June 14, 2013

Prince William's Indian matrilineage?

William has a hint of Indian in his DNA, find British researchers
Researchers have sourced William’s Indian ancestry to Eliza Kewark, his great-great-great-great-great grandmother, who was assumed to be Armenian, but now has been revealed as an Indian by genetic research.

...

“Through genealogy we traced two living direct descendants of Eliza and by reading the sequence of their mtDNA, we showed not only that they matched, but also that it belongs to a haplogroup called R30b, thus determining Eliza Kewark’s haplogroup,” the research team revealed.

The haplogroup, which is a group of related ancestral lineages, in this case was revealed to be rare and found only in South Asia. Other related branches of R30a and R30* are also entirely South Asian.

“This confirms therefore that the mtDNA of Eliza Kewark of Surat was of Indian heritage. R30b is rare even in India, where roughly 0.3 per cent of people carry this lineage,” the researchers revealed.
Chaubey et al. (2008) is an article that touches upon the subject of R30b.

Personally, I wouldn't be so quick in discounting the traditional genealogical story. A lineage that occurs at a frequency of 0.3% will almost certainly be missed in any small sample if it occurs at similar trace frequencies in other populations.

16 comments:

  1. Combined Armenian and Indian background is possible. Scenario: Armenian family settles in India Heaven knows when. (They’d been in Mumbai for centuries and India for millennia.) At some point, Armenian man marries converted Indian woman. She contributes her maternal lineage. Her daughter or matrilineal granddaughter or whatever becomes the live-in mistress of a British resident under the old East India Company system where Englishwomen tended not to settle in India. And voilà! The Armenians certainly claim some evidence, which I’ll lay out here for what it’s worth. Breakfast first.

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  2. Not even to mention that Eliza Kewark could have had some maternal Indian ancestry (since the Armenians have had presence in India for a very long time). Or that low-frequency R30b in India is a vestige of migration of either Armenians themselves, or other groups from Iran which admixed with Armenians (the migration may have amplified its frequency in the migrating subgroup due to founder effects / drift).

    Of course the Brits used to prefer Armenian hypothesis back then, but they probably like the India hypothesis more now. As I always say, genetic genealogy has much in common with fortune-telling, where the experts must guess which "facts" would excite the client more!

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  3. OK, here's what I found. Who knew that there was a blog called Armeniapedia? Here's the link, which I'll follow with a couple of quotes: http://www.armeniapedia.org/index.php?title=Princess_Diana

    "Some years ago letters with 'funny writing' were found in the ancestral home of the late Princess Di. After investigation they realized that it was "Armenian" and that they were written by grandmother Eliza to her children and grandchildren..."

    "It is noteworthy that Eliza Kewark was also referred to as 'Mrs. Forbesian' (a characteristic ending of Armenian surnames)."

    No citation for either claim

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  4. The Armenians of India descended almost exclusively from the New Julfa community in Iran, which in itself was created only in the 1600s. The extant records show next to no admixture within this strictly endogamous community. This rules out the recent Iranian origin of the detected haplogroup.

    My own opinion is that Mrs. Kewark was only patrilineally Armenian, as it is fairly safe to consider Kewark as a variation of Gevork/Kevork (Arm. George). There are also letters in the royal archives written in Armenian and attributed to her. It'll be interesting to see weather there was indeed mixed marriages among the Armenian mercantile class of India.

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  5. I couldn't find images or accessible discussions of the content of those Armenian-script letters anywhere, but I'm sure much of the royal archives haven't been digitized and indexed. Sometimes people refer to a 1981 publication in a genealogical magazine which isn't online. And of course depending of any particular group's agenda, the Armenian ancestry becomes Jewish or African etc.

    Her hometown of Surat was indeed an Armenian (and Baghdadim Jewish) stronghold, being gradually abandoned by the merchants in favor of more successful Bombay by Kewark's time.

