T2A1A in the Early Middle Ages in England

Another follow-up on the Article on Anglo-Saxon migration and the formation of the early English gene pool. See my previous posts for more information on R-DF95 Y DNA and Continental Northern European migration to Britain part 1 and part 2.

There are many T2a1a results in the supplemental data for the study. Some from Viking age samples, others from Amesbury Downs. I think I may have already gathered many of them in previous posts here about T2a1a in Ancient DNA, I struggled to line up the results with my previous postings. There were results from this particular study though, that seemed new to me.

As I pointed out in a previous post, the real story here is told by autosomal DNA; our particular Y or MTDNA is just along for the ride for the most part.

Our relative from Buckland Cemetery in Dover

BUK074 is T2a1a6 listed as ENG_EMA_CNE (basically mostly a continental European) She is listed as 79% Continental Northern European (CNE) with 21% Continental Western European (CWE). She’s Also listed as 76% CNE 24% Welsh, British, Irish (WBI). She’s in grave 427a (you can see her on the map above in a grave marked red) and was buried between 400 and 800 CE with beads, Roman coins, a pin, rings, buckles, knife. She was 30 to 35 years old. She’s admixed with local WBI DNA so I would guess at least one generation after the migration from the continent. In the study, women with CNE ancestry were more likely to have grave goods, while men of any ancestry were just as likely to have grave goods.

Our Relatives in Worth Matravers, Dorset

From the paper, it appears that Worth Matravers was used as a comparison site to get a handle on Early Middle Ages British people who were not part of the Anglo-Saxon migration and the arrival of Continental Northern Europeans.

“…the post-Roman cemetery of Worth Matravers at the southern coast of Dorset, whose individuals have nearly no CNE ancestry (less than 6% on average), and thus may serve as a more temporally close proxy for post-Roman Britain before the arrival of CNEs.”

worth-matravers dorset map
Worth Matravers Dorset

So these relatives would have been established Britons from the time period. They’re not in an anglo-saxon cemetery and so there is less information about them in the supplemental data.

I11569 is listed as 21% CWE and 72% WBI. She’s also listed as 99% WBI. She is T2a1a. She’s buried between 500-700 CE in grave 1649. She’s part of family A (2 members) (I11569 and I11580 are 1st degree relatives). A first-degree relative is a parent, sister, or child (given the shared T2a1a with Male I11580 it’s unlikely she is a child).

I11580 100% WBI. He’s T2a1a (like his relative I11569). His YDNA haplogroup is R-CTS241. He is buried between 500-700 CE in grave 1715. He’s a first-degree relative of I11569, given the shared T2a1a it’s likely he’s a brother or child.

I11582 is100% WBI. His Y DNA is R-P297. He’s buried in grave 1778 between 500-700 CE.

As a point of interest, the Continental Western European (CWE) DNA is more prevalent in Southern England and is most closely associated with French Iron Age DNA found in Belgium and France…attributed to the Franks or later migration from a similar gene pool.

“When used as a source in our model, we found that the estimates of France IA-related ancestry in present-day England changed by less than 3% on average across the regions (Fig. 5b), suggesting that France IA-related ancestry entered England to a substantial amount after the Roman period.

We note that a model involving southern or western European-like ancestry in England has been previously proposed on the basis of present-day samples, but we can now go further and delineate this third component more clearly against the CNE-like immigrant gene pool making up the majority of the early medieval individuals from England that we studied.

Our three-way population model for present-day England supports a view of post-Roman English genetic history as punctuated by gene flow processes from at least two major sources: first, the attested arrival of CNE ancestry during the Early Middle Ages from northern Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, and second, the arrival of ancestry related to France IA.”

It seems reasonable that there would be some Frankish gene flow, along with trade in Southeastern England. I don’t know if the study is hinting at another later migration of French and Belgian DNA that would add to the modern English gene pool or if they believe there is an ongoing influx of Frankish relatives in the early middle ages subsequent to the Anglo-Saxon migration or if this French Iron Age component is brought over with the Anglo Saxon migration to Kent as part of an earlier admixture. The geographic closeness of the Franks to Kent makes it seem like it’s probably a long-term admixture with trading partners. You can see the Saxons in Kent in England on the map below just across from the Franci (Franks).

central europe 5th century CE showing Franci (the Franks) Saxoni (in southern England and Angli in Eastern England

It’s My Swamp – Anglo-Saxon DF95 Follow Up

I didn’t have to wait long to follow up on my previous post. The paper on The Anglo-Saxon migration and the formation of the early English gene pool is published along with supplementary data. The DF95/CTS12023 men in the samples were identified by the study itself. The work by citizen scientists has identified other SNPs found in the samples and set up a google sheet. The U106 group, with the work of Ray Wing, has a U106 breakdown in their online sheet.

It should be noted that there are other R-Z18 haplogroups represented in these results (at least 12 R-Z18 men total) and many other R-U106 haplogroups (at least 66 men out of 464 tested). This is just the first time I’ve seen any R-DF95/CTS12023 men in ancient DNA so I’m most excited to see some closer relatives.

Our Relatives in the Fens

Map of the fens in England including Skegness, Lincoln, Boston, Spalding, Peterborough, Ely, King's Lynn and Cambridge
By Rcsprinter123 – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=117908854

HAD005 is in Hatherdene Close in Cambridge. He’s 26-44 years old. He’s part of the South Gyrwas, allied to East Anglia. His grave is SK 640 (also listed as ECB4258) to the North in the image below, colored red. The study identifies him as R-DF95 on the Y. Citizen scientists place him in R-ZP121. His MTDNA is T2b13. Buried between 400 and 600 CE.

He’s listed as ENG_EMA_CNE (England, Early Middle Ages, Continental Northern European). Basically, autosomal DNA shows he’s Continental Northern European, likely either a migrant from the continent or 1st generation with no admixture with local WBI (Welsh, British and Irish). He’s part of family A. He has a 2nd or 3rd degree genetic relative; HAD014 in grave SK1116 also continental European, grave colored red in the map below. She is 5-12 years old. Her MTDNA haplogroup is K1a4a1a2b.

HAD005 has these grave goods: spear head, sheild boss, knife, 5 arrowheads, buckle. HAD014 has these grave goods: Two Roman coins, two small long brooches, buckle, knife, beads.

Because I had to look it up: A second-degree relative is an aunt, uncle, grandparent, grandchild, niece, nephew, or half-sibling of an individual. A third-degree relative is a first cousin, great-grandparent, great-aunt, great-uncle, great-niece, great-nephew, great-grandchild, half-aunt, or half-uncle of an individual.

site plan of Hatherdene close Grave SK640 belonging to HAD005 highlighted in the north of the site. SK1116 belonging to HAD014  highlighted to the south.
map taken from the notes from the paper https://static-content.springer.com/esm/art%3A10.1038%2Fs41586-022-05247-2/MediaObjects/41586_2022_5247_MOESM1_ESM.docx

The notes from the paper are really informative. I recommend reading them. I’ve got some excerpts here that are particular to Hatherdene close. From the notes:

Local populations have a variety of lineages. The paper shows that local men are just as likely to have grave goods and status symbols as CNE men, generally. Although there is generally a mix, different sites show different percentages of populations:

“…we observe a much higher presence of local lineages at Oakington (50% Loc. vs 31% Cont. – 19% Un.) and Sedgeford (41% Loc. vs 29% Cont. – 29% Un.)….. Hatherdene Close on the other hand shows a completely opposite pattern, with a higher presence of non-local lineages (24% Loc. vs 47% Cont. – 29% Un.).”

The paper makes a differentiation between Continental Northern Europeans and Peninsular Scandinavians. CNE includes portions of Southern Sweden, Denmark, Lower Saxony, and Netherlands as a continuum of related people. Different sites show different levels of Scandinavian ancestry Levels are higher than in earlier grave sites from the Iron age, but the levels are lower than later viking age samples.

“We then averaged the computed components and calculated the mean Scandinavian Peninsula ancestry per site (Supp. Fig. 6.2b). Excluding the low-coverage individual from Folkestone, Kent, we find that Scandinavian Peninsula ancestry does not exceed 16% in early medieval England (15.8% in Bude and 12.5% in Lincoln) and is absent in Wolverton, Linton, Hartlepool, and Rookery Hill, and low in Eastry (0.6%) and Worth Matravers (0.1%). Higher proportions between 5% and 10% were found in Ely, West Heslerton, Hatherdene Close, and Dover Buckland. Overall, the Anglo-Saxon Period population of England harbours 5.4% Scandinavian Peninsula ancestry. In contrast, for the preceding Iron Age, we estimate only 0.4% Scandinavian Peninsula ancestry.”

Based on the data set, it looks like HAD014 is one of the people who had a bit of Scandinavian Peninsula ancestry.

Overall, grave goods were bestowed on men equally and seemed to be bestowed on women unequally. The paper generally shows that ancestry wasn’t a factor in male standing, but that women with CNE ancestry had more grave goods. From the notes it seems like Hatherdene close may have been a slight exception to the rule.

“At Hatherdene Close, graves with grave goods have more CNE ancestry than graves without grave goods.”

“At Hatherdene Close, female graves with grave goods have more CNE ancestry than female graves without grave goods.”

Our Relatives in Buckland Cemetery, Dover

By Hel-hama – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20372945

Buckland has the most DF95 samples. Two of them are fairly closely related…but maybe not in the way you’d think.

BUK009 grave goods: Buckle. Male age 30-40. Grave 252. Buried between 400 and 800 CE. YDNA identified by the study as DF95, citizen scientists found evidence for R-PH1163. R-PH1163 modern testers are from Denmark and Norway. His MTDNA is J1b1a1b. BUK009 is listed as ENG_EMA_CNE, again basically a continental northern European. BUK009 shows about 11% Continental Western European ancestry (CWE). More on that later.

graves in buckland cemetery showing genetic affinity and grave goods.

BUK042 is in grave 346 buried between 400 and 800 CE. Male age 40 plus. He is identified as R-DF95 by the study. Citizen scientists haven’t pushed that any farther. MTDNA is H5a1c1a. He is listed as ENG_EMA_CNE and has a very small amount of CWE ancestry. He is buried with a spear, sword, knife, rod, axehead, and buckle. BUK042 is a member of a family group. No one in the family group appears to be closely related to BUK009. It would be interesting if there were a couple of branches of DF95 in Dover. BUK042 is a father in this family group.

BUK014 is a mother in this family group. She is in grave 266. Her MTDNA is T2b. She’s listed as England_EMA. She has 85% Continental Northern European ancestry and about 15% Continental Western European ancestry. BUK014 is age 30-35. She’s buried with a rod, buckle, ring, knife, and radiate-headed brooches. According to the Ashmolean museum, this style of brooch originated with the Franks.

