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  • Writer's pictureDavid Brougham

Finding Brougham family history through DNA

Updated: Oct 21, 2023

Map shpwing key areas where DNA of author is from, largely Yorkshire, Norway, Scotland, Irelnd and Germany

9 years before I was born, 2 scientists, James Watson and Francis Crick, made a major leap forward in our understanding of DNA when they discovered the famous double helix structure of DNA. They were helped in no small part by the work of Rosalind Franklin and her photographs of crystallized DNA fibres. Since then the whole human DNA profile has been mapped allowing it to be used in many ways.

As a non scientist, I have to say I’m none the wiser about the science of DNA - far beyond my comprehension. For certain though, as a family historian, I know my DNA can be matched with others around the world allowing me to link up with distant cousins that I didn’t know existed. It allows me to see where my origins are, based on common DNA patterns.

Being a proud Yorkshireman, I am so pleased that my DNA confirms my origins remain firmly fixed in Yorkshire with 77% coming from this region. But where else do I come from?

Britain has had a long history of invading people and I believe it’s clear that my impure DNA can be explained by their intrusion.

Coming from the North I guess its no surprise that I have Scandinavian ancestry following their raids on the east and north of England, with Yorkshire being one of the places where we know the Vikings settled. 5% Scottish probably hails from my northern roots and the general movement of people around the UK. The 5th century Anglo-Saxon invaders probably explains my Germanic European DNA roots. Goodness knows how I acquired the Celtic Irish and Welsh genomes but given their closeness its not surprising really.

DNA statistics showing Yorkshire heritage

All in all my DNA can be explained.

There are still outstanding questions, however. Why, given my DNA has traces of the invading people who settled here, why is there no Roman Italian links? Given my name is locational, from the North East of England, disappointingly there is no DNA link to this area – I was really hoping there could be a connection. I guess the DNA results don’t rule it out, they just don’t confirm it.

In terms of where my ancestors have travelled to – I’m told there is a strong connection with the settlers of North America, in particular with New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania Settlers, but it then looks like these have moved out through out other parts of the North American region. There are also common links with settlers in Australia and New Zealand. I have previously written a blog about Brougham’s that have moved down under.

Having gone down the DNA journey – has it been worthwhile? It is always interesting to see where your roots are – that is exactly why I started to trace my family history. It has been good to link up with distant cousins, both in the UK and around the world – I’ve had conversations with ancestors in the Caribbean and in North America. Overall, I’d recommend giving it a go – but you need to do it in conjunction with documenting your family tree – otherwise you’ll sometimes struggle to see where your DNA relatives fit in.


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