Recent breakthroughs in Ancestry

I was stuck for months with 279 direct ancestors on record, when suddenly over the past few weeks, it's grown to 296, with a total of 2,806 family members in the whole tree.

Seymore

One recent breakthrough was on my father's line back to Oxfordshire.  I knew that my 4th great grandmother Brooker (nee Seymore) was born circa 1795 at Drayton, Oxfordshire.  Scanning through the digitally photographed parish registers of both Drayton St Peters, and then Drayton St Leonards, between 1780 and 1805, I had that eureka moment when I found this:

Actually, I found three baptisms of an Elizabeth to this couple, John and Phoebe (Faby) Seymour, as well as other children, and then their marriage in 1790:

So Phoebe (Faby), was a Godfrey before marriage, and a spinster.  I've traced some of the lines back a bit further:

It looks as though around 1720, the Seymore family moved from the area of West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, to the villages of Lewknor and Aston Rowant in Oxfordshire.  Not a dreadful distance, only around nine miles.  I'll have to investigate these new ancestral villages in Oxfordshire sometime.

Edney

I've also made a little progress on another close by line, also on my father's Oxfordshire lines.  My 3rd great grandmother Brooker was born Mary Ann Edney in 1845 in Shiplake, Oxfordshire.  I've managed to extend that branch a little further back:

The Edney family has recently provided me with the furthest back DNA match on my paternal line.  DNA matching suggests with a moderate confidence level, that I and another British tester share identical by descent segments of DNA with a predicted relationship of 5th to 8th cousins.  Ancestry sees a relationship on our trees that it thinks is behind those segments:

I'm very keen to find these DNA matches, to biologically verify my research, where it can (over the most recent 8 - 10 generations).  However, I'm particularly concerned about proving or disproving my paternal line beyond Generation 3, as I had a slightly colourful great grandmother on that line.  The Edney match does indeed support, that my documented great grandfather, was indeed my biological great grandfather, but really I need more verification.  I'm looking for matches with common ancestry in Oxfordshire or Switzerland, in order to do just that - alternatively a Y-DNA match from another tester descended on the Y line from an Oxfordshire / Berkshire Brooker family.

Barber

I've been trying very hard to breakthrough on a Suffolk based branch on my father's side.  I have a brick wall above my 3rd great grandfather Robert Barber, born somewhere in Suffolk, around 1796.  I do have some good candidates, 

As you can see, a baptism of a Robert Barber of Halesworth, at a non-conformist chapel in Beccles during 1797.  Tempting to claim them as ancestors, if I could, then I could actually go back a few more generations on that line.  But I'm not convinced this is the right one.  There were a lot of Barbers in Suffolk at that time.  This is the thing about genealogy - you have to make that call, that decision to add, or not to add.  The further that we go back, the less the resources, and the more missing.  Then perhaps, we are forced to sometimes make slightly more generous decisions.  I do struggle with that though.

As a side note, I have ordered Robert's death certificate from the GRO.  He died quite young in 1846, and it smashed his young family apart, some ending up in the workhouse.  I'd like to know what happened.

His son George got out of Shipmeadow Workhouse and got work at a farm labourer in the Hedenham / Woodton area of Norfolk.  He married and settled there.  They had a number of children, including a daughter named Emily Barber.  When she was 11 years old, during the 1871 census, she was recorded as working as a "crow keeper" (children employed to scare birds from fields):

Emily later moved to Norwich, to work as a servant in a Solicitor's household.  There she met a young wheelwright from Attleborough, called Fred Smith.  They married at the bottom of Grapes Hill.  They were very congregationalist new chapel.  They raised their children in a terrace house in Suffolk Street, Norwich, including my father's mother, Doris Smith.

Here's Emily, with her son Sid Smith, who was a First World War veteran from the Western Front:

Brooker Surname and a new project

Above map modified from "© OpenStreetMap contributors".  The red dots represent baptisms of BROOKER (including derivations such as Broker, Brocker, etc) between 1550 and 1600.  The larger the red dots, the more baptisms in that parish.

The area focuses on South-East England.  There was also a secondary cluster in Warwickshire, and stray families in Manchester, Yorkshire, Devon, and Norfolk.  However, I have not catered for all of those on the above map.  See the below larger scale map for Brooker baptism counts in those areas by county.

The Blue dots and notes mark ancestral birthplaces and dates of my recorded surname ancestors in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, and Deptford, London.  My line traces back reasonably securely to a John Brooker born at Long Wittenham, Berkshire, circa 1722.

The Purple dot and text represents Thomas Chandler of Basingstoke, Hampshire.  Living there circa 1740's, he appears to have shared my Y-DNA markers L-SK1414 judging by some of his Chandler surname descendants that have tested.  At some point before 1722, we must have shared Y line (paternal) ancestors.

From this map I can conclude that during the late 16th Century, the BROOKER surname was most common in Sussex, Kent, Surrey, and Hampshire.  There was a secondary cluster in Warwickshire.

Distribution of BROOKER baptisms AD 1550 - AD 1600 by English County.  County boundaries modern, but East and East Surrey united for historical purposes.  Includes records of derivations of Brooker surname.

