David Joyce has kindly allowed this investigation into his genetic origin to be published. It was written by Dr. Tyrone Bowes of Irish Origenes.
A simple commercial ancestral Y chromosome DNA test will potentially provide one with the names of many hundreds of individuals with whom one shares a common male ancestor, but what often perplexes people is how one can match many individuals with different surnames? The answer is quite simple. Roughly 1,000 years ago one’s direct medieval male ancestor, the first for example to call himself ‘Joyce’ was living in close proximity to others with whom he was related but who inherited other surnames like Athy, Fitzgerald and Brown. Given that 1,000 years have passed since paternally inherited surnames were first adopted, there will be many descendants of those individuals some of whom will today undergo commercial ancestral Y-DNA testing. Hence the surnames of one’s medieval ancestor’s neighbours will be revealed in today’s Y-DNA test results.
In Ireland surnames can still be found concentrated in the area where they first appeared or in the area where ones ancestors first settled. One can therefore use census data to determine the origin of the surnames that appear in one’s Y-DNA results, identifying an area common to all, and reveal one’s ‘Paternal Ancestral Genetic Homeland.’ The paternal genetic homeland is the small area (usually within a 5 mile radius) where one’s ancestors lived for hundreds if not thousands of years. It is the area where one’s ancestor first inherited his surname, surrounded by relatives who inherited others. It is the area where ones ancestors left their mark in its placenames, its history, and in the DNA of its current inhabitants. Since modern science can pinpoint a paternal ancestral genetic homeland it can also be used to confirm it by DNA testing individuals from the pinpointed area.
Notes of caution!
- In Ireland each of the estimated 1,500 distinct surnames had a single founding ancestor, that’s an estimated 1,500 Adam’s from whom anyone with Irish ancestry can trace direct descent. But science has demonstrated that only 50% of individuals with a particular Irish surname will be related to the surnames founding ancestor, the other 50% of people will have an association that has arisen as a result of what are called ‘non-paternal events,’ usually a result of adoptions or infidelity.
- Often people are looking for their DNA results to trace back to a specific area. One must remember that the results reflect one’s ancestor’s neighbours from around 1,000 years ago. As a result if your recent Irish ancestors were descended from 9th Century Viking raiders, 12th Century conquering Normans, or 16th Century Planters, your DNA results will reflect earlier English, Scottish, Welsh, and possibly Scandinavian origin. I have estimated that only 60% of those with Irish ancestry are related to the pre-Christian Celtic tribes of Ireland. One must approach this process with an open mind!
Interpreting the Y-DNA results
To pinpoint a paternal ancestral genetic homeland one must first identify the surnames that appear as genetic matches. Those surnames will typically reflect the surnames of ones medieval ancestors neighbours. Results for test subject ‘Joyce’ are shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Genetic surname matches to test subject Joyce as revealed by commercial ancestral Y-DNA testing. Upon Y-DNA testing Mr Joyce’s genetic matches were a curious mix of surnames of Norman/English, Scottish and Irish origin. Some of the test subject’s genetic matches reveal earliest known paternal ancestral links with Ireland. 1Joss is a Scottish variant of Joyce. 2Deatherage is a variant of ‘Detheridge’ which is a rare surname associated exclusively with the English Midlands.
Upon Y-DNA testing the test subject was a genetic match to other individuals called Joyce. This would indicate that he is directly descended from his surnames founding ancestor; the Joyce-Adam (the first to inherit the ‘Joyce/Joyce’ surname). Joyce is a common surname found within England and Ireland; where it is associated with Norman settlement. The test subject’s closest genetic surname matches as revealed by the FTDNA and Ysearch.org databases are a diverse mix of surnames of Norman/English, Scottish and Irish origin, see Figure 1. This diverse mix of surnames is indicative of someone with a Norman paternal ancestral origin and reflects the Norman pattern of Conquest and settlement which typically involved the adoption of native surnames like Kelly, Guthrie and Johnston.
The Joyce Surname in Ireland
One of the test subject’s closest ‘Joyce’ matches in the Ysearch.org revealed a paternal ancestral link with Ireland. Joyce is a common Irish surname which distribution mapping reveals is associated with multiple locations and that it is particularly prevalent within Counties Galway, Cork, Dublin and Kilkenny, see Figure 2. A closer examination of the distribution of Joyce farmers reveals 4 main clusters; indicating the existence of potentially 4 distinct groups of Joyces; one of whom the test subject may be genetically related to, see Figure 3. An examination of the Irish Origenes placenames and castles databases reveals a number of townlands, local placenames and at least 1 castle associated with the Joyce surname which are particularly prevalent within County Galway in the west of Ireland, see Figure 3. Joyce – A Case Study
Figure 2: The Joyce surname in Ireland. The Joyce surname arrived with the Normans in Ireland and in early census data was found concentrated in the southeast, southwest and west of Ireland. Historically the Joyce surname is particularly associated with County Galway in the west of Ireland.
Figure 3: Joyce farming communities, placenames and Castles within Ireland. Census data reveals that Joyce is a common surname and that it is associated with multiple geographical locations throughout Ireland (left panel). The majority of Joyce placenames and a single Joyce castle are found in the west of Ireland where the Joyce surname is particularly common (left panel). The Joyce surname is associated with the Norman settlement and Conquest of Ireland and the Joyce farming clusters, placenames and castles correspond to areas where the Normans settled permanently within Ireland (right panel).
