My Irish Palatine and German Ancestors

I have two convict ancestors who were transported to Australia from England and Ireland in the early nineteenth century. See here for the story of Thomas Wilson. My other convict ancestor, William Warren (1765-1850), came from Wexford in southeast Ireland and was my 4th-great-grandfather. His wife Eleanor Jeakle (1773-1849) remained in Ireland when her husband was transported to Australia in 1816.  I was recently updating my family tree and an hint led me to a family tree which showed that Eleanor Jeakle had German grandparents who lived and died in the Rhineland-Palatinate.

Family trees on often contain spurious information because people accept hints based on no more than similarities in names and dates, without checking for evidence of relationship. I researched the German grandparents and indeed found that there was absolutely no evidence of a relationship my Irish ancestors. However, in doing so, I came across a website that talked about the Irish Palatines and their emigration from Germany in 1709.  And there in a list of families who settled at Old Ross near Wexford was the name ‘Phil Jeakle’. I was astonished. The link to the Rhine-Palatinate that seemed too fantastical to be true was in fact probably true.

Philipp Jeakle (Jäkell) – emigrant from the Rhine-Palatinate in 1709

I did some more due diligence and found that Jeakle/Jekyll/Jekell was a common surname in the Old Ross and New Ross parishes where the Palatines settled, and that Jäkel/Jökel/Jekell/Gäckel were reasonably common surnames for  births and deaths for that period in the Rhine-Palatinate. Note that ä is pronounced identically to the “e” in Jekell. I then found a list of names of the Germans from the Palatinate who came to England in 1709. Among the arrivals in London in May 1709 was Philip Bekell together with his wife, son and five daughters.

There is no other surname similar to Jekell in the list, and Bekell does not occur in the Irish Palatine name lists or in the birth and death records of the Palatinate. The webpage with the list explicitly warns that there may be transcription errors from the old records.  Given all this, and the matching forename Philip, I think we can conclude with fair certainty that the German immigrant was Philipp Jekell/Jeacle. The 1709 record notes that he was 53 years old (so born in 1656), a husbandman and vinedresser, accompanied by his wife, a 10 year old son, 12 year old and 8 year old daughters, 6 year old twin daughters, and a fifth presumably younger daughter.

The Palatine emigration from the Rhineland to Ireland

Throughout the Nine Years War (1688–97) and the War of Spanish Succession (1701–14), recurrent invasions by the French Army devastated the region of Germany known as the Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz). The French Army pillaged and destroyed numerous cities (especially within the Palatinate) and created economic hardship for the inhabitants of the region, exacerbated by a rash of harsh winters and poor harvests that created famine in Germany and much of northwest Europe. There were nearly 700,000 military deaths and even more in the civilian population. For more information on Palatine history and the events leading to the Palatine emigration of 1709, see the article Palatine History by Lorine McGinnis Schulze, appended at the end of this post.

A View of the Palatine Camp form’d in White Chappel Fields, (c) Trustees of the British Museum

The mass emigration in 1709 to England, of mostly impoverished people, was triggered by the promises of free land in the American Colonies. Between May and November 1709, some 13,000 Germans travelled down the Rhine River to Rotterdam and boarded ships bound for London, England, in the hopes of being transported to America. Around 3,000 of them were sent to America in 1710; and around 5,000 remained in England, many entering the English army. About 3,000 of them were sent to Ireland in September 1709. They were settled as tenant farmers on the Southwell Estate near Rathkeale, County Limerick, and in a second colony at Gorey (20 families) and Old Ross (15 families) in Wexford County. Surnames of these new settlers in Wexford included names such as Fissel, Hornick, Jekyll, Poole, and Rhinehardt (Wikipedia).

Each of the Palatine families was allocated eight acres of land at a nominal rent of five shillings per acre and leases of “three lives”. This was much less than the 30 shillings per acre that other tenants paid. They were also given a not inconsiderable grant of 40 shillings a year for their first seven years in residence. This caused hostility among the local community, and by February of 1711, only 188 of the 533 Palatine families remained on the lands allotted them and 300 had gone to Dublin to seek other work. In all, about 1,200 Palatines remained in Ireland. A significant number of the Palatines emigrated to North America (and particularly Canada) or returned to Germany. After a visit from John Wesley, many of the Irish Palatines converted to Methodism and quite a few of them chose to leave for North America in 1760.

