What have the Romans done for us?

I can feel Spring in the air.  So, day off from work, I decided to take a field trip.  Wasn't sure where to when I hit the road, but I ended up at Burgh Castle, the ruin of a Roman Fort of the Saxon Shore.

Information board at Burgh Castle.

Traditionally, the Roman Shore Forts of South-East Britain were seen as Late Roman defensive structures, to protect Roman Britain from attack from barbarians from the other side of the North Sea, outside of the Empire.  This remains a valid view, although I remember attending a lecture by a local archaeologist many years ago, that argued that these shore forts, were a little odd.  With civilian activity inside the forts, and not particularly very defensive.  He was arguing that rather than protect Roman Britain from invasion by Anglo Saxon pirates, they were intended to control and tax heavy commerce across the North Sea.  No I'm not going to take sides, perhaps there was an element of both intentions.

I personally also like to see this fort as a sort of 4th Century AD immigration control.  My mother's 18th and 19th Century ancestors are so strongly clustered nearby at the Reedham area, that I can't help but imagine that at least some of her ancestors lived in East Norfolk way back into the medieval, and perhaps some of them rowed passed this recently decommissioned shore fort during the early 5th century AD.  I imagine them jeering at the now abandoned post of the Empire, as they rowed past.  Arriving into Britain, with fealty free land just for the grabbing, a land of opportunity for rural self sustaining farmers from the Continent.

The view down on the Yare and Breydon Water from Burgh Castle.  Much of this would have been flooded during the 4th Century by higher sea levels and the absence of drainage.

From a population genetics point of view, we are usually told that the 360 year long period of Roman Britain contributed little to our present day DNA.  More important was the contribution of the Early Bronze Age, that carried DNA from the Eurasian Steppes, followed perhaps by the Anglo-Saxon / Danish / Norman Medieval immigration events that followed the collapse of shore forts such as this one.  It is usually suggested that because actual migration from Rome was sparse, and troops were scattered from all over the Empire, that there was little impact on the late prehistoric British genome.

However, whenever an odd haplotype turns up in an old British family, including for example, my own Y-DNA that appears to have originated from the area of present day Iran or Iraq, someone will suggest that it could have arrived during the Roman Empire.  Indeed, in some cases they may well have made their way into North west Europe, even to the British Isles during that time.  Trade and exchange across Western Eurasia was thriving.

I give you Burgh Castle, Norfolk.  They may have built it in order to keep some of my ancestors out.

Celebrating my Neolithic Ancestors

Image above, last year, holding an artifact from the Neolithic Tomb of the Sea Eagles in Orkney.

Today in this post, I am celebrating my Neolithic heritage.  Another ancestral genetics enthusiast pointed out that rather than Anglo-Saxon, for a Brit and North West European, I actually had indications of enhanced Neolithic Farmer ancestry on most ancient DNA calculators (more on that below).  I was actually quite pleased to have that pointed out, and this post explains why I love the idea of being a modern Neolithic Man.

I remember being fascinated by the past as quite a young child.  On holidays across the British isles, I craved nothing more than visits to castles.  At home in Norwich, I'd haunt the local museums.  However, a love of the Neolithic took hold during my twenties. First, a fishing and drinking tour of Ireland with my brother, took me to the Newgrange Passage Grave site in the Boyne Valley.  Awesome impact.  Then several years later, I picked up the broken butt end of a Neolithic polished flint axe head on farmland behind my cottage.

The above photo is an image of another broken Neolithic flint axe head that I recorded during a surface collection survey many years later in Thetford Forest.

This eventually pulled me into a phase of looking for more prehistoric flint, which I later formalised into the Thetford Forest Survey.  During that period, in collaboration with the Forestry Commission, Norfolk Archaeology, and Suffolk Archaeology, I recorded thousands of struck flint and ceramic artifacts - many from the Neolithic.

Above image taken at the Castlerigg Stone Circle in Cumbria in 2006.

Any chance that I got, I'd also visit Neolithic sites across the British Isles - and continue to do so, hence last year I had a cycling tour of many late prehistoric sites in Orkney.  Absolutely love the Neolithic.  Even though an atheist, I have to confess that some of these sites give me a special vibe.  I have half-seriously told neo-pagan friends, that If I had to choose some gods, Then maybe they would be those of the Neolithic.  Something about the remote sites.

Above image - sorry for looking so bloody miserable and awful.  Swinside Stone Circle, Cumbria.

Our New Understanding of the Neolithic of Europe

What I really want to write about here though, is how recent population genetics, over the past ten years, is transforming how we see the Western Eurasian Neolithic.  Archaeologists had long pondered, our relationship to the British Neolithic people, and going further back and in turn - their relationship to the earlier Mesolithic hunter-foragers of the British Isles.

What recent research of both ancient and modern DNA has so far revealed is that after the last Ice Age, hunter-foragers moved up to Britain from Southern Europe.  Meanwhile, new cultures and economies were developing in the Middle East of SW Asia.  Across the Fertile Crescent, that ran up the Levant, East Anatolia, eastwards, then down the fertile valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys - people started to settle, domesticate wheat, barley, goats, sheep, cattle and pigs.  They started to farm for the very first time.  This was the Neolithic Revolution.  The first fired ceramics - pottery was added to the recipe, along with polished stone tools.  Eventually these populations also absorbed the very first metallurgy, literacy, and town building - falling into the southern half of those river valleys in Mesopotamia.

Image above - Standing Stone at Stillaig, Argyll, Scotland.

From the Levant and Anatolia, both along the Mediterranean, and direct across the Balkans by land, Neolithic culture and farming technology spread westwards and northwards across Europe.  Population genetics now tells us that this WAS carried by people.  It was not just a transfer of culture and artifacts.  DNA from South-West Asia was strongly carried across Europe.  The Neolithic farmers were a people, with roots in the Near East.

What happened to the old European hunter-foragers?  It seems a mixture of displacement and admixture.  As the Neolithic Revolution rolled across Europe, it did pick up some hunter-gatherer DNA.  However, few of the male haplogroups.  By the time that the First Farmers reached the British Isles, they would have had an ancestry mixed between Near East Asian and European hunters.  Without a doubt, brides and perhaps slaves were taken along that long route from Anatolia to Britain.  This pattern perhaps continued when they reached the Irish and British Isles, and confronted some of the last hunter-gatherer populations of North West Europe.

Image above.  Ring of Brodgar, Orkney.

All of this was fine.  The British Isles were settled by Neolithic peoples around 4,100 BC.  I've seen many of their monuments, studied excavation reports of their archaeological sites, and held many of their flint artifacts.  It was a dominant culture here for two thousand years.  Religious systems may have come and go.  They erected so many monuments here that still survive.  Causewayed enclosures, long barrows, cursuses, henges, monoliths, cairns, standing stone circles, timber circles, mounds, Silsbury Hill - and of course, the internationally renown Stone Henge.  However, we now realise that they carried much DNA from South West Asia!

They must have thought that they, their beliefs, and their social systems would last until the end of time.  We currently think that their populations and farming declined towards the end of their period.  There is a little evidence that they may have been subject to plague from Asia.  This might have weakened them for the next invasion and displacement.

