Bowling DNA

Rare Bowling Y DNA

By Roberta Estes

Thomas Speake, the immigrant that founded the Maryland line of the Speak(e)(s) family in America, was born about 1634, had immigrated by 1660 and was married to Elizabeth Bowling by 1663 or 1664.  They lived in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, and they were Catholics.  They had only two known children, John, known as John the Innkeeper, born in 1665, and Bowling Speak born in 1674.  We know about their children, because Thomas died August 6, 1681 and he appointed James Bowling guardian of his minor children, naming them.  Thomas left instructions for them to be brought up as Catholics.

The Speak family who descends from Thomas Speak who married Elizabeth Bowling carries as many genes from the Bowling family as from the Speak line.  We just don’t think of it that way because the Speak surname has been passed down, and of course, the Bowling name, except as a first name, Bowling Speak, did not get passed to future generations.  And Bowling’s name didn’t go beyond the first generation.  Fortunately for us, as descendants, their families both came from Catholic enclaves in Lancashire, just a few miles apart and we were able to visit both locations in September, 2013.

We can test our male Speak line to see what their DNA has to tell us and indeed, as has been published in past issues of the Speak(e)(s) Family Association Newsletter, it has told us quite a story.

Before our trip to England, we located some Bowling males, and thanks to Shirley Platt, Jerry Bowling agreed to have his Y DNA tested for a special kind of mutation called a SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) that tells us about his haplogroup or his deep ancestral clan.

About 50% of the men of Europe descend from one group of settlers, but in our case, we’ve twice been lucky now, because our Speak line comes from the Dinaric area of the Alps and our Bowling line is even more unique.  The Bowling males from Chorley, in Lancashire, carry haplogroup T1.  What is T1, you ask?  Rare, that’s what it is!!!  We’re talking hens-teeth rare here.

And not only is it rare overall, it’s extremely rare in England.

Jerry has a total of 15 low resolution matches, and of those, 3 are other Bowlings, 6 are to other English surnames, of which 3 are Dutton, and the balance are to men from either Portugal or Spain.  All of the English surname men match Jerry exactly, and all of the Spanish/Portuguese matches carry one mutation difference.  This indicates that the Bowlings are more closely related to the English men than the Spanish/Portuguese men.  For example, the Stockton family is from just up the road, in Cheshire.

As we move to higher resolution markers, meaning matches closer in time, the other surnames all fall away and the Bowling men only match other Bowling men.  They should be more closely related to Bowling men than men who match genetically but carry different surnames, unless an “adoption” of some sort, name change or illegitimate birth has occurred in the line.

This match with Iberian men doesn’t necessarily mean that the ancestors of the Bowlings were Iberian. It could mean that the Bowling men and the Iberian men both share a common ancestor from elsewhere, with both groups having migrated from that central location.  Or, it could mean that the Bowling ancestors were Iberian.  Perhaps we can find clues in the history of the population migration pattern of haplogroup T1.  Let’s see what we can find.

At Family Tree DNA, there are haplogroup as well as surname projects.  People who share a common haplogroup join the haplogroup project that matches their haplogroup designation in order for the population spread and migration pattern of the haplogroup to be studied.  Generally, the haplogroup project administrators know more about their haplogroups than almost anyone else.  Often they have a personal interest, carrying that haplogroup themselves.  They are also often out in front of the scientists who define subgroups.  Science is slow-moving by its very nature, and in genetic genealogy, sometimes scientists move so slowly that the science is obsolete by the time it’s actually announced.  In other words, the field is moving faster than the scientists can keep up.

In this case, Family Tree DNA who waits for academic consensus before assigning new haplogroups shows the SNP M70 as haplogroup T1, but the administrators, based on both markers and SNPs, have grouped Jerry with a small subgroup of people who are from ….are you ready for this….Egypt, Saudi Arabia (2), Bangladesh, Spain, Yemen (2), Bulgaria and the United Arab Emirates.  Of this entire grouping, Jerry Bowling is the only individual from the British Isles or even from Europe except for Spain and Bulgaria.  This group is labeled at the Alpha-1-Y group.  Keep in mind, however, that not all testers join haplogroup projects and it’s obvious from this that Jerry’s English matches have not joined.

