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Turvey and Wilkinson genetic link

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Surnames/tags: Turvey Wilkinson
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There exists a genetic link between a branch of the Turvey and Wilkinson families whose origin has not yet been explained.

Surname origins

See also: Space:History of the Turvey surname#Surname origin

The Turvey and Wilkinson surnames both originated in England. Hereditary surnames were first introduced in England in baronial families following the Norman Conquest in 1066. The knightly class began to adopt hereditary names in the 1100s, filtering down to most English families by 1400, although their form was still evolving.[1] Common origins for English surnames are from the name of specific locations or patronymics, as the son of a first name.[2]

Most sources suggest the Turvey surname originated in the parish of Turvey, in Bedfordshire.[3] It is likely that the original Turveys were either all descended from one person or from a small number of closely related people all from the same place. The earliest recorded use of the surname was for thirteen individuals who were named between 1191 and 1255 all in Bedfordshire.[4] The link to the village of Turvey is consistent with the distribution of the family in the 1891 census, where about 40% were clustered in the counties around Bedfordshire, or had moved from there to London in the urbanisation of the 1700s and 1800s. A second cluster, adding up to about 30% of the family, was focussed on Pershore, Worcestershire and had likewise moved to Birmingham, Bristol or Manchester during the urbanisation phase.[5]

The second cluster could have been due to an exceptional incidence of a family moving cross-country - perhaps Rycharde Turvey of Walcot. Alternatively, the Worcestershire Turveys could have been of independent origin from a different place near Pershore.

The Wilkinson surname is a patronymic meaning son of Wilkin, where Wilkin is a pet name for William that was common in northern England.[6] The earliest recorded use of the surname include Thomas Wylkynson, listed in the Yorkshire Hundred Rolls that date from 1273,[7] William Wylkynson, who was born about 1370 in Lancashire and Thomas Wilkynson, who was listed in the 1332 Subsidy Rolls of Cumberland.[6] The 1891 census showed that more than half of the Wilkinsons were living in the northern counties of Lancashire or Yorkshire, with the remainder evenly spread throughout the rest of the country.[8] Based on the derivation of the name, and how common it is, it is likely that there were multiple original "Wilkins" who started the name.

DNA evidence

Since the establishment of heritable surnames in England, these have normally passed from father to son and therefore should match the inheritance of Y-DNA, also known as the the male sex chromosome. A large proportion of certain surnames match Y-DNA Haplogroups - for instance, 87% of Attenboroughs are E1b1b1, 79% of Swindlehursts are R1a and 95% of Herricks are haplogroup I. [9] However, there are a number of events that can interrupt this transmission, which would result in men sharing the same surname having different Y-DNA. These "non paternal events" ("NPEs") include:

  • Approx. 5% of births were illegitimate, and such children would often take their mother's surname. [10] Note, however, that illegitimate children, in general, were less like to prosper or inherit property, and would, on average, have fewer descendents. This reduces the impact of this effect.
  • If fathers died leaving young children, their mother would often remarry; the original children sometimes took the new husband's surname
  • Men sometimes took their wives' surnames, particularly if their wives inherited property

At least six Turvey lines have been tested for their Y-DNA.[11] Four are from the R1b Haplogroup, with the other two testing for I1 and J1. This suggests that the original Turvey line was R1b. One of the testers is from the Pershore cluster and he tests positive for I1. His paper trail leads back to Ben Turvey in 1703. There are a number of possible explanations for this NPE:

  • Rycharde Turvey of Walcot was I1, perhaps changing his name when he acquired Walcot or perhaps descending from a different place called Turvey
  • An NPE occured somewhere between him and Ben Turvey (assuming Ben is a direct descendent)
  • An undocumented NPE occurred somewhere between Ben Turvey and the tester.

Additional testing from the Pershore cluster and from descendents of Ben Turvey would narrow down where this NPE occurred.

On the Wilkinson side, nearly 100 Y-DNA results have been recorded and grouped into at least 15 distinct families. This includes eight people with the surname Wilkinson or Wilkerson who are Haplogroup I1. Based on STR analysis, six of these are estimated to have a common ancestor dated to around 1000 CE, and three of these (all American) have a common ancestor dated to around 1700.

STR and SNP analysis links the Turvey I1 branch above to the three close Wilkinsons above, with a common ancestor dated between 1450-1650 (assuming the paper trail is accurate) and a common ancestor with the other three Wilkinsons (who include at least one English branch) to between 1000 CE and 1300 CE. Given the nature of these relationships, it appears that the Turvey ancestor was originally a Wilkinson who had a Turvey son between 1450-1650.


  1. D. Hey, Family Names and Family History (2000), pp. 31, 51-53
  2. Most common surnames in Britain and Ireland revealed, BBC, 17 November 2016
  3. Turvey, SurnameDB
  4. See Space:History of the Turvey surname#Earliest recorded Turveys
  5. Turvey origins, Ancestry
  6. 6.0 6.1 Wilkinson, SurnameDB
  7. Wilkinson surname, Heraldry Institute
  8. Wilkinson origins, Ancestry
  9. T.E. King and M.A. Jobling, Founders, drift, and infidelity: the relationship between Y chromosome diversity and patrilineal surnames, Molecular Biology and Evolution, vol. 26, no. 5 (May 2009), pp.1093-1102; quoted at http://www.ancestraljourneys.org/surnames.shtml
  10. R.A. Houston & I.D. Whyte, Scottish Society 1500-1800, 1989, Cambridge University Press
  11. See Space:History of the Turvey surname#Genetic ancestry

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