7 Jul 2013

Your relatives will be there: the DNA tells us so

Of those who have expressed an interest at being at the Swinfield Gathering in September, there will be representatives of most of the eight main families or lineages, which have been identified during my 40 years of research into Swinfield history. These, I have named as Families 1-5, 12, 33 & 44 (the Swinfield-Wells family). At present, we have no-one coming from Families 1, 3 and 44.
What are the chances that those who are there will be related to each other? At present, the genealogical sources have not enabled us to join these eight trees together. They are currently:
                               earliest location                   date
Family 1                Nuneaton, Warwicks           1760
Family 2                Burbage, Leics                    1800
Family 3 & 4         Wolvey, Warwicks              1755
Family 5                Smisby, Derbys                   1732
Family 12              Markfield, Leics                  1717
Family 33              Leicester, Leics                   1940s
Family 44              Markfield                            1815

What does the genetics (DNA) tell us about them? By looking at the Y-chromosomes (passed down from father to son together with their surname) from four men from these lines, who have commissioned tests, we have learned something very interesting! What is that, I hear you ask?

Family 12 taken as the “standard” Swinfield Y-chromosome
Family 3&4 one English representative differs at 1 marker (out of 37) from Family 12
Family 3&4 an Australian descendant differs at 4 markers (from 37) from Family 12
Family 5 member matches exactly at 32 of 32 markers with Family 12
You can read more at the Swinfield DNA & Genealogy website hosted by Family Tree DNA. There you can see those family trees too.
Appleby Magna church

Thirza Swinfield of Family 5 at Top Street, Appleby  
This leads us to speculate that these three main Swinfield lines of descent ultimately descend from a common ancestor! In other words, they are distant cousins and their lineages will each lead back to the original man who assumed the unusual surname of Swinfield some 700 years ago (about 30 generations). Was he proud to keep pigs (swine) in a field or did he live at a place called Swinfield? Whichever it was, he chose to immortalise himself in the hereditary name that was passed down to his descendants.

There is a good chance that all legitimate lines of Swinfield descent (which unfortunately does not include my branch) are related genetically. Those who come to Appleby Magna will really be meeting their cousins.
Now's your chance to see how you are related!

The Swinfield Gathering countdown: ten weeks to go!

The last time that I wrote on the Swinfield Blog was back in early March. I excitedly announced that it had been decided to hold the first ever Swinfield Gathering for anyone who is interested in our unusual surname. Just before we went away for a couple of weeks' holiday, I dispatched 148 invitations to Swinfields. On my return, I was expecting to have to lever the front door open, which would now be blocked by all the responses. There was just ONE! Not much of a response for £75 of postage and all that effort.
Some have now responded by more modern forms of communication. I have had e-mails from family members who have indicated their intention to attend. Pinning down just who will probably be coming to Appleby Magna, Leicestershire, on Sunday, 22nd September 2013, has been far less straightforward. To date, just ten weeks away from the day, I think that somewhere between 30 and 50 people may be gathering. I would love it to be many more and hope to be pleasantly surprised by how many are there on the day.
So if you haven't yet made up your mind, you will be most welcome to come along to meet other Swinfields. We would love to see you all! Who knows if and when it might happen again.
There is no charge and you do not have to commit yourself. All I ask is that you let me know if you think that you will be there and who else you will be bringing with you, both young and old. E-mail geoff@gsgs.co.uk or ring me on 0208 325 3670.