Monday, June 29, 2015

The Millinneal Quest

    I am fortunate in some respects to have successfully documented my earliest ancestor, Edmond Lewes, back to Ipswich, Suffolk, England in 1631.

    There my frustration lies, as I have been unable to find any record of Edmond's birth or ancestry. I'm stuck at ~1601, Edmond's assumed birth year based on his recorded age of 33 in the passenger list of the Elizabeth, embarked from Ipswich for Massachusetts in 1634.

    I've researched the Lewis/Lewes/Lewys/Lowys surnames of Suffolk and surrounding counties in England in an attempt to find Edmond's parentage, to no avail. I suspect that this bit of information is forever lost in antiquity.

   During that search, I've found documentation for a Lewes line that begins in Stoke-by-Nayland, Suffolk, with Edmonde Lewes, born in 1519. The descendants of this Edmonde spread throughout Suffolk between Stoke-by-Nayland and Ipswich, along the Stour River, in exactly the territory where most of Edmond's fellow passengers on the Elizabeth originated. In fact, one of the Elizabeth passengers, Thurston Reyner (Raynor) had a sister, Anna, who married Robert Lewes in Elmsett, in the heart of Lewes territory.

    While I haven't found a record of my Edmond's birth, the similarity of given names in this line to those of Edmonde's family are striking, and the proximity to Ipswich adds to the possibility that this is my Edmond's ancestral line.

    Striking further back in time, I located a family line descended from Ludovic or Lewes John, who was born c. 1380, possibly in Carmarthen, Wales who apprenticed and practiced as a vintner in London. His descendants are know as Fitz Lewes, and held property in Essex and Suffolk. A grandson of Lewes John, Richard, dropped the Fitz and was known as Sir Richard Lewes, living in Bardwell, Suffolk, south of Bury St. Edmond. Richard's brother Edmond (Fitz) Lewes was mentioned in his father's will in 1440, but I've not found any further account of his life.

   This line comes within two generations of a possible connection with Edmonde Lewes born in 1519, living and dying in Stoke-by-Nayland Suffolk, some ten miles from the border with Essex and thirty some miles from Bardell, Suffolk, home of Sir Richard Lewes.

    This is the deepest my genealogical research has taken me into the history of the Lewes/Lewis surname in Suffolk, England, and, while intriguing, is circumstantial evidence at best.

    Since I began my paper research, I have also had my DNA profile analyzed through Family Tree DNA. My DNA turns out to be quite unique. I've found twelve others who share my DNA markers, in part, six of whom are within 1 or 2 markers of my own. This means that the six are almost certainly descended from Edmond Lewes of Watertown and Lynn, Massachusetts, while the other six may be descended from a close relation to Edmond.

    In researching deep in my DNA, I've found that my pattern of DNA markers is know as the Atlantic Modal Group, indicating an origin in an area called Doggerland, between England and Scandinavia, which is now the North Sea! As the sea encroached in this once dry land, the residents thereof moved inland into what is now southern Denmark and northern Germany. These people became know as the Angles, who eventually spread into Great Britain along with Saxons from further south in Saxony and became know as Ango-Saxons, the foundation of the English people and the English language.

    The Angles came into Great Britain by two routes, one from the ancestral lands of Denmark and Germany, and one by way of the Iberian Peninsula (southern France, the Pyrenees, Spain and Portugal. The southern migration, from the area of the Pyrenees, brought with it what is know as Iberian Celtic or Celtiberian culture, into southwestern Wales, as what was named by the Romans as the Demetae tribe.

    My unique DNA profile, shared by six others, is particularly identified with this southern migration from southern France to southwestern Wales, in the area between the River Ystwyth near present day Aberystwyth and Carmarthen on the banks of River Towy. It was here that the Romans built Moridonum, the civitas, or administrative center, for their management of the Demetae people.

    As an aside, the name Ludovic is known in Southern France is taken from the name of the Frankish King Chloedevich or Clovis from the 5th Century. This is often referenced as the origin of the French "Louis" and the Welsh/English Lewes/Lewis surnames. Note the similarity of first sound of the Frankish "Chloedevich" with the Welsh Gaelic pronunciation of  "LL" sound, as a combination of "ch" and "L". It could be that Chlovis became Llewis, then Lowys. Lewys, Lewis, or Lewes.

    It is possible that the Atlantic Modal-> Angle/Celtiberian-> Demetae-> Ludovic John-> Fitz Lewes-> Lewes-> Edmond Lewes trail suggests a pathway by which my unique DNA profile could have passed from the sunken lands of Doggerland 5,000 years ago, to me sitting here pecking at this defenseless keyboard.

   Then again, it could be that the pathway from 10th Century BC southern Denmark to this keyboard came by way of 9th Century AD Anglo-Saxons in East Anglia patiently becoming my 17th Century 11th Great Grandfather in Ipswich, and I just haven't found the footprints of that trail yet in the 21st Century.