A German Influence

The families of both Harold Griffis and Evelyn Dutcher have a German influence. It is an influence that reflects a distinctive characteristic of the families of the Mohawk valley in New York state. German immigrants and their descendants made an indelible imprint on the Mohawk valley in New York since Colonial times.

“The Rhine and the Hudson ! The historic river of Europe and the historic river of America! How closely associated are they in the minds of those who dwell in the lovely valley in which we are met today !” [1]

The first European influence arrived in the early 1600’s with the arrival of the Dutch who promptly named all of the area to the north “New Netherlands”. They soon spread their influence up the Hudson River and west along the Mohawk River until 1664 when the British took over the Dutch lands and renamed them New York after the Duke of York.

In the early 1700’s, the Germans started to arrive and actually became the first permanent European settlers of today’s Mohawk valley. They and their Dutch neighbors tilled the rich soil of the region. This was literally a frontier area in flux between the Mohawk and European settlers.

Many of the initial settlements in the early 1700’s were created by German immigrants. While the Dutch, French and English occupied various colonial settlements on the fringe boundaries of the young colonies at various time periods, it was the German immigrants who created unique relationships with the Iroquois, particularly the Mohawk tribe, in establishing permanent settlements in the western territory of the New York colony. It was also the German immigrants who incurred substantial losses of property and life prior to and during the Revolutionary War while they lived in these settlements in the fringes of colonial controlled territory. [2]

In the late 1600s and early 1700s, the Germans took a different approach to dealing with the New York Indians than had the Dutch and English before them.

“The Dutch brought from Holland a traders sense of the world and viewed Indian villages as nodes on the paths of commerce. Because the Dutch wanted to control trade, not land, they did not need to occupy Indian villages. … The English, on the other hand, carried to America visions of extending the king’s dominion. They viewed New York as a battleground, a place to fight the French for domination of North America. The English could not possess New York without controlling the land.

“Just as the Dutch and English attitudes had been shaped by their European roots, the Germans’ attitude toward the Mohawks and the chaotic conditions of the Schoharie Valley may have been shaped by their experiences in the German southwest. Perhaps the Germans, coming from an area subject to continual invasion and to ever-changing rulers, had replaced a worldview consisting of conqueror and conquered with one of constantly changing allies and enemies, in which power was never absolute and always short-lived. Since conquest was an illusion, one sought allies who might help secure short-term gains. The Indians could be enemies or allies; the Germans needed the latter.” [3]

Harold and Evelyn’s German Family Ties

The relationships among European settlers and the Indians in the early colonial and post Revolutionary War period in the upper New York area is reflected in the ethnic background of the family ties found in the respective family trees of Harold Griffis and Evelyn Dutcher.

Some of the earliest emigrants to America came from the state of Württemberg, Germany. It is the area of Germany from which the number of emigrants surpassed any other German state. It is also the area where Harold and Evelyn’s German ancestors started their journey to America. [4]

Family Tree Branches with a Germanic Influence

Family Tree Individual Locator

Click here to see the family trees for Griffis family branches that are from German areas of Europe. Each family tree provides a context of their place in the general family tree for Harold Griffis and Evelyn Dutcher Griffis. Only grandparents and direct siblings are shown in the family trees.

On Harold’s side of the family, the Sperber family and the Fliegel Family were immediate branches of the family that emigrated in the mid 1800’s from the Baden Würtemberg area [5] to the United States. While we do not know much about the Sperber family prior to their arrival in America, the Fliegel family can be traced back many generations to the Ittlingen, Germany area. Both families are maternal family branches of the Griffis family. Harold Griffis’ mother was Ida May Sperber. Ida Sperber was youngest child of John Wolfgang Sperber and Sophia Fliegels’ children. The immediate paternal side of Harold’s family reflect a Welsh (Griffis surname), English (Carpenter), and Scots-Irish background (Gillespie).

The German Side of the Griffis Family [6]

Click for Larger View

Similar to Harold’s family, Evelyn Dutcher’s family tree reflects the interaction of various ethnic backgrounds representing the mix of early European settlers in the New York colony. Her family represents Dutch, French, German and English ancestry.

In fact, there is family lore that one of Evelyn’s female ancestors was from the Mohawk tribe. My father often mentioned the existence of this relative but had no specific documented knowledge about this relative. Based on conversations between Nancy Griffis and one of Evelyn’s cousins, Gertrude Platts Perry, it was indicated that Gertrude had old photographs that depicted the female family member that was from the Mohawk tribe. [7] If her recollections were true, then the individual possibly married a Platts family member. A review of available documentation on the Platts family offers no clue of an individual who had Mohawk descent. But, if there was a Mohawk member of the family, her name probably would have been an anglicized name in any documented records.

Evelyn’s surname, Dutcher, can be traced back to Dutch colonists in the 1600’s. The name is found with many spellings in the 1600’s: Duyster, Duyscher, Duchier, De Duyster. The family was likely one of the persecuted French Huguenots who fled from France to Holland. The names De Dutchier and De Duyster are found throughout sixteenth century French records. [8]

The Hartom family was a branch of Evelyn Dutcher’s family that emigrated from Germany earlier in 1775 to the American colonies. Evelyn’s father was Squire Dutcher. Squire’s father, Ruleff Dutcher, married Maria Hartom. Casper Hartom was Maria’s father. Casper’s father, Michael Hartom, is the family member that emigrated to the colonies in 1775. It is not known what part of the Germanic area of Europe his family is from.

The German Side of the Dutcher Family

Click for Larger View

There are two other family branches of Evelyn Dutcher’s family that may be German. However, I do not have definitive proof of their Germanic origin in terms of ship manifest lists of family members that originally came to the American colonies to confirm their point of origin. In addition, the origin of the surnames for these two family branches are not unique to one specific country or European region.

One of the family branches is the Demelt family. There is a good chance that the Demelt family is from Germanic origins. The family name, Demelt, was first found in Bavaria, where this surname surfaced in mediaeval times. [9]

The second family branch is the Platts family. Evelyn’s maternal side of the family included the Platts. It was originally presumed the Platts are of English origin. However, given where they settled and the name may have been an anglicized version of the German “Platz”, it is possible they were German. [10] There is no documentation to determine the ethnic origin of the Platts side of the family.

German Emigration to the Colonies & the United States

The reasons for emigrating to the new world for each of these families or individuals is perhaps unique but their respective decisions to leave their homeland were influenced by a larger economic and political landscape which provided a number of push and pull factors that influenced their decision. In addition, where they landed in the new world and where they subsequently traveled to put a stake in their new homeland were influenced by the paths of previous German immigrants.

At each successive wave, newcomers joined established settlers. This phenomenon of “chain migration” strengthened the already existing German regions in the American colonies and, later, the United States.  Large sections of Pennsylvania, upstate New York, and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia attracted multiple generations and successive waves of German emigration. [11]

Michael Hartom emigrated to the American Colonies in 1775. He was not part of the first wave of Germans to immigrate to the colonies but he closely followed the migratory path of the Palantines that represented the first major wave of Germanic immigration.

John Sperber and the Fliegel family emigrated in the mid 1850’s to a young new nation. Both were part of a major second wave of German immigration.

Germany in the 1600’s through the 1800’s

There was no unified “Germany” in the time period when the Hartom, Sperber, and Fliegel families emigrated to the Colonies and later to the United States. The European region that is currently Germany was divided into principalities and remnants of the Holy Roman Empire. Between the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) and the French Revolution (1789-1799), German geography was largely reflected by the histories of dozens of small political units, each enjoying virtually full rights of sovereignty. Political power increasingly fell to small regional governments controlled by aristocratic overlords, ecclesiastical dignitaries, or municipal oligarchs. [12]

Among the most powerful of these principalities was Prussia, led beginning in 1740 by King Frederick II, known as “Frederick the Great.” Under Frederick, Prussia expanded its territory to include parts of modern-day Austria and Poland. It would be almost a century before Germany was unified into the country we know today. Germany, or more exactly the old Holy Roman Empire, in the 18th century entered a period of decline that would finally lead to the dissolution of the Empire during the Napoleonic Wars. [13]

The following map reflects the political contours of the German states around the time that Michael Harton immigrated to the American Colonies in 1775.

Map of German States 1789 [14]

Click for Larger View

About 75 years later when the Sperber and Fliegel families emigrated to the United States, the German States had a similar yet different configuration. The Sperber and Fliegel families were from the Baden area of the map, an area located in the southwestern area of the empire next to the Kingdom of France along the Rhine River..

Map of German States 1815 – 1865 [15]

Click for Larger View

The immigrants from these geographic areas were referred to as German. However, ‘within’ the Germanic umbrella of ethnic identity as viewed by the English, Dutch, French, or Indians, they were Palatines, Badeners and Hessians. The Germans included many quite distinct subgroups with differing religious and cultural values. The making of a German and American identity was one of immigrants not just defining themselves in contrast to a British, French, Dutch, or Iroquois “other” group but also first defining themselves in contrast to many German “others”. [16]

Various Waves of German Immigration

German immigration to North America began in the 17th century and continued into the late 19th century at a rate exceeding that of any other country.

The Germans migrated to America for a variety of reasons depending on the specific historical time period. Push factors involved the effects of the continuous wars and conflicts, worsening opportunities for farm ownership in central Europe, persecution of some religious groups, and military conscription. Pull factors were better economic conditions, the opportunity to own land or earn a better wage, and religious freedom.

Germany also experienced unfavorable weather conditions in the 1800’s that brought about food crises. Lack of food brought about elevation of prices. With a continually increasing population, some areas experienced devastation. When sons were not able to inherit the ancestral farm to support themselves and their families, emigration was one way out. 

German emigration to the American colonies began at the end of the 17th century when Germany was suffering from the after-effects of the bloody religious conflicts of the Thirty Years’ War and Christian minorities were being persecuted. Many farmers lived in poverty, their very existence threatened by failed harvests and land shortages.

German immigrants in the initial wave came from the states of Pfalz, Baden, Wuerttemberg, Hesse, and the bishoprics of Cologne, Osnabruck, Muenster, and Mainz. Working with William Penn, Franz Daniel Pastorius established “Germantown” near Philadelphia in 1683. A group of Mennonites, Pietists, and Quakers in Frankfurt, including Abraham op den Graeff , a cousin of William Penn, approached Pastorius about acting as their agent to purchase land in Pennsylvania for a settlement. Pastorius arrived in Philadelphia on August 20th, 1683. In Philadelphia, he negotiated the purchase of 15,000 acres from William Penn, the proprietor of the colony, and laid out the settlement of Germantown. [17]

European Migration to Britain in the 1700s

The initial wave of Germans to the colonies is often referenced as ‘the story of the Palantines” [18]. The Germans that eventually settled the Mohawk Valley came from the Rhine Valley River region known as the “Palatinate.” The name arose from the Roman word “Palatine,” the title given to the ruling family of the area when it was part of the Holy Roman Empire. With the outbreak of the Thirty Years War in 1618, came 96 years of sporadic fighting and wars that would leave the Palatinate destroyed. This forced thousands of Germans to flee their homeland, many who made the American colonies (before the revolution) and the United States (after the revolution) their new home.

The movement of the initial wave of German immigrants, the so-called Palantines, was the result of the British government sending roughly 3,000 German immigrants in the early 1700’s to the colonies after they initially immigrated to England on rumors that Britain would provide passage to the American Colonies. In a quandry as to what to do with these German immigrants, the immigrants were sent by the English to the colonies on the proviso that they would be indentured laborers for the production of ‘naval stores’ (the production of tar and pitch in the pine forests of the Hudson valley). Once they got to the colonies, they refused to such an agreement and the English did not enforce their original contract. As a result the German immigrants settled on the Hudson River, some moved to New York City and New Jersey and others settled to scarcely settled areas of the New York frontier. [19] Many of these ‘scarcely settled’ areas would be areas that Griffis family branches would settle in the Mohawk valley.

Early German Settlements in the New York Colony

Click fo Larger View

Source: Sanford H. Cobb, The Story of the Palatines: An Episode in Colonial History, New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1897,  The Palatine Settlements of the Hudson, Mohawk, and Schoharie, Page 148 https://ia800906.us.archive.org/3/items/storyofpalatines01cobb/storyofpalatines01cobb.pdf

By the middle of the 18th century, German immigrants occupied a central place in American life. Germans accounted for one-third of the population of the American colonies, and were second in number only to the English. [20] Wars in Europe and America had slowed the arrival of immigrants for several decades starting in the 1770’s. By the year 1800, 100,000 Germans had migrated to the United States, and over eight percent of the American population was of German descent. The trend started to reverse and German immigration increased tenfold by 1830. [21]

From that year until World War I, almost 90 percent of all German emigrants chose the United States as their destination. Once established in their new home, these settlers wrote to family and friends in Europe describing the opportunities available in the U.S. These letters were circulated in German newspapers and books, prompting “chain migrations.” By 1832, more than 10,000 immigrants arrived in the U.S. from Germany. By 1854, that number had jumped to nearly 200,000 immigrants.” [22]

For the typical working people in Germany, who were forced to endure land seizures, unemployment, increased competition from British goods, and the repercussions of the failed German Revolution of 1848, the economic and political prospects in the United States seemed bright. It also soon became easier to leave Germany, as restrictions on emigration were eased.

Nearly one million German immigrants entered the United States in the 1850s; this included thousands of refugees from the 1848 revolutions in Europe. As reflected in the table below, there were to major peaks in German immigration between 1820 and 1920. The 1850’s and the 1880’s witnessed the latest influx of immigrants from Germanic areas in Europe.

It was during the first of the two major waves in the 1800’s that John Sperber and the Fliegel family migrated to the United States. Nearly one million German immigrants entered the United States in the 1850’s. The German immigrants arriving in the 1850’s represented almost 18 percent of the total number of German immigrants arriving to the United States between this one hundred year period. In the 1850’s German immigrants represented a little over a third of all immigrants coming to the United States. [23]

Table One: German Immigration to the United States (1820-1920) [24]

Number of
% of Total
% of U.S.
By decade
Note: From 1899 to 1919, data from part of Poland included in Germany

The graph below depicts the two major waves of German immigrants within this one hundred year period.

Click for Larger View

The area that John Sperber and the Fliegel family left the German territories were particularly affected by the mass exodus to the United States.

Censuses have been taken in Germany at regular intervals since 1816. In most of the German states, including Prussia, they were taken every three years. Within the territory of pre-war Germany between 1840 and – 1910, the German population doubled in size. The increase however was due mainly to higher fertility rates and was not attributable to people moving into the German territory. In fact, there was an appreciable exodus of German’s moving out of the area which mitigated population growth in Germany. Germany lost about 5 million due to people moving out of the German territories. [25]

“The net loss through emigration was especially large between 1847 and 1855, when crop failure and famine impaired living conditions among a population still mainly agricultural.  Political discontent and ferment also quickened the migratory impulse. in the three years, 1853-55, almost half a million people…left Germany annually. These losses through migration had the more harmful effect on the growth of population, since the mortality also increased, so that periods with the greatest losses through migration were also periods with the smallest excess of births. 

“Between 1853-55, almost three quarters of the natural population increase was lost through migration. … In some parts of German (Württemberg, Baden and the Palatinate) noted for their large emigration it became so heavy that the population decreased. In 1849-52, Wüttenberg suffered an annual loss of 11,000 people (2.2 per 1000) and in 1852-55, suffered an annual loss of 64,000 persons or 12.2 per 1000. 

