Category Archive 'Genealogy'
19 Aug 2015

Something Peculiar Happened 4000 to 8000 Years Ago

, , , ,

These two graphs show the number of men (left) and women (right) who reproduced throughout human history.

Pacific Standard:

Once upon a time, 4,000 to 8,000 years after humanity invented agriculture, something very strange happened to human reproduction. Across the globe, for every 17 women who were reproducing, passing on genes that are still around today—only one man did the same.

“It wasn’t like there was a mass death of males. They were there, so what were they doing?” asks Melissa Wilson Sayres, a computational biologist at Arizona State University, and a member of a group of scientists who uncovered this moment in prehistory by analyzing modern genes.

Another member of the research team, a biological anthropologist, hypothesizes that somehow, only a few men accumulated lots of wealth and power, leaving nothing for others. These men could then pass their wealth on to their sons, perpetuating this pattern of elitist reproductive success. Then, as more thousands of years passed, the numbers of men reproducing, compared to women, rose again. “Maybe more and more people started being successful,” Wilson Sayres says. In more recent history, as a global average, about four or five women reproduced for every one man.

11 Sep 2014

Ashkenazi Jews Descend from 330 Individuals

, ,



A genetic analysis shows that all of the Ashkenazi Jews alive today — of which there are more than 10 million — can trace their roots to a group of just 330 people who lived 600 to 800 years ago.

The new study, which now appears in the journal Nature Communications, involved the genetic analysis of 128 healthy Ashkenazi Jews. These complete genomes were in turn compared to each other, along with the DNA of 26 Flemish people from Belgium.

Writing in the LA Times, Karen Kaplan explains more:

    “Ashkenaz” in Hebrew refers to Germany, and Ashkenazi Jews are those who originated in Eastern Europe. (Sephardic Jews, by contrast, are from the areas around the Mediterranean Sea, including Portugal, Spain, the Middle East and Northern Africa.) About 80% of modern Jews have Ashkenazi ancestry, according to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Albert Einstein was an Ashkenazi Jew, as were Gertrude Stein and Carl Sagan. Steven Spielberg and Scarlett Johansson are also Ashkenazi Jews, along with three current members of the U.S. Supreme Court (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan).

    Despite their close ties with Europe, no more than half of their DNA comes from ancient Europeans, the researchers found. Only 46% to 50% of the DNA in the 128 samples originated with the group of people who were also the ancestors of the Flemish people in the study. Those ancient people split off from the ancestors of today’s Middle Easterners more than 20,000 years ago, with a founding group of about 3,500 to 3,900 people, according to the study.

    The rest of the Ashkenazi genome comes from the Middle East, the researchers reported. This founding group “fused” with the European founding group to create a population of 250 to 420 individuals. These people lived 25 to 32 generations ago, and their descendants grew at a rate of 16% to 53% per generation, the researchers calculated.


Nature Communications:

Sequencing an Ashkenazi reference panel supports population-targeted personal genomics and illuminates Jewish and European origins


The Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ) population is a genetic isolate close to European and Middle Eastern groups, with genetic diversity patterns conducive to disease mapping. Here we report high-depth sequencing of 128 complete genomes of AJ controls. Compared with European samples, our AJ panel has 47% more novel variants per genome and is eightfold more effective at filtering benign variants out of AJ clinical genomes. Our panel improves imputation accuracy for AJ SNP arrays by 28%, and covers at least one haplotype in ≈67% of any AJ genome with long, identical-by-descent segments. Reconstruction of recent AJ history from such segments confirms a recent bottleneck of merely ≈350 individuals. Modelling of ancient histories for AJ and European populations using their joint allele frequency spectrum determines AJ to be an even admixture of European and likely Middle Eastern origins. We date the split between the two ancestral populations to ≈12–25 Kyr, suggesting a predominantly Near Eastern source for the repopulation of Europe after the Last Glacial Maximum.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

10 Apr 2013

Architectural Whimsy and a Coincidence

, , , ,

My wife Karen forwarded to me the other day Gizmodo’s story on a dry nook in the middle of a pond in Vöcklabruck, Austria, and it is certainly an eye-catching and amusing architectural gimmick.