Those who remained in Ireland retained their language and customs as late as 1830, and by 1840 it was said that they could still be distinguished from the Irish population by their names. However, by the end of the nineteenth century, there was no trace of a German dialect left in the Palatine settlements, and their German names were mostly changed in form.

Irish Palatine Heritage Centre, Rathkeale, Co. Limerick

Philipp Jëkell: Palatine settler at Old Ross in 1709

Philipp Jëkel was 53 when he took his family to Ireland and so was born in 1656. I searched the Rhineland-Palatinate birth records and found a record of a Philipp Ludwig Jäckel  (also transcribed as Jaeckle) born in Frankfurt on 16 September 1656 to parents Philipp Jeremias Jäckel and Catharina Elisabetha Jäckel. Frankfurt was within the Palatinate in the 18th century, though the Rhine River, about 30 km west of Frankfurt, now forms the eastern border of the Palatinate. This is quite probably the right Philip Jekell, but this cannot be confirmed.

Eleanor Jeakle’s father George was born about 1748 in Wexford County, but there is no information on his parents. Based on the birth dates, his father was probably the son of Philipp Jëkel, ten years old in 1749 and who would have been 49 at the time George was born. That would make Philipp Eleanor’s great-grandfather.

John or Jacob Poole: Palatine settler ancestors of William Warren

In researching the convict William Warren’s Irish ancestors, I also found that his grandmother was Emily Elizabeth Poole (1728-1804). I remembered seeing the name Poole in the list of Palatine settlers. John and Jacob Poole are listed in 1710 as heads of households in the Palatine settlement at Gorey, Wexford. By 1720 a third Poole, William Poole, believed to be a son of John or Jacob Pool, is listed as head of a Wexford household as well. Emily Poole was probably the daughter of William Poole rather than his father or uncle (John and Jacob). She was born in Toombe, which is a little over 5 km southwest of Gorey. By 1850 some of the family moved from Gorey Wexford to Old Ross where Emily Poole may have met her husband William Henry Warren (1710-1770).

Irish Palatine farmhouse

A quite unexpected connection to Germany

My paternal grandmother was an Engel whose grandfather George Peter Engel (born in Frankfurt in 1821) migrated to Australia in 1849. I was not expecting to find German ancestors on my maternal grandfathers side. I have 6th or 7th-great-grandparents  from two German Palatine families who emigrated to Ireland in 1709, and one of them may well have also been born in Frankfurt. And have learnt quite a bit about European history in the 18th century that I knew very little about, apart from a very sketchy awareness of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). And that mainly through reading and very much enjoying Michael Moorcock’ 1981 novel, The War Hound and the World’s Pain, set during the Thirty Years War.

Cover artwork for The War Hound and the World’s Pain



by Lorine McGinnis Schulze
Olive Tree Genealogy
Copyright © 1996

[This article has been published, with my permission as Irish Palatine Story on the Internet
in Irish Palatine Association Journal, No. 7 December 1996

The Palatinate or German PFALZ, was, in German history, the land of the Count Palatine, a title held by a leading secular prince of the Holy Roman Empire. Geographically, the Palatinate was divided between two small territorial clusters: the Rhenish, or Lower Palatinate, and the Upper Palatinate. The Rhenish Palatinate included lands on both sides of the Middle Rhine River between its Main and Neckar tributaries. Its capital until the 18th century was Heidelberg. The Upper Palatinate was located in northern Bavaria, on both sides of the Naab River as it flows south toward the Danube and extended eastward to the Bohemian Forest. The boundaries of the Palatinate varied with the political and dynastic fortunes of the Counts Palatine.

The Palatinate has a border beginning in the north, on the Moselle River about 35 miles southwest of Coblenz to Bingen and east to Mainz, down the Rhine River to Oppenheim, Guntersblum and Worms, then continuing eastward above the Nieckar River about 25 miles east of Heidelberg then looping back westerly below Heidelberg to Speyer, south down the Rhine River to Alsace, then north-westerly back up to its beginning on the Moselle River.

The first Count Palatine of the Rhine was Hermann I, who received the office in 945. Although not originally hereditary, the title was held mainly by his descendants until his line expired in 1155, and the Bavarian Wittelsbachs took over in 1180. In 1356, the Golden Bull ( a papal bull: an official document, usually commands from the Pope and sealed with the official Papal seal called a Bulla) made the Count Palatine an Elector of the Holy Roman Empire. During the Reformation, the Palatinate accepted Protestantism and became the foremost Calvinist region in Germany.

