Almost all of our ancestors arrived in American from the British Isles. Our ancestors were mostly Puritans, Quakers, plantation owners and their indentured servants who came to Virginia and Maryland and Scots and English, who lived on either side of the border between those two countries.
A visit our ancestral lands in the British Isles would take a complete tour of all of England, the southern part of Scotland and the northern part of Ireland, where many of the Scots Irish stopped for a generation or two before traveling on American.
Below is the AncestryDNA discussion about the British Isles Ethnicity. My test results showed 14% of my ancestors had this ethnicity. See previous and future posts to learn more about our ancestors ethnicity.
Modern Day Location
England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales
Did You Know?
The English language, predominantly spoken in this region, is descended from German settlers.
About Your Region
You’re from North-Western Europe, an area including the modern-day United Kingdom and Ireland. It is a group of islands separated from France and the rest of continental Europe by the narrow English Channel. It is the rolling, emerald-green hills of Ireland, the craggy, weathered peaks of Wales, the rich history of the city on the Thames, and the deep, mysterious lochs of Scotland.
This is where Shakespeare wrote his plays and poems. It’s home to the legends of King Arthur and Robin Hood. It’s produced some of the world’s most adventurous explorers and greatest political and military figures—George Mallory, Winston Churchill, Admiral Horatio Nelson. Brilliant scientific minds such as Sir Isaac Newton and James Clerk Maxwell laid the foundations of modern physics. And it’s the place where a rainbow can lead to a pot of gold. Maybe.
The history of the region is one of periodic invasions and settlements by various groups including the Angles and Saxons from Germany, the Jutes from Denmark, the Vikings, the Normans from northern France and, of course, the Romans. English, a Germanic language brought by the Angles, is obviously the primary language spoken. But a few of the older languages spoken by the ancient Celts still exist—a rarity in post-Roman Europe.
The people of the region have been witness to sweeping political changes and amazing technological progress through the centuries, from the Glorious Revolution to the Industrial Revolution. But despite their penchant for reform and progress, they have always found a way to preserve the past. From royal families to prime ministers, ancient languages to international diversity, from thousand-year-old cathedrals to glass skyscrapers, their culture is a fascinating blend of old and new.
Migrations into this region
Despite being a cluster of islands separated from continental Europe, Great Britain and Ireland haven’t been insulated from outsiders. Although they weren’t the first, the Celts from central Europe spread throughout the Northwest Isles about 2500 years ago. Then, as with everywhere else, the Romans came. After the Romans withdrew from the area, tribes from northern Germany and Denmark (the Angles, Saxons and Jutes) came to conquer much of what is now England. About this same time, the mighty Vikings also left their imprint, particularly in southern Scotland, Ireland and western England.
Migrations from this region
Religious and political upheaval in 17th and 18th century England played a critical role in establishing and defining early American history. Called the Great Migration, religious dissidents including the Pilgrims, Quakers, and Puritans left England seeking religious freedom and a new way of life. Although the migration was not large in overall numbers, it laid the foundation for American culture, including the concepts of church-state separation and religious tolerance.
The Great Irish Famine, also called the Potato Famine, was triggered by an outbreak of potato blight, which destroyed potato crops across Europe in the mid 1800s. Already enduring widespread poverty and massive unemployment, Ireland was hit harder than any other nation by the disaster since potatoes were a dietary staple. Ireland lost nearly a quarter of its population. Those who could leave, fled mostly to England, Australia, Canada, and the United States, creating a world-wide Irish diaspora.
Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.