BUK043 is the daughter in this family group. She’s in grave 347. Her MTDNA is T2b (as expected from mom above). She’s listed as England_EMA, but apparently didn’t inherit any CWE DNA from her parents. She’s aged 14-16 and was buried with beads.

Here is a family chart to help with the next bit.

Buckland family group showing father BUK042, mother BUK014, daughter BUK043 and two 2nd degree relatives BUK044 and BUK048
men are squares, women circles, father mother and daughter on the left. 2nd degree relatives on the right.

BUK044 is a 2nd degree relative of BUK014. So aunt, grandparent, grandchild, niece, or half-sibling of BUK014. So she’s related to mom. She’s in grave 349 between 400 and 800 CE. MTDNA haplogroup T2b. She’s listed as England_EMA_CNE so again, basically a Continental Northern European. She’s at 76% CNE and 24% CWE, which is the highest CWE in the family group so far. She is 50+ years old and is buried with beads, a ring, and tweezers.

BUK048 is the other identified R-DF95 man. He is a 2nd degree relative of BUK043. So he’s related to the daughter. He’s an uncle, grandparent, grandchild, nephew, or half-sibling of BUK043. Of interest he’s not listed as a child or parent of BUK042 or BUK014 or shown to have any relation to them. Just BUK043, which makes me wonder about the relationship. BUK043 is pretty young when she dies. His burial date is different and much more specific. He’s buried in grave 375 in 540-615 CE. His MTDNA is H1a5. Different than the women in the family group. He’s ENG_EMA_CNE. He has a small amount of CWE DNA, 5%. He shows about 10% WBI (Welsh, British and Irish) ancestry. He’s 25-30 years old and buried with a spear, shield, sword, and buckle.

From the notes on Buckland Dover:

Many of the southern sites show some heritage from Iron Age France. These people matched favorably with modern genomes from France and Belgium.

“PCA implies that several sites, especially from southern England (namely Apple Down, Buckland, Eastry, and Rookery Hill) exhibit remarkable diversity in terms of their ancestry. Besides England Iron Age and early medieval Lower Saxony-like ancestries, we also find individuals that cluster with present-day southern and western Europeans, especially with Belgians and French.”

“As indicated by PCA, supervised ADMIXTURE identifies sizable proportions of modern French/Belgian-like ancestry in our ancient samples, reaching as much as 100% in some individuals (Supp. Fig. 5.6a, Supp. Table 5.5). Calculating the average for each site, we find, congruently with our qpAdm approach, the highest proportions of French/Belgian-like ancestry in Lincoln (59.9%), Rookery Hill (43.3%), Apple Down (27.8%), Eastry (25.6%), and Dover Buckland (22.5%) (Supp. Fig. 5.6b). In the remaining sites, French/Belgian-like ancestry accounts for less than 10% of the total ancestry. In summary, additional western and/or southern European related ancestry appears to be the main cause for the remarkable genetic diversity observed especially in southern English early medieval sites.”

map showing angles, jutes, saxons frisians and franks, along with english angles, english jutes and english saxons.

I mean, the Franks are right there across the channel from Dover. It seems reasonable to have Frankish grave goods and genetic influence.

Here is a summary from the notes:

“We therefore suggest that early medieval admixture patterns were heterogeneous across Britain, with ancestry from Lower Saxony being dominant in central and northern England (e.g. Oakington, Hatherdene, Lakenheath, and West Heslerton), while ancestry from western and southern Europe is observed in southern England, especially Sussex and Kent (Eastry, Rookery Hill, and Apple Down).”

Where Did They Come From?

The study took a look at probable origins for the migration. I think the general idea is that there is a broad CNE ancestry group that may have had different tribal names within it, but were fairly closely related to each other. They identified lower Saxony as the most likely common ground for most of the burials based on the autosomal DNA of samples there. The anglo-saxons in the study matched particularly well with samples from people between the Weser and Elbe (the little blue Saxons bit on the map up there between Frisia and the Angles above. A cluster of triangles below). The map they generated of probable origins is pretty broad though leaving plenty of room for variation among like people. The little triangles are the predicted locations for the genomes. The red dashed line marks the 95% similar boundary.

This image taken from the study shows continental sites that are indistinguishable from the english CNE. It's a swath running from the Northern Netherlands up through denmark and into southern sweden.
Shown are (1) continental sites that are genetically indistinguishable from the more than 95% CNE EMA English (England EMA CNE) population using qpWave and provide fitting P values as source in a two-way qpAdm model of England EMA, as well as (2) the predicted locations for 72 England EMA CNE genomes using LOCATOR52. The red dashed line marks where 95% of the qpAdm and qpWave data are located.

Today’s conclusion

Please do pick up the actual paper. It’s not very long and contains a lot of good information. I’m not an unbiased source, so my writing is going to be slanted.

The autosomal analysis is really where all the information is at and our Y and MTDNA is along for the ride.

The data shows definite settlement patterns and an influx of CNE DNA in the early middle ages. That influx of people changes the genetic makeup of what would later become England.

The data also show that the movement really happened…which has been questioned. It really happened from these places (which has also been questioned), and it really happened in this timeframe. It was a big shift. CNE ancestry, which was negligible in bronze and iron age Britain, became the majority in Anglo-Saxon England.

From the paper: “Previous hypotheses about the social mechanisms in this migration have included partial social segregation62, elite migration18,61, substantial population replacement34 or no migration at all1,22. Our combined genetic and archaeological analysis point to a complex, regionally contingent migration with partial integration that was probably dependent on the fortunes of specific families and their individual members.”

You can see the population shift in the graphic below.

bronze age, iron age and early middle ages CNE vs WBI ancestry in burials.

Another take-away that I mentioned earlier, we may be making too much of the various tribes because analysis of continental DNA from the early middle ages shows a continuity of relatedness.

“However, we also note the strong genetic homogeneity among most analysed sites in the northern Netherlands, northern Germany and Denmark (Supplementary Note 4), implying that, during the Early Middle Ages, the continental North Sea and adjacent western Baltic Sea area was a genetic continuum spanning most of the western North European plain without major geographical substructure”

For R-DF95, we can put a pin…or a regional blob on the map for a period of time. Around 400 CE CTS12023 was somewhere in that swath from the Netherlands to southern Sweden and the Baltic and had made its way to Britain.

It’s My Swamp – DF95 in Anglo-Saxon England

Checking in on U106

I visited the U106 haplogroup tree and noticed something exciting in the Ancient DNA tab: The appearance of several R-CTS12023 (AKA R-DF95) samples…and one of them, to my complete shock, is a ZP121 (AKA Y15995) sample.

Mind blown. We’re such a small group of men in Y DNA terms that I didn’t expect us to show up in many samples (if any), but CTS12023/DF95 shows up in four samples in Anglo Saxon cemeteries in Cambridgeshire (in the Fens) and in Kent (in Dover) with burials between 400 CE and 800 CE.

ZP121 (Y15995) in the Fens

Mr. ZP121 is my direct ancestor (I’m over there in BY41998 in the picture above), along with every man who has tested positive for that ZP121 SNP. Descendants of ZP121 are from England (and various colonies), Wales, Ireland, Germany, Poland, Estonia, the Netherlands, Belgium and possibly Sweden (based on a Swedish surname). Age estimates from the U106 group placed Mr. ZP121 around 300 CE. Family Tree DNA estimates that he was born around 250 CE, which is pretty close to the original estimates from the U106 group.

The ZP121 person buried in Hatherdene Close, Cherry Hinton, Cambridgeshire (listed as HAD005 in the U106 spreadsheet) is likely not Mr. ZP121 but a descendant a few hundred years down the line. Burials in the cemetery are from the 5th and 6th centuries so between 400 CE and 600 CE. The results I saw from this post on anthrogenica only say that the sample was negative for one SNP. That SNP is under BY41998 on the ZP125 side of the family. They say the sample was negative for Y15996. But there is nothing about any other SNPs under BY41998 or any of the other branches under ZP121. For all I know, the sample could be positive for BY41998 or Y15999 in that block under R-ZP125 or he could be positive for ZP124 or none of them and down a different branch.

A relative of every man under ZP121 was in the Fens between 400 and 600 CE. According to this article: “There is little indication of items post-dating c. AD 560 with a minority having a potential 7th century date. Although generally typical of Cambridgeshire, some items are more commonly found in Kent or the continent and point to links further afield, possibly suggestive of a mixed population with possible recent migrants.” He’s an Angle, one of the South Gyrwas (from south Gyrwe) which is a group tucked between the East Angles and the Middle Angles/Mercia. Gyrwas apparently describes a person who lives in a fen as “Gyr” is a bog.

map showing east angles, the wash, north and south gyrwe and other tribes.
lovingly borrowed from medieval.eu

Above you can see the Gyrwe (north and south) and below the location of the burial.

location of the burial

According to this article from Country Life, Ely, just to the north, was described this way: “Traveller Celia Fiennes, arriving in Ely in 1698 after heavy rains, called it ‘ye diryest place I ever saw… a perfect quagmire ye whole Citty’”.

Notes and Queries Vol 105 describes the Gyrwas this way: “The East Angles occupied Norfolk and Suffolk and their allies or subjects, the Gyrwas, spread themselves over the Fen and its margin. It appears from Bede that the south Gyrwas were the dominant people among Fenmen. He mentions them by name, and their chief was of rank to marry a daughter of the East Anglian king.”

They go on to say that the Gyrwas are further related to the East Angles as evidenced by their conversion to Christianity and church appointments.

The Angles

By mbartelsm – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=86531831

Here’s the migration map (or one interpretation of the migration map) of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. Somehow the Jutes end up way down in Kent. I’m glad the map also includes the Frisians and Franks. Modern Frisian is the most like old English I believe, and both languages are considered “low German”.

CTS12023 in Kent

Also listed in the U106 spreadsheet are several finds at the Buckland Cemetery in Dover, Kent buried between 475 CE and 750 CE.

Buckland Cemetery Dover Kent

There in the kingdom of Kent we have BUK009 listed as CTS12023 -> PH1163. BUK042 and BUK048 listed as CTS12023.

R-PH1163 modern testers are from Denmark and Norway. For reference, ZP121 is under R-ZP85 over on the left, and R-PH1163 is currently at the same level as ZP85. We’re all related to Mr. CTS12023/R-DF95

BUK042 and BUK048 at CTS12023 are in the major group we all fall under (you can just see ZP86 from that major group at the top of the image). Without further testing, it’s hard to know if they fall under a branch or would be on a brand-new one.

The paper associated with the finds says the early graves show possessions that suggest a lot of continental influence. A mix of Danes or Jutes, Franks, and maybe an Angle and a Saxon. The paper references burial practices and goods from Jutland several times.