After Martin Luther published his 95 Theses on the door of the castle church at Wittenberg on 31 October 1517, many of his followers came under considerable religious persecution for their beliefs. Perhaps for reasons of mutual comfort and support, they gathered in what is known as the Palatine. These folk came from many places, Germany, Holland, Switzerland and beyond, but all shared a common view on religion.

The protestant Elector Palatine Frederick V (1596-1632), called the “Winter King” of Bohemia, played a unique role in the struggle between Roman Catholic and Protestant Europe. His election in 1619 as King of Bohemia precipitated the Thirty Years War that lasted from 1619 until 1648. Frederick was driven from Bohemia and in 1623, deposed as Elector Palatine.

During the Thirty Years War, the Palatine country and other parts of Germany suffered from the horrors of fire and sword as well as from pillage and plunder by the French armies. This war was based upon both politics and religious hatreds, as the Roman Catholic armies sought to crush the religious freedom of a politically-divided Protestantism.

Many unpaid armies and bands of mercenaries, both of friends and foe, devoured the substance of the people and by 1633, even the catholic French supported the Elector Palatine for a time for political reasons.

During the War of the Grand Alliance (1689-97), the troops of the French monarch Louis XIV ravaged the Rhenish Palatinate, causing many Germans to emigrate. Many of the early German settlers of America (e.g. the Pennsylvania Dutch) were refugees from the Palatinate. During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the Palatinate’s lands on the west bank of the Rhine were incorporated into France, while its eastern lands were divided largely between neighbouring Baden and Hesse.

Nearly the entire 17th century in central Europe was a period of turmoil as Louis XIV of France sought to increase his empire. The War of the Palatinate (as it was called in Germany), aka The War of The League of Augsburg, began in 1688 when Louis claimed the Palatinate. Every large city on the Rhine above Cologne was sacked. The War ended in 1697 with the Treaty of Ryswick. The Palatinate was badly battered but still outside French control. In 1702, the War of the Spanish Succession began in Europe and lasted until 1713, causing a great deal of instability for the Palatines. The Palatinate lay on the western edge of the Holy Roman Empire not far from France’s eastern boundary. Louis wanted to push his eastern border to the Rhine, the heart of the Palatinate.

While the land of the Palatinate was good for its inhabitants, many of whom were farmers, vineyard operators etc., its location was unfortunately subject to invasion by the armies of Britain, France, and Germany. Mother Nature also played a role in what happened, for the winter of 1708 was particularly severe and many of the vineyards perished. So, as well as the devastating effects of war, the Palatines were subjected to the winter of 1708-09, the harshest in 100 years.

The scene was set for a mass migration. At the invitation of Queen Anne in the spring of 1709, about 7 000 harassed Palatines sailed down the Rhine to Rotterdam. From there, about 3000 were dispatched to America, either directly or via England, under the auspices of William Penn. The remaining 4 000 were sent via England to Ireland to strengthen the protestant interest.

Although the Palatines were scattered as agricultural settlers over much of Ireland, major accumulations were found in Counties Limerick and Tipperary. As the years progressed and dissatisfactions increased, many of these folk seized opportunities to join their compatriots in Pennsylvania, or to go to newly-opened settlements in Canada.

There were many reasons for the desire of the Palatines to emigrate to the New World: oppressive taxation, religious bickering, hunger for more and better land, the advertising of the English colonies in America and the favourable attitude of the British government toward settlement in the North American colonies. Many of the Palatines believed they were going to Pennsylvania, Carolina or one of the tropical islands.

The passage down the Rhine took from 4 to 6 weeks. Tolls and fees were demanded by authorities of the territories through which they passed. Early in June, the number of Palatines entering Rotterdam reached 1 000 per week. Later that year, the British government issued a Royal proclamation in German that all arriving after October 1709 would be sent back to Germany. The British could not effectively handle the number of Palatines in London and there may have been as many as 32 000 by November 1709. They wintered over in England since there were no adequate arrangements for the transfer of the Palatines to the English colonies.

In 1710, three large groups of Palatines sailed from London. The first went to Ireland, the second to Carolina and the third to New York with the new Governor, Robert Hunter. There were 3 000 Palatines on 10 ships that sailed for NY and approximately 470 died on the voyage or shortly after their arrival.