“In Baden, (an area where the Sperber and Fliegel families lived – my note) despite a large excess of births between 1847 and 1855, emigration caused a continuous decline in population. … . “ [26]

Getting to America: the German Experience in the 1700’s

In the 1700’s, the emigrants from the Baden Wüteenberg area usually gathered in a town close to the River Rhine and then took passage on the Rhine north to The Netherlands. From there they sailed to a colonial port. It took several weeks to reach an Atlantic seaport, and another eight to 10 weeks of demanding ocean travel before they reached the shores of North America. [27] This migration path resembles the path of Michael Hartom, Evelyn’s great great grandfather.

The handwritten note below appears to be a torn page from a small calendar notebook. Evelyn was interested in the genealogy of the Dutcher family and this was found in her notes. The note depicts an immigration path of the ‘second wave of Palatines‘ to the colonies.

“Michael Hartom Squire Dutcher’s great grandfather set sail from Hamburg, Germany in 1775. Six months journey in a sail vessel. Settled in New York and then in Stone Arabia.”.

I have researched a wide range of ship passenger lists from Europe between 1770 and 1800 but have yet to find Michael Hartom’s name on a ship manifest list. Discovering a passenger list with a name of a relative is often the result of chance and luck. Many ship manifests were not saved or documented. In addition, there is the inherent issue of what was written on paper.

Generally speaking the captains’ lists have the least value, as far as the spelling of the names is concerned.  They were in most cases written by men who had no knowledge of German and to whom German surnames were a mystery they could not fathom. They wrote down the names as they were pronounced to them, spelling them as they would spell English names. As a result there are hundreds of names that have such fantastic forms that they are unrecognizable.  [28]

The note written by Evelyn Dutcher Griffis indicates that it took Michael Hartom six months to reach America. This statement perhaps was overstated in terms of the actual length of the voyage. His entire journey from ‘home’ to New York City may have been six months.

In the days of sailing ships, crossing the Atlantic Ocean was certainly slow compared with modern times and frequently a dangerous experience. The overcrowded boats were at the mercy of the ocean and the weather, dependent upon the wind belts for propulsion. On a calm sea with little wind, the sails would hang useless and a trip across the ocean could take on average from one to three months. Disease was rampant in these crowded circumstances, with the ill and the healthy immigrant packed tightly together. Fatalities from disease and ships lost at sea were estimated to range from 10% to 15%. [29]

Prior to 1848, not only would immigrants have to load their own belongings, but families would be required to bring along food for the voyage. There was no one to advise the immigrants as to whether or not these rations would be adequate for the trip..

Poor immigrants often travelled to America on ships that were making their return voyage after having carried tobacco or cotton to Europe. The voyage took up to 90 days, oftentimes much longer, depending on the wind and weather. In steerage, ships were crowded, each passenger having about two square feet of space. The conditions were not sanitary, lice and rats were prevalent. Passengers were required to bring their food or were forced to procure food from the ship’s captain. The ventilation was poor. Between 10-20% of those who left Europe died on board. [30]

After the long and gruelling ocean voyage, most immigrants to the United States in the late 18th and early part of the 19th century made their way to rural areas to farm. Most immigrants in the mid-19th century remained in the ports where they had arrived except for those with the financial means for further travel. 

Gottlieb Mittelberger, an organ master and schoolmaster, who left one of the small German states in May 1750 , documented his experiences of sailing from the German territory to the colonies. Mittelberger had lost his job in the Duchy of Wurttemberg in the Holy Roman Empire. He sailed to Philadelphia and lived in colonial America for four years. Upon his return home he wrote a book, with the purpose to warn Germans of the hardships of emigration. [31]

Cover Page of Mittelberger’s Book

Mittelberger indicates that the passage to America was long and treacherous. Due to delays in travel along the Rhine River and European ports, many of the immigrants would run out of funds and by the time they arrived in the American colonies, they were too poor to pay for the journey and therefore indentured themselves to wealthier colonialists, selling their services for a period of years in return for the price of the passage. 

I have provided a number passages from his personal account:

“This journey lasts from the beginning of May to the end of October, fully half a year, amid such hardships as no one is able to describe adequately with their misery. The cause is because the Rhine boats from Heilbronn to Holland have to pass by 36 custom-houses, at all of which the ships are examined, which is done when it suits the convenience of the custom-house officials.  In the meantime the ships with the people are detained long, so that the passengers have to spend much money.  The trip down the Rhine alone lasts therefore 4, 5 and even 6 weeks. When the ships with the people come to Holland, they are detained there likewise 5 or 6 weeks. Because things are very dear there, the poor people have to spend nearly all they have during that time.” [32]

“Both in Rotterdam and in Amsterdam the people are packed densely, like herrings so to say, in the large sea-vessels. One person receives a place of scarcely 2 feet width and 6 feet length in the bedstead. “ [33]

“But during the voyage there is on board these ships terrible misery, stench, fumes, horror, vomiting, many kinds of sea-sickness, fever, dysentery, headache, heat, constipation, boils, scurvy, cancer, mouth-rot, and the like, all of which come from old and sharply salted food and meat, also from very bad and foul water, so that many die miserably. Add to this want of provisions, hunger, thirst, frost, heat, dampness, anxiety, want, afflictions and lamentations, together with other trouble, as c. v. the lice abound so frightfully, especially on sick people, that they can be scraped off the body. The misery reaches the climax when a gale rages for 2 or 3 nights and days, so that every one believes that the ship will go to the bottom with all human beings on board. In such a visitation the people cry and pray most piteously.” [34]

“Children from 1 to 7 years rarely survive the voyage; and many a time parents are compelled to see their children miserably suffer and die from hunger, thirst and sickness, and then to see them cast into the water. I witnessed such misery in no less than 32 children in our ship, all of whom were thrown into the sea.” [35]

“When the ships have landed at Philadelphia after their long voyage, no one is permitted to leave them except those who pay for their passage or can give good security ; the others, who cannot pay, must remain on board the ships till they are purchased, and are released from the ships by their purchasers. The sick always fare the worst, for the healthy are naturally preferred and purchased first; and so the sick and wretched must often remain on board in front of the city for 2 or 3 weeks, and frequently die, whereas many a one, if he could pay his debt and were permitted to leave the ship immediately, might recover and remain alive.” [36]

“The sale of human beings in the market on board the ship is carried on thus: Every day Englishmen, Dutchmen and High-German people come from the city of Philadelphia and other places, in part from a great distance, say 20, 30, or 40 hours away, and go on board the newly arrived ship that has brought and offers for sale passengers from Europe.” [37]

“When a husband or wife has died at sea, when the ship has made more than half of her trip, the survivor must pay or serve not only for himself or herself, but also for the deceased. When both parents have died over half-way at sea, their children, especially when they are young and have nothing to pawn or to pay, must stand for their own and their parents’ passage, and serve till they are 21 years old.” [38]

Mittelberger perhaps provides a description of what Michael Hartom may have experienced sailing to the colonies in 1775. However, each personal experience may have unique experiences that are not common for similar voyages at the time and possibly do not represent the experiences of the majority of voyages.. While it does not diminish the general portrayal of hardships that were faced crossing the Atlantic, recent studies on German emigration during this time period suggest that mortality rates on voyages were a bit lower than what Mittelberger states.

For example, mortality rates for German immigrants traveling to American in two time periods, 1727 to 1754 and 1785 to 1805, were much lower. One study was based on a sample of fourteen German immigrant vessels which enumerated passenger deaths directly in the ship records, taken from the Strassburger collection of German ship lists for the port of Philadelphia. This sample had over 1,566 passengers and appeared to be relatively representative of the typical immigrant voyage: voluntary, white, civilian immigrants transported by the private shipping market on the North Atlantic route. Six of the ships had mortality enumerated for the separate categories of adult men, adult women, and children. The overall passage mortality for these 1,566 Germans was 3. 8 percent.  The voyage mortality for the the 1,153 adult men was slightly above that for the 237 adult women, 3.5 versus 2.5 percent, respectively, although this difference was not statistically significant. The 382 children fared far worse with a passage mortality of over 9 percent or almost three times the adult rate. [39]

Mittelberger’s journey took over 100 days at sea, whereas the average crossing during this time period was onJy about two months. Michael Hartom’s voyage was purportedly six months, as documented by Evelyn Dutcher Griffis. However, we do not know if Evelyn’s “six month” statement includes his travel to the departing port. We also do not know when Michael Hartom started his journey.

Mittelberger’s ship carried 486 passengers. The average in the German trade was 300 between 1750 and 1754, and almost half that at other times.  He also experienced a relatively longer, more crowded passage. [40]

By the 1830s to 1860s, North Atlantic passage mortality had fallen to between 2.4 and 1.0 percent, or as low as 10 per J,000 per month. Since these voyages lasted around one to one and a half months, the annualized crude death rate was as low as 80 to 120 per 1,000. Thus late eighteenth-century passage mortality was only about twice as high as early nineteenth-century passage mortality. [41]

Immigration in the 1800’s: Packet Ships from Havre

The German emigrants in the 1800’s, which included John Sperber and the Fliegel family, came to the United States via Le Havre, France, which was also reached via the Rhine River. Though people from all over Germany migrated to America, the Rhine represented the main highway out of Germany to the New World in the 1800s. They also took ships from other ports, notably Bremen, Germany and a smaller portion of travelers left via Hamburg. In the nineteenth century these ports were reachable by train.

“After the fall of Napoleon, Havre became the chief port of departure for continental Europe, and it retained its supremacy for more than a generation. The Swiss and South Germans arrived there overland or by sail from Cologne; and many came in coasting vessels from North Germany, and even from Norway for transshipment to America. In 1854 the German emigration by way of Havre exceeded that from Bremen by twenty thousand; while Bremen was ahead of Hamburg by twenty-five thousand, and Hamburg in turn led Antwerp by a like number. The completion of the German railway system and the great expansion of steam navigation in the Hanseatic cities eventually deprived Havre of her predominance in the business, but she remained an important port of departure as long as there was a large emigration from the region to which she was an accessible outlet.” [42]

“The development of steam transportation for immigrants, even after the invention of the screw propeller, was not so rapid as might have been expected. It was not till 1865 that more of them came by steam than by sail; and for more than a decade after that date sailing vessels still had a considerable share of the business.” [43]

Beginning in 1820, ship captains were required to file a list of all passengers aboard an arriving ship to the U.S. port authorities. The documentation provided a basis for official estimates of immigration for the nineteenth century. [44] While this increased the chances of being able to document German immigrants arriving in the United States, it is not a certainty that one will find ship manifest lists for all incoming passengers on ships that traveled to the United States in this time period.

Many immigrants sailed to America or back to their homelands in packet ships between 1817 – 1880. The term packet ship was used to describe a vessel that featured regularly scheduled service on a specific point-to-point line. Usually, the individual ship operated exclusively for a specific shipping line. Packet ships were sail vessels that carried mail, cargo, and people.

Most of the immigrants crossed the Atlantic in the steerage area of the packet ships. Conditions varied from ship to ship, but steerage was normally crowded, dark, and damp. [45] While. the trip for immigrants was much shorter than those experienced in the 1700’s, the Atlantic crossing was still fraught with dangers ranging from shipwreck, overcrowded quarters, meager food rations, theft, disease and death.

In the late 1840s, William Smith became one of many immigrants who chose to leave his native home and family to undertake the trip to the United States. His published personal narrative of his experiences aboard the ship India as a steerage passenger traveling from Liverpool, England, to New York City exemplifies the experience of many millions of other immigrants to the United States. The mid-nineteenth-century steerage deck was, at its best, cramped and uncomfortable; ceiling heights could lie as low as five and a half feet, and the overall dimensions of the space were often about seventy-five by twenty-five feet. Travelers shared these tight quarters for an average of forty days. [46]

Disease spread quickly in this crowded environment, Smith’s personal narrative alludes to the prevalence of sickness and death. However, various studies have shown that the mortality rate on ships in the md 1800’s was not as high as what personal narratives have portrayed. Many have thought that immigrant mortality was fairly high during these years, but one study has shown that the mortality rate was 1.4 percent of the passengers, or about 10 per thousand per month, died on a typical voyage. The percent who died was significantly higher for ships arriving in November through February than for the other months. Sailing conditions in the North Atlantic were substantially worse during these months. [47]

The packet ships, unlike the later and more glamorous clippers, or steamers were not designed for speed. They carried cargo and passengers, and for several decades packets were the most efficient way to cross the Atlantic.

“Packet ships, packet liners, or simply packets, were sailing ships of the early 1800s that did something which was novel at the time: they departed from port on a regular schedule.” [48]

The cutaway below reveals how travelers and cargo sailed together on a packet ship. Travelers with enough money purchased “cabin passage” and slept in private or semiprivate rooms. The vast majority of passengers, usually immigrants, bought bunks in steerage, also called the ’tween deck’ for its position between the cabins and the hold.

Cross Section of a Packet Ship [49]

Packet Ships were sturdy vessels designed to sail the rough north Atlantic at the cost of speed. They measured about 200 feet long with three masts and a blunt, broad and flat bow. They could travel about 200 miles per day if the conditions were right. Their trans-Atlantic voyages averaged 23 days to go east, and 40 days to go west. [50]

In the 1830s steamships were introduced, and by the end of the Civil War they were taking over as the mode of transportation, especially for the more affluent. The sailing packet lines ceased operation altogether in 1880.

“By 1847, there were many ads showing that regular service had been established. In 1850, there was a noticeable uptick in the number of advertisements announcing regularly scheduled sailings between Europe and the United Stales. At this point. there were also more ads claiming passage on “fast” sailing ships, presumably trying to compete with the new steamships. Over the 1850s, more and more ads were placed regarding passage on steamships. By 1855, advertisements for fares on sailing ships dropped off and the paper no longer printed a fare table.” [51]

Getting and navigating to European ports was a new challenge for most emigrants, many of whom had never ventured very far from their home village. Ads in German newspapers oftentimes gave information about where where to stay in ports, when the cost of staying in the ports was included in the passage price, and how to survive cheaply before setting sail.

“For an adult traveling in steerage ona sailing ship, the average fare was 33 to 35 (Prussian) Thalers, about 23 dollars.  These fares explain why most of the Germans who emigrated were positively self selected, that is, they were not poor farm laborers or servants but were somewhat better off.  Around 1850, even a master farm laborer in the Rhine area earned only about 60 Thalers per year in cash in addition lo various in-kind goods, worth probably at least another 20 Thaler.” [52]

The most common destination for German emigrants was New York City, and getting there was expensive for many Germans.  Moving to the United States was not a cheap endeavor for Germans during the middle of the nineteenth century. The fares were generally higher fares from Le Havre, Antwerp, and Rotterdam than from Hamburg or Bremen. The reason is that the listings for the fares from these cities included the cost of getting from a city in the interior of Germany to the port city. For example a listing might be “Koeln – Havre – New York”.

Even for individuals with skills that commanded a good wage, such as 70 to 100 Thalers a year, paying for just one transatlantic fare would have cost between one-third and one-half of their yearly income. While individuals could afford to emigrate at these prices, it was near the limit of what was affordable. For those who could come close to raising the necessary funds. paying for the voyage was made more feasible if they had an inheritance or could liquidate all their goods and properly before leaving.

