypothesis, although I still have some interest in possible Southern European admixture earlier.

Finally... The two raw files for one person, have produced slightly different results. The FT-DNA raw file has I believe, more tested (but different?) SNPs than the 23andMe file. It would be interesting to know the differences. DNA.land, using the FT-DNA FF file, does not see Finnish, or South/Central European, but enhances the Balkan.

A new Ancestral Parish - Maxey, near Peterborough

By Rodney Burton [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

This line descends to me via my paternal grandmother, Doris Brooker nee Smith.  Her paternal grandmother was Ann Smith nee Peach. She lived during the 19th Century in Attleborough, Norfolk, but her origins baffled me for years before online genealogical research enabled me to crack it.

I published how I cracked it, and her father's story here.  In brief, her mother, Sarah, was born Sarah Riches near to Attleborough in Norfolk at Great Hockham in 1812.  Then ... somehow, she met a David Peach, from the East Midlands.  He was a shepherd and drover, and I'm best guessing that his vocation brought him into contact with a Norfolk bride.  He may have been droving livestock to Norfolk pastures or markets.  She returned to his home, in Etton.  Etton, is a village on East Midland county borders that has fluctuated in history between Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, and the modern district of Peterborough.  It was this fuzziness that hid his roots from me for a little longer.  They married in Etton in 1835.  Their daughter, and my ancestor, Ann Peach, was born later that year at Etton.

In 1837, her father David Peach was convicted at Lincoln Assize Courts of stealing two cattle.  He was sentenced to Life Transportation to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania).  He went on to be transferred to a particularly tough penal colony in Tasmania.  He was eventually pardoned, but not granted licence to return to England.  Meanwhile, his wife Sarah, and her young daughter, Ann, somehow managed to return to Norfolk, where she found refuge with her parents, now living in the market town of Attleborough.  For a while they went to live on as servants.  For years, Sarah remained in Attleborough, never remarrying, although she had at least two more children.  She worked to support herself and her children as a charwoman or washer woman, working a laundry.

But ... where were the roots of her East Midland Shepherd husband, David Peach?  I suspected that he was local to the Etton area.  Inquiries at various FHS stands at the 2016 Who do you think you are? event in Birmingham had lead me to this position.  Peach's seemed to be local, but the county boundaries kept changing.  I suspected the Stamford area.

Then a fresh search today.  I've recently taken out a month worth of subscription to Ancestry.co.uk.  They appear to have had a lot of Northamptonshire County Council archive records, indexes, and digitalised images added.  There, I found his family!

The ancestors via David Peach that I discovered today (see the above direct tree) were entirely from the parish next to Etton, the parish of Maxey.  This village today belongs to the District of Peterborough, and has been associated with Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire - but back then, fell within the County of Northampton.

The Peach family seem to have been shepherds and drovers for a few generations at Maxey.  David was baptised at Maxey in early 1807, the son of John and Ann Peach of that village.  His father had taken the name of an elder brother that had died as an infant, while their mother was carrying him.  The elder John had been the twin brother of Joseph Peach.  Joseph turns up as a witness at so many 18th Century Maxey weddings that I'm guessing that he had some sort of local office in the parish, or was a particularly popular man!  Our John (the 2nd), was relatively quiet on record, and unfortunately my search didn't reveal his marriage, nor the surname of his own wife Ann.  He did witness his elder brother's Joseph wedding alongside an Ann Mason.  Who knows?

Our ancestor John Peach's parents were a Maxey couple, that married there in 1762 - Peter Peach and Mary Rippon.  I can then trace Mary's baptism and parents in Maxey - she was baptised there in 1734.  Her father was Robert Rippon, a Maxey tailor.  He married our ancestor Alice Saunderson at Maxey in 1710.  Her parents in turn were Christopher and Alice Saunderson of Maxey.

And so ends today's family history lesson.  I now have 243 direct ancestors named in the tree.  I did add new siblings where I could find them by trawling the online digitalised images of the parish records and bishop's transcripts.

