J Haplogroup origins - J2A3D (formerly known as J2a4d, J2a1e, J2a1h, J2l)

The J haplogroup is very ancient originating in the Near East perhaps in the Arabian Peninsula about 30,000 years ago. Semino et al in 2004 reported the following percentages in populations Bedouin 65%, Palestinians 55%, Iraqi 51%, Kurd 40%, Sepharim Jew 40%, Lebanese 38%, Ashkenazi Jew 38%, Central 27%, Italy Calabria 20-25%, Sicily 24%, Greek 21%, Central Asia 21%, Sardinia 13%. The J haplogroup split into J1 and J2 about 20,000 years ago within the area of Anatolia, Armenia, Iraq and Syria.

Around 10,000 years ago in Anatolia J2 divided into J2a and J2b and spread into Greece. J2a divided further, one differentiation being J2a4 which it has been claimed originated in Crete around 5000 years ago. However the DNA sequences suggest otherwise and The Fertile Crescent is more likely.

Around 1200 BC the Phoenicians/Sea Peoples/Philistines appear in Egyptian and other records. The Phoenicians travelled as far as Spain and Cornwall to acquire tin and lead about 1200 BC. Carthage on the North African coast was founded about 814BC by Phoenician colonists from Tyre and Lebanon. From Carthage traders founded a trading post in Cantabria in northern Spain to exploit the pure lead mined there. In the Second Punic war 218-201 Cantabria allied with Carthage against Rome. In the Third Punic War in 146 BC the Romans destroyed Carthage.

In 43 BC Julius Caesar accompanied by the Roman IX legion invaded southern Britain complained about the weather, too much rain for his liking, and then went home. Between 27 and 13 BC the Roman army commander Marcus Agrippa campaigned in Northern Spain against the Cantabrian and Asturian tribes. Probably due to the mountainous terrain, fighting continued for over a century and involved legions II, VI and IX. In 57 AD the Romans formed settlements in Flanders near Bruges (Belgium).

Britain was invaded for permanent conquest when Claudius was emperor in 43AD. In 70 AD the IX legion built a fort at Lindum that eventually became the city of Lincoln. In 71AD the IX legion were replaced by the II Legion and the IX moved on to form the fort at Eboracum (York). The Romans established a supply port at Grimsby/Clee which exported chalk ‘clee’. In 410 AD the Romans abandoned Britain due to their inability to defend their own northern frontier on the continent. This left behind Romano British administrations or kingdoms which were little match for invading Anglo Saxon tribes. One of the last British kingdoms to hold out was Elmet in the West Riding of Yorkshire which fell to Edwin of Northumbria in 617AD. The Anglo Saxon invasion led to the formation of most of the place names that exist in England including the founding of the Langton villages. Geographical features such as rivers and hills were more likely to keep their British names. One such settlement with a British name is Blacker Hill in the Yorkshire East Riding near Wakefield. There has probably been a degree of name capture by the English word black so the original form may have been more like Blecer.

There seem to be a handful of families that originate from England and are part of the J2a3d classification Blacker/Blackard, Langton (via Newbury ), Graham, Durham, and also De Rycke of Belgium origin. These families are a long way from the point of origin in the Near East. Elsewhere this subgroup is now found in Crete, Lebanon, Italy, Cantabria, Aragon and Flanders.

There are now two areas of the Blacker name one in Somerset the other in Yorkshire. The two groups will be unrelated. Further there is another similar name Blackler in South Devon which is also unrelated. Finally there is the surname Blackett from county Durham which is also distinct enough to be unconnected but almost close enough to cause confusion. Someone of J2a3d descent must have been living in Blacker Hill Yorkshire and acquired the Blacker name. They may well have descended from a Roman soldier or sailor from Lincoln or York who in turn must have been descended from the Phoenicians perhaps via Cantabria. It looks as if someone left the Blacker village and moved about ten miles to the north. This is the moment where they would have acquired the Blacker surname as an identification-the man from Blacker. The main concentration of the surname is indeed just to the north of Blacker Hill. The date for the acquisition of the Blacker name would have been about 1200 AD.

In time the Blackers spread some going west to Cheshire, some eventually, getting to Ireland, others going east to Lincolnshire to Goole, Gainsborough and Grimsby. The eastern spread seems to have produced name drift to Blackard probably caused by the local accent. The Blackards are first recorded in Grimsby in 1562. If their particular line of J2a3d came to England in some way with the Romans 43-410 AD, there is a large gap between 410 AD and the adoption of the Blacker name in 1200. This would lead us to believe that there must be other traditional families in Lincolnshire or Yorkshire with entirely different names that carry the same J2a3d sub group as the Blackards and Blackers. At present the Blackards and Blackers are unique having no exact match. So if you are reading this in Sheffield, Barnsley, Wakefield, Leeds, Cudworth or Royston why not join the fun and get your DNA done. Whatever your surname you might turn out to be an exact match for the mysterious Blackards and Blackers.

The Newbury Langtons of which I am one are a close but not exact match with the Blackards, but we are an exact match with the Grahams. If you are a Langton reading this, there are probably about 300 of you with this rare subgroup. Some of you will be living at the place near where someone of J2a3d picked up the Langton name. Come on you Roman/Phoenician Langton get your DNA tested. Most of the few J2a3d group seem to be from the north so perhaps this indicates a Yorkshire, Durham or Lincolnshire origin for us. However it might be Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lancashire or elsewhere.

If your surname is Graham or Durham your surnames have a wide distribution including the North of England. We know that American Grahams and Durhams have a J2a3d result. If you are a Graham or a Durham living in England or indeed Scotland, why not have a test for this rare group. If you have it we’d love to know what locality you come from. Other relevant names are Judkins and De Rycke in Belgium. Do have a look at the J2a4d/3d/1d DNA Project on FTDNA and the J2a4d/3d/1d homepage

Andy Blackard and David Langton