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Testing the German Immigrant Theory

by Philip Shaddock

Shattockes and our cousins the Parrishs and Byars are direct descendants of the La Tène Celts, who are named after the location where they were discovered in Switzerland. A single male individual had a mutation of his Y chromosome designated as Z36. We Shattockes are direct descendants of this man. But we belong to a branch of Z36 that is found only in England. So the question arises, when did the founder of our branch come to England. Are we ancient immigrants of England (400 BC or sometime after) or recent immigrants (late medieval)? There is no record of a Shattocke immigrant to England that has been discovered, and when you go back far enough, it is most likely there never was a record. And it is highly unlikely we will find ancient remains for DNA testing. We have to rely on DNA testing of contemporary Z36 descendants.

In fact 63 of our Z36 relatives have done advanced DNA testing, called Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), and most of them have used the FTDNA form of that test called "Big Y" testing. I have created a spreadsheet of the results of those 63 individuals. The spreadsheet that collates all this information can be downloaded from here.

The spreadsheet lists the branches of the Z36 family in the rows on the left. In the columns are the names of the countries where the living descendants who were tested say their most distant ancestor came from. There is an "unknown" column where I have listed the surnames of descendants with unknown ancestors.

Branch names on the left with asterisks (such as Z36*) are people do not share any mutations with with other branches of the family. For example Z36* has sixteen individuals who do not belong in any of the other Z36 branches of the family. They are lumped together but they actually represent 16 independent branches of the Z36 family.

Populations geneticists work with sample sets a lot smaller than 89 people, which is the number of living descendants that have done NGS testing and shown to have the Z36 mutation. The sample set skews to North Americans and English people, because the majority of people who have done NGS testing are from those countries. We will see later this has important implications. 

In total there are 24 branches of the original Z36 Celtic family that have survived wars, disease, infertility, predation and other calamities. There are 48 sub-branches. They all emanate from a single individual who lived about 2400 BC when the pharaohs were just beginning to build their pyramids in Eygypt. At least that is how many branches of the family that have been discovered through Big Y testing so far. 

Alex Williamson's YTree provides another way of looking at the branches of the Z36 family, although it is not as complete as the spreadsheet I have done, which includes additional results from the U152 project at FTDNA and additional results from the YFull YTree.

Here is an astounding fact. If you look at the spreadsheet column for England, there is only one other branch of the Z36 family that have a descendant who has an ancestor in England, with the last name of Stevens, in Oxfordshire. A single individual compared to 26 Shattocke descendants. How closely is he related to us? Our common ancestor with him goes almost all the way back to the Z36 founder who lived 4400 years ago. Our 154th cousin. 

There is a consensus among historians that the La Tène culture spread from its base in the Alps to the rest of Europe and England. The culture spread to England but virtually no Z36 descendants actually migrated there. Here is another way of making this point. A teenager in Russian wearing an American rock band tee shirt is not an American teenager. He or she is a Russian teenager who happens to like American music. 

We belong to a sub-branch of the Z36 Celts, called Y16889. It formed about the same time as Z36. Over 4400 years ago our ancestor was part of a sudden and massive population explosion because all the branches of Z36 appear to have sprung into existence within a short period of time. 

So far, only one other sub-branch of Y16889 has been discovered, A7993. YFull estimates that we share a common ancestor with A7993 only three to five generations after Z36, about 4300 years ago. Again our common ancestor with A7993, Y16889, is in the very distant past, almost all the way back to the Z36 founder. Seven of our A7993 relatives have distant ancestors in Switzerland, Germany and Italy, one in Portugal, one in Lithuania and one in Russia. Two are descendants of Scots, but here is what is interesting. They are named Strang, and Strong, names derived from the same root as "stranger." They were immigrants to Scotland in the Medieval age when surnames were first adopted. 