The interesting coincidence is the location.

, in Upper Austria is my family’s ancestral home.

They were first recorded under the surname “Buchhaim,” which later became corrupted into Puchhaim and finally Pöchner. (Zienkiewicz came later.)

Seibmacher writes:

Über die Heimat der Pöchner ist nichts verlässliches bekannt. Während einige dieselben aus Schottland stammen lassen, wieder andere Steiermark als ihre Heimat nennen, kommen selbe zu Anfang des. 12. Jahrhunderts bereits in Salzburg vor, von wo sie sich nach Oberöstereich in die Gegend von Vöcklabruck wandten.


Concerning the homeland of the Pöchners there is no reliable information. According to some they originally emigrated from Scotland, but different sources call the Steiermark their homeland. From the beginning of the 12th Century onward they were in Salzburg, from whence they went to Upper Austria to the vicinity of Vöcklabruck.

The theory proposed by the former sources is that Buchhaim-Puchhaim-Pöchner surname comes actually from the Scottish Buchan, and that some Comyns related to the Norman Comyns who inherited via a Celtic maternal line the Scottish Earldom of Buchan moved to Austria.

This would be a plausible story if the emigration occurred in the years between 1306 and 1314 when the Comyns lost the struggle for power and the throne of Scotland to the Bruces, but the Pöchners are already in Austria two centuries earlier.

Below is the Pöchner coat of arms, which the heraldically-knowledgeable will perceive at once represents a simple reversal of the tinctures of the arms of Austria, i.e. of the Babbenburg Dukes of Austria, acquired by Leopold V (“Luitpold der Tugendhafte,” Leopold the Virtuous) in the course of the 1191 Siege of Acre.

Leopold’s arms consisted of “Gules, a fess Argent” because in the course of the fighting his tunic had become completely covered with blood except for a white band which had been covered by his belt.

08 Jul 2012

Did England’s Rightful King Die Recently in New South Wales?

, , ,

Elizabeth II’s right to the throne rests upon the legitimacy of King Edward IV (d. 1483).

If Warwick the Kingmaker and Richard of Gloucester (better known as Richard III) were telling the truth, Edward IV was not the son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York by Cecily Neville, “the rose of Raby,” but was begotten upon that lady at Rouen by an archer named Blaybourne while Richard was several days march away from Rouen campaigning at Pontoise.

The issue of Edward IV’s legitimacy was revived, after more than 500 years, by a British television documentary, titled Britain’s Real Monarch, which aired in 2004 and which produced documentation from Rouen Cathedral to Richard Plantagenet’s absence during the relevant period.

The illegitimacy of Edward IV would have meant that the proper Yorkist successor to Richard was not Edward, but rather his younger brother George, Duke of “Drowned-in-a-Butt-of-Malmsey” Clarence.

Theoreticians of this sort of thing exclude female claimants from the hypothetical Clarentian Succession, as the possibility of female succession was a creation by Henry VIII, who by this theory was never king anyway. By their calculations, Michael Abney-Hastings, 14th Earl of Loudoun, who passed away recently in Australia, was the 19th successor to the British throne in descent from George I, former Duke of Clarence.

The Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser published the royal obituary.

[The] heir to the British throne has died.

The 14th Earl of Loudoun and Jerilderie councillor Michael Abney-Hastings died on Saturday morning at the age of 69.

Mr Abney-Hastings is well known in the Jerilderie Shire but is most famous for the 2004 documentary Britain’s Real Monarch, which suggests he should be the King of England in place of Queen Elizabeth II. Mr Abney-Hastings had been battling a debilitating illness and had been in and out of hospital in the lead-up to his death.

But he continued to serve Jerilderie Shire Council to the end and council general manager Craig Moffitt yesterday paid tribute to the “much-loved guy”.

“It is very sad,” Mr Moffitt said.

“He was quite a character around the town.”

Mr Abney-Hastings was born in Sussex in 1942 and attended a private school in Yorkshire before moving to Jerilderie with his family.

His parents were Captain Walter Strickland Lord and the 13th Countess of Loudoun Barbara Abney-Hastings, making him the 14th Earl of Loudoun.

