Will ancestry DNA tests tell me my family origins?

I have taken several DNA tests for ancestry, including those provided by the FT-DNA, 23andMe, and Living DNA companies.  Unusual for a tester, I am actually of a single population, very local, well documented ancestry here in East Anglia, South-East England.  I'm not someone in the Americas or Australia, that might have very little clue what parts of the world that their ancestors lived in, previous to immigration.  I know my roots, I'm lucky.  I live them.  You might ask, why did I feel the need to test DNA for ancestry?  The answer is, curiosity, to test the documented evidence, fill the gaps, look for surprises, and in particular, to understand the longer term, to reach further back into my ancestry.

I have though, become a bit of a skeptic, even a critic, of autosomal DNA (auDNA) tests for ancestry.  They are the tests presented by the businesses in results called something like Ancestry, Family Ancestry, Origins, Family, Composition, etc.  Instead of testing the haplogroups on either the direct paternal (Y-DNA), or direct maternal (mtDNA), these tests scan the autosomal and X chromosomes.  That's good, because that is where all of the real business is, what makes you an individual.  However, it is subject to a phenomena that we call genetic recombination (the X chromosome is a little more complicated).  This means that every generation circa 50% of both parents DNA is randomly inherited from each parent.  I said randomly.  Each generation, that randomness chops up the inherited segments smaller, and moves them around.  After about seven or eight generations, the chances of inheriting any DNA from any particular ancestral line quickly diminishes.  It becomes washed out by genetic recombination.

Therefore, not only are the autosomes subject to a randomness, and genetic recombination - they are only useful for assessing family admixture only over the past three hundred years or so.  There is arguably, DNA that has been shared between populations much further back, that we call background population admixture.  It survived, because it entered many lines, for many families, following for example, a major ancient migration event.  If this phenomena is accepted - it can only cause more problems and confusion, because it can fool results into suggesting more recent family admixture - e.g. that a great grandparent in an American family must have been Scandinavian, when in fact many Scandinavians may have settled another part of Europe, and admixed with that ancestral population, more than one thousand years ago.

DNA businesses compare segments of auDNA, against those in a number of modern day reference populations or data sets from around the world.  They look for what segments are similar to these World populations, and then try to project, what percentages of your DNA is shared or similar to these other populations.  Therefore:

  1. Your results will depend on the quality and choice of geographic boundary, allocated to any reference population data set.  A number of distinct populations of different ancestry and ethnicity may exist with in them, and cross the boundaries into other data sets.  How well are the samples chosen? Do they include urban people (that tend to have more admixture and mobility than many rural people).  Do they include descendants of migrants that merely claim a certain ancestry previous to migration?What was the criteria for sample selection?
  2. Your results might be confused by background population admixture.
  3. You are testing against modern day populations, not those of your ancestors 300 - 500 years ago.  People may well have moved around since then.  In some parts of the World, they certainly have!

It is far truer to say that your auDNA test results reflect shared DNA with modern population data sets, rather than to claim descent from them.  For example, 10% Finnish simply means that you appear to share similar DNA with a number of people that were hopefully sampled in Finland (and hopefully not just claim Finnish ancestry) - not that 10% of your ancestors came from Finland.  That is, for the above reasons, presumptuous.  It might indeed suggest some Finnish ancestry, but this is where many people go wrong, it does not prove ancestry from anywhere.

Truth

This is my main quibble.  So many testers take their autosomal (for Family/Ancestry) DNA test results to be infallible truths.  They are NOT.  White papers do not make a test and analysis system perfect and proven as accurate.  Regarding something as Science does not make it unquestionable - quite the opposite.  The fact of the matter is, if you test with different companies, different siblings, add phasing, you receive different ancestry results.  Therefore which result is true and unquestionable?

A Tool for further investigation

So what use is DNA testing for ancestry?  Actually, I would say, lots of use.  If you take the results with a pinch of salt, test with different companies, then it can help point you in a direction.  Never however take autosomal results as infallible.  Critical is to test with companies with well thought out, high quality reference data sets.  Also to test with companies that intend to progress and improve their analysis and your results.

For DNA relative matching, then sure, the companies with the best matching system, the largest match (contactable customer) databases, and with custom in the regions of the world that you hope to match with. There is also, GEDmatch.  Personally, I find it thrilling when I match through DNA, but in truth, I had more genealogical success back in the days when genealogists posted their surname interests in printed magazines and directories. 