“Most German emigrants had incomes no lower than those earned by the lower middle class, creating an emigrant population from German states that was positively self selected in the 1840s and 1850.” [53]

The Sperber and Fliegel Families: Emigration in the 1850’s

John Sperber and the Fliegel family emigrated to the United States in different years in the 1850’s. John Sperber reportedly arrived around 1853 and the Fliegel family arrived in 1855.

The ‘pater familias’, John Wolfgang Sperber, was born in Baden, Germany around 1828. His bride, Sophia Fliegel, and her family also immigrated to the United States around the same time. Both families were from the Grand Duchy of Baden. It is the German State occupying the southwest corner of Germany. As you can see from the map below, Baden borders on the Alsace region of France, Switzerland, Austria, and the German states of Hessen and Bavaria.

1855 Colton Map of Bavaria, Wurtemberg and Baden, Germany

Click for Larger View

The Sperber and Fliegel families were originally from Baden and Ettlingen Ittlingen respectively. Both towns are in the Baden Würtemberg area. The Wageneck family is a maternal branch of the Fliegel family. The family can also be traced back a number of generations from the Baden Würtemberg area.

The Baden-Württemberg area comprises the historical territories of Baden, Prussian Hohenzollern, and Württemberg.  Baden spans along the flat right bank of the river Rhine from north-west to the south (Lake Constance) of the present state. Württemberg and Hohenzollern lay more inland and are hillier, including areas such as the Swabian Jura mountain range. The Black Forest formed part of the border between Baden and Württemberg. While the area is now formally a German state, it is historically an area that represented a variety of German city states.

John Sperber was the second of the two family members to settle in Gloversville, New York. It is not entirely certain as to when John Sperber arrived in the United States. In a 1900 U.S. Federal Census, John Sperber reported, at the age of 72, that he arrived in the United States in 1853. Ship manifest records indicate a John Sperber arrived in 1852. [54]

Researching ship manifest lists of ships that arrived in the United States around 1853 revealed a few records that may point to our John or Johann Sperber. [55] The most likely record documents the arrival of a Johann Sperber arriving in the port of New York City on June 14, 1852. [56] Johann Sperber traveled on the packet ship named Germania and departed from Havre, France. Based on the ship manifest records, Johann Sperber was 26 years old, his estimated birth date was 1826, his occupation was listed as ‘cultivator‘ and his birth place was listed as ‘Bavaria‘. He stayed in the steerage area of the ship.

The Packet Ship Germania at pier, Le Havre, France [57]

Click for Larger View

Johann Sperber sailed on the Germania, a packet ship built in 1850 . It was in service by by the Havre Whitlock ship line between 1850 – 1863. Based on the ship’s records, it took an average of 38 days to sail from Havre to New York City. The Germania was one of fourteen ships owned and managed by the Havre Whitlock Line. [58] The ships sailed from New York to Le Havre every month on the 8th, 16th, and 24th, and sailed from Le Havre every month on the 1st, 8th, and 24th. [59]

As reflected in the map below, Johann arrived at pier 14 in New York City on June 14, 1852.

Port of New York 1851

Source: From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Map of the Port of New York on the south tip of Manhattan Island in 1851. Heavy broken line marks the waterfront below City Hall park in 1784. Area filled in prior to 1820.  The original source is unknown. The old illustration was found in Carl C. Cutler, Queens of the Western Ocean, Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute, 1961  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Port_of_New_York_1851.jpg

It is not known how and how long it took for Johann Sperber to travel from New York City to the Johnstown – Gloversville area.

“Gloversville was originally settled by New England Puritans in the 1790’s. In the ensuing decades as the community grew, leather tanning became a prominent local industry due to the purity and abundance of water and the availability of hemlock bark as a source of tannin. As a result, the manufacture of gloves became widespread as a cottage industry. It was in 1828 that the settlement was officially given its current name upon the establishment of the first post office.” [60]

After the Civil War, the glove industry boomed in the Johnstown and Gloversville, New York area, causing large numbers of immigrants from many of Europe’s glove making centers to make their new homes there.

The Fliegel family was actually from Ittlignen which is not listed on the above 1855 map. From 1355, Ittlingen was a possession of the Lordship of Gemmingen. Their rule ended in 1806, when the Gemmingens’ properties were mediatized to the Grand Duchy of Baden. Ittlingen was assigned on 22 June 1807 to Oberamt Gochsheim, the only such district in Baden. On 24 July 1813, Ittlingen was assigned to the district of Eppingen.

As the crow flies, Baden and Eppingen are about 47 miles apart. It would take you 16 and a half hours to walk from one area to the other.

Distance Between Baden and Eppingen Germany

Click for Larger View.

In 1855, Christopher (Christoph) Fliegel and his wife Maria Juliana Wageneck made a major life altering decision to emigrate with their three young adult children to the United States. This must have been a hard decision to make, perhaps due to push factors they experienced in Germany. Christopher was 60 years old and Juliana was in her late fifties.

Similar to Johann Sperper’s experience, the family traveled from their German Rhineland home to Havre, France and took one of the packet ships run by the Havre-Union Line. They, like Johann arrived at pier 14 in New York City.

The manifest list for the ship the Fliegel family traveled on is below. It lists the following information (lines 3 – 7): Christoph Fliegel (age 60), Juliani (59), Phillipp (33), Rosina (28) and Sophie (21) from Baden Germany. [61]. They were among 303 individuals who sailed on the ship ‘Zurich‘ and arrived in New York City on January 26, 1855. [62]

Ship Manifest List for Fliegel Family

The American Ship Zurich was built in New York by W.H. Webb in 1844. [63] It was a class A2 ship of 817 tons with 2 decks. It was made of white Oak and the hull was medalled in September 1854. During its lifetime (1844 – 1863) it sailed from the New York port and principally sailed to Havre, France and it averaged 35 days from Harvre to New York City. [64] It was one of twenty-five packet ships that were part of what was called the Havre Old Line. [65]

Once in New York City, the family traveled west and ultimately established their new home in Johnstown New York. In five years, the U.S. Federal Census captured a shapshot of the family. [66] Chistopher, age 72, is living with this son Philip’s family Philip’s occupation is listed as a “Skin Dresser” , a work activity associated with glove making. Evidently the census enumerator did not capture Juliana’s whereabouts. Christoph Fliegel lived long enough to see his family settled in the United States. He passed away at the reported age of 74 on October 15, 1872. His wife Juliana reportedly died on February 23, 1867.

1860 U.S. Census

Click for Larger View


Feature Photograph of this story: This is a portion of a map from Colton, G. W., Colton’s Atlas of the World Illustrating Physical and Political Geography, Vol 2, New York, 1855 (First Edition) Issued as page no. 14 in volume 2 of the first edition of George Washington Colton’s 1855 Atlas of the World. The map covers the 19th century German provinces of Bavaria, Wurttemberg, Baden and Pfalz, as well as numerous smaller regions. The map is divided and color coded according to regional divisions. Various cities, towns, forts, rivers and assortment of additional topographical details are identified.

Highlighted Areas on Map: You can see the proximity of Eppingen (the home of the Fliegel family) and Baden, the home of John Wolfgang Sperber).  1855 Colton Map of Bavaria, Wurtemberg and Baden, Germany – Geographicus Wikipedia, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1855_Colton_Map_of_Bavaria,Wurtemberg_and_Baden,_GermanyGeographicus-_Germany3-colton-1855.jpg The Fliegel family was actually from Ittlignen which is not listed on the 1855 map. From 1355, Ittlingen was a possession of the Lordship of Gemmingen [de]. Their rule ended in 1806, when the Gemmingens’ properties were mediatized to the Grand Duchy of Baden. Ittlingen was assigned on 22 June 1807 to Oberamt Gochsheim [de], the only such district in Baden. On 24 July 1813, Ittlingen was assigned to the district of Eppingen.

Google Maps

Original digital file of map: 3,500 x 2,810 pixels, in ZoomViewer: https://zoomviewer.toolforge.org/index.php?f=1855%20Colton%20Map%20of%20Bavaria%2C%20Wurtemberg%20and%20Baden%2C%20Germany%20-%20Geographicus%20-%20Germany3-colton-1855.jpg&flash=no

[1] Benjamin Myer Brink, The Palatine Settlements, Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association, 1912, Vol. 11 (1912), pp. 136 https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/42889955.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3A962eaf10dd5afe3ff4cdb27ba7b18019&ab_segments=&origin=&initiator=

[2] Cobb, Sanford Hoadley. The Story of the Palatines: An Episode in Colonial History. United Kingdom, G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1897. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Story_of_the_Palatines/eUgjAAAAMAAJ?hl=en

Brink, Benjamin Myer. “THE PALATINE SETTLEMENTS.” Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association, vol. 11, 1912, pp. 136–43. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/42889955. Accessed 27 May 2023.

Ellsworth, Wolcott Webster. “THE PALATINES IN THE MOHAWK VALLEY.” Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association, vol. 14, 1915, pp. 295–311. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/42890044. Accessed 27 May 2023.

Diefendorf, Mary Riggs. The Historic Mohawk. United Kingdom, Putnam, 1910. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Historic_Mohawk/ziIVAAAAYAAJ?hl=en

Walter Allen Knittle, Early Eighteenth Century Palatine Emigration; a British Government Redemptioner Project to Manufacture Naval stores, Philadelphia: Dorrance & Co, 1905, https://archive.org/details/earlyeighteenthc00knit/page/n5/mode/2up

Nelson Greene, History of the Mohhawk Valley, Gateway to the West, 1614 – 1925 Covering the Six Counties of Schenectady, Schoharie, Montgomery, Fulton, Herkimer and Onieda – CVolume 2, S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, https://www.google.com/books/edition/History_of_the_Mohawk_Valley_Gateway_to/aOApAQAAMAAJ?hl=en

The Palatine Germans, National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/the-palatine-germans.htm

[3] Quote is from Philip Otterness, Becoming German, The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004, Pages 120-121

See also:

Donna Merwick, Possessing Albany, 1630-1710: The Dutch and English Experiences, Cambridge, 1990), Pages 204, 227, 259, 291, 294

Thomas Burke, Mohawk Frontier: The Dutch Community of Schenectady, New York 1660-1710, Ithaca, 1991, Page 213

Natalie Zemon Dennis, Cultivating a Landscape of Peace: Iroquois-European Encounters in the Seventeenth-century America, Ithaca, 1993, , Page 131

Francis Jennings, Ambiguous Iroquois Empire, New York, 1984, Page 193

[4] Württemberg Emigration and Immigration, FamilySearch, This page was last edited on 9 December 2022, https://www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/Württemberg_Emigration_and_Immigration

Germany Emigration and Immigration, FamilySearch, This page was last edited on 11 May 2023, https://www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/Germany_Emigration_and_Immigration

Pre-1820 Emigration from Germany, FamilySearch, This page was last edited on 16 December 2022, https://www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/Pre-1820_Emigration_from_Germany

Michael P. Palmer, German and American Sources for German Emigration to America, Germans to America Zgenealology.net, http://www.genealogienetz.de/misc/emig/emigrati.html

[5] Baden-Württemberg, Wikipedia, Page accessed 19 May 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baden-Württemberg

Baden-Württemberg Maps, Family Search, Baden-Württemberg_Maps, This page was last edited on 26 June 2020, https://www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/Baden-Württemberg_Maps

History of Baden-Württemberg, Wikipedia, Page accessed on 19 May 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Baden-Württemberg

Württemberg Emigration and Immigration, FamilySearch, This page was last edited on 9 December 2022, https://www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/Württemberg_Emigration_and_Immigration

[6] The family tree diagrams were created using the online Ancestry.com family tree software. Consistent with their terms and conditions, the images of my family tree are used for only personal use in this blog. https://www.ancestry.com/c/legal/termsandconditions

[7] Gertrude Platts Perry was Evelyn Dutcher’s first cousin.

Kinship Relationship Between Evelyn Dutcher and Gertrude Platts

Click for Larger View

According to Nancy Griffis, based on conversations with Gertrude, she held her cousin, Evelyn, in high esteem; so much so that at times she was jealous of Evelyn’s success in life. As indicated by Nancy Griffis, based on Gertrude’s perception of her relationship with her cousin, she grew up in Evelyn’s shadow. At one point, she burned many photographs associated with the family. Allegedly one of the photographs was of the Indian descendant of the family.

[8] Walter Kenneth Griffith, The Dutcher Family, General Books LLC, 2010

[9] Demelt History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms,House of Names, https://www.houseofnames.com/demelt-family-crest

[10] The Platts name has three possible origins. The first and most likely being a topographic name for someone who lived on a flat piece of land deriving from the Olde French “plat” meaning “a flat surface”. The surname is first recorded in the early half of the 13th century. The name may also derive from the Olde English “plaett” or the Medieval English “plat” meaning “a plank bridge”, and given to one dwelling by a foot bridge. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de la (of the) Platte, which was dated 1242 – The Pipe Rolls of Worcestershire, during the reign of Henry III, The Frenchman 1216-1272. A third possibility is of German origin, an “Anglicized” form of German Platz.


Last name: Platts, SurnameDB,
Read more:  https://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Platts#ixzz83KfbK4Ud

Platts Name Meaning, Ancestry.com, https://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=platts

Platt Surname Definition, Forebears, https://forebears.io/surnames/platt

Platts Name Origin, Meaning and Family History, Your Family History, https://www.your-family-history.com/surname/p/platts/?year=1841#map

[11] History of German-American Relations, 1683-1900 – History and Immigration, U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany, Public Affairs, Information Resource Center, Page updated June 2008, https://usa.usembassy.de/garelations8300.htm

Carl Wittke, Carl, We Who Built America The Saga of the Immigrant (Cleveland: Western Reserve University, 1939). Page 187

[12] Germany from c. 1760 to 1815, Britanica, Page accessed 25 May 2023, https://www.britannica.com/place/Germany/Germany-from-c-1760-to-1815

See also: States of the German Confederation, Wikipedia, This page was last edited on 29 June 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/States_of_the_German_Confederation

[13] Germany from c. 1760 to 1815, Britanica, Britanica.com , https://www.britannica.com/place/Germany/The-cultural-scene

Office of the Historian, The United States and the French Revolution, 1789-1799, Milestones: 1789-1800, U.S. Departmement of State,  https://history.state.gov/milestones/1784-1800/french-rev#:~:text=The%20French%20Revolution%20lasted%20from,embroiled%20in%20these%20European%20conflicts

French Revolution, Wikipedia, Page updated 23 May 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Revolution

Thirty Years War, Wikipedia, Page updated 27 May 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_Years%27_War

Benecke, Gerhard, Germany in the Thirty Years War. New York: St. Martin’s Press 1978

Polišenský, J. V. (1968). “The Thirty Years’ War and the Crises and Revolutions of Seventeenth-Century Europe”. Past and Present39 (39): 34–43. doi:10.1093/past/39.1.34

Rabb, Theodore K. (1962). “The Effects of the Thirty Years’ War on the German Economy”. Journal of Modern History34 (1): 40–51. doi:10.1086/238995JSTOR 1874817

Theibault, John (1997). “The Demography of the Thirty Years War Re-revisited: Günther Franz and his Critics”. German History15 (1): 1–21. doi:10.1093/gh/15.1.1

[14] Robert Alfers, Map of German States 1789, 8 June 2008, German version, Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_the_Holy_Roman_Empire,_1789_en.png

[15] States of the German Confederation, Wikipedia, This page was last edited on 16 April 2023, Map of German states 1815-1866, by Ziegelbrenner, from Wikipedia, Karte des Deutschen Bundes 1815–1866 / Map of German Confederation 1815–1866, 19 Jan 2008, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/States_of_the_German_Confederation

[16] Philip Otterness, Becoming German, The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004, Page 3

{17] Learned, Marion Dexter, The Life of Francis Daniel Pastorius, the Founder of Germantown: Illustrated with Ninety Photographic Reproductions, Philadelphia, W. J. Campbell, 1908, https://archive.org/details/lifefrancisdani00leargoog/page/4/mode/2up

Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker, The Settlement of Germantown, Pennsylvania: And the Beginning of German Emigration to North America,Phildelphia, W. J. Campbell, 1899, https://archive.org/details/settlementgerma00penngoog

[18] F. Burgdorfer, Chapter 12: Migration Across the Frontiers of Germany, p. 313-389, Walter F. Wilcox, ed, International Migrations, Volume II: Interpretations,  National Bureau of Economic Research NABER, January 1931, https://www.nber.org/system/files/chapters/c5114/c5114.pdf

In 1709, in an area in Blackheath in south London, 13,000 German migrants called the Palatines formed what became regarded as Britain’s first refugee camp. They spoke different languages and belonged to different churches and became a curiosity for thousands of Londoners of the period. Most hoped to travel on to Carolina in the New World, after promises of work and prosperity, but in the end only a few made the trip to North America, and many returned to Germany.

