There is a great deal of confusion among genealogists, concerning DNA
testing. As a profeddional chemist, as well as a longtime amateur
genealogist, I hope I can clear some of these matters up -- especially
concerning the yDNA of my ROOSA ancestors, descendants of early New
Netherlands settler Aeldert Heymans ROOSA (1621-1678/79).
The ROOSA line has been traced back rather far, as Dutch lines go,
thatnks in a great degree to the research and translation efforts of
Marco Schelling. Marco has convincingly traced Aeldert's ancestry to
Aeldert's father Heyman Guysberts, and to Heyman's father Gijsbert
Goerttzen. Gijsbert's father was, of course, probably named Goert; but
beyond this, the Dutch records lose their helpfulness because there
were many Goerts in the region, from various families. Goert must have
been born about 1530, around the time that, according to family
tradition, the ROOSA clan arrived in the Netherlands from the Iberian
Nobody has traced the line, to my knowledge, further back Than Goert. Many claims have been made -- of Italian ancestry, English ancestry, etc.; but these are all speculative. ROOSA researchers are fortunate in that, unlike most Dutch families, which used patronymics until the English conquest of New Netherlands in the 1660s, the ROOSA surname, in various spellings, has been around for some time. Particularly with the spelling "ROSA", the family figured prominently in Spain during the Inquisition, a fact which strongly supports family traditions. More convincingly still, the coat of arms used by Goert's eligible descendants was identical to the municipal arms of Rosas, an ancient city in the extreme NE corner of the Spanish region of Catalonia.
Because the family name is an ancient one, considerable effort has been put into tracing the line back; but since the paper trail ends around 1530, other clues have been sought -- in particular, a yDNA study of ROOSA descendants. Partial results of this study can be seen on my website at http://www.pcez.com/~bigshoe/Dpuy/dejongh.html (I revise the site now and then, so the exact page may change. If you have difficulty locating it, feel free to contact me by email). Goert and his descendants appear to have had yDNA of a "haplogroup" (very large DNA classification) of "R1b".
Let me first explain a bit about DNA testing for genealogy: First of all, three tests are mainly used -- the "yDNA" test is for a portion of the genetic inheritance passed from father to son. This is therefore the test used in "surname" studies, such as the ROOSA Family study. Another popular test is the mtDNA study, which tests for mitochondrial DNA. It probes the genetic inheritance from mother-to-daughter. A third test, less commonly used and still in its early days of use, is the "whole DNA" test. This last test is useful for determining a person's ethnic background. It can determine, for instance, what percentage of a person's ancestry is Native American, African, West Eurasian or East Asian.
Next, I ought to say a bit about haplogroups. Both yDNA and mtDNA are classified by haplogroups. These classifications can be confusing, becuase there is a "Haplogroup R", for instance, of mtDNA and also a "Haplogroup R" of yDNA, yet the two are completely unrelated and occur in widely different population groups. In the ROOSA study, of course, we are concerned with the yDNA haplogroups. In the West Eurasia-North African area, the haplogroups overspread one another; due to the many migrations and conquests that have happened in the area. Nonetheless, certain haplogroups tend to predominate in one place or another: Hg (haplogroup) "R", for instance is found throughout the area but has its greatest concentration in Spain; "J" is more common in the Middle East, "E" in Africa, "I" in Sweden, Serbia and Sardinia, "N" in Finland and Lapland.
Because the haplogroups tend to fall in various geographic areas, there is a tendency among some to think that they correspond to ethnic groups. They do not. Haplogroup "R", for instance, was the group of the most ancient Europeans, whose linguistic survivors are the Basque people of NW Spain and SW France. Most Europeans, along with many Middle Easterners, also have this haplogroup even though nearly all of them speak languages entirely unrelated to Basque: Indo-European languages such as Irish, English and Spanish; Finno-Ugric languages such as Lapp and Hungarian; Turkic languages such as Turkish and Chuvash, and Afro-Asiatic languages such as Maltese, Arabic and Hebrew. Many Englishmen, for instance, have Hg E, which might have come from the days when Rome ruled Britain.
Haplogroup R is subdivided into many groups, "R1" being the most common. This group is further subdivide, "R1a" and "R1b" being the principal species. The former is more common in Eastern Europe, and the latter in Western Europe. Group R1b is overwhelmingly the principal haplogroup in Southern France and Northern Spain, where Rosas is located. It is present in lower frequencies as one travels from this area to the various directions, such as in the Netherlands.
