Midgley Home Travels on a D.N.A. molecule - the first farmers.
If  you really want to know how far your ancestry goes back, then you have to have your genetics examined in detail for repeating segments of your genome. These segments have a high mutation or genetic change rate.
Recently, I had twelve such markers on my genome analysed as part of the Genographic Project. This is an application of 'bleeding edge' genetics to the study of human migration patterns. As with some 'Europeans' there were three major genetic markers which can be traced in the genome:
M168 - first found in Africa.
M89   - first found in the Middle East. This group appeared 45,000 years ago in N. Africa and the Middle East. They travelled in small numbers to higher altitudes [such as the Balkans] and higher latitudes.
M172 - first found in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. This group originated in the fertile crescent. [f on the map]
Some 10,000 to 15,000 years ago the members of this group, became the first farmers [Neolithic People]. It appears as a minority genome in Europe. For example in Southern Italy it appears with frequencies of 20% and in Southern Spain 10%. This marker did not greatly enter northern Europe. Farming successes and subsequent population growth encouraged migration of these first farmers throughout much of the Mediterranean world.
 J2 [M172] also appears in 6% of non-Jewish Europeans and about 20% of Jews. M172 is found in Turkey and the Caucasus at a rate of about 20%. J-M172 represents the earlier Neolithic expansion of haplogroup J into Europe from Anatolia, while JxM172 represents a later expansion of the group south into the southern Levant, Arabia, and ultimately into Africa and another, M172 reached Italy via Greece.

M172  is a subset of  the haplogroup J2 which is the final destination of a genetic journey which began some 60,000 years ago in N.E. Africa with an ancient Y chromosome marker called M168. Note that this genetic test mentioned above, studied the markers in the Y chromosome which is the one passed from father to son and would have been shadowed in a paternalistic society by any existing surname.    
                                                                      .genographic map      
The general results can be plotted on a map which shows how, as with all humans, we migrated out of Africa. As our predecessors migrated and mutated, some of us stayed behind in the Middle East and continued with different mutations whilst others moved into Europe and Asia following the glacial retreats. This occurred as global warming increased, an interglacial, which we seem to be well into today, probably enhanced by human activity.
These specific results suggest that anyone with the surname Midgley who finds that they have the M172 subset are relatively recent arrivals in Europe [10,000-15,000 b.p.] and were amongst the first farmers to bring the "Neolithic Revolution" to the descendants of Cro-Magnon people of Europe.
They were a people who "remade the world". They cultivated cereals such as wild Emmer and Einkhorn, artificially selecting the larger and less brittle ears. Barley, millet, soghum, oats and rye were also cultivated. As a consequence it is hypothesised that fermenting gruel led to the first alcoholic drinks, produced by wild airborne yeasts. Legumes such as peas and beans were grown from wild varieties, which would have on occasions supplemented a poor meat protein diet. Carbonised fruit has been found at Catal Huyuk [6,500B.C.] and other orchard fruits were grown in the Middle East such as dates and olives, whilst the Cherry-plum was crossed with the European sloe to form European plum hybrids.They domesticated dogs, goats, sheep, cattle and  pigs and produced the first basketry, leather bags, qourn stones for grinding seeds. Spinning and weaving appeared with the domestication of sheep, improved and stone implements became polished. They built  megaliths such as those along the Adriatic coast, on the island of Malta, in Spain, and at New Grange in Ireland, Skara Brae in Scotland and Stonehenge in England.

The migration of those carrying the M172 subset was via the Balkans and Southern Europe. Some travelled north along the Danube valley and others along the Adriatic towards northern Italy, southern France and Spain. This migration would support the notion that one origin for the surname Midgley is French from southern Europe. This seems to tally with earlier suggestions that the surname originated in what is now Southern France and French influenced northern Italy.
I would be interested in comparing genetic markers with anyone with the surname Midgley who also obtains results from the Genographic Project  Any male carrying the surname Midgley and the same set of 12 markers would be definitely related.  If you are a farmer and your known ancestors were farmers you may have an unbroken association with farming that goes back to the Neolithic period of Jericho!  Contact through guestbook on main page

