East Anglia and the other Low Countries

By en:User:Fresheneesz - en:Image:The Low Countries.png, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link with modification to include East Anglia in the mini-map for illustration.

Locations of my mother's recorded ancestors in East Anglia.

I've posted on this subject a few times before, by looking at the 16th/17th Century Norwich Strangers at Immigration into East Anglia and more recently at some of my families personal DNA ancestral analysis at Are the South East English actually Belgian?  However, as I continue to see comparisons between our DNA and DNA from samples of Iron Age / Romano-Britons, Anglo-Saxons, Modern Dutch, Modern Belgian, so my interest in links between the Low Countries, and the region of South East Britain known as East Anglia increases.

Here is the latest K36 Oracle map for a member of my family:

I have a Walloon 9th great grandfather that lived in 17th Century Norwich on my father's side.  I have recently been investigating a link on my mother's ancestry.  One ancestral line of hers that lived in East Norfolk, carried the surname Tammas.  I can only trace it back to a 4th great grandfather, born around 1774.  However, I recently became aware that the surname Tammes can be found in the Low Countries, possibly originating in Friesland.  More evidence perhaps, of post-medieval migration into East Anglia.  So there are a few hints of the Low Countries in my recorded genealogy - just there maybe - but do they echo a much older, and wider period?  Just how close are the East Anglians to Frisians, Walloons, Flemish, etc?

The Norfolk coast is as close to the Netherlands, just 113 miles, as it is to London and in medieval times it only took a day to sail to Amsterdam, but four days to travel to London. At that time Norfolk was isolated by muddy marshland and dense forest so we have always looked to the Continent

Source: Visit Norfolk website

‘The Strangers’. Norfolk doesn’t have squares, it has plains. The word is from the Dutch ‘plein’ – a reminder that the language was spoken in the streets of Norwich for many years by ‘Strangers’, the flood of religious refugees and traders who fled persecution by the Spanish duke of Alva in the still-to-be-independent Low Countries in the 1560s and 1570s. Historians still debate the exact impact of the Strangers on the city’s key industry of weaving, but there is no doubting the numbers: by 1582 there were 4,679 of them in the city – more than a third of its population. There was still an annual church service in Dutch in their church – the chancel of Blackfriars in Norwich - until 1921.

Source: EDP

My Walloon Ancestor of Norwich

I'm going back a bit with this one.  I've written about the Norwich Strangers before (known elsewhere as the Elizabethan Strangers).  Well I may have traced one on my family tree.  On my paternal grandfather's side, back on his maternal line a bit, to a 9th great grandfather:

The Strangers were invited to Norwich during the 16th and 17th centuries.  Protestant refugees from what is now the Netherlands and Belgium.  They were fleeing persecution from the Roman Catholic Spanish Crown.  They were invited to Norwich, and to other towns in South East England, partly in protestant solidarity, and partly as an economic measure, to poach their lucrative skills and trades, particularly in the production of fine cloth and linens.  It was a brain drain event.  Eastern English towns and cities had been economically waning ever since the 14th century, and cloth production was in decline.

Most of the Norwich Strangers were Dutch-speaking Flemish, but a minority of the Strangers were French-speaking.  They were known as the Walloons.  In 1637, they opened their own French-speaking protestant church in Norwich, in a disused medieval church, St Mary-the-lesser.  The Walloons were known for their dry, colourful clothes, that in Norwich, developed into a style known as Norwich Stuffs.  I cannot yet say, that my 8th great grandfather John Rosier, was without doubt, the son of the Norwich based Walloon, Jean Rosiere, but it looks highly likely.  The surname Rosiere has elsewhere been associated with British Huguenot families - a slightly later emigration event.  That John Rosier appeared to move around Norfolk somewhat, suggests that he had a trade other than the usual farming.  Jean Rosiere of Norwich had a son baptised at the French Protestant Church in 1667, also named Jean Rosier - just the right age for my 8th great grandfather.  I can find no other references to any other Jean Rosiere nor John Rosier in Norfolk at that time.

