Common Ancestors and Speculations

While I’m waiting (which is very hard for me to do) I’m prone to fits of speculation. With another round of age estimates, I thought I would pick up where my last post, kind of, left off.

My mental questions are basically, what happens if Norway is considered a refuge where our Y waits for centuries before moving on. What if the Netherlands is such a refuge later on? What if (as the new SNPs suggest) Poland is not a source, but a destination for these people? What if England is another refuge for these Ys until they break out into the Americas?

With the earliest U106 positive human in Sweden in the early 2000s BC. R1b-Z18 being heavily Norse and DF95 being positioned by others after big Y testing as coming out of Norway (because Ireland seems unlikely). I’m feeling more comfortable with my past speculations on Scandinavia’s involvement in pushing my Y around the North Sea and Baltic.

So here are some of the more recent Big Y related age estimates for a common ancestor shared by the U106 group and some labels to help sort them out a bit:

  • All U106 testers so far: 2420 BC
  • All Z18 testers so far: 2100 BC
  • All DF95 testers so far: 219 BC (This is the most recent ancestor with the Blue Stars)
  • Unamed 16524131: 538 AD (most recent ancestor for Blue Squares and Blue Diamonds)
  • Elmer/Knowlton/Lunceford: 849 AD (most recent ancestor for these families)
  • Elmer/Knowlton: 1030 AD 
  • Elmer: 1614 AD
Here is that map of the DF95 big Y testers (rough positioning):
big y testers

Norway has deep ties to Ireland and Scotland. The Norse in Ireland are well documented. I think that is one reason that Ireland is not seen as the origin for our group. There isn’t a great record of the Irish invading Norway, but we definitely know the reverse is true. The high incidence of Scandinavians in brother clades to DF95 (like Z372 and it’s child L257) also add weight to a sort of  Y “patient zero” in the Scandinavian world.

It occurred to me today that we might think of some of these locations as reservoirs for a Y if not really an “origin”. Considering our Y DNA like a virus, where does it hang out between outbreaks? It may have sprung up further down the continent for all we know, but it seems to have found a safe haven in Scandinavia for a number of centuries.

Excuse the crude drawing, but this might explain what I’m thinking about these big Y results better than words:

df95 lines map

Blue Stars 219 BC

 So we have our reserve of Y DNA, from that reserve you could pull any of the DF95 Ys except for those that are localized outside the reserve. The Y testers from Norway and Ireland didn’t stop in time, they continued to create SNPs down their respective lines. You could pull a Y out of the hat that was closer to either one, it just happens at this time that we haven’t.

So while I would expect to find people closer to our Ireland tester in Ireland, we could also find people closer to him than the Norway tester back in Norway. The two lines of men may have lived side by side for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Wait, they are farther back in time as a common ancestor and diverge from there, how could both exist in the same place to be picked from?

For that, we can think about the example of the oldest known Y in the world. Found in the descendants of an African slave in the US. His Y A00 is something like 300,000 years old. It’s not that his people colonized the Americas 300,000 years ago. He was pulled fairly recently from Cameroon where some other inhabitants share his very old Y. Tellingly, not all the inhabitants of this part of Cameroon share his Y, just some of them. So we have an example of a very old Y living next to younger Ys in the same village and then randomly being selected for an overseas voyage (in this case, unfortunately into slavery).

What I’m scratching at is the idea that even though everyone shares a common ancestor at about 219 BC it doesn’t necessarily mean they parted company in 219 BC. SNPs aren’t necessarily created by travel. We can keep going back to the well and getting Ys that diverged from each other a long time ago but continue to exist in the same village.

We’re all Blue Stars after all, the rest of us just happened to get more testers on our branches to test.

I gave them an “orange-ish line to denote their differences from the “maroon lines” people.

Maroon Lines 538 AD (16524131)

 Initial thoughts.

The orange-ish line runs from Norway over to Ireland. I’ve put the maroon line people coming out of the water and rolling basically southwards out of the common reservoir of DF95.

These maroon lines represent the 4 or 5 (one is kind of troublesome) SNPs shared by both the blue squares and blue diamonds. Although I have multiple lines, they are really a single man that the Diamonds and Squares are related to in 538. Again, we could be staring at the mark of some migration to another part of the reserve or we could be looking at someone who lived side by side with the Blue Stars and had a minor difference that he passed down to the Blue Squares and Diamonds. It could be the mark of a 700 year layover in some part of the DF95 world. We can’t be sure because we have a longer run of SNPs without a geographic pin for some divergence.

