Navel-Gazing About the R-DF95 Jutes Part Two

In my previous post I swung back around to Dover, Kent, and the Jutes and tried to find evidence for their existence along with some explanation that would get them from the top of Jutland to the bottom of Brittain without seeming like they were lost.

We established through myths and later writings of oral traditions that the Danes and Jutes had a presence in Frisia, down the north-western coast of the continent, and that there seemed to be a common underlying culture even if people had differentiated themselves into tribes.

The Jutes seem to be a known group within the culture, but not much outside of it. Since the migration-period Germanic tribes were illiterate, that intra-cultural knowledge gets stored in the attic and hinted at.

Maybe in 500CE everyone around the continental north sea and baltic knew what a Jute was; they just had no way to communicate that to the future in a way we would understand.

map of beowulfs world

The Franks

Along with Jutes in Jutland, Danish Jutes, Anglian Jutes, and Frisian Jutes there is an idea that the Jutes were under the rule of the Franks…possibly. You can see the Franks on the map above as “Francan” down below Frisians.

King Theudebert (500 CE – 547 CE) sends a letter to Emperor Justinian in Rome claiming both the Saxons and the Eucii who may also be the Yutes…or Jutes as his subjects. My source is Letter 20 found at this site:

“To our Distinguished Lord, Most Excellent Master and Father, Emperor Justinian, from King Theudebert.

The anticipated arrival of Theodore transpired with that of Solomon who brought letters which we accepted with complete regard and allegiance of spirit which rejoices in the mercy of your dominion. Your charge assists us in extending the loving friendship of God to many races and in some provinces but now our enemies with the help of God have submitted to our authority. By the wish of the Lord, the Thuringians were controlled and their territories acquired, then in time their kings were abolished; next the North Sueves were subjugated, the Visigoths declared subdued and, by the grace of God, now Gaul is safe. As well, in the north region of Italy and then Pannonia the Saxons and Eucii delivered themselves to us by particular choice. Our rule extends from the Danube and the limits of Pannonia to the shores of the ocean through the protection of God. As confirmed by your letter, your August Highness, we are certain of the progress of the Catholics and rejoice in complete delight of spirit. For this reason, God granting your desires, longing in eager spirit we enjoin by plain proposition that your fame will endure and the friendship of former emperors is seen often in your assurance of kindness, therefore, let us join together for the common good.”

The speculation then is that the Eucii are Jutes and that there are Jutes among the Franks right across from Kent. Basically, the possibility that they’ve hopped down the coast and parked in Flanders or Northern France long enough to be considered under the control of the Franks (by the Franks).

map of western europe featuring Franks in modern Belgium and northwest France.
borrowed from

This assessment of the Anglo-Saxon invasions talks about the Saxons moving into Frisian mound villages that were later abandoned maybe the Jutes were among them and then moved farther south before heading for Britain:

The paper has this to say about Bede’s assessment of the groups involved and complexity seen on the ground:

“Bede stated that the invaders came from the Continental Angles, Saxons and Jutes [43]. It is likely that Bede was reducing a very complex situation to simple terms. Bede placed the Angles north of the Thames, the Saxons south of the Thames and in Wessex, and the Jutes in Kent and on the Isle of Wight. For Bede, the Angles came from Angulus, modern Schleswig which still has a district called Angeln. The Saxons came from the coast between the Elbe and the Weser valleys and the Jutes resided north of the Angles in Danish Juteland or in Holstein [44].

Other literary sources indicate the possible presence of Franks among the immigrants. Archaeology also indicates that Swaefe, Alemanni, Swedes, and Danes were present. This is not surprising if we assume that the Volkwandering caused a high degree of cultural mixing between the Elbe and the Ems where most of the settlers in Britain originated [45].”

The Franks are literate, so their perspective is at least available, and they offer the possibility of getting the Jutes from Jutland to Anglia to Frisia to Francia as a secondary tribe to the Danes, Angles, Frisians, and Saxons.

That sort of migration makes sense logistically and archaeologically (as pointed out by Assessing the Anglo Saxon Invasions, but the text of the letter is confusing.