Image above of Skara Brae, Orkney Neolithic settlement.

Image above of Mottistone Longstone, Isle of Wight.

The arrival of the Sons of the Steppes - the Beaker

I'll write more about these guys in a later post.  Around 2,100 BC, a new people and culture turned up in the British Isles.  Whereas the Neolithic peoples had largely originated in SW Asia, south of the Caucasus (with some European hunter-gatherer DNA picked up on the way), these new arrivals largely originated to the NORTH of the Caucasus, on the Pontic and Caspian Steppes.  Their Steppe ancestors perfected the domestication of the horse, bronze metallurgy, and wheeled wagons. The founder Steppe population has been identified by archaeologists as the Yamnaya.  They rolled into Eastern and Central Europe, where their arrival appears to have spawned the Corded Ware Culture.  Their descendants in turn appear to have spawned the Bell Beaker Culture in Western Europe.  In turn, the Bell Beaker appears to have developed into the Atlantic Seaboard Celtic Culture of fame and fashion.

The Eurasian Steppe male haplogroups absolutely dominate present day Europe.  However, again, they appear to have absorbed some women with Neolithic and even earlier Hunter-Gatherer populations into their genome.

The Three Way across Europe

Across modern Europe, we are a mixture of three distinct late prehistoric populations or genetic out-layers - from most recent to oldest:

  1. Yamnaya or Steppe
  2. Neolithic Farmer
  3. Western Eurasian Hunter-Gatherer

The above image is from CARTA lecture. 2016. Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institute.  All Rights Reserved.

As can be seen above, some Neolithic DNA has survived in present day Europe.  It is strongest in Southern Europe.  Yamnaya ancestry is more of an influence in Northern Europe, although, old Hunter-Gatherer survives strong in the Baltic Republics.  The modern population closest to our Neolithic ancestors are the Sardinians.  So close, that when Ötzi, a frozen preserved Neolithic body was discovered in the Alps, his DNA was seen as so similar to present day Sardinians, that some incorrectly suggested that he had travelled to the Alps from Sardinia!

A Sardinian family while reading LUnione Sarda 

A Sardinian family.  With a mandolin.  Therefore perfect for here! By Roburq (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

My Neolithic Admixture

David Wesolowski's K7 Basal-rich test

Basal-rich

The Basal Eurasians are a hypothetical "ghost" population derived from DNA studies.  It is suggested that they splintered from other modern humans 45,000 years ago, presumably outside of Africa, somewhere around the Middle East.  They significantly contributed DNA to the Early Neolithic Farmers of the Fertile Crescent and Anatolia, and consequently, on to all of us modern West Eurasians.  

 David gives the English average as 26.5%.  My result is 28.8%

Global 10 Test

The recent Global 10 test, run by my friend Helgenes50 of the Anthrogenica board, resulted in:

  • 55% Baalberge_MN (European Middle Neolithic)

FT-DNA My Ancient Origins

  • 47% Farmer (Neolithic)

My Eurasia K9 ASI Oracle:

  • 27% Early Neolithic Farmer

My Gedrosia K15 Oracle:

  • 25% Early European Farmer

My MDLP K16 Modern Admixture

  • 31% Neolithic (modeled on genomes of first neolithic farmers of Anatolia)

My MDLP Modern K11 Oracle:

Admix Results (sorted):


# Population Percent
1 Neolithic 37.33


Image above.  Grimes Graves Late Neolithic flint mine complex, Norfolk

My Neolithic ancestry appears to be strong, for a Brit.  However - my Neolithic ancestors may not have all - or even at all, have lived in the British Isles.  My Neolithic ancestry may have been picked up along the way, across Europe, by ancestors as they travelled across Western Eurasia.

An English Ancestry - Documentary and DNA

Foreword

A little foreword. The following is not some sort of ridiculous claim to being "100% British", pure, or any other sort of nonsense.  The English are after all, a very admixed population.  It is just what I have found.  If at any time I should happen upon ancestors from anywhere from Afghanistan, to Zimbabwe, I'd be equally proud of them.

This blog post enables interested parties to compare the documentary genealogy of an East Anglian, to the DNA for ancestry tests.  Warning - it could make you lose some trust in some DNA for ancestry test results!

Myself

An amateur genealogist and genetic genealogist.  Born in an English family, in Norfolk, East Anglia, England, UK.  I first became interested in traditional genealogy over twenty eight years ago.  I still live in Norfolk, the home of the majority of my recorded ancestors.

GEDMatch

  • 23andMe kit. M551698
  • FT-DNA Family Finder kit. T444495

The Paper Trail and Family History

I was born in Norfolk, to a local family.  My current gedcom database includes records of 1,882 family members and ancestors for my children.  I currently have records of 274 of my direct ancestors.  All were in South-East England, predominantly in Norfolk, and appear to have been English.  Most of my recorded ancestors over the past 330 years, appear to have been rural working class.  They most likely descended predominantly from the medieval English peasantry.

Here is a recent pedigree fan chart demonstrating recorded coverage of my direct ancestry over the past 11 generations:

Below, birth locations of my ancestors for past six generations:

Father's Ancestry

On my father's side, I currently have 118 of his direct ancestors recorded.  The majority were in Norfolk, but some distant ancestors on record also lived in Oxfordshire, London, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, and Berkshire.  This map demonstrates the ancestral events in his database, over the past 330 years:

Locations of my father's ancestry include:

Attleborough, Norfolk; East Dereham, Norfolk; Ditchingham, Norfolk;  Gressenhall, Norfolk; Norwich, Norfolk; Swanton Morley, Norfolk; Hempnall, Norfolk; Hockham, Norfolk; Tasburgh, Norfolk; Coston, Norfolk; Hardingham, Norfolk; Banham, Norfolk; New Buckenham, Norfolk;  Saham Toney, Norfolk; Saxlingham-Nethergate, Norfolk;  St Michaels, South Elmham, Suffolk; Wrentham, Suffolk; Etton, Cambridgeshire; Maxey, Cambridgeshire / Northamptonshire, Holywell, Lincolnshire;  Bethnal Green, London; Lambeth, London; Shoreditch, London; Lewisham, London; Harpsden, Oxfordshire; Rotherfield Peppard, Oxfordshire; Whitchurch, Oxfordshire; Shiplake, Oxfordshire; Deddington, Oxfordshire; Ipsden, Oxfordshire;  Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire;  North Aston, Oxfordshire; Long Wittenham, Berkshire, Abingdon, Berkshire, 

Surnames within my father's recorded direct ancestry, include:

Aimes, Barber, Barker, Baxter, Beckett, Bennett, Blaxhall, Bligh, Bradfield, Brooker, Brucker, Crutchfield, Dennis, Durran, Edney, Ellis, Freeman, Gardiner, Goodram, Gregory, Harris, Harrison, Hedges, Hewitt, Hill, Neale, Peach, Read, Riches, Rippon, Saunderson, Seymore, Shawers, Shilling, Smith, Snelling, Sniss, Waine, Wick.

My paternal grandmother as an infant, with her older brother circa 1905, Norwich, Norfolk.