This is only the second non-English born ancestor that I have so far traced, out of some 420 direct ancestors.  I feel enormously proud to have found a link back to the Norwich Strangers.

The Rosiere Family appear to have been a French Protestant (Walloon) family living in 17th Century Norwich.  I can see references to a Jean Rosiere, and a Philipe Rosiere.  Both appear to have had children in the City, that appear to have married into English families.  There is a later reference to a Rosiere in Norwich, listed as a wool comber, so indeed, they appear to have been involved in the cloth and linen trade.  My reference to the baptism of Jean Rosier in 1667, is unfortunately only a transcription, but it does state Walloon.  An earlier baptism in 1662 of Ollende (Holland) Rosieres to Jean Rosieres is however available online, and comes from the registers of the French Protestant Church in Norwich.  This looks like an older sister of John Rosier.

The next record for my 8th great grandfather, John Rosier, appears over in Swaffham, Norfolk in 1696.  It was his marriage to Elizabeth Fen:

Both John and Elizabeth were recorded as widow and widower.  I have not yest found their earlier marriages.

He moves again.  Their daughter, Rachel Rosier, is baptised at Watton, Norfolk, in 1709:

That is currently my last record for John and Elizabeth.  But Rachel is my 7th great grandmother.  She appears to move to East Dereham, Norfolk - the last move for this line for several generations.  But for some reason, she marries Allen Bradfield of Swanton Morley (just outside of Dereham) several miles away at Necton, Norfolk:

They have a daughter named Elizabeth Bradfield, born 1745 at Dereham:

Elizabeth Bradfield, goes on to marry Solomon Harris at nearby Swanton Morley in 1767:

For some reason, her parish is recorded as Holme Hale.  The family appear to have some sort of connection to the Necton area.  Perhaps inherited property?

They have a daughter named Elizabeth Harris, at Swanton Morley, in 1768:

In 1800, Elizabeth Harris gives birth to an illegitimate daughter, my 4th great grandmother, Jemima Harris:

In 1825, this daughter, Jemima Harris, married my 4th great grandfather, James Alderton Barber at Swanton Morley.  They lived there, and Jemima had no less than eight children.  James was a farm labourer.  Their oldest child was my 3rd great grandmother, Harriet Barber.

Harriet Barber gave birth to an illegimate daughter that she also named Harriet Barber, at the nearby workhouse at Gressenhall in 1846.  I have a copy of her birth certificate.  Harriet the younger, was my 2nd great grandmother.  The family line appears to have fallen on hard times.  In later years, a William Barker was named as her errant father.

My 2nd great grandmother Harriet, ended up back in Gressenhall Union Workhouse as a young mother herself.  She gave birth to two illegitimate daughters herself, before marrying their father, William Bennett Baxter, whio had also been born illegitimately in that same workhouse himself.

The couple settled at Swanton Morley, after living for a little while at Denton, Norfolk (perhaps chasing work).  They had a total of at least eight children.  The youngest, was my great grandmother, Faith Eliza Baxter, born 1885 at East Dereham:

Faith was the mother of my grandfather, Reginald Brooker.  There is my claim of descent from one the Norwich Strangers.

Immigration into East Anglia

Hear a sentence like "immigrants in Eastern England", and many people might think of the recent immigration from countries such as Poland, Lithuania, and Romania.  However, I'm interested in the longer picture, and how that has impacted the genetic genealogy of East Anglians.

I have noticed, that my mother's 23andMe ancestral composition, is more similar to those of some Dutch testers, than most Irish, Scottish, or West British testers.  23andme has reported at least one small segment shared with a Dutch tester.  My mother on Ancestry Composition speculative mode, scored only 36% "British & Irish", followed by 13% "French & German", 4% "Scandinavian", 2% "South European", and 40% unassigned "Broadly NW European".

My first reaction was that the 23andme calculators and references were confused by relatively ancient admixture, specifically Early Medieval Immigration between the 5th and 11th centuries AD.  The Anglo-Saxon and Viking periods.

