81 – Gervase Comes to England

This is one of the more difficult posts I’ve researched. But I’m convinced of two things:

1. Our Jervis surname derived from the forename GERVASE

We’ve found Jervis citations all the way back to 1300, including records for Gervase de Staundon in late 1200s, before surnames were common.

Gervase. The Normans introduced this name to England in the Middle Ages.


2. We’re of Scandinavian descent

We belong to Y DNA haplogroup I-M253. (More on that later…)

I-M253 is found at its highest density in Northern Europe and other countries that experienced extensive migration from Northern Europe, either in the Migration Period, the Viking Age, or modern times.


English Genetic History Is Confusing

There are lots of scientific papers on English genetic history. Over the years, scholarship and DNA advances have shown conflicting theories and conclusions.

Let’s look at our DNA, and then look at various theories of how our DNA came to England.


We belong to Y DNA haplogroup I-M253. Y DNA is passed down the paternal line.

Where in the world is the I-M253 DNA found today?

I-M253 Frequency Today

The I-M253 haplogroup reaches its peak frequencies in Sweden (52 percent of males in Västra Götaland County) and western Finland (more than 50 percent in Satakunta province). In terms of national averages, I-M253 is found in 35–38 per cent of Swedish males, 32.8% of Danish males, about 31.5% of Norwegian males, and about 28% of Finnish males.


R-M269 Haplogroup is Most Common

Remember, we’re I-M253, not R-M269.

R-M269 Frequency Today

R-M269 is the most common European haplogroup. It is carried by approximately 110 million European men. It’s also called R1B.

The frequency is about 92% in Wales, 82% in Ireland, 70% in Scotland, 68% in Spain, 60% in France (76% in Normandy), about 60% in Portugal, 45% in Eastern England, 50% in Germany, 50% in the Netherlands, 42% in Iceland, 43% in Denmark, and 39% in Italy.


We’re Special

FamilyTreeDNA is the site that performed and hosts our DNA results. They have “surname” projects. For example, they host a Jarvis DNA Project, where people can search for DNA matches of their surname. That’s how we found our match with Louise/Eric Jervis’ DNA result.

Amazing fact: Of the 50 members of the Jarvis DNA Project, only three people are I-M253 – Mark, Eric, and some other person I can’t ever contact. Almost all the rest are R-M269. So we’re not related to any of the other Jarvises in the project, at least not in the last 8,000 years. We really are special!

Jarvis DNA Project – FamilyTreeDNA

Invasions of England

I-M253 has highest frequency in Scandinavia, Iceland, and northwest Europe. In Britain, haplogroup I-M253 is often used as a marker for “invaders,” Viking or Anglo-Saxon.


Invaders. Come on. Almost everyone in England must have descended from an invader of some kind. Let’s look at the major migrations of Scandinavian people into Britain and see where we might fit.

Are we Celtic?


Recent scholarship has identified Celtic as a culture rather than an ethnicity. But long-standing convention holds that Celts are predominantly of DNA haplogroup R-M269. So, no. All those other Jarvises may be Celtic, but we’re not.

Are we Anglo-Saxon? (400-800)


From the 5th to 8th century, people from northwest Europe and Scandinavia immigrated to England. They were termed Anglo-Saxons somewhat later, but were composed of several ethnicities. Rather than replacing the existing Celtic and Roman people, the Anglo-Saxons intermarried and assimilated into the local populations.

You can see that these are the same areas that have the highest frequency of I-M253 today. Jutland and Anglia are today’s Denmark.

The Anglo Saxons left a strong DNA stamp – particularly on Central & SE England. However, they didn’t wipe out the Britons, but mixed with them over the next 100 or so years. Their Haplogroup was I1 (I-M253) rather than R1b (R-M269).

CELTIC DNA – History of Celtic Genetic Migration – By John Adam FARRIS

Are we Vikings? (800-1000)


Beginning in the 9th century, Scandinavian raiders (called Vikings, Northmen, and Norsemen) invaded coastal areas of Europe. Although these invasions began as raiding parties, they also led to colonization. Some of these Danes, Swedes, Finns, and Norwegians assimilated into their conquered cultures.

Are we Danelaw? (865-1042)


The Scandinavians, particularly the Danish, captured large parts of northern and eastern British Isles, an area that became known as Danelaw.