Mother's Ancestry

On my mother's side, I currently have 138 of her direct ancestors recorded.  They were all in East Anglia - almost all in the County of Norfolk, with a few distant ancestors over the county border in Suffolk.  Her ancestry over the past three centuries has a particularly dense cluster in Broadland, East Norfolk.  This map demonstrates the ancestral events in her database, over the past 330 years:

Locations of my mother's ancestry include:

Hassingham, Norfolk; Reedham, Norfolk; Acle, Norfolk; Freethorpe, Norfolk;  South Burlingham, Norfolk; Wymondham, Norfolk; Tunstall, Norfolk; Halvergate, Norfolk; Lingwood, Norfolk; Cantley, Norfolk; Salhouse, Norfolk; Woodbastwick, Norfolk; Rackheath, Norfolk; Southwood, Norfolk; Postwick, Norfolk;  Strumpshaw, Norfolk; Beighton, Norfolk; Moulton, Norfolk; Brundall, Norfolk; Chedgrave, Norfolk; Loddon, Norfolk; Limpenhoe, Norfolk;  Langley, Norfolk; Brandon Parva, Norfolk; Repps with Bastwick, Norfolk;  Bunwell, Norfolk; Alburgh, Norfolk; Buckenham Ferry, Norfolk; Repps-with-Bastwick, Norfolk; Rollesby, Norfolk, South Walsham, Norfolk; Southwood, Norfolk; Spooner Row, Norfolk; Garvestone, Norfolk; Sprowston & Beeston St Andrews, Norfolk; Cawston, Norfolk; Whitwell, Norfolk; Beccles, Suffolk; Wrentham, Suffolk.

Surnames within my mother's recorded direct ancestry include:

Annison,  Barker, Briggs, Britiff, Briting, Brooks, Brown, Coleman, Cossey, Creess, Curtis, Dawes, Daynes, Dingle, Dove, Edwards, Gaul, Ginby, Goffen, Goffin,  Gorll, Gunton, Gynby, Hagon, Hardiment, Harding, Hardyman, Harrington, Key, Larke, Lawn, Ling, Marsh, Maye, Merrison,  Mingay, Moll, Mollett, Morrison, Nevel, Neville, Nicholes, Nicholls, Nichols, Norton, Osborne, Page, Porter, Quantrill, Ransby, Read, Rix, Rose, Rowland, Sales, Shepherd, Shilling, Smith, Springall, Symonds, Tammas, Tammas-Tovell, Thacker, Thurkettle, Tovel, Tovell,  Waters, Wymer, Yallop

My maternal grandparent's wedding at Limpenhoe, Norfolk in 1932.  Includes not only my maternal grandparents, but all four maternal side great grandparents, and one 2xgreat grandmother.

Total ancestors in generations 2 to 12 is 258.

Image.  My father's brother in Korea (Royal Norfolk Regiment) 1952.

Image: My paternal grandmother as a little girl in Norwich, Norfolk, circa 1908, with her father, my great grandfather Fred Smith, a wheelwright, born at Attleborough, Norfolk, in 1866.

Image: My paternal great grandfather John Henry Brooker, born 1884 at Deptford, London, with his partner Mabel at Sheerness, Kent, in 1933.

Image: My great great grandfather William Baxter, born at Gressenhall Workhouse, Norfolk, in 1846.

Image:  My great grandfather Fred Smith, born at Attleborough, Norfolk in 1866, with his young son Lenny.

That is my documented family history and ancestry.  I would dare postulate that most of my ancestors previous to this record, most likely descend from the peasants and freemen of medieval East Anglia, and also in the Thames Valley of Oxfordshire, and Berkshire.  What else can I add?  

The Genetics

So how does the above documented genealogy compare with the genetic genealogy?  Let's see.

First of all, the auDNA (Autosomal DNA tests for ancestry), generally agree that I'm 100% European, and at least mainly North-west European.  I can't argue with that.  At that level auDNA tests work reasonably.  Let's look at my personal auDNA tests for ancestry, see what they report:

Living DNA Standard mode

This new DNA test, with a very rich and good quality data set for the British Isles, has so far proven to be by far the most accurate that I have so far commissioned.  I recommend it particularly for testers with significant British ancestry, as it tries to break British ancestry down into 21 regions.

100% European
Regional:
74% Great Britain & Ireland
10% Europe (South)
7% Europe (North and West)
10% Europe (unassigned).

Sub-regional:

39% East Anglia
8% South Central England
5% South East England
5% Lincolnshire

2.5% Cornwall
2.4% North Yorkshire
2% South England
1.9% Devon
1.6% Central England
1.5% North West England
1.3% South Yorkshire
1.2% Northumbria

3.5% unassigned Great Britain & Ireland

10% Tuscany (Europe South)
5% Scandinavia (Europe North and West)
2% Germanic (Europe North and West)
9.7% Europe unassigned.

The Living DNA Test was surprisingly good at detecting many of my ancestors at sub-regional level, into the English regions.  Not perfect by any means - but with an impressive accuracy compared with any other auDNA tests for ancestry that I have investigated.  The Scandinavian, Germanic, and some of the unassigned percentages I am confident, were really East Anglian.  The Tuscan percentage, I cannot explain - but I will be watching out for other SE English test results, to see if it is a background pattern.

23andMe V4 chip, Ancestry Composition speculative mode (before any phasing):

100% European:  94% NW European.  3% Southern European.  3% Broadly European.

Broken down to:

32% British & Irish

27% French & German

7% Scandinavian

29% Broadly NW European

2% Broadly Southern European (including 0.5% Iberian)

23andMe V4 chip, Ancestry Composition speculative mode phased with one parent (mother):

100% European:  96% NW European.  1.8% Southern European.  2.2% Broadly European.

37% British & Irish  (23% from father, 14% from mother)

22% French & German  (12% from father, 10% from mother)

1% Scandinavian  (from mother alone)

36% Broadly NW European  (23% from father, 13% from mother)

2% Broadly Southern European (1% from father, 1% from mother)

The 23andMe test for ancestry fails to recognise English - and commonly splits our English ancestry into British & Irish, French & German, Scandinavian, Broadly North west European, and often with a small percentage of Southern European.  However, it is NOT the worse auDNA test for ancestry by any means.

FT-DNA Family Finder My Origins 2:0

97% European

Broken into:

51% British Isles

46% West and Central Europe

Traces (<2%):

  • Southeast Europe
  • Western Middle East
  • Ashkenazi

FT-DNA Family Finder My Origins 1:0 (Until April 2017)

100% European.

Broken into:

36% British Isles
32% Southern Europe
26% Scandinavia
6% Eastern Europe

I was disappointed with the My Origins 1:0 result.  Very off the mark.


Ancestry.com


Results coming soon

auDNA Tests for Ancestry - a conclusion

The tests prove very good at identifying that I am pretty much 100% European, and usually see me as mainly North-West European.  Ironically, as my Y-DNA below demonstrates, I do have some distant Asian ancestry on that particular line.  The only test that might some how pick this up is the latest FT-DNA My Origins (2:0), but it is probably coincidental.