In NY, the Palatines were expected to work for the British authorities, producing naval stores [tar and pitch] for the navy in return for their passage to NY. They were also expected to act as a buffer between the French and Natives on the northern frontier and the English colonies to the south and east.

After the defeat of Napoleon (1814-15), the Congress of Vienna gave the east-bank lands of the Rhine valley to Bavaria. These lands, together with some surrounding territories, again took the name of Palatinate in 1838.

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My paternal ancestors’ European journey – from the Caspian Steppes to Celtiberia

In a previous post, I used an analysis of my Y chromosome DNA to trace the journey of my paternal ancestors from Y-chromosomal Adam, who lived in West Africa around 275,000 years ago (275 kya), to the founder of the R1b sub-haplogroup R-L23, who was born on the Caspian around 4,400 BC (6.4 kya). In this post, I continue my paternal ancestral journey to the most recently identified haplogroup founder: a Celtiberian living in what is now Portugal around 510 BCE. The sequence of Y SNPs defining my haplotree are shown in the following map. It summarizes this journey from R-L23 (4,400 BCE) to the most recent haplogroup founder (510 BCE), and continues on from the map published in the previous post.

There is an immense amount of recent research on European Bronze Age genetics and migrations and a very considerable unfinished debate on how to interpret the evidence. New evidence is being published almost weekly, as increasing numbers of ancient European remains are analysed and Y haplogroup identified. So this post will only aim to describe the big picture as best I can summarize it, and details and perhaps even some of the big picture will likely change in the future.

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My paternal ancestors – from Adam via ice age Siberia to the steppes of Europe

In earlier posts, I discussed how I have used an analysis of my Y chromosome DNA to identify my paternal ancestors all the way back to Y-chromosomal Adam, the most recent common ancestor of all men alive today. The following map summarizes my Y haplogroup ancestors from Y-chromosomal Adam down to those who left Africa around 70 thousand years ago (70 kya) and headed east through India and South East Asia and then up through China into ice age Siberia and then across to the Ukrainian steppeland north of the Black Sea.

I was originally going to continue this story all the way across Europe to the Iberian Peninsula and up to Ireland and Scotland, but I will keep that for a later post. I have discovered that there is an immense amount of recent research on European Bronze Age genetics and migrations and a very considerable unfinished debate on how to interpret the evidence. So it may take me a little while to come to grips with it. (A follow-up post is now available at my-paternal-ancestors-european-journey-the-caspian-steppes-to-celtiberia)

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Tracing my paternal ancestors through Y DNA

The human Y chromosome is a male-specific sex chromosome. When mutations (errors in the copying process) arise in the Y chromosome, they are passed down directly from father to son in a direct male line of descent and define a tree of Y “haplogroups”. The mutations on the Y chromosome can thus be used to trace our paternal ancestors all the way back to the most recent common paternal ancestor of all men alive today, Y chromosomal Adam.

When I first got interested in genetic genealogy around 2010, I had my DNA tested by the National Genographic Project, funded by the National Geographic to collect over a million DNA samples to map the patterns of human migration across the world. This project measured mutations known as short tandem repeats (STRs) at 12 sites, and gave a statistical prediction of my Y-haplogroup, R1b (M343) and subclade R-M269. A year later I upgraded my Y-DNA analysis to 44 STRs with At the time, I decided that I would wait for the technology to improve and the cost to drop and do a more comprehensive test which would definitively determine my Y haplogroup.

And so last year I did the Big Y-700 test with FamilyTreeDNA which examines 700 short tandem repeats, and over 200,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms(SNPs) identifying known haplogroups as well as millions of locations where there may be new branch markers on the Y chromosome. This company claims to have the world’s largest genealogical YDNA database with over 2 million people included.

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Y chromosomal Adam

Y-chromosomal Adam is the name given to the patrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of modern humans. In other words, he was the man from whom all living humans today descend, on their father’s side, and through the fathers of those fathers and so on, back until all lines converge on one person. He is the male counterpart of Mitochondrial Eve, who,lived in north-western Botwsana around 177,000 years ago (confidence interval ± 11,300 years).

When I did my first Y-DNA test in 2012 with the National Geographic’s  National Genographic Project, it gave a date of 60,000 years ago (60 kya) for Y-chromosomal Adam. This was already outdated, as other recent estimates around that time gave dates ranging from 120 to 160 kya. By definition, it is not necessary and highly unlikely that Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve lived at the same time or in the same location.