The results of each ancestry test should be taken as a clue.  Look at the results of testers with more proven documented and known genealogies.  Learn to recognise what might be population background, as opposed to recent admixture in a family.  Investigate haplogroup DNA - it has a relative truth, although over a much longer time, and wider area.  Just be aware that your haplogroup/s represent only one or two lines of descent - your ancestry over the past few thousand years may not be well represented by a haplogroup.  Investigate everything.  Enjoy the journey.  Explore World History.

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.

Story of L. My Big Y Test Results

The above Photograph of the Sumela Monastery, Trabzon Mountains, former Pontus, by reibai of Flickr under Creative Commons Licence.  Close to the home of my nearest recorded Big Y cousins today.

The Big Y Test

The FTDNA results came back.  As with the Y111 test results, they were three weeks earlier than scheduled.  So what has this test told me, about the story of my Y-DNA, and it's exotic L-M20 genetic marker? It was not a disappointment.

Warning

Remember, I am only telling the story of one single line of descent.  Y-DNA merely provides a convenient genetic marker of mutation, that can be compared and traced with others.  It does not define anyone.  From an anthropological perspective, haplogroups are of value in a collective sense - to a population.  I no doubt share the story of my Y with many more people alive today.  I may be a carrier of it, but it is also your story, just as the haplogroups that you carry, are also my story - through our mothers and shared descent.  Y-DNA passes strictly on only one line of descent - from father to son.  It is not inherited nor passed down by women.  Only on that one strict paternal line of descent. The Y haplogroup is only a convenient marker of one line.

The Y Haplogroup L

Y Haplogroup K formed in a paternal lineage of hunter-gatherer fathers and sons, that share a MRCA (most recent common ancestor) during the Upper Palaeolithic, circa 45,400 years ago.  Where did my Y ancestors live at that time?  We think that they lived in Western or Southern Asia.  Iran is a favourite proposal. My earlier Y ancestors had most likely exited Africa 20,000 years earlier, and were well established in Asia.  They had most likely met and confronted another archaic human species, The Neanderthal. This was however, a time of great expansion by humans.  The first anatomically modern humans had recently entered Europe, while other moderns u were arriving in Australia.  The Ice Age was in a flux, but glaciation was advancing.

Our most recent common Y ancestor to carry Y Haplogroup LT lived circa 42,600 years ago.  Then a mutation in the Y-DNA lead to the formation of Y Haplogroup L, with a most recent common ancestor 23,200 years ago, close to the time of the Last Glacial Maximum, when ice sheets were reaching their maximum positions.  K, LT, and early L, most likely all originated in Upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer populations living during the last Ice Age, in the area of modern day Iran and Iraq.  It was a time of increased stress on human populations, that were having to adapt to some severe environmental challenges, and may have at times faced isolation into a number of Ice Age Refuges.

Around 18,400 years ago, M317 appeared on their Y-DNA, then circa 14,000 years ago, my line (L-SK1214), diverged away from L-M349.  L1b today, occurs mainly in Western Asia, from Anatolia to Afghanistan.  L1a occurs mainly in India, Sri Lanka, and in Pakistan.  Where did all of this occur?  We don't know yet.  There is so little data.  Some other divergences popped up in Southern and Central Asia.  Some of these sub clades in India and Pakistan, are the most numerous of L today.  However, the finger keeps pointing at Western Asia, as the source of much of L divergence, particularly in L1b sub clades such as M317, and M349.  But we don't yet know what part Europe played if any.  Both M317 and M349 crops at low frequencies across Europe, particularly along the south coast, and in Italy.  L2 (L595) crops at at low frequency almost exclusively in Europe.  Altogether, L forms only around 0.3% across Europe as a whole, yet, this diversity sits at low frequencies scattered across the continent.

Iran may equally be a key.  We believe that it could have been home to L for a very long time, but we have very little data from that part of the world.  L is also missing from ancient DNA.  A hypothesis has been proposed that some early Neolithic farmers from Anatolia, may have carried L, and may have carried it into Europe for example.  All speculation, but it could explain some of these old divisions of L that we are starting to see across Europe and Western Asia.  Some of the earliest Eurasian L Y-DNA extracted so far has only very recently been reported - in populations of Iron Age Huns, that had migrated westwards into Europe.

