Date: 16th November, 2021
By Mark Connolly [email protected]
The detailed written report below is best viewed on a Desktop, Laptop or Tablet
Deep Past DNA Report
Our DNA hard drives
The first thing to say about DNA is that we are more than just the sum of our parts, we do however ALL share about 99% of our genes. Life chances drive reality much more than genes – however that 1% difference does lead to billions of custom builds like you and me so let’s begin with that.
Your unique DNA is effectively selected in a giant lottery machine, made up – according to the latest science – of a random selection of 250 or so ancestors from each of your parents; our oldest relatives are largely overwritten after about 500 years but every now and then there are rare genetic mutations a bit like zip codes that allow us to zero in on an ancestor much further back. As for the statistical likelihood of DNA matches with other people, it’s as follows:
Siblings 100% Share a parent
Your Cousins 100% Share a grandparent
2nd Cousins 100% Share a great grandparent
3rd Cousins 98% Share a great great grandparent
4th Cousins 71% Share a great great great grandparent
5th cousins 32% Share a great great great great grandparent
Exploring your DNA can be a lengthy, frustrating and even disappointing business if you don’t know how to get the most from these state-of-the-art services. I’ve used my professional skills to find everything you need to know so you don’t waste countless hours. My DNA discoveries complement and go far beyond what is available on Ancestry and other individual services. I have combined your information and compared it to family records to make sure you receive maximum benefit. I’ve also made it far easier for you to quickly contact key DNA matches. Your matches based on shared direct ancestors are now linked to confirmed direct relatives in your tree. You can also search by the following two methods: Your Common Ancestors or Thrulines
How to find Common Ancestors using Thrulines
DNA testing is much more popular in the ‘new world’ than the ‘old’, so that can present challenges depending on your DNA. Roughly 30 million people have – to date- taken DNA tests. Many of them are in America and in your case you have excellent American matches.
What does AncestryDNA say about you?
As of AncestryDNA’s latest update you do not have localized DNA regions of Britain. Why is that? Experience with other clients suggests it is down to the following:
- You have very early indigenous British, Irish and European DNA
- Most of your American ancestors were early settlers and your DNA has mixed in a much deeper way than in later arrivals.
Your American Relatives and Ancestors
For three hundred years your American DNA has mixed mainly Britons and Irish with ethnically German groups who lived most recently in what is now Denmark, Poland and Russia. America was generally a complete reset from European conventions, especially for those escaping poverty and government interference on the continent. The old maxim that flocks of a feather stick together remained true; but the available gene pool was greatly expanded over time; Scottish lowland protestants would marry their Dutch or German equivalents rather than a fellow Scot, Irish Catholics would marry Scottish Catholic Highlanders or Italians and so on. Many did initially emigrate with extended family members and neighbors but they fanned out over time to cover vast regions of the country as your DNA map of up to 4th generation cousins shows.
Your background is classic American frontier via the East Coast ports and the 18th-19th century wagon routes which carried the bravest and most adaptable settlers into the interior, along routes like Pennsylvania Road.
Most of your traceable ancestors left their homelands before industrialization and took the risks required to acquire a homestead and farmland. Those who arrived later often headed straight to the developing industrial towns of the Midwest where their skills were in high demand.
Your greatest single number of DNA matches is an incredible 60+ for Archibald Hamilton and Mary Hawkins who lived between the 1740s and 1830s in Maryland and North Carolina. They remain potential ancestors because I didn’t have research time to confirm the record trail back from verified direct ancestors. With so many matches though, it seems unlikely that they are not your 5th grandparents. Hamilton – like many Americans of that period – would have most likely been of Scots-Irish stock. Hamilton is a South of Scotland (Lanarkshire) name, but hundreds of thousands of people settled land in Ulster during the 1600s.
After a century or two in the North of Ireland, tens of thousands of Scot-Irish soldiers, farmers and their families moved to America. Most arrived in the forty years leading up to the revolution; by the 1760s they represented about 10% of the entire colonial population.
If the British government had stuck to their promises on tenant farmer rents, they probably would have stayed in Ireland and history would likely have been very different. They were the most capable fighting force by far in America and provided a realistic chance of making Benjamin Franklin’s ideas reality.