THE MEDIEVAL CLAN TERRITORIES OF IRELAND
The Irish Origenes Medieval Clan Territories of Ireland Map was reconstructed based on the location of castles and their known historical association to a particular Clan or Family. Over 400 of the most prominent Irish, Norman, Viking, Gallowglass and Scottish Clans and Families are detailed, and typically one’s Y-DNA results will often reveal shared ancestry to one or more of the prominent Clans/Families that dominated one’s paternal ancestral genetic homeland. An examination of County Galway as it appears on the Irish Origenes Clam map reveals that it was dominated by both Gaelic Irish Clans and Norman Families, see Figure 4. However, Galway town was dominated by 14 merchant families known as the ‘the tribes.’ The Joyce, Martin and Athy families were prominent members of ‘the tribes’ and all appear amongst the test subject’s closest genetic matches. In fact, the ‘Athy’ surname is rare within Ireland and is associated exclusively with medieval Galway town, see Figure 4.
Figure 4: The prominent Clans and Families of Medieval Galway. Galway was dominated by both Irish Clans and Norman Families. The town of Galway was dominated by 14 wealthy Merchant Families, 3 of whom; the Joyces, Martins, and Athys appear amongst the test subject’s closest genetic relatives.
The Merchant Joyces of Medieval Galway Town
Joyce is one of the most notable of Galway surnames. Historically some of the Norman ‘Joyces’ became ‘more Irish than the Irish’ adopting both Gaelic language and culture including the Irish ‘Seoige’ form of their surname. In addition part of Connemara was known as ‘Joyce Country.’ To the west of Joyce country lies Renvyle Castle which at one point in its history was historically associated with the ‘Seoige Clan’, see Figure 5. However, the genetic matches to the Athy and Martin surnames reveals that the test subject’s paternal ancestors were associated with Medieval Galway town; the inhabitants of which remained somewhat aloof of their Gaelic-Irish neighbours, see Figure 6. Medieval Galway City was a thriving remote outpost of Norman Ireland which acted as a trading port; shipping Irish goods abroad and importing goods from across Europe. Many of the ‘tribes’ established trade networks throughout Europe some of which are today reflected in the Y-DNA results.
Figure 5: Renvyle Castle in County Galway. Some of the Norman Joyces became ‘more Irish than the Irish’ becoming Clan ‘Seoige;’ the one time owners and inhabitants of Renvyle Castle which lies to the west of an area known as ‘Joyce’s Country.’
Figure 6: Medieval Galway. Medieval Galway town was dominated by 14 merchant families known as ‘the tribes.’ The Joyces, Athys and Martins appear as the test subject’s closest genetic matches revealing a paternal ancestral link with medieval Galway town. Much of the medieval town can still be found today and many of the tribes coats of arms still decorate the modern city. Map courtesy of Adrian Martyn.
A Paternal Ancestral link with Northeast Scotland
The ‘Joss’ surname appears as the test subject’s closest genetic relative and is a Scottish variant of ‘Joyce.’ In addition the test subject has close genetic matches to both Guthries and Johnston; both of which are common Scottish surnames. These close genetic matches indicate that the test subject has a more recent paternal ancestral link with Scotland. An examination of the distribution of Joss, Guthrie and Johnston farmers in Scotland reveals that these surnames are associated with Northeast Scotland. In fact ‘Joss’ is exclusive to Aberdeenshire, see Figure 7.
Figure 7: Mr Joyce’s more recent paternal ancestral connection with Northeast Scotland. The test subject’s closest genetic match was to an individual called ‘Joss’ which is a Scottish variant of ‘Joyce.’ A more recent paternal ancestral link with Northeast Scotland is supported by genetic matches to people called Guthrie and Johnston which are both overwhelmingly associated with Scotland where they occur together (with Joss) within the Scottish Northeast (red broken circle). Each surname is placed in the location where farmers with that surname reached their highest density in early census data.
Mr Joyce’s Paternal Ancestral Journey
The Joyce surname is of Norman origin and the appearance of a distant genetic match at the 12 marker level (Aoutin) with a paternal ancestral connection with France would appear to support the ’French’ origin on the test subject’s paternal line. His Norman ancestors participated in the Norman conquest of England in 1066AD and his genetic match to an individual called ‘Deatherage;’ which is a surname exclusive to the English Midlands would indicate that his paternal ancestor may have settled in the area encompassed by the modern city of Birmingham, see Figure 8. By 1169AD his Joyce ancestors were once again on the move and participated in the Norman Conquest of Ireland that began in 1169AD, see Figure 8. His Joyce ancestors spread into the west of Ireland where they reached prominence as one of the wealthy merchant families of Galway City, see Figure 8. It was these well-established trade links that resulted in the spread of his Joyce ancestors to Aberdeenshire in Northeast Scotland.
Figure 8: Mr Joyce’s Paternal Ancestral Journey as recorded by his DNA. Mr Joyce’s paternal ancestors originated in France (1) and participated in the Norman Conquest of England in 1066AD and may have settled close to what is today Birmingham City in the English Midlands (2). His paternal ancestor later participated in the Norman Conquest of Ireland that began with a landing at Bannow in County Wexford in 1169AD (3). His Joyce ancestors spread into the West of Ireland where they became one of the merchant ‘tribes of Galway’ (4). His Joyce ancestors presumably spread as a result of their trade connections to Aberdeenshire in the Scottish Northeast (5).
How to confirm a pinpointed ‘Paternal Ancestral Genetic Homeland’
Confirmation of the paternal ancestral link with medieval Galway town will require the commercial ancestral Y-DNA testing of Joyces from the modern City of Galway.
Confirming a paternal ancestral link with the Aberdeenshire ‘Josses’ will require the commercial ancestral Y-DNA testing of ‘Joss’ farmers who current live in Aberdeenshire.