Err, yes, this is how humanity works

When they agreed to take part in a unique DNA project, residents of a close-knit Cotswolds village thought they might, at best, discover a far flung relative in an exotic location.

In fact, more than half of participants, who included the pub landlord, a local artist and a farmer, learned they were instead related to each other.

Really, this isn’t all that odd at all:

The closest found was that of Graham Harris and Gloria Warren, 74, who turned out to be third cousins, sharing a great great grandparent as their closest ancestor.

Camilla Bowditch, 68, and Andrew Packe, 66, were revealed to be fourth cousins and had no idea of their genetic link, despite living just minutes away from each other.

Can’t remember what the number is but by the time we’re 16th cousins all of Europe is related, no?

People rarely moved all that far, people couldn’t travel all that far and yet they shagged – thus some measure of shagging the more distant cousins along the way.

We couldn’t actually have a common ancestor and also have diverged in obvious appearance quite so much if this were not true.

Still, lucky they didn’t try this in Norfolk, eh?

17 comments on “Err, yes, this is how humanity works

  1. Did they name the village? If they did I can see a SJW protest and violence at the sheer lack of vibrant diversity in the place. It must be a hellhole. Is that where Billy Bragg fled Barking for?

  2. Can’t remember what the number is but by the time we’re 16th cousins all of Europe is related, no?

    Does that “we” include the growing parts of Europe that were born in Ouagadougou?

  3. People forget just how immobile most of their ancestors tended to be.

    A relative of mine researched my family tree, back a couple of centuries where possible. There was the odd ancestor who moved about – sometimes halfway across the country or between countries, but most often within the same county but the movements were generally separated by several generations of staying in the same town or village – by which point a wider family had been established there, most of whom stayed put.

  4. Not surprising at all. I’m a parish councillor, and I find I’m always careful before slagging things off in campaigning as it’s highly likely I’ll be related to the person responsible.

  5. One of the most significant effects on genetics was supposedly caused by the invention of the bicycle. Before then most poor people, certainly in rural areas, only had their own village, and maybe one or two others within easy walking distance, in which to find a mate. The bike widened the radius by quite a few miles in any direction.
    Come to think of it, being on the coast, especially on a peninsular must have drastically narrowed the options in any case – and probably still does to a greater extent that one might imagine..

  6. Sea transport doesn’t really compare to bicycle when it comes to dating someone in the next village. At the simplest level, a girl will cycle to see a boy she likes; but she’s unlikely to row a boat to see him. Boys, by contrast, would sail the high seas to get laid.

  7. My ancestors are mostly from a remote coastal town. Half of them married somebody from another remote coastal town who had arrived with the fishing fleets.

  8. Andrew M,

    Arguably the fact that there is a very large genetic divergence between the non-mobile population on the west coast and east coast of the island of Britain (and a much smaller genetic divergence between those populations and the populations facing them on Ireland and the Continent) proves Tim’s point – and yours. It’s a lot easier to move a long way by boat, so people did. And when you move a long way, the dangers of sex with someone become greatly reduced (basically to being caught or catching something, eliminating all the social pariah stuff and the odd feud), so being able to sail across the water meant it was much easier to help adjust the local genepool.

  9. Is increased genetic diversity, brought out by greater mobility (both locally and by migration) one of the reasons we are on the whole living longer. We’ve simply got better genes.

  10. Areas such as South Wales, whose population exploded in the early nineteenth century, will show a much greater DNA diversity than ‘remote’ agricultural communities in places such as the Cotswolds. Places such as Merthyr Tydfil grew with roughly one third coming from the West Country of England, one third from Ireland and one third from Welsh speaking rural Wales. I expect the social mix was ‘interesting’ for a few decades.

  11. South Wales in this case being the industrial valleys and the ports which serviced them – Newport, Cardiff, Swansea.

  12. Supposedly everyone who is natively European is descended from Pepin the Short or someone of that era. In the UK it’s usually Edward III from whom everyone claims descent. It’s not unlikely. Edward had quite a lot of legitimate progeny but what tends to be forgotten is the amount of servant-shagging that went on. You didn’t need forty chambermaids to keep even a pretty big place clean, but you did need them if the Duke was to get his leg over with a different bird every day. The flocks of serving wenches were basically a harem.

  13. I met a girl who was related to Chalemagne. Impressive!

    Years later, I found out that just about everybody is related to Charlemagne.

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.