i] A communication from Andrew T. Pickens indicates that their family name has 12 matches with the Midgley name on their genome. This 12/12 match gives a probability5 for the most recent common ancestor [MRCA] having:

a % probability of
generations ago
years ago
175 [1830 A.D.]
575 [1430 A.D.]
725 [1280 A.D.]
As surnames were only just beginning to be widely used after 1280, it would seem that the genetic link here predates this time. The Pickens family has an ancestry traced to Limerick, Eire from 1700, but the name Pickens was predated in the 1600's by Picon, a French surname, this adds further weight to the argument that one origin for the name Midgley as Miggeley was a name of French origin. Certainly it was found in Nantes when the Protestants sought refuge in England during the purges of the 1600's.
                                                                     Short Tandem Repeats
                                                                                          Short Tandem Repeats for J2

  ii] Another response comes from Salvatore who is a Basque* from  the province of Navarre in N.E. Spain who says that he has a match to the haplogroup  M172. Salvatore finds that  his predecessors came from the Pyrenees, France 4,500 years ago. Salvatore would like to start a forum. If enough interest is garnered this could be a distinct possibility. *Basques are an ancient people who speak a pre-Roman language that has eight dialects. It is not an Indo-European tongue, some scholars believe that it descended from Aquitanian. The Basques live in the western Pyrenees and coastal regions of Spain, and the department of Basses-Pyrenees in France.. The Basques were not influenced by Christianity until the 300's, since then they have remained staunchly Catholic. It was a Basque priest, St. Ignatius of Loyola who founded the Jesuits [Society of Jesus]. The Basques are traditionally an agricultural people farming sheep on small acreages in the mountains, they are also ship builders and seafarers. The Basques are believed to be the oldest surviving European ethnic group.

iii] Tony Wager of Canada has 6 out of 12 matches with Midgley for the loci tested for. Tony also says his name is of French origin [Wagers], the matches may indicate a MRCA (most recent common ancestor) from about 3,000 years b.p. A good explanation can be found on FamilyTreeDNA.com According to this site, each mutation or differences in markers occur on the average every 500 years. Here there are six differences i.e. 6 x 500 years = 3000 years.

iv] Alan Grebene in the U.S.A. also has notified that his genome marker J2 [M172] is also present. Alan was born in Turkey, a few miles from Catal Huyuk, a known centre for the spread of the neolithic farming culture. Catal Huyuk is where there was a large concentration of M172's about 8,500 b.p. Alan's last 10-20 generations [~250 - 500years] are from Anatolia and the Southern Balkans. This line followed the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire [1300's-1900's] as they moved into the Balkans [Greek Macedonia] from Anatolia and then back again. Alan estimates that the M172's who migrated to Europe separated from Alan's line about 4000-5000 b.p.

v] Suresh Hariharan recently had his genome analysed. He finds that he has the same genetic markers as shown in the STR diagram above. Suresh's family is from India and have been there since 'time immemorial'. This demonstrates that outward appearances are deceptive, differentation only seems to have occurred since everyones ancestors left Africa and lived in the World's different environments.

vi] William Midgley of Michigan concludes from an ancestry DNA test that by his patrilineal ancestry and the I1 haplotype migration marker associated with the Y-chromosome, that most if not all Midgley males have the same marker. I1 'seems to be associated with Germanic migrations, which isn't surprising at all given the Anglo-Saxon history of England in general and the Danelaw history and Yorkshire-Scandinavia connection in particular.' See: Eupedia.

DNA from Africa
                                                                                                                  Map modified from Genographic Project

Key:  a = "Adam"  b = 'Giant leap forward'  c = Saharan Gateway   d = Mesopotamian modern language distribution
          e =  Jarmo, Iraq   f = Fertile Crescent  g = domestication of animals  h = Katul Hyuk, Turkey
          i =Proto Indo Europeans  j = Franchthi Cave, Greece  k = Jericho  l = Natufian Culture  m = Saharan rock art
          n = Modern language distribution [Indo-European].