The tests in general, are not so good at identifying me as English, or even as British.  In the cases of the FT-DNA, Ancestry.com and 23andMe tests, they have not made any attempt to create reference data sets for English populations, in order to distinguish their medieval (and earlier) admixture between older British, and Continental populations.  Instead, they tend to bundle English with Irish, Welsh, and Scottish.  As a result, English testers receive confusing results with lower than expected levels of British / Irish, and percentages of French, German, Scandinavian, and Southern European that they are wrongly assured are the results of recent family admixture from those parts of Europe.  Only Living DNA has made an effort to untangle this issue.

I accept that my results are consistently atypical for a British tester, even perhaps an extreme for an English tester.  They are more Continental than the average.  Sometimes French.  Sometimes Germanic, Sometimes Scandinavian.  I cannot account for this with my documented and recorded family history, which is localised, rural, totally South-East English, and strongly East Anglian.  I receive lower than average (for a British person of British recorded ancestry) British ancestry from all three DNA test businesses.  The only answer that I can see, is that my ancestry is so strongly rural and localised in East Anglia, that I have higher than average admixture from the 5th to 10th Century AD immigration events - the Anglo-Saxon, and perhaps Anglo-Danish, and Anglo-Norman.  It isn't really a surprise - particularly when you look at the above map of my mother's recorded ancestry.

This does though raise the question, how much are these auDNA tests affected by background population admixture?

The second aspect to my results, is that they keep producing a Southern European influence.  On 23andMe, this manifests itself as only a small percentage - but phasing reveals that I inherited it from both parents.  I surveyed 18 English testers on 23andMe, and on speculative mode, no less than 16 received small percentages of Southern European.  Therefore, it would in this case appear to be a case of population background.  However, FT-DNA 1:0 threw a whopping 32% Southern European at me, but then retracted that in the new version.  23andMe hints at Iberian.  DNA.land suggests North Italian and Balkan.  Then Living DNA suggests 9.6% Tuscany!  I cannot account for these sort of percentages within my known recorded genealogy.  I'm currently open minded to having unknown Southern European ancestors within the past ten generations, or to it being some sort of English population background signal, perhaps related to unknown prehistoric admixture, Roman British admixture, Norman Medieval admixture, or a combination.

I want to discuss and look at third party analysis of these results further down in this post, but first, I want to report my DNA Haplogroups, as I feel that they are more precise:


My Haplogroups

My Y-DNA Haplogroup

This is the haplogroup that you inherit on your direct paternal line, from your father, from his father, and back in time.  I have tested my Y-DNA at 23andMe, then FT-DNA Y111, Big Y, and have had further analysis of my raw data at YFull, and FullGenome Corp.  In other words, it has had a lot of investigation!

Y Haplogroup L (M20)

This is regarded as rare in Europe, and generally thought of a minority haplogroup spread across Western, Central, and Southern Asia.  Going further downstream, I currently reach:

Y Haplotype L1b2c (L-SK1414)

This is regarded as a very rare sub clade, of a rare haplogroup!  The FT-DNA Y Haplogroup L Project, currently contains only five SNP confirmed L-SK1414, and thirteen STR predicted L-SK1414.  I know of one other SNP confirmed sample, and a few more STR predicted.  The confirmed (including myself) are from: Southern England (English), Lebanon (Druze), Turkey, USA (German) and Makran, SW Pakistan (Baluchi).  The STR predicted are from Southern England, France, Russia, Kuwait, UAE, Eastern Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

I currently regard the origin of Y hg L1b2c as most likely to be in the region of Iran and Iraq.  I believe that I most likely had a single Y ancestor, that travelled from Asia to Southern England sometime between 2,000 years ago, and 500 years ago.  A "medieval" Asian traveller".  No autosomal DNA tests have so far yielded any evidence of any Asian ancestry above that expected for an English person.  Therefore, any auDNA evidence has likely been washed out by genetic recombination.

My earliest documented surname ancestor on record is my 6xgreat grandfather, John Brooker of Long Wittenham, Berkshire, born circa 1725.  Some of the STR predicted L-SK1414 descend from a Thomas Chandler, that lived about the same time (early-mid C18 AD) at Basingstoke, which is only 32 miles from Long Wittenham.  Most likely, John Brooker and Thomas Chandler shared a common Y ancestor.

Red are L-SK1414. 

FT-DNA currently see my known haplotype as L-FGC51036 (downstream of SK1414).  YFull currently list my haplotype as L-FGC51074 (SK1414).

My mt-DNA Haplogroup

This is the mitochondrial DNA haplogroup that you inherit on your direct maternal line, from your mother, from her mother, and back in time.  I have tested my mtDNA at 23andMe, then FT-DNA mtFull Sequence. My 23andMe raw data was also correctly predicted by the James Lick mthap analyser website and by WeGene.  In other words, it has also had a lot of correlation and investigation!

MT Haplogroup H (Helen)

This is the most common mtDNA haplogroup in Europe, but it is also common in Asia, where it is believed to have originated.  Possibly originating in Arabia, before moving up to Central Asia.  Further downstream?

MT Haplogroup Branch H6a1a8

H6a1, based on studies of ancient DNA to date, most likely originated on the Pontic and Caspian Steppes of Asia. It has been found in the ancient DNA of human remains, from the Copper Age Steppe pastoralist Yamnaya Culture.  H6a1 and H6a1a have both been found in the ancient DNA of human remains, from the Early Bronze Age East European Corded Ware Culture.  No H6a1 or descendant branches have yet been recovered from earlier contexts in Europe.

Therefore it would appear that my mtDNA was carried into Europe from the Eurasian Steppes during the Early Bronze Age, as a part of the great Yamna expansion of that time.  Most haplogroups associated with this expansion have been male Y haplogroups, which makes H6a1 of particular interest, because it was carried into Europe by Steppe women.

I haven't found enough current data on branch H6a1a8 to determine when or how it entered Lowland Britain, but it most likely formed during the Bronze or Iron Age, and so far, I've mainly seen North American and Austrasian H6a1a8 testers that feel that they most likely have British or Irish maternal ancestry.

I trace my direct maternal (mtDNA) line to my 6xgreat grandmother, Sarah Hardyman (nee Briting), who lived nearby at Bunwell, Norfolk, and was born circa 1725.

Above image by User:Dbachmann [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, enough of my haplogroups, let's return to more auDNA evidence, and then look at Ancient Origins.

Other Third Party auDNA for ancestry analysis services

GedMatch.com. Eurogenes K13 (using my 23andMe data)

On Single Population Sharing, it rates my DNA against the closest references.  In order of closest to not so close, the top five are:

1 South_Dutch 3.89
2 Southeast_English 4.35
3 West_German 5.22
4 Southwest_English 6.24
5 Orcadian 6.97

On four populations admixing?