“If all else fails, I will retreat up the valley of Virginia, plant my flag on the Blue Ridge, rally around the Scotch-Irish of that region, and make my last stand for liberty amongst a people who will never submit to British tyranny whilst there is a man left to draw a trigger”
Comments attributed to George Washington
Once they had dispatched the British, the Scots-Irish became the frontiersmen who made the west safe for expansion to less militarily capable settlers.
As for Archibald Hamilton’s wife Mary Hawkins, her name is of South of England origin, her ancestors may have arrived with the first English colonists given she was born in North Carolina.
Into the Expanse
As colonial settlement progressed westward, the “Great Wagon Road” and its offshoots were gradually extended by the 1730s from the key port of entry at Philadelphia. Numerous settlers, especially the so-called “Pennsylvania Germans” utilized these routes into
the rich farm valleys. The principle of least geographic resistance demanded that the earliest major north-south routes pass through Maryland on either side of the Chesapeake Bay.
By the time of your Great Grandparents the first national US roads and railroads were taking shape across the primary areas of western expansion. As a result the area south and west of the Great Lakes Region became the industrial heartland of the United States. At its peak it hosted the world’s greatest concentrations of production for oil, coal, steel, automobiles, synthetic rubber, agricultural machinery, and heavy transport equipment. Your Great Grandparents were born across the region, in the townships which followed the wagon trails, early roads and railroads of western expansion.
The areas your Great, Great Grandparents lived when young (1855-1885)
Many of your ancestors were likely Revolutionary soldiers and their grandchildren would mainly have been on the Union side given where they lived during the Civil War.
The areas your Great Grandparents lived when young (1887-1917)
As the South declined after the war, the North boomed; only to falter a generation or so later during the Great Depression. The best times of all arrived in the wake of World War II. America was effectively the last man fully standing. Britain was spent and Europe and Asia devastated and exhausted. But as the decades past and other regions of the world recovered, America’s rich shipped the jobs of the Greatest Generation’s children overseas to vastly cheaper locations where unions and democracy didn’t generally exist.
As financial security disappeared, blue collar families were torn asunder by social problems and a relentless decline in living standards. The American Dream was shrinking for all but the richest, but such was the power of the idea (and the evidence of the prior 300 years) that most people who could, just moved on- they headed for the next big thing – sunnier and more optimistic regions like California; leaving the rustbelt and those who couldn’t afford to move behind.
By the time your Grandparents were young adults (1926-1956) your direct ancestors had shifted further south and lived in a far wider area of the United States.
Your ancestors expanded their reach by about 2,000 miles each generation
This is where we depart from your American story and focus on your Deep Past. We’ll look at where your ancestors came from and the histories that shaped their decisions. Let’s begin with your known German ancestors.
Those that I have verified with records arrived in America in the early to mid 18th century, but the first big wave of Germans migrated from the 1680s to 1760s. Pennsylvania was the favored destination. Most of the early arrivals were escaping war, religious intolerance and reduced opportunity. By the 1800s they were well established. This region of the United States became the go to place for Germans looking to get ahead or buy land.
The first thing to say about Germany is that while its written name first appears in recorded history in Roman times, its been a nebulous region of ever changing borders shared by competing principalities for much of history. When times were good they were often very good, due to Germans being in the middle of Europe; when bad – it really wasn’t a place you wanted to be because you were surrounded by competitors waiting to take advantage of national weakness.
As a result, German families were – like their leaders – very hierarchical with one person, usually the eldest man, making all the key decisions. The kind of legal, economic and democratic developments taking place in Britain – last invaded in 1066 – never took hold for long on the European mainland by virtue of being connected to most of the world by land. Therefore personal freedom was on an invisible leash, all could change in a heartbeat and war and ever changing borders could take all of life’s gain very quickly. That relentless cycle is the primary reason continental Europeans came to America – not to escape violence and competition- there was plenty of that in America – but to keep the gains of being on the winning side rather than lose it all again in the relentless cycle of multiple nations jockeying for power.
Your German Ancestors were Prussian
History and Records: The Evidence
Johann E Hedtke arrived in New York on the Herzogin Von Brabant on 12th August 1861. He married his wife Florentine on the 18th November 1845 in Berent, the capital of West Prussia in the region of Pomerania. They were Protestant Lutherans but there was a significant German Catholic and East European/Russian Slavic population in this region so there was much more intermarriage and tolerance than in less ethnically diverse places. The region has had almost too many invasions to count. The Germans were invited to settle by local rulers beginning in the 14th century, rather than invading. The migration was called ‘Ostsiedlung‘ or ‘East settling’. These migrants, consisted of Germans from what is today a western border region straddling Denmark, The Netherlands, France and Switzerland.
