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Sunday, August 22. 2010
(Surnames Part 1 here)
Your surname means next to nothing genetically or geneologically. Furthermore, if you are of English or French descent, you are almost certainly some sort of relative of Charlemagne.
Taking our surname topic this week a bit further into the math of geneology, one quickly realizes that the surname or family name one ended up with is close to random. After all, how many c. 1500 AD ancestors do you have (around the time when surnames became fixed and inherited), each one an equal contributor to your genetics?
Well, just four generations ago, you had 32 living great-great-great grandparents (2 to the 4th power), all probably with different surnames. If you have a Mayflower ancestor, they were one of your mathematical 65,000 great-something grandparents 15 generations ago. The simple math, depending on the areas in which your 1500 AD ancestors lived, (your ancestry pool at a given time), indicates that I have up to a theoretical 4 million great-something grandparents who were living in 1500 (with ancestors doubling each generation of 25 years).
But, beyond the 4-10 generations back, those large numbers aren't possible, given the population pools in different local areas and the lack of mobility for most people at the time. (The population of London was around 50,000 in 1500. It is thought that the global population in 1500 was only around 300 million.)
Thus there must be abundant redundancy in our geneologies and tons of marriage and child production among cousins, in-laws, and other family members. This site, Redundancy in Geneology, takes a clear look at that subject.
The technical term for this is "pedigree collapse," wherein our ancestral cone has a narrowing due to various forms of inbreeding, as it were. That collapse may have peaked around the year 1200, and in New England, there probably was another mini-pedigree collapse due to the small size of the population in the 16-1700s:
Colonial Anglo Population of New England through 1700
Population growth after 1640 was largely internal, not immigration.
It's still safe to say that I had thousands of c. 1500 ancestor great-something grandparents, and I happened to end up with just one of their recently-given surnames. Luck of the draw.
(If you are from England, you are still probably in some way related to almost everybody else in England. That's why we call our Brit fellow bloggers "cousin".)
Ultimately, of course, we all trace back to Mitochondrial Eve. She was certainly a cutie pie, and she must have had lots of kids.
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A lawyer cousin doing family geneology sent me the some results..so far the surprises.
great great great grandfather. Confederate Cavalry Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan.
Uncle of the same era, Confederate Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill
other half of the family in that era fought for the North.
I have at least one Mayflower ancestor for certain. But when I figure that's just one religious fanatic out of a potential 65,000 of my direct ancestors at the time, I feel much better.
So...in your opinion your early ancestor who wanted to be able to practice their religion freely and without fear was a fanatic?
Well, that news clinches what kind of Bird Dog you are - an English Settler!
This reminded me of Charles II of Spain who was descended from his great great grandmother Joanna "a total of 14 times — twice as a great-great-great grandson, and 12 times further." ( Wikipedia) He had a few problems as a result of inbreeding.
Now that's redundancy...
Which is compounded when you realize that granny the not-so-greatest was known as Juana La Loca, or Joanna the Mad. Crazy Jane?
You and Jean lost me. I understand the inbreeding part, but I know nothing of Charles II or Juana. Can you expand?
Here is Wikipedia on Charles II of Spain. In my high school Spanish class, I learned that he was called “Carlos el Hechizado,” Charles the Bewitched. Definitely the textbook example for hybrid vigor, by showing what happens with inbreeding. Also the textbook example against hereditary monarchy as a way of selecting effective leaders.
The Wikipedia article has links for Joanna the Mad, or as I learned about her, Juana la Loca. Jane the Insane? Whatever happened to Insane Jane?
"If you are from England, you are still probably in some way related to almost everybody else in England. That's why we call our Brit fellow bloggers cousin"
Down here in the West Country (of England) even husband & wife refer to one & other as "cousin" .... because they usually are!
You might want to put the kibosh on the practice then or you're all going to end up with ears like Prince Charles...oh, never mind.
I recommend "Saxons, Vikings and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland" by Bryan Sykes. Quite interesting.
The other thing about surnames and family trees is that nearly all family trees have a few fibs hanging from them. Probably everyone is descended, here and there, from a line that isn't in the family Bible.
For my part, I do have an ancestor who came over on the Mayflower. A slave . . . oops, indentured servant.
I also have a Mayflower ancestor, a hatmaker who, alas, died the first winter. His daughters did marry others who came on the Mayflower.
Alan, my friend ... I'm sure you are aware that slaves and indentured servants are two different things. Indentured servants are generally free men and women who 'indentured' or promised themselves to a buyer for a certain number of years in exchange for payment of their passage or for some other fixed sum mutually agreed on. When the cost of the indenture was worked through, the indentured servant became a free man or woman again. Many of America's founding families have indentured servants in their ancestry. Travel was expensive back then, just as it is now.
Slaves, on the other hand, were bought and paid for and belonged to the buyer for the rest of their lives, although compassionate slaveowners sometimes freed individual slaves and even gave them property on the slaveowner's death.
My parents retired to Virginia and bought property along one of the tidal rivers there. Many of the choice riverfront properties there were owned by descendants of former slaves, some of whom sold them at a great profit to citizens from Washington, D.C. and surrounding cities who wanted second homes on the rivers. Like the Kennedys, JFK and Jacquelyn, who bought property on the Middle Neck, where all the horse farms are. My folks retired to the Northern Neck, where hardly anything is, except truck farms and fishing. Oh, and there's a Southern Neck too, where Williamsburg is, and quite a lot more. Fascinating place, Virginia. Beautiful and delightful. And it seldom snows.
Butch Coolidge in Pulp Fiction: "We're Americans, honey, our names don't mean sh*t..."
Geoff, those are called "non-paternity events," and range anywhere from 0.5% - 15%, depending on culture.
Well, it's nice to know I have another weapon in my armory when I approach the judge. If he doesn't buy "My DNA made me do it", I'll plead that I'm a victim of pedigree collapse.
Libs would argue that one thing which distinguishes them from the other side of the aisle is that libs have a smaller degree of pedigree collapse. Just like the jokes about Arkansas and hillbillies.