See a YouTube video on the subject: BBC bitesize migration 2 palatines online v3 :European Migration to Britain in the 1700’s https://youtu.be/C1aeuKErVIo

[19] The Palatine Germans, The National Park Service, Updated October 8, 2022 https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/the-palatine-germans.htm

Aaron Spencer Fogleman, Hopeful Journeys: German Immigration, Settlement and Political Culture in Colonial America, 1717-1775, Philadelphia: University of pennsylvania Press 1996

Philip Otterness, Becoming German, The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York,Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004

Cobb, Sanford Hoadley. The Story of the Palatines: An Episode in Colonial History. United Kingdom, G. P. Putnam’s sons, 1897. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Story_of_the_Palatines/eUgjAAAAMAAJ?hl=en

Brink, Benjamin Myer. “The Palatine Settlements” Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association, vol. 11, 1912, pp. 136–43. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/42889955. Accessed 27 May 2023.

Ellsworth, Wolcott Webster. “The Palatines in the Mohawk Valley.” Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association, vol. 14, 1915, pp. 295–311. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/42890044. Accessed 27 May 2023.

Diefendorf, Mary Riggs. The Historic Mohawk. United Kingdom, Putnam, 1910. https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Historic_Mohawk/ziIVAAAAYAAJ?hl=en

Benton, Nathaniel Soley. A History of Herkimer County: Including the Upper Mohawk Valley, from the Earliest Period to the Present Time ; with a Brief Notice of the Iroquois Indians, the Early German Tribes, the Palatine Immigrations Into the Colony of New York, and Biographical Sketches of the Palatine Families, the Patentees of Burnetsfield in the Year 1725 ; and Also Biographical Notices of the Most Prominent Public Men of the County ; with Important Statistical Information. United States, J. Munsell, 1856. https://www.google.com/books/edition/A_History_of_Herkimer_County/G1IOAAAAIAAJ?hl=en

[20] Building a New Nation, Library of Congress, Classroom Materials, Immigration and Relocation in U.S. History, German, https://www.loc.gov/classroom-materials/immigration/german/building-a-new-nation/

Immigration and Relocation in U.S. History, Building a New Nation, Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/classroom-materials/immigration/german/building-a-new-nation/

[21] German Immigration timeline, Study Smarter, https://www.studysmarter.us/explanations/history/us-history/german-immigration/

Bernard N. Meisner, Pushes, Pulls and the Records: A Brief Review of the Various Waves of German Immigrants to the United States, Dallas Genealogical Society German Genealogy Group,

[22] Quote from: Immigration and Relocation in U.S. History: A New Surge of Growth, Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/classroom-materials/immigration/german/new-surge-of-growth/

European Emigration to the U.S. 1861 – 1870, Destination America, PBS, Sep 2005, https://www.pbs.org/destinationamerica/usim_wn_noflash_2.html

[23] History of German-American Relations > 1683-1900 – History and Immigration, U.S. Diplomatic Mission to German, This page was updated June 2008, https://usa.usembassy.de/garelations8300.htm

Irish and German Immigration, U.S. History , https://www.ushistory.org/us/25f.asp

Immigration and Relocation in U.S. History: The Call of Tolerance, Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/classroom-materials/immigration/german/call-of-tolerance/

Amanda A. Tagore, Irish and German Immigrants of the Nineteenth Century: Hardships, Improvements, and Success, Pace University: Pforzheimer Honors College, May 2014, https://digitalcommons.pace.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1144&context=honorscollege_theses

[24] United States. Department of Homeland Security. Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2008. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics, 2009, Table 2, https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Yearbook_Immigration_Statistics_2008.pdf

See also: German Americans, Wikipedia, This page was last edited on 21 June 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Americans

[25] Walter F. Wilcox, ed, International Migrations, Volume II: Interpretations,  National Bureau of Economic Research NABER, January 1931, Chapter 12: Dr. F. Burgdörfer, Migration Across the Frontiers of Germany, p. 313-389 https://www.nber.org/system/files/chapters/c5114/c5114.pdf

[26] Ibid, Pages 316-317

[27] The Call of Tolerance, Immigration and Relocation in U.S. History, Germany, Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/classroom-materials/immigration/german/call-of-tolerance/

[28] William John Hinke, ed, Ralph Beaver Strassburger, Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of the Original Lists of Arivals In the Port of Philadelphia From 1727 to 1808, Volume I, Norristown, PA: pennsylvania Gernam Society, 1934, Page xx https://archive.org/details/pennsylvaniagerm05penn_1/page/n9/mode/2up

[29] David Lodge, The Journey Was Difficult: Many Did Not Survive the Trip Across the Ocean, Shelby County Historical Society, Nov 1997, https://www.shelbycountyhistory.org/schs/immigration/thejourney.htm

[30] Leaving Europe: A New Life in America – Departure and Arrival, Europeana, European Union,  https://www.europeana.eu/en/exhibitions/leaving-europe/departure-and-arrival

Patricia Bixler Reber, 18th century immigrant ships – provisions, hardships, indentured servant process, 14 Oct 2019, Researching Food History, http://researchingfoodhistory.blogspot.com/2019/10/18th-century-immigrant-ships-provisions.html

Ellie Ayton, What was Life Like on Board an Emigrant Ship generations Ago?, 9 Sep 2020, Find My Past, https://www.findmypast.com/blog/history/life-on-board

A “description of Gottleib’s account – Passage To America, 1750,” EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2000) http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/passage.htm

John Simkin, Journey to America, Sep 1977, Spartacus Educational, https://spartacus-educational.com/USAEjourney.htm

Ellie Ayton, What was Life Like on Board an Emigrant Ship generations Ago?, 9 Sep 2020, Find My Past, https://www.findmypast.com/blog/history/life-on-board

Leaving Europe: A New Life in America – Departure and Arrival, Europeana, European Union,  https://www.europeana.eu/en/exhibitions/leaving-europe/departure-and-arrival

[31] Gottlieb Mittelberger’s Journey to Pennsylvania in the Year 1750 and Return to Germany in the year 1754, Philadelphia: John Jos. McVey, 1989  https://www.google.com/books/edition/Gottlieb_Mittelberger_s_Journey_to_Penns/4KYlAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=intitle:Gottlieb+intitle:Mittelberger%27s+intitle:Journey+intitle:to+intitle:Pennsylvania&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

[32] Ibid, Page 18

[33] Ibid, Page 19

[34] Ibid, Page 20

[35] Ibid, Page 23

[36] Ibid, Page 25

[37] Ibid, Page 26

[38] Ibid, Page 28

[39] Grubb, Farley. “Morbidity and Mortality on the North Atlantic Passage: Eighteenth-Century German Immigration.” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 17, no. 3 (1987): 565–85. https://doi.org/10.2307/204611.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid

[42] Page, Thomas W. “The Transportation of Immigrants and Reception Arrangements in the Nineteenth Century.” Journal of Political Economy 19, no. 9 (1911): 732–49. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1820349.

[43] Ibid; see also

Cohn, Raymond L. “The Transition from Sail to Steam in Immigration to the United States.” The Journal of Economic History 65, no. 2 (2005): 469–95. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3875069.

Cohn, Raymond L. “Mortality on Immigrant Voyages to New York, 1836-1853.” The Journal of Economic History 44, no. 2 (1984): 289–300. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2120706.

Graham, Gerald S. “The Ascendancy of the Sailing Ship 1850-85.” The Economic History Review 9, no. 1 (1956): 74–88. https://doi.org/10.2307/2591532.

Moltmann, Günter. “Migrations from Germany to North America: New Perspectives.” Reviews in American History 14, no. 4 (1986): 580–96. https://doi.org/10.2307/2702202.

Graham, Gerald S. “The Ascendancy of the Sailing Ship 1850-85.” The Economic History Review 9, no. 1 (1956): 74–88. https://doi.org/10.2307/2591532.

Riley, James C. “Mortality on Long-Distance Voyages in the Eighteenth Century.” The Journal of Economic History 41, no. 3 (1981): 651–56. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2119944.

Hoerder, Dirk. “The Traffic of Emigration via Bremen/Bremerhaven: Merchants’ Interests, Protective Legislation, and Migrants’ Experiences.” Journal of American Ethnic History 13, no. 1 (1993): 68–101. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27501115.

Bade, Klaus J. “German Emigration to the United States and Continental Immigration to Germany in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries.” Central European History 13, no. 4 (1980): 348–77. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4545908.

[44] Immigration, Steaming into the Future, Steamship Historical Society of America,   https://shiphistory.org/themes/immigration/

[45] Aboard a Packet, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian, https://americanhistory.si.edu/on-the-water/maritime-nation/enterprise-water/aboard-packet

Kathi Gosz, A Look at Le Havre, a Less-Known Port for German Emigrants, 9 Oct 2011, ‘Village Life in Kreis Saarburg Germany’, Blog, http://19thcenturyrhinelandlive.blogspot.com/2011/10/look-at-le-havre-less-known-port-for.html

[46] William Smith, An Emigrant’s Narrative or a Voice from Steerage, New York: Published by the Author and Printed by E. Winchester, 1850 https://www.google.com/books/edition/An_Emigrant_s_Narrative_Or_A_Voice_from/wIYTAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1.

An Emigrant’s Narrative; or, A Voice from the Steerage Summary, WikiSummaries, Last updated on November 10, 2022, https://wikisummaries.org/an-emigrants-narrative-or-a-voice-from-the-steerage/

[47] Cohn, Raymond L. “Mortality on Immigrant Voyages to New York, 1836-1853.” The Journal of Economic History 44, no. 2 (1984): 289–300. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2120706.

[48] McNamara, Robert. “Packet ship.” ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/packet-ship-definition-1773390 (accessed July 10, 2023)

[49] Inside a Packet Ship, 1854, From Die Gartenlaube Leipzig Fruft NeilCourtesy of the Mariners’ Museum, Wkimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Inside_a_Packet_Ship,_1854.jpg

[50] Quote from: Genealogy Packet Boats, ships were backbone of U.S. Water travel, Tribune-Star, April 24, 2014, https://www.tribstar.com/features/history/genealogy-packet-boats-ships-were-backbone-of-u-s-water-travel/article_8033a7a5-947c-5e62-ba27-4ef854ca0343.html

See also: Packet boat, Wikipedia, This page was last edited on 8 March 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Packet_boat

[51] Cohn, Raymond L., and Simone A. Wegge. “Overseas Passenger Fares and Emigration from Germany in the Mid-Nineteenth Century.” Social Science History 41, no. 3 (2017): 393–413. https://www.jstor.org/stable/90017919.

[52] Ibid

[53] Ibid

[54] United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls. Year: 1900; Census Place: Gloversville Ward 1, Fulton, New York; Roll: 1036; Page: 5; Enumeration District: 0006, Bounded By Forest, Fremont, Steele Ave, City Limits, South Main , Page 5, Line 98.

[55] Researching ship manifest lists during this time period have revealed a few records that may point to our John or Johann Sperber

German Passengers Immigrating to American Around 1853 with Name Sperber

Johann Sperber1826Bavaria14 Jun 1852HavreNew York
Joh G. Sperber1834Bavaria09 Jul 1856HamburgNew York
J. Sperber1832Bavaria08 May 1855BremenNew York
W. Sperber 182820 Jun 1853BremenNew York
Sources: Ancestry.com. New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Original data:View Sources.
“United States Germans to America Index, 1850-1897.” Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 18 July 2022. Citing NARA NAID 566634. National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

I have researched a number of sources for ship manifest records for Johan Wolfgang Sperber and Michael Hartom, some of which are listed below:

Below is a list of indexes and finding aids for New York passenger lists for 1820 to the 1890s (and beyond), including the Castle Garden period. 

[56] Affiliate Manifest ID: 00006987, Affiliate ARC Identifier: 1746067 “United States Germans to America Index, 1850-1897,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KD7R-9SX : 27 December 2014), Johann Sperber, 14 Jun 1852; citing Germans to America Passenger Data file, 1850-1897, Ship Germania, departed from Havre, arrived in New York, New York, New York, United States, NAID identifier 1746067, National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

Source: FamilySearch.org |Click for Larger View

[57] Source: Ship GERMANIA at pier, Le Havre, France, Collections & Research, Mystic Seaport Museum , Stereograph photograph by Andrieu, J.
France, Normandie, Le Havre after 1850, paper 7 x 3-1/2 in.; sailing vessels at pier, GERMANIA in foreground; written on back “422 Ecluse de la Barre, at Saquebot, de Gernania de New-York/ au Heavre/ Packet ship Germania/ Chas Henry Townsend [sic.] Cmdg.” Printed on front “VILLES & PORTS MARITIMES” and “PHOTOIE DE J. ANDRIEU, PARIS.” [GERMANIA, ship, later bark, built 1850, Portsmouth, NH, by Fernald & Pettigrew, 996 tons, 170.7 x 35.5 x 17.7; New York & Havre Union Line.] http://mobius.mysticseaport.org/detail.php?module=objects&type=related&kv=197388

[58] Havre-Union Line (trans-Atlantic packet), Wikipedia, This page was last edited on 17 May 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havre-Union_Line_(trans-Atlantic_packet)

[59] Holley, O. L., ed. (1845). The New-York State Register, for 1845. New York: J. Disturnell. p. 257

[60] History of Gloversville, City of Gloversville, http://www.cityofgloversville.com/residents/city-historian/

[61] Albion, Robert G. Square-Riggers On Schedule: The New York Sailing Packets to England, France, and the Cotton Ports. Hamden, Conn.: Archon, 1965.

Cutler, Carl C. Queens of the Western Ocean: The Story of America’s Mail and Passenger Sailing Lines. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1961.

Lubbock, Basil. The Western Ocean Packets. New York: Dover, 1988.

