Norfolk Surnames in the Sixteenth Century

I spent too much money today on reading materials.  I was delighted to find a used copy of The Norfolk Broads A landscape history by Tom Williamson 1997 (Manchester University Press).  I had a copy of this excellent landscape history when it was published, but unfortunately lent it out, and never saw it again.  A brilliant book for tying my mother's East Norfolk ancestors to their ancestral landscape.

The April 2017 edition of Current Archaeology magazine has an interesting article on an excavation of an Iron Age site in Fenland, and is celebrating their 50th anniversary of publication.

The real treasure of today's book shop excavation however, was an old booklet published in 1969 by Leicester University Press in their Department of English Local History Occasional Papers.  It is entitled Norfolk Surnames in the Sixteenth Century by R.A McKinley.  Flicking through it's pages on the way home, sitting on the bus, I was well, almost mind blown - as some of the conclusions knocked down some of my preconceptions of my Norfolk ancestry and heritage.  An old, yellowing booklet that I've never heard of, found on a shelf in a second hand book shop in Norwich.

The book draws on surnames recorded in the County of Norfolk, during the 16th Century AD.  It uses as it's sources several returns, and rolls particularly a military survey, and subsidy roll from between 1522 and 1525.  I want to share at least some of the key points from two chapters of "Norfolk Surnames in the Sixteenth Century": 1) Surnames derived from localities in Norfolk, and 2) Locative surnames originating outside Norfolk.

1) Surnames derived from localities in Norfolk

  • The chapter begins by discussing the problems of using locative surnames in a study.
  • "The two main sources used for this study list 739 persons bearing locative surnames derived from places within Norfolk.  Of these, only 23 were living at the places from which their names were derived.".
  • A table then shows the distances of the persons (still within the County of Norfolk) with these locative surnames from origin.  23 were still at the place of origin, 81 were still within 5 miles of it, 123 were within 6 - 10 miles away, 239 were 11 - 20 miles away, 151 were 21 - 30 miles away, and 122 lived over 30 miles from the locative place of origin.  However, these are the locative surnames that still remain in Norfolk, that appear to have an origin within the County.  Many more would have crossed county boundaries into Suffolk, Lincolnshire, etc.
  • "It seems probable from this evidence, however, that most Norfolk families must have changed their place of residence at least between the period when surnames became hereditary, and the early sixteenth century.".
  • There was no pattern to suggest a large migration from any one part of the County, to another.

