Haplogroup I1b-Dinaric

by mkont (no login)



Circa 26,000 BC

Common progenitor of Haplogroup I arrives in southeastern Europe.

Circa 26,000 to 21,000 BC

Ideas associated with Haplogroup I are manifested in the “Gravettian culture” which spread throughout Europe at this time.

Circa 13,000 BC

European climate began to improve, and the ice begins to recede.

Circa 10,000 to 8,000 BC

Members of Haplogroup I migrate to northwestern Europe, becoming progenitors of Haplogroup I1a. This haplogroup is most frequently found in Scandinavian countries.

Circa 8,000 BC

Newly arrived immigrants from agricultural communities in northwest Asia arrive in southeastern Europe.

Circa 6,500 BC

Lipinski Vir is established as a settled community along the banks of the Danube River. The inhabitants of this “village” would have belonged to Haplogroup I1b.

Circa 7,000 – 4,000 BC

Dominance of the Starcevo-Cris culture in modern-day Slovakia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia. Its spiritual center was located at Lipinski Vir.

Circa 4,000 – 3,000 BC

Danubian representatives of haplogroup I1b begin to migrate North where they establish small agricultural communities. They appear to have followed the course of the Danube River toward its source in northern Europe.

Circa 2,300 BC

A male representative of haplogroup I1b becomes established in the vicinity of the Baltic coast. He may have lived in northern Germany or southern Denmark. His male line descendants accumulate characteristic mutations which distinguish these men from their distant kin who remained in the Balkan region.

Circa 450-550 AD

A male representative (or multiple representatives) arrived in England. He was probably a member of the group known as the “Middle Angles”, and it is likely that he settled near the Staffordshire / Leicestershire border.

Haplogroups and the Remote Past:


A comparison of the Johnson family’s genetic sequence with indigenous populations throughout the world yielded surprising results. The markers observed in the Y-chromosome analysis are rarely found in Western Europe. Yet, the family almost certainly came to the American colonies from Great Britain.

Similar genetic sequences are grouped together into haplogroups. These classifications correspond to modern human populations who share common origins in the remote past. People are grouped into specific haplogroups based on the specific markers that are retained in their genetic sequence over extremely long periods of time. While some genes have a tendency to mutate rather quickly, others remain very stable over very long periods of time. People who retain the same stable markers up to the present day are believed to share a common ancestry that may date back thousands of years. Surprisingly, much of Western Europe belongs to the same haplogroup, suggesting that they descend from a common group of ancestors who arrived in Europe tens of thousands of years ago. The Johnson family, however, belongs to the vast cluster referred to as the “I haplogroup”.

Family Tree DNA has analyzed the DNA sequence for several members of this Johnson family who are known to share common ancestry. In comparing Johnson family genetic markers with other samples in their database, it has been determined that our line belongs to the haplogroup known as I1b. An analysis of genetic mutations found in the main branch of haplogroup I indicates that “haplogroup I dates to 23,000 years ago or longer”. It is interesting to note that this time period coincides with the advance of enormous ice sheets during the last glacial period in the Earth’s history.

Our ancestors are known to have arrived in south-eastern Europe during the last ice ages. There, they multiplied in small hunter gatherer groups. Due to the advance of the ice, they became isolated from other human populations who were living to the West in Europe and Asia to the East. Over several thousand years of isolated existence, the genetic markers found on the Y-chromosome of our ancestors began to develop characteristic mutations that would distinguish them from other groups of people who became settled in other parts of the world.

Curiously, the genetic markers displayed by the men in the Johnson family are found with great frequency in and around modern-day Bosnia where a large percentage of the men demonstrate similar genetic patterns. Family Tree DNA further categorizes Johnson family markers into the subgroup known as I1b. The company states that “The Balkan countries likely harbored this subgroup of I during the Last Glacial Maximum. Today, this branch is found distributed in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, and extends further east with Slavic-speaking populations”. The National Genographic Project specifically notes that I1b is “found around the Dinaric Alps, a mountain chain in southern Europe spanning areas of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, and Albania”.