    Interestingly, R30b might be more common among Kerala Jews of India (2 carriers among 200-odd subjects)

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  6. Yeah I am not sure I like this kind of "reveal" as a use for population genetics. Not that I think Indian ancestry is bad at all but for example Thomas Jefferson's mtDNA was i think T2 type which is extremely rare and shows up in only traces. You can't make any real conclusions from that. And again there's no such thing as "Indian". It's not like Han chinese where you can associate a single ethnic group with it that has an obvious origin there. I'm not sure there's even a single obvious group that does originate there let alone dominate the whole country.

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  7. "By reading over 700,000 markers ...with three blocks of South Asian DNA in each of their genomes. All of the rest is of European origin."
    http://www.britainsdna.com/

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  8. The extant records show next to no admixture within this strictly endogamous community. This rules out the recent Iranian origin of the detected haplogroup.

    Historically in Muslim-ruled countries if a non-Muslim married a Muslim, children born of such a marriage were inevitably Muslim. Because according to Sharia if in a family or concubinage relationship at least one of the parents is Muslim, it is compulsory to raise all children as Muslim. As a result of this compulsory Islamic practice, virtually none of the extant members of the non-Muslim communities of Muslim-ruled lands have any Muslim origin, as the members of the non-Muslim communities who admixed with Muslims inevitably became parts of the gene pool of the Muslim communities.

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  9. I should add that according to Sharia it is prohibited to convert from Islam to another religion or just leave Islam and the punishment of such an act is death.

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  10. The story gives me a "Minoan" vibe of a seafaring merchant intermingling with locals.
    Elizas paternal lineage Hakob Kevokian likely followed the same pattern as Theodore Forbes, at one point in history.

    www.telegraphindia.com/1130615/jsp/frontpage/story_17010140.jsp#.UbxZUr1TPZB
    There had been a thriving Armenian trading community in Surat since the 17th century and there was some inter-marriage with the local population. When Theodore met Eliza it was common for British men to begin relationships with Indian women and to have children, even if they already had a family back in Britain.

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  11. Interestingly, I have an entry in my Russian-language blog about the same - and that was a year ago, before the Indian lineage was confirmed by testing:


    http://valeryz2001.livejournal.com/49430.html

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  12. @Onur,

    Exactly. That was the gradual norm during most Muslim reigns. New Julfa, though, was an interesting case: the quarter was a self-regulated (policed internally, with a special taxation system), walled-off quarter, so there was little actual mingling between the Armenians and their Muslim neighbors. Considering the fairly intact church records, I'd imagine the only admixture occuring in the rare cases of converted 'recruits' into the Safavid political and military elite

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  14. New Julfa, though, was an interesting case: the quarter was a self-regulated (policed internally, with a special taxation system), walled-off quarter, so there was little actual mingling between the Armenians and their Muslim neighbors. Considering the fairly intact church records, I'd imagine the only admixture occuring in the rare cases of converted 'recruits' into the Safavid political and military elite

    Armenians of Iran are a special case. They largely descend from the Armenians of Julfa, Nakhchivan, who were relocated by force to Isfahan by the Safavid shah Shah Abbas for a very special purpose during the Ottoman-Safavid wars when Nakhchivan was contested between the Ottomans and the Safavids. So Armenians are largely not a conquered community in Iran but an emigrant community.

    Among non-Muslims of the Muslim-ruled lands, most of conversions to Islam and/or marriages/concubinages to Muslims historically occurred during the periods immediately following the conquest of their lands by Muslims. As Armenians of Iran are not a conquered community of Iran but rather a relocated one, they have not lost (through gradual assimilation) that many of their members to the Muslim communities in Iran.

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  15. ''Personally, I wouldn't be so quick in discounting the traditional genealogical story. A lineage that occurs at a frequency of 0.3% will almost certainly be missed in any small sample if it occurs at similar trace frequencies in other populations.''
    Well Dienekes i think if possible one day it will be very interesting to know the amount of the Ancestral South Indian component that Prince william And his brother has.
    stay well.

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