Going back up to the map above of the Anglo-Saxon migration to Britain, this is where you would expect to find Jutes and Franks I would think, given the odd sea voyage of the Jutes and the proximity of the Franks. I found a nice website that has images from the burials there.

R-PH1163 doesn’t have an estimated age from FTDNA yet. I don’t know if it existed when the U106 group was putting out estimates. I’ll have to wait to see if there are further developments for the Buckland cemetery men.


R-Z18 generally skews Scandinavian. It has been said that it skews enough to give all of U106 more Scandinavian representation than you would expect. Ancient Z18 remains under chemical analysis from burials farther south in Europe with the Longobards show Scandinavian origins in their lifetime. R-Z18 shows up in late neolithic burials (1800 – 1400 BC) in Zealand, Denmark, and ancient finds in Britain for Z18 show up in East Anglia, the Danelaw (including a Viking mass grave), and in other known Norse settlements.

CTS12023 similarly has many modern testers from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Ancient CTS12023 people were on the move. There are fewer of us, so it seems like we would be less likely to be found in ancient remains, but this focus on more advanced testing for archaeological remains seems to have hit the jackpot for us. We’re clearly recovering and expanding in the 400s CE.

I’ve proposed a lot of theories for migrations to Britain, and now I’m even more biased about CTS12023 being another Scandinavian Z18 group that pushed down into the continent, over to Britain, and took part in multiple migrations beyond that.

What Could Go Wrong?

  • Well, first, these results are from an upcoming paper on Anglo Saxons so the base written work and analysis are still in the making. It’s early early stuff.
  • I don’t (yet) know how to attribute the DNA results from the spreadsheet to the actual graves in the associated papers. Do my peeps belong to the 400 CE crowd or the 700 CE crowd? Do the grave goods identify them as Franks or as Jutes?
  • If you look at the spreadsheet, it appears that the initial analysis was repeated with radically different results (or that the numbering system is random and that results were cross-assigned). So it seems possible that my ZP121 man could get walked back at some point as it appears other samples have been.

Basically, all of this needs to be reviewed and verified.

Ed Elmer from Northamptonshire?

After an email introduction to another descendant of Ed Elmer in conversation with other members of our small research group, one of the crew provided a document that put Ed Elmer in a line of Elmers from Quinton, near Northampton.

I’m still a poor reader, so I jumped over all the information on the page. I went down to the location at the bottom and started looking at maps and searching for Elmer records at various sites for those people. 

Here is the text on that page:

The father of Edward Elmer the immigrant resided at the village of quinton near northamption england. His will dated Aug. 29, 1612 mentions children John, Alexander, Thomas, Edward, Elizabeth Berill, Maria Hodskin, Vudgles Olcott, Jane Harris, Agnes Bailey adn Elinour.

2022 Searches

I looked for Puritan influence around Northampton and found a blog referencing a book written in 1979 that makes Northampton seem to be an active place for Puritans. https://edintone.com/centre-for-the-nations/puritan-influence-in-northants/

In the searches I have available, there are Elmers living around Quinton (and Northampton) in Ed’s time. At Freereg.org.uk I found Elmers from 1500 to 1630 in surrounding towns like Piddington and Great Doddington and Broughton and Denton. I also found them in a Northamptonshire search at ancestry. 



Looking at secondary names from the document, I found that there were Berrils in Denton and a Mary Elmer who married a Hopkins (instead of Hodskin…maybe Hodgkins?) in Piddington…and possibly a record for an Ellinour Elmer in Piddington. Here are some indexes I copied:

Thomas HOPKINS    Marriage    25 Jun 1604    Northamptonshire    Piddington : St John the Baptist : Parish Register

Ellin ELLINER    Baptism    24 Apr 1597    Northamptonshire    Piddington : St John the Baptist : Parish Register

Then I looked for Vudgles Olcott and found an interesting correspondence between two genealogists with differing trees for Ed Elmer. The excerpt I’m attaching is from a man named Phillips who is giving the research he paid for (in the 50’s) for records of the family of Ed Elmer. I believe his argument is with the person who name is attached to the archive of documents (Margaret Bready). Margaret is proposing a connection to Bishop John Aylmer and Mr. Phillips is disputing that with his sources for Quinton Northamptonshire.

Here is the URL for those documents: https://archive.org/details/margaretbreadygebrea_10

Mr. Phillips says that Vudgles is actually Douglas and married an Olcott. I could not find Olcotts in my Northampton search, but they could also be Alcotts, Wolcotts…etc. There were Olcotts in Hartford Connecticut listed along with Ed Elmer so I may just be searching in the wrong area or for the wrong name. Some information on Thomas Olcott from Hartford also lists the name as Alcock. There are many records for Alcocks in towns near Quinton.

Here is the bit on Douglas Olcott:

describing Vudgles or Douglas Olcott. The Northamptonshire record society verified that Vudgles was Douglas, but was female and was mentioned in the will of Edward Elmer from Quinton.

I’ll attach page 205 to 217 of the pdf which lists various attempts of Mr. Phillips to copy down what he has for Ed from his hired researcher.  

I did poke around quite a bit searching for Elmers. I found an Edward Elmer that I thought was compelling, baptized in Broughton in 1593, but I think he was buried in 1594. I can verify that several of the Elmers I found had a father named Edward, but I think he lined up best with one of the older Edwards in Mr. Phillips list. 

Northampton records office records of Edward Elmer of Quinton:


Settlement on the marriage of Richard Stanton
23rd Sept 1653
(son of Richard Stanton and Patience his wife of Duston) and Isabel Elmer (daughter of Edward Elmer of Quinton). Seven lands of arable dispersed in the open fields of Duston. (A few details).

I’m going to put a note here that Isabel is not a name listed in the lineage document above that kicked off this particular search.

I didn’t find a lot of Quinton records in my free searches. There are apparently Quinton parish records available digitally at FamilySearch centers. The irony to me is that I found an Edward from Quinton in 2017 and socked notes away on him.

Previous Research into Ed Elmer and Elmers in Northamptonshire in 2017



Jeremy Stephens, clerk v. Robt. Meeres, D.D., and his wife Elizabeth, John Dolbin, Edward Elmer.: Rectory and parsonage of Quinton, in the county of Northampton. Tithes.: Northampton.

Date: 15 Chas 1

I had previous poor luck ordering records from the national archives, but I could try again with this single record for Edward Elmer in Quinton. I’m guessing that this record is for 1640 if it’s in the 15th year of the reign of Charles 1. Our Edward would have been in North America at this point, but I’m not sure exactly what is in the document. A Tithe was a payment of crops..etc to support the church.



Will of William Ellmer or Elmer, Chandler of Peterborough, Northamptonshire.

Date: 12 August 1630

I purchased William’s will. There were no Edward Elmers listed.

Great Doddington:


Will of John Ellmer, Yeoman of Great Doddington, Northamptonshire

Date: 1653

No Edwards listed.

Neolithic and Bronze Age Sample Data

There are a couple of recent papers published in Nature that have some interesting supplemental data attached. Of course, I’m trying to hunt down samples that are related to me, always waiting to get a clear Y DNA relative and keeping tabs on those MTDNA relatives in the ancient world.

One is an analysis of the kinship within a single neolithic tomb: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04241-4#MOESM5

The second is a larger study of bronze age migration into Britain: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04287-4

Neolithic Tombs

In the neolithic data, although the MTDNA haplogroups were pretty diverse including T2e, I didn’t find any T2a or T2a1a people. There also weren’t any Haplogroup R men. All the men in the single neolithic tomb were in haplogroup I under I2a1. There were adopted sons in the data with different I haplogroups. The men seem pretty homogeneous on the Y outside of adoptees. FTDNA once described Haplogroup I as Europe’s native sons and this tomb makes that seem like the case.

The results from that single tomb seem similar to the neolithic results from this paper that sampled multiple tombs from Scandinavia, the British Isles, and Central Europe: https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/early/2019/04/09/1818037116.full.pdf. Lots of different MTDNA haplogroups, but no T2a or T2a1a and haplogroup I for men pretty much across the board. The dates for the samples from the single tomb are in the early 3000s BCE. The pdf paper linked the above samples from 2800 BCE to the 4000s BCE.

All of this is in keeping with the accepted timeline that has haplogroup R1b off to the east near the Volga or in the steppes. I tend to think that T2a1a also followed that plan of westward expansion…although I don’t know if that is an accepted interpretation by the larger genetic community. No unexpected results.

The article in Nature and the pdf from a previous article are interesting for other reasons though, having to do with familial relationships (including adoptive relationships) in high-status neolithic burials and the cultural inferences you can make from them about family ties.

Bronze Age Migration to Britain

The second study is apparently more contentious because it points to a late bronze age migration from the continent (particularly an area in France) and ties that to early Celtic language movement and cultural exchange in southern England and Wales. I believe the article is mainly focused on autosomal DNA and ancestry composition, particularly Early European farmer DNA, along with lactose persistence as markers of similarity with continental Europeans and of differences. My focus on Y and mtDNA haplogroups is taking it out of context a bit.

In this data set of 793 people, there were two T2a1a MTDNA individuals. First, we have I13728 from 381-179 BCE in Cambridgeshire England. A little too young to be in the bronze age. This sample appears to be a middle iron age person in Britain (if the Wikipedia dates for the bronze and iron age in Britain are to be believed). This is roughly a thousand years older than the Saxon female sample in Cambridgeshire and a thousand to two thousand years younger than the Beaker culture females in Amesbury England. I13728 has R-P312 YDNA which is a very large branch under R1b.

Next, we have I23911 who has MTDNA haplogroup T2a1a from 891-797 BCE in Smiljan Croatia, 500 or 600 years younger than the Nordic Bronze age female from my previous post on T2a1a in ancient DNA. This sample is from the Croatian Early Iron Age. Again, by this time T2a1a Bronze Age people had been buried in Amesbury England for a thousand plus years. I23911 has Y haplogroup J2. I’m less familiar with J although I know it’s pretty widespread in Europe and the Middle East. Here is a map showing Smiljan Croatia:

Looking at Y DNA in this data set there were about eight samples with R-U106 YDNA. Notably, I13025, a Bell Beaker from around 2000 BCE in Molenaarsgraaf Netherlands. Most of the others seemed to fall under the R-Z156 branch with one farther back up at Z381.

The R-Z156 samples span quite a bit of time and are mainly from the continent in the middle bronze age, Late Bronze Age and Iron age in Czechia, Slovenia and the Netherlands. There was one R-Z156 sample from England in Cambridgeshire roughly 733 – 397 BCE, listed as Early Iron Age. This is a different branch under U106 than my R-Z18 and R-DF95 line.