Consistent with what we would expect, 38 of the living descendants trace their ancestors back to Germany (14), Switzerland (14) and Italy (10), the three areas where we know the Z36 Celts originated. The rest of the living descendants are thinly scattered over 14 other countries, including England, Scotland and Ireland, with each country only having 1 or 2 living descendants. You would expect France to have more living descendants. But If you order a paternity test via the Internet or by telephone in France, you risk a year in prison and a fine of €15,000 (Article 226-28 of the Penal Code). I'll let you guess why the law was reaffirmed in 2013. 

Among our 63 fellow Z36 descendants who have NGS tested, only one of them has an ancestor in England, and he is very remotely related to us.

The Shattocke Y16884 ancestor is estimated to have lived at the end of the 14th century. We do not know where he lived, Europe or England. All we know is that DNA testing has discovered there are six Shattocke branches (one of them with the surnames Parrish and Byars) that emanate from Y16884, all who have genealogies that trace back to the west Somerset or North Molton in Devon. Oddly the Shattocke branches that have been dated, four of them, have estimated dates of 1565 (North Molton), 1600 (Virginia Byars - Parrish), 1600 (Stogumber area) and 1565 (Milverton). They are within a generation of each other. But there is a gap of 200 to 250 years between Y16884 and these branches. There are a number of factors that might account  for this anomaly. In some cases there were no SNPs that occurred or could be detected. There were famines, wars, infertility and disease. All these factors probably mean that the Y16884 ancestor only had one child survive to bear children. And that child only had one child that survived to bear children and so on until about 1450 when conditions improved. Then there was a population explosion. This graphic tells the story:

Around 1450 when the plague struck, the population fell off of a cliff, and for 100 years the population slowly declined. Then it took off. 

We know what happened after the plague, but what is interesting is what happened before the plague. 

There was a huge population explosion.  You would expect Y16884 to have had plenty of brothers, uncles, grandfathers and great grandfathers and even more distant relatives if his ancestors had been in England for a long time. But no Y16884 relatives have been discovered. There are no relatives to be found in Somerset or North Molton. There are no relatives that have been discovered in England. Or Scotland. Or Ireland. The nearest common ancestor to Y16884 is A7993 who lived over 1600 years previously in the Alps. In fact Stevens is the only other Z36 descendant in England and he is way far north in Oxfordshire. Almost all the other 62 living descendants trace their lineages back to continental Europe with the greatest concentration in Germany, Switzerland and the Alps. 
Is it possible that Y16884's relatives were wiped out by the plague, war or famine? Certainly. But that is the unlikely scenario. You would expect at least one ancestor for Y16884 in medieval England. The La Tène culture arrived in England about 400 BC. Why is there no ancestor of Y16884 in England after 400 BC? There is none, all the way back to about 2300 BC.  It seems much more likely that Y16884 was either born in Europe or was descended from a recent immigrant to England in the 14th century.

There is another possible scenario that might explain why there is a gap in the genetic record in the 3000 year gap between Y16884 and Z36. The Z36 SNP lies in a region that is unstable. I discovered this when I called the respected YSEQ sequencing lab in Germany about the Z36 SNP in their catalog. The speculation is that the region of the Y chromosome where the Z36 SNP is found might be subject to crossover from the X chromosome. In effect the region around the Z36 SNP may have been overwritten by SNPs found on the X chromosome. When I asked the lab if this might explain the strange gap in our genetic record, they affirmed that this was definitely a possibility. However they cautioned additional evidence was needed to confirm that scenario. 

There are other possible explanations. We know no Y16884 ancestors have been found in England. But is the bias I discussed earlier about the preponderance of North American and European testers sufficient to explain why no ancestors are found in Europe as well? Certainly the Black Plague played a role in eliminating branches of our family from Y16884 all the way back to Z36. But just as you would expect branches Y16884's ancestors to have survived the plague, surely you would expect earlier branches to have survived in Europe. 

