Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Surname Origins - HAM DNA Group 1

HAM DNA Group 1

Surname Origins

One of the reasons for participating in the Y-DNA Project is to discover the origins of your surname. When the paper trail ends, DNA can be a useful tool in researching your ancestors. If you are looking for your homeland and the family history behind it, then is very important to learn as much as you can about using Y-DNA STR markers.

It was when Thomas Hamm messaged me today about the location of Brent Knoll in Somerset that I realized that I had not been clear enough about the origins of HAM DNA Group #1 origins. After years of waiting, we finally got a DNA participant (Tony Ham), who was a recent enough immigrant to remember where his ancestors immigrated from. Tony's ancestors were from Brent Knoll, Somerset in the UK. Tony is a close match to the participants in HAM DNA Group #1.

It is known that the M253 (I1) Y-DNA haplotype is of likely viking descent, and in this case, most likely of Norman descent. Vikings in this area of England most likely arrived during the Norman Conquest of 1066. So, it is not surprising when I read that the local St. Michael's Church has a Norman doorway and that the present nave was built in AD 1290.  
Thomas found a very nice web site for general information about Brent Knoll.
For more information about Brent Knoll, see the Brent Knoll Village web site:  


Be sure to click on the tabs for "Brent Knoll History," "Places of Worship," and the "Photo Gallery."


 St. Michaels Church at Brent Knoll
Brent Knoll is just a few kilometers from the Bristol Channel. There is a tiny town called "Ham" just west of Brent Knoll. The "Ham" surname is a place name, meaning the surname was taken from a small village or hamlet by the name of "Ham." The word ham means a homestead. In old English, before the use of surnames, a person would be identified as being from the town, as in "John de Ham," or later, "John d'Ham," until eventually his descendants would be known as simply "John Ham."

In order to get a general idea of just where the town of Ham is located, the best map I have found is from Streetmap in the UK. Zooming in, this company has the small collection of homes clearly marked as called "Ham." For comparison, Google maps does not have the hamlet referenced by any name.


However, given some time and a high speed connection, Google Maps does permit you to simulate a drive around the town. use Googlemaps to zoom in and tour the village, enter these coordinates for the little town of Ham: 



(Zoom in to "street level" and click on the road to follow the trip.)

Another detailed map from the Somerset Archives (although in black & white) shows the area in several images, one of which is located here:


Between 1875 and 1883 the village name was changed from South Brent to Brent Knoll to avoid passenger confusion with the village of South Brent in Devon.

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