I’ve been exchanging messages lately with Tyrone Bowes at Origenes. He “claims to be able to use ‘modern science’ to pinpoint the place of origin of one’s patrilineal ancestors one thousand years ago based on the results of a 37-marker Y-DNA test from Family Tree DNA.” Debbie Kennett is skeptical.

One of our family stories is that the Swanstroms are descended from a Scottish officer who settled in Sweden. That’s not out of the question. The Swedes decimated their officer class with their imperial war. (Didn’t know Sweden used to have an empire? Yeah, it’s true.) So, they recruited military talent from other Protestant countries, notably Scotland.

We have ancestral connections to some of those Scottish families settled in Sweden, but I’ve never found any evidence the Swanstroms themselves were originally Scottish.

I thought it would be interesting to see if Tyrone Bowes would come up with a clear Yes or No. After a year of exchanging messages it seems he cannot.

And that’s a good thing.

The Swanstroms don’t have enough 37-marker matches to make a determination, he says. I would have been suspicious if he had suggested there is evidence of a Scottish origin. The matches we have are with the scattered members of a Briese family in Pomerania. Pomerania was part of the Swedish empire. Those matches don’t exclude a Scottish origin but they make it more problematic. (I would wish our Øgrim cousins would test; that would increase the level of certainty here.)

Kennett’s article comes at a good time for me. By detailing the reasons Bowes’ methodology is problematic, she brings me back to reality. I’ve been pushing the evidence too hard.

Update April 20, 2020: We’ve known for about two years now from DNA testing that the Svanströms before Petter Cavat were probably fairly recent immigrants from Germany. Our closest match is the Kruse family from Lütjenburg, Germany. Our estimated common ancestor about 1650 to 1700. The wife of soldier Jonas Svanström had mixed Swedish and German ancestry from the German merchant community in Stockholm, so it makes sense that he might also have had mixed ancestry. 

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