1 Southeast_English + Southeast_English + Spanish_Valencia + Swedish @ 2.087456
2 Southeast_English + Southeast_English + Spanish_Murcia + Swedish @ 2.147237
3 Norwegian + Portuguese + Southeast_English + Southeast_English @ 2.216714
4 Danish + Portuguese + Southeast_English + Southeast_English @ 2.225334
5 Portuguese + Southeast_English + Southeast_English + Swedish @ 2.230991

Alternatively, running my FT-DNA Family Finder auDNA file through Eurogenes K13 gives me:

1 Southeast_English @ 4.276322
2 South_Dutch @ 4.559027
3 West_German @ 6.230592
4 Southwest_English @ 6.575822
5 Orcadian @ 7.239489

and on four populations admixing:

1 Southeast_English + Southeast_English + Spanish_Valencia + Swedish @ 1.864642
2 Southeast_English + Southeast_English + Spanish_Castilla_Y_Leon + Swedish @ 1.919987
3 Portuguese + Southeast_English + Southeast_English + Swedish @ 1.928191
4 Southeast_English + Southeast_English + Spanish_Murcia + Swedish @ 1.955522
5 Norwegian + Portuguese + Southeast_English + Southeast_English @ 1.958800

Gedmatch.com. Eurogenes EU Test K15 (using my 23andMe data)


Using Oracle for single population first, the top five closest:

1 Southwest_English 2.7
2 South_Dutch 3.98
3 Southeast_English 4.33
4 Irish 6.23
5 West_German 6.25

1 Southwest_English + Southwest_English + Spanish_Castilla_Y_Leon + West_Norwegian @ 1.080952
2 Irish + North_Dutch + Southwest_English + Spanish_Galicia @ 1.111268
3 North_Dutch + Southwest_English + Spanish_Galicia + West_Scottish @ 1.282744
4 Southeast_English + Southwest_English + Spanish_Castilla_Y_Leon + West_Norwegian @ 1.295819
5 North_Dutch + North_Dutch + Southwest_English + Spanish_Castilla_Y_Leon @ 1.304939

Gedmatch.com. MDLP K16 Modern (FT-DNA File)

1 German 2.2
2 French 3.99
3 French 4.11
4 French 4.23
5 French 4.27
6 Scottish 4.68
7 Scottish 4.87
8 Scottish 4.88
9 Welsh 4.97
10 English 5.18

1   86.6% German + 13.4% Scottish @ 1.81
2   87.5% German + 12.5% Orcadian @ 1.87
3   81.1% German + 18.9% Irish @ 1.88
4   84.5% German + 15.5% English @ 1.94
5   90.3% German + 9.7% Norwegian @ 1.98

DNA.land (3rd party auDNA raw file analysis)

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

WeGene

  1. 99.96% French
  2. 0.04% Others

My 2xgreat grandfather, Samuel "Fiddler" Curtis.  Born at Hassingham, Norfolk in 1852.

My 2xgreat grandmother Sarah Thacker (nee Daynes), born at Besthorpe, Norfolk in 1845.

Image: Four generations of a Norfolk family.  The baby is my aunt, holding her, grandmother Ivy, behind her, my great grandfather Sam Tammas-Tovell, the elderly lady, my 2xgreat grandmother Eliza Tammas-Tovell (nee Lawn) born at Tunstall, Norfolk in 1849.

My late grandfather "Krewjer" Curtis, holding my young mother.  On crutches behind them, my great grandmother Flo' Curtis (nee Key) born at Freethorpe, Norfolk in 1885.

Ancient Origins (auDNA calculators)

Neanderthal Ancestry

23andMe V4 chip

Neanderthal ancestry 2.9% DNA (82nd percentile)  23andMe average European tester is 2.7%

WeGene analysis of above 23andMe raw data

3.325% Neanderthal proportion of more than 81.94% of the users WeGene (Chinese based DNA service).

Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Hunter-Gatherer ancestry

My Y line as we have seen, was most likely in the area of modern day Iran or Iraq, perhaps in the Euphrates and Tigris valleys, or perhaps in the Zagros Mountains, hunting animals such as the Ibex.  My mt-DNA line was most likely in a hunter-gatherer band somewhere in Asia.  Perhaps Central Asia.  What about my other Ice Age ancestors?

David Wesolowski's K7 Basal-rich test

Villabruna-related

The Villabruna cluster represents the DNA found in 13 individuals in Europe from after 14,000 years ago.  They were Late Ice Age hunter-gatherers.  They appear to have links with the Near East.  The current thought is that they replaced earlier groups of hunter-gatherers in Europe.  The DNA of people in the Middle East and Europe pulled together at this time, and they may represent an expansion from the South-East.  Much of the Aegean Sea would have been dry, with low sea levels (glaciation), so the migration may have been easy.  It is believed that they had dark skin, and blue eyes.  They were possibly, the last hunter-gatherers of Europe and the Middle East.  They may have contributed to our DNA both through or either, later Asian or European admixtures.

David gives the English average as 56.7%.  My result is 57.1%

Basal-rich

The Basal Eurasians are a hypothetical "ghost" population derived from DNA studies.  It is suggested that they splintered from other modern humans 45,000 years ago, presumably outside of Africa, somewhere around the Middle East.  They significantly contributed DNA to the Early Neolithic Farmers of the Fertile Crescent and Anatolia, and consequently, on to all of us modern West Eurasians.  

 David gives the English average as 26.5%.  My result is 28.8%

Ancient North Eurasian

Another Ice Age hunter-gatherer "Ghost" population, but this one has been associated with human remains and an Upper Palaeolithic culture (Mal'ta-Buret') at Lake Baikal, Siberia.  We know that it significantly contributes to modern West Eurasians, through earlier admixture on the Eurasian Steppes.  Copper Age pastoralists then carried it westwards into Europe with their later expansion.

David gives the English average as 16.6%.  My result is 14.0%

Neolithic and Bronze Age mix ancestry

My Y line at this time as we have seen, may well been Early Neolithic Farmers in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia.  My mtDNA line would have most likely have been women of the Yamnaya culture on the Eurasian Steppes, in Copper Age pastoralist tribes.

Global 10 Test

The recent Global 10 test, run by my friend Helgenes50 of the Anthrogenica board, resulted in:

  • 55% Baalberge_MN (European Middle Neolithic)
  • 38% Yamna_Samara (Eurasian Steppe Pastoralist)
  • 7% Loschbour:Loschbour (Late Eurasian hunter-gatherer)

That is 55% European Neolithic Farmer, 38% Yamnaya Steppe Pastoralist, and 7% European hunter-gatherer.

Alternatively, the FT-DNA test, although many in the population genetics community feel that it is unreliable:

FT-DNA My Ancient Origins

  • 9% Metal Age Invader
  • 47% Farmer
  • 44% Hunter-Gatherer
  • 0% Non European

GEDMatch Ancient Calculators

My MDLP K16 Modern Admixture
  • 31% Neolithic (modeled on genomes of first neolithic farmers of Anatolia)
  • 25% Northeast European (ancestry in North-Eastern Europe based on older type of ancestry (WHG, west European Hunter-Gatherer)
  • 22% Steppe (sourced from ancient genome of European Bronze Age pastoralists)
  • 22% Caucasian (derived from genomes of mesolithic Caucasian Hunter-gatherers)

My Eurasia K9 ASI Oracle:

  • 39% Western Hunter-Gatherer
  • 27% Early Neolithic Farmer
  • 15% Eastern Hunter-Gatherer
  • 12% Caucasus Hunter-Gatherer
  • 7% SW Asian
  • 1% Siberian East Asian

My MDLP Modern K11 Oracle:

Admix Results (sorted):


# Population Percent
1 Neolithic 37.33
2 WHG 33.26
3 EHG 23.19
4 Iran-Mesolithic 3.25
5 Basal 2.66

Least-squares method.