Bowling T1 map

So, in timeline order, the Bowlings are the most closely related to other Bowlings males, then the English non-Bowling men they match, then the Iberian men they match, then the Alpha-1-Y haplogroup T group.  On the map above, the location in Turkey is believed to be the birthplace of haplogroup T.

What do we know about haplogroup T, the parent of subgroup T1?

Haplogroup T is very rare in Europe, with less than 1% of European men carrying haplogroup T.  It is much more common in the Middle East, portions of South Asia and portions of Northern and Eastern Africa.

In addition, the distribution of haplogroup T is very spotty, with some areas virtually devoid of this haplogroup, while in other locations we find rich pockets.  The map below shows the distribution of haplogroup T.

T1 Frequency Distribution

On the map above, haplogroup T is found most often in Northern and Eastern Africa, in the Middle East and South Asia and in spotty locations in Southern Europe.  It’s believed that haplogroup T originated in the Taurus Mountains in Eastern Turkey about 25,000 or 30,000 years ago, with subgroup T1 being born in the Middle East between 10,000 and 25,000 years ago.

A Relief of the Taurus Mountains is shown below.  Cyprus is the island just to the south of the mountain range.

Taurus Mountains

Middle Eastern Map cropped

So how, then, did our haplogroup T ancestors get to Europe?  And not just Europe, but the southern and eastern periphery of Europe?

There are four scenarios that have historical evidence and fit what we know of the migration path of haplogroup T.  Any or all of these could have come into play, or perhaps another scenario we don’t know about today.

Scenario 1 – The Phoenicians

The Neolithic period, as the introduction of agriculture was known, began about 12,000 years ago in the Levant and had arrived in Europe by about 7,000 years ago. It took another 3000 years to spread across Europe from Southeast to Northwest, moving at the rate of .6 -1.3 km per year, or between a third and 4/5ths of a mile, or between 400 and 1400 yards, just enough for the next generation to move next door to find available, unoccupied farmland.

The path to Europe was originally thought to be through the Caucus region, present day Turkey, Georgia and countries East of the Black Sea, but alternate routes are a probability and for our haplogroup T1 ancestors, a certainty.  Another route was likely a coastal Mediterranean route or a slightly different route that bypassed the northern Caucus area for the easier coastal route, crossing into Turkey at Istanbul and then taking the overland route in Europe. These routes would also explain the frequency of haplogroup T found in the Balkan area, into Italy, the Iberian peninsula and throughout the Mediterranean in addition to northern Europe.

The coastal route associated with Phoenician trading is a strong possibility.  Phoenician traders, whether they settled or regularly visited, would have deposited their Y-line DNA for centuries in various trading and settlement areas, as shown in the following map from the paper “Identifying Genetic Traces of Historical Expansions: Phoenician Footprints in the Mediterranean”.

Phoenician Map

As you can see, illustrated on the map below from the National Geographic Genographic project, the population migration route for haplogroup T parallels these settlements.

Settlement Map cropped

The Phoenicians were dominant traders 2000-3000 years ago. The following map shows both Phoenician (yellow) and Greek (red) trade routes in 500 BC.  The route is extremely suggestive of correlation when compared with the frequency charts compiled from research papers.  Many of the locations with the highest frequencies in the Mediterranean today were trade destinations of the Phoenicians or Greeks.

Phoenician Trade Routes

There is a route that combines coastal migration and overland travel and closely reflects the frequency map of haplogroup T in the Balkan area and eastern Europe.