Control of England went back and forth.

  • Danes invade eastern England in 865.
  • Danelaw treaty established in 886.
  • By 954, the English had regained the territories.
  • In 1016, the Danish king Harald and his son conquered all of England. Harald’s grandson Canute ruled England, Norway, and Denmark.
  • In 1042, Edward the Confessor, son of the previous non-Danish king, regained the English throne from the Danes.

Are we Normans? (911-1066)


Vikings also invaded France. In 911, the French king granted territory in northern France to a Viking named Rollo in exchange for protection against other Viking raiders. This region became known as Normandy, or “land of the Northmen.”

Normandy was a base for further attacks on England at the end of the 10th century.

The Normans are descendants of the Scandinavian invaders. So it’s likely that some Normans carry the I-M253 DNA marker.

Some scholars say that the Norman Conquest was small, limited to the royal and well-connected elite families, and didn’t leave a big DNA imprint on England. But who knows, maybe our ancestors were royal or well-connected.

Louise already knew all this

I did lots of research on DNA and migrations. Then I found out that Louise already knew all this.

Many years ago, when being treated by a handsome young dentist new to me and whom I was never, frustratingly, to meet again, he told me that I had Norman teeth in an Anglo-Saxon jaw!

I was so excited I could hardly breathe, but at the time, my Anglo-Saxon jaw was completely frozen by anaesthetic and all I could do was to mumble through my Norman teeth — whilst aching to ask him more!

Louise Jervis Longworth

Nibbles Extra Credit – The Norman Conquest

Britain was invaded by a Norman army from France in 1066. This is one of the most well-known dates in English history.  William the Conqueror became the first Norman king of England, reigning from 1066 until 1087.

Why? What led up to this? Here’s a 5-minute history lesson.

An England – Norman Alliance

The Vikings were still raiding England, often from the nearby coast of Normandy.

In 1002, English King Æthelred married Emma, sister of Richard II, Duke of Normandy. Æthelred hoped this alliance would protect England against Viking attacks.

In 1016, Æthelred died, and Emma married King Cnut of Denmark. Two of Emma’s sons would become kings of England – Hardecanute (1040–42 son of Cnut and Emma) and Edward the Confessor (1042–66 son of Æthelred and Emma).

The Stage is Set

In 1035, William became the Duke of Normandy the age of 7. He was the grandson of Richard II, and 3rd great-grandson of Rollo, the original ruler of Normandy. And he was first cousin once-removed of King Edward the Confessor of England.

King Edward Dies Without an Heir

Edward the Confessor

When Edward the Confessor died in 1066, three competing factions claimed the throne:

  • Harold Godwinson, the son of Edward’s most powerful noble
  • Harald Hardrada of Norway and Tostig, brother of above Harold
  • William, Duke of Normandy, cousin of Edward

Harold Godwinson Crowned King

Harold Godwinesson

Upon Edward’s death, Harold Godwinesson was crowned king. His army defeated an invasion led by the Viking king Harald Hardrada and Harold Godwinesson’s brother Tostig. At a battle near York, both Harald Hardrada and Tostig were killed.

William the Conqueror

Several weeks later William of Normandy attacked in the south of England. After several false starts, he met King Harold’s forces at the Battle of Hastings. In the ensuing conflict, Harold’s brothers were killed, and eventually Harold was killed by an arrow in his eye. The English forces surrendered.

William at the Battle of Hastings

William I, King of England

On Christmas Day, 1066, William was crowned king in Westminster Abbey.

William I

Amazing fact 1: Every English monarch who followed William, including Queen Elizabeth II, is considered a descendant of the Norman-born king.

Amazing fact 2: According to some genealogists, more than 25 percent of the English population is distantly related to William I, as are countless Americans with British ancestry.

Amazing Fact 3: By the 13th century, William was the most common given name among English men. Today it still ranks in the top 10.

The Times


2 thoughts on “81 – Gervase Comes to England

  1. Christine April 30, 2022 / 2:51 pm

    Wonderful page! Thank you for your work here.
    -Christine (Jarvis descendant)


    • Mark Jarvis April 30, 2022 / 4:12 pm

      Thank you Christine. Hope it helps your genealogy research.


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