However, in 2013 scientists announced the discovery of an extremely ancient Y DNA haplogroup from a sample submitted for an African-American man in the USA.  Y-chromosomal haplogroups are defined by mutations in the non-recombing portions of DNA from the Y chromosome. These mutations accumulate at the rate of roughly two per generation. The accumulation of mutations in the descendants of Y-chromosomal Adam allow us to map out the major branches of the family tree in terms of Y-haplogroups. This discovery adds a completely new branch to the Y-DNA family tree and pushes back the age of Y-chromosomal Adam to around 250 to 300 kya.

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My maternal ancestors – from Eve via ice age Europe to Victorian England

In an early post on this blog, I summarized my maternal-line ancestors and where and when they lived. In the last 6 years, there have been substantial revisions to estimates of the dates associated with these mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup founders, and revisions to the mtDNA haplogroup tree (deep-maternal-ancestry-and-mtdna) and this post provides an update. I am a member of mtDNA haplogroup U5, which is one of nine native European haplogroups stemming from haplogroup U which most likely arose in the Near East, and spread into Europe in a very early expansion. The presence of haplogroup U5 in Europe pre-dates the last ice age and the expansion of agriculture in Europe. Today, about 11% of modern Europeans are the direct maternal descendants of the founder U5 woman. They are particularly well represented in western Britain and Scandinavia. My more recent maternal ancestors were part of the population that tracked the retreat of ice sheets from Europe at the end of the last ice age and re-colonized Britain about 12,000 years ago.

The mtDNA sequence at the root of each haplogroup arose from one or more mutations in the mtDNA of just one woman, and the age of the associated haplogroup gives the time in the past when this specific woman lived. To emphasise that the maternal clan founders were real individuals, I have used the names given to them by Sykes [1] and Oppenheimer [2] and given my own names to the more recent subgroup founders. The Table below summarizes these founders, dates and locations and is followed by brief biographies. The haplogroups are identified by the labels used in Build 17 of the ISOGG mtDNA tree which can be accessed at [3]. Dates in the table below have been updated using most recent available dating estimates as described in my previous post deep-maternal-ancestry-and-mtdna.

The migration path out of Africa into Europe of the “grandmothers” linking mitochondrial Eve through to Ursula (U5) is shown on a map in my previous post deep-maternal-ancestry-and-mtdna. The subsequent migration from Europe to Britain is shown in the map below.

Figure 1. Migration path of my maternal ancestors from Ursula (U5) to Viviane (410 CE). A map of the earlier migration from mitochondrial Eve to U5 is included in an earlier post.

Updated biographies of my maternal haplogroup great* grandmothers follow below.

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Mitochondrial Eve – an update

A recently published paper in Nature (Oct 18) has analysed the mitochondrial DNA of 1,200 indigenous Africans living in the southern part of Africa and identified the ancestral homeland of all humans alive today, the place where mitochondrial Eve lived nearly 200,000 years ago. More on that below, but first some background.

In February 2014, I did a series of posts on my deep maternal ancestors, identified through a test of mutations on my mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) which is inherited only from the mother. These mutations allowed me to track back through time to mitochondrial Eve, the single woman from whom all humans alive today descended through their female line (mother to mother to mother….).  Specific mutations on the mtDNA define maternal haplogroups, and the founder of a given haplogroups is the specific individual woman in which the defining mutation occurred. All members of a given haplogroup trace their maternal ancestry back to this founder.

DNA tests have become much less expensive, and can include much more detailed testing. In the last three months, I’ve redone a test on my mtDNA and also on my Y DNA, which is inherited only down the male line (father to father to father….). I am still digesting the results of these tests, and will post on them in the near future.  One of the first things I discovered was that the dates associated with haplogroup founders have been revised over time, and as more and more test results are available, and that the terminology used for identifying haplogroups has also evolved.  I also came across very recent research which has pinned down the location where mitochondrial Eve lived, as well as revised estimates of the time period in which she lived.

Haplogroup U5 – the oldest of seven native European haplogroups

My mtDNA haplogroup is U5, the oldest of the seven native European haplogroups. Haplogroup U most likely arose in the Near East, and spread into Europe in a very early expansion, giving rise to seven native European haplogroups, including U5. The presence of haplogroup U5 in Europe pre-dates the last ice age and the expansion of agriculture in Europe. Today, about 10% of modern Europeans are the direct maternal descendants of the founder U5 woman, who has been given the nickname Ursula*. They are particularly well represented in western Britain and Scandinavia.