Photo of St Peter's Church, Maxey, Cambridgeshire under Creative Commons by Meg Nicol on Flickr

Updated direct Ancestry stats:

Generation 1 has 1 individual. (100.00%)

Generation 2 has 2 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 3 has 4 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 4 has 8 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 5 has 16 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 6 has 31 individuals. (96.88%)

Generation 7 has 57 individuals. (89.06%)

Generation 8 has 55 individuals. (42.97%)

Generation 9 has 46 individuals. (18.75%)

Generation 10 has 18 individuals. (3.91%)

Generation 11 has 6 individuals. (0.59%)

Total ancestors in generations 2 to 11 is 243. (12.07%)

Two Fathers and more Online Genealogy

The above photograph is of my great great grandfather, William Bennett Baxter, born at Gressenhall Workhouse, Norfolk, England, in 1846.

Well, I've finally updated my Gramps genealogical database for the first time for months.  It's grown!  It now includes details for over 1,600 ancestors and family relatives.  I have to admit, a lot of the swell is down to online genealogical research, using Findmypast.co.uk, Ancestry.co.uk, Norfolk FHS, BMD, FamilySearch.org, etc.  I DON'T ever resort to copying off other people's trees, although I do at times, when I'm stuck, check them to see how other's think, as the hints that they should be.  To be honest though, I often don't agree with their conclusions.  

I do use Search.  I do use transcriptions - but whenever the original image is available (as it increasingly is now), I do verify with it.  Quite often, transcribers get it wrong.  I do also enjoy browsing through digitalised images of parish records, looking for siblings and clues.

Two Fathers

With traditional documentary-based genealogical research, we of course cannot prove a biological line.  We can rarely identify NPEs (Non-Parental Events).  All that we can do, is do our very best to track names through family interviews, documents and records.  Wherever possible, we should verify connections, check and record sources, look for correlations.  This isn't however always possible.  The genealogist has to then decide whether they have enough evidence to connect an ancestor.

For quite some time, I was proud that I had recorded all of my ancestors up to and including great great grandparent level.  However, at great great great grandparent level (Generation 6), I had three missing direct ancestors.  All three of them were the unrecorded father's of three great great grandparents, born illegitimate in Norfolk during the 19th Century.  I had 29 out of 32 biological ancestors recorded for Generation 6.

Then recently, I cracked two of them!  At least I have one evidence for their names.  Two of my illegitimate born great great grandparents, William Bennett Baxter, and Harriet Barber, were actually a married couple.  They were both illegitimate, and had both been born in Gressenhall Union Workhouse close to East Dereham in Norfolk.  William was base-born there  to a pauper named Eliza Baxter.  That she gave him the middle name "Bennett", and there had been Bennetts in the area, always made me suspect that his biological father was believed to have belonged to a Bennett Family, but which?

Then some research online, and it was a back to basics research that cracked it.  I was sure that I had seen their 1866 marriage certificate or entry, at nearby Swanton Morley before, probably years ago.  But if I had seen it before, and I now suspect that I hadn't, then I missed the key.  They BOTH named their alleged biological fathers in their marriage register entry!  How could I have not seen this before?

William Bennett Baxter claimed that he was the son of a labourer, by the name of ... William Bennett.  Harriet Baxter (nee Barber), claimed that her father was a labourer by the name of William Barker.  It's only their word, on their marriage entry - to their knowledge, but I've accepted that testimony, and have added ancestors on those lines.  I haven't yet found much about William Bennett. But I did quickly find more on my 4 x great grandfather William Barker.  He was a shoe maker in East Dereham, the son of a master boot maker.  Perhaps his family didn't approve.  Two years later he married an Elizabeth Wales.

My Fan Chart of Direct Ancestry, updated. I now have 234 direct ancestors named.

Other New Ancestors

The majority (but not all) of my newly claimed ancestors have been Norfolk ancestors on my Father's paternal side, balancing things up rather nicely.  Some of the newly discovered branches include a substantial number of new ancestors recorded both in Dereham, Norfolk, and in the nearby village of Swanton Morley.  They were two very ancestral homes in my tree.  I've recently extended the Baxter of Dereham line back safely to the 1760's.  I've also traced more of my great grandmother Faith Brooker's (nee Baxter) tree, including her direct maternal line to a Rachael Bradfield of Dereham.  Her daughter Elizabeth was baptised there in 1745.  In 1767, Elizabeth Bradfield married our 7 x great grandfather Solomon Harris at Swanton Morley.

