By Richard Saul
This article was published in the December 2020 edition of Soul Search, the Journal of The Sole Society
I have recently received the results of my DNA test from livingdna.com. The results come in the form of a map showing where similar DNA is found, and the identification of one’s paternal and maternal haplogroups. The paternal haplogroup is been handed down unchanged down the paternal line and it can tell us a lot about our early ancestors even thousands of years ago. The same applies to the maternal haplogroup which is handed down through the female line.
My paternal haplogroup is R-L21 which is a branch of the major R1b group. Google has much information about haplogroups and their interpretation.
The R-L21 haplogroup is described as the Atlantic – Celtic branch of R1b which probably reached the Cumbrian area in the early Bronze Age, around 2000BC. Scotland, Ireland and NW England are the places where there is a high occurrence of R-L21 descendants today.
As I am directly descended from the Quaker Saul family of Cumbria on my paternal side it follows that all Sauls who are direct descendants of John Saul/Alles Chamber and of his son John Saul/Elizabeth Benson in the late 17th century will also have the same paternal haplogroup of R-L21.
It is very likely that their ancestry goes back through mediaeval times and Roman occupation all the way to the Bronze Age.
In the first millennium the Cumbrian area and southern Scotland was inhabited by the Rheged tribe and much information can be found about Rheged on the web.
It will be very interesting to see whether the various Saul trees have similar DNA in their father-lines, but we need more results to build a database. Two of my cousins have had DNA results from Ancestry.co.uk, but these results do not provide haplogroup information. (they do however confirm that their DNA is currently common in the Scotland/ Ireland areas)
If you are interested to have a DNA test I would strongly recommend that you confirm with the tester that you will be told of your haplogroups. If you currently have haplogroup information and can trace your Saul paternal tree back to the 17th century perhaps you would like to share this information with the Society via John Slaughter and I will be very interested to start a database.
[Ed: since writing this article Richard has emailed me to say: My paternal haplogroup has been refined to R-DF13 which is a sub group of RL-21. The interpretation is unchanged! I have also received DNA matches of distant cousins two of which to date are from the Cumbrian Saul tree’
Of course any members of the Sole Society with other surnames might benefit from having their DNA analysed. If you do have a DNA test, please do let your Research Co-ordinator know the results. There are many organisations that test DNA and the Society does not endorse any one in particular]