Surname Origin

This interesting surname derives from two possible origins. Firstly it may be of English topographical origin from the Old English word "broc", a brook, stream, plus the agent suffix "-er", used to describe a dweller at, hence "dweller at the brook". There is also a place called Brook in Kent and Wiltshire, from the same Old English word "broc" as above. Also the name may be an occupational name used to denote a broker, originating from the Anglo-French word "brocour", one who sells an agent in business transactions. The earliest recordings of the surname appear in the 13th Century (see below). John le Brouker was recorded in the 1327, Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. William le Brocker was listed in the 1326, Feet of fines Rolls. The Close Rolls in 1332, record a Elena Brocker. Kirby's Quest for Somerset recorded an Adam Brocker in 1328. Geoffrey Broker, aged 17, an immigrant to the New World, sailed aboard the "Merchant's Hope", bound for Virginia in July 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Brokere, which was dated 1296, Subsidy Rolls of Sussex, during the reign of King Edward 1, "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Source: Surname.com

Discussion

A weakness with the data will be that the sources may be selective and biased, due to incomplete transcripts, register survivals, etc.  However, it gives me an indication of just where my surname may have originated before John Brooker married Mary Gardiner at Oxford College chapel, on the 1st November 1746.  They were recorded as residing at Long Wittenham, Berkshire.  Mary Gardiner appears to have hailed originally from a family a few miles to the south of Wittenham, at East Hagbourne in Berkshire.  I also found families of Brooker in that same parish, including a suitable John Brooker candidate born in 1722.  However, on reflection, and in discussion with another researcher that also claims descent from the Hagbourne John Brooker, I decided to delete that connection.  Hagbourne John Brooker married another woman, not Mary Gardiner, and did not move to Long Wittenham.

I then chose the next best candidate.  Further afield, a John Brooker born 1722 at Chieveley in Berkshire.  I have to confess a bias to that direction as it lead towards Basingstoke (I'll get back to that further down).  However, once again, I can see evidence to eliminate him.  I need to consider another John Brooker at Oxford next.  So many John Brookers!

Why am I looking for a link to Basingstoke?  Because several people that have tested their Y chromosome DNA with Family Tree DNA, appear to have the same Y DNA data as myself.  Incredibly rare, and hailing from Western Asia, L-SK1414.  These several other testers are all from the paternal surname Chandler.  They form a small but distinct cluster in the Chandler Surname Y-DNA projects, very distinct from other Y-DNA in the group.  Some of them have traced their surname lines to a Thomas Chandler, that lived at Basingstoke early to mid 1700s, the same time as my 6 x great grandfather, John Brooker that married Mary Gardiner and settled at Long wittenham.  Basingstoke is about 32 miles south east of Long Wittenham as the crow flies.

At some point, the Y-line descendants of Thomas Chandler, and myself, must have shared a common Y grandfather.  Some point most likely between 2,000 years ago, and 400 years ago, and most likely, in Southern England.  Convenient for the Coast and for ports that our Asian Y ancestor may have arrived at by vessel.  Most likely I feel, in the Sussex or Hampshire region.  Look at the clusters in the top map around Southampton, Chichester, and Brighton during the 16th Century.

That I haven't found many Berkshire, and only one Oxfordshire Brooker baptism between 1550 and 1600 could suggest that my surname most likely trails down through Hampshire between 1600 and 1746.  There is always however, the possibilty of a relationship in the other direction to the Gloucester cluster.  That goes against the Basingstoke Y hypothesis, but it is a possibility.  Where did the Gloucester cluster originate?  For that matter, where did the more significant Warwickshire cluster originate?  Did it move there from South East England during the medieval, or does it converge from an independent surname origin?

If the surname line is still true to my Y-DNA at Generation 9 (John Brooker of Long wittenham), and the existence of the Chandler L-SK1414 does support that my Y-DNA most likely would have been in that part of Southern England at that time, then just when did the Brooker and Chandler families last share a common Y-DNA father?  The convergence could be the result of a non parental event in either direction.  Even a series of non parental events.  Alternatively, it could predate the emergence of peasantry surnames during the 14th Century.  The above quote from the surname website suggests some aristocracy were using the surname as early as AD 1296.  However, many peasant and commoner families would have been slower at adopting a surname.

Some more recent Brooker surname distributions.

From PublicProfiler.org.

1881 Census of Brooker


Modified from PublicProfiler.org.  © All Rights Reserved

1998 of Brooker

Modified from PublicProfiler.org.  © All Rights Reserved

Brooker Surname Study

But for now, I'm stuck at that marriage in 1746.  Therefore I'm launching a longer term surname research project, starting with collecting baptisms of Brooker, Brocker, Broker, Browker, etc. Between 1550 to 1600, and then moving forward.  Screenshots of my baby database below:


Henry Shawers - timeline of an ancestor

The above image I took recently at the medieval festival in Bayeux, France.  My great great great grandfather, Henry Shawers is described as a narrow lace or trimming weaver.  Does the above represent his trade well?  Here I'm going to record all of the evidence so far for Henry, who I believe, is the first non-English ancestor that I have discovered, out of 270 direct ancestors, researched for over 25 years.

I'm going to present the evidence in a time line.

1826-1828

1827 +/- 1 year, The approximate birth year of Henry Shawers, in Switzerland.  His father was a coppersmith named John Shawers.  Their names have most likely been anglicised with immigration.  Henry was illiterate.  Their surname could for example, have been:   Soruhes, Schwarz, Schwares, Shaers, Souers, Seuers, Scherrais, Shavier, Cerrier, or Soyers

1829
1830
1831
1832
1833
1834
1835

1835-10-11 (Oct 11th), Elizabeth Durran, born in this year, was baptised at Deddington, Oxfordshire.

1836
1837
1838
1839
1840
1841

1841-06-06 (Jun 6th), 1841 Census of England & Wales.  No sign of John Shawers or his son Henry.  Elizabeth Durran was 5 years old, living in Deddington, Oxfordshire.  Henry would have been about age 14.

1842
1843
1844
1845
1846
1847
1848
1849
1850
1851

1851-03-30 (Mar 30th), 1851 Census of England & Wales.  No sign of Henry Shawers.  Elizabeth Durran was age 15, still living with her parents and siblings in Deddington, Oxfordshire.