Scenario 2 – The Jews

Haplogroup T is found in very low levels throughout Europe, but they tend to be clustered and are often significantly higher in areas where Jewish families are known to have settled.  Below, we see a haplogroup breakdown within the Ashkenazi Jews.  This, of course, implies that even if haplogroup T was already resident within Europe, additional families were part of the Jewish diaspora.  Clearly not all European men who are haplogroup T were of the Jewish faith, but many are.  Haplogroup T dates much further back in time than the Jewish faith, so many people will be distantly related to those of the Jewish faith, but not Jewish themselves.

Ashkenazi Jewish Breakdown cropped


The Rapalye/Rapparlie Family

We have actual evidence of a haplogroup T1 family found in Germany, France and the Netherlands and having a history of being a Sephardic Jewish from Spain who left with the edict of Nantes in 1492 evicting all Jews.  I am intimately familiar with this family because my family in Mutterstadt, Germany is the Rapparlien family, referred to in the Bible, originally from the coast of France at Calais.

Rapparlie coat of arms

The Rapparlie family crest, shown above, is taken from the Rapparlie family Bible in Mutterstadt.   The information on the family crest translates as follows:

“Rapparlie. An ancestral Spanish family which came in the 16th century to the Netherlands. From where (our ancestor) Josef Georg, who lived in Leuven, came to Frankfurt (the one of the river Main). He obtained citizen rights there in 1820.”

The translator adds information telling us that the Rapparlie family is likely to have fled from Spain to the Netherlands because of the Decree of Alhambra of 1492, an edict expelling all of the Jews from Spain.

Decree of Alhambra

Estimates are that between 165,000 and 800,000 people were evicted with about 28,000 displaced individuals migrating to what is today France, Holland, Germany and England.  These displaced Jews became the Shepardic Jews, and were forced to convert to Catholicism before the expulsion, becoming therefore known as Conversos.  Their conversions were often insincere, only a method to survive persecution, and therefore they would have been ripe pickings for the rebellion against Catholicism accompanying the

Protestant reformation some years later.

The Rapparlie (and variant spellings)

family in Valenciennes were known to be silk weavers, and historical records are full of references to Jewish silk weavers in Spain and other Middle Eastern and Northern African locations in the Middle Ages and prior to their eviction from Spain in 1492.

Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews

The Ashkenazi Jews were known to have been in Europe as early as the Middle Ages in the 4th century.  It is unknown if this early group survived intact, but Jews are again prevalent in the records by the 10th century.  Most of the Jews were clustered in cities, trade centers, as their high rates of literacy and knowledge of trades made them successful and desirable, if sometimes looked down upon because the Christian church forbade Christians from participating in usury (money lending in exchange for interest), which the Jews embraced heartily.

Conversely, the Jews maintained their separate living quarters, communities and family units, practiced endogamy (married only within their Jewish community) and they too looked down up on their neighbors.  Unfortunately, this mutual distrust and antipathy was the seed of eventual anti-Semitic discrimination and ultimately, attempted genocide.

The Sephardic Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 and again in 1497, and many settled in Europe, but the two Jewish groups tended to maintain separate communities as their beliefs, practices and languages had come to differ in the centuries they had both been separated from their motherland.

Following the Roman takeover of Judea, the Jews were exiled from Jerusalem in 70AD.  They continued to be residents of Palestine for several hundred years, but groups began to look for opportunities elsewhere and they began to be found in other locations in Mesopotamia and dispersed within the Mediterranean region.  The largest concentrations were in the Levant, Egypt, Asia Minor, Greece and Italy, including Rome itself.  Smaller communities are recorded in Gaul (France), Spain and North Africa.  Christianity became the official religion of Rome and Constantinople (current day Istanbul) in 380 and Jews were increasingly marginalized.

Europe 500 AD

The Germanic invasions of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century by tribes such as the Visigoths, Franks, Lombards and Vandals caused massive economic and social instability within western Europe, contributing to its decline.  In the late Roman Empire, Jews are known to have lived in Cologne and Trier as well as in what is now France.  However, it is unclear whether there is any continuity between those Roman communities and the distinct Ashkenazi Jewish culture that began to emerge about 500 years later.