2) Locative surnames originating outside Norfolk

  • "In the two main sources, there are 1,260 persons bearing surnames which can be derived with fair certainty from places in England, but outside Norfolk".
  • The author then discusses possible biases, for example, some parts of England appear to have generated more locative surnames than others.  It also suggests that about a third of all English surnames are locative, and proposes a rough approximation, that this could "be about 2,500 persons of outside origin amongst the total of about 18,000 listed in the two main sources, or rather more than 13 per cent".  This suggests quite a few people had been moving from other parts of England, into Norfolk between the 13th and 15th centuries AD.
  • Where were they from?  The two main contributors were the neighbouring counties of Suffolk and Lincolnshire. Some had simply moved from close to the Norfolk county boundary.   
  • Cambridgeshire, another neighbouring county, for some reason contributed far fewer.  The East Midlands was also, surprisingly, not a major contributor of locative surnames in 16th Century Norfolk.  There were no locative surnames from Wales.
  • Here is another surprise, Yorkshire turned our to be a common origin - equally spread through the three ridings.  Each riding of Yorkshire had contributed about 40 persons in Norfolk with locative surnames.  The author does point out that Yorkshire is a big county, and is particularly rich in locative surnames, however: "it is evident that there must have been considerable movement from Yorkshire to Norfolk.  Yorkshire surnames are distributed throughout Norfolk in the early sixteenth century.  They are not particularly concentrated in ports or coastal areas, and indeed, are as widespread in central Norfolk, well away from the sea, as in other parts of the county.".
  • There was also a notable contribution of locative surnames from NW England - Lancashire, Cumbria, and Westmorland.
  • The distribution of these surnames was by no means urban based.  Yamouth and Norwich had lower concentrations than the average.  These migrations look more rural.
  • There were very few surnames of any origin type that could be safely regarded as Welsh.
  • There were very few surnames of any origin type that could be safely regarded as Scottish.
  • The author then moves on to records of other foreign born aliens.  I am aware of the influx of Dutch and Flemish religious refugees, into the City of Norwich during the early 16th Century, however, here I learn something new.
  • "there was certainly a considerable migration of aliens into Norfolk, and foreign immigrants came to reside in many Norfolk villages, not merely in a few ports or large towns.  In 1436, for example, when many aliens took oaths of allegiance, 146 persons who took oath are noted as living in Norfolk.  This was not the whole number of aliens in Norfolk...".  A list in 1440 for example, lists 192 aliens residing in Norfolk at 62 different places.  The author feels that those 15th Century records understate the real percentage of immigrants living in Norfolk at that time.
  • The Continental immigrants did not bring in many new surnames.  Many had no surname listed, or had adopted local surnames.  For example, immigrants listed at Norwich in 1440, included persons by the surnames Rider, Johnson, Forest, Skynner, Couper, Bush, Goldsmyth, and Glasier.  Some surnames marking their nationality did survive in 16th Century Norfolk, such as French, Ducheman, Briton / Brett (Breton) etc.

Brancaster, a North Norfolk village.

In summary, what this book has taught me today:

  1. Many families, despite our ideas of the dying fuedal system, were moving around East Anglia, and even England between the 13th and 16th centuries.
  2. There were relatively few people in 16th century Norfolk, with origins in Scotland, or Wales, and perhaps few from the nearby East Midlands or Cambridgeshire.  However, there was migration down from Northern England, particularly from Yorkshire, but even from NW England.
  3. There were also migrations, from the nearby Continent, and these migrations (and the above Northern English) migrations were not strictly urban.  They reached many villages.

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.

What did I learn about my genetics in 2016?