1852

1852-08-11 (Aug 8th), passengers on the Lord Warden, disembarked at Folkestone docks.  The ship had carried them across the Channel from Boulogne, in France.  The List of Aliens recorded as arriving with this ship included a Monsieur Shawers, recorded as having French nationality.  Unfortunately all of the passengers had their occupations lazily recorded as Gents, but I wonder, not a lot of immigrants coming into the country by the name of Shawers, and only five years before our Henry married Elizabeth Durran in Bethnal Green.

1853
1854
1855
1856
1857

1857-09-20 (Sept 20th), Henry Shawers married Elizabeth Durran at St Philip, Bethnal Green, London.  I have the GRO Certificate copy.  I also see the church register entry on Ancestry.com.  They tally.  He stated:

  • He was a bachelor, and age 31, born about 1826.
  • He was living with Elizabeth at Banner Square, London
  • He was a Narrow Weaver.
  • His father was called John Shawers who was a Coppersmith.
  • He signed X - he was illiterate.  Elizabeth, age 22, was a spinster and also signed X
  • They married by banns.
  • Witnesses were James Brown and Mary Tilsely.  Both signed X.

1858

1858-09-11 (Sept 11th), Elizabeth Rosina Shawers was born at 29 Pownall Road, Haggerstone, London.  I have the GRO birth certificate.  Daughter of Henry Shawers and Elizabeth (nee Durran)

  • Henry Shawers was a Narrow Weaver Journeyman.
  • Elizabeth the mother registered the birth.
  • They were addressed to 29 Pownall Road, Haggerstone, London.

1859
1860

1860-01-08 (Jan 8th), first son, Henry Shawers (junior) was born at 29 Pownall Road, Haggerstone, London.  I have the GRO birth certificate.  Son of Henry Shawers (senior) and Elizabeth (nee Durran).

  • Henry Shawers was a Narrow Weaver.
  • Elizabeth the mother registered the birth.
  • They were still living at 29 Pownall Road, Haggerstone.  That's at least between 1858-09-11 and 1860-01-08

1861

I believe that sometime between his birth in January 1860, and late 1861, that Henry Shawers (junior) had died, but the death is not registered in any way that I have yet found it.

1861-04-07 (Apr 7th)  1861 Census of England & Wales.  2 Sun Row, St Mary, Islington, Finsbury, London, England. Henry Soruhes Head. Mar. 33. Trimming maker Switzerland. Elizabeth Soruhes. Wife. Mar. 26. Oxfordshire.  Rose Sohures. dau. 2 Dalston. Henry Sohures. Son. 15 months
  • His name is recorded as Henry Sohures.
  • His son, Henry (junior) is still alive age 15 months.
  • He is recorded as being born in Switzerland.
  • He was 33 years old, born about 1828 in Switzerland.
  • They were living at Sun row, Islington, London.
  • He is recorded as a "Trimming weaver".

I believe that their son Henry Shawers (junior) died between April 1861 and April 1862, but I have not yet located his death or burial.

1862

1862-04-07 (Apr 7th), Second son, William (Henry) Shawers is born south of the Thames at Hospital York Road, Waterloo Road Second, London, Surrey.  I have a copy of the GRO birth certificate.

  • Reported by mother E Shawers (nee Durran) of 4 Austen Terrace, St Johns Road, Upper Holloway, North London.
  • Henry Shawers recorded as Narrow weaver of fringe and trimmings journeyman.

1862-10-31 (31st Oct), Henry Shawers is imprisoned at Wandsworth Prison, London with a sentence of one month, for the offence of begging.  I found this on a digitilised image of the Prison Register at FindMyPast.co.uk.

  • Henry Shawers was a Lace Weaver
  • He was age 34, born about 1828
  • Height five feet, two and three quarter inches.  Grey eyes, fresh complexion, no marks.  Weight, a eight stone, ten pounds.
  • He was a vagrant, no address.
  • He was registered as F born.  Foreign born, not British Empire judging by other entries in the register.
  • His crime was begging.
  • He was illiterate.
  • He was Christian.
  • He was sentenced at Wandsworth, London, by C Dayman, magistrate.

1863

1863-05-15 (May 15th) Second son, William Henry Shawers died at Bletchingley, Surrey.  I have his GRO birth certificate.  Son of Henry Shawers and Elizabeth.  He was recorded as 1 years old.  His cause of death was ?Caucrumous? certified.  See his burial which states Small Pox.

  • Henry Shawers was a Trimming Weaver
  • Registered by mother, Elizabeth, present at death.

1863-05-18 (May 18th) Second son, William Henry Shawers was buried at Bletchingley, St Mary, Surrey.  Found on Ancestry.com including digitilised image of registry.  William Henry Shawers was recorded as "a stranger's child', 13 months old at death.  Buried in the north side of the grave yard.  Died of Small Pox.  A number of burials at that time, both child and adult were recorded as Small Pox.

  • They had moved south, out of London.
  • "A stranger's child" could refer either to the family being on the move, travelling, or alternatively hint that the father was a foreigner.

1864

1864-11-07 (Nov 7th), Third son, Arthur Henry Shawers was born at 11 Thomas Street, St Peter, Brighton, Sussex.  I have the GRO birth certificate.  The son of Henry Shawers and Elizabeth (nee Durran).

  • Henry Shawers was a Trimming weaver Journeyman.
  • Registered by mother, Elizabeth of 11 Thomas Street, Brighton.
  • They were living at 11 Thomas Street, St Peter, Brighton, Sussex on the South Coast.  In 1871 on the census, 11 Thomas Street is full of tenants and appears to be a lodging house in Brighton.

1865

1865-04-06 (Apr 6th), Third son Arthur Henry Shawers died at Baker Street, Enfield, Middlesex.  I have a copy of the GRO death certificate.

  • Sometime during the winter of 1864/5, they had moved from Brighton on the south coast, up to Enfield, north of London.
  • Reported by father, Henry Shawers signed X.  Of Baker Street, Enfield
  • Henry Shawers recorded as a Lace Weaver journeyman.
  • Arthur died age 5 months of pneumonia.
  • This is the last record I find of Henry with his family intact.

