Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2004-06 > 1086935142

From: OrinWells <>
Subject: English and Norman DNA
Date: Thu, 10 Jun 2004 23:25:42 -0700

I have just read (actually listened to it on tape) "1066:The Year of the
Conquest" by David Howarth. It was fascinating in that I learned a lot of
things they never gave us in school. All I can recall is "1066, the battle
of Hastings" and William "the conqueror". The rest is a haze. Never did I
learn that just prior to William landing near Hastings that another
invasion had taken place 250 miles North launched from Norway by the
Vikings and a brother of King Harold. They were defeated by the English
only days before William landed and started laying waste to the area near

One of the items that is probably more relevant to our work is that within
the 20 years following the invasion and conquest by the Normans it is
estimated that about 300,000 English citizens were either killed or starved
to death as a result of the devastation brought on by the invaders. This
represented about 20% of the population of England. In addition, an
estimated 200,000 Normans and French settled into England. This is in
addition to some unknown number of Normans and probably French who were
already living in England prior to the invasion. This means of the
estimated 1.4 million residents in 1086 at least 15% (probably quite a bit
more) were not English.

The significance of this that it considerably increased the gene/DNA
contributions from the Normans (Northmen or Norse) whose ancestors were
primarily Vikings who had earlier settled Normandy. It also considerably
increased the gene/DNA contributions from the French. I think it
reasonable to presume that a larger share of these new comers were men so
it likely means a disproportionate ratio of y-chromosome DNA contributions
to the English populations came from this contribution.

It should not surprise us to see a large influence on the DNA testing as a
result. In addition, the habit of the Normans to lay waste to whole areas
of the English countryside making them uninhabitable for a long period of
time resulted in the migration of fairly large numbers of people, those not
killed by Normans or who did not starve first, around the
country. Similarly the dedication of large tracts of land to
re-forestation for the hunting pleasures of the new Norman lords had a
similar effect. In other words, it really isn't so simple as taking the
current residents of an area, checking their DNA and concluding that anyone
matching the pattern can be assured his ancestors were from the area.

Orin R. Wells
Wells Family Research Association
P. O. Box 5427
Kent, Washington 98064-5427
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