Florentine is believed to be from the same area but I ran out of research time to verify and explore before the mid 1800s.
As for Joseph Kiehlbauch and his family, there are many stories from other Ancestry users who say he was a German born in Nueburg, South Russia. Catherine the Great invited many Germans to settle in Russia during her reign. Neuburg was founded by Germans invited in 1804, it was named after the Bavarian town of the same name which is likely where this branch of your family originally comes from.
There were many William Schlorfs who emigrated to America during the same time period. They key to discovering the right one was acquiring your maternal great grandmother Minnie Schlorf’s birth record from Cook County, Illinois. When she was born in Chicago in 1905 her birth document recorded her birthplace as 10920 Mackinaw Avenue. Census data in 1900 was mis-transcribed (common problem) as Machine Avenue. On close inspection of the actual 1900 census document it says Mackinaw Avenue.
This confirmation of address in Minnie’s 1905 birth led to the following Naturalization record:
A German Departure record dated 3rd of April 1891 has a William Schlorff leaving Hamburg for New York. It says he lived in Barmbek, a village close to Hamburg. This record also provides his birth date, the month of which matches his U.S. censuses. So this is undoubtably our Wilhelm Schlorff – John Ludwig no doubt refers to untraced relatives.
So what else do we know about Wilhelm and Mary Johanssen?
We know that Mary’s maiden name as provided was Johnson, but it turned out she had anglicized it using the Scottish version of the same surname – Johnson.
This Census record from 1920 after the family moved to Wisconsin (probably for land and family or German connections there) is the only record we have of the specific regions in Germany William and Mary are from. It rules out previous suggestions for William’s birth as it shows he was born in Pomerania – as were his parents. Wisconsin was the favourite destination of Pomeranian Germans. His parents were also from this part of Prussia. His residency in Barmbek, Hamburg could mean nothing or it could mean he moved there from Pomerania along with other Germans escaping problems at the time in the East. It could also mean he has family connections in Hamburg or simply that is where he emigrated from. As for Mary, we know her first husband died and was a Russian-German American called Charles Rossow. William brought up their two surviving children as their step father. The 1920 census says his wife Mary was born in Schleswig-Holstein. This was another region of German minority populations, today it is largely part of Denmark. Suggestions by some that she was born in Tondern (Danish: Tønder) have not panned out based on records found to date. However she could well have been born there as that was one of the most important German towns of the region until it was removed from Germany following a referendum after WWI.
It all makes sense up to this point until 23andMe’s Ancestry Timeline throws what would appear to be a major spanner in the works
Penisular Arab? Iranian and Mesopotamian? While that type of DNA mixing wouldn’t be unusual in very recent times there is no evidence of it having happened in your family in the United States and is extremely unlikely during the period your ancestors left Britain, Ireland and Germany. So what’s going on here?
The key thing to remember is that your Germanic DNA is from people known to have settled in the deepest pockets of the German speaking world.
So German populations next to Denmark can explain Scandinavian DNA and German populations in the Baltic can explain East European Slavic and Russian DNA based on intermarriage in the 19th century just as the 23andMe timeline suggests above.
But what about the Western Asian and Middle East Arab DNA in the 18th century and before? Is that an anomaly?
Perhaps not, even if you uploaded your 23andMe test to FamilyTreeDNA.
If you did use your 23andMe DNA as an upload to FamilyTreeDNA it could still be accurate, the reasons are explained below
The Baltic region has rarely seen peace for long due to being surrounded by major powers with larger populations, while the Balkans to the south are the fault line of epic battles between Islam and Christianity. In medieval times both areas were among the most ethnically diverse in Europe. Before and immediately after the Romans, Eastern Europe experienced relentless invasions from Asia and the Near East. But between the 5th and 15th century, Constantinople, the last remnant and retreat of the Roman Empire, was the fortress blocking Europe’s backdoor. For a thousand years it was the world’s most famous and sophisticated city. When it fell to Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453 it removed the most important defensive city in the Christian world.