[62] Christoph Fliegel (age 60), Juliani (59), Phillipp (33), Rosina (28) and Sophie (21) from Baden Germany, Year: 1855; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Jan 26, 1855, Page One, Lines: 3-7; List Number: 53, Ship or Roll Number: Zurich

New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957, Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls. NAI: 6256867. Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36. National Archives at Washington, D.C. Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1957. Microfilm Publication T715, 8892 rolls. NAI: 300346. Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; National Archives at Washington, D.C. Supplemental Manifests of Alien Passengers and Crew Members Who Arrived on Vessels at New York, New York, Who Were Inspected for Admission, and Related Index, compiled 1887-1952. Microfilm Publication A3461, 21 rolls. NAI: 3887372. RG 85, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Index to Alien Crewmen Who Were Discharged or Who Deserted at New York, New York, May 1917-Nov. 1957. Microfilm Publication A3417. NAI: 4497925. National Archives at Washington, D.C. Passenger Lists, 1962-1972, and Crew Lists, 1943-1972, of Vessels Arriving at Oswego, New York. Microfilm Publication A3426. NAI: 4441521. National Archives at Washington, D.C. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7488/images/NYM237_150-0080?pId=1184419 ;

[63] Immigration & Steamships, Mystic Seaport, the Museum of America and the Sea,  https://research.mysticseaport.org/exhibits/immigration/

[64] American Lloyd’s Register of American and Foreign Shipping, New York: E & G.W. Blunt, Clayton & Ferris Printers, 1859, Page 93  https://research.mysticseaport.org/item/l0237571859/#29

[65] Havre-Union Line (trans-Atlantic packet), Wikipedia, This page was last edited on 17 May 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havre-Union_Line_(trans-Atlantic_packet)

[66] U.S. Federal Census, New York, Fulton County, Johnstown, Dweling Number 1398, 6 household members, lines 16-21, Page 179.

Is the Huntington NY Griff(is)(es)(ith) Family Name Welsh?

Based on a number of sources of supporting evidence, it is strongly believed that the Griff(is)(es)(ith)) surname of the family is a Welsh surname. Based on oral family stories it is beleived that the family came from Wales. [1] The documented variability of the surname spellings of the twelve children and descendants of William Griffis in America (e.g. Griffith, Griffis, Griffes) is also reflective of the historic characteristics associated with the evolution of Welsh surnames. [2]

In addition, aside from the Dutch and French, the Welsh together with the Scotts and English were some of the earliest colonists to arrive in America in the 1600’s and 1700’s. [3] Many of the Welsh that came to the colonies were either residing in England or from southern Wales. The southern region of Wales is located just across the Bristol Channel from what was then England’s second largest port city, Bristol. The port of Bristol supplied thousands of emigrants to England during the 17th and 18th centuries. 

“Estimates suggest that at least 6,000 Welsh-born persons had settled in London in the early seventeenth century, amounting to some seven per cent of the capital’s resident population.” [4]

To a large degree, the Welsh that initially immigrated with the English to the colonies in the 1600’s came from the English ports of Bristol and London. [5] The influx of the first major wave of Welsh immigrants to America began in the mid to late 1600s. While there were movements of individuals, the majority transferred in denominational groups and settled together in small communities. Between the Restoration (1660) and the turn of the century, it is estimated that about 3,000 individuals of Welsh descent came to the colonies. [6] It is not known how many arrived prior to 1660.

“Some few people from Wales did emigrate during the Laudian persecution of the 1630s to gain religious and political freedom and were active in New England in the 1650s in evangelical reform. … At the same time, Wales was experiencing extreme economic problems. To a much greater extent than England, Wales consisted of a multitude of small tenant farmers whose plight was worsening with the concentration of land and power in the grasp of a prospering minority. … It is against this background that the first sizable emigrations from Wales occur, though quality rather than quantity is the keystone. ” [7]

While not certain, through my journey of hunches, dead-ends and successful finds, there is a plausible argument that William’s ancestors came from southern Wales. It is believed that one of more of the Griffith clan traveled from Bristol to Boston or another northern port. Another possibility is that William’s ancestors were Irish or English and had the Griffith, Griffiths, or Griffis surname and emigrated from one of these ports to the colonies.

However, there is no direct proof that the patrilneal family line was Welsh, English or Irish.

Similar to the Duck Test [8] of abductive reasoning:

  • Family folklore has stated that the surname was of Welsh origin;
  • the timing of when the family immigrated to the Colonies (mid to late 1600’s) suggest they were of English or Welsh origin;
  • the modifications of use of the Griffith(is)(es) surname in the Colonies has the historical characteristics of the Welsh in the late transition from a patronymic to surname naming custom ;
  • the derivation of the Griffith name is mainly of Welsh origin, therefore I believe that
  • the Griffith surname is a Welsh surname.

Well, I do tend to lean toward believing my second cousin four times removed, William Case Griffis regarding his recollections of his great grandfather William Griffis. [9]

Portrait of William Case Griffis | Click for Larger View.

Nevertheless, I thought I would delve a bit more into possible Y-DNA leads and review census data and Y-DNA associated with surnames from the present and past in Great Britain and Ireland to possibly add more ‘ballast’ to the argument that the family surname reflects a paternal line that was Welsh.

The Griff(ith)(iths) Surname

The surname of the Griff(is)(es)(ith) is actually a variant of the name Griffith and Griffiths, and its Welsh form of Gruffudd or Gruffydd. It is a traditional name of Welsh origin that was originally used as a personal name and eventually used as a surname, with or without the ‘s‘ as in Griffiths[10] The name has many variations as a result of the natural evolution of the name in Welsh, as well as the translation of the name from Welsh into both Latin and English. Common variants include Griffin, Griffith, Griffiths, Griffing, Griffes, Griffis and other variations. The anglicized and Welsh forms are treated as different spellings of the same name in Wales.

Although there is documentation that Griffith families came from north Wales, there were in fact documented more Griffiths throughout Wales and across the border in England. [11]

The name Griffith in Ireland originally appeared in Gaelic as Ó Gríobhtha, which is derived from the word “gríobhtha,” which means “griffin-like.” While most of the instances of this name in Ireland can be traced to this native Irish source, the name also came to Ireland in the 12th century with the Anglo-Norman invasion of Strongbow. In this instance, the Griffith surname is derived from the Welsh personal names Griffin, Gruffin, or Griffith, pet-forms of the Middle Welshname Gruffudd. [12]

In studies of Welsh forenames in use in Wales in the fifteenth century, it has been noted that Welsh forenames were fading while ‘new’ Anglo-Norman names were growing. However, among the ‘traditional’ Welsh forenames that continued to be used, Gruffudd represented 6 percent throughout Wales. The modern derivative, Griffths, continued to be used throughout Wales. For comparison, the figures for surnames in Wales between 1813-1837 indicate that Griffiths represented 2.8 percent of the Welsh population.  [13]

Griffi(th)(iths) Surname Distribution in British & Irish Census

The Griff(is)(es)(ith) family immigrated to the colonies in the mid to late 1600’s. I have not been able to find historical documentation on the prevalence and distribution of the Griffith surname in Wales in the 1600’s or 1700’s.

Perhaps reviewing the surname distribution patterns in the late 1800’s might provide a plausible glimpse of the historic distribution patterns that were similar to the 1600’s. This of course tenuously assumes that most folks in the British Isles did not have high migration patterns within and between Wales, Ireland and England during the 1600’s through 1800’s. This is not necessarily the case. [14] The economic effects of industrialization in the mid to late 1800’s had an effect on migration patterns on the British Isles. However, assuming most families within three to four generations (1600-1800) stuck within a certain geographic radius, we might see similarities in surname distributions within Wales and on the border of England and assume this reflects, to a degree, surname distributions in the mid-1600’s.

The ten most common surnames in Wales in 1856 were Jones (13.84%), Williams (8.91%), Davies (7.09%), Thomas (5.70%), Evans (5.46%), Roberts (3.69%), Hughes (2.98%), Lewis (2.97%), Morgan (2.63%) and Griffiths (2.58%)[15] 

Of these ten common Welsh surnames, only five were found throughout Wales and did not display any marked concentration in any one area: Thomas, Lewis, Griffiths, Edwards and Morris. Other common surnames included Owen, Pritchard and Parry. The popular given names from which these surnames derived, such as Jones from John, and Davies from David, clearly depict the patronymic practice. While these figures reflect all of Wales, there have been studies which document that different areas of Wales have different levels and mixtures of surnames.  [16] 

For example:

“(T)he ten most common names in the Uwchgwyrfai area of Caernarfonshire covered more than 90% of the population. those names (in the early part of the nineteenth century) were: Jones (22.8%), Williams (18.40%), Roberts (13.28%), Hughes (7.78%), Griffiths (7.39%), Thomas (5.37%), Owen (4.86%), Evans (4.17%), Pritchard (3.65%) and Parry (2.92%).” [17]

Given the documented broad range of presence of Griffith and Griffiths throughout Wales and neighboring counties England, I did not anticipate getting any strong clues as to the location of where the ancestors of William Griffis resided. However, I thought I might find certain counties as having an higher probability of where the ancestors of the Griff(is)(es)(ith) family were from.

Keeping an Open Mind on Welsh Surnames: Don’t Fixate on One Name

Given the history of the emergence and use of surnames among the Welsh, pedantically looking for the literal spelling of one’s present day surname in historical records or Y-DNA test kit results is unwise. It is wise to pay attention to surnames that are geographically similar to where Griffith(s) households are found especially in terms of genetic matches. Families may have used different surnames in Wales as the practice of using surnames became more widespread in specific geographical areas.

In a study of Welsh wills, John and Sheila Rowlands documented ‘patterns of decay’ in the use of the patronymic naming system in Wales. [18] They completed a study aimed at providing a means of determining areas in Wales when the use of the patronymic naming system reduced to about 10 percent of the names in a given area.

Illustration One: Patronymic Decay and the Rise of Surnames in Wales

Source: John and Sheila Rowlands, The Use of Surnames, Chapter 4, Patronymic Naming – A Survey in Transition, Llandysul, Ceredigion: Gomer Press, 2013, Figure 4-3: Decay in the use of patronymic naming to the 10% level, Page 56 | Click for Larger View

The map above (Illustration One), which is from their study, reveals the wide variation when surnames were adopted in various parts of Wales. Surnames became the norm by 1750 across the coastal plain of south Wales and along the eastern border with England.

It was not until the mid-nineteenth century that the Patronymic system was fully replaced in Wales. When the Welsh immigrated to America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the patronymic pattern on both sides of the Atlantic eventually stopped, and their surnames became hereditary. However, it is not uncommon to find variations of surname spellings within and between family generations in documents associated with our family members in the 1600’s and 1700’s in the colonies. The use of surnames was, compared to the curing of concrete, “wet cement” in the 1600’s and 1700’s.

The Widespread Presence of Griffith(s) surnames in Wales

A review of data from the 1881 census of Great Britain and Griffith’s Valuation in Ireland 1853-1865, indicate that the surname of Griffith and Griffiths is found in a large number of countries throughout Great Britain and Ireland. Eighty percent of the prevalence of the Griffith(s) surnames are found within 77 mile radius of Caernarfon, Wales [19]. The Griffiths surname is more prevalent by county than Griffith.

Illustration Two: Prevalence of Griffiths and Griffis Surnames in Welsh and English Counties

Looking at this data on a map in Illustration Three, one can see that households with the Griffiths and Griffith surnames are located throughout Wales. The circle with a dotted boundary indicates the 77 mile radius of the 80 percent prevalence of the two surnames in the British and Irish census data combined. Where the two surnames are relatively larger in specific counties, a small pie chart appears and portions of the pie reflecting areas proportionate to prevalence of the two surnames. Counties that have a lessor presence of the surnames are reflected with small dots. The Griffith and Griffiths surnames were present in small varying degrees in many of the counties of Great Britain and Ireland. [21]

Illustration Three: Census Prevalence of Griffith & Griffiths Surnames in England and Ireland, Mid to late 1800s

Source: Rob Spencer, Britain and Ireland SNP and Surname Mapper | Click for Larger View

If we look at the 1881 census data for only the Welsh counties as depicted in Table One, four of the twelve counties represent 63 percent of Welsh households that have the name Griffith or Griffith. Glamorgan has the largest proportionate presence of the Griffith(s) surnames (27%). Penbroke, Caernafon and Carmarthen are the second, third and fourth largest in representation of Griffith(s) households (15.7%, 10.4% and 10.0% respectively). While these four counties contain the largest concentration of Griffith and Griffiths households, the Griffith(s) surnames are represented in all of the Welsh counties. These two surnames are in the top ten of most popular surnames in seven of the twelve counties.

Table One: Distribution of Griffith and Griffiths Head of Households by Welsh County 1881

of top
300 sur-
Names /
of House-
holds in
Percentage of
Across Counties
Angleseyith14th7222.4 %
Data from Rob Spencer, Britain and Ireland SNP and Surname Mapper, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/biMapper.html

So what does this mean? In essence, the ancestors of William Griffis could conceivably be from anywhere in Great Britain given the prevalence of the Griffith(s) surnames! However, there is a good chance that his ancestors were from Wales and from southern Wales. As reflected in Illustration Four, four counties in Wales represent more than a majority of households with the name of Griffiths or Griffith. Perhaps William’s ancestors were from Glamorgan, Penbroke, Caernafon or Carmarthen counties in Wales.

Illustration Four: 1800 Map of Highlighted Welsh Counties that had the highest concentrations of Griffith(s) households in 1881

Distinctive Surname Patterns and ‘Surname Insularity’ in Wales

A review of surname distributions in Welsh counties reveals similar patterns of surnames among the Welsh counties. This is also the case when viewing the border counties between Wales and England.

Counties whose residents share the same surname distribution mixes can be considered similar. This can be represented in a quantitative manner. The example in the Illustration Five below shows four counties A-D. Counties A and C have 2 of their 3 names in common and could be called 67% similar. A and B are 33% similar and all other pairs are 0% similar. From this a dendrogram can be constructed which visually expresses these counties’ mutual surname similarity. [22]

Illustration Five: Geographic Surname Similarity Portrayed in a Dendrogram

Source: Rob Spencer, County Clustering by Surnames, Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion | Click for Larger View

Clustering the 117 counties of Britain and Ireland by surnames indicates a clear pattern where the similarity of surnames generally follows historic political boundaries. Each region of Great Britain and Ireland (Wales, Scotland, England, Ireland, and Northern Ireland) is generally characterized with its own unique cluster of surnames. One noteworthy observation is the British counties of Herefordshire and Shropshire are deeply clustered with Wales. [23]

Illustration Six: Similarity of Counties Based on the Top 500 Surnames Found in Each County in 1881 (Top 5 Surnames are listed next to Each County)

Source: Rob Spencer, County Clustering by Surnames, Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion | Click for Larger View

The dendrogram above basically illustrates the similarity of Welsh counties based on their unique distributions of the 500 surnames found in the respective counties. For example, Carmarthen and Glamorgan counties are more similar in their top 500 surname disributions than compared wih the other counties. Also, as an example, Shropshire’s names are more similar to Wales than England. Regional identities remain largely the same whether one examines just the very common or just the very uncommon surnames. 

Surnames can be viewed as a measure of the historic influence of patronymic influence, language. lineage, and culture, and they may be shaped by political boundaries or those boundaries may be superimposed on preexisting surname patterns. The crossing of a surname pattern over a political boundary may indicate past boundaries and/or may be related to cultural or sectarian differences.

In order to compare surnames to political or historic regions Rob Spencer looked at surname differences along six tlines that crossed regional borders (see the map in Illustration Six below). Similarity between the counties at the start and end of each arrow are calculated and shown in the six charts below. On the map, the dot on each arrow shows the point where the surname pattern is halfway in terms of similarity between the counties at the ends. The red arrow on the map follows a general pattern where the smaller region (Wales) is ‘tighter’ (homogeneous in terms of Welsh surname patterns) while the larger region (English counties) bleeds into the smaller’s surname pattern (e.g. Shropshire vs Wales). This pattern is depicted in Chart Four. [24]

Illustration Seven: Six Transects through Counties in Great Britain and Ireland

Rober Spencer, County Clustering by Surname | Click for Larger View.