It’s not a surprise that most of the R-U106 is on the continent, but I think it has been odd that there wasn’t more of it sampled. U106 isn’t the most popular branch of R1b in Europe. I don’t know that it is a majority of Y DNA anywhere, but R-Z156 isn’t even the biggest branch of R-U106. Where is everybody else hiding out?

map showing Molenaarsgraaf in Netherlands
Molenaarsgraaf, Netherlands where the U106 Late Neolithic Early Bronze age sample was found

I guess another question could be if U106 is in Sweden around 2200 BCE (Rise98) and in the Netherlands around 2000 BCE (I13025) why is there such a gap before we pick it up in Iron Age Britain? 1500 years to get across the channel? Is the lack of finds due to different cultural practices surrounding death or weird luck of the draw in sampling? It’s just…a weird blank spot.

Wrapping Up

The Neolithic tomb data is interesting, maybe even more so because I also found that older study of other neolithic tombs and they lined up pretty well. It’s not a Y DNA study or an MTDNA study. I think it’s more of a family tree for a high-status family and a cultural study on Patriarchy, Matriarchy, and adoption among such neolithic high-status families. It’s interesting how homogeneous the Y DNA was in both neolithic tomb studies (even across long distances in Europe). Haplogroup I for the win.

I did see some Neolithic haplogroup R and even a couple of R1b neolithic samples, but they were in the Bronze Age migration study as comparisons between Neolithic and Bronze Age samples. The three that weren’t “Questionable” (possibly due to contamination) were all in the Czech Republic around Prague roughly 3500 to 5000 BCE.

The Bronze Age Migration study was not a Y DNA study (that I’m aware of, the paper has a paywall the supplements are free). It wasn’t an MTDNA study either, so their findings and their sources are all about autosomal DNA and early European farmer influence on later iron age Britons. They’re sampling areas across Europe but the samples may be focused on Celtic language speakers and known sites for Celtic culture since one main focus of the paper is on the spread of Celtic language to the British Isles.

Perhaps the samples are just bumping the edges of a more U106 world in the Netherlands or Czechia or Slovenia. To my quick glance, the Netherlands appears to be the most northerly location in their continental sample. Germany, Austria, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia, Belarus, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland are either missing or not well sampled. There are like 150 plus samples from the Czech Republic…5 from Russia. 50-some odd from France and 3 from Austria.

It seems like a study of the roots of the Celtic world and pre-Roman Britain that accidentally caught a few U106 men bumbling about.

Roughly half the samples are from the UK and are distributed in such a way that I can’t complain that U106 strongholds in Britain today aren’t covered. There just don’t appear to be any U106 strongholds in these samples in the UK in this timeframe. One R-Z156 sample from Cambridgeshire in the early iron age seems to be the exception. That guy may have been lost or something.

There are eventually more U106 UK remains (again R-Z156 men) buried as Roman gladiators in the early 200’s AD near Driffield York. That’s a big gap though too. 700 years or so.

At this point, I have to agree with the sentiments of the people posting in the U106 group about these same results which seem to be that if you’re on the Z156 branch, there is a chance you may be in Britain in the Iron Age and during the Roman era, but there really isn’t evidence of any other U106 men in Britain until the end of Roman rule. So for my little branch and most of the rest of U106 with families in Britain, it’s back to the usual suspects from the continent: Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Scandinavians of various sorts, Normans, and migration from the Low Countries.

R-U152 Thompson Big Y 700 Update

Just a quick update for my R-U152 Thompson paper trail cousins in Indiana. They’ve been joined by our Highest Thomson match in R-BY98312.

In a previous post, I’d put about 2000 years between the Thompsons and the Thomsons, but the Thomson tester has narrowed that gap right down to being in the same branch as my family sitting with the Allen match at roughly 1300AD. I believe that it’s likely that the Thomsons and Thompsons are more closely related, but my cousin’s sample was at the end of its life. FTDNA support said that they struggled to get some reads that they suspect are true but didn’t pass all the quality tests. It’s possible that Thomson/Thompson would form a new branch under BY98312 but the DNA sample is spent.

Both the Thomson and Allen testers are 10 big Y STRs away, although the Thomson test has more STRs to compare to 554 for Thomson vs. 537 for Allen. More STR matches suggest a closer relationship, but STRs can be misleading and I’m not sure how to consider Big Y STRs since there seems to be a lot of variability in results.

Since I haven’t been able to communicate with the Thomson test taker and there no real family tree to compare to that I’ve found, there doesn’t seem to be much benefit in me grabbing the results and looking for those SNPs that were on the edge of being called good. Who would I compare the results to? For some odd reason, the Thomson test doesn’t even show as a Big Y match in the matches area…so I have no real clue what to look for and no one to compare notes with. It kind of highlights how genealogy is also a social/informational exchange.

It’s possible that FTDNA will decide to call some of my cousin’s SNPs good somewhere down the road based on other tests that come in (I’ve seen that with the Elmers), but for the time being this is the end of the trail for the Thom(p)sons.

Reflecting on Family

Here in the U.S., it’s Thanksgiving. For many people, that means a lot of good food and time spent with family. Where I am in Michigan, there is light snow on the ground. Thanksgiving is an American holiday, peculiar to the U.S. but not alone in the Northern Hemisphere as far as Fall harvest festivals go. For me, Thanksgiving is the gateway to winter and the starting gun for the rest of the winter celebrations. In my family, that means Christmas is around the corner bringing a mishmash of Northern European traditions in the American style for a mishmash Northern European and West African family.

Typically, I think I end up posting most of my updates around Christmas time because I have a decent break in my work schedule then, but I got tugged back here with a few thoughts over this long weekend.

Changing Roles and Changing People

Teresa Finks, Linda Walsh, Tom Thompson, Pat Thompson (his baby) a friend of Dave's, Dave Thompson.  Howard and Betty (Abbott) on our 35 wedding anniversary

Like a lot of people, my uncle died this summer. He did not die from Covid 19. His death leaves my dad alone among his siblings. It’s a position my dad explicitly stated that he did not want to hold. I can only imagine the significant loss for my cousins and aunt, but in my mind’s eye, they are comforted by their love, their community, and their great faith.

My mother-in-law died this summer as well. She didn’t die from Covid 19, but she did die suddenly. She was 68, so I can’t say it was unexpected, she wasn’t a toddler or a teenager, but none of us had any reason to believe she would die when she did or that it would be so fast.

For my wife, losing a parent has meant a lot of uncertainty about things that were once certain. I’m sure it’s the same for everyone in the family. Each person has an amount of inertia, an amount of gravity that binds things together that might otherwise drift. With my mother-in-law gone, we’re all finding our place in the new universe that is surrounding that vacuum.

These losses change the trajectory of our lives. Our families expand and contract they split apart and come together and people move forward in their own direction, maybe in opposite directions. Families change, they move, they become something else. There is a strange timelessness to families but also fluidity. Family is adaptable.

They’ll Just Let Anyone in Here

Thanksgiving 1940 Cadillac

If you were at my mother-in-law’s funeral you would see a lot of people who share similar traits. A gap in their front teeth or almond-shaped eyes. One group carries high cheekbones, another curly hair. When you get them all together, it’s easy to see that they are related. There are another group of people there though who qualify as “family” but aren’t related in any way. There are a lot of ways that people become family and genetics is not required.

I remember after my grandmother’s funeral, sorting through her pictures. It was easy to see the people who were related to her and the people who were related to my grandfather, but then there were “uncles” and “aunties” and “cousins” who are not related. My parents know them, they’ve been there, they’ve made memories with the family but it turns out, surprisingly, that they are completely unrelated to us. They are still part of the family, but you won’t see them on any family tree.

Having a meaningful relationship within the group seems to be the only bar for entry into many of the families I know. Ancestry.com doesn’t have a slot for them that I’m aware of. These people are the undocumented labor of love.

Who Are All These People?

grandpa seelye 90th birthday

As I was thinking about “family” I remembered that I hadn’t updated all my trees. It’s a sad sort of busywork, adding death dates to your family members, but it seemed dishonorable somehow to leave them empty. As usual, I took a peek at my DNA matches and there was a new name I recognize. It’s one of my cousin’s surnames. The amount of shared DNA suggests one of a cousin’s children, but I don’t recognize their given name. It could be one of the children of a cousin who moved off to one of the Carolinas or…maybe it was Georgia. It could be one of the children of a cousin a few miles outside of my hometown. I don’t know.

My cousins were my playmates in early life but we live in different parts of the state and different parts of the country. We all pulled or were pulled away in our teenage years. I don’t know all of their kids’ names. They all have their own families, and communities, and workplaces. I haven’t seen most of them since we were young adults. It’s possible I might recognize a family trait if I saw their children or grandchildren in person, but I can’t say for sure.

As I scrolled down the matches, that level of knowing someone completely disappears. I see people who are related to my great-grandparents, or to my second great-grandparents. I have no idea who they are or how they fit without a family tree. The names are unrecognizable. I could pass them on the street every day and never know we were biologically related.

For most of my matches, I have to hunt down the relationship in whatever trees I can find. They are very much strangers except for an accident of birth. They are part of my family in the strictest biological sense, but something is definitely missing. Shared genomes are not enough.

Binding, but not Always Legally

Cecilia Price nee Murphy and children

I was reminded of some great words from genetic genealogy circles. “Everyone has two family trees”. There is the documented family tree and the biological family tree and sometimes those two line up, but they do not have to. I have been told that I share the Thompson family sense of humor with my paper trail second cousin once removed. His wife is the local expert on the Thompsons in Indiana and so I’ll take her word for it. Clearly, though, if you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll know that that family trait is not genetic but handed down through shared experience. A gift from the Thompsons that has no blood quantum. This character trait is part of my heredity that transcends mere genes.

The other related thing that I have been mulling over, it the idea that anyone can become an American. It’s a basic principle that is worth remembering on this very American holiday. The idea is that you could move to France, but you wouldn’t become French. Maybe your kids or grandkids. I’m not sure how long a family would be foreign to the natives.

There are certainly obstacles here in America and it’s not perfect. It never has been. There are some real horrors in our history. The idea stubbornly remains though. Anyone can become an American. A U.S. citizen. It’s baked in there right from the start just waiting for our laws and biases and human flaws to catch up with it.

The idea may not be unique anymore but I think it was revolutionary in its inception. We’re somehow special because we’re a club that anyone can be in. The base of the idea is an admission that we choose to support each other. Our capacity to have meaningful relationships and common goals supersede the boundaries that have been presented to us. It’s a social contract signed by people from all over the world.

It occurred to me that “family” is a social contract too, like becoming a citizen. You could be born into a family, but you can also join one or leave one to join another of your choosing. Family is a social contract that sometimes involves biology. Anyone from anywhere can become a Thompson (and they have) or a Smith…or whatever it is that you are. Families are, by their nature, more than the sum of their parts. The ties that bind us together are deep and meaningful and also ephemeral and hard to pin down in our administrative notion of a family tree.