He made world headlines in 2004 when Britain’s Real Monarch explained King Edward IV was conceived illegitimately, and therefore as the direct descendant of the 1st Duke of Clarence he should be the rightful King.

But Mr Abney-Hastings was voted onto Jerilderie council that same year and decided to focus his energy on that.

“He didn’t take his royal position too seriously, at least here in Jerilderie,” Mr Moffitt said.

“He would go over to England for royal ceremonies which he took seriously, but he always found it quite funny.”

Michael Edward Abney-Hastings, 14th Earl of Loudoun (22 July 1942 – 30 June 2012)

03 Jun 2012

Elizabeth Warren’s Background

, , ,

We also learned yesterday that Ms. Warren was herself actively profiteering in the real estate market.

29 May 2012

Melungeon DNA Results Reported

, , , , , ,

Some claim that Abraham Lincoln descended from a Melungeon family via his mother, Nancy Hanks.

Abraham Lincoln, Elvis Presley, Ava Gardner, Loretta Lynn and George C. Scott, Tom Hanks and Heather Locklear, and Steve Martin are all alleged by some sources to have Melungeon ancestry.

The Melungeons are an ethnic group, commonly described as a “tri-racial isolate,” resident in the Cumberland Gap neighborhood of Eastern Tennesee, Southwest Virginia, and Eastern Kentucky. The Melungeons’ comparatively dark complexions and other exotic characteristics have been attributed to mixed Amerindian and Spanish or Portuguese descent. Other alleged origins included shipwrecked Turkish slaves or descent from Gypsies. One legendary account claims that they descend from a native people resident before the arrival of European colonists.

Recent research seems to offer a much simpler explanation: descent from African freedmen.


[A] new DNA study in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy [Not apparently yet available on-line] attempts to separate truth from oral tradition and wishful thinking. The study found the truth to be somewhat less exotic: Genetic evidence shows that the families historically called Melungeons are the offspring of sub-Saharan African men and white women of northern or central European origin.

Melungeon DNA Projects

12 Jan 2012

Was Napoleon Bonaparte Jewish, or Even Descended from the Moors?

, , ,

Antoine-Jean Gros, Bonaparte sur le pont d’Arcole, c. 1801, Château de Versailles

It has become possible recently to identify Napoleon’s dna from samples taken from male descendants of his brothers. Napoleon’s dna is unusual and distinctive, and –interestingly– turns out to be an example of Haplogroup E1b1b1c1, a group of Levantine origin, which suggest that Napoleon Bonaparte’s ultimate male descent was from ancient Phoenecian traders, or Sephardic Jews, or possibly even from the Moors, which did not keep him having blond hair as young man (which later darkened) and grey-blue eyes.

The flag of Corsica features a Moor’s Head, referring to the island’s medieval invasion by the Saracens.

If your Y-dna is from Haplogroup E1b1b1c1, you will want to drop by the Napoleon DNA Project to compare your own results.


In “True Romance” (1993), written by Quentin Tarrantino, Dennis Hopper gallantly foils the Mafiosi determined to extract information about his son’s whereabouts by torture by insulting his Sicilian captors over their Moorish descent.

17 May 2011

Yale’s First African American Graduate

, , , , , ,

Randall Lee Gibson (above) was valedictorian of the Yale Class of 1853. He had been born a member of the planter aristocracy of Kentucky and Louisiana. He was a keen secessionist and fought for the Confederacy, serving first as an artillery captain then as colonel of the 13th Louisiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Nonetheless, Randall Gibson, Class of 1853, deserves to be counted as Yale’s first African-American graduate rather than Cortlandt Van Rensselaer Creed, MD 1857, or Edward Alexander Bouchet, Class of 1874.

Randall Gibson was the descendant on one Gideon Gibson, who arrived in the Colony of South Carolina in 1730 and who was “a skilled tradesman, had a white wife and … owned land and slaves in Virginia and North Carolina.” Gideon Gibson obtained land grants from the governor of South Carolina and he and his descendants married into the white planter class on the Western frontier. By the 1790s, the Gibson family had forgotten its African origin and ascribed a family tendency toward a dark complexion to Gypsy or Portuguese descent.