  1. I learned that there was no genocide of the British by the Anglo-Saxons.  Instead, POBI (Peopling of the British Isles), and a survey based on remains in the Cambridge area, suggested that only around 25% to 45% of the Early Medieval admixture of present day ethnic English was Anglo-Saxon.  The majority was earlier British.  It appears that there was a significant immigration event of Anglo-Saxons, but they admixed with the British, they didn't displace them.
  2. I discovered many more recorded ancestors of my mother, through her great grandmother Sarah Thacker (nee Daynes), in South and Mid Norfolk.
  3. I discovered more recorded ancestors of my father, through his maternal grandmother Emily Smith (nee Barber) in South Norfolk, and over in Suffolk.
  4. I have been mapping my ancestral events across East Anglia, and South-East England.
  5. I rebuilt my gedcom file using the open source Gramps software application.
  6. I extended my father's family tree in the Swanton Morley and East Dereham area of Mid Norfolk
  7. I further researched the life, career, and military service of my paternal great grandfather.  His Royal Field Artillery service number was 32392.
  8. I  received my first ever DNA for ancestry test results from 23andMe.  I started to understand how autosomal DNA tests for Ancestry do not work as they are intended, on populations such as the English.  I've since greatly explored how my, and other English, are seen by current DNA for Ancestry.  I discovered how these tests mistake background population admixture, for more recent family admixture.
  9. I tested my mother at 23andMe, and phased my results to her.  I discovered that our results are more "Continental" than for most English.  However, there was more of a southward pull towards France, than to Scandinavia.
  10. I discovered that our mitochondrial DNA haplogroup is H6a1.  I am currently awaiting more in depth test results on mt-DNA from FT-DNA.
  11. I learned that my Y-DNA haplogroup was L.  A big shock, as it is considered Asian rather than European.  Further tests revealed it to be L1b2c (L-SK1414), only one of a handful yet recorded in the World, and most likely originating in the area of Iran and Iraq.  I discovered that it must have travelled from Asia to Southern England between 2,000 and 500 years ago.  My Y ancestors would have been Western Asian before then.  Possibly connected to Mesopotamia, and would have been Ibex hunters perhaps in the Zagros mountains earlier than that.
  12. I discovered the family of my ancestor David Peach, from the village of Maxey, in the East Midlands.  I discovered that he had been transported for Life to a tough penal colony in Tasmania, for stealing two cattle.
  13. I learned and explored the ancestry of my surname line back into Oxfordshire, and up the Thames Valley to the village of Long Wittenham.
  14. I visited the WDYTYA genealogy event in Birmingham.
  15. Like many other people involved in population genetics, I've learned that there really was a great expansion across Europe, from the Pontic and Caspian Steppes, during the Early Bronze Age.  I've accepted that earlier European Y haplogroups in particular have been greatly displaced by this event.  The founder group of this migration event have been identified as the Copper Age Yamna or Yamnaya Steppe Pastoralists.  My own mt DNA haplogroup H6a1, most likely, moved into Europe with this migration wave.  The Global 10 test suggests that circa 38% of my ancestors from that time period, were of the Yamna.  The Yamna themselves were admixed earlier with a group of Ice Age Siberian hunter-gatherers, known to population geneticists as the ANE (Ancient North Eurasian).  According to the K7 Basal-rich test, circa 14% of my ancestors at that time had belonged to the ANE.
  16. I've learned from the Global 10 test, that around 55% of my ancestors during the Middle Neolithic, were European Neolithic Farmers, who had descended partly from hunter-gatherer groups from different parts of Eurasia, and also from a "ghost population most likely that lived during the last Ice Age somewhere in the Middle East.  It has been called "Basal Eurasian", and the K7 Basal-rich test suggests that circa 29% of my ancestors of that time, belonged to that group.
  17. I've learned that there was a population of hunter-gatherers across the Near East and Europe, that we call the Villabruna Cluster Type.  They arrived in Europe during the later part of the Ice Age circa 15,000 years ago.  They had a lower Neanderthal percentage, and closer relationship to Near East groups than the earlier hunter-gatherers of Ice Age Europe.  The K7 Basal-rich test suggests that I could have inherited up to 57% of my DNA from that group at that time (through a variety of later admixed populations).
  18. I've explored DNA tests that suggest that I have some Southern European ancestry.  I've discovered that this is common for the English, and probably reflects very old admixture events.  The English often have a small Southern European signal, and they have slightly lower levels of ANE, and slightly higher levels of European Neolithic Farmer, than do their Irish, Scottish, or Scandinavian neighbours.  In other words, a more Southern pull.  POBI noted a pull to France, and dates it to a number of previously unknown migration events from the South during late prehistory.  Others have suggested Medieval Norman and French admixture.  Both could be correct.
  19. With the help of online genealogy, I've now greatly expanded my Family Tree.  My gedcom file presently includes records of 1665 individuals, including for 252 direct ancestors of myself!

That pretty much sums up my 2016 in genetic genealogy.

The rest of my Life saw dramatic changes in 2016.  I ended a six year old relationship.  Moved to a new home.  After eighteen years working for one renewable energy plant group, I changed to a new company, and a new renewable energy plant.  I started a new relationship.  I received my mandolin, hand made for myself.  I've lost my mojo for photography.  I travelled to Orkney, cycled over it's islands.  I travelled to Sofia, Bulgaria, partied at a Bulgarian reggae event.  Some mega changes for me in 2016.  Genetics are an interest, they are far from being my Life.

How did our family inherit a Y haplogroup L1b?