“In the north region of Italy and then Pannonia the Saxons and Eucii delivered themselves to us by particular choice.”

Pannonia is east of Northern Italy and northwest of Greece (dark red in the map below).

map of the roman empire including pannonia east of northern italy, northwest of greece.
Pannonia. (2022, September 28). In Wikipedia.

Ending up in Frankish territory seems reasonable, but I’m not sure how to interpret that letter to Justinian other than that Saxons were among many Germanic tribes on the move in all directions and some had gone south and east? Maybe there was an incursion in Pannonia? I’m just not sure how it would be related to the Northern coast of Francia. Most references I can find for Eucii just end up with the Jutes. Trying to follow this trail gets pretty circular very quickly. The mention from Theudebert is interesting and seemingly supported by modern evidence, but locationally challenged.

Everywhere and Nowhere

The Jutes seem to lurk around every corner, always there but not really out front. Even in Kent, they’re not in East Jutia, they call themselves men of Kent. Unlike the Saxons with their sexs and Angles with their anglia, the Jutes seem to fade into the woodwork, always being part of some other group. Even after invading Britain, they identify themselves with the British Cantii (Kentings). Bede seems to care to keep them separate, but they seem happy enough to blend in. Hidden in plain sight. Maybe instead of Jutes on both sides, we end up with a theory of Jutes on all sides. Mercenary settlers.

In the migration period, in a single lifetime, people moved from Scandinavia down to Hungary with the Lombards (that has been proven with isotope analysis, an R-Z18 man made that trip with a group of non-Scandinavians). In light of that, Jutes moving from Jutland to Anglia, to Frisia to what would become Belgium or France doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Possibly picking up some Frankish DNA along the way seems reasonable in that interconnected world where everyone is moving.

map of barbarian routes showing various non-roman tribal movements in the Roman world. The spaghetti mess trying to track the tribal movements

In the Anglo-Saxon study, the CNE people in the south of England had the most diversity. They had mixed communities with British (WBI) men holding high status along with Continental Northern Europeans who intermarried creating mixed families within a generation or so. Why not mix it up with the Franks too?

Back to the Anglo-Saxon DNA Study

In the article from Nature: they try to assess whether the Anglo-Saxons in Jutish areas have more Scandinavian DNA than those from Saxony, but at the end of the study they conclude that the Jutes don’t contain any more Scandinavian DNA as a percentage than other groups.

“We therefore conclude that there is no association between geographic location and fraction of ancestry from the Scandinavian Peninsula. If Saxons, Angles, and Jutes were meaningful biological categories that remained valid after the migration to England, then they were not correlated with varying degrees of ancestry from the Scandinavian Peninsula.

Not that there wasn’t Scandinavian DNA in varying levels among individuals, but that as an entire population it wasn’t meaningfully different between Jutes and Angles or Saxons…or Frisians.

“The majority of early medieval samples from England cluster in PCA closely together with present-day Danes, Northern Germans, and Northern Dutch. However, in the North Sea PCA as well as in the Northwestern European PCA some individuals tend to be shifted northwards across PC1 in the direction of modern Swedish and Norwegians.” It seems like some individuals trended to Scandinavia, but again the group was otherwise pretty homogenous.

This map shows the most likely source region (along with individual locations) for the continental northern europeans in the study. It shows a swath from the northern netherlands, northern germany denmark and southern sweden.
This map shows the most likely source region (along with individual locations) for the continental northern europeans in the study

Meanwhile, people in Buckland in Dover (like our DF95 families) have CWE (iron age France) DNA admixed in. They are mainly CNE (Continental Northern Europeans) but contain a percentage of DNA from Continental Western Europe instead of more Scandinavian DNA.

“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”

A new article from has a nice breakdown of what they discovered and the methods they used in the study:

When talking about the Continental Northern European ancestry that dominates in the newcomers to England, you can almost see the Beowulf map above reflected in the genetic map of likely origins in the study. The genetics were pan-regional even if the names and groupings were divided.

“We found that the greatest similarity is seen in a region spanning Friesland (present-day Netherlands), Niedersachsen and Schleswig-Holstein (present-day Germany), and modern Denmark up to the southern tip of Sweden. Strikingly, all of these areas had a remarkably homogeneous genetic profile during the period that we are studying, making all three probable source regions for the migration process into early medieval England.”

Later they discuss the differences between the migrants to Northern and Southern England:

“Most early medieval people who have been studied in central and northern England show exclusively CNE ancestry, which implies that the ancestors of those individuals originated directly from the above-identified areas and did not admix with other populations on their way across the North Sea. In contrast, in southern England, especially Kent, many individuals exhibit additional French-related ancestry. We cannot rule out that this admixture between CNE and French-related ancestry occurred already on the Continent, potentially in a contact zone between both ancestries, for example in what is now the southern Netherlands, Belgium, western Germany, or northern France.”

They present this map showing two probable migration routes one direct to northern anglo-saxon locations and one indirect to southern anglo-saxon locations for CNE people based on their differing genetics:

map of possible northern and southern routes of migration, directly from CNE or passing through Frankish regions on the way south
borrowed from

The Tangled Web We Weave

The DNA study seems to conclude that the Anglo-Saxon invasion may not have been without conflict, but given admixing (possibly on the continent) and admixing with native Britons once in England, it may not have been as contentious as described. In different areas of England people seem to be getting along as part of a community and as integrated families. Our R-DF95 Jutes in the south seem to be intermingled pretty well.

The DNA evidence, family groups and continued high status of Britons make it seem like less of an invasion and more of a migration over time. The idea that the Germanic migrants were welcomed from the writings of Gildas seems to be true enough; whether they really turned on the Britons and destroyed them seems suspect.

I found an interesting video that explores some non-conquest reasons that we might see this level of admixing and still end up with a Germanic society in eastern Britain.

What is ironic to me today is that the Y DNA evidence from these ancient remains is kind of flipped from the autosomal DNA when taken in the context of modern testers for R-DF95.

If we look at that map and consider our R-DF95 cousins in Buckland Cemetery in Dover, Kent, particularly BUK009 who is in haplogroup R-DF95->R-PH1163. He has 11% CWE ancestry (green on the map there) but no appreciable Scandinavian DNA. His Y haplogroup has only been found recently in Denmark and Norway. Very rare, just two living people, neither one from Belgium or the Netherlands.

My own R-DF95->ZP121 branch is more common; our representative in the study is HAD005, his family has no CWE French/Belgian component, and he’s with the Angles on that direct route straight out of the red zone in the map above. His relative in the study does show some appreciable Scandinavian DNA. Yet R-ZP121 has very clearly been found in Belgium and the Netherlands in modern testers.

Modern Y DNA would support a Jutes straight out of Jutland scenario, but the ancient autosomal DNA begs to differ.

Going back to our two locations, HAD005 is an Angle (based on location in Cambridge). Our men in Kent are Jutes (based on location in Kent), but there isn’t much in the DNA study that would separate them except that the people in Kent seem to be mixed with people from across the Channel. I think it’s possible to get a band of Jutes from Denmark down the coast ready to cross over to Kent given the few historical and semi-mythical sources we have. I think you could make an argument for Tolkein’s “Jutes on both sides” or even a “Jutes on all sides” theory of a Jutish diaspora that takes place well before the invasion of England. Jutes may have been a culturally significant division at some point, but not a biological one by the time they start settling Thanet.

At the end of the day, how do I know HAD005 is not a Jute living with Angles? How would I know BUK009 isn’t an Angle? Maybe they’re all Frisians or Saxons? Bede may be splitting hairs that the migrants themselves didn’t.

I don’t think the DNA study can tell us. The oldest R-DF95 people found to date have already migrated from whatever homeland they were personally from as part of a regional movement among like people with a shared language, culture, and genetic heritage.

Navel-Gazing About The R-DF95 Jutes

Three of the R-DF95/CTS12023 men from the Anglo-Saxon migration study show up in Kent. One of those men is on a Y male line that is currently very rare (R-PH1163), with only two modern testers. One tester is from Norway, and one is from Denmark.

