Debate about numbers, percentages and odds in genealogy fascinates.

inbreedingThere will always be debate about numbers, percentages and odds in genealogy.

I am so lucky that we have such a wide range of ancestries and national origins in my husband’s and my family trees. Those who have read my posts before are already well aware that our ancestries branch off from four (or five) distinct groups, and marriage between these groups is rare.

The groups containing our ancestries are:

MY ANCESTRY

  • Acadians

French Huguenots escaping religious persecution in France in the mid to late 17th century relocated to the Atlantic coast of Canada and the United States, giving birth to the Acadian and Cajun cultures.

  • French Canadians

You would think, since the origins of French Canadians are essentially the same as the Acadians, there would be more intermarriage between the two, but I have found very few connections between the two groups in our family tree Рat least so far. Most French Canadians descended from French explorers and pioneers involved in the fur trade and colonizing what is now part of Ontario and Quebec, although Acadians did find their way up the St. Lawrence River after the great expulsion (grand d̩rangement) of the French settlers by the British colonists.

MARK’S ANCESTRY

  • Scandinavian

Although the majority of the ancestry of my husband on his mother’s side is Swedish, the other Scandinavian nations and cultures are represented as well.

  • Welsh Quaker

Mark’s ancestry on his father’s side originates from Welsh immigrants who were also escaping religious persecution for their puritan beliefs at the hands of the Welsh and British nobility and clergy.

  • British Royalty and Nobility

The interesting point to make here is that Mark’s connections to British royalty and nobility occur through his Welsh Quaker ancestry.

I decided to touch on this subject after reading the November 29th post on Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter entitled, “Man Traces Ancestry to 1st English King – So What?.”

Mathematically, Dick Eastman’s calculations of the numbers of ancestors and/or descendants in a family based upon an average number and length of generations, as well as an average number of children in families appear to make sense. However, there are so many variables affecting the numbers, that it is almost impossible to make accurate estimations, much less calculations.

These variables include:

  1. Individuals who remained single and bore no children.
  2. Individuals who died young and were never married, much less had children.
  3. Mass deaths due to war, disease and poverty wiping out most or all of a generation or two.
  4. Variations in sizes of families as influenced by tradition or custom, health and fertility, relationships, economics, etc.

One major point made by Dick is his belief that everyone can eventually trace their ancestries back to royalty, but by my experience, this appears to be flawed.

As illustrated in the diverse groups outlined above in our ancestries, we originate from several unique national, ethnic, and socio-economic groups. Examining our family tree makes it apparent that intermarriage between these groups was almost impossible due to geography, economics, politics and custom. Most people, no matter where they were from or how wealthy and socially prominent they were, usually married within their own group.

The interesting point illustrated by our ancestry is that although my husband’s and my ancestries are quite separate and rarely intermarried, the fact that he and I married and had our two children now combines our ancestries for all future generations. Therefore, it’s easy to assume that intermarriage occurred (and will occur) much more as the world became smaller through technology, multi-culturalism, etc., which are more modern phenomena of the last hundred years or so.

In previous posts, I touched on this subject as it relates to our ancestry and evolving cultural methods of managing relationships and marriages to ensure as little inbreeding as possible. These posts are “The Science of Husbandry on a Human Scale” and “Ingenius incest prevention app created by University of Iceland students.

I must thank Dick Eastman as his is one of the few blogs I do read that routinely challenge my thinking and assumptions. I like that.

photo credit: wonker via photopin cc

2 response on “Debate about numbers, percentages and odds in genealogy fascinates.

  1. I followed you here from Dick Eastman’s blog. Welsh Quaker related to British royalty and nobility… that’s the Lloyds of Dolobran, right? That’s my line too, that I mentioned in the comments to the Eastman blog. (grin)

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