Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The British: A Genetic Journey by Alistair Moffat

Over the past month I have managed to read a rather fascinating book by Alistair Moffat titled The British A Genetic Journey. With all my English ancestry I have meant to read this book for awhile. Although he does not use footnotes choosing to write in a less academic style, his text is quite interesting and one can readily look into the literature and discover the science that has been published to which he refers. He paints an interesting story of the peopling of the British Isles. Some of the latest results of Big Y testing are perhaps updating his thoughts but this is an evolving study.

In my family lines, both the yDNA and the mtDNA are ancient to the British Isles according to testing done with BritainsDNA, FT DNA, and Genographic Project 2.0. The I2a2b haplogroup assignment for our yDNA results (FT DNA and I2a1b2 (ISOGG)) has been further broken down in the I2a study at FT DNA and designated as B4 along with two other results. These three results do not match but are said to belong to the same distinct group B4. This is the work of Ken Nordvedt with the three members -  Abijah Sussex being traced back to Devon in the 1600s and Roger Hoyte to circa 1650s at Creed Cornwall and my paternal line traces back to Robert Blayke circa mid 1400s in the Andover Hampshire area (namely Knights Enham). Alistair Moffat refers to this group as the deer hunters as does BritainsDNA. BritainsDNA lists this group as being S-185 but further delineated as S-2640 subtype but no further information on this subgroup. S-185 is just 0.9% of I haplogroup in their study and I haplogroup is just 18.1% of their entire set of results for y haplogroup. If you have 100,000 people tested at BritainsDNA then 18,100 would be I haplogroup and 1,629 of them would belong to I2a2b. Extrapolating that to the total population of the British Isles about 68 million one would have if the percentages actually do match actuality 12 million I haplogroup and 110,000 I2a2b. This subgroup is 3x more frequent in The Irish Republic yielding approximately 84,000 for this area and 26,000 in the rest of the British Isles although the concentration would likely be in the southern to south western part of England according to charts published by BritainsDNA in my brother's results and this does appear to hold true to the results in the FT DNA group where the three members are from Cornwall, Devon and Hampshire for B4 and there are several other groups.

I found a rather interesting article about I2a2b online discussing why this group is so small in the published results (I also think that part of this is because it is a very ancient group to the British Isles and the numbers are still not really large for people testing their deep ancestry in the British Isles). For instance, not one of my 3rd and greater Blake cousins in England has tested. I do not have any 2nd cousins in the Blake line in England (my father was an only child and the only Blake grandson of Edward Blake of Upper Clatford but Edward did have brothers with sons (their father was John Blake of Upper Clatford) and he had uncles with sons (their father was Thomas Blake of Upper Clatford and he was the son of Joseph Blake of Andover)).

Lately, with all these discoveries of ancient burials I wonder if one day my own line will be found - an exciting prospect. But having said all of this I still do not have a match at FT DNA, the matches at BritainsDNA are for SNPs only. No Blake, other than my brother, has tested in my known line as far as I am aware. There are several matches using the limited markers of the Blood of the Isles database. Should I actively pursue my 3rd and 4th cousins living still in England in the Andover area? What would they think if I wrote to them? telephoned them? I am still considering that idea. We are going to be in that area next April following Who Do You Think You Are in Birmingham - at least that is the plan. To spend a couple of days in the Andover area including Upper Clatford. Would any of my grandfather's cousins' children be interested in seeing what I have collected? I am basically a rather shy person and the idea of cold-calling people is foreign to me. I keep thinking about my grandfather and what he would have thought if he received a call out of the blue. A few more months to think about that.

The mtDNA of my most ancient ancestress and mine as well (verified with my brother's testing) is H11a2a1. We tested back in 2007 and have watched as H11 has unfolded with the published literature giving a deeper look into H11. This is a small part of the much greater H haplogroup. H11 is about 1% of all H and my own group a much smaller part of that greater group of H11. My best matches are in Ireland and Scotland but also there are some individual matches in Russia of the coding region but they lack the extra mutations that my line has in the British Isles. Tracking the members of my H11 study at FT DNA the further you are away from Ukraina where this group likely wintered during the last Ice Age then the more mutations you have acquired. My own line has three of the four distinct ones found in the British Isles (perhaps my line has reverted on one of these mutations making it somewhat easier to spot matches!).The added mutations perhaps helped them to survive as they are named Pioneers by BritainsDNA. BritainsDNA does not look at H11 individually in their writeup. It is a very very small group in the British Isles. The Blood of the Isles database has 18 with the full four mutations and two matching myself with just three mutations in HVRI (HVRII matches in both groups). There are 16 exact matches with the larger group at FT DNA. I have one match with my brother. This is my one line that I have only family lore to go on back from my great grandmother Ellen Taylor. There is some hint that she may have been Irish so perhaps from the Planters in County Antrim where there are a couple of matches on Oxford Ancestors database or from Scotland where Sorenson has a single match.

I will write a book report in my other blog on this book. 

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