First, I want to make another note that R-DF95 is relatively rare among R1b men. We’re a line that fairly recently, nearly went extinct. There are 142 of us tested with Big Y today. There are some people who are untested with Big Y that match our Y STR pattern or have limited SNP testing not counted in that number, but it’s still a small group.

As an example, one of our most generic Y STR testers has only 164 Y matches at the 25 STR level, but my cousin in a different haplogroup under R1b has over 5000 matches with other men at that level.

Family Tree DNA gives us (R-DF95) a most recent common ancestor estimate of 722 BCE.

The parent for our group R-Z18 (according to FTDNA) is back at 2190 BCE. So what we have currently is a roughly 1500-year gap with no branches in our male line family tree. We have 26 SNPs in a straight line. Keeping in mind that we’ve shown SNP branches popping up every few generations in modern testers, there are a lot of generations of men that are missing there.

R-Z18 has 2180 testers, we’re not the smallest group under R-Z18, but we pale in comparison to one of the larger groups R-Z17 which has 1164 testers with multiple surviving branches right from the root.

What I’m leading up to is that R-DF95 currently makes up about 7% of R-Z18 men, but in this study of Anglo-Saxons, we’re fully a third of the R-Z18 men represented. We’re over-represented because of the results in Kent. So it seems like it would be good to pay attention to the Jutes.

In a previous posting, I asked how I would know if our guys were Jutes or Franks? Well, I’m still not really sure how you would know from grave goods, so I’m moving forward with two assumptions. Our guys are “Jutes” because of their Continental Northern European designation in the study and because “Jutes” settled in Kent.

Those assumptions beg the question, where do the Jutes come from…really? Everyone pretty much says the Angles came from Angeln or Anglia on the east side of the Jutland peninsula and that the Saxons come from Saxony in northwest Germany, south, and west of the Jutland peninsula. Some sources put the Saxons in Holstein, which would be right there with the Angles. When it comes to the Jutes there is less agreement.

Who are the Jutes?

What I have read several times searching around the internet is a narrative that the Jutes come from Northern Jutland and are kind of the top piece of bread in a sandwich that has the Angles in the middle of Jutland and the Saxons to the south. All of these people are Ingvaeones or Ingaevones and speak a type of Low German along with the Frisians and other North Sea Germanic tribes (as opposed to old Norse). At some point the Danes move into Jutland from the Islands to the east, putting pressure on the Jutes and they either move, or are absorbed…or both.

I found a great podcast on the formation of the English language and in Episode 28 Kevin Stroud kind of walks through some of the confusion around the Jutes.

TLDR, there is some discussion about whether the Jutes came straight out of Jutland or if they spent some time with the Frisians or settled in what would become Frankish territory on the continental coast before moving to Kent.

The Germanic tribes were largely illiterate. There are very few sources at the time. So we’re left with sources a few hundred years later or sources from the time that are not accurate and sources that are confusing or contradictory.

Written Sources

Isle of Thanet. (2022, August 23). In Wikipedia.
Isle of Thanet. (2022, August 23). In Wikipedia.

Everyone references Gildas. Gildas was apparently not writing a history of the Anglo-Saxon invasion from a British perspective but rebuking the Britons and basically saying the Saxon pagans were a punishment for the bad behavior of British kings. So he was writing, not for a future audience, but for an audience that knew exactly what happened because they just lived through it. Because of that, it is vague. The key idea is that the Saxons (and to the British everyone from the Germanic tribes was a Saxon) were invited by a “Proud Tyrant” and settled in the east of the Island. At some point, the deal with the Saxons breaks down, and they call in more forces from the continent and take over Kent. It’s sort of a deal with the devil, but really not unlike deals the Romans had with Germanic tribes. Gildas is a semi-contemporary source, writing just after the events took place. Since all Germanic tribes were saxons, Gildas lists no Jutes.

Here are some excerpts from Gildas:

Procopius a Byzantine historian (also semi-contemporary to Gildas and the invasion) says that Brittia was inhabited by Angles, Frisians, and Britons (whom the island was named for). He also says that Brittania is ruled by the Franks. Procopius is talking about two regions Brittia (an island) and Brittania (not listed as an island). E. A. Thompson (no relation) shows support for the theory that Brittia is the island of Britain (populated by Angles, Frisians, and Britons) and Britannia is Armorica/Brittany based on geographic clues and what we know about Britain and Brittany. Although Procopius attributes the movement to Brittany to overpopulation on the Island, not an exodus to escape the Frisians. His sources are Franks who want to control Brittany…but apparently don’t.

