Tuesday, October 17, 2017

I'm What?

(Source)
Looking out over Torr Head in Ireland, across the North Channel of the Irish Sea, you can see the coast of Scotland. I've always known that Ireland and Scotland are very close culturally and geographically. What I didn't realize, until a few months ago, was just how closely related genetically the Scots and the Irish were. In fact, one could make the argument that in essence, we are the same people.

I use the word "we" somewhat loosely. I am an American by birth and consider myself to be an American through and through. I am not an <insert ethnic group here>-American. I don't tell folks that I'm an Anglo-French-Scottish-American. I was not born "over there" and naturalized as a citizen of this great land. However, I am inordinately proud of who my ancestors were, and where they came from.

I was born and raised in New England, specifically Vermont, I spent 24 years away from my native soil while in the Air Force so I don't really consider myself a Vermonter anymore, especially when I consider the political leanings of my native state.

While I live in Rhode Island, I don't consider myself a Rhode Islander either. Especially considering how the natives around these parts are somewhat clannish and very particular about who calls themselves a Rhode Islander. As if it's an accomplishment to have never left the nest. I'm really just a generic American, who's been around the block a couple of times. Lived here, lived there. Four countries on three continents have been where I called home at one time or another. But I digress.

My paternal great-grandfather hailed from Trois-Rivières in the administrative region of Mauricie in the Canadian province of Quebec. Oui, l'arrière grand-père parlait le français comme sa langue maternelle. My grandfather, born and raised in Vermont, later lived in New Hampshire, had only a few words of his father's native French when I knew him, most of them not used in polite society, at least when the ladies were present. One of his aunts, whom I never met, had no English at all.

Great-grandfather had an interesting life. Emigrated from Canada to the U.S., specifically Vermont, and when the War Between the States started, he enlisted in a New York regiment. Not sure why, there isn't much documentation left concerning the founder of the clan in this country. He married late, my grandfather didn't come along until Great Granddad was in his sixties, as I recall.

Now my paternal grandfather married a lady who drew her first breath along the banks of the River Dee in Scotland, not far from Aberdeen. So the paternal side of the family are relatively new in the United States, but the Canadian parts go back to the days of fur trapping and Montcalm, from what I understand.

The maternal side of the tribe have been here rather a longer time, since before the Revolution. One distant relation was a governor of Connecticut and signed the Declaration. Mostly Scots with the odd English relation thrown in on the maternal side of things.

So for years I've considered myself, at heart, a Scot, with a bit of English and a lot of French thrown in for seasoning.

Now my brother, The Olde Vermonter, went and paid for a DNA test, just for the curiosity and the "why not" that was in it. The results, while somewhat surprising, aren't really that surprising when you look at the relationship between the Scots and the Irish. (See where I'm going with this yet?)

The results of the DNA test show that my brothers' and my ancestors (going back millennia, not centuries) came from:
  • 27% Ireland
  • 24% Great Britain
  • 22% Western Europe
  • 15% Scandinavia and (this next one has a large uncertainty associated with it)
  • 4% West Asian (?!?!?!)
The green stuff, that's West Asia.
(Source)
Interesting that West Asian bit, uncertain though it be. I guess if you go back far enough? (I have a great great uncle, killed in action in the Great War, buried in Gaza. So there's another connection. Yes, Middle East and West Asia are, as some of my relations might say, "Same same.")

Now historically the area we know as Scotland today was populated originally by the Picts. The west coast of Scotland was settled by the Irish. The Romans called all the folks north of Hadrian's Wall, the Scotti. See where I'm going?

Now the Great Britain part of the ancestry no doubt includes the Picts and the Celts of pre-Roman Britain. Western Europe, well that's the French bit. As to the 15% Scandinavian?

Let's just say that Lindisfarne wasn't the only place in early Britain raided by the Norsemen. Their depredations occurred throughout the British Isles and Ireland. Many Scots clans have a great deal of Viking blood in them. One example springs to mind, the MacIvers have relatives across the North Sea, the Iversons. (Mac or Mc prepended to a name in Scotland or Ireland means "son of." MacIver, Iverson, "Same same GI.")

So a great big chunk of my ancestors hailed from the British Isles.

Does this change anything about me, who I am? No, not really. But guess what?

I'll be celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a bit more enthusiasm than I have in past years. After all...

(Source)
Just don't expect me to spring for a round, the Scots is still there, muted though it might be. Also, be careful not to rub me the wrong way...

(Source)
I'm not sure if Onkel Olav has a sense of humor...



42 comments:

  1. Here be I. Great Britain 87%, Ireland/Scotland/Wales 7%, Europe West 5%, Finland/Northwest Russia 1%, and Scandinavia <1%

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    1. Doesn't look like your ancestors got out much, there SoCal. Got to keep an eye on that Sarge fellow, though. Might just start yelling "Aloha, Snackbar!" one of these days.

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    2. SoCal, yeah, what Juvat said. Though that Finnish/No Russia thing concerns me.

      ;)

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    3. Juvat, always making trouble.

      Freakin' infidels.

      ;)

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    4. Yea, both sides of my family arrived in VA as early as the Jamestown in the earlyn1600s and we're only a couple hundreds miles to the west in north central NC.

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    5. Well, you did make it to Sandy Eggo. :)

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  2. I've wondered just how accurate these DNA tests are so I've never tried it. The Kinions are an old Irish line, I remember my grandfather singing us old Irish songs. I had a brother-in-law that was into family research (He had spend years tracing the McInnes clan to Ireland) and after he married my sister, he spent about 7 years tracing the Kinion heritage even to the point of flying to Wales and Ireland. He traced the Kinions from Oklahoma to Missouri to South Carolina to Wales and finally to Donegal county Ireland. When he tried to trace my Mom's Lewis clan he only made it from Kansas to Lafayette Louisiana to the swamps and bayou's southwest of New Orleans where it was just too muddled to trace.

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    1. From what I've heard, ancestry.com is fairly accurate. Bearing in mind that these DNA traces go back thousands of years. My brother did the ancestry.com test.

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  3. I believe, if we were to delve far enough back, most of us with European roots will find some Wezt Asian DNA.

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    1. I think you're right. Maybe even northeast Africa.

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    2. Or Tanzanian. (Olduvai Gorge.)

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  4. Funny that the Irish and Scots are genetically close, seeing how historically they hated each other. That tends to happen when the Scots invade and kick your ass a few times. More than a wee-bit o' Irish in my DNA, with me grandmother being a Feeney and all, born just a few years after her folks arrived in NYC from the Emerald Isle. Some German and Welsh thrown in for variety. This is what we thought and was confirmed when my sister did one of those tests. Hers came with a "who you are related to" thing as well which found our close cousins in Minnesota. Turns out our cousin Terry did the same test.

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    1. There was a great deal of Irish settlement along the west coast of Scotland back in the day.

      I believe my brother had one of those "who are your relatives" things. But it mostly showed that the family was concentrated in Vermont/New Hampshire/Massachusetts and along the St Lawrence Seaway. No real surprises there in the last couple of hundred years. It's when you go back a thousand or more that the Irish connection shows up.

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  5. Well, Destin did a vid on 23 and me about their privacy security. Looked pretty good to me.

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  6. York and Dublin were both founded by Norse traders and King Canute (also spelled Cnut) was King of England, Denmark & Norway.

    The numbers don't add up, I'm curious as to what the other 8% is. Let's hope the 4% West Asian isn't Kardashian!

    Al_in_Ottawa

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    1. Now that you mention it...

      I wonder where the rest went?

      I knew of Cnut.

      (While Armenia is in West Asia, having a number of Armenian friends I can say that they're not all named Kardashian. Nor do they act like that bunch.)

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  7. Might get around to doing the test one of these days. According to oral history we have a good bit of Irish and Sicilian.
    Kinda explains home winemaking, getting angry, and holding a grudge for a very long time.

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  8. Well, as to that whole Scots vs Irish thing, way back in the times of King Ulster (before he became king) the Irish were Scots. The Scots invaded Ireland, first one to land to become king, Ulster cut his hand off, tossed it before him, and the Irish have been cheating ever since. Ever since, the 'bloody hand of Ulster' has been a recognizable symbol. (And people think the Norse are violent!)

    Meanwhile, the current Irish went and invaded... Scotland. Thus screwing up music forever. Sad Irish, Fighting Scots, who is really whom?