1866
1867
1868
1869
1870
1871

1871-04-02 (Apr 2nd), 1871 Census of England & Wales.  I cannot find Henry or the family.  

    1872
    1873

    1873-07-21 (Jul 21st), A Henry Sayers, Lace Maker is imprisoned for seven days at Wandsworth Prison, London.  Sentenced for being drunk on the highway.  Is this our Henry Shawers?  Is he still alive?

    • Five foot two inches, blue eyed, Fresh complexion, no marks.  Weight, nine stone, seven pounds.
    • Lace Maker
    • Age 45, born about 1828.
    • Born in Switzerland.

    Is this our ancestor, Henry, still alive in 1873, while his wife and daughter lived in Kent under different names?  I think it is.

    1874
    1875
    1876
    1877
    1878
    1879
    1880
    1881

    1881-04-03 (Apr 3rd), 1881 census of England & Wales.  I cannot find Henry.  I find his wife and daughter, living as Elizabeth and Rosa S Hayes.  Now they are in service, in Fulham, London, working for a middle class Portuguese family.

    • Elizabeth states that she is married.  She is now 45 years old.  No sign of Henry Shawers or a Mr Hayes.
    • They are both working as servants.  Rosa S Hayes (Elizabeth Rosina Shawers, my great great grandmother) is 22 years old.

    1882
    1883

    1883-09-29 (Sep 29th), Henry and Elizabeth's daughter, Elizabeth Rosina Shawers, marries my great great grandfather, Henry Brooker at St Johns, Fulham, London.  They live at 49 Estcourt Road, Fulham.

    • Elizabeth states that her name as Elizabeth Rosina Shawers, not as Hayes.
    • Her father is recorded as Henry Shawers
    • Her father's occupation is recorded as a Weaver.

    1884
    1885
    1886
    1887
    1888
    1889
    1891

    1891-04-05 (Apr 5th), 1891 Census of England & Wales.  No sign of Henry Shawers.  His wife Elizabeth Hayes (nee Shawers, nee Durran) is living at 1 North Street, Deptford, London, with her son-in-law and daughter, Henry and Elizabeth Rosina Brooker

    • Elizabeth Hayes (nee Shawers, nee Durran) is recorded as a 55 year old widow.  I suspect Henry Shawers has passed away by now.

    1892
    1893
    1894
    1895
    1896
    1897
    1898
    1899
    1901

    1901-03-31 (Mar 31st), 1901 Census of England & Wales.  No sign of Henry Shawers.  Elizabeth Hayes is living at 33 Loampit Vale, Lewisham, with her son-in-law and daughter Henry and Elizabeth Rosina Brooker

    • She is recorded as a 65 year old widow.

    1902
    1903
    1904
    1905
    1906
    1907
    1908
    1909
    1910
    1911

    1911-04-02 (Apr 2nd), 1911 Census of England & Wales.  No sign of Henry Shawers.  Elizabeth Hayes is living at 78 Cold Bath Street, Lewisham with her son-in-law and daughter Henry and Elizabeth Rosina Brooker.

    • She is recorded as a 75 year old widow.

    1912
    1913
    1914

    1914-05-11 (May 11th), Elizabeth Hayes, of 78 Cold Bath Street, Lewisham, born 1836, is admitted to Greenwich Workhouse by her daughter Mrs Brooker.  From Ancestry.co.uk.  Digitilised image of workhouse entry register.

    • Elizabeth is described as a widow of "Henry, an Actor".  Is this a Henry Hayes, the "sailor", or some sort of referral to Henry Shawers?

    1915

    1915-12-01 (Dec 1st), Elizabeth Hayes dies.  I have the GRO death certificate.

    • Age 80 years.
    • Died of senile chronic bronchitis
    • Death registered by her daughter E.R Brooker in attendance at 31 Caradoc Street.
    • Addressed to 78 Cold Bath Street, Lewisham.
    • Records that she was "Widow of Henry Hayes (an actor".

    Henry and Elizabeth's son, my great grandfather, John Henry Brooker, was in the Royal Field Artillery at this time.

    John Henry Brooker and partner Mabel, at Sheerness, Kent, in 1933.  John was the only grandson of Henry Shawers.

    Conclusions

    Henry Shawers, Henrich Schwarez, Henri Cherrais, or whatever name that he was born with, was a 19th century lace weaving immigrant from Switzerland, into the East End of London.  He was illiterate, a christian, and he suffered terrible poverty during his life in England.  He was short and slight, only around 5 ft 2" (158 cm) tall, with a fair complexion, no marks, and perhaps grey-blue eyes.  He may have been the Monsieur Shawers that arrived from Boulogne, France, at Folkestonedocks in 1852.  He met and married a young woman from rural Oxfordshire, a tailor's daughter named Elizabeth Durran in Bethnal Green, close to the Spitalfields weaving centre of London's East End.

    Their first child was a daughter that they named Elizabeth Rosina Shawers - known as "Rosa".  She was to be their only child to survive infant hood to adulthood.  My great great grandmother Brooker, born on Pownall Road, Haggerstone, London, during September 1858.  A second child, a son named after his father, Henry Shawers the junior, was also born at Pownall Road in January 1860.  I don't see the family settle again after this date.  In April 1861, they were living in Islington.

    During early April, 1862, they were now living in Waterloo, south of the bridge in Central London.  Their second son, William, was born there.  I believe that their first son Henry, had already passed away by this time.

    Weaving was in decline in the removal of protectionism, the rise of the power loom, and factory production.  Henry survived by specialising in the lace trimmings and fringes, perhaps of dresses and skirts.  But it wasn't easy.  He resorted to begging, a crime of poverty that was punished by a spell in Wandsworth prison that October.  

