Genetic Archaeology


An autosomal DNA test revealed that the haplogroup associated with the Rowsell surname is I1. Paternal haplogroups are families of Y chromosomes that all trace back to a single mutation at a specific place and time. By looking at the geographic distribution of these related lineages, we learn how our ancient male ancestors migrated.

Paternity issues aside, all the direct male descendants of Thomas Rowsell (1702 -1773) will have 10 distinct genetic characteristics in their DNA which place them into what is known as Y-DNA Haplogroup I1.

Haplogroup I1

Haplogroup I1 can be found at levels of 10% and higher in many parts of Europe, due to its expansion with men who migrated northward after the end of the Ice Age about 12,000 years ago. It reaches its highest levels in Denmark and the southern parts of Sweden and Norway. The founder of Haplogroup I1 lived approximately 28,000 years ago in the Balkans during the last major Ice Age.

In Britain, the I1 haplogroup is usually an indicator of either Anglo-Saxon, Viking or Norman ancestry as all these invading peoples originate in Northern Europe.

It is worth noting that another Rowsell family blog, from an entirely different line have also been identified as I1, despite the fact that the Rowsells of Lambeth have had no connection with them for at least 300 years. This indicates that the Rowsell name has always been connected with I1 and supports the theory that the family arrived with the Normans in 1066 and were of Scandinavian origin.

Neanderthal Heritage

neanderthal dna

Thomas Rowsell face to face with a Neanderthal

My DNA test also revealed that I am 2.1 % Neanderthal which is actually pretty average for a Northern European. Neanderthals were a group of hominids who evolved in Europe and Western Asia. They are the closest evolutionary relatives of modern humans, but they went extinct about 40,000 years ago. The first Neanderthals arrived in Europe over 200,000 years ago. Neanderthals and modern humans lived alongside each other for thousands of years and interbred in Europe which effected the evolution of the European races.


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