Sending Out Invitations?

Howard Abbott "Grampa Abbott"

Over the years we’ve been able to add some great people to our family. In a way, I guess, each of these chance meetings is an opportunity to extend that invitation to a new person or people. Who can say how much gravity that next DNA match or new co-worker or classmate or neighbor or congregation member will add to our universe or how much we might add to theirs?

Elmers, Elmers Everywhere outside of Essex

I’m moving along on the supposition that Ed Elmer was probably a solidly middle-class guy, but maybe at the lower end of wealth from Ed Elmer Regular Guy and also following up on my post about the surprising number of Elmers in Essex (although a decided lack of Ed Elmers in available records there) that leaves open the possibility that he was a resident in Braintree or Bocking but that his paperwork is missing.

Of course not all the puritans were from Essex and neither were all the passengers on the Lyon (using this comparison of varying accounts from the Whipple family site as a reference). The source of all knowledge Wikipedia says that nearly half of all puritans came broadly from East Anglia. This random British travel site seems to agree. The Whipple passenger lists have people from Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent, Surrey, Hertfordshire, and Northamptonshire. Although fewer in number than the Essex passengers they are not insignificant. Edward ends up settling in Hartford which is named after Hertfordshire after all.

When I was looking at Essex I cast a pretty broad net to get a feeling for how many Elmer families lived there in the early 1600s. Looking at counties like Norfolk, I can afford to be a bit pickier. Where possible I’ve looked up hearth tax records online and I found a great search site at https://www.freereg.org.uk/ that has tons of parish records. My focus for those parish records has been on Edward Elmers.

I’m not from Britain so I may be grouping these towns wrong, but for the sake of some sort of order, I’m going to try to cluster these a bit for context. I’ll bold the Hearth Tax Records which will be roughly 50 to 70 years later (1670’s) than the vital records I can find between 1590 and 1620.

The hearth tax records are meant to provide some idea of the general state of Elmers in the area after Edward’s departure. Following the theory that Edward’s remaining family in England would have had some means, we’d be looking at a yeoman class person up to a wealthy craftsman so roughly 2 to 7 hearths.

Elmers from Norfolk

Norfolk is the home county for Bishop John Aylmer. It’s also home to a large amount of Elmers, Ailmers, Elmores and other name variants. It is thick with Elmers. The family and court records I dug up in the past are overwhelming, to the point that I got tired of copying them. If you had to guess where Ed Elmer was from, then I think Norfolk would be the safest guess based on surname alone.

In my record search from 1590 to 1620 there are 138 Elmer records (baptism, burial, marriage) in Norfolk. Compare that to the 22 records I find in Essex or the 14 records I find in Suffolk for the same period and you get an idea of how dense the Elmer population is there.

Because of that, I’ve gotten pretty picky with Norfolk. I’m only looking at birth, burial or marriage records related to Edward Elmers. The hearth tax records are there for the general flavor to show the means of Elmer families in the area after Edward had migrated to America.

Norfolk hearth taxes found at: https://www.familysearch.org/library/books/records/item/204870-norfolk-hearth-tax-assessment-michaelmas-1664-vol-15?offset=1

map of Norfolk with pins marking Ed Elmer records, Elmer hearths and Hingham.

King’s Lynn Area

Kings Lynn area Norfolk map contains Brancaster, Bagthorpe, West Bilney, and Wiggenhall St Germans


You can see the vital records at the top of Norfolk as a red pin near Brancaster. I don’t know if the Edward Elmer buried in 1610 represents the child born around 1605, or his father also named Edward who was married to Isabell just the year before the birth, in 1604, or if the 1610 Edward Elmer is unrelated. All I’ve seen are the indexes. I can see that Edward and Isabell have a son named Edward in 1605, a son named John around 1607, a son Oliver in 1608 and then Isabell is oddly listed alone as the mother of Bridget Elmer in 1616. I couldn’t find any birth records for Edward Elmers born in Norfolk between 1500 and 1612. I suspect that Edward the younger is the death in 1610, but I can’t be sure. I can’t find the death of Edward senior.

Isabell FOULL Edward ELMER Marriage 25 Jan 1604/5 – St Mary the Virgin : Parish Register

Edward? ELMER Baptism 29 Sep 1605 – St Mary the Virgin : Parish Register

Edward ELMER Burial 10 Jun 1610 – St Mary the Virgin : Parish Register


Thomas Elmore 4 hearths

West Bilney

Rich Elmore 2 Hearths

Wiggenhall St Germans

Mr Ailmer 3 hearths.


Thetford Norfolk map contains Hingham, Hockwold cum Wilton, Scoulton, Little Ellingham, Caston and Attleborough.


There are several records for Almer births in Scoulton (Red pin on the map by the Hingham star) with what appear to be a couple of generations in my 1590 to 1620 range. Edward Almer is the son of William Almer who appears to have multiple children in the 1590 and early 1600s. There are also multiple records for Aylmers who may be the same family with a different spelling. Almer seems to be the older record set with Aylmers becoming dominant later. I looked for records of Edward Almer later from 1620 to 1700 in Scoulton to see if he married or died there but I found none.

Edward ALMER Baptism 25 Jan 1608/9 – Holy Trinity : Archdeacon’s Transcript

Edward Almer really caught my attention so I looked to see if Scoulton had puritan activity and found this passage that makes it sound like there was some current of puritanism there. From the google book “Faith, Hope and Charity: English Neighbourhoods, 1500–1640” By Andy Wood

It hurt to hear the parson of Scoulton preach in 1628, for example, that them that kneeled at the lords prayer at the sacrament of batism were ridiculous. The minister refused to read latin, reproved women who wore a veil when they came to church and he said it is a relic of the pope.

Hockwold cum Wilton

Millicent Aylmer – 2 hearths
Robt Aylmer – 3 hearths
Sam Aylmer – 3 hearths

Little Ellingham

Robt Aylmer – 2 hearths


Chr (Christopher? Charles?) Aylmer – 2 hearths


Richard Elmer – 6 hearths


I found no Elmers in Hingham in the 1590 to 1620 range. I have a star on Hingham because it’s history with the Puritans is interesting. A large portion of the town left for America in the 1630’s including the ancestors of Abraham Lincoln. Hingham Massachusetts was settled by people transplanted from Hingham Norfolk. According to sources quoted on Wikipedia “The parishioners who left Hingham had been so prominent in the Hingham community that the town was forced to petition British Parliament, saying their town had been devastated by the emigration. They told the House of Commons that “most of the able Inhabitants have forsaken their dwellings and have gone severall ways for their peace and quiett and the town is now left and like in the misery by reason of the meanness of the [remaining] Inhabitants.”

Hingham is 3 miles from Scoulton.


Map of Norwich Norfolk area with pins in Frettenham, Norwich and Hethersett.

St Margaret Parish Norwich

This Edward Elmer (Red pin above) is at the top end for birth date I would think. Being born in 1617 would have made him only 15 when he traveled on the Lyon in 1632. I don’t know if that is likely or not. It seems awfully young and it seems odd that he would be traveling alone in 1632. He’s the son of Nathaniell Elmer. I’ve found no record of his marriage or death in Norfolk, although I can see that Nathaniell dies in 1649/1650 in Norwich. Nathaniell was a Worsted Weaver. Nathaniell’s death is recorded at St. Peter Mancroft where there is a tapestry hanging that was created by Dutch and Flemish weavers who came to Norwich according to this article on the 1000 plus Dutch and Flemish strangers. Several of the Elmers with burials at St. Peter Mancroft appear to be weavers or related to Elmer weavers.

Edward ELMER Baptism 14 Aug 1617 – St Margaret : Parish Register


John Elmer – 1 hearth


John Elmer – 2 hearths

Pullham Area

Pullham area map with pins for Pullham, Wortwell and Hardwick


Robt Elmer – 4 hearths

Pullham (Market) St Marie

John Elmer – 1 hearth

Wortwell; hamlett of aldeburgh

Isaac Elmer – 2 hearths

Elmers from Suffolk

There are fewer Elmer records in Suffolk from 1590 to 1620 (roughly 14) than I find in Norfolk, although plenty of hearth tax records from 1674. When I extend my vital record searches to 1690 I see more literal “Elmers” showing up in records in the 1660s and 1670s (as opposed to Almers who dominate in 1590 to 1620). It may be that the Elmer hearth records are showing new Elmer families moving into Suffolk…while the low level of “Elmer” vital records (really just the one family from Bury St. Edmunds seem trustworthy) may show a transient Elmer family with the residents from the hearth tax records representing newer families in Suffolk.

Suffolk hearth taxes found at: https://archive.org/details/suffolkin1674bei00shah/page/142/mode/2up

West Side Bury, Sudbury…Cowlinge

Bury St. Edmunds

From the records in Bury St. Edmunds there is at least one Elmer family. Robert has sons Edward in 1595 and Nicholas in 1594 one record is spelled Ellmer and the other Elmer. I found no other records for the family. I don’t see them in my Suffolk searches, even when I extend it out to 1690.

Edward ELLMER Baptism 9 Nov 1595 – St James : Other Transcript

Long Melford

Robert Elmer – 3 hearths

Sudbury Babergh St. Peters

Step. Ellmer – 3 hearths

Cowlinge in Risbridge

The bulk of the Almer records from 1590 to 1620 are in the general vicinity of Cowlinge. Most are from Lidgate roughly 3 miles away with a few popping up in Wickhambrook about 4 miles to the east. The Almer families show up in vital records in Lidgate until the 1660s.

William Almer – 2 hearths

North and East

Hepworth (north of Stanton on the west side of the map)

Jo Elmor – 2 hearths
Grig Ellmer – 3 hearths


Jo Elmer – 4 hearths
widow Elmer – 1 hearth

Ashfield Thredling (to the west of Bruisyard and Sweffling)

Rich. Elmer, Stannard – 2 hearths (not sure what Stannard represents here)

Swefling in Plomesgate

Thomas Elmore – 3 hearths

Bruisyard Plomesgate

Thomas Elmer – 2 hearths

South and East


Henry Elmer – 2 hearths
… Almer – 2 hearths


A sort of dodgy record for an Elinore family came up in my searches from 1590 to 1620 in Woodbridge. I’m not sure what to make of them. It could be a transcription error.

Widow Almer – 2 hearths

Elmers from Sussex

There are 45 vital records for Aylmers (of various spellings) and 8 vital records for Elmers in Sussex between 1590 and 1620. The Aylmers were active in Sidlesham and Boxgrove. I couldn’t find a good source for Sussex hearth taxes online, although it appears there is a book I could order. Here’s a walking map from Sidlesham to Boxgrove roughly 8 miles away.