    Something made them move south, out of London.  Was it an attempt to return to the Continent?  Perhaps visit a relative of Henry's on the South Coast, a work opportunity, or were they pushed by the gruelling poverty and disease?  Their second son William, was buried it appears, on this journey, from small pox, and was buried "a stranger's child" in the Surrey village of Bletchingley.

    They ended up for a while in a lodging house on the South Coast in Brighton.  Their third son Arthur, was born there.  Then they moved northwards again over the winter of 1864 / 1865.  In early April, 1865, they were now living at Baker Street, Enfield, to the north of London.  Arthur, age five months died there of pneumonia.  Their third son.  The third to die as an infant.  Only their daughter, Elizabeth Rosina Shawers still survived.

    I don't see them as a family again after the death of Arthur in Enfield, 1865.

    Then in July 1873, a Henry "Sayers", a lace maker of very similar physical description, born about the same time, appears briefly in Wandsworth Prison, for being "drunk on the highway".  It sounds so much like our Henry - and he was foreign born, only this record tantalizingly records him as "born in Switzerland".  Was this our Henry, estranged from his wife and daughter?

    That's the last possible sighting of Henry on record.  He evaded both 1861 and 1871 English censuses.  I can't find his death or burial.

    As for his wife Elizabeth, she continued to live under the name Elizabeth Hayes for many years at her daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth Rosina and Henry Brooker's home in the Deptford then Lewisham area.  Shortly before her death in Greenwich workhouse during 1915, her daughter recorded for her, that she was the widow of Henry, an Actor.  A final puzzle to her life story.  Was this really a Henry Hayes, or was it Henry Shawers?  Why actor?

    Time Travelling back through my ancestry timeline - Super Family History

    The Dance of Cogul, tracing by Henri Breuil.

    A Timeline for my ancestry based on current evidences.

    3,000,000 years ago.

    In Africa.  Eastern and / or maybe Southern Africa.  Hominids.  We call them Australopithecines, and in some ways, they resembled modern chimpanzees but that were adapting to walking upright bipedally, in open environments.  They made stone tools.  They had an omnivorous diet.  They were my ancestors three million years ago.  As they were for all of us.  Natural Selection was the big, very slow kicker for prehistory.  Things changed very, very slowly,

    200,000 years ago.

    The first hominids that are regarded rather loosely as Anatomically Modern Human emerging in Africa.

    At this time, most of my ancestors still lived in Africa, but some of my non-anatomically modern ancestors had already migrated out of Africa, and had dispersed across Eurasia for some time.  They included those archaic humans that anthropologists presently call Neanderthals and Denisovans. 

    50,000 years ago.

    Most likely by now, most of my hunter-forager ancestors had left Africa.  An early out-of-Africa base appears to have been Arabia and the Middle East.  Some of my ancestors had met now, after long family separations (I have 328 Neanderthal variants in my DNA, according to 23andMe), it was the birth of the Eurasians.  The last Ice Age encroached.

    14,000 years ago.

    People had been learning to live with the climatic fluctuations of the last Ice Age.  Each hardening of climatic conditions had frozen Eurasian human populations into isolated conditions that increased genetic drift.

    Where were my hunter-forager ancestors 14,000 years ago?  Most likely in pockets dispersed across Western Eurasia, from South-West Europe, across to Central Asia, and from Arabia up to Siberia.  My direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor at this time, most likely lived somewhere between what today is Syria, and Pakistan.  He could for example, have been an ibex hunter in the Zagros Mountains of Iran.  My direct maternal ancestor (mtDNA line) most likely lived in another pocket of hunter-foragers somewhere in Central Asia, such as what is now Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, the Siberian Plain, or nearby.  Some of her, or other of my ancestors at this time, had shared ancestry with a Siberian tribe of mammoth hunters, that archaeologists now call the Mal'ta–Buret' culture.  Other of my ancestors of this time may have most likely lived in the Caucasus, Southern Europe, Middle East, and Arabia.

    5,600 years ago.

    Many people in Western Eurasia were adapting to a new way of living, where farming and agriculture, with a range of domesticated species of animal and plant were spreading, often carried along in waves that are marked in our DNA.  The Neolithic Revolution that had affected my ancestors had occurred a few thousand years earlier in South-West Asia, in an area that we call the Fertile Crescent - the Levant, and down the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys. Some of my ancestors may have been early pioneers of this new way of life in the Middle East.

    My direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor may have lived in one of the Uruk farming settlements in Babylonia, or could have been a Neolithic farmer in a number of cultures spread across what is now Iraq, Iran, or Pakistan.  He alternatively could be one of a number of specialists that early civilisation was generating - a potter, a weaver, or a miner.

    My direct maternal line had drifted out of Central Asia, and onto the Eurasian Steppe Corridor.  My mtDNA ancestor was most likely living now on the Pontic and Caspian Steppes - what is now Ukraine, Southern Russia, or Kazakhistan.  Her people would have most likely herded domestic livestock including horses, cattle, goats and sheep.  They were mastering the horse and using the first wheeled wagons. On the Steppe corridor, they had access not only to trade with the civilisations south of the Caucasus, but to other cultures, and their materials.  They were experimenting with some of the earliest metallurgy including copper working.

    Asides from her, I most likely had a number of other ancestors living in these pastoralist cultures on the Steppes at this time. Perhaps around 28% of my ancestors 5,500 years ago, lived there.