I've inherited from my father, a yDNA haplogroup of L1b M317.  Not a haplogroup ordinarily even regarded as European.  It's not particularly common anywhere, but of such low concentrations in North-west Europe, that it doesn't even appear on our haplogroup maps or tables.  Closely related L1a is concentrated in India, while L1c is concentrated around Pakistan.  But our sub clade L1b, has it's main concentration in Western Asia, south of the Caucasus.  It has been found for example in higher concentrations, in the Pontic Greek community that lived in Pontus, North East Anatolia, on the coast of the Black Sea.

By Spiridon Ion Cepleanu - Own work Derivative map, background of Uwe Dedering (File:Turkey relief location map.jpg), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20601902

I'm currently investigating the yDNA further with STR testing.  Unless the haplogroup was passed into our family at some point, via a non-paternal event, it should follow my surname line, which I've traced back to a John Brooker who fathered children in Oxfordshire during the early 19th Century.  The surname itself is certainly English.  It clusters in a few places in England - particularly in Kent / Sussex, although our family surname appears to have originated with a smaller cluster in the Oxfordshire / Berkshire area of England.  So how did we end up with an East Anatolian Y?

I quite like the below example of a similar, even more bizarre event in another English family, the Revis Family of Yorkshire, that share yDNA more normally associated with people in South-West Africa:

" ... it is surprising to find the haplogroup A1a (M31) in a family of the Yorkshire surname Revis. This haplogroup is close to the root of the human family tree and rare even in Africa. Genealogical detective work established that the Revis males who carried A1a fitted onto two family trees going back to the 18th century in Britain. A paper trail to a common ancestor could not be found, but genetically he can be deduced a few generations earlier. How A1a arrived in Yorkshire remains a mystery. As Turi King and her colleagues point out, it could have come via a round-about route and not carried direct from Africa.22T.E. King et al., Africans in Yorkshire? The deepest-rooting clade of the Y phylogeny within an English genealogy, European Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 15 (2007), pp. 288–293; G. Redmonds, T. King and D. Hey, Surnames, DNA and Family History (2011), p. 201-204. A possible clue is that the surname Revis is derived from Rievaulx.23P.H. Reaney and R.M. Wilson, Oxford Dictionary of English Surnames, 3rd edn., revised (1997). In 1301 a William de Ryvaus was the wealthiest taxpayer in Marton, North Yorkshire, about six miles from Rievaulx, and a man of the same name paid tax in Gisburne (Guisborough) about 12 miles north of Rievaulx, while a William de Ryvauxe was the sole taxpayer for Barnaby, in the parish of Guisbrough.24Yorkshire Lay Subsidy - 30 Ed. I (1301), ed. W. Brown, Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series, vol. 21 (1897), pp. 32, 43 bis, 45. Rievaulx was a Cistercian Abbey in medieval times, founded from Clairvaux in France, and part of an Order with houses in Spain and Portugal built on land won from the Moors. No doubt genetic traces were left in Iberia of the Moorish centuries. A1a is not the most likely haplogroup to be among them, but perhaps not completely impossible. Master masons and other useful craftsmen could have been recommended by one monastic house to another in the Order. So we can dimly see one possible route from Africa to Yorkshire."

Copied from Ancestral Journeys

As for how our y-DNA may have arrived in Southern Britain, I can imagine a number of scenarios.  There is the early Neolithic hypothesis, that Y haplogroup L1b may be a remnant survivor of early European populations that had settled Europe before they were largely displaced during the Bronze Age, by DNA from the Eurasian Steppes.  But if that were the case, I'd expect it to be less rare.  L1b is scattered in low frequencies across Italy, and along the South European coast of the Mediterranean.  For that reason, it may be that it arrived here, or gradually made it's way across the Continent via the Roman or later Byzantine Empires, from Pontic Greek communities.  That is one possible route.