Spencer found in most cases there is an identifiable 50-50 mix in surname patterns along these six lines. If you look at the transect line between Wales and England (highlighted Chart Four below), the 50-50 mix is around Shropshire county in England. In most cases there is a flattening out at one or both ends of the transect into a stable pattern. Pembroke, Cardigan, and Montgomery Welsh counties are all self-similar and iconically Welsh without English admixture, then as the line goes eastward into England, the surname mix is predominantly English.

Charts One Through Six: Similarity of Surnames in 1881 in Border Counties in Great Britain and Ireland

Source: Rob Spencer, County Clustering by Surnames, | Click for Larger View

Surname Variants of Griffiths & Geographical Similarities with other Surnames

Given the history of Welsh patronymics and the historic use of surnames, not only should variants of the spelling of a surname be considered when reviewing various census repositories of information, different surnames should also be considered in specific geographical areas. It is not inconceivable that individuals who were related at specific historical times may have decided to use different surnames when these of surnames became popular.

Illustration Eight indicates variants of the Griffith surname in the 1881 British census. In addition, there are a number of Welsh surnames that are geographically similar to where Griffith(s) surnames were found in 1881. As is evident, the common Welsh surname of Roberts, Owens, Williams, Hughes, Pritchard and Jones are found 80 percent of the time in counties where the Griffith(s) households resides. This is not surprising given the that these surnames were found in most of the Welsh counties.

Illustration Eight: Surname Variant of Griffith and Geographic Similarity of Other Surnames with Griffith

Rober Spencer, County Clustering by Surname | Click for Larger View.

Adding the surname variants of Griffithes, Griffits and Grifiths to the analysis underscores the concentration of households with similar surnames found in Wales and the adjoining counties of Herefordshire and Shopshire in England.

Illustration Nine: Census Prevalence of Variants of Griffiths Surnames in England and Ireland, Mid to late 1800s

Source: Rob Spencer, Britain and Ireland SNP and Surname Mapper| Click for Larger View

Thus far we have observed that the Griffith(s) surname is prevalent in many of the counties in England, Wales and Ireland. There is, however, a relatively higher concentration of Griffith(s) households in all the counties in Wales compared with English and Irish counties. At the latter part of the 1800’s we know that four counties in Wales represented over 60 percent of Griffith(s) households in Wales. Three of the four counties are on the southern border on the Bristol Channel.

Y-DNA & Geographic Location: Crossing the Channel

The comparison of surnames and Y-DNA can show both expected parallels and some surprising differences especially in the “lineage” period of ancestry (see Illustration Ten). This is an era or time period where groups of people have settled in local geographical areas prior to the use of surnames or written history.

Illustration Ten: Three Periods of Ancestry

Source:: | Click for Larger View.

Correlating data associated with the Y-DNA line of descent with the geographic location of the Y-DNA SNPs may provide a plausible but rough depiction of when and where the Griff(is)(es)(ith) family Y-DNA genetic line migrated to the British Isle and specifically to areas that are now modern day Wales. The relative mutation rate for an SNP is extremely low. This makes them ideal for documenting or marking and tracing the history of genetic mutations in the human genetic tree (haplotree) over long periods of time. Many generations can pass without a SNP occurring. This means that SNPs that occur in a specific lineage are unique and seldom change back. They occur thousands or tens of thousands of years ago. 

The analysis of Y-STR data may also shed light on different surnames that are associated with common ancestors within the last 50 generations. As stated in earlier stories about STRs and SNPs, using both SNPs and STRs potentially provide more specificity in tracing the patrilineal line from deep ancestry, through the middle era of lineages and into the more recent historical era of surnames and traditional genealogy. STR markers will generally mutate more frequently than SNPs.  SNP testing is getting better all the time and the advanced tests can now find SNPs every two or three generations, but STRs still mutate faster than that so sometimes you will have branches of the haplotree where no SNP mutations have been identified over a time period and you can not easily determine branching if you do not have the SNP branching points to navigate. STRs can show you where mutations have occurred which are more frequent than SNPs and they can mark branches that are not otherwise identified by SNPs.  So you can get a little more granularity out of STR testing. 

As indicated in other stories on this blog, the Griff(is)(es)(ith) patrilineal line is part of the Y-DNA G-haplogroup. Using an interactive on-line program called “STR Tracker”, an illustrated map chronicles the possible historical migratory path of the family surname haplogroup lineage. [25] This can be used as a basis for evaluating when the Y-DNA genetic line of my patrilineal line possibly migrated to the British Isle.

STR Tracker shows a walking man icon traversing the migratory path of either your paternal or maternal ancestors. Selected major events and cultures appear as the walking man traverses the continent. The app allows you to select various parameters to add information to the migratory path. [26]

Entering my ‘terminal STR’, BY211678, in the app will produce a suggested migratory path to the terminal SNP based on the major SNPs associated with the haplogroup mutations [27].  The terminal SNP is genetically akin to a leaf on small twig (a recent haplogroup branch) on an ancestral tree composed of branches, limbs, twigs and leaves. that was confirmed by my Y-DNA test.

I have recorded a video of the animated path that illustrates the paternal migration time line for the Griff(is)(es)(ith) family Y-DNA. While the accuracy or reliability of the statistical results of such an illustration are fraught with possible sources of error, Spencer, the creator of the app, does an amazing job at bringing historical and DNA data to life.  [28]

The historical path generated from this program is probably not the actual path of the ancestors of the Griff(is)(es)(ith) patrilineal line but it captures the time period and general location of each successive genetic SNP mutation that occurred along the paternal lineage.  

For a larger rendition of the video click here (recommended) and then click on the video arrow for the animation to start the migration process. 

Video: Historical Path of the Griff(is)(es)(ith) Paternal Line

The population of Western Europe has been shaped by various migratory paths of major haplogroups from the east through time. As indicated in Part Three of my DNA story, three major movements of people, shaped the course of European prehistory. While each of these 3 waves of migration were composed of a mix of genetic haplotypes, each were represented by one or two major genetic haplogroups.

The second wave is associated with the migration of Neolithic farmers from the Anatola region. The G-Haplogroup, which the Griff(is)(es)(ith) patrilineal line is a genetic member, was a predominate haplogroup associated with this second wave. They brought not only their DNA but sheep, cattle and wheat to Europe. Within a thousand years the “Neolithic revolution” spread north through Anatolia and into southeastern Europe. By about 6,000 years ago, there were farmers and herders all across Europe.

The third wave, which is predominantly represented by the Yamnaya and are part of the R-Haplogroup, emanated from the Steppes. Illustration eleven depicts three paths of my haplogroup and two R haplogroups. As indicated in the map, the migratory paths of the two R haplogroups moved relatively quickly aacorss continental Europe and into the British Isles. My specific genetic Y-DNA line , part of the G-haplogroup, arrived in the north-central area of continental Europe and stayed there for a longer period of time.

Illustration Eleven: Migratory Paths of G and R Haplogroup Branches

Source: Rob Spencer, SNP Tracker | Click for Larger View

The different timing between the migratory paths of the “second wave” G haplogroup and the “third wave” R haplogroups can be viewed in illustration twelve. It appears the the migratory path of the Griff(is)(es)(ith) genetic line crossed the English channel around the Medieval Era. Prior to this time, they coexisted with a mix of other major haplogroup lines (I, J, R, etc).

Illustration Twelve: Migration Paths of G and R Haplogroups into England by Time and Place

Source: Rob Spencer, SNP Tracker | Click for Larger View

Illustration Thirteen below shows longitude versus time to help visualize the migratory path associated with the Griff(is)(es)(ith) patrilineal line. The colors and thick solid/dashed lines are the same as the map above, and the thin horizontal dotted lines show south-to-north lines at notable longitudes. I have highlighted an area on the chart that suggested a possible time period where an ancestor crossed from the European continent to the British Island.

Illustration Thirteen : Westward Migration of Ancestors of Haplogroup G-BY211678

Source: Rob Spencer, SNP Tracker for G-BY611678 | Click for Larger View.

The following Illustration (Illustration Fourteen) depicts the SNP Y-DNA mutation lines of descent from the G-L497 branch of the G-haplogroup to my terminal SNP branch. The illustration indicates the approximate dates of the man who is the Most Recent Common Ancestor (tMRCA) associated with each of these specific SNP branches. By viewing the approximate dates of each of the MRCAs for each of the branches, we can vaguely estimate when a Y-DNA ancestor possibly crossed from the European continent to the British Isles.

Illustration Fourteen: Estimating When tMRCA Crossed the English Channel

Source: Estimates for MRCA birth and confidence ranges are from Rob Spencer, SNP Tracker |. Click for Larger View.

It should be noted that the statistical confidence levels for the birth dates for each of these MRCA’s are pretty wide! The dates are estimates based on genetic information only. Based on a 95% confidence level, the possible range of birth dates are provided in bold. For example, with a 95% probability, the MRCA of all members of the haplogroup G-Z40857 was born between the years 761 and 1198 CE. The most likely estimate is 1000 CE, rounded to the nearest 100. The chart below indicates a confidence level range of 770 – 1210 CE for the ancestor of G-Z40857. The confidence ranges in the chart are a bit different from FTDNA estimates and are provided through the SNP Tracker application. [29]

It is likely that the most recent common ancestor who crossed the English Channel was the ancestor born at the earliest 700 CE (G-Z6748), or 750 CE (G-Y38335) or the latest around 1000 CE (G-Z40857). Given the statistical ranges associated with each of these three individuals, the ancestor could have crossed between 450 CE and 1200 CE.

The following illustration is a still photograph from the SNP Tracker video that focuses on the approximate location of various SNP mutations that suggest an approximate time when the Griff(is)(es)(ith) lineage crossed the English Channel to the British Isle.

Illustration Fifteen: Estimated Migration Path of the BY211678 Haplogroup

Source: Rob Spencer, SNP Tracker, Click for Larger View

It would appear that the Y-DNA haplogroups of the Griff(is)(es)(ith) line lived in Northern Europe, what is now Germany, for thousands of years, roughly 4000 BCE to 700 CE. During this time, males who were part of this Y-DNA line migrated westward and northward toward the northern European coast. Based on FTDNA test kits who can trace their Y-DNA to the G-Z6748 haplogroup, there is one Y-DNA tester, who reportedly can trace his paternal ancestor back to a Tÿgge Jörgensen who was born in 1678 and died in 1730 and lived in Øbjerg, Denmark. [30]

It appears that the MRCA of the G-Z6748 haplogroup was likely born on the European continent. Some of his descendants migrated to the British Isles. The most likely common genetic ancestor who crossed the English Channel is the MRCA of G-Y38335, born around 750 CE but could have been born around the end o the Roman Empire or as late as before the Norman Invasion.

As Spencer indicates:

Many of the haplogroups [that are claimed to] have originated in the British Isles are simply there because they show up as a handful of cases in Britain or Ireland and we have no evidence of their existence elsewhere due to this [Y-DNA testing] bias. Unless a haplogroup has a very unique geographical distribution or is wholly found in continental Europe (a lot of haplogroups do fit these criteria), it takes several hundred testers to accurately place its origin at the level of individual countries. [31]

The logic behind linking Y-DNA SNP branching and the geographical location with FTDNA test results is intuitive but as Spencer suggests, it has a number of limitations and caveats. One notable caveat is the number of FTDNA testers in each of the descending G-haplogroup branches rapidly declines (see Table Two). SNPs with Irish and Scottish origins are generally better represented in the FTDNA database than those with English and Welsh origins. The G-haplogroup, compared to the R-haplogroup, is a present day minority haplogroup and have few Y-DNA testers.

Table Two: Griff(is)(es)(ith) Y-DNA Lineage on the Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) Haplotree and Number of Testers in Each Branch

Y Branch
Number of 
Tested Big Y DNA
G-L4975300 BCE1,762
G-CTS97374400 BCE1,647
G-Z18173000 BCE1,590
G-Z7272450 BCE1,479
G-FGC4772100 BCE117
G-Z6748700 CE52
G-Y38335750 CE46
G-Z408571000 CE44
G-Y1325051250 CE10
G-BY2116781500 CE8
Source: Family Tree DNA, Data March 2022

As reflected in Table Two, there are only 52 FTDNA Y-DNA test results for men affiliated with the G-Z6748 Haplogroup. This and the subsequent haplogroups descending from this branch are genetic ancestors that lived on the British island.

Y-DNA & Welsh Origin

There are a few STR markers that suggest the Griff(is)es)(ith) genetic line is Welsh. Haplogroup G-P303 (G2a2b2a) is a branch of haplogroup G (M201) that is a few branches pror to the G-L497 branch (see the chart in footnote 27). This older haplogroup represents the majority of haplogroup G men in most areas of Europe west of Russia and the Black Sea. There are also some short tandem repeat (STR) findings among G-P303 men which help in subgrouping them.

The percentage of haplogroup G among available samples from Wales is overwhelmingly G-P303. Such a high percentage is not found in nearby England, Scotland or Ireland. The STR Marker DYS594=12 subgroup has an unusually high percentage of Welsh surnames with the rest mostly of English ancestry based on available samples. (Red highlighted in Table Three).

Many of the men have an unusual value of 13 for Y-STR marker DYS388 ( I also have a 13 value for this marker which is yellow highlighted in Table Three), and some also have 9 at DYS568 (my value is 11). STR marker oddities are often different in each G-P303 subgroup, and characteristic marker values can vary by subgroup. Often the values of STR markers DYS391, DYS392 and DYS393, are respectively 10, 11 and 14 or some slight variation on these for all G-P303 men (all of these values of these markers I also have which are highlighted in blue in Table Three). [32]

In addition the DYS594 STR marker + 12 is a subgroup that has an unusually high percentage of Welsh surnames and to a lesser number of English ancestry. My value for this marker is 11.

Table 3 : FTDNA Y-111 STR Test Results for James Griffis – Markers 1 – 60

Source: FTDNA Y-DNA Results for Y-111 STR Test | Click for Larger View.

Spencer’s Britain and Ireland SNP and Surname Mapper tool provides hints about where and when paternal ancestors lived but is not definitive. Based on a ‘quality control analysis’ of his SNP and Surname Tool, he found that the average error in SNP location is about 160 kilometers.  While a surname may have been prevalent in a specific county, an ancestor could have lived somewhere else. Names such as Jones, Williams and Smith have a very high prevalence in Wales.  This natural bias may suggest the location of Welsh ancestry where there is none. [33]

The following illustration indicates the locations of FTDNA testers that are part of the G-Z4087 haplogroup, which is one of the earlier Y-DNA ancestor branches of the Griff(is)(es)(ith) line. As reflected in the map most of the testers, on the basis of surnames, can be linked to Wales.

Illustration Sixteen: Location Ancestors for Y-DNA FTDNA Testers Who are Descendants G-Z40857

Source: Generated using the Britain and Ireland SNP and Surname Mapper by Rob Spencer | Click for Larger View.