The Ottoman wars which followed, eventually limited the spread of Islam in Europe but at one point the Islamic Empire stretched as far as Romania. It took an alliance of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Holy Roman Empire to defeat the Ottomans in 1699, a moment considered a turning point in history. During this period there was a great deal of contact between German and Slavic peoples and the various Islamic, Arab and Jewish cultures of the Ottoman world. At its height, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth gave sanctuary to many diverse groups, so it is entirely possible that some of your ancestors married people with Arab and Middle East ancestry who headed north from the Balkans to find sanctuary in the Baltic and present day Poland. Also taking place during this entire period from roughly the 8th century to the 15th, Germanic people from northwestern Germany were relocating to the Baltic in the north and the Balkans in the south. When German Prussia expanded all the way to ancient Prussia in the 19th century, Germans relocated throughout their expanded empire. Is there any other evidence to support this theory? Other than the above GEDMATCH which is generally one of the best sources of early European DNA shows the following:
British and Irish DNA
Recent scientific papers have shown that many people with indigenous ancestry in Britain and Ireland (those with a majority of ancestors who arrived at least a thousand years ago) can trace their regional family origins back to the many British and Irish kingdoms of the 6th-8th century. The reason is simple: Britain and Ireland are islands and until very recently the populations hadn’t changed much for a very long time. Long enough in fact for unique regional genetic signatures to develop. And despite multiple early invasions, DNA shows that the even in England only a third of people are related to Anglo-Saxons, the vast majority of Britons are still related to the island’s indigenous inhabitants who arrived as far back as the end of the last ice age.
In 2015, The People of the British Isles (PoBI) project from Oxford University published the world’s first subregional breakdown of ancestry.
The research was based on genetic clusters of rural populations tested because all 4 of their great-grandparents were from the same area.
It showed the Anglo-Saxons were the only group to add significant DNA to the British population – mainly in England.
The research was followed up by the Irish DNA Atlas in 2017 which showed significant Norse-Viking and Scottish-English Plantation DNA in addition to majority native DNA.
The results are a snapshot of British and Irish genetics before the 19th Century and modern mass migration.
Incredibly, both British and Irish tests show modern people still tend to live in or near the 8th-9th century kingdoms of their ancestors.
Evidence suggests that without a compelling reason to move, earlier populations going back to their origins in Britain likely lived in the same place as well.
What does your AncestryDNA tell us?
AncestryDNA fails to give us a regional breakdown. But it claims the following as of its latest update:
What is of note in AncestryDNA is the high Scottish DNA, relatively low Irish DNA and expected English and Welsh DNA- given your known ancestors.
I’ll come back to Ireland once the U.K. is fully examined.
What about 23andMe?
On face value, very surprising for Scotland given Ancestry’s results. However I think this speaks to ancient DNA that is most mixed in the cities with the groups who settled much later on.
Newcastle and the Scottish capital share large degrees of Anglo-Saxon DNA.
Glasgow had the world’s largest Irish diaspora population until New York took over in the 1920s. Liverpool also had a very large Irish population.
Based on these results alone, I do not see much ancient British DNA outside of western Britain.
The Midlands may also include English-Irish DNA due the number of Irish people who moved there during the Industrial Revolution and 1840’s famine.
Most British people lived outside of cities until the early-19th century. Manchester, as an example, experienced a six-times increase in its population between 1771 and 1831.
We need a far more specialist British DNA provider to hopefully provide answers:
Living DNA’s results are based on cutting edge Oxford University genetic research inside Britain:
This is much more interesting. Look at the animated map for comparison. It shows the red colored Roman Invasion and how that broke up the British tribes. The animation also tells the story of the local tribes and kingdoms of Britain from just before the Roman invasion in 43 AD until 867-911 and the invasion of the ‘Great Heathen Army’ of Danes.
Southeast England 20.5% DNA (Saxon)
According to LivingDNA your greatest English DNA contribution comes from the Southeast, where the capital London employed people from the surrounding counties as far back as Roman times. This backs up 23andMe which said your number one British city was London, followed by the major cities of the English north. I didn’t come across Northern English ancestors because I haven’t investigated records before the mid 1800s. But I’ll get to you DNA there in a moment is it is actually quite interesting. But focusing on the South for now, we do know that the surname for one of your biggest DNA matches – Mary Hawkins- is from Kent, just outside London. Your strongest English DNA is from this county and its neighbors to the west and north (including London). This strength strongly suggests you have lots of ancestry from this key part of England going back into the mists of time.