L1b homelands with Roman political boundaries circa 50AD

By Cplakidas - Based on Image:Arshakuni Armenia 150-en.svg. Province & client state outlines based on: Atlas of Classical History, Routledge 1985, pp. 160-162; History Map of Europe, Year 1 from Euratlas, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6431799

Pontic Greek Colonies around the Black Sea

By George Tsiagalakis - Own work - background topographical map from Wikipedia Commons Image:Topographic30deg_N30E30.png, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38138202

My Y Haplogroup L-M20 Resource Post


Edit. 03 May 2016

I've listed the origin (and sometimes origin or ethnicity) of all of the L-M317 listed on the Y haplogroup L project at ftDNA.  Including both SNP confirmed, and predicted:

Ten from Turkey (two specified as Armenian)

Five from Georgia

Three from Chechen Republic

Two from Greece (one specified as Pontic Greek)

Two from Portugal

Two from Italy

Two from Armenia (one specified as Turkish)

One from Iraq (Assyrian)

One from Kuwait

One from Azerbaijan (Azeri)

One from Lebanon)

One from Bulgaria

One from Austria

One from USA (surname Ayers)

One from Romania

One from Russia (Tatar)

One from Cyprus (Austrian Tyrolean)

In addition to these M-317's, there is the Pontic Cluster (L-PH8 (FTDNA L-M317) YCAii = 17-21) of 56 individuals, many only low level STR tested to predict L-M20.  Some of them however, are tested down to M317.  They are mainly in Turkey, Georgia, Iraq, and Greece.  One however, was in Germany (surname Stiffler).

Where will our L-M317 fit in?  Which of these will turn out to be my nearest cousins?


Our exotic Y Haplogroup L1b

A Y haplogroup is a genetic marker that is passed down on a paternal line.  From great grandfather, to grandfather, to father, to son, and so on it goes.  The mt-DNA haplogroup on the other hand, is a genetic marker on the maternal line.  Together, they represent only two lines of descent.  The below illustration demonstrates these two markers on our own family pedigree fan chart over recent generations:


What is exciting about these two human haplogroups, is that by recording their mutations, and plotting them both against both the geographical distributions of present-day populations, and of archaeological human remains, we can start to paint a picture of past movements and origins in population genetics across thousands of years.  We can start to see how some of our ancestors moved across the World during prehistory.  Haplogroups offer a personal touch.

My recent 23andme test reported that I have inherited an mt-DNA haplogroup H6a1 from my mother, and a Y haplogroup L2* from my father.  

My brother, sisters, and my sister's children should also share the mt-DNA haplogroup H6a1.  This mt-DNA haplogroup has recently been recognised as originating in Eurasia.  It mutated from earlier haplogroups from Central Asia.  Current thought based on recent evidence (2015) suggests that it was carried into Western Europe during the early Bronze Age, circa 5,000 to 3,500 years ago, by pastoralists that spread out of the Eurasian Steppes north of the Black Sea in the Ukraine and South Russia area.  These Steppe pastoralists have been associated with an archaeological culture known as Yamnaya, and H6a1 has been detected in female human remains there.  Archaeologists suggest that their success was in domesticating strains of horses, that they could ride, in order to manage larger herds and flocks of grazing livestock.  Another success may have been their development of wheeled carts, that could be horse drawn.  Whatever the factors were, they appear to have been so successful, that their descendants spilled out from the Steppes, dominating Bronze Age Europe.  Therefore based on current evidence and thought, it might seem fair to imagine that we have direct maternal ancestors that 5,500 years ago were women in this Eurasian Steppe Culture.  That is the personal touch of the haplogroup.

But what about the Y haplogroup L2* that we inherited from our father, and our paternal line?  My brother and my son should share this Y haplogroup.  I'm making this post to better understand this heritage.

Y Haplogroup L


Distribution Haplogroup L Y-DNA

Distribution of Y haplogroup L today.  Above image by Crates (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

There were a number of surprises from my personal 23andMe DNA test results.  However, that my Y haplogroup is L2* was perhaps the biggest shock.  I take back all reservations that I had about DNA testing for ancestral purposes.