Similar to the results for the G-Z40857 branch, a more recent branch, associated with the Williams surname, is clearly identified with Welsh counties. G-Y132505’s paternal line was formed when it branched off from the ancestor G-Z40857 around 1000 CE. The man who is the most recent common ancestor of this line is estimated to have been born around 1200 CE. [34]

Illustration Seventeen: Location of Reported Ancestors for Y-DNA FTDNA Testers Who are Descendants of the MRCA Y132505

Source: Rob Spencer Britain and Ireland Surname Mapper | Click for Larger View.

Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) Y-DNA datasets include the surname of the modern DNA testers. Most of the DNA testers also provide the name of the earliest known paternal ancestor. Some of the tests provide the location of their earliest known ancestor. Despite the small number of Y-DNA test kits that are from the G-Haplgroup, all of this information can be useful in isolating possible areas where the Griff(is)(es)(ith) parilineal line of descent originated.

All surname groups are made up of distinct Y-DNA lineages. Some of those lineages have common ancestry that predates surnames and can reveal Iron and Roman era genetic relationships. Analyzing surnames of Y-DNA testers in the context of SNP and STR markers can create correlations of surnames with geographical areas. [35]

Since the Welsh were late in the game in adopting surnames, finding Y-DNA genetic matches with test kits associated with different surnames may simply indicate common ancestry. Various genealogists have indicated different time periods when the use of surnames arose in Europe. Some have claimed that surnames emerge 25-30 generations ago. While this might be the case for English and possibly other areas in Europe, I would venture to qualify this rule when dealing with Welsh descendants. I would expect common surnames to emerge among Welsh descendants between 12 to 6 generations. Y-DNA matches of test kits that share a Most Common Recent Ancestor (MCRA) prior to this are related but their respective lineages may assume different surnames during the time period where patronymic name sharing practices fell into disuse. [36] A different surname connecting less than 6 generations ago may indicate an NPE. [37] A different name connecting more than 12 generations ago simply indicates common ancestry

Results from the FTDNA L-497 Haplogroup Project

The following Dendrogram is from my earlier analysis of test kits from the L497 Haplogroup Project when I discovered a genetic match with Henry Griffith. The Dendrogram shows my test kit and the test kit of Henry Griffith (different surname) highlighted in blue. Our MRCA is William Griffis, born 1736. The dendrogram estimated William Griffis’ birth about 8 generations from the present (~1691 CE) which was pretty close. What is notable in the dendrogram is the number of different Welsh surnames that are genetically related to both of us: Williams, Gough, Jones. The dates on the dendrogram refer to the approximate dates of birth for the men who are the MRCA for each of the intersections of the graph. Also we are related to a William Jones reported to have been born 1782 in Lanelii, Wales. Our MCRA was born around 1493 CE.

Illustration Eighteen : Dendrogram Linking James Griffis and Henry Griffith

Click for Larger View

Five of the test kits in the FTDNA L497 Haplogroup Project that are part of my subclade subbranches report that their respective paternal ancestors were born in Wales. One test indicates their paternal ancestor Thomas Thomas was born in 1830 in LLantrisant, Glamorgan. Llantrisant is a town in the county borough of Rhondda Cynon Taf, within the historic county boundaries of GlamorganWales, lying on the River Ely and the Afon Clun.

The other set kit indicates their paternal ancestor, William Rhydderch, was born before 1796 in Swansea, Wales. Swansea, Welsh Abertawe) is a , city, Swansea county, historic county of Glamorgan (Morgannwg), southwestern Wales. It lies along the Bristol Channel at the mouth of the River Tawe.

Another test kit indicates that their paternal ancestor was from Broxton, England. Broxton is a village and civil parish in the unitary authority of Cheshire West and Chester and the ceremonial county of Cheshire, England. The village is 11 miles south of Chester, and only 10 miles east of Wrexham in Wales.

Illustration Nineteen: Reported Location of Paternal Ancestor Filtered for G-Z6748 Haplogroup Y-DNA Testers

Click for Larger View | PDF is also Available for better viewing

Results from the FTDNA Wales Cymru Y-DNA Project

Another FTDNA work group that I am a member is the Wales Cymru Y-DNA Project. This work group project is designed to establish links between various families of Welsh origin with patronymic style surnames. Because the patronymic system continued until the 19th century in some parts of Wales, the project does not limit their study to single surnames. A Williams, for example, could just as easily be related to a Jones, Evans, or Roberts as another Williams in the direct male line. This work group, at the time that this story was written, had 1,598 members. Most of the members are part of the E, I, J and R-haplogroups. These haplogroups are predominate Y-DNA haplogroups in the British Isles. The number of test kits within the G-haplogroup that is part of this Y-DNA work group is small. There are 20 test kits representing the G-Haplogroup in this work group.

Isolating test kits from the G-Haplgroup was relatively easy since most of them had haplogroup paths that included the G-P303 branch which I referenced earlier in the story.

Illustration Twenty: Haplogroup Paths for G Haplogroup kits in the Wales Cymru Y-DNA Project

I created a dendrogram of the 20 test kits that were part of the G-Haplogroup and eleven were shown to be related, albeit distantly. As indicated in Illustration Twenty One , the MRCA for most of the test kits was born around 635 CE. I share a common ancestor who was born around 1328 CE with six test kits. Five of the six surnames of their respective paternal ancestors are common Welsh surnames: Rees, Evans, Griffiths, and Howard. The sixth test kit has an uncommon Welsh surname of Rhydderch. It is interesting to note that for those paternal ancestors that were born on the British Isle, they were all born in Wales:

  • Trefeglwys: Trefeglwys is a village and community in Powys, Wales, within the historic county of Montgomeryshire. The name derives from the Welsh language tref ‘township’ and eglwys ‘church’. The village sits on the Afon Trannon.
  • Carmarthenshire: Carmarthenshire is a coastal county in the south-west of Wales. The three largest towns are Llanelli, Carmarthen and Ammanford. Carmarthen
  • Narbeth: Narberth is both a town and a community in Pembrokeshire, Wales. 
  • Harerfordwest: Haverfordwest is the county town of Pembrokeshire, Wales,
  • Llantrisant: Llantrisant is a town in the county borough of Rhondda Cynon Taf, within the historic county boundaries of Glamorgan, Wales
  • Swansea: Swansea is a city and county on the south coast of Wales.

Illustration Twenty One : Enlarged View of Dendrogram of Y-DNA Test Kits from Wales Cymru Y-DNA Project

For an integrated view of the dendrogram and information related to the haplgroup branches associated with the G-Haplogroup test kits in the Wales Cymru Y-DNA Project see Illustration Twenty Two.

Illustration Twenty Two: Dendrogram of G-Haplogroup Test Kits in the Wales Cymru Y-DNA Project

Source: Family Tree DNA | Click for Larger View

Results from the FTDNA G-Z6748 Project

Finally, the recently formed FTDNA Y-DNA Haplogroup Project for SNP G-Z6748, which is downstream from G-M201 > L89 > P15 >> L497 has provided some interesting results. Through initial research, the G-Z6748 appears to be a largely Welsh haplogroup, though extending into neighboring parts of England and one test kit from Denmark.

The Project Administrator of the group produced an interesting map that shows all known Z6748+ participants (and Y-Matches) who have traced their ancestor to a specific town in Europe. As can be seen below, the majority of the group are tracing their ancestors to coastal southern Wales. Some of the outliers appear to be upstream, so perhaps indicating pre-Wales origins for the group. Further upstream G-L497 is from continental Europe in Bronze Age times, so part of the goal for this group and the L497 work group is to understand the timing of the movement to the UK.

Illustration Twenty Three: Map of Paternal Ancestors of Test Kits in the G-Z6748 Haplgroup Project

Click for Larger View

The following are the locations of the 18 pinpoints on the map:

  1. Wiggenhall St. Germans, England: Wiggenhall St Germans is a village and civil parish in the English county of Norfolk in the East of England. It is 85 miles north of London and 5 miles south-west of King’s Lynn.Little Marlow, England: 
  2. Little Marlow is a village and civil parish in Buckinghamshire, England. Little Marlow is located along the north bank of the River Thames, about a mile east of Marlow.
  3. Broxton, England: Broxton is a village and civil parish in the unitary authority of Cheshire West and Chester and the ceremonial county of Cheshire, England. The village is 11 miles south of Chester, and only 10 miles east of Wrexham in Wales.
  4. Acle, England: Acle is a market town on the River Bure on the Norfolk Broads in Norfolk, located halfway between Norwich and Great Yarmouth. It has the only bridge across the River Bure between Wroxham and Great Yarmouth. 
  5. Pontypool, Wales: Pontypool is a town and the administrative centre of the county borough of Torfaen, within the historic boundaries of Monmouthshire in South Wales 
  6. Llysworney is a small village in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales, in the community of Llandow. 
  7. Øbjerg is located in the region of South Denmark. South Denmark’s capital Vejle (Vejle) is approximately 74 km / 46 mi away from Objerg (as the crow flies). 
  8. Rotherfield, England: Rotherfield is a village and civil parish in the Wealden District of East Sussex, England. It is one of the largest parishes in East Sussex. There are three villages in the parish: Rotherfield, Mark Cross and Eridge. Rotherfield was originally a Saxon settlement in an area generally covered with oak forest. 
  9. Haverfordwest, Wales is the county town of Pembrokeshire, Wales
  10. Kent, England is a county in South East England on the coast across from Calais France
  11. Llanelli is a market town and the largest community in Carmarthenshire and the preserved county of Dyfed, Wales. It is located on the Loughor estuary 10.5 miles (16.9 km) north-west of Swansea and 12 miles (19 km) south-east of the county town, Carmarthen. Early recorded place names in the Bristol area include the Roman-era British Celtic Abona (derived from the name of the Avon) and the archaic Welsh Caer Odor.  
  12. Narberth is a town and in Pembrokeshire, Wales. 
  13. Swansea  is a coastal city of southern Wales. the city is located along Swansea Bay in southwest Wales, part of the historic county of Glamorgan 
  14. Glamorgan or sometimes Glamorganshire is one of the thirteen historic counties of Wales.   
  15. Bristol, England Situated on the River Avon, it is bordered by the ceremonial counties of Gloucestershire to the north and Somerset to the south.
  16. Glamorgan or sometimes Glamorganshire is one of the thirteen historic counties of Wales.  
  17. Port Talbot is a town and community in the county borough of Neath Port Talbot, Wales, situated on the east side of Swansea Bay, approximately eight miles from Swansea.
  18. Pencoed (Welsh: Pen-coed) is a town and community in the county borough of Bridgend, Wales. It straddles the M4 motorway north east of Bridgend and is situated on the Ewenny River. 


The overlapping of facts from the various FTDNA Y-DNA research groups are coming up with interesting results that strongly suggest the Griff(is)(es)(ith) paternal genetic line of ancestors came from Wales.

Back to the duck test of abductive reasoning, I believe the Griff(is)(es)(ith) surnames related to the family that started its colonial beginnings in Huntington, New York are indeed of Welsh origin.


The feature image at the tope of the story is an amalgam of maps and statistics on the distribution and prevalence of the Griff(ith)(ith) surname in Ireland and England.

[1] William Case Griffis was the grandson of William Griffis. His grandfather, William Griffis, who was the son of William Griffis, fought in the revolutionary war, William Case Griffis (Born 14 June 1825 in Chatrham, Ontario, Canada and died 27 July 1902 in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin) wrote the following notes in his father’s journal after his father’s death. His father was Reverend William Griffis.

“My Great Grandfather, on my father’s side came from Wales and settled in Huntington, Long Island. They spelled the name Griffiths. My Grandfather, who died at my Father’s house could never give me any reason why he changed it to Griffis. He moved to Canada and settled at Adolphustown where my father was born, also three brothers of my father, Phillip, Stephen and Gilbert and one sister who married a Mr. Harris. My father’s mother, Content Harris, was born in England. I have my grandfather’s old pension certificate for the services in the Rev. War. He had to go to Albany for his pension.”

The quote is from Mary Martha Ryan Jones and Capitola Griffis Welch, compiled by, Griffis Sr of Huntington Long Island and Fredericksburg, Canada 1763-1847 and William Griffis Jr, (Reverend William Griffis) 1797-1878 and his descendants. A self published genealogical manuscript, 1969. Page 103.

[2] John and Sheila Rowlands, The Use of Surnames, Chapter 4, Patronymic Naming – A Survey in Transition, Llandysul, Ceredigion: Gomer Press, 2013,

The chart below reflects the variations in spelling in the family surname among William’s 12 children. 

Based on my assessment of genealogical evidence, seven of the children used the ‘Griffis’ surname, three used the ‘Griffith’ surname and one used the ‘Griffes’ surname.

The third generation of the family reflects a continuation of various spellings of the surname:

  • The descendants of William’s second child, James Griffis, reverted back to the ‘Griffith’ surname.
  • The descendants of the third son, William Griffis, used both Griffis and Griffith. Three of his four sons used ‘Griffis’ while a fourth son used ‘Griffith’. 
  • The fifth son, Stephen Griffis, appeared to have used or was recorded as a Griffith and Griffis but it is not entirely certain what he actually used as a last name. 
  • Nathaniel Griffes, the sixth son, was the only child that spelled his name as an adult with an ‘es’ on then, Griffes. His descendants continued the tradition.
  • While it is not entirely certain, Joel Griffith probably spelled his name with a ‘th’ on the end. 
  • Little is known of the second daughter of William, Esther Griffis, but she probably spelled her last name with an ‘-is’.
  • Epenetus and John used Griffith and Daniel and Jeremiah used Griffis.

[3] In 1700, 80 percent of the British colonists were English and Welsh, in 1755, the figure was 52 percent and by 1775, it was 49 percent. Thirteen Colonies, Wikipedia, This page was last edited on 3 January 2022, it was accessed on 21 Jan 2022.

Simon Newton Dexter North, A Century of Population Growth from the First Census of the United States to the Twelfth, 1790- 1900, U.S.: Bureau of the Census, 1909

[4] W.T.R.Pryce, Migration: Concepts, Patterns and Processes, in John & Shiela Rolands, Welsh Family History: A Guide to Research, Second Edition, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1998, page 248

[5] R. Hargreaves-Mawdsley, Bristol and America: A Record of the First Settlers in the Colonies of North America 1654- 1685, Clearfield 1929, page 3

[6] David Peate, Emigration , in John & Shiela Rolands, Welsh Family History: A Guide to Research, Second Edition, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1998, page 260-261.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Duck test, Wikipedia, This page was last edited on 13 Feb 2023, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duck_test

[9] Portrait of William Case Griffis by Pastel artist Deborah Phillips Griffis, sister in law of William Case Griffis. (born 1825 • Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Canada and died 20 Nov 1903 • Chicago, IL). pastel is 13 by 18 inches. The owner of the Pastel is Mrs. John Carlson, North Fargo ND. The information was compiled as part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s inventory of American Paintings. Susan Montagne originally shared this image 13 Apr 2013 on Ancestry.com

[10] During the period of transition from the Welsh patronymic system to the use of formal surnames, in addition to the influence of using English based names, native Welsh names also were influenced by different adaptations. 

  • the incorporation of the word ap (‘son of’) into the name, e.g. Thomas ap Howell became Thomas Powell;
  • the dropping of the use of ap, e.g. Thomas ap Howell became Thomas Howell
  • the addition of a possessive ‘s’ to a surname: e.g. Griffith became Griffiths
  • the preference for using Old Testament given names within the older nonconformist denominations;
  • the survival of old Welsh names in specific geographical areas; and 
  • the migration of people into Wales from areas with different surname structures (e.g. Scotland, England and Ireland).