However, I'm beginning to review how I see the history of East Anglia.  I think that like many people, I've underplayed the contribution not only of earlier unrecorded immigration events, but also of ongoing later immigration from the European Continent, into East Anglia.

A shock historical suggestion, is that during the late 16th Century, almost a third of the population of the City of Norwich, belonged to an immigrant community of Dutch, Flemish, and Walloon protestants, that had recently settled there, as refugees from persecution on the Continent.  I don't know how many of these immigrants, into centres such as Norwich, Ipswich, kings Lynn, and Great Yarmouth, left descendants in East Anglia.  My parent's recorded Norfolk ancestry is very rural - outside of Norwich.  However, how much DNA did these more recent immigrants leave behind in Norfolk, and East Anglia as a whole?

The immigration events of the 5th to 11th centuries AD into East Anglia, were most likely the most significant.  However, I believe it is wrong to see them as the only immigration events.  The POBI Study found DNA evidence of an earlier, perhaps late prehistoric immigration from the Continent.  Caesar claimed that the people that he called the Belgae had recently immigrated to South East Britain, from the area that is now Belgium.

Neither were the Anglo-Saxon, Dane-Law, nor Norman immigration events the last to the region.  It continued as a background, with occasional known events, such as the Strangers from what is now Belgium and the Netherlands, to Norwich.  East Anglia has always had stronger connections to across the North Sea, than some other regions of Britain. Therefore it should be no suprise, that my mother, with her strong recorded East Norfolk ancestry, has an autosomal ancestry composition, that resembles the Dutch, more than the Welsh or Irish.

I visited the Bridewell Alley Museum today, for the first time for many years, and picked up a new book: Strangers.  A History of Norwich's Incomers by Frank Meeres 2012.  It's full of references to the history of immigration into Norwich.  I thought that it might be useful, to harvest some of the continental immigrant surnames mentioned in this book:

Medieval

  • Addurge (French)
  • Asger (Bruges, Belgium).
  • de Norwege (Norway)
  • Dutchman
  • Glasier (French)
  • Hensser  (Dutch)
  • Isborne 
  • Jevort (French)
  • Johnson (Dutch)
  • Kempe de Gaunt (Ghent)
  • Kenneton (French)
  • Mouner  (French)
  • Oreng (French)
  • Peterson (Dutch)
  • Petirson (Dutch)
  • Rijsel (Flemish)
  • Tiphany (French)

In 1343, a boat capsized at Cantley.  It had passengers from Latvia and Sweden.

The Strangers 1560 - 1600 AD

In 1571, a return of the Strangers, recorded that there were 4,013 Strangers in Norwich.  This included 868 Dutchmen, and 203 Walloon men.

  • Bateman
  • Clarebote (Winnezele)
  • Clapettia
  • Clercke (Dutch)
  • Baet
  • Bake (Ypres)
  • Bartingham (Dutch)
  • Coene (Ypres)
  • Dedecre (Dutch)
  • De Linne
  • De Mol
  • De Turk (Flanders)
  • Der Haghe
  • Des Passett
  • Faber (East Flanders)
  • Goddarte
  • Gruter (Antwerp)
  • Herjtes (Flemish)
  • Hodgeson (Dutch)
  • Johnson (Dutch)
  • Keerlinck (Ypres)
  • Lewalle (Walloon)
  • Moded (Antwerp)
  • Navegeer
  • Le Dente
  • Poultier (Dieppe)
  • Powells (Dutch)
  • Steene (Dutch)
  • Vamboute (St Jans-Kappel)
  • Van Brugen (Dutch)
  • Waells (Houtkerke)
  • Wervekin (Ypres)

These are just the surnames of some of the Norwich Strangers, mentioned in the above book.  Just how much did they, and others, contribute though, to the genealogy of Norfolk and East Anglia.  Most belonged to aspiring classes of artisans and merchants.  Weavers, printers, hat makers, etc.  How much of their DNA might have seeped into the surrounding countryside?