    Mom's side is Scots-Norman (the Spencers, which were the Dispencers, which were the Attentots of Norman times (William's quartermaster, back way back when) and a smattering of Irish-Norman, with a strong smattering of French (which actually figures, as the Scots were much more cozy with the French than the English during all that Edward III stuff (arms and armor of Robert de Bruce were French armor, about 50 years more advanced than the English stuff...))(All that Norman blood might be why October 14th always seems such a happy day for me.)

    Dad's side is a combination of French settlers who went to Canada and then got their asses kicked out, and then kicked along to the swamps of Louisiana, and one German guy who left during the unification struggles to go to New Orleans (where he died in a cholera outbreak with his wife after leaving 9 kids behind)

    So, I am a Ohio Yankee Cajun, also French-German and Irish-Scots. I must really enjoy fighting myself. Does explain the voices in my head.

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    1. Hahaha!

      Ohio Yankee Cajun, classic American mix!

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  9. Thanks for the post; the which of is up to this blog's usual high standards. The commenters ( with one exception ) are in their standard high form.

    Don't know much about my ancestors, likely the usual bunch of groups who became Europeans. Family name is German, the rest is up for grabs.

    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. I thought my comment was exceptional, whatchu talking 'bout, Willis?

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    2. PLQ - Dinnae sell yeself short laddie!

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    3. Juvat - isn't that how one summons Skip?

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    4. I thought that took flashing the bat signal. Or is that a bear?

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  10. Scot, Irish, they both listen to that awful screeching bag pipe music, so how different can you be? My friend Frog is a piper from his Scottish side, not crazy about the music, but on the plus side there are no rodents for miles around.

    Not sure I completely trust those DNA tests, but they are interesting. My wife's family took them and one sibling has a completely different result...Oh oh! Tongues have been set a wagging.

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    1. The test my brother took was of the "spit in a cup" variety. As most DNA tests you see (at least on television) require swabbing the inside of one's mouth to get a good sample, yeah, not real confident of the accuracy.

      I mean, what if I'd just eaten?

      "Well Sarge, you're 27% Irish, 24% British, and, hhmm, roughly 15% Angus beef?"

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  11. My maternal great-grandfather was full blooded Scotsman. His parents came from Scotland in 1848 and he was born in Detroit. He later married one Josephine Roessler. Josephine's mother was Octavia Baker. We have the Baker line documented back to Thomas Baker, born in 1636 in Norwhich, England.

    In the spirit of celebration, I think this about does it---

    http://itaintholywater.blogspot.com/

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  12. I'm German on my mother's side and Irish on my Dad's. We started two world wars and every bar fight in America since 1841, so, tread lightly!
    ; )

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    1. Look out! We got a badass over here!

      ;)

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  13. I wouldn't discount the West Asian at all. Along with the Visigoths and Vandals, the Alans, an Iranian/Aryan-speaking people came piling over the Roman frontier. They ranged over much of France, then down into Spain and Portugal, and some on into Tunisia (Carthage). Some, along with some Sarmatians were certainly hired on as auxiliary cavalry by the Romans at times. Some were apparently stationed in Britannia at times, though that's not certain. Huns also got around, often as enemies of the Romans, but also sometimes as mercenary units.

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    1. Hhmm, excellent points Larry. There were tribes roaming and raiding all over Europe in those times.

      Coincidence that my middle name is Allen?

      At any rate, looking at the migrations of the Alans, those folks got around didn't they?

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    2. Yeah, from the Caspian Sea to ruling Portugal in just over 40 years, with lots of detours to pillage France and Italy. Then Tunisia in another generation, and taking to the sea to raid Italy some more. They'd have been top dogs and sure to have spread their wild oats around liberally like the Vikings later did.

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    3. I need to do more reading on these folks. A brief scan shows them all over the place, including Spain, Portugal, and North Africa. A dynamic people indeed!

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  14. Although I am a DAR through one grandmother who is the usual English mix, most of my other relatives were German - like straight off the boat from Germany. Then my great-grandmother(a German) married an Indian. It made for some handsome (dark hair/blue eyes) athletic kids.

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    1. And many English are Germanic themselves. Anglo-Saxons and all.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)