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Thread: English into the Americas

  1. #1
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    English into the Americas

    I'm curious to know people's experiences of finding English roots for their American ancestors.

    1. When did they arrive?
    2. What was their occupation / social background?
    3. What was their denomination?
    4. Which part of England did their family originate from?


    What sparks my curiosity as an Englishman, is that although I've carried out two 23andMe tests (myself and a parent), an FTDNA Family Finder test, GEDMATCH files, a FTDNA Y111 test, and an FTDNA Big Y (followed by additional Yfull and Full Genomes analysis), my DNA testing with regards to Genetic Genealogy, has been a dismal failure. Other than very distant Y cousins, I have not connected trees with one DNA cousin. It has added 0 named ancestors to my genealogy. I enjoy tracing the haplogroups for the longer story, but no close matches. I expected to have lots of second to sixth cousins and on wards in the USA, Canada, Australia, etc. England has been such a massive exporter of DNA across the World over the past several centuries. Autosomal DNA tests for ancestry fail to identify English as a definitive group - and our results tend to blur into other British, North-West European, Western European, Irish, and even Southern European groups, regardless of the commercial service. However, I understood that some of the receiving nation-states of English DNA, particularly the USA, were some of the most avid DNA testers. So where are my matches?

    When I do contact my nearest American matches, whether on 23andMe, GEDMATCH, or FTDNA, we never find a common connection. Very often, their recorded ancestors with English surnames have been in the Americas since the 1750s or earlier. I don't find those connections.

    My recorded ancestors were all English, predominantly from the County of Norfolk. One aspect that I suspect that could be a factor was their social status. My ancestors were very much rural working class. Relatively few named trades, and even then, usually minor trades, often combined with labouring. During C18 and C19, the men were mainly East Anglian Agricultural labourers. Geographic mobility of my ancestors was also quite limited. On my mother's side, I have dozens of direct ancestors, bunched up near to the River Yare in the east of Norfolk going back 360 years on record. Second cousins marrying second cousins. My suspicion would be that they descended predominantly from the rural peasantry (including the freemen) of those parishes bway back into the Medieval. But I could be wrong.

    I've been researching the Puritans today, and I saw a number of references to many of them being from Eastern England, including from Norfolk. However, these references also clearly suggest that they were better educated, petit bourgeoisie, middle classes, tradesmen, and crafts people - and that only a small percentage were agricultural. I'm also interested in how the DNA of these classes of people are often more admixed and mobile than that of surrounding agricultural populations. For example, here in Norfolk, substantial numbers of religious refugees arrived here during C16, from what are now the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. This immigration was often encouraged, in order to bring new skills, technologies, and crafts into urban and trade centres such as Norwich. A few thoughts there.

    I'm also aware that many, many English emigrated to North America and elsewhere not as Puritans, but as indentured servants (although again, I suspect that these were mainly trades and crafts people from urban and semi urban centres), adventurers, Quakers, and merchants. I'm aware that English migration continued in waves throughout the later C17, and through the C18, C19, and C20. In later migrations, many migrants may have been from wider backgrounds, including from labouring backgrounds from around England.

    I'd love to hear from other people's genealogical and historical research on this matter. Specifically English please. The Irish, and Scottish were often different cases. Where are my genetic genealogy matches from North America? How different (genetic drift?) is the DNA of Anglo-Americans to mine? Particularly as most commercial DNA test companies use English references that include Anglo-Americans.

    Thanks in advance.

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  3. #2
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    delete
    Last edited by A Norfolk L-M20; 09-21-2016 at 05:30 PM. Reason: duplicate

  4. #3
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    I know very little about my English roots. I have one grandma who is allegedly 100% English, family left Liverpool in the 1700's I think. I have a couple other English ancestors scattered in my other lines too. I have a great great grandma who left England after agreeing to marry a foreign man who was on his way to America. She worked as a second cook for a rich family in London. Her family lived in Chertsey, and she came to America around the 1890's.

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  6. #4
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    I've got a bunch for you. When I get a chance I'll post some. FTDNA's crummy tree won't let me cut&paste so it will take some time.

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  8. #5
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    1/4 of my ancestry is pre-1750 colonial American, and any sort of documentation beyond their names becomes hard to find at that point, so I'm effectively reduced to context clues (given names and surnames, colony settled in, etc.) for many of them as to the likely point of origin in the British Isles, their religious denomination, and social class.

    On a more general note, you may be interested in reading Albion's Seed, as it provides a extensive discussion as to how the regional differences in source populations from Britain & Ireland manifested themselves from the earliest days of American settlement.

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    Well not quite English, but their father was from Herefordshire.
    My grandfather and his brother were stonemasons, my grandfather was a monumental mason (their father was a farmer). my grandfather stayed in Wales but his brother emigrated to America (New England area) , I would guess in the early 1900's. Quite a few went from this area during the 1800's.
    I'm still in touch with with my relatives their. Recently I found out that my grandfather's brother was supposedly in the Freemasons, but I don't know if my own grandfather was. Strangely enough in recent generations there has been a shortage of sons in our Howells line - the children were mostly daughters. I'm the last one descended from my grandfather and when I shuffle off, that's it. My second cousins in America also mostly had daughters although one had one son. The family in America have made a great success of it.

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  12. #7
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    I have one family from Horsham parish, I think west Sussex. That family came in 1855, the paper trail was known but I have since found a fourth cousin match in England with the correct surname from that area, although we have not yet documented the exact connection. My great grandfather came to the US about 1890; he was born in northern Staffordshire and I have the paper trail. I have had no genetic matches at less than 5 GD distance for him and none from FF, very frustrating since he's the originator of the Y-DNA line. I have one colonial line in my tree that is largely undocumented, and once again Murphy's Law--that's the source of my mtDNA line. I do have a good fourth cousin match through that line (holds at 23andme, FTDNA and dna.land) but the American tester and I have not yet found the connection. Given what I do know about that line I'm pretty sure it's UK and pre-1800, but documentation is spotty and I've had no UK matches for this line.

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    Last edited by Baltimore1937; 09-21-2016 at 10:27 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lirio100 View Post
    I have one colonial line in my tree that is largely undocumented, and once again Murphy's Law--that's the source of my mtDNA line.
    I feel your pain: I have people on my dad's side plotted out to the 1500s and 1600s, but my written sources don't even agree on my maternal great-grandmother's mother's name.
    When I was a kid, I could have just asked her :headslap:

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  18. #10
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    I do belong to the British Isles group and I looked at the East Anglia group, they don't include Sussex, unfortunately. I suspect I'll do better as the size of UK participants grows.

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