    Other ancestors of mine at this time, were dispersed across Europe.  They include the Neolithic European farmers.  They had descended largely from populations that had previously lived in the Levant and Anatolia (what is now Turkey and the Middle East).  Some of my Neolithic European Farmer ancestors could have even lived in Megalithic Britain, but most likely, many of my European Neolithic ancestors lived elsewhere on the Continent, in for example, the Rhine valley, Danube valley, Italy, or Iberia.  Many of them had ancestry that had hopped westwards along the Mediterranean, the first farmers from Anatolia and the Levant (50% of my ancient admixture), but with a smaller admixture of hunter-gatherer ancestors that had previously lived in Europe (12% of my ancient admixture). Did this 12% admixture include the surviving DNA of any of the last Mesolithic hunter-gatherers of the British Isles?  I'd like to think so, but possibly not.

    4,600 years ago.

    My Copper Age, horse riding Steppe ancestors had migrated westwards into Europe.  There they had admixed with the earlier European Neolithic people.  Their DNA appeared in a Copper Age fusion culture across Central Europe (Poland, Germany, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, etc) that we call the Corded Ware Culture.  My direct maternal ancestors (mtDNA line) were most likely of that culture for a time.  Their mtDNA markers turn up associated with it.

    Aside from her, some of my other ancestors would have been in the Corded Ware Culture.  However, the westward movement of DNA from the Steppes didn't end there.  In Western Europe, it triggered the birth of another culture, that archaeologists call Bell Beaker Culture.  Much of the Y-DNA of the Steppes, was carried into the Rhineland Bell Beaker men.  Some of my ancestors could have belonged to the Bell Beaker culture in Iberia, or Western France.  However, what is more likely is that at least some of them belonged to the Bell Beaker culture that had settled in the Lower Rhine Valley (The Netherlands and NW Germany).

    Many of my ancestors at this time may have played a part in the Corded Ware and Bell Beaker cultures of Europe.  mtDNA (H6a1 and H6a1a) very close to my direct maternal line has been found in both cultures, including in a Bell Beaker context in the Netherlands.

    My direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor was an exception.  He most likely was living somewhere around what is now Iran, possibly as a farmer in the Bronze Age civilisations there.  Ancestors in Southern Europe were less affected by the Copper Age Steppe migration event (mainly in their Y-DNA), and continued to carry mainly Neolithic European Farmer DNA in their autosomes.

    3,600 years ago.

    I want to just stop here, to record that some of my Bell Beaker Culture ancestors had crossed the North Sea from the Lower Rhine (Netherlands) to settle in South East Britain.  Their descendants were living in Bronze Age Britain.  I can't say with any degree of certainty, if my direct maternal (mtDNA line) ancestor was a part of this migration, or whether her line was still on the European Continent, and crossed later.  Either are equally feasible.   I would have had other ancestors, perhaps the majority at this time, scattered across the European Continent, but most likely, some in what is now Germany, France, Scandinavia, and Southern Europe.

    My direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor was most likely still in the area of Iraq, or Iran. Perhaps for example, he was an Assyrian.

    2,600 years ago.

    I'd estimate that perhaps around 38% of my ancestors were now living in Iron Age Britain.  My Iron Age British ancestors would have lived in the round houses and would have farmed the land.    Some people refer to the culture of the British Isles at this time as Celtic.  Some of my ancestors may well have belonged to a tribal federation, that was later known as the Iceni.

    This may or may not have included my direct maternal (mtDNA line) ancestor, who could have been a Briton, but may have equally lived along with many of my other ancestors - in an Iron Age Germanic culture in the Netherlands, Northern Germany, or Denmark. Others may have lived further to the south and west in Europe in other cultures  such as the Gauls.  I have a great great great grandparent from Switzerland.  His ancestors at this time, could have been dispersed through a number of tribes across Central and Southern Europe.

    My direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor was most likely still in the area of the Middle East, or Iran. Perhaps for example, he was a subject of the Persian Empire.

    1,700 years ago.

    Lets stop here a moment.  Roman Britain.  Perhaps 40% of my ancient ancestors living here at the time.  Britain had been occupied by the Western Roman Empire for some time.  My ancestors in Britannia would have very much identified as Romans, although they largely descended from the Iron Age Britons. However, there were traders, soldiers, and merchants from further afield here.  That might have even included my direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor, that could for example, have traveled to Southern Britannia from Assyria or Persia, or perhaps even from the Eastern Roman Empire in Anatolia and the Levant.

    Meanwhile many of my ancestors were living in Germanic pagan tribes across the North Sea in what is now the Netherlands, Northern Germany, and Denmark.  Others may have been living in Roman Gaul, Tuscany, or elsewhere on the Continent.

    1,000 years ago.

    I believe that the majority of my ancestors now lived in early medieval southern Britain, although some may have still lived further to the south in places such as Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Spain, or Italy.  If he didn't arrive earlier, perhaps my direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor arrived in Wessex about now, as for example, a specialist from the Middle East, working for the Roman church.  Many of my ancestors in South-East Britain had arrived from across the North Sea over the preceding centuries, with Germanic tribes such as the Angles, Frisians, Danes and Saxons.   Archaeological artifacts in Norfolk correlate best with some sites in Northern Germany, towards the border with Denmark.

    This would have included Anglo-Saxon ancestors of my mother, that most likely rowed past the decommissioned Roman shore fort at Burgh, and perhaps moored at Reedham.  It may have included Danish ancestors of her that a few centuries later settled the district of Flegg in East Norfolk.  DNA shared on the Continent in places such as modern day Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, and Denmark reflects strongly in my ancestral DNA tests.  Much of it may have arrived during these early medieval immigration events.

    My direct maternal (mtDNA line) would most likely be in East Anglia or nearby by now.

    500 years ago.

    Exchange between South East Britain and the European Continent didn't end.  It is possible that I had more ancestors arrive here from Normandy, Medieval France, and the Spanish Netherlands.  However by 500 years ago, It is possible that most of my ancestors now lived in Tudor England.  There would most likely still been a minority of later ancestors migrating from elsewhere, although I so far only see one great great great grandparent from Switzerland, in my genealogical record.  It is likely that my direct paternal (Y-DNA line) ancestor was living in Southern England, and that my direct maternal (mtDNA line) ancestor was living in East Anglia.   I trace his line back to the Oxfordshire / Berkshire border, and her line back 300 years ago to the village of Bunwell in Norfolk.