Of note, Procopius doesn’t list any Jutes. Just Angles and Frisians on the island of Brittia and that seems to be a perspective of the Franks.

In the mid-500s then it was basically a done deal the Germanic tribes had territory in Brittain, and the Britons had been migrating to Brittany.

Then we have Bede (late 600s early 700s) who is more careful because he’s writing about his own people hundreds of years after the incidents. He references Gildas, but in his narrative, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes were the righteous scourge of the British as intended by the Lord, and of course, they are no longer pagan.

Here is an excerpt from Bede:

Bede is the one who places the Jutes north of the Angles and Saxons. He lists Hengist and Horsa, the mythical or semi-mythical founders who eventually took over Kent. He is referencing Gildas, and so the invaders are butchering people in heaps as intended by God. He does mention the Britons fleeing over the seas which I believe is a reference to Brittany. Of note, he doesn’t list Frisians like Procopius.

Nennius comes to us from the 800s. He’s writing from the perspective of the British. I believe he’s Welsh. He has more of a story to tell concerning Hengist and Vortigern and the ill actions of the British king. He also begins the legend of Arthur (or begins the modern understanding of it). He places the Saxons on the Isle of Thanet, which was given to them (it’s no longer an island). It looks like he references Bede and Gildas and adds to it with a more Britano-Celtic overtone. He writes about the wrath of God, but is more inclined to the wonders of the Britons and adding a hero for the Britons.

In the sections of his writing that I’ve seen, he does not mention Jutes or Angles:

Minus Bede, the Jutes seem pretty incognito…or at least overlooked. Where are all the Jutes?

The Finnsburh fragment and Beowulf

The finnsburg or Finnsburh or finnesburg fragment is the remaining part of a document about the fight at Finnsburh in Frisia. Although Beowulf is a fictional story it contains within it a telling of another story about the battle of finnsburg. Where the Finnsburg fragment leaves off, Beowulf helps fill gaps (albeit from the perspective of the Danes). One of the reasons this becomes important is that the Finnsburg episode happens around the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasion and it contains a central character named Hengest. One theory is that this Hengest is the Hengist of Hengist and Horsa who begins the Anglo-Saxon invasion by leading the Jutes to Kent.

map of the world of Beowulf geats in southern sweden. Heorot in zealand the jutes, danes and frisians.
borrowed from

Here is a link to the fragment: and the notes from the fragment: in the notes you can see Hengest listed this way: “Hengist apparently the leader of the ‘Half-Danes’ after the slaying of Hnaef, though various critics have identified Hengest as a Jute, Frisian or Angle. This Hengest is perhaps identical to the (semi-)historical Hengest who conquered Kent”.

The battle of Finnsburg picks up after some events have taken place, so in Beowulf, there is no explanation of why the Finnsburg battle takes place because the audience is supposed to be familiar with it. I’m going to include a nice video link that goes through the story of the battle and some theories surrounding the source of the conflict and the role of the Jutes.

The Jutes, enigmatic as ever, are mentioned in the battle of Finnsburg on the side of the Danes, but there is some debate about them also being listed on the side of the Frisians. Like bands of displaced mercenaries, there are scholars who believe the Jutes are fighting on both sides of the conflict. That was a theory put forward by Tolkein (who wrote fantasy, but whose day job was as a professor of Anglo-Saxon studies). The debate comes down to spelling and pronunciation and also errors in transcription.

The reason pronunciation and errors in transcription/alternate spellings come into play is because the J in Jute is a Y in these north sea germanic languages. They’re Yutes or Eotas. That pronunciation is really close to the word for Giants or Eoten as a form of generic monster.