A large body of evidence can be found supporting our classification into the group known as I1b. Independent confirmation has been obtained from other genetic databases. Specifically, geneticist Whit Athey has developed a haplogroup predictor. Using STR values, or specific genetic markers, an individual can determine which group his remote paternal ancestors most likely belonged to based on data collected from thousands of genetic samples collected from around the world. Not surprisingly, Whit Athey’s model has also predicted that our family belongs to haplogroup I1b.

Genetic markers are described as a set of “repeat values”. The specific set of repeat values found on a Y-chromosome is called a haplotype. Using an individual’s haplotype, Whit Athey has developed a program to predict that person’s Y-chromosome haplogroup. Athey defines a haplogroup as “a group or family of Y-chromosomes related by descent”. Using correlational data, Athey’s program can predict an individual’s haplogroup based on how well a person’s haplotype “fits the pattern of previously reported STR values for a haplogroup”. For instance, men in the large R1b haplogroup, will typically exhibit a “repeat value” of 12 on marker 426. In rare occasions, there are exceptions where they will exhibit a value of 10, 11 or 13. However, they will never exhibit a value of 16. Many times, members of a specific haplogroup will exhibit only one value at a given marker. In such cases, these are markers that mutate very slowly. Athey’s model compares an individual’s “repeat values” (or haplotype), with the values found most frequently for people whose haplogroup has been determined through the lengthy testing process known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP). Using this “goodness of fit”, an individual’s haplogroup can be predicted when compared with values exhibited by known members of a given haplogroup.

Athey’s prediction model yields a numerical score when predicting a haplogroup based on “repeat values”. A perfect 1 to 1 correspondence with the values most frequently demonstrated in a haplogroup yields a score of 1. However, people will almost never exhibit such a ratio. Rather, a decimal is used to express this “goodness of fit”. Using the greatest value generated by the program, a haplogroup can be predicted. Haplogroups can be predicted when there is a correspondence of .40 or higher. Using the “repeat values” found in Johnson family participants, a score of .68 was established for haplogroup I1b. This is a very strong score. As such, these results are believed to be very reliable.

Family Tree DNA hosts Ysearch, a public database of genetic samples. This service allows researchers to compare their sample against all other people in the database. Using this free service, a comparison of the Johnson family’s genetic profile yielded some fascinating results which support the findings generated by Whit Athey’s predictor model. A 12 marker analysis indicates that men in the Johnson family differed from the “Y-DNA-I1b security modal haplotype” by only one marker resulting in a score of ~1. According to Ysearch:

“The Y-DNA-I1b Security Modal Haplotype is a tool for finding out whether or not you could belong to haplogroup I1b…your mutational difference value will most likely be less than ~3 compared to this set of 12 I1b –specific markers.”

Archaeology and Genetic Evidence

Genetic evidence can be a useful tool to the modern day researcher who is interested in discovering information regarding his or her remote ancestry. Archaeological evidence can help illuminate the technical information obtained from a series of genetic tests. A graphic analysis of genetic distributions will frequently betray information concerning ancient migratory patterns and settlements.

The I haplogroup is confined to European populations. Rootsi et al. have published a rather comprehensive report pertaining to the distribution of the I haplogroup in Europe. Their findings indicate that the most genetic diversity is found in Bosnia where more than 40% of the male population belongs to group I1b. These facts imply that the I haplogroup dispersed from this region in prehistoric times, resulting in a greater number of genetic variations in modern populations. They estimate that the I haplogroup ancestors arrived in the region during the glacial period. Their “estimates hint that its initial spread in Europe may be linked to the diffusion of the largely pan-European Gravettian technology ~28,000-23,000 years ago”.

The link between the I haplogroup and Gravettian technology is reiterated by the National Genographic Project sponsored by the National Geographic Society. Information concerning the spread of Gravettian culture can be found at www.historytoday.com.

“Gravettian culture: a phase (c.28,000-23,000 years ago) of the European Upper Paleolithic that is characterized by a stone-tool industry with small pointed blades used for big-game hunting (bison, horse, reindeer and mammoth). It is divided into two regional groups: the western Gravettian, mostly known from cave sites in France, and the eastern Gravettian, with open sites of specialized mammoth hunters on the plains of central Europe and Russia. Some early examples of cave art and the famous 'Venus' figurines were made by Gravettian artists.”