The 23andMe introduction that accompanied my reported Y haplogroup suggested "Haplogroup L is found primarily in India, Pakistan and the Middle East. The L1 branch is especially common in India, while L2 and L3 are more common further north.".  This is not an English haplogroup.  It is not even a European haplogroup.  It is regarded here as South Asian, spreading down from Afghanistan to Sri Lanka, and across from Iran and into Eastern Turkey.  The above map illustrates the distribution of the Y Haplogroup L as we presently know it.  However, the Y haplogroup L has sub groups, that until recently were designated as L1, L2, and L3.  These subgroups were not distributed equally across the above geographic distribution.

"M76 (current L1a1, former L1) is the most common subgroup in India, while M76 and M357 (current L1a2, former L3) have approximately equal weight in Pakistan. M317 (current L1b, former L2) is rare in the Indian subcontinent. Iran seems to have all three major subgroups, while Turkey appears primarily M357. Other papers have found additional markers. For instance, L1b can be divided into two subgroups, M247 and M349. The people who do not belong to L1 have not been studied in academic papers, but only in personal genetic tests. Their ancestry is European, but it is possible that this group is present in the Middle East or Caucasus, where few people have tested". (Marco Cagetti).

My actual 23andme (ISOGG 2009) assigned L2* mutation should, using the latest designations, be referred to as L1b or, L-M317. I am seeing suggestions that L-M317 may have originated as recently as 10,000 years ago, between Levant and the Iranian plain. My haplogroup L-M317 appears to be strongest in clusters across Western Asia, between Iran and Turkey, with reports in Iraq, Armenia, Georgia, Anatolia, the Chechen Republic, and the Russian Federation.  It is not South Asian.  Marco Cagetti suggests that it is at very low frequency in Southern Europe, less than 1%.  However, this table might suggest that there are stronger pockets of Y Haplogroup L in pockets across Italy.  It has been observed in Portugal, Spain, Italy, and along the Mediterranean.  A sub-clade, L-M317 M349, is found in the Levant, but also clusters in in Central Europe including Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland.  M349 is subsequently believed to have originated in the Levant.

What about in England?  L1b doesn't appear to have been well documented or researched here.  The FTDNA Y Haplogroup L Project has mapped only three L submissions in the UK - including one undisclosed, one M349, and a single L-M317 - this one in the Basingstoke area, not a hundred miles from my surname carriers in South Oxfordshire.

The chances are, that my L1b will pan out to belong to the L1b1a M349 sub-clade.  It could relate the Rhine-Danube cluster recorded in Central Europe at the FTDNA Y Haplogroup L project.

So how did it get here?  Where do the European L1b's come from?   Some researchers suggest that it could actually be in quite old in Europe.  It could have spread westwards out of the Levant with the Neolithic Revolution, carried by the first farmers.  If this is the case, then it may have been severely displaced by the arrival of new waves of haplogroups that arrived in Europe later, during the Early Bronze Age, leaving just a few clusters to survive.  My Y could be a remnant of earlier European farmers, that were largely displaced by the same wave of haplogroups from the Steppes that carried my mt-DNA into Europe.

Alternatively, it may have arrived here any time later - during the Later Neolithic, or as is a popular theory, it could have been spread into Europe from the Pontic Greek clusters around the Black Sea, or from elsewhere, via the Roman Empire.  It may have even spread into Europe during the medieval.  Some people suggest Byzantine movements in Southern Europe as one possible source.  Others claim links between their L1b and Ashkenazi Jews in their ancestry - either known, or suggested by autosome ancestry composition testing.

It has been suggested that I commission a BIG Y test, but I cannot justify that cost. I think that it is worthwhile commissioning a Y STR test, in order to examine and provenance it. Then should future research bring up any new understanding, I'll be able to best place our lineage within it.  I've ordered the FTDNA Y111 test next.