Another genetic marker, M343 [see map below] appeared, about 35,000 years ago in Europe. People with this marker were directly descended from Cro-Magnon people who became the continents first modern humans, their tall lithe predecessors were previously found in the steppes of Asia as M173. In the limestone areas of France they lived as hunter-gatherers, troglodytes who have left us the amazing cave art of Lascoux.


Subset  M343 makes up the major lineage of Western Europe, reaching up to 90% in parts of Spain and Ireland and 70% in Southern England. They were more successful than the somewhat contemporary Neanderthals who did not have such a sophisticated technology. During the last Ice-Age Cro-Magnon moved to warmer areas like Spain, Italy and the Balkans, as ice retreated they moved west and north. Many sub lineages in this subset are not well defined but the coordinators of the Genographic Project  hope that further detail will become apparent as testing continues.
As the Ice sheets left Britain from about 12,000 b.p., M343 and the first M172 haplogroups colonised the land but became isolated when the Dogger Bank land bridge was breached by rising sea levels about 8500 years ago forming the English Channel. Before the land bridge was breached individuals such as the hunter-gather, 'Cheddar Man' [10,000 b. p.] or his recent predecessors, moved into what is now Britain, perhaps following migrating herds of wild cattle. Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum suggests that the natural selection of lighter skin in the Neolithic farmers differentiated them from the darker skin pigmentation of Cheddar Man because the Neolithic peoples, unlike the hunter-gathers, did not have a diet high in vitamin D. Dark skinned people residing in higher latitudes today often require vitamin D supplements to maintain bone strength.

human origins
                                                                                                                                       map from Genographic Project
A   M91   Ancient Africans  B   M60   Ancient Africans  C   M130   Eden in the East   D   M174   Ancient Asians
E   M40   Old Africa E3a   M2   Bantu farmers  E3b   M35   Abyssinia  G   M201   Caucasus mountains
H   M69   Ancient Dravidians  I   M170   Gravettian culture  J   12f2   Arabia  J2   M172   Fertile Crescent Farmers
L   M20   Ancient Indians  N3   M46   Uralic languages  O     M175   Rice agriculture  O3   M122   Rice agriculture
Q   P36    Native Americans  R1a   M17   Kurgan culture  R1b   M269    Aurignacian culture

British genetics have been relatively stable for the last 12,000 years.

From recent studies of human DNA, oxygen isotope ratios in teeth and blood groups evidence has been growing that a few thousand Ice Age hunters are believed to have been the predecessors of about 80% of  the genetic characteristics of most Caucasian Britons.1 The effects of later migrants such as Romans, Saxons, Vikings and Normans seems to have had little effect upon the genetic makeup of these original nomadic hunter-gatherers and their descendants over the last 12,000 years.

It is hypothesised that these hunter gatherers [descendants of Cro-Magnon on the continent] followed the wild horse and buffalo herds into Britain as the ice sheets receded towards the end of the last [Wurm] glaciation. As the ice sheets melted, sea levels rose, isolating these nomads in what is now Britain. There are distinct genetic markers differentiating hunter gatherers on the continent from those of Britain. One marker in Britain is the red hair phenotype. This characteristic had been first recorded by the Roman Tacitus about 2000 years ago. "Recent studies have shown that there is more red hair in Scotland and Wales than anywhere else in the world. It's a mutation that probably occurred between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago."1

What does it mean to be genetically British?

In 2006 Stephen Oppenheimer in his book Origins of the British, published the percentages of pre-neolithic hunter-gatherer DNA found in modern populations:

Ethnology Percentage of pre-neolithic DNA 
Irish 88
Welsh 81
Cornish 79
Scottish 70
English 68


Movement of pre-neolithic genetics into what are now the British Isles. 

As Brian Sykes of Oxford Ancestors has indicated in his book Blood of the Isles, to be genetically British requires a percentage of Iberian genetics as indicated from the map above which  portrays the present day British Isles connected to Europe by a land bridge. This land bridge was present until the glaciers of the last ice advance retreated sufficiently, permitting this land bridge to be breached to form La Manche or the English Channel. As we might expect, the further west we go in the British Isles, the greater the pre-neolithic DNA is present, suggesting that subsequent waves of migration from Europe had a greater influence in the east. Professor Barry Cunliffe, when referring to the Iron Age 'Celts' proposed as a result of these genetic findings that there was no great influx of Iron Age people from Europe into Hibernia, but that it was more likely to be a migration of cultural art.

Farming techniques were brought into Britain  about 1000 years before Stonehenge was built, food resources were becoming more reliable and the population was growing, an estimate has been made that about 30 million hours would have been needed to build Stonehenge. What is suggested is that cultural changes were adopted rather than a widespread genetic change, invaders had little effect other than adding 20% of the genetic make-up and passing on their cultural values. This is a little like people today who want the 'latest' gadget or toy. New ways of weaving, making pottery, carving, building structures etc. were all 'new toys' to be experimented with, driven by the innate human desire for change.
Simon James an archaeologist at the University of Leicester demonstrates this case for the so called 'Celts'. These people lived in Gaul [today's France], but there is no historical source from the invading Romans that they existed in Britain. Probably the Iron Age peoples such as the Brigantes in what is now northern England used a similar language but there is no evidence that they were so called 'Celts'. David Miles of Oxford points out that the term 'Celt' began to come into common usage in Britain in the 1700-1800's when Scotland, Ireland and Wales began to rediscover their national identities and began calling themselves 'Celts'. Mapping of the British peoples genetic makeup is continuing in order to refine and identify relationships and migration patterns.

If there is one thing we can learn from these genetic studies it is that as humans we are all variations of the same species. We have spread around the World and are now reuniting. So please people of the world settle down and enjoy your short stay on this planet, there are more similarities than there are differences and it is those differences which make this imperfect world an infinitely more interesting place - imagine if the whole world was filled with globalised fast food outlets, life would be intolerable, Vive la difference!

Farmers in Jericho  9000 b.p.

Harvesting scene outside the walls of Jericho about 9000 b.p. Inside we can see the watch -tower or  Migdal. The men are using antler or wooden sickles with flint blades for reaping the wheat [Einkorn]. Women are on their way to assist  in the harvesting. The goats are semi-domesticated, the field is irrigated by a ditch from a spring.2

Migdal - primal origin of the surname & a more recent link to the Middle East?
Recently I was contacted by Tony who was raised near Midgley on Duke Street, Solomon Hill. He has made a study of place-names in the Halfax area. Tony believes that a number of these places are named after biblical sites in ancient Israel.
He notes that in this part of Yorkshire there is a local property called Jerusalem Farm and a Mount Tabor accompanied by Solomon Hill and a Tower Hill. More interestingly he equates the name of the village of Midgley with Migdal a place near The Sea of  Galilee or Chinnereth. Migdal means 'tower' 'fortress' or 'citadel'. In Aramaic,the language of Jesus, the Hebrew  Migdal  was Magdala. In the Old Testament the village is called Migdal-el and in the New Testament an apparent error of translation renders it Dalmanutha. Other variants are Magadan and el-Mejdel.