New York Times article.

Randall Gibson fought at Shiloh. His regiment saw action with the Army of Tennessee at Chicamagua. Gibson ultimately made it all the way to the rank of Brigadier General in the Confederate Army. He fought in the Atlanta Campaign and ended the war defending the city of Mobile.

After the war and Reconstruction, Gibson was elected to Congress as a democrat from 1875 to 1883 and served as senator from 1883 to until his death in 1892. He was a trustee of Tulane and a hall at Tulane University is named for him.

Reading all this moved the Atlantic’s race blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates to observe:

Race is such bullshit.

30 Dec 2010

Family Pride

, , ,

Rogier van der Weyden. Philippe de Croy’s Coat of Arms, the reverse side of the Portrait of Philippe de Croy. c.1460. Oil on panel. Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp, Belgium.

The Cröys are one of the oldest families in Europe, and are ebenbürtig (“born on an equality”) with all the German Royalties. They therefore show no signs of respect to Archdukes and Archduchesses when they meet them. Although I cannot vouch personally for them, never having myself seen them, I am told that there are two pictures in the Cröy Palace at Brussels which reach the apogee of family pride. The first depicts Noah embarking on his ark. Although presumably anxious about the comfort of the extensive live-stock he has on board, Noah finds time to give a few parting instructions to his sons. On what is technically called a “bladder” issuing from his mouth are the words, “And whatever you do, don’t forget to bring with you the family papers of the Cröys.” (“Et surtout ayez soin de ne pas oublier les papiers de la Maison de Cröy!”) The other picture represents the Madonna and Child, with the then Duke of Cröy kneeling in adoration before them. Out of the Virgin Mary’s mouth comes a “bladder” with the words “But please put on your hat, dear cousin.” (“Mais couvrez vous donc, cher cousin.”)

— Lord Frederic Hamilton, The Vanished Pomps of Yesterday: Being Some Random Reminiscences of a British Diplomat (1921), p. 53.

The reference to cousinship with the Holy Family presumably alludes to a marriage of one of the Cröys with a female member of the Bagrationi dynasty of Georgia during the period of the Crusades. A number of such marriages to prominent Frankish crusaders are known to have occurred, and the royal family of Georgia traditionally did claim descent from the Biblical House of David.

24 Aug 2010

Belgian Magazine Study Proves Hitler Was Jewish

, , , ,

Herr Schickelgruber

The old Allied canard that Hitler was really Jewish may actually be true. The Telegraph report is vague and is clearly written by someone who does not really understand genealogical DNA testing or Y-chromosome Haplogroups.

Human gender is genetically determined by two chromosomes, X and Y. A pair of X chromosomes results in a female. X and Y produces a male.

Patrilineal descent can be determined by the specific markers inherited in male Y chromosomal dna. Haplogroups of typical Ydna markers have been identified, of which a little more than a dozen are characteristically found in European populations.

Saliva samples taken from 39 relatives of the Nazi leader show he may have had biological links to the “subhuman” races that he tried to exterminate during the Holocaust.

Jean-Paul Mulders, a Belgian journalist, and Marc Vermeeren, a historian, tracked down the Fuhrer’s relatives, including an Austrian farmer who was his cousin, earlier this year.

A chromosome called Haplogroup E1b1b1 which showed up in their samples is rare in Western Europe and is most commonly found in the Berbers of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, as well as among Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews.

“One can from this postulate that Hitler was related to people whom he despised,” Mr Mulders wrote in the Belgian magazine, Knack.

Haplogroup E1b1b1, which accounts for approximately 18 to 20 per cent of Ashkenazi and 8.6 per cent to 30 per cent of Sephardic Y-chromosomes, appears to be one of the major founding lineages of the Jewish population. …

“The affair is fascinating if one compares it with the conception of the world of the Nazis, in which race and blood was central.

“Hitler’s concern over his descent was not unjustified. He was apparently not “pure” or ‘Ayran’.”

It is not the first time that historians have suggested Hitler had Jewish ancestry.

