Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Changing Names - my DNA adventure

I had always thought that as my surname is Evans I must have Welsh ancestry. Besides, Welsh men are renowned for their singing, and I LOVE singing! Oh dear, it’s time to think again!

About three years ago I decided that it was about time to have my DNA tested. I had heard about how some people had matched their DNA with others of the same surname and had established common descent from ancestors in specific areas. I hoped that I could do the same.

My problem was that I had traced my Evans line back to my great great grandfather, John Evans, who lived and married in Manchester in the 1850’s. According to the information I had he was the son of another John Evans and was born in about 1835 in Ireland. I speculated that being Protestant, he was possibly born in Northern Ireland.  Unfortunately my research has revealed that there are untold numbers of men born in Ireland named John Evans who could be my ancestor.

I had thought that by testing my DNA I could hopefully establish the area where my John came from by matching my DNA with other Evans descendants whose ancestors came from the same area.

In December 2011 I submitted a sample to FamilyTreeDNA® for Y-DNA testing requesting a 37 marker test. I waited patiently for matches, and although there were several 12 marker and one 25 marker match, there were no 37 marker matches. After about two years, an email arrived from a man whose surname is Jourdan. He had a 37 marker match with me. We speculated that one of us probably had an illegitimate ancestor and that we both could have been descended from either Evans or Jourdon/Jordan; but then he told me he had a 37 marker match with an American man whose surname is Evins.

This really got me thinking, so I contacted Mr Evins to see how we might be related. He had traced his great great grandfather, also John Evins/Evans, back to 1803, but found records showing that he had changed his name from Nevins to Evins. His ancestors had originated in Scotland then moved to Northern Ireland in the early 1600’s. He had also seen evidence of other Nevins’s who had changed their name to Evans or Evins.

It’s easy to imagine how the surname could have changed if an illiterate John Nevins spoke his name to someone who wrote it down as John Evans and I am convinced that this is very likely to have happened in the case of one of my Evans ancestors. Further research will hopefully provide some confirmation.

Oh well, so much for singing 'Men of Harlech'. Now I’ll have to learn 'Scotland the Brave'!