The absence of Y16884 ancestors might be due to another human catastrophe: the Thirty Years War. "The Thirty Years' War was a series of wars in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648. It was one of the longest and most destructive conflicts, as well as the deadliest European religious war in history, resulting in eight million casualties. The war ranks with the worst famines and plagues as the greatest medical catastrophe in modern European history. Lacking good census information, historians have extrapolated the experience of well-studied regions. John Theibault agrees with the conclusions in Günther Franz's Der Dreissigjährige Krieg und das Deutsche Volk (1940), that population losses were great but varied regionally (ranging as high as 50%) and says his estimates are the best available. The war killed soldiers and civilians directly, caused famines, destroyed livelihoods, disrupted commerce, postponed marriages and childbirth, and forced large numbers of people to relocate. The reduction of population in the German states was typically 25% to 40%." (Wikipedia). And of course, there were the two great calamities in the 20th century, the first and second wars and their devastating effects on the populations in central Europe. The Thirty Years' War in Central Europe sent the homeland for Z36 Celts over a population cliff and in the 20th century the world wars further eroded the population. Along with the bias towards North American and English testers, the wars might help account for the fact that our particular lineage (Y16884) has no branches in Europe, although I assume over time that some surviving branches will be found.

Whatever the reason for the gap in the genetic record, the fact is that we are the only branch of Z36 found exclusively in England. No other living descendants of Z36 are found in England. 

The big bang in the population of Shattockes (and Parrishs and Byars) in early modern England and North America is a perfect mirror of what happened 4400 years previously. Twenty-four branches of that Celtic big bang are so far detectable in living descendants today.  Six branches of the Shattocke big bang survive to the present, although more might be discovered. But the big question remaining is what happened to Y16884's ancestors? Why is he the only survivor of the population boom in England between 1100 and 1448? It is possible there was a 16884 ancestor in the 12th century and all but one of his lineages were wiped out? But if that is the case, why is there no ancestor for Y16884 in England at all in the 4400 years since Z36? At least one branch should have shown in England because England and North America is where the largest sample of Z36 descendants are taken from.  I think it is because Y16884's relatives did not live in England. They were living near the ancient homeland in Europe. In the end it is a question of probability. It seems that the probability we were immigrants to England before the year 1100 AD is exceedingly low.

There is one more problem to solve. I have explained the gap between the estimated date of Y16884 and the branches he spawned as low fertility between the onset of the plague in 1348 and the recovery beginning about 1450. But if we are descended from a single individual in 1450 rather then 1350, why does NGS DNA testing point to the individual alive in the 14th century?  

The answer lies in the nature of a type of a mutation studied by NGS testing.

The studies of our ancient family branching is based on examining a type of mutation found on the male Y chromosome called an SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism). These mutations occur, on average, once every 144 years (using the Family Tree DNA "Big Y" NGS technology). 

In the diagram at the left, the long row of yellow dots represents a list of SNP mutations found in all Shattocke descendants, including our Parrish and Byars cousins. The mutant SNPs we share came into existence over a 2300 year period. About 1400 AD, a descendant of Z36 had an SNP mutation called "Y16884." In their analysis, YFull identifies Y16884 as the common ancestor of us all. But was he the real founder of our family?

The 37 SNPs that show up in all Shattocke and Parrish / Byars Big Y DNA results are not the only ones we have. They are just the mutant ones we share.

As the family branched, new mutant SNP appeared. In the diagram C and D sub-branches of the family share the SNPs that are colored green. Groups A and B do not share these SNPs because they occurred in descendants from a different branch of the family. 

The A (blue), B (red), C (pink) and D (orange) sub-groups have what are called "private SNPs" meaning they have SNPs that are not shared by the other branches of the family. The basic logic behind the diagram is that mutant SNPs are inherited by sons and passed on to ensuing generations. That long yellow sequence of dots means that our branch of the human family accumulated 37 private SNPs over the 2300 years since we split off from the Z36 male common ancestor. No other humans except Shattockes and our Parrish and Byars cousins have this unique combination of mutations. 

Note: The diagram is an illustration for this thought exercise, not a reflection of actual Shattocke data, except for the symbolic representation (the yellow dots) showing shared SNPs found in every Shattocke's result.