My Big Y Results

So what did the test tell me about my line?  Was I descended from a recent immigrant from India or Pakistan?  An Iron Age Hun?  An Italian?  How about a Pontic Greek, or a Persian?  Where do I fit in?

The answers provided by the Big Y were a bit of a shock.  I had 90 novel SNPs in my Y-DNA, that have not been seen before in any other Big Y Test, not even in any of the other 23 Big Y test results within the FTDNA Y Haplogroup L project.  The last SNP to terminate, that has already been reported, was SK1414.  The administrator has not yet found it's non-FTDNA origin, but believes that it came from a test in Iran.  Therefore, my sub clade can now be declared as L-SK1214.

My nearest FTDNA Big Y matches were two from Pontic Greek ancestry.  However, here is the crunch.  The project administrator calculates that even these testers, my closest known Y cousins that have so far tested to Big Y level, last shared a common Y ancestor with me 13,000 years ago.

When I have my BAM file, and submit it to the Yfull tree, it should make a significant alteration to the branches, as my lineage of SK1414, appears to branch off from L1b, perhaps only 1000 years after L1b appeared, and before the PH8 lineage associated with my Pontic Greek cousins formed.

L-SK1414 (L1b2c)

So my new terminal SNP SK1414 separated from the Pontic Greek PH8 lineage around 13,000 years ago.  What was happening in Western Asia then?  This was towards the end of the last Cold Stage.  There were some cold fluctuations in the Ice Age climate, with some advances in glaciation, before they finally started to melt back for the present interglacial period.  Perhaps some of these climatic stresses were involved?  a severe freeze took place around 12,700 years ago. 

My most recent common ancestors to any other Big Y testers - the Pontic Greek samples, lived somewhere in Western Asia around 13,000 years ago.  They most likely were Western Asian ibex hunter-gatherers.  The earliest sign of agriculture in the region, the Pre Pottery Neolithic A doesn't take off until around 10,300 years ago.

Where have my Y ancestors been over the past 13,000 years?  That is the big question that I am probably unlikely to answer within my lifetime.  More testing, by more L testers in the future may reveal more, as would the results of more ancient DNA from excavations.  If I had to bank money on it, I'd say that my Y ancestors were most likely to provenance to the Fertile Crescent of the Neolithic Revolution.  Perhaps in the river valleys of Iraq / Iran.  They may have gone on to take part in the Pre Pottery Neolithic A Culture there.  That might account for their existence over the next few thousands of years.  However, when did my lineage enter Europe?  Did it arrive with Anatolian Early Neolithic farmers?  Or did it arrive later?  Perhaps even, much later?  I just cannot answer that.  Suggestions are most welcome.


The above photograph taken of the excavation of Jarmo, an Early Neolithic village in Iraqi Kurdistan, dated to 9,100 years before present.  From Wikimedia Commons by user Emrad284.

The STR testing, and the matching with the Chandler family might suggest that my Y line arrived in Southern England quite recently, perhaps during the Medieval.  However, I am acutely aware of how very few English have yet tested - that more L could turn up, that rewrite that arrival date.
Unofficial proposed tree by Gökhan Zuzigo

Conclusion

It seems that I have 12,700 years of unwritten or detected family history to research on my paternal line.  The Big Y test told me that I have a hunter-gatherer ancestor, somewhere in Western Asia, most likely Iraq / Iran, perhaps 13,000 years ago.  Then a rather long gap, until the Brooker surname appears on parish registers in the Thames Valley of Southern England, leading down to myself, and onto my son.

The Chandler family, judging by the comparative STR evidence, are Y cousins, with a shared Y ancestry until circa 330 - 700 years ago.

That's it.  We were missing for a long time.  I'm looking forward to trying to work out where my missing ancestors were for thousands of years.  I'm looking forward to seeing more L1b tests appear on Yfull and on the Y haplogroup L Project.  Please test.

The above photograph on Rock Art in Iran, taken by dynamosquito on Flickr linked here under a Creative Commons Licence.  The Ibex seems to feature frequently in prehistoric rock art in the region, and perhaps was a primary prey of our ancestors.