Members of haplogroup I became isolated from one another as the ice sheets advanced to a maximum extent. This resulted in subsequent mutations that would distinguish one group from another. The various groups living in Eastern Europe were cut off from their distant relatives who would seek refuge from the ice in Western Europe. In the Balkan region, prehistoric Gravettian hunters utilized mammoth bones and tusks to construct shelter. In the West, caves were preferred. Regardless of geographical location, the Gravettian culture is associated with the production of voluptuous “Venus” figurines. Such exaggerated sculptures are believed to reflect the importance of fertility in these early European populations.

The Famed “Venus of Willendorf”, Circa 23,000 BC

Found Near Willendorf, Austria

Venus of Willendorf

As members of haplogroup I1b, the paternal ancestors of the Johnson family are known to have been sheltered in or near modern day Bosnia during the last “ice age”. However, the climate gradually began to improve about 15,000 years ago. As global temperatures began to rise, the ice sheets began a slow retreat. By 8,000 BC most of central and northern Europe was released from this icy prison. Therefore, the small groups of people residing in Europe exhibited corresponding changes in their behavior.

As the ice sheets began to recede, a small group of men belonging to the I haplogroup left their refuge in southeastern Europe. Descendants of this group migrated to France, eventually migrating to Norway, Sweden and Denmark. During the ice ages, these northern lands were completely submerged in ice. Therefore, it was too hostile for human habitation. However, after the retreat of the ice sheets, members of haplogroup I colonized the region. Of course, over long periods of time, these men developed characteristic mutations that would distinguish them from their kin who remained in the warmer Balkan region of Europe. Today, these Scandinavian members of the I haplogroup are categorized as the sub-group I1a.

Migratory Patterns of Various European Haplogroups

Following the Last “Ice Age”

Migratory Patterns

Warmer global temperatures resulted in increased movement among human populations. The climate in southern Europe became warmer and wetter, and new plants began to flourish. In addition, people in the Balkan region began to develop better hunting methods which enabled larger groups of people to cooperate and live together. Most importantly, people in western Asia began to experiment with agricultural methods which enabled them to settle in one place for extended periods of time because of a surplus of food. Due to gradual global warming, some of these people began to settle in southeastern Europe. The ice, which had isolated various human populations, was no longer a barrier. The influx of people from settled villages in Asia resulted in an increase in genetic variation as these different groups began to breed with one another. In addition, it resulted in a free exchange of ideas, and Europe began a slow process of change. People gradually moved from a life of hunting and gathering in small groups, to living in settled villages and raising crops.

One of the earliest settled communities in Europe was at Lepenski Vir in the former Yugoslavia. Today, it is located in Eastern Serbia, and the archaeological evidence of this early civilization closely corresponds with the genetic fingerprint of the I1b haplogroup. Lepenski Vir became a settled community about 8,500 years ago, and it was comprised of approximately 60 permanent homes that were built along the banks of the Danube River. Archaeological excavations reveal that each of these homes housed characteristic stone carvings of “fish gods”. It is believed that the Danube provided these people with much of their food, but the remains of homes built of stone and wood indicates that they were among Europe’s earliest farming communities.

In reality, Lepenski Vir was only one of many farming communities that sprang up along the Danube River during the Mesolithic period otherwise known as the Middle Stone Age. Residents of this settlement traded pottery and food with neighboring communities. Over time, however, Lepenski Vir came to be the ritual center for what would become known as the Starcevo-Cris Culture. This ancient culture overlapped the ancestral home of haplogroup I1b which had become established in the Balkan region many thousands of years earlier. Moreover, Starcevo culture appears to have been somewhat of an outgrowth of the earlier Gravettian culture. Perhaps the most notable similarity connecting the two ancient cultures is the continued obsession with fertility demonstrated in “Venus figurines”. A website pertaining to this early farming culture has been found at AncientWisdomCulturesPeople@groups.msn.com. It is noted that “The Starcevo Culture covered a huge area, including today's Slovakia, western Ukraine, Romania, eastern Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia, and northeast Bosnia. In Croatia, it extended at least as far as Vucedol (near Vukovar) and Sarvas (near Osijek)”.