At some point the two groups diverge genetically and they eventually diverge geographically. Here is my initial map of what that might look like. Later though when looking at the Blue Diamonds more closely, I have some second thoughts and maybe some alternate timelines.

df95 lines map

Blue Diamonds

So my basic Idea of the Blue Diamonds is that they also represent the Scandinavian influence in both the Netherlands and Poland. My thought is both those places saw significant Scandinavian input over the centuries with the Netherlands suffering right along with France with the Viking invasions in the 700s and 800s and Poland saw norse settlement, trade and raiding like  “Jomsborg”.
The same men who bring you the “Great Heathen Army in 800s England are also invading Dorstad in the Netherlands and attacking future Belgium as well as France.

I’ve spent a lot of time speculating about Norse input into Poland. They have the proximity and the history. With input from both the Swedes and Danes at different times. It helps to remember that the Rus in Russia were Scandinavians.

It isn’t hard for me to imagine waves of Norse influence pulling from that common reserve over and over. So my map for the Blue Diamonds would be like the one above for the Maroon Lines.

An Alternate Timeline?

I wondered if I hadn’t really given the Blue Diamonds as much thought as they deserve. I am evaluating them based on my thoughts about the Lunsfords, Knowltons and Elmers which I’ve asked for age estimates on, but I didn’t have estimates for the blue diamonds.

So, they diverge from the Lunsford/Knowlton/Elmer man, but where do they go from there?

If you look at the Elmers (regardless of the Lunsfords and Knowltons) as an example, they have about 8 SNPs different from the common ancestor of the “16524131” group. So one of the Blue Squares is about 8 SNPs away from the last ancestor of the Blue Squares and Diamonds.

I realize that you can’t just count SNPs like this, but I wanted to think about it a different way to see if there is a more meaningful explanation.

I decided I should look to see how many SNPs were shared by the two blue diamond testers to see how far they were from the same 16524131 ancestor.

Looking at them with new eyes, it seems they share about 8 SNPs with each other.  Making them roughly as distant as any two Elmers (if that is the way it works out). The Elmers are aged for a common ancestor at about 1614.

If the SNPs stack up the same 8 and 8, then maybe the two people from Netherlands and Poland are roughly about as close to each other as the two Elmers? Even if they had a common ancestor in the 1500s that would be fairly close to the present.

I decided rather than pursuing a connection directly with Denmark or Sweden to look at relations between Poland and the Netherlands in the range of the 1600s. It turns out that the Netherlands and Poland have a pretty extensive past as well and a good relationship as nations today. Apparently the Dutch had a major influence on Poland and Dutch settlers moved to Poland in the 1600s.
Keeping in mind that I am deep in speculation territory now without any real estimates..I wondered if my last map should look more like this:
colored lines

Maybe this map would better show how closely related the Netherlands tester and the Poland tester are. if we were to estimate them like the Elmers then it seems reasonable that they would branch off around 1600 too. Including myself here for a moment (dangerous because my tests aren’t back). It would roughly be like considering the Elmers and Thompsons migrations here in North America with our common ancestor in 1614 only it takes place on the European continent.

After a Rough Estimate

The age Estimate for this group came back as 1099 AD with a range of 558 to 1573 (Thanks U106 group volunteers!). So roughly 1100 AD. Not exactly as close as a simple count of SNPs would make them. I could not find much in the time period that would help me place them. Specifically, I was looking for connections between the Netherlands and Poland that might mark this geographic split.

My idea for an alternate timeline (above) could still fit here if they hung out in the area of the Netherlands for several centuries as two lines of anciently related men and then one person from those lines happened to move on to Poland. Certainly we see something similar to this in the Blue Square group of men and the Americas.

Also my map could still fit if we consider the Viking input into the Netherlands and then the transformation of some of those vikings into regular Holy Roman Empire/Frankish/Dutch citizens. Eventually, like in Normandy, some of the vikings were just accepted as part of the empire.

Perhaps they moved into the Netherlands with the great heathen army and set up shop like Rorik becoming part of the people of the Netherlands with time, then moved on later to Poland either with the Franks or as part of that later colonizing Netherlands to Poland effort?

As always, I think we need more layers of men that we can pin to more locations.