    It is likely that the majority of my Tudor ancestors were living in East Anglia by now, particularly in the County of Norfolk.  Many of the men would be transitioning from medieval peasant status to that of free rural labourers or some into farmers or tradesmen.

    300 years ago.

    It is highly likely that by now, all of my ancestors (except the Swiss line at Generation 6, arriving 160 years ago), lived in South-East England.  The majority in Norfolk, East Anglia, perhaps as high as 77% East Anglian, also a cluster in the Thames Valley of Oxfordshire and Berkshire, and a smaller cluster around Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire.

    Their trades included agricultural labourerers, shepherds, horsemen, marshmen, smallhold farmers, watermen, carpenters, inn keepers, hawkers, etc. They were the English rural working classes of the 18th Century.

    Their recorded surnames included:

    Moore, Gunton, Mar, Mollett, Portar, Beck, Breeze, Cruchfield, Lewell, Mingay, Wittham, Thurkettle, Gardiner, Ursul, Upcroft, Neale, Neville, Hammond, Bennett, Read, Bradfield, Aimes, Sniss, Wick, Bligh, Frances, Rippon, Saunderson, Goodram, Seymore, Waine, Blaxhall, Jacobs, Yallop Brucker, Gregory, Hardiment, Hardyman, Briting, Hill, Harrison, Brown, Harding, Creess, Tovel, Osborne, Nichols, Bond, Bowes, Daynes, Brooker, Curtis, Smith, Baxter, Shawers, Edney, Tovell, Key, Tammas-Tovell, Thacker, Lawn, Tammas, Hagon, Hewitt, Springall, Porter, Rose, Larke, Annison, Barker, Brooks, Ling, Rowland, Gorll, Dingle, Marsh, Symonds, Dawes, Goffen, Waters, Briggs, Nicholls, Shepherd, Maye, Morrison, Merrison, Norton, Cossey, Harrington, Barber, Peach, Dennis, Durran, Freeman, Hedges, Crutchfield, Quantrill, Page, Dove, Rix, Sales, Britiff, Goffin, Coleman, Tibnum, Mitchells, Ellis, Beckett, Riches, Snelling, Ransby, Nicholes, Harris, Shilling, Wymer, Moll, Ginby, Gynby, Gaul, Edwards, and Gall.

    50 years ago.

    I was a small child in Norfolk.  Born English, to a local East Anglian family.  Yet look back at my ancestral timeline.  My ancestry is from all over Europe, and even from across Western Asia, and before that from Africa.  We are all cousins in one large global family.  Much of my family timeline, will also be your timeline.


    That's time travelling through my own ancestry.

    Our Norfolk wherrymen ancestors of Reedham


    Image above by Snapshots Of The Past (Wherry leaving Wroxham England) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

    I've long wondered about some of the ancestors of my great grandmother Flo Curtis, on my mother's side.  She was born at Freethorpe, Norfolk in 1884, as Florence Key.  She is standing in the below photo, on crutches, behind my grandfather who is holding his daughter:


    Florence's father, George Key, was a local carpenter of Freethorpe, and her mother was born as Sarah Goffen at the nearby riverside village of Reedham in 1853.  Here is Sarah, standing behind my grandparents wedding in 1932:


    Sarah most likely met young George Key through trade links from her late father, Richard Goffen, who is recorded on census as a master carpenter of Reedham.  He was also recorded as an inn keeper or publican at a pub that was called the Brick Kiln at Reedham, close to the river.  Reedham was an important river side parish along the River Yare.  The river connected the medieval City of Norwich to the North Sea via Great Yarmouth. Rich pastures lay to the east of the village on the marshes of the Halvergate Triangle, which with Breydon water, once formed a great sea estuary.  A ferry crossed the strong tidal waters of Reedham.


    Now, I have indeed found the evidence that the Goffens of Reedham were involved with the Wherry trade.  Until the late 18th Century, most cargo and passengers along the Broadland waterways of East Norfolk were carried by the old square mast long boats known as the Norfolk Keel:


    Then from the early 18th Century, a newer series of vessel designs started to take over on the lowland waterways of the Norfolk Broads, that featured a high-peaked sail with the mast stepped well forward.  They corresponded with a great age of Norfolk windmills and wind pumps.  The classic Norfolk wherry.


    Nancy at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

    The men that sailed them were often regarded as a particular breed.  They lived on the waterways, in small cabins fitted with a stove.  Moving cargoes and in some cases, passengers, between Norwich and the port of Great Yarmouth.  In 1833, a new canal named the Haddiscoe Cut, was opened up near to Reedham, that also allowed vessels to trade to Lowestoft in Suffolk.  The watermen carried cargoes of coal, timber, lime, chalk, cement, ale, grain, and other goods up and down the waterways of East Norfolk.

    My ancestor, Richard Goffen was a riverside carpenter and inn keeper at Reedham, and almost certainly was involved with this trade.  I've suspected that for a while, but now I can see just how deeply his family were involved.  A census records that two of his brothers, Edward Goffen born at Reedham in 1793, and John Goffen born there ten years later were both indeed, watermen, with John specifically recorded as a Wherryman.  Brother Edward Goffen was also an inn keeper at another riverside Reedham pub, the Lord Nelson.  The whole family appear to have been involved with river trade, with a fourth brother, James Goffen born at Reedham in 1806 being recorded as a lime burner and coal merchant.  Without a doubt his coal, chalk, and lime were being transported along the river, possibly by his brothers.  As a family, they appear to have been particularly successful in this trade.  Wherries were being built at Reedham, and I suspect that our ancestor may have been involved as a carpenter in the boat building trade.