“Fish God” Sculpture from Lepenski Vir

Circa 5000 BC

Fish God

Modern Map Illustrating the Extent of

Starcevo-Cris Culture: Circa 6,000 BC

Starcevo-Cris Culture

The book The Last Two Million Years explains the population explosion that took place in the Balkan region of Europe beginning about 5,000 BC. By that time, agriculture had spread from Greece, in the South, to Hungary in the North. People in this region lived in “densely populated villages”, in homes that were constructed of mud and timber with flat roofs. Homes were generally constructed with a raised floor on a clay platform that served as a kitchen area. The people created beautiful, painted pottery, and they wore clothing made of flax and wool.

Farming settlements were particularly numerous along the Danube River. The rich river valley was particularly conducive to raising crops. The valleys also provided protection against invasion from nomadic peoples. Many historians believe that the Danubians were responsible for the advance of agriculture as it spread from southeastern Europe. “They and the revolution they represented spread rapidly across Europe, reaching Holland before 4,000 BC”. These early farmers were able to benefit from the rich soil that was a result of glacial retreat at the end of the last ice age. These early Europeans cultivated wheat, barley and peas. However, as farming spread toward northern Europe, people began to domesticate cattle and pigs with increased frequency.

Subsets of Haplogroup I1b

As agriculture spread from the Balkan region of Europe to the North, groups of people became increasingly mobile. It is interesting to note, however, that these advances were more the result of an exchange of ideas rather than the displacement of one group of people by another. Whatever the case may be, it is now clear that a small handful of people from the Balkan region inevitably migrated to the Baltic coast of Europe during this time period. Moreover, it is likely that the Danube River was the primary mode of transportation for these early men who first carried the I1b haplogroup to northern Europe.

The findings of a number of noteworthy geneticists support the conclusions of Family Tree DNA and Whit Athey’s haplogroup predictor in classifying Johnson males into haplogroup I1b. In fact, an analysis of specific markers can now help us to identify which specific branch of this haplogroup we descend from. Haplogroup I1b has been divided into two major subgroups. The vast majority are classified as “I1b1-Dinaric”. The group takes its name from the Dinaric Alps, a group of mountains situated along the border between modern-day Croatia and Bosnia. This subgroup of 1Ib is mainly distributed near the ancestral homeland of the I haplogroup. In addition, it is often found throughout parts of Eastern Europe.

In addition to I1b1-Dinaric, a Western subgroup has recently been discovered. In contrast to their distant kinsman in southeastern Europe, representatives of this subgroup are found most frequently in northwestern Europe. Ken Nordtvedt, perhaps the world’s foremost I haplogroup researcher, describes the I1b1-West haplogroup as follows:

“I1b1-West (Western) is a variety of (old) I1b…found more in Western Europe, and particularly in a swath across Germany’s Baltic and North Sea coastal areas, and then into the British Isles. Western I1b1 variety is most notably identified by having 15 repeats at DYS388 instead of the usual 13 repeats of Dinaric I1b1. I1b1-West is also usually 10 at DYS391 instead of I1b1-Din being 11…they have differing modal values at a large number of markers and are usually not difficult to distinguish from each other. I1b1-West was discovered in 2004.”

In May of 2005, Ken Nordtvedt refined his definition of I1b1-West as follows:

“I was upgrading my Western I1b (the variety with the unusual DYS 388 = 15 and Western Europe geographical distribution) with the latest Sorenson data …one must add DYS448 = 18 (an unusual modal value in its own right) to the root definition of Western I1b … Here is the total 6 marker core haplotype:

DYS388 = 15; DYS448 = 18; DYS454 = 11 = DYS455; DYS462 = 12

Its DYS 19, 390, 391, 392, 393, 385a,b, 389i modal haplotype is then 15,23,10,11,13,(12,15),14 and highly so except for 389i which also has significant population with 13 repeats.”

In comparing this very specific root definition of the I1b1-West modal haplotype with the genetic profile of Johnson family men, we find that there is a nearly perfect correspondence. The only difference is that Johnson males demonstrate a characteristic repeat value of 16 at marker 385b rather than the more typical value of 15.