Edward Aylmer is born to John Aylmer in Sidlesham but dies as an infant.

Edward AYLMER Baptism 28 Feb 1606/7 St Mary Our Lady : Parish Register

Edward AYLMER Burial 09 Mar 1606/7 St Mary Our Lady : Parish Register

Elmers in London

The St. Mary Le Bow Edward Elmores show in my vital records searches from 1590 to 1620. As we found out Edward Elmore senior, a fishmonger, had two sons named Edward who did not survive childhood. He then also died in 1620. The Elmore family maintains a presence in the area, but that particular set of Edward Elmores was a dead end. We have more on the roads we followed trying to tie up loose ends for Ed Elmer here:


The end of the Edward Elmers

That marks the end of my Edward Elmer teasers in England between 1590 and 1620. There are Elmers, Almers, Aylmers, etc. that are active in many counties. These searchable records are amazing but also incomplete. I can’t negate the idea that Ed Elmer is from Northhamptonshire, for instance, but I couldn’t find Ed Elmer records there.

I found the Ed Almer record from Scoulton to be pretty interesting because of timing and proximity to Hingham. Hingham’s exodus happens a few years after Ed leaves for the new world with the Braintree company. It would make Ed roughly 36 when he was married and 60 when he’s relieved of watching and warding and roughly 68 when he is killed.

I suspect Ed Elmer from Brancaster dies in 1610, but I have no way to confirm that. Born in 1605 this Edward would be 27 when the Lyon departed. 39 when he was first married (a bit on the older side). 62 when he was freed from watching and 71 when he was killed.

Ed Elmer from Norwich born in 1617 seems young at first but then fits better later. He would be 15 when the Lyon set sail, but I’ve suspected in the past that Ed was an unmarried young man, possibly under the watchful eye of another family on the journey. Ed is married in 1644 which would make him 27. The average age for a man to marry in Puritan society is about 26 according to womens history blog. That doesn’t seem too unreasonable. He would have been 51 when relieved of watching and 59 when he died. The average life expectancy seems to be around 70 for men in New England at the time and Ed didn’t die from natural causes.

Edward from Bury St. Edmunds seems to be pretty long in the tooth. He would have been in his late 30’s for the trip and almost 50 when he was first married and 81 when he was killed. This Ed Elmer just seems unlikely.

Just for Fun

Out of curiosity, I wanted to see where the other two close Y DNA families might be in England at the time of Edward’s birth.

Lunsfords, Lunsfords in England

The Lunsfords are the second closest family roughly 700 or 800 AD for a common ancestor. Doing the SNP trick with two new big Y results I get 15 * 83 for us and 13 * 83 for them. That’s 1245 + 1079/2 = 1162. 1950 – 1162 = roughly 788 AD for a common Y ancestor with the Lunsfords. Here are the Lunsfords from 1590 to 1620. I dropped back to 1500 with them as a kind of survey and they still seem clustered around Sussex and Kent.

Lunsfords in Hastings

William LUNSFORD Baptism 07 Jun 1590 Sussex Hastings : All Saints : Parish Register

William LUNSFORD Baptism 7 Jun 1590 Sussex Hastings : St Clement Old Town : Parish Register

Joan LUNSFORD Burial 2 Mar 1593/4 Sussex Hastings : St Clement Old Town : Parish Register

William LUNSFORD Burial 10 Jan 1594/5 Sussex Hastings : St Clement Old Town : Parish Register

Agnes LUNSFORD Baptism 23 Nov 1595 Sussex Hastings : St Clement Old Town : Parish Register

Elizabeth LUNSFORD Baptism 14 Dec 1606 Sussex Hastings : St Clement Old Town : Parish Register

Bridgett LUNSFORD Burial 2 Nov 1609 Sussex Hastings : St Clement Old Town : Parish Register

….LUNSFORD Burial 18 Nov 1609 Sussex Hastings : St Clement Old Town : Parish Register

Joane ROGERS Thomas LUNSFORD Marriage 05 Sep 1610 Sussex Hastings : St Clement Old Town : Parish Register

John LUNSFORD Burial 24 Jan 1617/18 Sussex Hastings : All Saints : Parish Register

Lunsfords in Kent

John LUNSFORD Burial 02 Nov 1593 Kent Benenden : St George : Other Transcript

Sarah LUNSFORD John KNIGHT Marriage 10 Aug 1620 Kent Tenterden : St Mildred : Parish Register

Knowltons, Knowltons in England

Currently our closest non-Elmer Y DNA relatives, the Knowltons are still far enough back that we likely don not have a common male line ancestor in the time of the common use of surnames in England. Testing shows our families diverged 7 Y SNPs before Edward Elmer was born. Most estimates have shown a shared ancestor around the time of the Norman invasion. When I do the trick of using SNP calculations I get 12 Big Y SNPs for the Elmers back to the common Y SNP. So 12 * 83 years. Then 5 SNPs for our Knowlton tester with old Big Y: 5 * 125 years. That’s 996 + 625 = 1621. 1621/2 = 810.5 years. 1950 – 810 years is roughly 1140 AD for the common ancestor with the Knowltons.

Here are some vital records in the range of 1590 to 1620 for Knowltons (and spelling variants). I’m limiting them here to just 1590 to 1620 but it’s worth noting that there are many Knowltons of various spellings in Kent and Middlesex between 1500 and 1600. These are Knowltons who would be roughly the same age as Ed Elmer.

Knowltons in Essex

Allis NOWLTON Baptism 30 Apr 1592 Essex West Bergholt : St Mary the Virgin : Parish Register

Knowltons in Norfolk

Elizabeth NULTON? Baptism 02 Apr 1609 Norfolk Hevingham : St Botolph : Archdeacon’s Transcript

Margaret KNOULTON Burial 23 Apr 1597 Norfolk Halvergate : St Peter and St Paul : Parish Register

Knowltons in Yorkshire

Tho. WOLTON (OR NOLTON) Baptism 30 Jan 1609/10 Yorkshire, West Riding Leeds : St Peter : Other Transcript

Knowltons in Hampshire

Richard KNOWLTON Baptism 12 Oct 1600 Hampshire Church Oakley : St Leonard : Parish Register

Margerys KNOWLTON Baptism 22 Jan 1603/4 Hampshire Church Oakley : St Leonard : Parish Register

Knowltons in Surrey

Susan KNOWLDEN Baptism 26 Dec 1610 Surrey Bletchingley : St Mary the Virgin : Parish Register

James KNOWLDIN Baptism 27 Sep 1618 Surrey Bletchingley : St Mary the Virgin : Parish Register

Ethnicity Estimates and Goals

I recently watched what I thought was a really good piece from CBC Marketplace on Twins getting DNA tests in 2019. They test with several companies and get different ethnicity estimate results between the various companies and it appears that sometimes their results differ from each other within the same company. They also interview people on the street about whether DNA testing is science and if the ethnicity estimates are true or false. They also show the famous or infamous Ancestry commercial featuring a guy who thought his family was German but found out through DNA testing they were “Welsh or Scottish”. They present videos and commercials with people who got surprising and sometimes life-changing results. People whose identity is changed as a result of these tests.

CBC Marketplace interviews some of the companies about their differing results and a professor about ancestry testing in general. In 20 plus minutes, they do a good job of explaining that your Ethnicity Estimate results are only as good as the company’s sampling around the world, that your results will change over time as sampling gets better, and that these are only estimates. In the end, stressing that this is science entertainment and your cultural affinities are not tied to DNA. So if you grew up in a first nation as part of Native American culture and it turns out you were adopted from a Polish family, sure…look up Poland and learn about that, but you’re still Native culturally at the end of the day. That’s your culture. You get culture from your family and community and even your own interests…but not from DNA.

I’ve done several posts myself comparing ethnicity estimates, watching them change, and seeing how they are different for myself and between my family members. Based on my own experience, I agree, ethnicity estimates are fun and sometimes useful, but not necessarily definitive.

Overall, I thought it was a great message, but I also had this nagging feeling that their piece was short enough and so focused on ethnicity as the end goal, that it could be a bit misleading.

Short Attention Spans, and Easy Answers

DNA story graphic 44 percent England an Northwestern Europe, 28 Percent Scotland
My DNA Story Estimate Pie Chart this year

Take the Ancestry commercial. It does seem like they’re saying DNA made Kyle say “Goodbye Lederhosen, Hello Kilt”. It is also unfortunate that Kyle would give up what is portrayed to be a long-standing family tradition so easily. You would expect that they have friends and family in the German community that would not be so easy to leave behind. Kyle gets an easy answer and makes sweeping life changes, quickly. He’s Scottish now.

But that is not exactly what the Ancestry commercial is saying.

Kyle, in the commercial, is not finding any German relatives in his family tree. The scenario presented is that he’s doing research first and then gets a DNA test when his research doesn’t match his expectations. He gets to a point in his paper trail research and says…where are all the Germans?

The question that Ancestry’s commercial doesn’t answer, but should, is did Kyle’s DNA ethnicity results better resemble what he found in his research?

If you’ve read any of my past postings about my aunt, you may remember that I was surprised by her large Irish ethnicity estimate at 23 and me (and also at Ancestry DNA). It seemed clear that she was getting a large Irish component that I could not place. Once we used DNA to find her real paternal genetic family among the Roberts, I could easily see that her grandmother was an immigrant from Ireland. The estimates of “Irishness” varied between companies, but they weren’t bogus.

Ancestry DNA ethnicity estimate for cheryl 41% England and Northwestern Europe, 31% Scotland 28% Ireland with an affinity for Munster and Cork.
Ancestry DNA ethnicity estimate for cheryl 41% England and Northwestern Europe, 31% Scotland 28% Ireland with an affinity for Munster and Cork.

When looking at Robert families that I had identified by slogging through segment matching people from Quebec and the U.P., I wondered how these DNA companies were coming up with a really high Irish component when all I was finding were French people and confusion. The amounts were so enormous and found broadly enough between companies that they warranted some explanation.

Ancestry compostion from 23 and me for Cheryl. 81% British and Irish with an affinity for Cork.
Ancestry compostion from 23 and me for Cheryl. 81% British and Irish with an affinity for Cork.

In the end, they are best interpreted through the lens of the other real work I did to identify her paternal family. Now, having done my homework, her ethnicity estimates better resemble what I found in my research and that gives them some more weight.

My aunt’s grandmother Mary Bayhan’s parents were both immigrants from Ireland.

Of course, it helped my research that her 2nd cousin in the Robert family had a test and then they had her first cousin tested, but watching the ethnicity begin to make sense and that puzzle piece fit, almost uniquely, in this single family was amazing. The ethnicity estimate was “more right” than I knew.