Blue Squares 849 AD (Lunceford – Elmer – Knowlton)

 I’m making the supposition that these men are all British. The Elmers and Knowltons have some paper work that makes that reasonable. We found two Luncefords that match STRs, the big Y tester has an idea that they are British, but no good tie back to England. The matching Lunsford STR tester shows Scotland as an origin. I chucked the Lunceford square in England for ease and because there are places called Lunsford in Sussex.

We’re extremely lucky with these big Y results to have some more layers in the Blue Square area. The estimate for a common ancestor in 849 AD puts that ancestor in the middle of a pretty crazy time in English history. It’s just before the Great Heathen Army runs rampant in England for 14 years. It’s at about the same time as the attacks on France and the Netherlands.

This nice map, I’m stealing from Wikipedia shows some of the movements over those years.

I’m wondering if this layer in our DNA is a product of that movement of Scandinavians. I would also be painfully curious to see if there was a similar layer for our continental testers if we could break up their 8 SNP run the way the Isles people are broken up.

I’m marking this pinpoint on the map as when we have our earliest big Y SNP in England, but really, as much as I favor this dispersal method, we don’t have all the data. Several Cumberland cluster A people are also in England, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands. They would have traveled right along with the big Y testers, but they are not being represented in big Y yet. What would their SNPs and origins say?

In light of that, and the dates for our big Y Blue Diamonds. Maybe it would be helpful to consider another alternate timeline with a slightly different map.

Alternate Timeline

alternate lines

In this map I’m trying to illustrate would could happen if we make a couple of movements into a couple of refuges. I left our friends from Norway and Ireland as such. Pulling from the reserve of Norway for their DNA, most likely with the Vikings.

It’s impossible to talk about the Blue Squares at this point without the Blue Diamonds. So you see them in purple.

I’m also imagining a migration to Denmark with a layover of several centuries and then through Denmark to the home turf of the Angles and Saxons. So 219 BC, Norway who directly contributes to Ireland well down the road in the 800s and 900s AD. Norway sends some of it’s group south into the soup of Germanic peoples that is Denmark, Frisia, the Saxon Coast..etc. Around 538 AD one group of Angles or Saxons or Frisians…maybe even Jutes (squares) has lobbed itself at Britain. While another group sticks to the local program (diamonds).

In the 800s the Blue Squares and Blue Diamonds are defending their respective territories from the Vikings (who they are, ironically or not, distantly related to). In the 1100s the Blue Squares are still knocking about Southeast England as Saxons in a newly Norman world, while the Blue Diamonds have managed a move across country from each other, likely as part of the Frankish world pushing into Slavic Poland through the various Polish/German wars.

I think this also fits fairly well with the dates and SNPs we have. Really only by defining more layers with our testers will we be able to sort this early stuff out any further. There is still some debate about when and whether and what size the Germanic migration to Britain was. Poland’s history with the Rus and with Scandinavians in general is…well harder for me to find easily with some google searches. Pulling this story out from the data will continue to be fun for some time to come.

In England

I have more layers to work with, also a pretty good vested interest in the outcomes here so I’ve saved it to talk about separately.

Whether the product of viking incursions or Germanic migrations. I always end up here in southeast England.

Of course, in this post I’m assuming the age ranges and estimates are on the money. We could find out some surprises in the future that would revise our speculation, but for now I’ll move along like we’re on the right trail.

I’ve been talking about the Knowlton family for a long long time, but the Luncefords are new for me. They are a happy surprise of big Y. Nicely the Lunceford’s give us a nice pin in space and time. Their proximity to the Knowlton and Elmer traditional homelands makes them much easier to explain. Although we’re waiting for more layers from other families to come in, here we have several hundred years of habitation in England.

There are a lot of Lunsford related place names in Southeast England, I don’t know where the original ford (probably over a river) was that was associated with Lun or Lund or “a” lund. It’s one of those transient place names. It ties your surname to a place, but maybe the place is just unknown now.

So without really knowing exactly where to put this pin, here is Lunsfords Cross in the general neighborhood I’m thinking of:

lunsfords cross

Why don’t I know where to put the pin? The Lunsfords in the U.S. are a lot like the Knowltons or the Elmers. The records tying them to England are not rock solid. Most people place them in England, but it’s the “where” that gets lost in their moves to the colonial Americas.

I think you could fairly safely assign us to Southeast England at some time in proximity to 845 AD. Either arriving with or defending against the Danes.

We should be clear that it’s unlikely this common ancestor would have a surname at all. As far as I know that convention was brought to us through the Normans.

