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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, 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. The DNA study supports this view. 

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. 

We are a sub-branch of Y16889. 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 very distant in the past, almost 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 late 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 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 lived in the middle to late 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 (Parrish, Byars), 1600 (upper Tone Valley) 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.

But an objection might be raised at this point. 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. 

I think the dirth 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.

The point is we are the only branch of Z36 found exclusively 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 1315 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 has 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 32 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 of us all. Because he did not have a new SNP mutation he is invisible to DNA testing!

What gives me confidence about a theory of a second founder, in fact the real founder of all Shattockes and Parrishs / Byars, is the observation that the genealogical data drawn from records like wills, tax records and protestation forms also indicate a very small population of Shattockes in the early 15th century.  

The best theory to fit the data is that we are descended from a common ancestor who lived sometime in the 15th century. He had no SNP mutation so we will not find an SNP for him in our results, but we can extrapolate his existence from the data. I am calling this the "second founder thesis," although he is the real founder, it's just that we cannot see him because he never had an SNP mutation.

That is one theory. There is another possible theory. I had assumed for a long time that Y16884 was a German immigrant who arrived in England in the 14th century. But what if that German immigrant arrived in England in the early 15th century rather than a hundred years earlier? That would explain why we have not found cousins descended from 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 a single individual in 1450 instead of the middle of the 14th century.

We Shattockes are a wandering horde, from Africa to Pontic Steppes. From the Pontic Steppes to the Alps of Central Europe. From there to England and from England to her colonies throughout the world. We are sole survivors. Our surname is one of the rarest on Earth and our founder in England, Y16884, appears to be the lone survivor of a branch of the La Tène Celts whose founder lived before most of the Egyptian pyramids were built. We were knights and farmers. We were warriors, fighting in almost every English and North American war since the medieval ages. We originated as tenant farmers under feudal serfdom, freed ourselves and through our skill and ingenuity rose to great wealth and distinction, and continue to be so. We are a people.