In the case of our particular lineage, if there was only one child per generation that survived over the period of time from the onset of the plague (1348) to when the population began to rebound (ca. 1450), then any SNPs that might have arisen in other descendants of Y16884 simply did not have a chance to occur or they were lost when that branch of the family was wiped out. 

In the case of the branch that did survive, because SNP mutations only occur every 144 years on average, there is not going to be an SNP mutation in each generation.  The empty circles with dotted lines represent a generation in which no SNP mutation occurred. (The other possibility is that the DNA test failed to detect an SNP or we have not tested an individual with this SNP as yet.)

What you see in the diagram is a scenario where a second founder of the Shattocke family was born without an SNP mutation. So he is invisible to the advanced YDNA test.  He is not actually a second founder. He is in fact the founder, the real common ancestor. Because he did not have a new SNP mutation he is invisible to DNA testing!

There is a Roger Shattocke who shows up in the records in 1455 as a cloth merchant in Stogumber and a Thomas Shattocke who shows up in the records as a tenant farmer in 1450 of the Taunton manor. Given that both of these men had to be at least the age of majority (21), which would put their births around 1430 or 1435, we can be reasonably sure that they were the sons or grandsons of the common founder. But DNA analysis might only show they have a common ancestor in 16884 and not their exact relationship. 

How do we know that Y16884 was alive in 1400 rather than 144 years earlier? The method for calculating his age is based on averaging the ages of his descendants. The age of a descendant is the total number of SNP mutations that have occurred in that descendant's lineage. There have been over thirty Shattockes (including Parrishs and Byars) who are descendants of Y16884. As more people do advanced testing the age estimate of Y16884 keeps getting more accurate.  

Given that Y16884 is calculated to have lived in 1400 and both Roger and Thomas Shattocke must have at least reached their age of majority, it is likely they were the sons (2nd founder) or grandsons (1st founder) of Y16884. They would have been born at least by 1430 or 1435. So all things considered, Roger and Thomas Shattocke had to be the sons or grandsons of Y16884, or at the very least the great grandsons.

It is possible that Y16884 was not actually born in England, but was an immigrant to England. That would explain why we have not found cousins or ancestors of Y16884 anywhere in England or the former English colonies. If cousins of Y16884 do exist, they will be found in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium or northern France and NOT England or its former colonies. And that would explain why the branches seem to blossom from Y16884.

There is one small sliver of evidence to support this theory. In a 2005 talk given by Mary Siraut, editor of the Victoria County History of Somerset about the cloth trade in Somerset she says: “The earliest evidence [of the cloth trade in Stogumber] in fact dates from the fifteenth century when there was a fulling mill at Vexford, and there were several chapmen, (cloth dealers) working in the parish already. In 1454 one Roger Shattock of Stogumber lost six dozen of white and russet cloths worth five marks when a Nettlecombe man broke into his home and made off with them.”

Roger Shattocke was a dealer in cloth, in a village (Stogumber) at a crossroads between regional centers (Bridgwater and Taunton) and coastal ports (Watchet and Minehead). Or he might have traveled to London, which was engaged with trade with centers in the Rhine Valley. It is also possible that Roger or his immediate ancestors were not from Stogumber, but from a cloth center in Europe. The name Roger might support this theory. According to Wikipedia Roger: "is derived from the Old French personal names Roger and Rogier. These names are of Germanic origin, derived from the elements hrōd ("fame", "renown") and gār, gēr ("spear", "lance"). The name was introduced into England by the Normans. In Normandy, the Frankish name had been reinforced by the Old Norse cognate Hróðgeirr. The name introduced into England replaced the Old English cognate Hroðgar. Roger became a very common given name during the Middle Ages." The other possibility is that the Shattockes came in England with the Norman invasion. There was a Gilbert Shaddek who was an official of a royal forest in Berkshire in the 13th century. Gilbert is a French name.