Friday, March 14, 2014

Is Everyone Irish on St. Patrick’s Day?

Most of my ancestors are from England with a few exceptions. Sprinkled among my English ancestors are a Dutch stowaway, a Hessian Soldier, a 1650 Scots Prisoner of War, and several Ulster Presbyterians with Scots roots.  There are also several noble connections in my family tree which lead back to Normans (Vikings), Plantagenets with Spanish and French brides, and more Scots.  According to the “Ethnicity Estimate” for my DNA at I tested for 100% European, with a breakdown of 79% Europe West, 18% Ireland and 3% Iberian Peninsula and less than 1% Great Britain.  

The 18% Irish DNA has me stumped.  Of course there are plenty of brickwall maiden names in my tree, and I have only traced my WILKINSON maiden name back to London around 1690. So who are these Irish ancestors that are supposed to be hanging off my family tree? Did some of my Ulster Presbyterian ancestors have Irish spouses?  Were some of my English ancestors of Irish heritage in the centuries past? Were some of my Scots originally from Ireland?  I haven't yet found proof of a single Irish man or woman in my research.

My most heavily researched Scots lineage is MUNROE.  My immigrant ancestor in this line was William MUNROE, my 7th great grandfather, captured in 1650 at the Battle of Worcester and marched to London as a prisoner of war.  He was put on a ship to Boston and sold into servitude on the wharf at Charlestown, Massachusetts.  His descendants have been heavily researched and documented in New England.  

According to the Clan Munroe website, the surname MUNROE refers to the River Roe in Ireland, their ancient homeland.   The River Roe is located in County Londonderry in Northern Ireland.   The fact that I live today in Londonderry, New Hampshire where one of the first Scots Irish settlements was established in 1719 seems like serendipity.   Everything has come full circle?

Another puzzle is my husband’s DNA test.  He is a first generation American, with parents from Spain.  His test came back 3% African, 96% European and less than 1% West Asian. The breakdown reads 3% North African (the “Moorish” influence on his ancestry), 61% Iberian Peninsula, 21% Italy/Greece, 10% Ireland, 3% Great Britain, 1% Europe West and less than 1% Middle East.   His DNA is typical of the invading Moors, Romans, and invading Celts and other Mediterranean tribes.  What stumps me is that he has more Great Britain DNA than me, and there is a significant amount of Irish in him!  

We’ll both be wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day!

Celebrate your possible Irish roots with free access to selected Irish records at this weekend, through Saint Patrick's Day (March 17th)- 

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Copyright © 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. We were having this conversation the other day, although not armed with DNA results. Being that I have a lot of Ulster Scots in my tree, including some of the Nutfield/Londonderry founders (that's how I found your blog!), around St Patrick's Day I often find myself wondering if I should consider myself "Irish." The families did live in Ireland for several generations, but were mostly Scots and English immigrants originally. Hmmm.

  2. I always thought that the Scotti people who settled Scotland originated in Ireland.