Much of the Roman army in Britain was made up of Angles, Saxons and Frisians. The chaos of the Roman collapse in the 5th century led to the Dark Ages in Europe, but it wasn’t as pronounced in Britain because it was less controlled by Rome and many of its mercenaries returned to settle land in a more defensible part of Europe due to the North Sea and English Channel providing a giant natural moat. Many of these settlers were Germanic-speaking foederati who had previously defended Britannia’s Romano-British rulers. When the Romans left in 410, other linguistically Germanic tribal groups also moved into the area. Kent and neighboring Sussex became part of so-called Anglo-Saxon heptarchy. Eventually they became client states and then sub-kingdoms of their former enemies in Mercia and then Wessex.
All these groups were competitors. Their time of arrival could make a huge difference. Later Dark Age arrivals were often more ‘barbarian’ having experienced nothing but war and plunder. As a result these related but divergent groups fought for supremacy when one or the other was weak, worked together when it suited them (Sussex and Mercia for example against Wessex) and traded peacefully when there was a strong leader who kept everyone in check.
It’s interesting that you have no local DNA in the Mercian heartlands themselves. That suggests your Sussex and Kent ancestors weren’t too happy being ruled by Mercia. The people who settled Mercia, Northumbria and East Anglia were Angles from Schleswig-Holstein (the Angles gave their name to England); the people who settled Wessex were Jutes (Danish); the tribes who settled southeast England were mainly Saxon (northern and north central Germany).
Mercia was the most powerful Anglo-Saxon kingdom in what would become England- roughly from the mid 7th to 10th centuries. But the Vikings or the Great Heathen Army – many of them the descendants of the origins Jutes, Angles or Danes who settled hundreds of year earlier – were a very different breed from their ancestors. They established The Danelaw and Five Boroughs you can see on the map. No doubt some of your ancestors would have been among them, but the overall message of your DNA is that you’re descended from ancient Britons and the early Anglo-Saxon kingdoms that took shape after Rome collapsed. The Angles of Wessex eventually united all of England but as you can see from your DNA map, like the Mercians your ancestors weren’t among them. Your settler DNA is mainly those early Saxons in the south east in Sussex and Kent. They may have been linked to Roman mercenaries in the area or they could have migrated from northeastern Germany, mainly the area just below Denmark around the early 5th century.
South Yorkshire 5.2 % DNA (Ancient Britons)
This is very interesting as it a unique DNA marker in England that is historically well know. Geographically it corresponds to the Kingdom of Elmet. As the Romans withdrew, waves of migration saw Angles, Saxons and Jutes setting up vast and powerful kingdoms. The tiny British kingdom of Elmet held out longer than most. Protected by natural river boundaries, swamps, forests and the Pennine foothills, it was the last northern stronghold of the Ancient Celtic Britons south of Hadrian’s Wall. The incoming Angles became known as the Elmed Saetna, or Elmet settlers, so it is clear that the locals were determined to keep their identity, a story that remains to this day in your genes. The area was also associated with the King Arthur legend as was Wales (linked to the word for foreigner in Saxon) and Cornwall; the last two remaining areas of your DNA south of Hadrian’s Wall.
Cornwall 9.3%, Wales 3.5% (Ancient Britons)
Your remaining English DNA from the Midlands (5.6%) involves such a melting pot of cultures over time, that the DNA is probably a pick and mix of multiple groups and intermarriages over centuries including the Irish, the native Britons, the Jutes, Angles, Saxons and Gauls. There is no way to use your DNA signatures from this area to carve out a personalized history of your ancestors there.
As for your 3.5% Welsh DNA (Ancient British), the Anglo Saxons of Mercia built a trench across the entire Welsh border to separate their kingdom from the native Britons (Welsh: Foreigners) .
That only leaves the far Northeast of England for your localized English DNA. Your Northumberian DNA is stronger than anywhere else in England outside of the Southeast.
Britain only became divided because of the Roman invasion. For thousands of years it had been one island with many kings and queens. Its peoples were related to the earliest ‘Celtic’ tribes of the European continent and they were much more equal societies than the Graeco-Roman world that pushed those tribes across the water to Europe’s westmost reaches. Many royal lines were decided by female rather than male lines, hence that most famous of early British Queens, Boudica.