I have seen some websites which claim that various "haplotypes" or "sub-clades" (finer divisions) within these haplogroups are peculiar to various areas: There is, according to these, an "Atlantic subclade", and a "Alpine", and "Nordic". One website classifies these groups, based on only four markers in the yDNA strand. For what it's worth, the ROOSA DNA falls into the "Alpine" group -- which means the ROOSA male line should be more likely to come from places like the Netherlands and Spain, than from, say, England. All this must be taken with a grain of salt, however, because all the "subclades" are present throughout the W. Eurasia-N. Africa area.
I was most astonished to see a statement on the Rose Family DNA Project, produced by Mr. David Brown:
"The Rose Family Association and the DNA Project Administrator have received inquiries as to whether the Roosa of Ulster County, New York have Middle Eastern [or Jewish] connections. The DNA pattern clearly indicates very early Northwestern European connections, and is not indicative of any Middle Eastern origins, either directly or indirectly."
This statement is false, and needs to be repudiated. While it is true that the R1b haplogroup is common among Europeans, this haplogroup also represents a major, if not the most common, contributor to the gene pool of Sephardic Jews. This is true even of Sephardic Jews in Israel, who have interbred with Middle Eastern peoples for centuries, and is certainly true of Sephardic Jews (like the ROOSAs) who remained in Iberia or migrated to western lands such as the Netherlands and America. Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman & Donald Panther-Yates, in "Toward a Sephardic Haplogroup Profile in the New World", an article submitted to the International Journal of Sephardic Studies, compare haplogroup profiles from Canary Islands, Azores, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, New Mexico and the Appalachians (Melungeons and Cumberland Gap) and suggest that "R1b is far and away the most prevalent haplogroup in Sephardic Jewish populations". They surmise that its dominant position is likely the result of major conversion events in Southern France and Northern Spain about 1200 years ago.
(refer to the website http://dnaconsultants.com/Detailed/355.html )
When I first heard of the IJSS study, my curiosity was aroused as to what the "conversion event" might have been that happened around the year 800 C.E. (or A.D. 800 to some). Interestingly, there were some major happenings around that time in the area around Rosas. These are detailed on the website "CATALONIA THE NEXT STATE" at
In the early part of the Eighth Century, Spain was ruled by a Germanic tribe called the Visigoths. Then the Abab invasion occurred. According to the website,
"Barcelona and Girona were occupied without a blow, and the
towns and villages were abandoned by a great proportion of the
Christian population, who fled to Gaul.3 Only a few people,
probably almost all of them JEWS, remained in... Barcelona; they were the population which the Christians found when they recovered the city ninety years later. We have some knowledge of what these people felt when their city was reconquered by the Christians: it seems they received the newcomers as enemies rather than as brothers, which suggest that very few if any Christians were among them."
The "conversion events" referred to in the IJSS article may very well have been the rape of local Jewish women by the invading Franks of Charlemagne's army in 801 CE. Judaism today is a matrilineal religion, yet in Bible times it was patrilineal. There are many opinions about when the changeover occurred, but one is that the famous rabbi RASHI established (or confirmed) the custom because some Jewish fathers refused to support their children, saying they were the result of rape by soldiers and were therefore not Jewish. RASHI is said to have replied that since the identity of the father couldn't be known for sure, but that of the mother was obvious, any child of a Jewsish mother should be considered Jewish. It may be that RASHI was thinking of a precedent from the time of the reconquest of NE Spain. I just say this as a way of piquing curiosity -- I am not an authority on Judaism.
Let me summarize:
1. The Heyman ROOSA line has been successfully researched to the mid-1500s in the Netherlands. Before that time, we must rely on the evidence of family traditions, heraldry, DNA studies, etc.
2. The family traditions, and especially heraldic evidence, suggest that the family had its origins in Spain, particularly in the northeastern city of Rosas.
3. Heyman's yDNA is of haplogroup R1b, of a particular haplotype which is common in both Spain and the Netherlands. It is common among Jews from these places, as well as non-Jews.
4. The ROOSA yDNA MAY have come to modern male members of the family by way of soldiers of Charlemagne raping Jewish women. If this were the case, we have the curious possiblity that ROOSAs coming from Spain may share fairly recent common male ancestors with their Dutch countrymen! This, of course, is speculation.
I hope this has been helpful. Feel free to contact me on these matters.
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