In order to properly classify the peculiar genetic sequence of Johnson family males, this writer contacted Ken Nordtvedt directly. Specifically, Mr. Nordtvedt was asked for his opinion regarding the classification of the Johnson family into haplogroup I1b1-West. After several weeks, he sent the following response:

“You are definitely Western I1b. I don't think I would have said western I1b is more common in Britain than in continental Europe. I have found it both in Britain and in the swath you mentioned. I assume continental people brought it to the British Isles. Perhaps with the Anglo-Saxons or Danes, but maybe in an earlier migration pre-Roman? Only more data and future research will answer that choice. I have identified a separate type of I1b which is ‘Isles’ I1b and not yet found on the continent. But it is different than what you have which is the ‘western’.”

Today, the I1b1-West haplogroup can be subdivided into typical haplotypes. Researchers have now discovered that I1b1-West manifests itself somewhat differently in England, Ireland and Scotland. “Comparative y-DNA results” obtained from Ysearch indicates an extremely close correspondence with what has been called the “English Y-DNA-I1b modal haplotype”. This data implies that our Johnson male line ancestry stems from England.

Nordtvedt has also been able to estimate the approximate age of I1bI-West by studying the genetic mutations that separate this group from their relatives in the Balkan states. He suggests “a 4300 year age for the Western I1b.” This suggests that the two major subgroups of haplogroup I1b diverged sometime about the year 2,300 BC.

Ken Nordtvedt suggests that the unusual genetic sequence of the Johnson family was “brought … to the British Isles. Perhaps with the Anglo-Saxons or Danes”. It is clear that I1b1 was brought to the coast of northern Europe from the Balkan region by about 2,000 BC. As agriculture spread to Northern Europe along the Danube River, male representatives of this family must have followed, carrying their unique genetic sequence with them to the Baltic and North Sea region. Here they assimilated, learned the customs and language, and blended with the people who would eventually become known collectively as “the Anglo-Saxons”. Through a series of genetic mutations, their DNA developed the interesting characteristics of a new haplogroup, known as I1b1-West.

Supporting Evidence for an Anglo-Saxon

Migration to England

Today, I1b1-West is a genetic sequence that is rarely found in England. Yet, it is clear that quite a few English families share a common genetic heritage that is betrayed by their collective membership in haplogroup I1b1-West. The Sorenson genetic database indicates that the majority of these families are generally distributed in Northampton, Lancashire, Worcester and Nottingham. Information from this database and others shows a distribution of similar genetic patterns found in northern Germany and Denmark; a region that corresponds with the ancestral homeland of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes who invaded England roughly 1,500 years ago.

Ken Nordtvedt used “2,200 SNP tested British Isles haplotypes” and discovered that there was a “clear cluster of Western I1b haplotypes” found in England. It is noted that there is “a slight preference for Western I1b being located in eastern England where Anglo-Saxons or Danish Vikings settled. This is confirmed with finding Western I1b in Sorenson database with Baltic coast and Danish origins”. He further notes that such haplotypes only constitute somewhere between ½ and 1% of the Y-chromosome patterns found in northwestern Europe today.

Information obtained from Ysearch provides a pattern that is even clearer. Nordtvedt describes a concentration of I1b1 outlined by Northampton, Nottingham, Lancashire and Worcester. A system was also devised by this writer to refine the area of concentration. An attempt was made to identify families of English extraction who would appear to be classified as I1b1-West. This search was restricted to English families who are no more than three genetic mutations away from the Johnson family. Then, those surnames were correlated to specific regions of England where the surnames are found most frequently. Not surprisingly, the names do coincide with the area described by Nordtvedt. However, these families also appear to share a dense concentration along the border with Wales in Shropshire, extending East through Leicester.

Family names used in this correlational study included Sharp, Stanley, Lucas, Terry, Overstreet, Ashley, Parker, Holder, Slaton, Buckley, Glover, Mills and Johnson among others. As with the Johnson family, some of these surnames may have originated in multiple places independently. However, others are relatively confined to a small geographical area in England. The region of England from Shropshire to Leicestershire reveals a marked concentration of almost all of the surnames in question. This observation is especially useful in that it is believed that each of these families shares a common male lineage at a time before surnames were adopted in England. Moreover, a study of the various mutations present in each of these families can reveal which are most closely related to the others.

