Y-DNA:  Maternal Grandfather - WILLIAMSON

My mother's maiden name is WILLIAMSON.  Her ancestors in the paternal line came from the Shetland Islands.  Since my grandfather Gilbert
(whose grandfather Robert WILLIAMSON was born 1819 Mid Yell, Island of Yell, Shetland) had passed away I requested that one
of my uncles (who would have the same Y chromosome as their father) supply a sample for DNA analysis.  The results were not surprising.

The Shetland Islands were settled by Norse Vikings beginning before 800 AD.  There is no evidence that any of the original Pict occupiers of the
Islands were still there when the Vikings arrived, and if they were there it appears the invaders may have "put them to the sword" since it is
presumed that had some survived there would have at least been more than a handful of Celtic place names in all of the Islands.  In addition, the
Shetland Islands were staging areas for Norse Viking raids to Scotland, Ireland, the west coast of England, and the Isle of Mann.  Some sort of
peaceful coexistence of the Picts and the warlike Vikings in such a small area does not seem likely.  In the year 1468 Norway deeded Shetland to
Scotland, and soon Scots began arriving as lairds, merchants, clergy and generally assumed positions in the upper ranks of society - leaving the
most of the original Norse settlers to tend to small farms known as crofts where they raised a small amount of grain, tended herds of sheep, fished,
participated in whaling expeditions, and later large numbers joined the Merchant Navy.

When the Scots arrived they of course brought their customs, such as using established surnames such as Bruce, Stewart and Mowat which were
passed on from father to son to the present day.  The Norse, however, with a very few exceptions, used a patronymic naming practice where a
William, son of James, would be known as William Jamieson.  However, when William had children his sons would have the surname Williamson
and the daughters would be known as William'sdaughter.  By the turn of the 19th century most families of Norse descent adopted whatever
surname was in use in the family at that time - and the name became a permanent surname just like Brown.  This is doubtless what happened in
my family since the surname ends in "son" and is an "Aboriginal Shetland" surname (the Williamson ancestor likely arriving at the time of the
Norse Viking settlement about 800AD.  The genealogical evidence suggested Norse descent, as did family tradition - but what about the DNA


It turns out that my uncle's Y-DNA haplogroup is R1a1 via a Y-SNP marker known as M17 where there is a deletion of a single nucleotide base at
this location  He has no match is any of the standard databases in the world for his haplotype within this haplogroup.  In other words it is a very
very rare signature.  Using the Family Tree DNA Haplogroup Database, he has a single one mutation near match, and that person was from
Shetland (sample size of 38).  At the two - step (10/12) match level we find large numbers of individuals from the
Russian Altai (Siberia), India,
.  The only exact match in the forensic users world - wide database of 100,000 is someone from Nepal - with others with very close
haplotypes (despite the rarity).  This may simply be an example of identical by state versus descent (in other words coincidence), but it is possible
that the source population split in Mongolia, some moving south to Nepal and others west along the Silk Road to Europe.  The Williamson signature
may have originated in the Sibertia Altai near the Chinese border, and arrived in Scandanavia about 410 AD with the Swedes (Osterogoths) and
Scythians then living north of the Black Sea after the fall of the Roman Empire.  Rsearchers generally agree that anyone from Britain with a R1a
haplotype is of Norse Viking descent - the ancestor coming from the western fiords of Norway (the frequency of R1a haplotypes is about 30% across
Norway).  The Williamson ancestor likely came from the
Western Region of Norway around the area of Bergen and Hordaland.  In a very large
Norwegian database from a recent academic study there is only one exact match (10 markers) to the Williamson signature and that person is from
the West of the country.  The closest matches all come from this area too.  The ancestor also has a characteristic Norwegian motif at a marker
called YCAIIa,b where almost all in the world are 19,23.  About 40% of Norwegians (and no one else located to date except some "strays" in Syria
and India) have the unusual motif of 19,21.  Not to be outdone, the Williamson ancestor goes one step further and has a motif of 19, 20.   Some R1a
Norwegians have ancestors who came via Eastern Europe, and a smaller number, like our Williamsons, from Kazakhstan originally.  The only exact
match at 12 markers and beyond found so far is with a BLANCHE (BLANCE), a surname found only in
Shetland, a ROBERTSON, and another
WILLIAMSON whose ancestor Robert was a first cousin of our Robert (born 1819). After many patronymic name changes,
Gilbert Basil
, son of William MATTEWSON of Mid Yell was the last before all in Shetland adopted fixed surnames.  It is unknown at present how
the Blances from Delting (but not the Island of Yell) link to our WILLIAMSONS.

It apears that the ancient
WILLIAMSON Y chromosome originated in Africa, migrated to Asia, then during the Last Glacial Maximum, "over
wintered" for a few thousand years is what is today the
Ukraine as part of what was known as the Kurgan culture which, with its Indo - European
language, spread as far as east Mongolia, and south to India, but is rarely observed west of Eastern Europe (e.g., Poland).  After trek over many
years and many generations the
WILLIAMSON ancestors who had originated in Kazakhstan migrated across the Russian steepes to what is today
Western Norway, and around the year 800 AD, with many of his kin and comrades, left his homeland to seek his fortune (or at least a better life) in
other lands, in this case the
Shetland Islands.
mtDNA of Maternal