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French surname - Danish genes?

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  • French surname - Danish genes?

    I recently participated in the Genographic project and received my results.

    Turns out the two reference populations I'm closest to are (1) The Danes and (2) the Dutch. The latter doesn't come as a surprise, since my mother's father's surname is Dutch as well as my mother's mother's maiden name.

    My father's mother's maiden name is German and the surname I have is a French Huguenot one: De Villiers

    There is no one I have record of with a Scandinavian surname in our family tree, so I was wondering if this result could perhaps be due to the Scandinavian involvement in the founding of the Duchy of Normandy in France?

    I've been told that the Duchy was founded after a man named Hrolf led an allegedly mostly Danish force of men on Viking to besiege Paris for a whole year, after which the lands now known as Normandy were ceded to him. Afterwards these people obviously slowly adopted French names and culture as the Normans?

    Print _ Genographic Project.pdf

  • #2
    It's recently come to my attention that the Danish were also a dominant force in the low countries, so that's another possibility.

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    • #3
      Have you taken into account the history of permanent surnames in Denmark? At some point, well after the dispersal of the Huguenots into Protestant areas of Europe (including Denmark), it finally became necessary or fashionable for Danes to have permanent surnames, rather than using the patronymic system. It's entirely possible that a Danish family took a "Huguenot" name (or, by then, possibly already "Dutch" name -- huge numbers of Huguenots had been assimilated into Holland along with their surnames by the 18th Century). The point here is that the apparent ethnicity of a family name does not necessarily correlate with the genetic history of the person bearing the name, because family names have not always been used in the way we most frequently encounter them today.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by John McCoy View Post
        Have you taken into account the history of permanent surnames in Denmark? At some point, well after the dispersal of the Huguenots into Protestant areas of Europe (including Denmark), it finally became necessary or fashionable for Danes to have permanent surnames, rather than using the patronymic system. It's entirely possible that a Danish family took a "Huguenot" name (or, by then, possibly already "Dutch" name -- huge numbers of Huguenots had been assimilated into Holland along with their surnames by the 18th Century). The point here is that the apparent ethnicity of a family name does not necessarily correlate with the genetic history of the person bearing the name, because family names have not always been used in the way we most frequently encounter them today.
        Good point. One thing I forgot to mention is, I live in SA and all De Villiers can be traced back to three brothers that were fresh off the boat directly from France in the 1680s.

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        • #5
          Yeah, those Huguenots got around. I remember a Huguenot church in West Berlin (1950s), up in the French sector.

          There were Danes in Normandy, but I don't know how many. Bluetooth, king of the Danes sent a force to Basse-Normandie. He was allied and reinforcing the duke of Normandy (son or grandson of Rollo). At one time I was extremely interested in that time and place because I thought my direct maternal line went back to there. A few daughters of Bluetooth, and one son went there and apparently stayed and married nobles, etc. Presumably lots of lower ranking Danish men also stayed.

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