DNA testing is a “long game” and it’s hard to cover the nuances of a long game in a 30-second commercial or a 20-minute consumer journalism piece.

While I share the frustration expressed by CBC Marketplace with DNA company marketing that promises easy magical answers without you (the consumer) having to do any work, I think focusing solely on ethnicity estimates as the goal of DNA testing, and marking DNA testing as Science Entertainment, is also misleading and catering to short attention spans in a different way.

What Are Your Goals?

Culture is not tied to DNA although sometimes they go hand in hand. I know many people who love cultures they were not born into, no blood quantum required. Being raised in a culture always trumps DNA. If your DNA causes you to learn more about a culture, great. If you love a culture but don’t have the DNA to back it up, great, you go ahead and keep on loving.

The value you get from your DNA testing and whether it’s entertainment or serious business should map to your goals.

If you’re looking for a quick way for DNA to assign you a fun culture, then you’re in the realm of Science Entertainment. My advice is to stick to the big numbers like 45% British Isles. That’s a big amount, there’s probably some validity to it. When you get into the weeds, things get weirder. That 2% Middle Eastern may swap over to 1% North African down the line. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Try out some themed restaurants and learn some language, maybe appreciate some art or history and travel. There’s nothing wrong with that. You just have to know what you’re buying and that it is not 100% accurate. The broad brush strokes are probably real enough for some edutainment, the fine details…maybe not so much.

If your interest is in tracing your family and you find 56% Western European or 90% African to be accurate, but unfulfilling, you’re probably ready for some science work. Dig into your paper trail and then return to DNA to find repeating families among your larger (and closer) matches. Try to pin matches to your paper trail family. Test your parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to get direction and compare to yourself. Work on segment mapping and triangulation to find out which segments of DNA belong to which family. You will probably uncover some genuine mysteries and may find interesting answers, but it will take some time and effort to put together the puzzle that is you. I think you’re worth it. We all are. Everyone deserves to know these things about themselves.

DNA testing is a tool kit you can use along with other tool kits like historical records and even family stories, to learn more about you. Ethnicity estimates are one part of the DNA tool kit and I would say that they’re not the best tool in the arsenal. They’re like that weird little toothpick in the swiss army knife, sometimes useful, but clearly not the best part. If you only focus on ethnicity then I feel like you’re missing out on an opportunity to do more and learn more.

Our Ethnicity Estimates

You can see my comparisons of ethnicity estimates at different times with various family members, along with a comparison of a friend from Britain (and the specificity he has regionally in the isles that I don’t have) in 2020 here: Ancestry Composition, Origins, Ethnicity Estimates…Oh My

You can see the difference in my old 2011 ethnicity estimates here: Genome Analysis

As a side note, where I feel that Ancestry DNA is making great gains for European Americans in ethnicity estimates and Locational DNA is in their “Communities” feature. I say European Americans because all the tests I have access to fall into that category or straight European. Communities require special permission and access to an ancestry DNA test. I have several African American relatives that I suspect will share the Ohio River Valley/Northern Blue Ridge Mountain DNA with me through my Finks family and their part in slavery in the U.S., but I haven’t seen their full communities report.

Here is an update for me in 2021. I gained two more specific communities:

Ancestry DNA communities featuring Early Connecticut and New York Settlers and Eastern Ohio River Valley and Northern Blue Ridge settlers.
Ancestry DNA communities featuring Early Connecticut and New York Settlers and Eastern Ohio River Valley and Northern Blue Ridge settlers.

As another point of interest. My aunt’s ethnicity estimates, likely because of bans on genetic testing in France, barely register her Quebec roots, but they shine through in Communities with featured genetic matches:

Cheryl's communities showing Southwestern Quebec, New York and Vermont French Settlers.
Cheryl’s communities showing Southwestern Quebec, New York and Vermont French Settlers.

T2A1A in Ancient DNA

Recently the kind admins at the U106 forum posted about a DNA data update from David Reich with updated Y haplogroups in it (2019 ISOGG groups). A quick glance at some of the .anno files shows 5 R-Z18 men who seem to be on the R-L257 branch and one R-DF95 man. The data contains both ancient and modern DNA and it turns out the R-DF95 man is the modern tester from Utah, which I think was the first R-DF95 person discovered. There is a lot of data there and others may find different results but in the easy finds…no DF95 ancient DNA. I’m always waiting for one of our brethren to show up in some Saxon village, Viking mass grave, or post-Norman dig site, but no luck this time.

T2A1A mitochondrial DNA though does appear several times along with some cultural notes, age dating, and latitude and longitude coordinates for the gravesites. I covered some of these in my previous post about my all mother, but several are new to me too.

I dug up an NCBI article that estimates that T2a1a first appears around 6000 years ago, so roughly 4000 BCE and moves into Europe during the neolithic from the near east (ncbi article). That makes 4k BCE the date to beat for ancient DNA samples. The samples in this data are about 1000 years away from that source, so we catch T2a1a while it is on its journey.

For reference here is “the near east”

Thanks Near East History Podcast: https://www.neareasternhistorypod.com/episodes/episode-1-before-the-beginning

I grabbed the locations and images with help from google maps and gps-coordinates.net. With images of locations, I tried to get as close as I could. Many of these gravesites are near modern-day towns and some are within a current city.

The Steppe Influence

Near Yelo Russia Roughly 3000-2900 BCE (Before Common Era aka BC).

It is hard to imagine these places, so I’ve tried to grab pictures from google maps that are near the areas of the burials. Here are a few pictures that were taken in or near Yelo in the Altai Republic in Russia.


There are two men and one woman in different digs (Elo 1 and Tyumechin 1) all listed as “Russia_Afanasievo”. Tomsk_1950 (sample I5269), Tomsk_1952 (sample I5271) and Tomsk_1959 (sample I5273). These were the oldest T2a1a people in the data set.

Wikipedia has a nice article on the Afanasievo culture, linking it to the Yamnaya or a proto-Yamnaya culture. The Yamnaya live large in the Y Haplogroup R world as movers and shakers in Europe. Here is a migration map for the Yamnaya that shows Afanasievo off to the east in orange around 3000 BCE (marked as -3000). The article talks about them being an early offshoot creating artifacts dated to around 3300 BCE.

The oldest T2a1a in the data set is from a far eastern arm of an early Yamnaya or proto Yamnaya migration, suggesting to me that they traveled with the Yamnaya. I want to point out the proximity of the Yamnaya central dot on the map to “the near east” just south of it.

By Joshua Jonathan – This file has been extracted from another file: Yamnaya Steppe Pastoralists.jpg, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=97086608

The Afanasievo owned domesticated cattle, horses, sheep, and goats, used wheeled vehicles, and worked metal. Allentoft is cited as coming to the conclusion that the Afanasievo were genetically indistinguishable from the Yamnaya and later studies looking at Y and MT DNA concluded there was an initial migration from the pontic steppe.

I can never seem to remember where the pontic steppe is although it seems to be pretty important to my genetic journey. Here is a map of that (and again to the south of it “the near east”).

By Terpsichores – Own work Source :background : Natural Earth II (public domain) by Tom Patterson, US National Park Servicenational borders : File:NED worldmap 110m.svg by Gringerecoregion shape : File:Western palearctic biomes.svg by Terpsichores, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22346006

Near Remontnoye or Elista in Kalmykia Russia circa 2900 – 2100 BCE

These are RISE547 and RISE552 (both male) that I mentioned in “My All Mother“. They are listed as Yamnaya culture. Here is their burial pin followed by a map of the Yamna Culture (also called the pit grave culture) from Wikipedia.

Remontnoye/Elista Kalmykia Russia Yamnaya culture dig site
Yamna cultural boundaries in relationship to maykop to the south.
By Joostik – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24429966

For some context, these T2a1a people are in the Yamna heartland, 4000 km from their cousins near Yelo.

Estonia Near Ardu 2800 to 2500 BCE

Listed as Ardu1, male Corded Ware culture (CWC). Looking for some information on whether the T2a1a person was a local or migrated in I found this in an article from Current Biology: “The CWC individuals displayed a more diverse set of mitochondrial hgs, including H5a, T2a, and J1c, that first appeared in Europe during the Neolithic. ”

Remontnoye to Ardu is roughly 2100 km

Later in the article: “The Estonian CWC individuals on the other hand clustered closely together with a bulk of modern as well as LNBA (Late Neolithic/Bronze Age) populations from Europe, consistent with being associated with the migration of Yamnaya culture people from the Steppe region of the Eastern European Plain.

Interestingly, CWC people showed a higher affinity to Caucasus Hunter-Gatherer (CHG) DNA than to European Hunter-Gatherer DNA unlike earlier people in the area and people living there today.

These CWC people carried a “clear Steppe ancestry with some minor Anatolian contribution, most likely absorbed through female lineages during the population movements”.

They conclude that the genetic evidence shows that farming did not arrive through a slow migration of Anatolian farmers or through cultural exchange, but with a migration of Steppe people into Estonia (current biology article).

I take this to mean that T2a1a wasn’t resident in Estonia at the time It was carried there with the Yamnaya migration (along with farming and animal husbandry).

ardu1 map pin in northern estonia
Ardu1 map pin in Estonia
Ardu area forest with modern cabin
Ardu area with modern cabin

Amesbury Down, England 2500 – 1700 BCE

Listed as I2459 female (2500 to 2100 BCE) and I2460 female (2100 to 1700 BCE) from the Beaker Culture.

Almost 4000 km west from Remontnoye (using that as our rough center point in the data) are Amesbury Bell Beaker burials that appear to tell the story of a fairly dramatic bronze age replacement of neolithic people in Britain.

Amesbury Down pin on map southern England.
Amebury Down pin
Stonehenge at amesbury
Stonehenge at Amesbury.

This paper at ncbi contains the graves of I2459 and I2460 as part of its evidence and suggests a 90% replacement of the local population in Britain with people who have steppe ancestry and move in from the continent. Among the beaker burials, they see new MTDNA haplogroups that were present in beaker associated populations from continental Europe but not in Neolithic Britain, suggesting that both men and women were involved in this population replacement.

According to the tables other branches of T2 (T2b, T2c, T2f) existed in Neolithic Britain, but T2a1a seems to be limited to these bronze age samples. That makes some sense when you consider that T2a1a appears to be fairly young at 6000 years ago while T2a1b appears circa 13000 years ago, T2f roughly 17000 years ago.

As a side note, the authors also tracked alleles that are associated with reduced skin and eye pigmentation (rs16891982 in SLC45A2 and rs12913832 in HERC2/OCA2) and found a considerable increase in frequency in the beaker and bronze age remains. The arrival of migrants associated with Beaker culture altered the pigmentation of British populations. Lactose tolerance still was not popular at the time though.