Ancestral migration path of maternal ancestors for haplogroup U5

Haplogroup U in turn is descended via haplogroups R and N from haplogroup L3, which is associated with a migration of humans out of Africa around 70,000 to 50,000 years ago. The dominant theory of human origins, the “recent African origin” theory, proposes that all modern non-African populations are substantially descended from populations of H. sapiens that left Africa after during that time period. H. sapiens most likely developed in Africa between 300,000 and 200,000 years ago, and there were at least several “out-of-Africa” migrations of modern humans, possibly beginning as early as 270,000 years ago. These early dispersals may have died out or retreated, although some paleoanthropologists argue that they possibly interbred with various other local hominid species and with later humans from “recent-out-Africa” and it just so happens that all the maternal lineages trace back to “recent-out-Africa”. Of all the lineages present in Africa, only the female descendants of Lara*, founder of the L3 haplogroup, are found outside Africa. If there had been several migrations, one would expect descendants of more than one lineage to be found.  Of course, all this could be upturned if descendants of other African lineages are found outside Africa, and can be traced back to earlier migrations.

Mitochondrial Eve (haplogroup L)

Mitochondrial Eve (mt-Eve) is a member of Haplogroup L and lived just before the divergence of macro-haplogroup L into L0 and L1–6 (see diagram below). Today the haplogroup L0 and its offshoots are found mainly in southern and eastern Africa, with particularly high frequencies among the San people (bushmen) of Botswana, Namibia and other countries of southern Africa.

Haplogroup L1 is found in West and Central sub-Saharan Africa. The descendants of haplogroup L1 are also African haplogroups L2 and L3, the latter of which gave rise to all non-African haplogroups.

Phylogenetic tree for mtDNA Haplogroup L, commencing with mitochondrial Eve, the most recent common maternal ancestor (MRCA) of all humans.

A recent paper by Chan et al. in Nature (October 2019) [1] analysed the genomes of more than 1,200 indigenous Africans living in southern Africa and claim to have identified precisely where and when the L haplogroup split into L0 and L1 and when these groups migrated from their homeland.

Chan et al. identified this homeland as Makgadikgadi, a vast wetland some 120,000 square kilometers in area, or roughly twice the area of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake today. Mitochondrial Eve and her descendants lived in this region for about 30,000 years (from 200,000 to 170,000 years ago) before the L0 lineage split into its first subgroup. Today, Makgadikgadi is one of the largest salt flats in the world. Climate models suggest that, 200,000 years ago, it was a fertile oasis.  The map  shows the overall location of Makgadikgadi in southern Africa, and the following map shows  a more detailed view.

Satellite view of the Makgadikgadi salt pans. This area is located about 250 km south of Victoria Falls close to the borders of Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Chan et al [1] date the deepest rooting L0 branch to 200,000 years ago (with 95% confidence interval 165,000 – 240,000 years ago).  I have reviewed the most recent comprehensive dating of maternal haplogroups and found that the dates in Fu et al (2012)  [2] and Behar et al [2013] were in reasonably good agreement.  I have used dates from Behar et al, which give a date of  176,700 years ago (confidence interval ± 11,300 years) for mitochondrial Eve, and 136,300 (± 11,700) years ago for L1. This is substantially earlier than the date of the recent out-of-Africa dispersal of L3 around 65,000 years ago.

The Okavango delta, in north-west Botswana, looks very similar to how Makgadikgadi would have looked 170,000-200,000 years ago. Credit: Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Migrations from the Makgadikgadi homeland

The Makgadikgadi wetlands were large, wet, and lush with vegetation. They would have provided an ideal home for wildlife and for early humans, including mt-Eve. So why did some migrate?  Around 130,000 years ago, there was a major climatic shift associated with the end of the penultimate glacial period. This led to higher rainfall and created “green corridors” leading to the northeast and to the southwest.  In particular, it appears that the ancestral founder of the L1 haplogroup lived around 136,000 years ago among a group that had migrated north into Zambia, and by around 70,000 years ago her descendents had made their way north to the horn of Africa, where Lara (L3 haplogroup founder live).