Of particular interest to Johnson family researchers is the family of Edenfield. This family shares a match of 24 out of 25 genetic markers. Moreover, the Edenfield surname is rather uncommon in England. Although its greatest concentration is now found around Halifax in Yorkshire, the family took its name from the village of Edenfield in Lancashire. We can be sure of this as there is only one village of this name in all of England. Edenfield is situated about four miles east of Bolton and Blackburn. As surnames were frequently adopted from village names during the 12th and 13th centuries, this gives us an approximate location of where the Johnson family may have originated during this time period as well. Moreover, it fits with the genetic distribution of haplogroup I1b1-West that Ken Nordtvedt observed in his studies of English pedigrees.

Together, Nordvedt’s observations coupled with modern-day distributions of related English families point to a probable early settlement near the Staffordshire / Leicestershire border. From there, our unusual genetic signature appears to have become diffused along the border between England and Wales. Finally, it seems likely that our specific branch of the family settled a bit to the North in or near what is now southeastern Lancashire. The following chart illustrates the various clusters of English families who appear to share a common male lineage with the Johnson family.

“Fish God” Sculpture from Lepenski Vir

Circa 5000 BC

The diagram above illustrates related family groupings among English families who are known to be representatives of haplogroup I1b1-West in England. A study of the characteristic mutations in each family enables the researcher to make a determination as to how closely each family is related to the others. Obviously, all of these families share a common origin in the remote past. The more closely grouped surnames at the bottom of the diagram represent families whose common male ancestor lived in the more recent past.

Ken Nordtvedt noticed that haplogroup I1b1-West is found along the Baltic and North Sea coasts in continental Europe. Further, it is noted that modern distributions of this genetic sequence are found most frequently in western England, particularly along the border with Wales. A comparison of this distribution pattern with known archaeological evidence suggests a probable Anglo-Saxon migration. This theory was suggested by Nordtvedt, and it helps explain how this rare genetic sequence is found in both places simultaneously. A study of the mutations present in each of these families suggests that they are all related within the last 1,500 to 2,000 years. Again, this is in keeping with the time period that the Angles and Saxons arrived in England. What is especially interesting is that the modern distribution of families allows the researcher to formulate a more specific theory regarding the origins of these families. It should be noted that the western portion of England was most heavily colonized by the group of people known as the “Middle Angles”. They arrived in England from southern Denmark during the 5th century, and they were eventually absorbed into the kingdom of Mercia during the Middle Ages. The map that follows illustrates the settlement patterns of the various Germanic tribes who arrived in England during the 5th and 6th centuries. The inset corresponds to the original homeland of these various groups.

The Settlement of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes in England

Angles, Saxtons & Jutes in England

The best early source regarding the migration and settlement of the Angles and Saxons is A History of the English Church and People by Bede. Although his chronicles were written about 300 years after the fact, they remain one of our best sources of information regarding this shadowy time period. The Anglo-Saxons first arrived on the shores of England sometime between the years 440 and 460 AD. Bede notes that they had been invited by the native Celtic inhabitants, called Britons. This time period saw the collapse of the Roman occupation of the island, and subsequent invasions by “barbarians” from Ireland and Scotland. In order to defend themselves, the native Britons are said to have invited the Angles and Saxons to England as mercenary soldiers. Initially, they established peaceful settlements, and they coexisted with the indigenous population. However, upon their arrival, the Germanic tribes found the native population to be “cowardly”, and they exploited the desperate situation of the Britons to their own benefit. Bede describes these events as follows:

“In the year of our Lord 449, Martian became Emperor with Valentinian, the forty-sixth in succession from Augustus, ruling for seven years. In his time the Angles or Saxons came to Britain at the invitation of King Vortigern in three long-ships, and were granted lands in the eastern part of the island on condition that they protected the country: nevertheless, their real intention was to subdue it. They engaged the enemy advancing from the north, and having defeated them, sent back news of their success to their homeland, adding that the country was fertile and the Britons cowardly. Whereupon a larger fleet quickly came over with a great body of warriors, which, when joined to the original forces constituted an invincible army. These also received from the Britons grants of land where they could settle among them on condition that they maintained the peace and security of the island against all enemies in return for regular pay.

