Have you ever wondered who your ancestors were and where they were living before the age of surnames?
Do they descend from the Celtic tribes thought to be among the original inhabitants who recolonised Britain after the last Ice Age?
Or did they arrive instead with Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Jutes, Danes or Normans?
Bryan Sykes of Oxford University has estimated that 60-70% of English males are of Celtic origin and another 20% or so probably arrived in the British Isles with Germanic invaders after the Romans withdrew in the early fifth century.
Since my Britton family belongs to Haplogroup I1, we already know that we were part of the Germanic invasions. Our oldest ancestor, John Britton, was born c 1672/3, perhaps somewhere in eastern England where Viking incurions were most common and where Haplogroup I1 is still more common today.
By 1684 he was living at Curles in Lower Henrico Co., VA. and many of his descendants (including me) still live near his plantation on the Chickahominy River at a place called Pickanockey.
Although we don't yet know whether our Britton ancestor came with Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, or Normans, we believe that DNA studies now in progress in the UK will eventually help us answer this question and perhaps in time discover the local origin of our Britton family.
One such project at the University of Leicester expects to announce results later this year:
This project is of particular interest to us because our closest match so far is to the Childers family from Leeds in the West Riding. Abraham and Philemon Childers, whose births are recorded at Leeds in the early 17th century, were living at Curles in Henrico Co. by mid century.
DNA testing on the Britton and Childers family indicates that their common ancestor may have lived shortly before the age of surnames.
Another family in our subgroup of Haplogroup I1--Titus--traces its ancestry back to Stretton, Rutland or Northampton, Northants. in the late 16th century.
There are about 27 other families in this subgroup-most have English names and only one (Lindeborg) is not English.
Coalaescence age for the group plus the non-English match from Sweden suggests the possibility that the ancestor of these families may have entered England with the Danes or the Normans.
I feel confident we will eventually know when he came, but meanwhile it's tempting to speculate.
In Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, the numbers For Celts are higher and the other groups lower: