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The beauty with the DNA approach to researching one’s ancestral origin is that the DNA does not lie! The area identified in an Irish, Scottish, English or Welsh Origenes personalised DNA report can... More
Surnames evolve over both time and distance, and change usually at the whim of an administrator who simply records an unfamiliar surname as he hears it. In this manner similar sounding surnames... More
For cultural and historical reasons it can be more difficult to pinpoint one's English ancestral origin. But as more and more people test the success rate increases. I now have a 60% success rate... More
It is more challenging to pinpoint one's English Paternal Ancestral Genetic Homeland. This is mainly due to historical and cultural factors. However, one big advantage with English surnames is that... More
May 2015: Pinpointing you Kelly origins at the Kelly Clan Gathering (to be confirmed) January 17th 2015: Fermanagh Family History Society (contact October 2014: Genetic... More
For cultural and historical reasons pinpointing a paternal ancestral genetic homeland for people with English roots can be far more challenging compare to those with Irish and Scottish ancestry. For... More
Sometimes a quite remarkable Y-DNA Case Study comes along that I will try my best to get published in a Genealogical magazine. The latest one published in Family Tree Magazine details the Paterson... More
I was invited by the world’s largest commercial ancestral DNA testing Company 'Family Tree DNA' to give a talk entitled 'Pinpointing a Geographical Origin' at their 8th Annual Genetic Genealogy... More
The English Origenes is the latest website in the 'Origenes' chain (that includes Irish Origenes and Scottish Origenes) that sets out to show how one can use the results of a commercial ancestral 37... More
Today Britain (the island that includes England, Scotland and Wales) has about 1.6 million surnames, which is far in excess of the 420,000 surnames recorded in the 1881 census. In 1881 the population... More
Humans first arrived in England around 10,000 years ago after the last ice age. It is believed that their journey began in Northeast Spain in an area now known today as the Basque Country and took... More

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The Science of English Surnames

Today Britain (the island that includes England, Scotland and Wales) has about 1.6 million surnames, which is far in excess of the 420,000 surnames recorded in the 1881 census. In 1881 the population of Great Britain was about 31 million which means that there were on average only 73 individuals with a unique surname, which is surprisingly low. However, many would have been spelling variations of common surnames. These British surnames fall into 6 major classifications: 

  1. Patronyms; are a component of a personal name based on the name of one's father, grandfather or an even earlier male ancestor. (‘son of. . .’): Bateson, Jeffreys, Watson, MacGregor (Scottish- ‘son of Gregor’)
  2. Some patronyms denote group membership: Haldane (‘half-Dane’); Wallace (‘a Celt’)
  3. Occupations or status: Fisher (fisherman); Wright (maker of machinery or objects); Franklin (feudal status term).
  4. Specific places: Charlesworth (Derbyshire, England), Darlington (Co. Durham, England), Crick (Northamptonshire, England),
  5. Landscape features that reflected where ones ancestor lived: Bridges; Ford (river crossing); Southern
  6. Nicknames or characteristics: Darwin (‘dear friend’); Hodgkin (pet form of Roger); short, tall, Black, Brown.

Whereas in Ireland and parts of Scotland patronyms predominate (denoted by O’ and Mac’), in the rest of Great Britain the other forms of surnames (2 to 6) are in the majority.  This means that there tend to be many more ‘founding ancestors’ with English surnames, particularly those associated with occupations, features, and characteristics. However it is still possible to pinpoint one’s English founding ancestor using genetically recurring surname matches that are revealed in a simple painless DNA test (contact me here to find out how). This is because some of these Surnames arose in a single geographical area with a single founding ancestor. Also some are associated with specific places. So discover where the surnames that appear as a DNA match to you first appeared and you'll find an area common to all; that will be the place where your direct male ancestor lived when he first inherited his surname approximately 1000 years ago! 

Can it really be that if my surname is York, that my ancestors lived in York when he took his surname? The answer is YES, and if he was living in York, your surname matches revealed upon DNA testing will also localise or originate in York. The only way to find out is to order your DNA test (contact me here to find out how), look at the surnames of the people you match in your DNA test results, examine the census data and see a specific area emerge. And remember, if your ancestor lived there over 1,000 years ago (when he took his surname) then they were most likely there prior to leaving for towns and cities across the world, and your distant relatives probably still live there. That’s the beauty of this approach, once you pinpoint a ‘Paternal Ancestral Genetic Homeland’ you can prove it by DNA testing people with your surname from the pinpointed area. Where will your DNA take you?

Irish Origenes

Scottish Origenes