After 800 AD, Charlemagne’s unification of former Frankish lands with northern Italy and Rome brought a brief period of stability and unity in western Europe which created new opportunities for Jewish merchants to settle once again north of the Alps.  Many Jewish merchants embraced occupations in finance and commerce.  From that time to the present, the Ashkenazi are well documented in Europe.

Jewish people

Unfortunately, their lives in Europe were not always stable, and with the onset of the Crusades, they were evicted from England in 1290, France in 1392 and parts of Germany in the 1400s, pushing them eastward into Poland, Lithuania and Russia.  By the 1400s, the Ashkenazi Jewish Communities in Poland were the largest Jewish communities of the Diaspora.  This area which eventually fell under the domination of Russia, Austria and Prussia (Germany) would remain the center of Ashkenazi Jewry until the Holocaust.  A painting on the previous page of Ashkenazi Jews praying on Yom Kippur was painted in 1878 by Maurycy Gottlieb in his hometown of Drohobych.

During the Holocaust, of the 8.8 million Jews living in Europe at the beginning of World Jews in LondonWar II, about 6 million, more than two-thirds, were systematically murdered because of their Jewish faith or heritage.  More than 91% of the Polish Jews died, 82% in
the Ukraine and between 50 and 90% in other European nations (Germany, France, Hungary and the Baltic states).  Sephardic communities suffered similar depletions in a few countries including Greece, the Netherlands and the former Yugoslavia.  At this time, many Jews began to immigrate, to the United States, Canada, Israel, Australia and Argentina where they and their descendants are found today.  At right, refugee Jews are portrayed arriving in London, poor and destitute, but alive.

Scenario 3 – Phoenician, Jewish or Maybe Moors?

First, let me say we simply don’t have the definitive answer to this question, but let’s use what records we do have to try to narrow the possibilities.

The Bowling family first has records from 1520 in Chorley, in Lancashire, England.  This Bowling family was, indeed, Catholic, as was the rest of England in 1520.  The Protestant Reformation had not yet happened and wouldn’t until in the 1530s, specifically, 1534 when Henry VIII declared himself the head of the church in England and broke ties with Rome.

After that, the Bowling family, along with the Speak family, the Finch family and others would staunchly refuse to become Protestants.

It’s hard for me to believe that the Bowling family was Jewish in 1492, when only 28 years later, or one generation, we find them in England, and not coastal England, but in the middle of Lancashire.  Even harder for me to believe is that they would become Catholic, the religion that persecuted them so terribly and forced the Jews to leave Spain in such desperate straits.  If they were going to become Catholic, they would simply have converted and stayed in Spain.  It would have been a lot easier that way.

They could have been Phoenician.  They could also have been Moorish, as the Moors from the Middle East and North Africa invaded the Iberian Peninsula in 711 and called the territory Al-Andalus, an area which at different times comprised Gibraltar, most of Spain and Portugal, and parts of France. There was also a Moorish presence in what is now southern Italy, primarily in Sicily which also has a significant amount of haplogroup T, although none that matches the Bowling line.

Moors in Iberia

This 13th century painting depicts Moors in Iberia.

Medieval Spain and Portugal were the scene of almost constant warfare between Muslims and Christians. Al-Andalus sent periodic raiding expeditions to loot the Iberian Christian kingdoms, bringing back booty and slaves. In a raid against Lisbon, Portugal in 1189, for example, the Almohad caliph Yaqub al-Mansur took 3,000 female and child captives. In a subsequent attack upon Silves, Portugal in 1191, the governor of Córdoba took 3,000 Christian slaves.

Similarly, Christians sold Muslim slaves captured in war. The Knights of Malta attacked pirates and Muslim shipping, and their base became a center for slave trading, selling captured North Africans and Turks. Malta remained a slave market until well into the late 18th century. One thousand slaves were required to man the galleys (ships) of the Order.