These new-comers were from the three most formidable races of Germany, the Saxons, Angles, and Jutes. From the Jutes are descended the people of Kent and the Isle of Wight…from the Saxons – that is, the country now known as the land of the Old Saxons – came the East, South and West Saxons. And from the Angles – that is, the country known as Angulus, which lies between the provinces of the Jutes and Saxons and is said to remain unpopulated to this day – are descended the East and Middle Angles, the Mercians, all the Northumbrian stock…and the other English peoples…

It was not long before such hordes of these alien peoples vied together to crowd into the island that the natives who had invited them began to live in terror.”

In his book Ancient Peoples and Places: The Anglo-Saxons, D.M. Wilson discusses the subsequent colonization over the next 150 years.

“The colony, founded by Vortigern in the east of England, must have been strengthened by accretion from the Continent, until the mercenaries rebelled against their employers and started to colonize the country in earnest…parts of England – Kent and Sussex for instance – were settled in this manner. The conquest of the rest of England probably started, as did the colonization of America, with small bands camping on the eastern seaboard and gradually spreading west up the river valleys into the rest of the country. The Britons…put up a considerable resistance against the Saxons. Gradually, however, over a period of some hundred and fifty years they were reduced to the position of a subject population, or fled to the hills and fastness of the Celtic lands to the west and north. At the time of the Augustinian mission the Anglo-Saxons controlled the whole of England from Kent to East Dorset and from the East Coast to the lower Severn, Staffordshire and Derbyshire, most of Yorkshire and part of Northumberland and Durham.”

The Angles came to control much of the Island. These invaders, originally from southern Denmark, would assume a position of preeminence over the Saxons and Jutes. Their Kingdom of Mercia dominated the course of English history from the mid-7th century to the early 9th century. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines the boundaries of Mercia as “originally comprising the border areas (modern Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, and north Warwickshire)…Mercia later absorbed the Hwicce territory (Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, and south Warwickshire) and spread also into what was later Cheshire, Shropshire, and Herefordshire”.

Eventually, Mercia’s position of dominance was overshadowed by the Saxon kingdom of Wessex. Under their King, Alfred the Great, England’s boundaries were extended to near modern extent. Alfred was able to consolidate nearly all of Anglo-Saxon England under one crown, and English culture became somewhat more uniform until it became nearly impossible to discern the differences between Angle and Saxon.

This background information concerning the arrival of the Angles and the rise of Mercian dominance has tremendous implications for the Johnson family researcher. Clearly, genetic data regarding our family is closely correlated with the arrival of the Angles and their subsequent migrations. Modern-day distribution patterns for males who exhibit the I1b1-West signature closely correspond not only to the settlement of the Angles in England, but to the ancestral homeland of the Angles in southern Denmark. Clearly, the men of this family were part of the early invasion of the Britons and the colonization of the western portion England.

After many generations, the numerous male line descendants of our earliest ancestor in England adopted countless different surnames. This is not surprising. Surnames were not adopted throughout England until after the Norman invasion of 1066. Furthermore, this next wave of invaders quickly reduced the Anglo-Saxons to a subject population, establishing themselves in positions of power. The Norman custom of adopting a surname eventually took root with Anglo-Saxon families. However, this did not become a uniform custom until about the 13th to the 15th centuries. In other words, the various branches of our family took on scores of different surnames approximately 700 to 900 years after their arrival in England. This explains why so many seemingly different families carry the same or nearly identical Y-chromosome genetic signature.

Although our genetic sequence is rather unusual, it is found in small numbers in several public databases. It is estimated that I1b1-West is present in between ½ - 1% of the men in England. Although this is a small proportion of the male population, we would still expect it to be present in nearly 250,000 men in England! With that in mind, it is now clear that many such men, representing numerous different families, arrived in the American colonies independently of one another. Fortunately, with the assistance of modern technology, we can retrace the footsteps of these men back through the millennia with a respectable degree of accuracy.

Posted on Jul 8, 2008, 10:18 PM
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