Using 1 population approximation:
1 British_Celtic @ 6.948432
2 Bell_Beaker_Germany @ 8.143357
3 Alberstedt_LN @ 8.426399
4 British_IronAge @ 9.027687
5 Halberstadt_LBA @ 10.273615
6 Bell_Beaker_Czech @ 12.190828
7 Hungary_BA @ 12.297826
8 Nordic_MN_B @ 12.959966
9 British_AngloSaxon @ 12.993559
10 Nordic_BA @ 13.170285

Using 4 populations approximation:
1 Bell_Beaker_Germany + Bell_Beaker_Germany + Corded_Ware_Germany + Hungary_CA @ 1.085814
2 BenzigerodeHeimburg_LN + BenzigerodeHeimburg_LN + Corded_Ware_Estonia + Hungary_CA @ 1.089547
3 Alberstedt_LN + Bell_Beaker_Germany + Corded_Ware_Germany + Hungary_CA @ 1.117882
4 Bell_Beaker_Germany + BenzigerodeHeimburg_LN + Hungary_CA + Srubnaya_LBA @ 1.149613
5 Bell_Beaker_Germany + British_IronAge + Hungary_CA + Karsdorf_LN @ 1.185312
6 Alberstedt_LN + BenzigerodeHeimburg_LN + Hungary_CA + Sintashta_MBA @ 1.226794
7 Nordic_BattleAxe + Hungary_BA + Hungary_CA + Karsdorf_LN @ 1.234930
8 Nordic_BattleAxe + BenzigerodeHeimburg_LN + Hungary_CA + Unetice_EBA @ 1.238376
9 Alberstedt_LN + Hungary_BA + Hungary_CA + Yamnaya_Samara_EBA @ 1.247371
10 Bell_Beaker_Germany + Hungary_CA + Nordic_LN + Srubnaya_LBA @ 1.268124

My Gedrosia K15 Oracle:

  • 40% Western Hunter-Gatherer
  • 25% Early European Farmer
  • 21% Caucasus
  • 5% Burusho
  • 5% SW Asian
  • 3% Balochi
  • 1% Siberian

Ancient Eurasia K6 Oracle:

  • 40% West European Hunter-Gatherer
  • 39% Natufian
  • 21% Ancient North Eurasian
  • 1% East Asian

Finally, Generation 1.  In an Orcadian Cairn, 2016.  Thank you for taking an interest.

Some recent Documentary Genealogy Posts

My Family and Abraham Lincoln (Swanton Morley, Norfolk)

The Thackers of Norfolk

My transported great great great grandfather

Maxey - near Peterborough

Long Wittenham - the ancestral home of our Brooker line

On the trail of the Brookers of Oxfordshire

Our missing great grandfather

Two fathers and more online genealogy

Bunwell, Norfolk, ancestral parish

Breaking through - my Brooker Line

My 2xgreat grandmother Emily Smith (nee Barber), with her son Sid Smith in Norwich.  Emily was born 1859 at Hedenham, Norfolk.

What did my 3 x great grandfathers do for a living?

3 x great grandfather 1.  John Brooker.  Shepherd, and an agricultural labourer.  Born 1820 at Rotherfield Peppard, Oxfordshire, lived later in life in the surrounding villages of Harpsden and Shiplake. Married Mary Ann in 1845, they had ten children.  He died in 1912.

3 x great grandfather 2.  Henry Shawers.  Harrow Weaver.  Born about 1826, the son of a copper smith, I have still not found their origins. He lived in the East End of London.   He married Elizabeth at Bethnal Green, London in 1857, and they had at least two children, while they were living at Haggerston, London.

3 x great grandfather 3.  William _____.  Miller.  Born 1815 at the village of Saham Toney in Norfolk.  He was named as the father of my illegitimate born great great grandfather.  At the time, William was a journeyman miller, and he had been married to another woman less than a year.

3 x great grandfather 4.  William _____.  Shoemaker.  Born 1820 at East Dereham, Norfolk.  He was named as the father of my illegitimate born great great grandmother.  She recorded him as her father on her marriage registry entry.

3 x great grandfather 5.  Robert Smith.  Umbrella maker.  Born 1807 at Attleborough, Norfolk.  He lived as far as I can tell, all of his life in Attleborough.  He married Lydia there in 1827.  They had six children, until her death in 1844.  Robert then married Frances.

3 x great grandfather 6.  David Peach.  Shepherd and a drover.  Born 1807 at Maxey, Cambridgeshire.  Maybe as a drover, he met my 3xgreat grandmother, Sarah, from Norfolk.  He took her back to the Etton area.  They married at Holywell, Lincolnshire, in 1835.  They had one daughter, my ancestor.  However, shortly after, David was convicted at Lincoln Assizes of stealing two steers.  He was transported as a convict for life to Van Diemens Land (Tasmania).

3 x great grandfather 7.  Robert Barber.  Agricultural labourer.  Lived at St Michael, South Elmham, Suffolk.

3 x great grandfather 8.  James Ellis.  Agricultural labourer.  Born (1812) and lived at Hempnall, Norfolk.  Married Esther.  They had nine children.

3 x great grandfather 9.  William Curtis.  Agricultural labourer.  Born at Strumpshaw, Norfolk  in 1830.  Married Georgianna in 1852 at Hassingham.  They had nine children.  William died in 1926.

3 x great grandfather 10.  Robert Rose.  Agricultural labourer.  Born 1829 at Lingwood, Norfolk.  He married Sarah Ann at Limpenhoe in 1853.  They had eight children.  Robert died in 1908.

3 x great grandfather 11.  William Key.  Agricultural labourer.  Born 1804 surprisingly, in the City of Norwich, Norfolk.  I suspect that the family were not there for long.  He married Mary in 1823 at Freethorpe, Norfolk.  They had five children.  William died in 1869.

3 x great grandfather 12.  Richard Goffen.  Inn Keeper and Master Carpenter.  Born 1795 at Reedham, Norfolk, where he appears to have lived out his life.  Down by the river, he may have been one of the carpenters working on the wherry vessels.  When he married my ancestor Elizabeth at Reedham, Norfolk in 1843, he was already a widower and 26 years her senior!  However, Elizabeth gave him seven children.  Richard died a happy man in 1866.

3 x great grandfather 13.  James Tovell.  Agricultural labourer and farm bailiff.  Born 1815 at Geldeston, Norfolk.  He married Mary at Chedgrave, Norfolk in 1841.  They lived around the Loddon, Norfolk area for a while, before crossing the river Yare, and settling at Halvergate, Norfolk, by the marshes.  Mary gave him seven children, including two before marriage.  James died at Halvergate in 1900.

3 x great grandfather 14.  William Lawn.  Agricultural labourer.  Born 1804 at Halvergate, Norfolk.  He married Elizabeth in 1831 at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.  She gave him five children.  William passed away in 1885.

3 x great grandfather 15.  The missing one.  My only unrecorded 3 x great grandparent.  The unrecorded biological father of my illegitimate born ancestor at Rackheath, Norfolk.  The mother was Sarah Thacker, who was born at Salhouse, Norfolk, in 1823.