The later Greeks called the village Taricheia which means drying or pickling, a word associated with the fishing industry and the preserving of fish. No doubt these fish were caught in the 'Sea of Galilee'. Tony continues, that in the Talmud, Magdala is called by the name, Migdal Nunaiya. Tony believes that this gives us a clue to the enterprise which the locals engaged in, that of  preserving fish.  Here near Magdala the name meant "Tower of Fish". There was another tower called the "Tower of Dyers". There were clear fresh water streams flowing from here into the Sea of Galilee where wool dyers would have carried out their trade. The ancient city of  Magdala lies in ruins but not far from here lies the modern  farming village of  Migdal or Mejdel.* Magdala was the birth-place of Mary Magdalene or Mary Magdala, the maligned disciple of Christ who has in recent years been resurrected as Christ's chief disciple, ostensibly arraigned by the early paternalistic Catholic hierarchy. See https://www.churchisraelforum.com/Magdala_home of Mary Magdalene.htm
* The New Catholic Dictionary states : Migdal is a  town in Galilee, 2.5 miles north of Tiberias, birthplace or home of Mary Magdalen (Luke 8); probably the Magdalel of the tribe of Nephtali (Joshua 19). After the second multiplication of loaves Jesus went with His Apostles "into the coasts of Magedan" (Matthew 15), the name given to Magdala by some writers. A wealthy town, it was destroyed by the Romans on account of its immorality. It is the modern Mejdel. Corroborated by Young's Concordance.6
         Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene Mary Magdalene was probably venerated by medieval knighthood as she was the first person to witness the resurrection. She is mentioned in all four books of the New Testament and could have been a widow. However in all these sources there is no evidence that she was ever a prostitute. Tony introduces the idea that the local priest of Rennes-le-Chateau, Southern France, Berenger de Sauniere, mentioned in Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code, built a tower dedicated to Mary Magdalene called the Magdala Tower after the Aramaic. Mary Magdalene was the patron of the Knights Templar and as a consequence her association with Southern France is steeped in  medieval folklore. According to the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail the treasure or 'holy grail' ['Sang Real' translated as 'royal blood'] which folklore says lies at Rennes-le-Chateau, is the bloodline of Mary Magdalene and Christ. However, Dan Brown and the authors of Holy Blood Holy Grail have naturally been taken to task by a healthy scepticism [videlicet : Tony Robinson Channel 4].
Robinson recognises that both the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Da Vinci Code have been fooled by a surrealistic twentieth century hoax, concerning a fictitious 'Priory of Sion' [Jerusalem] by kind permission of Pierre Plantard et. al. The relationship to Mary Magdalene's birthplace seems to have been merely venerated in Sauniere's nineteenth century book repository, the Magdala Tower.  
Interestingly Miglos [pron: Miglo] Castle, another medieval fortification  lies south of Foix and west of the Magdala Tower in 'Grail Country'. 

Tony of Halifax in his quest to find connexions with the biblical lands and West Yorkshire suggests that there is a link between Halifax and St. John the Baptist.



                                                              The paschal lamb and the head of St. John the baptist on a gate to Piece Hall, Halifax

He hypothesises that medieval knights, either the Knights Templars or the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem brought the head of St. John, perhaps called Baphomet by the Templars, to Halifax. To support this he states that the name Halifax means 'holy face', [But see other evidence that it is not] the parish church is dedicated to St. John the Baptist [feast day : 24th June, Midsummer Day] and St. John's head is part of Halifax town's coat of arms. Of course there is absolutely no historical evidence for this medieval claim. Such an assertion was probably made by the monks of Lewes Priory to increase their influence in the district following a grant of land here by the Warennes of Lewes of Sussex. 
Whittaker has pointed out that the origin of Halifax's name has been 'variously given', the name Halyfax appearing in 1116, but the origin of the name is still well open to debate. Whittaker stated that "the town of Halifax cannot boast of great antiquity; its name is not found in Domesday Book, nor is it mentioned in any ancient record, before a grant of its Church was made by Earl Warrein to the Priory of Lewes, in Sussex". Whitaker suggested that the name was half Saxon [Anglian] and half Norman and that "formerly, in the deep valley where the church now stands, was a Hermitage, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, the imagined sanctity of which attracted a great concourse of persons in every direction.  There were four roads by which the Pilgrims entered, and hence the name Halifax, or Holyways, for fax in Norman French, is an old plural noun, denoting highway........"
The prefix hali may be derived from words meaning either holy, or a personal name, and the element fax or gefeaxe may be derived from words meaning a division of land, or coarse grass land or highways.