    All four Goffen brothers were born at Reedham, to Richard and Judith Goffen (nee Shepherd). Richard the senior was most likely born at nearby Strumpshaw in 1731.  I have no record of his occupation, but I wonder if he was also involved in the river trade, that inspired his four sons.

    Marriage of Richard Goffen (senior) to Judith Shepherd at Reedham in 1793.  This was his second marriage, after his previous wife Ann (nee Mingay) passed away.

    Their son, Richard Goffen (junior) also married twice. I believe that his first wife was one Elizabeth Scarll, who he married at nearby Cantley in 1821.  In 1843, he married our ancestor Elizabeth Nicholls, who then at the age of 21, was no less than 27 years his junior.  This didn't stop them having seven children between then and 1860.  Clearly his trade supported him well at the Brick Kiln inn.

    Richard (junior) died in 1861.  Elizabeth went on to marry again, this time to a Matthew Bush of Freethorpe.

    That's my family link to the classic icon of the Norfolk Broads.  The Norfolk Wherry.

    A recent ancestral journey with the Daynes of Garvestone and Brandon Parva

    An incredibly beautiful sunny day for mid April.  I had a day free, mustn't waste it.  Mustn't waste life.  So on the bicycle, no plan, or idea where I was going.  I ride just down the road intending to explore the local back roads, and I passed this old diesel train sitting at the Wymondham station of the Mid-Norfolk Railway, a heritage line that terminates close to my home. I couldn't miss the opportunity, so bought a ticket to the other end of the line at Dereham, and jumped on board the vintage train with my bike.

    Dereham (formerly East Dereham), was the hometown of my father.  Thankfully I had very little cash with me, so could avoid the temptation of tasting the wares of the Dereham pubs.  The journey to Dereham slowly rattled along the old Mid Norfolk railway line.  Once there, I came up with the idea of cycling back to Wymondham via some of my ancestral parish churches.

    Such a gorgeous day.  Perfectly warm enough in T shirt and shorts.  Yellow primroses.  Buzzards.  Narrow country lanes, hedrerows, and tracing the footsteps of some ancestors.  I followed a cycle route out of the Mid Norfolk market town, and headed for the village of Garvestone, where some of my mother's ancestors by the surname Daynes (or Daines), had lived during the 18th and early 19th centuries.

    The parish church at Garvestone is dedicated to St Margarets.  My 6 x great grandparents, Isaac Daynes and Mary Osborne, were married there in 1754.  I searched the grave yard for Daynes, but the only one that I found, was not of a direct ancestor.  I only found it with the help of a mapped index inside of the church, as the headstone had fallen down and was covered with lichens.  I literally excavated it from the vegetation:

    Perhaps my Daynes ancestors were unable to afford headstones.  I decided to next follow their tracks.  They later moved a few miles to the parish of Brandon Parva.  Back on the bike:

    I had to ride up a hill through a farm yard to reach the pretty church of All Saints at Brandon Parva:

    My 4 x great grandfather Reuben Daynes was baptised here in 1785.  He later moved with his family to Besthorpe near to Wymondham, where my great great grandmother Sarah Daines was later born.  After visiting this church, I carried on cycling home in the sunshine.  Beautiful day.

    More Clues on the Brooker line

    New College Chapel Interior 2 Oxford UK - Diliff 
    New College, Oxford, by Diliff (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

    Following advice on the Berks & Bucks Ancestry & Genealogy Group on Facebook, I commissioned fresh searches county indexes by the Oxfordshire FHS (Family History Society).  It hasn't done anything to confirm my Hagbourne hypothesis.  However, it did uncover my 6xgreat grandparents Brooker's marriage, and it wasn't somewhere that I would have looked.  They were married 1st November 1746 at New College, Oxford.  Both bride and groom recorded Long Wittenham as their parish.  I would not have expected such a grand wedding venue for my ancestors.  It turns out that it was quite common for people, even poor people, from parishes in the surrounding countryside, to be married in Oxford, as many of the clerics were also academics within the colleges.  The entry also gives me Mary's maiden surname - GARDINER.

    I now have TWO suspects for 6xgreat grandfather John Brooker's origins.

    1. The Hagbourne John Brooker, son of John and Ursula.  Baptised 1723.
    2. An Oxford St Mary John Brooker, son of a John.  Baptised 1723.

    The agent for the Oxfordshire FHS search, did warn that he felt it a little unlikely that my John was the son of John and Ursula Brooker of Hagbourne.  The reason being, that other than "John", there is little evidence of other family forenames such as Ursula or Elizabeth.  However ... it looks as though Mary Gardiner herself was baptised in 1717 at East Hagbourne.  If she hailed from there, then that provides a strong correlation.  If I do eventually tie my John Brooker to the Hagbourne Brookers, then I have a fair chance of extending the line back to 1642.

    Another interesting thought, is that Hagbourne if accepted, does take us in the right direction for a piece of DNA evidence.  We know that in the 1740's, a Thomas Chandler lived at Basingstoke, Hampshire, that shared our Y-DNA.  At some point, our Brooker line and that Chandler line must have had a common paternal ancestor.  Hagbourne is taking us in that diection.  Only 28 miles by road from Basingstoke.  A massive assumption here.  Chase our paternal Y-DNA line back further, we KNOW that it arrived in Southern England, from Asia, most likely during the Medieval period.  Basingstoke is on a direct trajectory between Hagbourne and Southampton docks.

    The search goes on.

    Additional News

    The marriage certificate of George Barber and Maria Ellis at St Michael, South Elmham, Suffolk, turned up in the post this morning.  No nasty surprises.  It utterly confirmed that my George Barber, was the son of Robert Barber, etc.  Another marriage date added to the tree.  This couple were ancestors of my grandmother Doris Brooker.