John Rowlands, The Homes of Surnames in Wales, in John and Shiela Rowlands, ed, Stages in Researching Welsh Ancestry. Bury, England: The Federation of Family History Societies Publications Ltd., 1999. Pages 164 – 170.

See also: 

Griffith (name), Wikipedia, Page updated 11 Oct 2021, page accessed 8 Dec 2021

Griffith Family History: Griffith Name Meaning, ancestry.com, page accessed 9 Dec 2021

Morgan, T.J., Welsh Surnames, Cardiff: Qualitex Printing Limited, 1985, The Orthography of Welsh Surnames 5-8Gruffydd pgs 103–105

Griffiths Surname Meaning, History & Origin, Select Surnames Website, page accessed 9 Dec 2021

Surname: Griffith, SurnameDB: The Internet Surname Database, page accessed 9 Dec 2021

[11] John Rowlands, The Homes of Surnames in Wales, in John and Shiela Rowlands, ed, Stages in Researching Welsh Ancestry. Bury, England: The Federation of Family History Societies Publications Ltd., 1999. Pages 172

Griffiths Surname Meaning, History & Origin, Select Surnames Website, page accessed 10 Oct 2021

[12] Rev Patrick Woulfe, Ó Gríobhtha, Irish names and Surnames, Library Ireland, Wexford: John English & Co, 1922, https://archive.org/details/irishnamessurnam00woul/mode/2up

Griffith History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms, House of Names, https://www.houseofnames.com/griffith-family-crest/Irish

Séamus Pender, Ed, A Census of Ireland circa 1659, Dublin: Station Office, Government Publications, 1939 https://www.irishmanuscripts.ie/product/a-census-of-ireland-circa-1659/

Griffith Households in Ireland in mid-nineteenth century: John Grenham, Irish Ancestors, https://www.johngrenham.com/findasurname.php?surname=Griffith

Click for Larger View.

All variants of O Griobhtha in Pender’s ‘Census’ of 1659:

Click for Larger View

[13] Shiela Rowlands, Sources of Surnames in John and Shiela Rowlands, ed, Stages in Researching Welsh Ancestry. Bury, England: The Federation of Family History Societies Publications Ltd., 1999. Pages 153 and 159

[14] W.T.R. Pryce, Migration: Concepts, Patterns, and Processes, in John & Shiela Rolands, Welsh Family History: A Guide to Research, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1998, Pages 230- 257

[15] The prevalence of the Griffith surname has been documented in Wales in the 1800’s. Based on an analysis of census data in Wales in 1850, the top ten most common names represented approximately 80 percent of the Welsh population. While these names were common, it does not imply they were related. 

The result of using similar names as surnames resulted in the lack of diversity in surnames in Wales, see: John Rowlands, The Homes of Surnames in Wales in John Rowlands and Shiela Rowlands, ed, Stages in Researching Welsh Ancestry. Bury, England: The Federation of Family History Societies Publications Ltd., 1999. Page 162

Durie, Bruce, Welsh Genealogy, Stroud, United Kingdom: The History Press, 2013, Page 27

[16] John Rowlands, The Homes of Surnames in Wales, in John and Shiela Rowlands, ed, Stages in Researching Welsh Ancestry. Bury, England: The Federation of Family History Societies Publications Ltd., 1999. Page 162-164

[17] John and Sheila Rowlands, The Use of Surnames, Chapter 4, Patronymic Naming – A survey in Transition, Llandysul, Ceredigion: Gomer Press, 2013, Pages 50-57

[18] Ibid.

[19] This approach and examples are from Rob Spencer who has produced some very interesting analyses of surname distributions using census data as well as Y-DNA data from FTDNA. In addition, he has created a tool to analyze SNP data with census data in his Britain and Ireland SNP and Surname Mapper. See:

Rob Spencer, Britain and Ireland SNP and Surname Mapper, Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/biMapper.html

Rob Spencer, Surname Diffusion, Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/gg.html?rr=surnameDiffusion

Rob Spencer, County Clustering by Surnames, Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/gg.html?rr=countyClustering

[20] Welsh Counties and Towns in 1800, Map in Wales and the British overseas empire Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.7765/9781526117571.00008 Online Publication, 01 Feb 2017 from H.V. Bowen, Wales and the British Overseas Empire: Interactions and Influences, 1650-1830, Manchester: Manchester University Press

[20] Rob Spencer, Britain and Ireland SNP and Surname Mapper, Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/biMapper.html

[21] This example and line of reasoning is from Rob Spencer’s unique analysis of the 1881 British Census data: Rob Spencer, County Clustering by Surnames, Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/gg.html?rr=countyClustering#h6

Rob Spencer, Surname Similarity, Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/gg.html?rr=surnameSimilarity

[22] Rob Spencer, County Clustering by Surnames, Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/gg.html?rr=countyClustering#h6

See also:

County Clustering by surname. Clustering by counties top 5000 surnames finds a number of patterns. 

  1. The Orkneys and Shetland are distinct, yet closer to Lowlands than Highlands names. 
  2. The English southwest and northeast are distinct. 
  3. Highland surnames are distinct; Lowland names are closer to English names. 
  4. Welsh counties, except Pembroke, are quite self-similar. 
  5. Irish counties are more diverse than English or Scottish. 
  6. Northern Irish names are distinct, slightly closer to west-central Ireland. 

Rob Spencer, Case Studies in Macro Genealogy, Presentation for the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, July 2021, Slide 32,  http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/ext/NYG&B_webinar.pdf

[23] Rob Spencer, County Clustering by Surnames, Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/gg.html?rr=countyClustering#h6

[24] Ibid.

Rob Spencer, Surname Similarity, Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/gg.html?rr=surnameSimilarity

Rob Spencer, A Quantitative Look at Surnames and Patronymy, Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/gg.html?rr=surnames

Rob Spencer, Locating SNPs with Census Data , Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/gg.html?rr=biMapping#h8

[25] Rob Spencer, SNP Tracker, Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/snpTracker.html

[26] Map Options: Once you have entered a SNP and hit go and have a path showing on the map you can open the options panel by clicking on a symbol of three short horizontal lines located in the upperright hand corner. The options include:

  • “Zoom to Europe” toggles between views of Eurasia/Africa and Europe. The camera button sends a JPG file to your Downloads folder. The “Smooth Path” toggle optionally invokes an algorithm that removes much of the scatter of self-reported locations while trying to be consistent about traversal time.
  • “Show ” will drop down a simple animation slider control. Click the play arrow  to start the animation of a walking man who will trace your paternal or maternal ancestry. You can pause the animation and then drag the slider to place the walker anywhere on your path.
  • “Show ” and “Show Events” will show relevant ancient DNA sites and cultural or environmental patterns as the walker passes by. Details of the ancient DNA are shown in the SNP table by clicking any row’s  icon, and Wikipedia summaries of the events are shown at the History tab.
  • “Show Topography” toggles between a minimal coastline background and an topographic map. The topographic map was generously created Tom Patterson; he and his and colleagues at Natural Earth ( and ) produce beautiful maps that show the earth without human labels or influence.
  • “Show Descendants” displays the descendants of the SNPs in your path. Within the path, arrows indicate the distance (by length) and number (by width) of the first-level branches from the SNP. For the last SNP, all SNP descendants are shown. This has no effect if your path ends in a terminal SNP, but it gives dramatic results with major ancestral SNPs such as F-M89 (ancient Mesopotamia), I-M170 (associated with Western Hunter-Gatherer), R-M417 (Eastern Hunter-Gatherer), R-L23 (Yamnaya), and I-M253 (early Scandinavian).

[27] The following SNPs were used to construct the migratory path for my terminal SNP.

Source: SNP Tracker Using BY211678 as SNP | Click for Larger View

“The sketch illustrates the difference between tMRCA (time to most recent common ancestor) and formation dates. A SNP is a mutation that occurs at a certain time and place. At some point afterwards, a person with that SNP will have two or more children each with modern descendants who have done DNA testing. From those DNA tests we can infer the time to that branch-point; this is the SNP’s tMRCA. In a rapidly expanding population with many surviving lineages, tMRCA and formation are very close and may be identical. But for older and leaner lineages, a SNP may appear long before one of the originator’s descendants has two surviving lineages, and additional separate mutations may occur in that time. In the sketch, SNP M2 is one of 21 such equivalents: different mutations but evidently from a long unbranched line, since all DNA testers either have none of these 21 SNPs or they have all of them. The tMRCA for M2 is shown in blue; it’s where branches that have S3 and S4 split away. But the formation time for M2 cannot be directly measured and it could be anywhere between M2’s tMRCA and the previous tMRCA. YFull’s convention is to assign a SNP’s formation date to the previous SNP’S tMRCA (the left-most of the long run of equivalent SNPs). But it is perhaps better to estimate the formation date as halfway between, as shown by the red dot, which is what SNP Tracker does.”

Rob Spencer, SNP Tracker , Discussion Tab, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/snpTracker.html

[28] See Spencer’s comments on updates to the tracker: Robb Spencer, Highway Maintenance, Tracking Back, a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, Page accessed 1 Aug 2022, 

As one individual indicated in his assessment of Spencer’s SNP Tracker tool: 

“Rob Spencer does his best with this tool, but ultimately this is a very tricky subject to get right. Consequently, you should take anything you see on the SNP tracker with a very large pinch of salt. The results are meant to be instructive, but not accurate.”

source:  Comment about the SNP Tracker at R1b-U106@groups.io This is a forum for discussion of Haplogroup R1b-U106 and related genetic genealogy topics.

A lot of the problems come from the fact DNA testing is very biased towards testing people from the British Isles, by factors of up to 12:1 or more compared to other European countries. This is changing as more individuals are completing Y-DNA tests from other regions of the world. This means that the tracker can not work with a homogeneous data set. Rob Spencer has corrected the British / European Continental bias as best he as he can, but as he professes, he does not correct for variations within Europe, and he can not remove the basic fundamental problem that he has to use small numbers of testers from poorly sampled regions to fill in a lot of the gaps. Consequently, the origins he marks for individual haplogroups are usually too far west. He indicates that he has pinned some of them manually to increase historical accuracy.

Many of the haplogroups Spencer claims have originated in the British Isles are simply there because they show up as a handful of cases in Britain or Ireland and we have no evidence of their existence elsewhere due to this bias. Unless a haplogroup has a very unique geographical distribution or is wholly found in continental Europe (a lot of haplogroups do fit these criteria), it takes several hundred testers to accurately place its origin at the level of individual countries.

As stated in a related post on this forum, the ages in the SNP tracker come from YFull.org. 

“YFull only contains a small subset of the overall data that’s available to Family Tree DNA. This means their underlying set of tests is small, and their uncertainties are correspondingly large. Potentially, the most serious consequence of this – and I don’t know how Rob deals with this – is that haplogroups that are on YFull’s tree don’t always match up with those on Family Tree DNA’s tree, even when they have the same name. This is because many of those haplogroups have been split by FTDNA. I also don’t know exactly what Rob does for haplogroups that don’t have ages in YFull – I presume he just counts SNPs down the tree, but he’ll have to do this without knowledge of whether those SNPs come from BigY-500 or -700 tests, which makes a big difference.”  PDF of comment:

See: Original Threaded post: SNP Tracker 19 Jan 2021, https://groups.io/g/R1b-U106

YFull’s uncertainties also remain large because they only take SNP data into account. If you take STR data and any other historical information you can get your hands on (paper trails, surnames, ancient DNA), then you can create much more accurate results… at least, in theory.

Rob Spencer, SNP Tracker , SNP Tab, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/snpTracker.html

Rob Spencer, SNP Tracker , Discussion Tab, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/snpTracker.html

[29] Scientific Details for MCRA for Haplogroup G-Z40857, FamilyTreeDNA , https://discover.familytreedna.com/y-dna/G-Z40857/scientific?section=tmrca

Click for Larger View

[30] This individual is associated with a test kit that is part of the FTDNA Y-DNA G-Z6748 Work group project. This is a Y-DNA Haplogroup Project for SNP G-Z6748, which is downstream from G-M201 > L89 > P15 >> L497. All participants who are Z6748+ are welcome to join, including any of its downstream variants. G-Z6748 appears to be a largely Welsh haplogroup, though extending into neighboring parts of England. https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/g-z6748/about

[31] Rob Spencer, Locating SNPs with Census Data , Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/gg.html?rr=biMapping#h8

Rob Spencer, SNP Tracker , Discussion Tab, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/snpTracker.html

[32] Haplogroup G-P303, Wikipedia, This page was last edited on 30 August 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup_G-P303

[33] Rob Spencer, Britain and Ireland SNP and Surname Mapper, Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/biMapper.html

[34] Scientific Details for MCRA for Haplogroup G-Z40857, FamilyTreeDNA , https://discover.familytreedna.com/y-dna/G-Y132505/scientific

Click for Larger View.

[35] Rob Spencer, A Quantitative Look at Surnames and Patronymy, Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/gg.html?rr=surnames

[36] In the 16th century the whole of Wales was annexed by England and incorporated within the English legal system under the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. It is at this time I would venture to state that initial erosion of the patrinymic naming system in Wales may have started. Wales initially experienced legal attempts to change from a patrimynic naming system to a surname based system. However, as documented by Rowans, the actual decay of the patrinymic system started from around 1600 to the late 1700’s.

For the sake of argument, let us assume that surnames start to emerge in Wales around 1550 based on the influence of English law and dominance. Then 1955 – 1550 = 405; 405 / 33 = 12.27 or roughly 12 or 13 generations ago – this can be one point on our “Welsh generation range of surname use”. The most recent end point limit for our Welsh surname emergence range can be based on John and Sheila Rowlands’ research on the use of surnames in Wales. It was not until the mid-nineteenth century that the Patronymic system was fully replaced in Wales. However, assuming the Griff(is)(es)(ith) family was from one of the counties in southern Wales, let us use the year of 1750 as the arbitrary other end of the range. Then 1955 – 1750 = 205; and 205 / 33 = 6.21 or roughly 6 generations. Hence we have a range of 13 to 6 generations to anticipate the emergence of surnames for Welsh descendants.

then the use If we assume a generation is 33 years and “Years before Present”is based on the year 1955, then if surnames star to emerge in Wales around 1550,

For Rob Spencer’s assessment of the emergence of surnames based on generational distance, see:

Rob Spencer, A Quantitative Look at Surnames and Patronymy, Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/gg.html?rr=surnames

Rob Spencer, Extending Time Horizons with DNA Part One: Find Ancestors back 300 Years, Slide 16, Roots Tech  2022 Sessions, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/ext/rt22/rt22slides.pdf

Rob Spencer, Clans and SNPs, Tracking Back: a website for genetic genealogy tools, experimentation, and discussion, http://scaledinnovation.com/gg/gg.html?rr=snpClans

For a specific assessment of the emergence of Welsh surnames and its effect on generational distance, see:

John and Sheila Rowlands, The Use of Surnames, Chapter 4, Patronymic Naming – A Survey in Transition, Llandysul, Ceredigion: Gomer Press, 2013, Figure 4-3: Decay in the use of patronymic naming to the 10% level, Page 56

[37] NPE stands for Non-paternity event. Non-paternity event is a term used in genetic genealogy to describe any event which has caused a break in the link between an hereditary surname and the Y-chromosome resulting in a son using a different surname from that of his biological father

Non-paternity event, International Society for Genetic Genealogy Wiki, This page was last edited on 22 March 2021, https://isogg.org/wiki/Non-paternity_event