3 x great grandfather 16.  Reuben Daynes.  Agricultural labourer.  Born 1822 at Brandon Parva, Norfolk.  He moved to Besthorpe, Norfolk, and married Sarah in 1848.  She gave him six children.  Reuben died in 1908.

Autosomal DNA Tests for Genealogy

First a disclaimer.  I'm very new to the whole world of genetic genealogy.  I'm not new however, to traditional genealogy, and I do have a pretty good amateur understanding of relative archaeological and anthropological discussions over the past fifty years.  The following is not meant as a critique of genetic genealogy, so much as a review, or my experience, of ancestry composition based on autosomal DNA analysis.

Let's start with my paper trail.

Traditional Genealogy

I am English by ethnicity, British by nationality, and a subject of Queen Elizabeth II (often now referred to as a UK Citizen).

My paper recorded ancestry consists of the genealogical records of:

  • Generation 1 has 1 individual. (100.00%)
  • Generation 2 has 2 individuals. (100.00%)
  • Generation 3 has 4 individuals. (100.00%)
  • Generation 4 has 8 individuals. (100.00%)
  • Generation 5 has 16 individuals. (100.00%)
  • Generation 6 has 29 individuals. (90.62%)
  • Generation 7 has 49 individuals. (76.56%)
  • Generation 8 has 35 individuals. (27.34%)
  • Generation 9 has 24 individuals. (10.16%)
  • Generation 10 has 10 individuals. (2.34%)
  • Generation 11 has 4 individuals. (0.39%)
  • Total ancestors in generations 2 to 11 is 181. (9.04%)

All 181 ancestors, reaching back to the 1690's, appear to be English born, of English ethnicity, with English surnames.  The majority of them (100% on my mother's side, and 81% on my father's side) were East Anglian, with the vast majority of that percentage being born in the county of Norfolk.  Religions recorded or indicated were CofE Anglican or non-conformist Christian.  No sign of any Catholicism, Islam, or Judaism.

Therefore it would look pretty likely, that I can claim English heritage, wouldn't you agree?

Genetic Genealogy and Ancestry Prediction

There are three aspects or avenues of inquiry, available for genetic genealogy.  First of all, the two sex haplogroups; the y-DNA, and the mt-DNA. These two "signals" are referred to as haplogroups.

  1. The y-DNA.  This follows the Y chromosome.  It is only carried by men.  It is passed along the paternal line, and only by that line, from grandfather, down to father, down to son, until the line is broken.  What a lot of people do often misunderstand, is that it does not represent 50% of your ancestry.  It does not represent all of your biological father's ancestry.  For example, his mother's father, and her brothers, although on your father's side, would most likely carry a different y-DNA haplogroup.  It only comes down an uninterrupted strictly paternal line.  Even at Generation 7 (g.g.g.g grandparents) above, it would have been carried by one out of my sixty four biological ancestors at that generation.  The other thirty one g.g.g.g grandfathers for that generation may have carried different Y haplogroups.
  2. The mt-DNA.  Although a very different type of DNA, this one works as the opposite sex haplogroup.  It is a signal that is passed down the strictly maternal line, from grandmother, to mother, to her children.  Yes, we men do inherit our mother's mt_DNA, but we can't pass it down.  Only our sisters can.
  3. The au-DNA, better known as Autosomal DNA.  Whereas the former two sex haplogroups are handy, because we can measure their mutations, and track their formation and movement across thousands of years, au-DNA really is the stuff that we are made of - all of the SNPs on our chromosomes that personalise us within the human genome.  We inherit our au-DNA from all of our recent ancestors.  Roughly 50% from our biological mother, and 50% from our biological father.  Equally, we could say on average, 25% from each grandparent, or 12.5% from each great grandparent.  However, it is messy.  At every reproduction (meiosis), it gets messed up by recombination.  Not only that, but go back much more than six generations, and it becomes more and more likely that you can lose entire lineages.  You can have no surviving trace of any DNA from for example, a particular g.g.g.g.g grandparent.

Autosomal DNA is what makes us individuals, gives us our hereditary traits.  It is passed down from many ancestors, via our parents.  However, the sex haplogroups are of interest because they can be traced across the globe, and the millennia.  As we gain more and more data - both from living populations, and ancient DNA from archaeological finds, so we will be able to track the STR and SNP mutation data more precisely.

However, what about poor old messed up autosomal DNA?  It represents our entire biological heritage over many generations. It is what we are. However, making sense of it is less easy, less precise.  Genetic genealogists are making progress, but it is far less of a precise science than either of the haplogroups.  They use calculators, that measure the segments of DNA cross the chromosomes, looking for patterns that they recognise from a number of known reference populations.  From that, these calculators predict an ancestry.  Exactly what and when that ancestry refers to, does seem to vary from one calculator to another.  There is an argument that the precision can be improved if you also test close known relatives including at least one parent.  The results can then be phased.  I'm actually waiting for the results for my mother, so that I can see my own au-DNA ancestry results phased and corrected.

So lets have a bit of fun, and see what some of the calculators suggest for my autosomal DNA, at least before any phasing with my mother's DNA.  What do they make of my 100% English paper ancestry?

23andMe.com Ancestry Composition Standard Mode

99.9% European.

Broken into:

83% NW European

17% Broadly (unassigned) European

I think that's pretty cool.  As I'm getting to know au-DNA predictions, so as I'm learning to appreciate it when they get the right continent, and the right corner of that continent.  That is more than they could do a decade or two ago.  The prediction is correct, I am a NW European.  I'm not a West African, a South Asian, or a East Siberian.

23andMe.com Ancestry Composition Speculative Mode

100% European

Broken into:

94% NW European

3% S European

3% Broadly (unassigned) European.

Whoa, where did that South European come from?  It could just be a stray incorrectly identified signal, or it could be telling me that one of my ancestors, maybe around Generation 6, were from down south!  Lets break down the prediction further.  First, the NW European:

32% British & Irish

27% French & German

7% Scandinavian

But surely I should be 100% British & Irish?  Not only 32%.  I have my own ideas about this.  I think that although 23andMe claims that Ancestry Composition only represents the ancestry of the past 300 to 500 years (the so-called migration period, as sold to USA customers), that it gets confused by earlier migrations across their reference populations, including those during the early medieval period, and perhaps even some of those during late prehistory.  I've noticed that across Ireland and Britain, the further to the east, the more diluted the 23andMe British & Irish assignment.  People of solid Irish ancestry get between 85% and 98% British & Irish.  My East Anglian results, mixed between British & Irish, French & German, and Scandinavian, are actually rather more like those received by Dutch customers of 23andMe.

As for that Southern European prediction, how does that break down?

0.5% Iberian

2.4% Broadly (unassigned) South European.

Which if taken seriously, might suggest that I have an unknown Spanish or Portuguese ancestor around Generation 6.  If I did take it seriously that is.  I wonder what my mother's test will reveal?

DNA.Land.com Ancestry Composition

This is a third party site, that you can upload your 23andMe V4 raw data to, and see what their calculators predict for your ancestry.  It has recently had it's ancestry composition revised.  What did that make of my 100% English au-DNA?

West Eurasian 100%.