The Roman occupation changed all that. When they failed to conquer the north of the Island, two walls were built. After about 30 years, the Romans pulled back to the strongest of them – Hadrian’s Wall. It was personally ordered on a visit by the Emperor of that name who wanted to see from himself these northern tribes that dared to defy imperial will. What followed was a structure unique in the Roman world, a stone wall up to 15 feet tall and 10 feet deep that stretched 80 miles from coast to coast, punctured by forts every couple of miles. Around 9 thousand troops garrisoned it for two hundred years. And it split your ancestors apart in a much more definitive way than the much shorter lived Berlin Wall ever did for Germans. Like the Berlin Wall, you can still walk what remains of it today.
This is the part of England where the united Britain that existed before the Roman conquest tells a powerful genetic story. Northumbria ended up being ruled by the Angles (early Danes) and the Vikings (later Danes and Scandinavians). Your DNA story however, strongly suggests that your ancestors were more likely to be ancient native Britons of the region – the (V)otadini tribe.
Northumbria 9.9% DNA
Before the wall, the boundaries of the Votadini stretched from the Firth of Forth to the River Tyne near modern day Newcastle. The ‘Scottish’ members of the Votadini tribe were separated from their brethren on the ‘English’ side of Hadrian’s Wall for the best part of three centuries. Your remaining DNA north of the wall adds up to about 26%. So if you add Northumbian DNA, Ancestry’s assertion of 40% Scottish genetics may not be so wide off the mark after all; it’s origins are just primarily the ancient British kingdoms that existed before the Romans.
Archeology points to the Romans being great admirers of the antiquity of Stonehenge in the South of England. But growing evidence suggests its world famous stones were a fading cultural end point to a much earlier people who built Gobekli Tepe in the Antolian region of modern day Turkey at least 6 thousand years before the Romans arrived in Britain.
The latest archealogical and genetic studies also suggest that the people who brought stone monolith building and henges to Britain entered the island from the north and spread their culture south. Your north-east Scotland ancestors appear to have been among some of the last people closely associated with them – the Picts. Their ancient ancestors may have once lived among the residents of Europe’s oldest Neolithic village, Skara Brae on the Orkney Islands; you can still walk around it today.
Research by Martin Sweatman at the University of Edinburgh suggests the earliest Pictish stone symbols are directly descended from those used in monoliths at Gobekli Tepe. In addition the people who gave their name to Scotland- the Sco(t)ti – claim to be from a region just north of there which is also known for its stone carvings, Scythia. Whatever the reality, it is true that your R1b-L21 Haplogroup (now almost exclusive to ancient Britons and Irish ancestry) does have its genetic origins in the northern region of the Near-East.
Aberdeenshire 8.7% DNA
This region formed one of the heartlands of the northern Picts up to the ninth century AD. The Picts were a tribal confederation believed to be pre-Celtic in origin but the truth is no-one knows because they didn’t write anything down. All we have left is Roman accounts and their beautifully enigmatic standing stones. The 5th century tale of their conversion to Christianity even involves the Loch Ness Monster. The Irish saint Columba is said to have converted them after evoking the name of God to banish the beast as it was about to attack a man. An even older story involves the Roman invasion and the account of General Agricola’s son in law, the historian, Tacitus. The British tribes who refused to bend the knee headed north and rallied around the leader of the Caledonian Tribe for an epic last stand against the Romans in the year 84. Tacitus says the Caledonian leader Calgacus gave a rousing speech before the battle:
“To all of us slavery is a thing unknown; there are no lands beyond us, and even the sea is not safe, menaced as we are by a Roman fleet.
And thus in war and battle, in which the brave find glory, even the coward will find safety. We, out of sight of subject shores, we kept even our eyes free from the defilement of tyranny.
The last of the free, we have been shielded until today by our very remoteness . . . there are no tribes beyond us, nothing indeed but waves and rocks, and the yet more terrible Romans, from whose oppression escape is vainly sought by obedience and submission.
Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep.
If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them.
To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a desert and call it peace.“
Agricola, Tacitus, c. AD 98
IN 843AD, the kingdom of Scotland (Gaelic: Alba) was created when Kenneth MacAlpin claimed the throne of Pictland through his mother and the ancient line of Matrilineal succession. MacAlpin was King of Dalriada, a Gaelic Kingdom that stretched from the north of Ireland to Northwest Scotland. The St Andrew’s Cross or Saltire dates from this time, making it the world’s oldest national flag still in use today. The Picts and Scots eventually united with the Britons of the Kingdom of Strathclyde to fight off the Vikings. These ancient kingdoms solidified into one national identity after centuries of relative peace and wealth ended with the death of Alexander III and the Wars of Independence.
Northern Ireland and Southwest Scotland 16 % DNA
Hundreds of thousands of Ulster-Scots protestant settlers left for America in the late 1700s due to high rents, conflict with the Native Irish and low crop yields. The Scots were the cultural descendants of the people who had crossed the Irish sea a thousand years earlier and named their country.
And those colonizers were the cultural descendants of Celts who moved into Britain from France a thousand years before that!
By the 1600s they spoke a different language and had a different religion. But the wonderlust of this ancient population continued as they settled America.
And incredibly the mountain trails these groups followed were once part of the same mountain chain which broke up as the continents split up millions of years ago. The regional flavors of whisky and Scotch are the literal taste of the soil of these ancient sections of the earth. In a sense until very recently these people never left home.
We’ll get to the early origins of your British ancestors at the end of this report. But lets now focus on the Irish.
They share their earliest roots with the British but with a more Spanish or Iberian flavor than the more Germanic ancient tribes of Britain. The Irish also have a much stronger Viking genetic component than the British, and they are also – given their location – slightly more related to the earliest indigenous Europeans.
The first thing to do with Ireland when trying to separate out your native ancestors from those of the settlers is to look at your DNA and compare it to a map of the Great Famine. Pretty much that will tell you whether your ancestors were Anglo-Irish, Plantation or native.
The sea of red on the Irish famine map above (on the left) is well represented in your DNA. This tells us your Irish ancestors were largely in the native population pushed to the western edges of the country, just as your Ancient Briton ancestors had been by the Romans and Anglo Saxons many generations before.
Your Irish ancestors would have had ancient roots mixed in with many incomers over centuries. Their loyalties who have been primarily to local Irish leaders. English administered Dublin (the Pale) and the port of Cork aside, these would have been dominated by – but relatively free of – Viking, Norman, and English control. There were several centers of English and Irish power, so let’s look at your key DNA regions of Ireland to see what they tell us about your ancestors.
- County Mayo (Northern part of Connaught): A monastic settlement dominated by English monks and monasteries from the 6th century, the Vikings brutally plundered this area’s wealth. These Vikings were mainly Norwegian, not Danish like most of the monastic raiders of England.
A center of non Roman Christianity with roots in the early Irish church this area was dominated by competing Irish chieftains until relatively recently. There are historic references to McCabe’s being Scottish Gallowglasses who settled in this area and fought for various local rulers against their Irish rivals and the English.
The potato famine had a devastating impact here. 9 out of 10 families in this area relied on one potato strain. Many died and many more emigrated. If your McCabe ancestors did live here they likely headed for America after 1840, possibly via Britain first.
2. County Donegal: The name “Donegal”, meaning “fort of the foreigners”. It is thought to derive from a Viking settlement on the site of present-day Donegal Town. It was the only part of Ulster to be significantly impacted by the famine. Many left for America or Australia from here or the port of Londonderry (Derry is the native Irish part of the city). The region’s Irish majority played a key role in the War of Independence. It is in the Republic of Ireland but is sometimes referred to as the forgotten county due to its remoteness and unique identity shaped by its domination by the Uí Neill dynasty of Ulster followed by the Scottish undertakers of the plantations.
3. County Dublin: All of Ireland’s cities – except Belfast – were founded by the Vikings. Dublin started out as a Viking slave trading market but its key moments – which shaped the next 800 years in Ireland – were delivered by the descendants of the Norman conquerors of England. The city was the center of British power in Ireland right up to Irish independence in 1922. A dispute between rival Irish factions in the lead up to independence, led to a fire in the archive building in Dublin, destroying many of Ireland’s records before the mid 19th century; one of the main reason Irish research is so difficult. Your strong DNA in the English Pale region of Ireland suggests nothing more than London does for your English ancestors. These were the biggest cities on the two islands and everyone not involved in farming gravitated towards them from the earliest times.
4. Country Cork: A key center of Irish rebellion; its biggest city is known by locals and the Irish alike as ‘the Republic of Cork’. Ironically – given its critical role in Irish independence – it was here that the meteoric rise of Brian Boru, king of Munster (978–1014) and last high king of Ireland (1002–1014) began the process of unravelling native Irish rule for close to nine hundred years. Boru was ambitious and to use a modern term a disruptor. He broke centuries of convention by ending Ireland’s ancient Uí Néill supremacy. On face value, that seemed like a good thing, but on Boru’s death it led to an intense and violent disunity which saw the Normans invited in to settle the matter by one of the would-be kingpins.