That analysis lines up with isotope analysis of the Amesbury Archer that suggested a childhood in the alps before settling in Britain.

Near Norra Asum, Sweden roughly 1500 – 1300 BCE

Listed as RISE210 female, Nordic Bronze Age actual burial place is Ängamöllan. RISE210 is part of a dataset used to examine population genomics in bronze age Europe and draws some conclusions on Indo-European language groups and population movements. New Perspectives on the Bronze Age talks about RISE210 more specifically as a person in a gallery grave (along with several others) from the early bronze age. If I’m reading it correctly RISE210 has a very normal atDNA makeup for a European in the bronze age with Caspian-Steppe heritage owed to the Yamnaya but is likely not a local. She is also listed as a commoner based on burial style and a lack of grave goods. This shows that there was high mobility among different social classes. The paper suggests that the changes in the style of burials suggest that there was an intense exchange of people and goods from south Germany and West-Central Europe.

RISE210 near Norra Asum in southern Sweden.
RISE210 map pin
field near Norra Asum Sweden with some distant trees and large stones

The conclusion I draw from these finds is that T2a1a is kind of a latecomer in Europe and seems to be pushed around the continent riding the wave of Steppe influence both east and west, and as far north as Sweden over the course of centuries.

In this particular set of data, beyond this point, there is a big leap in time. Roughly 2000 years until we pick up a saxon grave.

In the Common Era

Oakington, South Cambridgeshire, England 400 to 600 CE (AD basically).

I0774 Early Medieval Saxon female. Listed in this article from Nature as O3 showing mixed heritage, likely Danish admixed with the local British.

The authors write: “For sample O3, which appeared to be of mixed ancestry in the allele sharing analysis, we find highest likelihood for merging with the Danish branch. However, in this sample there is also a notably higher likelihood to merge onto the same Northern European ancestral branch point as seen for the Iron Age samples. This is consistent with O3 being of recently mixed indigenous and Anglo-Saxon origin, although we can not rule out more complex scenarios involving prior mixed ancestry of this individual during the Romano-British period.”

“There is some differentiation amongst the Anglo-Saxon era samples with samples O1, O2, HS1 and HS3 having highest likelihood of merging onto the Dutch branch while O3 and HS2 have highest likelihoods of merging onto the Danish branch, although in some cases the difference in likelihood between these two possibilities is small.” 

“In the cemetery at Oakington, we see evidence even in the early Anglo-Saxon period for a genetically mixed but culturally Anglo-Saxon community, in contrast to claims for strong segregation between newcomers and indigenous peoples.”  (Iron Age and Anglo-Saxon genomes from East England reveal British migration history)

Of interest in the article was an observation that all the graves (despite different ancestry) were very similar with the best grave goods associated with a native British person. Suggesting that the new immigrants were often poor.

Without O3’s parent’s genomes to look at, it would be hard to know if her T2a1a had hitched a ride from Denmark or if it was the local British variety that had been on the island for at least 2000 years. In the data, she is listed with “no relatives detected”.

map in for I0774
graves at saint andrews church in oakington England.
St. Andrews church in Oakington

Salme, Estonia 700 – 800 CE, just up the road from the Viking Burger

Listed as VK481 and VK511 both males assigned to early viking period.

salme viking map pin north west estonia

I’ve stolen this quote from a posting in groups.io. In the powerpoint, VK481 is listed as a warrior in the boat burial.

The men of Estland came down from the interior with a
great army, and there was a battle; but the army of the
country was so brave that the Swedes could not withstand
them, and King Yngvar fell, and his people fled. He was
buried close to the seashore under a mound in Estland;
and after this defeat the Swedes returned home.”
– From A saga of Noble King Yngvar who met his end while raiding in Estonia around 600.
Written in 1225. (Viking ships 1 and 2)

There is some conjecture that VK481 was half Estonian at Anthrogenica. That may be total speculation, but since T2a1a was 250km away in Ardu Estonia (see above) 3500 years earlier it would seem reasonable that VK481’s mother may have been from the Baltic or from Estonia.

Looking at supplemental material from Population Genetics of the Viking World VK481 in table 6 shows the most affinity (almost equally) for Swedish and Finnish populations, but VK511 also T2a1a did not. His affinity was twice as high for Sweden which would suggest to me that both parents were from Sweden. We know from RISE210 above that T2a1a was in Sweden around 2200 years before VK481 and VK511 were killed in Estonia.

VK511 must not have gained enough interest. Other than general listings I can’t find a lot of information on him other than he’s in the same vicinity and has the same MTDNA as VK481, although a different Y.

wood carving of a viking figure at salme estonia.
wood carving of a Viking figure
map showing proximity of viking burger to the dig site.
Viking Burger just south of the dig site

Near Over Randlev Denmark, 850 – 900 CE.

VK339 Danish Viking period female.

from Population Genetics of the Viking World: “The cemetery is located approximately 1 km south-east of the parish village Over Randlev and 3.8 km from the coast of Kattegat. Over 80% of those interred in the cemetery were women.” VK339 did not appear in the ancestry estimates portion of the supplementary material so I’m unsure what populations she was most like (My suspicion is that she would fall into the Danish group but that could be wrong).

Of interest, the paper did say they had some struggles telling the difference between Anglo Saxons from the Danish Viking population.

“Outside of Scandinavia, the genetic legacy of the Vikings is consistent, though limited. A small component is present in Poland (up to 5%) and the south of Europe. Within the British Isles, it is difficult to assess how much of the Danish-like ancestry is due to pre-existing Anglo-Saxon ancestry” In the media going along with the paper, they specify that Denmark was particularly hard to place because its best match was the UK population probably owing to Anglos Saxon heritage. They speculate that the Danish Viking contribution to England was around 6% while Norway was around 4%.

VK399 map pin near Dyngby Denmark


Near Igaliku Greenland, 890 to 1100 CE

Early Norse Eastern Settlement. VK187 female 890 to 1020 CE. VK6 female 900 to 1000 CE.

From Population Genetics of the Viking World:

“Viking individuals with Norwegian-like ancestry travelled to Iceland, Greenland, Ireland and the Isle of Man”. “In terms of genetic ancestry of the Greenlandic Norse, we find evidence of admixture between Scandinavians (mostly from Norway) and individuals from the British Isles, similar to the first settlers of Iceland, which supports the archaeological and historical links between the Greenlandic Norse and the Icelandic Vikings”.

“The farm site of E64 is located in Igaliku Kujalleq, a small side branch of Igaliku fjord in the Norse Eastern Settlement. 12 features have been recorded on the site among which are a small church belonging to the group landnam churches that were established from the late 10th century-around 1000. The church yard was excavated in 2007-08 led by Jette Arneborg. The excavated skeletons were radiocarbon dated within the period from late 10th century to about 1200. Sr isotope analysis indicates that several of the buried were immigrants from Iceland“.

In the ancestry estimate material, VK187 is roughly half “Norwegian like” Roughly a quarter “Southern European” and then an eighth British and an eighth Danish. Neighboring graves like VK1 came back over half Norwegian with a quarter British and VK186 came back about half British with the other half mainly Norway and about an 8th Southern European. Definitely a mixed group in the later abandoned settlement in Greenland.

VK187 near Igaliku Greenland map pin.
sparse but colorful houses by the water near Igaliku greenland.
homes near Igaliku

Comparing Modern and Ancient MTDNA

With the older samples, I’m not knowledgeable enough to extract the datasets in a meaningful way. In fact, I looked at the instructions and specialized extractor software, downloaded some things, and made an attempt then decided I wasn’t there yet. So all my information on graves, etc, came from already extracted metadata, where they kindly list things like MTDNA haplogroup and coordinates. I couldn’t really compare the data on the MTDNA outside of the haplogroup they were assigned.

The data I later grabbed from Viking studies already had things like MTDNA polymorphisms listed out. All the T2a1a samples had the exact same set of “found” polymorphisms.

Since I’m an MTDNA noob, I compared the Viking polymorphisms to my results at FTDNA.

Looking at the rCRS values, they were an exact match to me except that I have a few extra bits they just didn’t have results for. I have 16519C in the HVR1 and 309.1C and 315.1C from the HVR2 section that didn’t appear in the Viking DNA. I’m not sure if that is significant or not.

Without the actual data from the older T2a1a, I’m not sure if there are any noticeable differences between what could be tested in 3000 BCE T2a1a and my test results today and without full sequencing of the Viking results, I’m not sure how close they really are.

At Family Tree DNA, I do have very many people who are a genetic distance of 0 (so a perfect match across all the available testing regions in MTDNA) with a wide mix of Americans, speckled with people from France, Ireland and Sweden and Norway and probably a host of other places I’ve forgotten.

There are T2a1a people who have larger Genetic distances from me though, people who are not a perfect match. I imagine if we were to compare apples to apples and full sequencing was available (or even possible) across the board, that there would be a range of matching and mismatching with these ancient people as well. Then we might know that a Viking sample was best matched with a 3000 year old sample from Estonia or whether it best matched a 2000 year old sample from Sweden.

Wrapping Up My Tour

One take away from mulling through all these papers (not necessarily related to T2a1a) is that people are wonderfully complex and that the human story is the story of movement. In some instances, it looks like wholesale replacement of genomes in an area with genomes from some other area. In other instances we see the mixing of people who subscribe to the same cultural identity, seemingly without a genetic component. We have people in England buried at Stonehenge from the Alps and Vikings with Asian DNA and people like the Danes and UK samples so admixed that they’re difficult to tell apart. Mitochondrial DNA is part of that story.

To me, given the resources I found, T2a1a is relatively young for Haplogroup T. Other branches of T are twice as old or older and already dispersed around Europe in the Neolithic. From what I see in T2a1a samples as a layperson is a “newer” branch (if 6000 years old can be considered new) that moves into areas, maybe along with the steppe people, in the early several thousand years of its existence and then may just be resident in these areas at low levels beyond that. In the graphs of MTDNA samples from some of these papers, T as a whole is no slouch, although smaller than some it forms a fairly sizeable group. T2a1a seems to be a smaller sliver of that larger T pie piece. My guess would be that is because it is a fairly new resident in these areas due to its delayed start.

Again these are my thoughts and conjecture on what I see, not scientific facts. Y DNA is much more granular and I don’t think mitochondrial DNA is as granular as it could be right now. In the past, with Y DNA you would get R1b or R1a for ancient samples. Now they are getting well down into the branches of R1b. Although I’m not as versed in mito it seems like my testing is more precise and has more values in different areas for comparison that these ancient samples don’t have. That makes me think it’s possible that further MTDNA haplogroups might be defined in the future as other coding areas get included in the ongoing analysis of both modern and ancient humans.