Friday, January 20, 2012

Genealogy and Genetics

My father, brother, and I have been very successful tracing our genealogy back to 17th Century England using archival records research.  We have definitively traced our family to the North Western portion of the British Iles prior to their arrival to the Virginia colony.  I have always wanted to take the next step and determine if our family descended from one of the original Celtic tribes, such as the Picts or did my ancestors migrate from another culture to the British Isles. It has been difficult to trace our direct ancestry in Britain so the best we have been able to do is determine general relations based on family surnames and common variations.

During this past Fall I took another route and tried a DNA test through Family Tree DNA.  This test looks at the Y chromosome DNA which traces the male lineage.  DNA in the Y chromosome is passed from father to son, and Y-DNA analysis is now a growing method in genealogy research.

Generally speaking this Y-DNA analysis classifies the descendent within a Haplogroup.   A Haplogroup is defined as branches in the human genetic tree (Phylogenetic tree). They are tied to deep ancestry (think 10,000s or 10s of 1000s of years). It basically groups people based on their genetic markers to certain regions of the World.  Maps have also been developed based on archeological finds and DNA samples which trace the origins and migrations of these groups over time.

My Haplogroup turned out to be I2b1.  I was very surprised to learn that Haplogroup I2b1 is a fairly small group. It reaches its highest numbers in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands where it can constitute as much as 10 to 12.5 percent of the population. This haplogroup most likely arrived in England with the Anglo-Saxons or Vikings. 

It is very likely that my ancestors were either from an Anglo Saxon Tribe from northern Germany that conquered the British Isles from 400-600 AD, establishing the Kingdom of Northumbria or were of Viking decent whom conquered the British Iles from 800-1066 AD. 

And now another clue has been answered; however, it has generated as many questions as answers.  We will continue to pursue the DNA approach to genealogy in order to ‘Chase the Family Ghosts’ to the farthest corners of history.  I have joined several groups through Family DNA Tree to include a group project entitled Askew Family.  Hopefully this approach will assist in unlocking answers and discovering new paths to explore.

Map depicting the Viking Invasion of the British Isles

Map depicting the Anglo-Saxon invasion of the British Isles
Map depicting the origin and migration of Haplogroup I2B


  1. i have enjoyed your research and i too have Askew blood and you've done the DNA testing and that's why i comment. It could be true that you're an Angle-Saxon however in one of your comments you stated a possible ancestor Thurston De Bosco. De Bosco assumed the placename Askew. He was a knight, a Norman. Norman's are from France but prior to that they had sailed with Rollo from Denmark and Norway and that there may be your answer.

  2. Hi I have the same group. Some of my relatives came from Sweden