His father, Alois, is thought to have been the illegitimate offspring of a maid called Maria Schickelgruber and a 19-year-old Jewish man called Frankenberger.

If the Belgian magazine really tested the Ydna of persons sharing patrilineal descent with Adolph Hitler and found the haplogroup he shared to have been E1b1b1, that means his paternal descent was typically Levantine and he probably really was of Jewish descent in the male line.

There were racial laws during the time he was alive in Germany that could have produced big problems for him.


05 Nov 2008

Obama’s Genealogy

, ,

A French genealogy site lists Obama’s descent from the Piast kings of Poland via the Plantagenet Kings of England.


Hat tip to Kaj Malachowski.


In addition to sharing ancestry with Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, Barack Obama shares ancestry with Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts), British Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and Harold Macmillan, Lord George Curzon, US Presidents James Madison, Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter, General Robert E. Lee, Governors Howard Dean and Sarah Palin, Senators Birch Bayh and John Glenn, writers Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Ken Kesey, artist Georgia O’Keefe, cartoonist Charles Addams, movie stars Katherine Hepburn, Lon Chaney, Robert Duvall, Christopher Reeve, and Brad Pitt, singers Loudoun Wainwright and Justin Timberlake.

17 Jul 2008

German Villagers Proven to be Descendants of Nearby Bronze Age Burials

, , , ,

Lichtensteinhöhle skeletons

British newspapers report that living residents of Nienstedt, a village in the foothills of the Harz Mountains in Lower Saxony, have been found by DNA analysis to be relatives of 3000-year-old Bronze Age inhabitants of the same area interred in the nearby Lichtensteinhöhle cave.


London Times:

The good news for two villagers in the Söse valley of Germany yesterday was that they have discovered their (127th times)-great grandparents.

The bad news is that their long-lost ancestors may have grilled and eaten other members of their clan.

Every family has its skeletons in the cave, though, so Manfred Hucht-hausen, 58, a teacher, and 48-year-old surveyor Uwe Lange remained in celebratory mood. Thanks to DNA testing of remarkably well-preserved Bronze Age bones, they can claim to have the longest proven family tree in the world. “I can trace my family back by name to 1550,” Mr Lange said. “Now I can go back 120 generations.”

Mr Lange comes from the village of Nienstedt, in Lower Saxony, in the foothills of the Harz mountain range. “We used to play in these caves as kids. If I’d known that there were 3,000-year-old relatives buried there I wouldn’t have set foot in the place.”

The cave, the Lichtensteinhöhle, is made up of five interlocked natural chambers. It stayed hidden from view until 1980 and was not researched properly until 1993. The archaeologist Stefan Flindt found 40 skeletons along with what appeared to be cult objects. …

Analysis showed that all the bones were from the same family and the scientists speculated that it was a living area and a ceremonial burial place.

About 300 locals agreed to giving saliva swabs. Two of the cave family had a very rare genetic pattern – and a match was found.



The bones of 40 people were shielded from the elements by calcium deposits that formed a protective skin around the skeletons.

All the remains turned out to be from the same family group who had a distinctive – and rare – DNA pattern.

When people in the local area were tested with saliva swabs, two nearby residents turned out to have the same distinctive genetic characteristic.

Manfred Huchthausen, a 58-year-old teacher, and Uwe Lange, a 48-year-old surveyer, now believe they are even more local than either of them thought.


Inma Pazos at iGENEA Forum provides more specific information.

(translated & abridged)

DNA analysis really found that 15 of 22 skeletons were relatives, constituting several generations of a family clan. In 2007, about 300 DNA samples of today’s indigenous population in Osterode-am-Harz were collected and tested for possible affinity. Susann Hummel, a leading anthropologist, has identified eleven living persons as descendants of the cave burials.

Ten lines of mtDNA haplogroup H, four of haplogroup U, two of the haplogroup J and three of the haplogroup T were identified. A further breakdown in the sub-groups succeeded in identifying U5b, T2 and J1b1. In another case, membership in sub-group U2 was considered very likely.


mtDNA haplogroups

Your are browsing
the Archives of Never Yet Melted in the 'Genealogy' Category.

Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark