Friday, June 15, 2012

Myles Standish: Mayflower DNA

   My genealogy has one Mayflower passenger, Stephen Hopkins.  Seven other passengers are cousins in one manner or another, Doty, Howland, More, Mullins, Standish, Warren and Winslow.  Twenty-four of the Mayflower families have living descendants.  I have collected the y-DNA records for fifteen of them. (For more on this process watch this short video) It was no surprise to find eight R1b Celts and four I1 Scandinavians among them.  But, the three I2a Balkans intrigued me.

   The one name that stood out as I2a was Myles Standish.  Every first grader knows that name.  My first thought was that Myles was descended from a member of the Roman Legions.  Perhaps he was a Scythian or Sarmatian.  I needed to identify the Standish family tribe and when they arrived in England.   If I was lucky, I’d be able to bracket the immigration of his ancestor to the 1st or 2nd century, the height of the Roman conquest.

   As the DNA records started to compile using TribeMapper® analysis, an initial pattern developed showing historic habitation on either side of Hadrian’s Wall.  This was the beginning of a great migration story and potentially the end to the dispute of Myles Standish’s origins.  Researchers have placed Standish’s birthplace as either Lancashire or the Isle of Man.  Based on the data, Lancashire emerges as the most likely location.  There was no genetic indication that the Isle of Man was a possibility.

   If Standish’s ancestors had been conscripted into the Roman Legion, then I would expect their migration pattern to appear scattered like a diaspora.  Fathers and brothers and their descendants would be spread across the Roman empire.  There would be no focus for the data points representing the period 2,000 years ago.

   The actual data points told a different story.  They remained focused.  At the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago, Myles Standish’s ancestors were living in the Balkans.  As the ice receded, they journeyed up the Danube River, a major migration highway, until they reached the upper Rhine.  The upper Rhine was a Neolithic way station for many tribes coming up the Danube or out of Iberia.  The area served as a stopover before continuing over the Alps or down the Rhine.  The Standish tribe chose to follow the Rhine down to the North Sea.

   Between 2,000 and 3,000 years ago, Standish’s ancestors crossed into England and made their way up the Thames to its source.  My theory is that they were pushed ever westward by successive waves of immigrants.  They found Wales to be well populated already and ventured north to where we find the most recent genetic evidence, in Lancashire.

   My initial theory that Standish’s ancestor was brought to England as part of the Roman Legion, to reinforce the troops at Hadrian’s Wall, was wrong.  It is always good to have a theory to work toward, but don’t let preconceived ideas get in the way of new evidence.  Now that we know that Standish’s origins are pre-Roman we can consider that his family is one of the native tribes of Britain.  The most likely Lancashire tribe would be the Setantii, which is a sub-tribe of the Brigantes.

   Each one of our ancestors has a unique migration story to tell.  Their travels overlap with events that we have read about in history books.

   Where did you come from?

© Michael R. Maglio and OriginsDNA


  1. Very interesting! I have Myles on both my maternal and paternal lineages. I also have three lineages from John Howland, and one from his brother Arthur. Has anyone done the Howland DNA?

    1. There is an active Howland DNA project on Family Tree DNA. The Howlands have Celtic origins (R1b). I'll move them up on my blog post to-do list.

    2. Steven Hopkins is one of my ancestors, too.

  2. Thanks for posting this. My husband is a Standish descendant. I enjoy migration patterns; just another indication that we're all related, no one is "pure" anything.

  3. This is just the best discovery. Way Cool. Ever since I saw the Movie with Clive Owen as King Arthur. I have seen England's people differently and wondered what more will we learn.

    I find folks amusing who say they ancestors are only from one place. But I know from Genealogy every one has their own unique DNA which will prove they are not from where they said they were from. Thanks so much for more great history.


  4. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.

  5. This is fascinating. I'm the 14th generation of Myles Standish.

  6. My friend is a descendant of Myles Standish.

  7. I live in Standish Lancashire.The Romans were here from AD 77 they called it Coccium.

    Myles came from Duxbury Hall which no longer stands but the park is still there.

    In WW 2 a US airman demolished our 14th Century well with his truck Everyone blamed Myles.

    If you are interested Historians have discovered that Camelot was in Standish

  8. My name is christopher j standish i. Am a direct decendant of miles standish my father was forest b standish my granfather was george standish my great grandfather still alive in Middleboro masachuset on school street his name is george as well we are direct blood line to miles standish when i was born they sent papers to hospital telling me about my history i need more info my email i use is my mothers hope someone can help me more what to do

  9. Fascinating! Thank you for this post! I'm a 12th generation descendant of Myles and ever since I found my connection to Myles I've been fascinated with the history of Standish and where they came from. And, I love the Camelot article! :)

  10. I am interested in finding out about the descendants of Miles Standish and a few generations down from him to determine a question with regard to Mary Standish having married James Cary (granddaughter of Miles Standish) or whether Mary Shaw. This issue has gone on to the exclusion of several lines.

  11. Thanks for providing the TribeMapper® link. I'm looking forward to having a look. Stephen Hopkins is my 12th great-grandfather. My husband is from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England and we walked a bit along Hadrian's Wall. I've always felt an extraordinary affinity with Great Britain. Now I know why!

  12. Myles Standish, William Mullins, and George Morton are my 11th great grandfathers. John Alden, Alexander Standish, Henry Sampson, and Abraham Sampson are my 10th great grandfathers. Thanks to my great grandmother, Elizabeth Hutchinson I have many books and pedigrees she researchered and created for her children, and many generations of grandchildren to learn about not only her family tree but her husband's, Oliver Hutchinson. It was her search into his family tree that revealed this amazing connecting to history. I always felt very proud to say I am a descendent of Myles Standish and John Alden as we learned about them in school.

  13. I am a direct decedent of the Captain, I am from his son Josiah's line according to documents...we don't know enough about DNA to apply my brothers DNA test...from what I am able to understand our DNA changed sometime in the late 1700's as my brother had a full 37 point match to a cousin off of Alba Standish's line, but no other even close matches to other Standish tested, instead they had 36 point match to some Conants and Carpenters...any help would be appreciated