I like that designation, the amateur anthropologist in me prefers that broad designation over "European".  Broken down:

77% North/Central European

19% South European

2.4% Finnish

1.3% unassigned.

What?  Why not 100% North/Central European?  Finnish?  Did some early medieval Scandinavian settlers of East Anglia bring it?  Or is it a false signal?  Misidentified au-DNA?

That darned South European kicked in again.  I'm here looking at a biological cuckoo NPE (non-parental event) at around Generation 5 or even more recent!  Did a great grandmother secretly have a South European lover?  But this South European breaks down further:

13% Balkan

6% Italian.

Oh my goodness, whereas 23andMe speculative mode suggested SW Europe - this one suggests SE Europe!  Do I have a secret Albanian great grandfather?  Or is it all nonsense?

WeGene.com

This is a cracking new third party DNA analyser.  It is based in China, and it's predictors appear to calculate mainly for a Chinese market.  It not only predicts your ancestry composition, but also your two sex haplogroups, and lots of traits and health predictions to compliment those of 23andMe.  It even tries to predict your genetic disposition to sexuality!

It will allow you to send your 23andMe V4 raw data direct to it's own calculators.  However, at the moment the website is almost entirely in Chinese (Mandarin?).  There are two options.  1) At the bottom of the webpages is a hyperlink to English, which gives, in English, a basic ancestry composition, and your haplogroups.  It does not include English versions of the health and trait results.  2) use an online translator, such as the one built into the Google Chrome browser.  It actually serves pretty well.

On sex haplogroups they give my Y-DNA as

L1.  Not bad, but they didn't make it to L1b or L-M317.

My mtDNA?

H6a1a8.  Very good.  Better than 23andMe's H6a1, and the same as the mthap program.

But this is about au-DNA, how did they do, what did they make of my 100% English ancestry?

81% French

19% English/Briton

Now, that sounds pretty awful, but on closer inspection, I'm impressed.  No South European great grandfather.  Okay, so most of my DNA has been placed on the wrong side of the Channel.  However, I know that French and English DNA is actually very close.  Recent surveys even suggest that the English have inherited a lot of common ancestry with the French during unknown migration late in prehistory.  So again - they very much got the right corner of the right Continent.  Well done WeGene.

GEDmatch.com Eurogenes K13

GEDmatch is a website that you can upload raw data not only from 23andMe, but from a range of testers, and from V3 chips as well as V4.  It hosts a number of tools and predictors - some Open Source.  Some of these predictors are for Admixture or ancestry composition.  They measure your ancestry in terms of distance from known reference populations.  The lower the number, the closer you are to their reference.  They use calculators known as oracles to predict ancestry, including mixed ancestry or admixture.

The oracles on the Eurogenes K13 and K15 calculator models have a good reputation at working with West Eurasian ancestry.  So how does K13 first, score my 100% English ancestry?

On Single Population Sharing, it rates my DNA against the closest references.  In order of closest to not so close, the top five are:

1 South_Dutch 3.89
2 Southeast_English 4.35
3 West_German 5.22
4 Southwest_English 6.24
5 Orcadian 6.97

I think that's a cracking result.  Okay, it thinks that I'm closer to South Dutch, than I am to SE English, but so close - and my East Anglian ancestry most likely does include a lot of admixture from the Low Countries from the early medieval period.  I really like Eurogenes K13.

Okay, let's now use the Oracle 4 option, to suggest admixture.  First on three populations admixing to create my DNA, what comes closest?

50% Southeast_English +25% Spanish_Valencia +25% Swedish @ 2.087456

Well that's interesting!  The SE English hit the net.  The Swedish?  Could be ancient Scandinavian admixture - but the Iberian prediction has reemerged!

On four populations admixing?

1 Southeast_English + Southeast_English + Spanish_Valencia + Swedish @ 2.087456
2 Southeast_English + Southeast_English + Spanish_Murcia + Swedish @ 2.147237
3 Norwegian + Portuguese + Southeast_English + Southeast_English @ 2.216714
4 Danish + Portuguese + Southeast_English + Southeast_English @ 2.225334
5 Portuguese + Southeast_English + Southeast_English + Swedish @ 2.230991

Oh my goodness.  K13 agrees with 23andMe AC, that I have an Iberian link.  I'm now really starting to wonder.

Let's finish off by trying K15 on my 100% English ancestry:

GEDmatch.com Eurogenes EU test V2 K15


Using Oracle for single population first, the top five closest:

1 Southwest_English 2.7
2 South_Dutch 3.98
3 Southeast_English 4.33
4 Irish 6.23
5 West_German 6.25

Okay, I'm SE English, not SW English, but pretty impressive again.

Using the oracle 4 for three population admixture, what mix comes closest to my auDNA?

50% Southwest_English +25% Spanish_Castilla_Y_Leon +25% West_Norwegian @ 1.080952

That Iberian back again!

Top five mix ups of populations closest to me?

1 Southwest_English + Southwest_English + Spanish_Castilla_Y_Leon + West_Norwegian @ 1.080952
2 Irish + North_Dutch + Southwest_English + Spanish_Galicia @ 1.111268
3 North_Dutch + Southwest_English + Spanish_Galicia + West_Scottish @ 1.282744
4 Southeast_English + Southwest_English + Spanish_Castilla_Y_Leon + West_Norwegian @ 1.295819
5 North_Dutch + North_Dutch + Southwest_English + Spanish_Castilla_Y_Leon @ 1.304939

I can't help preferring the K13 results to the EU test V2 K15 - simply because it recognises me better as SE English, rather than to their SW English reference.

Conclusions

If anyone ever bothers reading this far too lengthy post, I hope that I have imparted the following lessons:

  • Don't expect DNA Ancestry tests to pin point an actual country of ancestry.  They're not no where near that good yet.  The populations of West Eurasia, and elsewhere, are actually all mixed up, or share a lot of recent admixture.  In addition, many European nation-states are quite recent inventions.  I've seen the borders of Europe change in my short lifetime.
  • Don't expect precision.  If for example, you are an American, and a 23andMe AC test suggests only 32% British & Irish, then you could actually have 100% English ancestry over the past 300 years!  We're so mixed up, that these tests are struggling to part and identify us by nationality.
  • If you are willing to share your raw data (there are privacy issues), then have fun trying out all of these third party calculators.  It's a lot of fun as you can see.  They rarely agree.  There are other tools on GEDmatch for example, where you can compare DNA along with .gedcom genealogical files with other users - and look for shared segments on the chromosomes.  You can also compare your DNA to that of ancient populations.
  • Treat au-DNA differently to haplogroup results.  au-DNA is very interesting, and represents so much of our ancestry, if we could just sort some of the mess out.  You can partially do this by phasing your results with those of close relatives.  It is worthwhile phasing with at least one biological parent, if you can.  However, haplogroup results, provide by their mutations incredible stories over much longer periods - thousands of years.  A different kind of genealogy.  As we gather more data, and reference it also to ancient-DNA, so it will tell us more and more about two lines of descent.  Perhaps even into historical times.

The Three Ages of Genealogy

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

1. The Past - Record Office Genealogy.

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

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

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

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

2. The Present - Internet Genealogy

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

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

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

3.  The Future - Genetic Genealogy

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

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

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