Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2010-03 > 1269091113

Subject: Re: [DNA] English gnealogy-- Waste in Yorkshire
Date: Sat, 20 Mar 2010 09:18:33 EDT

"English and French: ethnic name for a Breton, from Old French bret. The
Bretons were Celtic-speakers driven from southwestern England to
northwestern France in the 6th century ad by Anglo-Saxon invaders; some of
them reinvaded England in the 11th century as part of the army of William
the Conqueror. In France and among Normans, Bretons had a reputation for
stupidity, and in some cases this name and its variants and cognate may
originated as derogatory nicknames. The English surname is most common in
East Anglia, where many Bretons settled after the Conquest. In Scotland it
may also have denoted a member of one of the Celtic-speaking peoples of
Strathclyde, who were known as Bryttas or Brettas well into the 13th

I have a brief discussion of the meaning and history of the name Britton at
my project's website, including its possible use as a derogatory nickname.
I do wonder about the latter, however, since many Bretons were powerful
men who were richly rewarded for supporting William. Count Alan the Red is
reckoned to have been the richest man in British history. I suspect most
Brittons were so named either because they were of Breton stock or because
they were followers of Breton lords. Six Britos are listed as tenants in
chief at Domesday and most of them held lands in the southwest where the name
Britton is later concentrated. Southwestern England also has the highest
concentration of R1b.

My family and three others are Haplogroup I1 and two are R1a and therefore
were not of Breton origin unless they were Normans living in Brittany.

Some Brittons in the North may have taken their name from Monk Bretton in
Yorkshire: Joseph Smith Fletcher in A Picturesque History of Yorkshire,(
p. 268) refers to its sister village West Bretton as "an old Celtic
settlement." Although the name may have been a contraction of Brettatum, meaning a
settlement of Brettons (Hanks & Hodge, Oxford Dictionary of Surnames, p.
74), it seems more likely to be derived from brec (broken or
newly-cultivated) and tun (enclosure or settlement, p. 74). In fact, "occasional
spellings with ct suggest that [Breton] is not OE Bretta-tum 'the Britons' tun, but
OE Brec-tun." (Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names, p. 63

Some Britton families in East Anglia may have derived their name from Layer
Breton in Essex (named for a early and prominent Breton family) or the
River Brett/Bretton in Suffolk.

I would certainly not suggest to entertain or establish ANY genetic
presumption for your paternal line based on a family name adopted untold
generations ago..

but from a linguistics standpoint I assume comfortably that the surname
itself is most likely to be considered a Norman / (post) Norman surname,
that likely would not have been in place prior to the norman conquest at
least in the North.

I also doubt that any substanial genetic difference exists between large
portions of arriving normans and those they usurped at least at the Y Hg
level.. but that is entirely a presumption

I doubt it, too. Because our subgroup has a coalescence age of 1200,
however, I have always thought it more likely we were Dane or Norman (ie not
part of the first wave of Anglo-Saxon invasions) , and the evidence of the
surname would tip the balance in favour of Norman--assuming of course, that
we have used the name Britton since the mediaeval period, that there have
been no NPE's in the line, and that we didn't take the name because of
association with a place or family named Britton or Breton.


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