The religious difference of the Moorish Muslims led to a centuries-long conflict with the Christian kingdoms of Europe called the Reconquista. The Fall of Granada in 1492 saw the end of the Muslim rule in Iberia.

Perhaps the history of Lancashire itself can help us understand how our ancestors might have settled in that region.

History of Lancashire

In the Domesday Book, written in 1086 after William the Conqueror conquered England in 1066, some of the lands now within Lancashire had been treated as part of Yorkshire. The area in between the Mersey and Ribble Rivers (referred to in the Domesday Book as “Inter Ripam et Mersam”) formed part of the returns for Cheshire.  Although some have taken this to mean that, at this time, south Lancashire was part of Cheshire, it is not clear that this was the case, and more recent research indicates that the boundary between Cheshire and what was to become Lancashire remained the river Mersey.  Once Lancashire’s initial boundaries were established in 1182, it bordered Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire, and Cheshire.

Lancashire takes its name from the city of Lancaster, which itself is means ‘Roman fort on the River Lune’, combining the name of the river with the Old English cæster, which referred to a Roman fort or camp. The county was established some time after the Norman conquest when William the Conqueror gave the land between the Ribble and the Mersey, together with Amounderness, to Roger de Poitou. In the early 1090s Lonsdale, Cartmel and Furness were added to Roger’s estates to facilitate the defense of the area south of Morecambe Bay from Scottish raiding parties, which travelled round the Cumberland coast and across the bay at low water, rather than through the mountainous regions of the Lake District.

Scenario Four – Roman Soldiers, Slaves or Conscripts

From this information, we know two things.  First, there was a Roman fort in this area, and second there were Scottish raiding parties.  This DNA is not Scottish, so we can discount that but what it does tell us is that the fort was very probably heavily fortified and the soldiers patrolled throughout the region to protect it from the Scots.

We also know, from our visit to Chester, that a Roman fort was also located there.  A little additional research yields even more interesting information, revealing a Roman fort right in the Ribble Valley at a location called Ribchester, which is located on the Ribble River half way between Gisburn, the home of the Speake family and Charnock Richard, the home of the Bowling family, about 10 miles from each.

Ribchester roman fort Lancashire

Furthermore, this fort is much older than the Domesday Book.  The first fort at Ribchester was built in timber in AD 72/73 by the Roman Twentieth Legion. The fort was renovated in the late 1st century AD and was rebuilt in stone in the early 2nd century. During the life of the fort, a village grew up around it becoming Ribchester. A fort remained at Ribchester until the 4th century AD and its remains can still be seen around the present village.

The map below shows the following locations:

  1. The Lowbarrow Bridge location of the Roman fort recorded in the Domesday Book
  2. Gisburn – home region of the Speak family
  3. Ribchester, location of the Roman fort in the Ribble Valley
  4. Charnock Richard, home region of the Bowling Family
  5. Chester, location of a third Roman fort

Lancashire map

In other areas in England, in particular, along the line of Hadrian’s Wall between England and Scotland, where we find several Roman forts and fortifications, we also find Mediterranean and North African DNA, quite a bit of it, and concentrated in pockets surrounding the forts.  We know that not all Roman soldiers were Roman citizens, some were slaves and some were conscripted.  Many slaves volunteered for military duty.  And the Romans, of course, as soldiers will do, sometimes left their DNA behind, if they didn’t marry outright with the local females.

So Who Are We???

I really don’t think the Bowling family has a Jewish history.  In part because they have no Jewish matches at all, nor matches in highly Jewish areas.  Also, the known history of the family does not mesh with what would have happened historically at that time.  England was not a Jewish haven, especially not the countryside.  London might be another story, but Lancashire, in the Ribble Valley?  I don’t’ think so and there is absolutely no evidence to support this.

The Bowling ancestors could have been Phoenician and found their way to the Iberian peninsula in that manner, but if they were, I would think we would see a path of matches throughout the Mediterranean, particularly on Greece, the southern end of Italy and on Sicily, and we don’t.  We see Middle Eastern matches, Iberian matches and then English matches with only a couple of exceptions.

The Bowling men could be Moors, except the Moors didn’t invade the Iberian peninsula until about 300 years after the Roman occupation of England ended, meaning the Romans were no longer sending troops to England so the dates with Moors are problematic.

The scenario that fits best is that the Bowling ancestors were likely slaves or conscripted soldiers of the Roman legion that conquered England beginning in AD43.  The Roman occupation continued until about the year 500 when the Saxons invaded.  This means that Romans lived in Britain, among the British for about 400 years which equates to about 16 generations, plenty of time to assimilate with the local population.

The Roman empire from the year 43AD to 409 is shown below.

Roman Empire

In time, slaves and captives became part of the Roman army, willingly or not, conscripts or otherwise, that invaded and subsequently ruled England for the next 400 years.  Slavery was part of Roman life and captive soldiers and their family were traditionally sold into slavery.  Note, on the map above, that the entire Mediterranean basin fell under the Roman rule, including several Middle Eastern locations where Bowling haplogroup matches are found.

This relief below, from Smyrna, present day Izmir, Turkey, shows a roman soldier leading 2 Turkish slaves away in chains.

Turkish slaves

Regardless of whether the Bowlings paternally are Moors, Phoenicians, Roman soldiers, Roman slaves or Jews, we share a common heritage between all of these groups – back in the Middle East before these groups were separately defined as such.  Our origins are firmly tied there, for tens of thousands of years, in the land of sand and forbidding mountains, the Holy Land and the religious well from which Christianity, the Muslim faith and the Jewish religion all sprang.  The Taurus Mountains and the Middle East.  This is the land of our Bowling forefathers, before Lancashire…this is our homeland.

sand dunes

Taurus mountains sunset

Taurus Mountains lake

Mountains and sand - middle east


9 Responses to Bowling DNA

  1. Kenneth Alan White says:

    Armenians served in Roman legions. Could the carrier of the DNA Haplogroup T-1 to Ribchester have been Armenian?

  2. Beatrice Bowling Zienkosky says:

    I am Catholic and a Bowling and the last chapter brought me to tears. Especially the phrase, this is our Homeland., to imagine that my ancestors may have been there when Jesus was on this earth and could have known Him. I am so glad I had my DNA tested. I have this deep feeling so strong that we are all somehow related and we should remember we are all brothers and sisters. If everyone did, maybe we would treat one another better. It has changed my way of looking at others and I see others in a different light. Thanks for letting me throw a little bit of religion into this. Beatrice

  3. Thank You,

    I found this very interesting. My father was a Bowling. I just ordered a DNA kit from ancestry DNA. I understand you can transfer that info to family tree DNA. I hope to have some answers in the next 8 weeks. Thank you again.

  4. Norma Jean White says:

    I am from the Bowling family and had my DNA done and am mostly Western European.

  5. Graham Bowling says:

    Fascinating. I’m still in the later homeland – Lancashire !

  6. Beatrice Zienkosky says:

    I am trying to see how I as a Bowling, am related to Thomas Speak. I don’t know what to do first and I was tested in 2016 and still have not figured out how to do that. Anyone have an idea I would appreciate it. My Bowling ancestors were from England and migrated to the United States but I am not sure what year. My grandfather was Dr. George W. Bowling of Kentucky. And My grand mother was Damie Bishop from English line as well. Bea

  7. Beatrice Zienkosky says:

    correction : I am not sure it is Thomas Speak. Beatrice

  8. Steuart Bowling says:

    Nicely done! I already knew my T-1 haplogroup was an oddity and probably came from Romans occupying Lancashire, but you’ve really done a great job laying it all out here. I had my DNA tested at about the same time Jerry did, but I didn’t opt for the more detailed study. Shirley and I compared notes on the initial results–Jerry and I were a 10 for 10 match on the markers from the test. I recall at the time it was a nice confirmation of our efforts to match Shirley’s Bowling ancestry to my own.

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