Camden provides us with a legend that the town was originally known as Horton and The Chapel in the Grove and changed its name to Halig-fax or Halifax as it grew. Others have perhaps mistakenly identified the site as Feslei of the Domesday Book. Camden identified fax as meaning hair, which related to the story of Aelred and the virgin.
William White in 1837 recorded four ways, by which the town of Halifax could be entered, they each pointed towards the parish church as their common centre; "these were the roads by which the pilgrims approached the object of their devotion, and hence the name Halifax, or Holy Ways; for fax, in Norman French, is an old plural noun, denoting highways" [we find this name ending also in Kippax].
If, as the folklore implies, St. John the Baptist's face was buried under the Halifax Church it would have become an international place of pilgrimage, which it never did. If it were a face, then it was more likely to be a carved representation or painting. John the Baptist's severed head is generally believed to have been buried in Damascus, Syria.  For some reason he became the Wool Weavers patron saint perhaps identified with the paschal lamb which also appears on the Halifax coat of arms. The "Tower of Dyers" may have a special significance to the wool producing areas of the eastern Pennines. The question might remain, did the medieval knights of the crusades return with new stock with which to cross breed with their English stock?
As Tony admits, the Outremer links to Yorkshire may be fanciful but perhaps with some grain of truth, which we have yet to unearth.

Map of Jericho One of the great finds of  Jericho was the discovery of a Neolithic stone tower or Migdal dating from 8000-7000 B.C.E, about 9000 -1000 b.p. From its position within the walls the structure indicates that it was a watchtower to forewarn  the residents of animal or brigand attack upon the crops. The eight metre diameter tower is today still eight metres tall, it was connected to the inside of a four metre thick wall all suggesting a high degree of social organisation. From its location, archaeologists have determined that this tower makes Jericho the oldest city in the world by about 3000 years.
Some like the author of The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, Margaret Starbird, have equated the 'Twin Towers' tragedy in New York to a Magdala, citadel or fortress housing people from many nations of the world. Towers seem to have had great meaning throughout history and continue to do so today in the towering skyscrapers of large cities.

Recent  underwater archaeological excavations carried out offshore from Alit Yam, Israel, dubbed 'The Underwater Stonehenge" 8900-8300 b.p. has revealed that those who resided here, as with many Neolithic individuals throughout Anatolia, have provided strong links to DNA evidence found in 47 skeletons from Stonehenge [~ 5000 b.p.] in England. Again this suggests that the culture of stone circles, uprights, orientation to celestial sunset, wheat growing and cattle rearing were carried by Neolithic peoples from these Middle East regions. Presumably it took them about 3300 years for this transition across Europe.
DNA at Stonehenge from Anatolia

Atlit Yam

Peter Midgley of the Haworth branch  finds the Migdal hypothesis speculative and would point more to the influence of the Methodist movement in Yorkshire for some of the biblical place-names being identified therein.

Peter points out that in Denmark the family name 'Mygdal', which means 'midge-valley' of Germanic origin would seem the most reasonable. He has found no equivalent in Swedish or Norwegian, though Peter's search was not very thorough. Peter continues, " if there is a route through Norman French (into which Scandinavian
names might have been translated), then here is another trail to follow. If 'ley' is taken to mean a clearing or, more accurately, an area of woodland cleared for agriculture, then this is called in Old French a sart (this appearing as an element in a number of place-names in France and Belgium); add 'mus' (musca) and we get 'mussart' or perhaps 'Musard', the name of three individuals on the list of those who landed with William the Conqueror and another possible chapter for the Grande Connection Française."
T.M.- Personally I remain sceptical of the Migdal origin for our surname but I thought it was worth airing if only for discussion. Certainly when we get back this far then it can become very speculative. The genetic test I had taken would give an origin in the Middle East about 10,000 years bp, this is well before there was such a nation as Israel [Solomon's temple ~ 3000 b.p.], more like proto-Summerians, Semmites or Hittites. However as more genetic detail is gathered I am sure new hypotheses will evolve re the wandering gene.

1. Miles, David. The Tribes of Britain.
2. Cole, Sonia. The Neolithic Revolution. British Museum  [Natural History], London. 1965.
3. Campbell, Bernard G. Humankind Emerging. University of California. Little, Brown & Co. 1979.
4. Hawkes, Jaquetta. History of Mankind Vol 1. George Allen & Unwin. London.1963.
5. As provided by the University of California calculated at 3rd Jan. 2005.
6. Young, Robert. Young's Analytical Concordance to the  Bible. Macdonald Publishing Co. p. 627.

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© Copyright Tim Midgley 2005, revised  9th January 2024..