Knowlton-Elmer 1030 AD

 The idea has been that the Knowltons are our closest Y cousins for various reasons, mostly based on their STRs.  Big Y testing and age analysis, point to that being the truth. At some point there is a “Knowlton-Elmer” man who is born around 1030 AD. Most likely, somewhere in Southeast England in pre-Norman times.

The Knowltons have ties to Kent, the Elmers to Norfolk and Suffolk, but I wonder if they first lived in Dorset. Knowlton is a place name and there is an abandoned village in Dorset named Knowlton.

Knowlton Dorset

The Knowltons have some speculation of their own about Dorset. So I’m not breaking any new ground here. Their genealogy places them in the Americas as the descendants of either of two sons of one man, but their Y DNA shows that each branch was not related to the other within any meaningful time frame. They are in totally different haplogroups. So they have a mystery in the colonies.

One goal in big Y testing was to see if the Knowltons were really just a lost branch of the Elmer family that was adopted to the Knowltons. We’re still waiting on definitive results from a final Elmer tester to try and sort that out. In the meantime we have this age estimate that puts the common ancestor back in England.

So Knowlton in Dorset is on their mind, but why is it on my mind?

It’s because of this Domesday book entry:

Aelmer (or Athelmaer) is the previous lord in Knowlton in 1066 before it’s passed to Ansgar the Breton.

Image blatantly lifted from the opendomesday site.
Knowlton is mentioned again in a second entry with a nearby town changing hands from King Edward the Confessor to King William the Conqueror.

 Again, Aelmer here is not a surname. It’s a given name. Knowlton is not a surname, it’s a place name. It is nicely one time the two names come together around the time of  1030 AD.

I’m not suggesting that the Knowltons and Elmers are directly related to this Aelmer, but that they might be associated with him by others. That they might be assigned a surname later based on this association or by an association with the town they lived in. One group becoming Knowltons and one becoming Aylmers based on the convenience of the people taking the tally. At this point, where the names might diverge, it could be just that arbitrary.

The shared SNPs with the Knowltons will be very important as we try to bridge the gap to England. We may find Knowltons still in England that are more closely related to the Elmers or we may find Elmers that are more closely related to the Knowltons. We’re examining only two branches of a single family at this point. They may have lived with their newly minted surnames, knocking about England for these hundreds of years before one person from each group moved to the new world.

Maybe that is the best example of a reserve of DNA. We can speculate that the Lunsford-Knowlton-Elmers lived in England in the 800s. About 300 years later in the 1100s AD, the men related to that man are still there. Then some 600 years later, at least three men make their way to the Americas. Their DNA can only hint at the 800 or 900 years of shared history.

With each of these DNA strands, we’re not seeing the whole story. We’re not even seeing the whole story of the Y. Just bits and pieces. That’s why this is speculation. I think our resolution is getting tighter though.

Elmer 1614 AD

 This age estimate comes without trees. We have one Elmer pillar related to Edward 2 and one Elmer whose tree is stuck. The results we’ll see this fall, should help sort both the Elmers and the Knowltons in some definitive way.

Without other big Y Knowltons to compare to, the Elmers are representing a nearer history on their own.

The man we expect all these Elmers to be related to is Edward Elmer born around 1610..ish who was a founder of Hartford. It was very interesting to get 1614 as a date since that is right near the estimated time of Edward’s birth. It’s also nice that this estimate is independent of any research we’ve done. The group doing the estimates was not specifically made aware of the expected relationship between these men.

Now they are of course, so when our big Y results from the line of Samuel come in we may see an adjustment in this estimate. For today, the estimate for a most recent common ancestor is 1614 AD.

This age estimate represents the Elmer history in the Americas.

No one is really sure where he’s from in England. He’s linked to Bishop Aylmer in London. He’s linked to the Sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk. He’s sometimes connected to fish mongers in London. At some point he is a member of a church in Essex and leaves from there to Cambridge Mass.

I think we’re at the point of searching British census records and looking for living Elmers, Elmores and Aylmers to test. Maybe a starting point would be in Dorset. Maybe in Salisbury about 19 miles from Knowlton.

Here is an 1881 surname map for Elmer in England. Salisbury (teal..ish in south central England) is not as popular as points further east, but it is much closer to the cluster of 1881 Knowltons (second image, just to the south east). Images from Public Profiler.

Elmer Salisbury
Elmers in 1881


Knowlton census
Knowltons in 1881

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