The “green corridors” proposed by Chan et al [1] helped lead humans out of the ancestral homeland

Chan and his group have extrapolated the likely location of mt-Eve’s homeland from the present-day distribution of the L haplgroup in Southern Africa, and it is always possible that future data may lead to revisions of this conclusion. However, multiple sets of evidence lead to the conclusion that mt-Eve was among the ancestors of the San people of southern Africa, although of course we likely will never know for sure exactly where she lived. And this was not the only ancestral human homeland. Y-DNA evidence suggests that Y-Adam lived in West Africa in a time period even further in the past (this will be subject of a future post) and of course, there may be other ancestral homelands associated with the many other ancestral lines than the purely maternal and paternal.

The San people of southern Africa have one of the most oldest maternal DNA lineages on Earth. They share the Haplogroup L with mitochondrial Eve who lived in northern Botswana nearly 200,000 years ago.

* Bryan Sykes in his 2001 book The seven daughters of Eve gave names to each of the women who founded the seven native European haplogroups, and also names to some of their ancestral haplogroups. He chose names that began with the letter by which the haplogroup was identified. Oppenheimer (The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story, 2006) followed this example and also gave names to both mtDNA and Y-DNA haplogroups. To emphasise that the maternal clan founders were real individuals, who were my ancesters, I have used these names and given my own names to the more recent subgroup founders.


[1] Chan EKF, Hardie RA, Petersen DC, Beeson K, Bornman RMS, et al. (2015) Revised Timeline and Distribution of the Earliest Diverged Human Maternal Lineages in Southern Africa. PLOS ONE 10(3): e0121223.

[2] Fu Q, Mittnik A, Johnson PLF, et al. A revised timescale for human evolution based on ancient mitochondrial genomes. Curr Biol. 2013;23(7):553–559. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2013.02.044

[3] Behar D, van Oven M, Rosset S, et al. A “Copernican” Reassessment of the Human Mitochondrial DNA Tree from Its Root. Am J Hum Genet. 2012;90(5):936. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2012.04.007
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Thomas Wilson – convict ancestor

After my previous slightly light-hearted post about Thomas Wilson ( an-odd-fellow ), I thought I should tell his real story, his transportation to Sydney in the Lady Nugent in 1835 and his later role in the Mona Vale Outrages.

The Lady Nugent on the high seas. Pencil drawing by George Richard Hilliard, 1840 (4).

The Lady Nugent on the high seas. Pencil drawing by George Richard Hilliard, 1840 (4).

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A footnote on Princess Budhson

Shahu II

Shahu II

In a recent post, I described the descent of my great-aunt Boodie (Florence Teasdale Smith) from an Indian Princess. Princess Budhson (was the daughter of Raja Shahu II Bhonsle (1763 – 3 May 1808), who was the titular Chhatrapati (emperor) of the Maratha Empire, and his third wife Rani Shrimant Akhand S Gunwatabai.

The Ancestry database India, Select Births and Baptisms, 1786-1947 (1) contains an index entry for the marriage of Henry Crawshay Teasdale to “Native Woman Buh’Hson”. The same name is cited on the birth certificate for her daughter Emma. Her name is also variously given as Budhson or Bakshan in various sources and family trees. I did a google search for names in the district of Satara in the Maharashtra state in Western India and found “Bakshan” but no mention of the other two variants. So perhaps Bakshan was the currect version of her name.

Ellen Teasdale

Ellen Teasdale

Emma Mary Teasdale

Emma Mary Teasdale

Major Henry Crawshay Teasdale(1801-1843) and Princess Buh’Hson (1803-1831) had three children Ellen Teasdale (1825-1895), Emma Mary Teasdale (1825-) and Henry Jackson Teasdale (1830-1870). As Emma was born in May 1825, it is likely that she and Ellen (from whom my Aunty Boodie is descended) were twins.


Boodie and theosophy in Australia

My great-aunt Boodie (Florence Teasdale Smith) was born around 1892 in Melbourne and was descended from Irish quakers and an Indian Maharajah (see ancestral-tales-a-theosophist-a-thief-and-an-indian-princess).

Boodie and her mother were theosophists, and Boodie was a vegetarian who never ate meat. She was involved in funding the construction of an amphitheatre at Balmoral to watch for the coming of Krishnamurti. Another family recollection was that “her money bought a house in Balmoral for the theosophists”. This note gives a brief overview of theosophy in Australia and sheds some light on the “house” and amphitheatre in Mosman.


Florence Teasdale Smith (Boodie)

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