I've also extended the line going back from my paternal grandmother (Doris Brooker nee Smith).  I've found more of her ancestors in the South Norfolk village of Hedenham, stretching back to a James Goodram, the son of John and Lydia Goodrum.  James was baptised at Hedenham in 1780.

Finally, I've tidied a few dates on my mother's side, and even started to reassess the ancestry of my children's mother.

Here is a count of direct ancestors from a Gramps report:

Generation 1 has 1 individual. (100.00%)

Generation 2 has 2 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 3 has 4 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 4 has 8 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 5 has 16 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 6 has 31 individuals. (96.88%)

Generation 7 has 55 individuals. (85.94%)

Generation 8 has 53 individuals. (41.41%)

Generation 9 has 44 individuals. (17.97%)

Generation 10 has 16 individuals. (3.52%)

Generation 11 has 6 individuals. (0.59%)

Total ancestors in generations 2 to 11 is 235. (11.68%)

That's enough genealogy for a while!  Living DNA report next.  Sample was activated and returned.

Bunwell, Norfolk - ancestral parish

I took a little local bicycle ride today, along the extremes of my recorded maternal line - that which should carry my mt-DNA.  23andMe tested it as H6a1.  WeGene and mthap analyser both suggest H6a1a8.  I'm looking forward to see what Living DNA make of it.  The haplogroup, based on current evidence, most likely originated on the Pontic and Caspian Steppes, before spreading into Western Europe during the Early Bronze Age.  However, on documentary record, I've traced it back to Generation 9 - my maternal G.G.G.G.G.G Grandmother, Susannah Briting (Brighten, Brighton) who married my ancestor John Hardyman (Hardiment, Hardimend, Hardiman), in the Norfolk parish of Bunwell in 1747.  According to the Bunwell Parish Registers, between 1748 and 1754, John and Susannah had four children baptised at the local church of Bunwell St Michael & Angels: John, Martha, Elizabeth, and Thomas Hardyman.  My G.G.G.G.G Grandmother Elizabeth Hardyman, went on to marry my ancestor Robert Page at nearby Wymondham in 1779, and continued my maternal line down to my Mother.

Bunwell, Norfolk, East Anglia

Bunwell is a parish of scattered settlement and hamlets, located above the Tas Valley, on the high boulder-clay soils of South Norfolk.  These heavy soils encouraged a pattern of dispersed settlement during the Late Medieval, with occupation often taking place along the edges of common land.  This could suggest limited manorial control.

I took this photo of the local landscape.  Large medieval open fields were divided into smaller enclosed fields during the 17th to 19th centuries.  These small parceled and enclosed fields were then opened up again into larger fields, with the removal of many hedgerows, during the 20th century.  Main land uses today are arable agriculture - modern crops include sugar beet, wheat, oil seed rape, etc.

Counting the number of plant species within a designated length of hedgerow has been used as a dating process.  The number of species increasing across the centuries.

Vernacular tradition includes many classic South Norfolk farmhouses, of which the following example is a striking example:

The owner has been renovating it from many years, having inherited it from his father.  Aside from the chimney (which was replaced following a lightening strike), the newest sections of the house date to the 1740's.  The eldest have not been dated, but perhaps extend to the Late Medieval.

The Church building is of the Perpendicular tradition, and dates to circa the 1450's, although it was most likely built on the site of an earlier church.  It is dedicated to St Michael and All Angels.

It is very much still an active church.  A knitting club were busy at work on my visit.  The church warden also called in.  The locals told me that there were, or still are Hardiment and Britings living in the parish.  I had a look around the surrounding graves.

This headstone is a good example of 18th century headstones in East Anglia.  Sadly, not one of my known ancestors.  Note the extra information Late of Starston.

I didn't spot any Britings, but I did find a cluster of Hardyman graves, including this example:

Not one of my direct ancestors, but most likely, a cousin.

My mtDNA ancestor Elizabeth, moved away from Bunwell, marrying nearby at Wymondham. From there, my mtDNA line moved through other nearby villages, including Bestthorpe.  Another generation on, it made an unusual leap (my Norfolk ancestors rarely moved far) to the opposite side of Norwich, to the parish of Rackheath in Broadland.  It then moved further East, to the parishes of Tunstall and Reedham.  On to Hassingham and my mother carried it back west to the Norwich area. We've ironically both  carried it back to the Wymondham area.