The Irish – like the ancient ‘Celts’ who dominated the European mainland for millennia- lost out to less democratically inclined invaders because of obsessive individualism and infighting. Unlike their half cousins in Scotland they had no Romans to unite them early on so their petty kingdoms were easily divided and conquered. The Republic of Cork moniker is both a badge of individual honor and collective self destruction. Your ancestors here likely made their living in the English Market. Cork was one of primary southern ports the native Irish used to evacuate to America after the famine.
5. County Monaghan: This is a really interesting part of Ireland and unique in its full control by Irish lords right up until the late 17th century. Its rulers negotiated with the English to retain control and until the potato famine it was one of the most populated parts of Ireland per square mile. Some of the best Irish farmers, gardeners and entrepreneurs have hailed from this region. It’s one of three Ulster counties to join the Irish State.
Your Ancient Origins (3 to 40 thousand years ago)
Most of what we know about human history is utterly defined by climate change. We currently know most about the consequences of ice ages. The last one started about 2.6 million years ago and end about 15 thousand years ago.
You are one of lucky few whose DNA still includes evidence of the first peoples to journey deep into Europe and their subsequent contact with our ancient Neanderthal cousins.
Our earliest ancestors are known to have arrived in southern Britain nearly one million years ago. But 90% of current indigenous populations in Britain and Ireland have genetic traces no older than about 3 thousand years ago. Your DNA however includes the signatures of the first known settlers 11 thousand years ago. They migrated along the ancient paths of the retreating ice sheets into Britain and then Ireland. The modern Irish, Scots, Welsh and Cornish have more traces of this migration then most Europeans other than the Basques in Spain and Bretons in France.
The strongest remaining remnants of your ancient motherline in modern Europe is found in the Lemko region of Slovakia and on Croatia’s Krek Island. Given your potentially Ottoman related DNA discussed earlier, both those locations are certainly interesting and could represent an earlier ancestral home. As for the UK, it is a distant but important third in your motherline due to the early migration of this genetic group.
Most Europeans have in the 30% range for Hunter-Gatherer DNA and a higher level of last wave Metal Age Invaders. Again this speaks to your ancestors being among the first wave of indigenous Europeans and Britons who survived later onslaughts. The metal age invaders are known to be from the But who exactly were your farmers and hunter-gatherers?
Ancient Hunter Gatherers, First Settlers and First Farmers
Natufians were among the earliest farmers on the planet while Modern Eastern Baltic populations carry the highest proportion of Western Hunter Gatherer ancestry of all Europeans. The Mediterranean Farmers are the people who migrated across Europe to Iberia before heading into Britain. They – and their earlier Anatolian ancestors – are believed to have built Stonehenge. The west of Scotland is the only part of Britain these farmers didn’t almost completely replace the original ice age Western Hunter Gatherers – the original inhabitants of Britain after the ice age.
Your GEDMATCH populations would have descended from the Aurignacian culture (40 to 50 thousand years ago); archeologists consider them the first truly modern humans in Europe. They were also likely the first and last modern humans to have contact with the Neandrathals. Both are known for sharing a great love of painting the caves of Europe.
Neanderthals, the World’s First Misunderstood Artists
That headline from a New York Times article in 2018 was proof that the outdated 19th century idea that Neanderthals were grunting knuckle draggers, couldn’t be further from the truth. Turns out Neanderthals had a similar brain to their human cousins, the same gene for speech, they took care of their elderly and disabled and were great abstract artists. So why did they die out when humans lived on (with a bit of Neanderthal in some of us)? It’s a question – short of a time machine – which may never be answered. Researchers have suggested just about everything, from being bred out, to a failure to domesticate dogs, to an overly complicated visual system, to disease and depression. Either way northern Neanderthals and southern Homo sapiens shared the same space for tens of thousands of year until the last ice age coincided with the extinction of a species that had been around at least a quarter million years longer than us.
So to conclude your Deep Past Report, you are descended from some of the earliest humans. Your high Neanderthal DNA content helps confirm your ancestors were in Europe at least 40 thousand years ago. You have some of the first – and much of the the second – oldest British and Irish DNA and many of your ancestors were early settlers in colonial America. Pioneering and wanderlust are in your bones.
Mark Connolly Founder and owner of myorigins.co.uk