One theory supposes that the Jutes are the untold cause of the incident because the Finnsburg story is about the truce between the Frisians and the Danes. Finn makes the truce and the argument is that the Danes would not have negotiated with Finn (a king of Frisia and husband to the Danish princess) if he had killed a Danish prince. They would negotiate with him if he were “responsible” for the killing of a Danish prince because his Jutes (retained by the Frisians) got out of hand and started a scuffle with the Danes…who also had Jutes in tow. Maybe an inter-Jutish dispute caused the Frisians to attack the Danes who were guests of Finn.

I think it is accepted that Hengest has Jutes with him who are on the side of the Danes and some scholars (like Tolkien) believe the Frisians have their own Jutes, but that is disputed. It’s also not certain that the two Hengists (Finnsburg and Kent) are the same, but highly suspected to be the case because they’re alive at the same time in the same areas, have leadership roles, and are involved with Jutes.

In the story, Hengest becomes the leader of the “half Danes” at Finnsburg when their prince is killed by the Frisians (and maybe some Jutes). Some sources say Hengist is an Angle, some a Jute…maybe a Dane. Mixed in here in my online searches is an idea that the Jutes are sort of vassals to the Angles. So Hengist being an Angle leading Jutes would be in character. TLDR Hengist eventually breaks his oath to king Finn of Frisia, after being Finn’s guest through the winter, and kills him in retribution for the Danish prince, then takes Finn’s wife back to the Danes.

Finn’s wife is a tragic character, her son dies along with her brother (the Prince of the Danes) then her husband Finn is killed and she is returned to the Danes like cargo.

One central idea is that Hengest has to make a choice between breaking an oath to Finn to abide by their agreement after accepting hospitality or settling a blood feud and restoring the honor of the Danes by killing Finn who could be an “innocent” man.

The fight at Finnsburg is important because it leads up to and could explain Hengest taking a band of mercenary Jutes to Kent looking for work and land. It’s possible he could not return to Frisia/Saxony/Denmark because of what he did, or that this episode gave him the resources to gather up the Jutes, Angles, and Saxons and start an eventual invasion by breaking his oath to protect the Britons. Hengist being put into the position of having to break his oaths for some greater purpose may be the back story within the story…within another story.

Ah, there goes Hengest again…breaking the agreements.

This video was a great help in figuring out what was going on with Finnsburg and Beowulf:

Along with the above video I also read through a few papers on the Jutes and Finnsburg/Beowulf to try to get a handle on the different theories surrounding them.

Here is a paper on the “Half Danes” which talks about the critical idea that they were half danes not because they were part Jutish, but because their honor needed to be restored by avenging the death of their prince:

Here is a paper on the role of the Jutes in the Finnsburg episode that explains how the Jutes may have been the hidden cause of the conflict and the internal struggles of the key players:

Those two require granted access, but this thoughtful review of work done by Tolkien and others is freely available. The post talks about the conflict of Hengist, the theory that the half-danes are also half-jutes, the Jutes on both sides theory, and the possibility that Hengist racked up enough enemies that it was best to seek his fortune with the Britons:

Jutes Up and Down the Coast

Even if we don’t subscribe to Tolkien’s theory of Jutes on both sides we have a decent reference to Hengist/Hengest and the Danes and Jutes having a presence in Frisia. Although it seems like there ARE Jutes, maybe they don’t have the importance in the world the Bede places on them. The Jutes seem pretty flexible with their identity. Happy enough to be Danes and maybe Frisians. The Jutes seem like the strong silent type.

Finnsburg is a tragedy, but it’s a North Sea tragedy featuring related North Sea People with a common culture. People from other cultures may not see the Jutes as separate from Angles, Saxons, or Frisians and so they get forgotten.

Tucked away in the mythology and monsters are some shared memories that get Hengist and Horsa and the Jutes a little closer to Kent than the tippy top of the Jutland Peninsula.

I can do a lot of navel-gazing

This one ran long to me, so I broke it up into two parts. I think there is more that is important to look at when considering our kin in Dover and their genetic makeup.

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,

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

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,

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

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,

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.

In the searches I have available, there are Elmers living around Quinton (and Northampton) in Ed’s time. At 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:

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:

The second is a larger study of bronze age migration into Britain:

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: 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. 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 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:

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:

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