articles were originally published in The December 2011 issue of An Darach, the newsletter of the
What Happened Here? – DNA Results Indicating a Break in the Senior Male
Hamilton <firstname.lastname@example.org> and
Donald L Glossinger <email@example.com>
In an article in An Darach
in September 2008 the results of an ongoing DNA study of those with the
In the DNA techniques used in this investigation specific markers on a special chromosome, the Y-chromosome, that males have and females do not, are analyzed. Analyses of this chromosome have been particularly useful in following male lines because the chromosome is passed from father to son to grandson, etc., over many generations with little or no change. Thus, all living males descended along all male lines from one specific male who lived say 500 to 1000 years ago will have a very similar Y-DNA profile, while males derived along all male lines from an unrelated male of that same era will have a different Y-DNA profile. Thus, these methods have been particularly useful in surname studies to determine, for example, whether all individuals with that surname are derived from just one initiator or whether there were multiple initiators. If the latter, then one can conclude from the results which initiator gave rise to any current male (descended along all male lines) if the lines of descent for at least a few participants from that ancestor are known.
As of November 2011 the Hamilton DNA Project has
results for approximately 425 participants who have had their DNA analyzed.
About 80% of those analyzed have a DNA profile that matches (is the same or
very similar) the profile of at least one other person in the project while 20%
have a profile that does not match the profile for anyone else in the project.
The majority of those with matching profiles can be placed in one of two
groups, either in Group A which has about 35% of all participants, or in Group
B which has about 18% of all participants. These are the groups that are the
focus here because within these groups are several individuals with well
documented lines of descent from very early members of the
The DNA profiles for all those in Group A are similar enough that they are probably all related to each other along all male lines within the last few hundred (500-1000) years. The same is true for all those in Group B; the DNA profiles for those in this group indicate that they are all related to each other along all male lines in the same period of time. However, the Group A DNA profile is quite different from the Group B profile, so different that those in one group could not be related along all male lines to those in the other group within the past few thousand (2000 plus) years.
It is well known that much of the recorded history of
Since Groups A and B are by far the largest groups
that have individuals with matching DNA profiles, it was suspected that the DNA
profiles for known descendants of the well documented British lines (all
supposedly derived from Walter Fitzgilbert) would
match either the Group A or Group B profile. The surprising result that was
obtained is that the DNA profiles for known descendants of some of the lines
were similar to those in Group A while the profiles for descendants of other
lines were similar to those in Group B. This result
clearly indicates that not all of the well documented Hamilton lines are
derived along all male lines from Walter Fitzgilbert;
there must have been a break in at least one of the lines where someone other
than a Walter Fitzgilbert all male line descendant
fathered a child who ultimately became the ancestor to some of the well
established Hamilton lines. Subsequent investigations have shown that this
event occurred in the senior male
In published genealogies of the
One of the well documented
This question was answered by determining that well
documented descendants of lines that branched off from the Walter Fitzgilbert line prior to James1 have the Group A profile. One of these lines is the
The mother of James1 was Janet Douglas, daughter of
James Douglas of Dalkeith. But who was the father?
That is not known but one can speculate. If he or other relatives left male
line descendants then they should show up with the Group B profile but with a
different surname. The Group B DNA profile has some very unique features so
someone with another surname who has the Group B profile is almost certainly
closely related to the Group B Hamiltons. There are
several people with other surnames that have been found to have the Group B DNA
profile. Of these, currently the most likely candidate to be the father of
James1 would appear to be an ancestor of those who now have the surname Frame.
Three people with the surname Frame have been shown to have the Hamilton Group
B profile. The possible close connection of the
The foregoing analysis suggests that all
What Happened Here? – Janet Douglas Hamilton and the Mystery DNA of 1390
Henry Lloyd Hamilton
In 1388, John Hamilton of Cadzow
married Janet Douglas of Dalkeith. (Janet’s name is variously recorded as Janet,
Jane, Jean, or Jacoba. In the Middle Ages,
these were all essentially the same name.
Jacoba was the Latin form of the name.) Examining the recorded history of the Hamiltons and the Douglases at
the time of this marriage does not reveal any information pertaining to the
occurrence of an extra-marital affair on Janet’s part, nor any indication of an
out-of-wedlock birth. However, when examined
in the light of the recent
In 1388, John Hamilton of Cadzow
was approximately twenty-three years old.
His father, David FitzDavid Hamilton, had
passed away seven years earlier. This
had left John as the senior male of the senior male line of the
In or around 1390, John and Janet Hamilton became the parents of a son whom they named James. John and Janet went on to become the parents of several more children in subsequent years. Six hundred years later, we discover that their eldest child, James, was not fathered by John. Because his parentage was not questioned at the time of his birth, James Hamilton later succeeded John as Head of the House of Hamilton, and his descendants inherited that position and passed it down to the present day.
So, if John and Janet were married in 1388 --- and she became pregnant in 1389 or 1390 --- but not by John --- what went on here? It appears that the true parentage of James Hamilton remained unknown and uncontroversial at the time. Obviously, Janet Douglas Hamilton must have been aware of the true situation or at least its possibility. Whether or not her parents or her husband were aware of the situation, however, we will probably never know.
Under the social mores of the time, John Hamilton and
Janet Douglas appear to have been a good match.
John Hamilton was the head of an established “House,” capable of putting
many men-at-arms and other retainers in the field when necessary. He had been knighted by the Earl of Carrick
(King Robert II’s heir and Regent), and was master of
extensive lands throughout Lanark and Renfrew, and in Kinneil
After John’s father died in 1381, his mother married Alexander Stewart of Darnley. Through his Darnley stepfather, John could claim at least a social connection with the Royal Stewarts, of whom the Darnley Stewarts were cousins.
We are not trying to make John out to be more than he
was, but he did have a pedigree that would highly recommend him to Janet
Douglas and, more importantly, to her father.
During this time, the House of Douglas was becoming the most powerful
However, this James Douglas was smart, shrewd and
extremely ambitious. By the age of
fifteen, he had worked his way into the good graces of his distant cousin
Archibald Douglas, otherwise known as Archibald the Grim. Archibald the Grim was an illegitimate son of
Sir James “the Good” Douglas and a cousin of the first two Earls of Douglas. Archibald was a fearless warrior in the
For much of the rest of his life, James Douglas’s
fortunes were tied to those of Archibald the Grim. In 1371, at the age of sixteen, James Douglas
accompanied Archibald to
George Dunbar’s sister was Agnes Dunbar. Agnes and George had been niece and nephew of
Patrick Dunbar, 9th Earl of Dunbar.
Their aunt, Sir Patrick’s wife, was their mother’s sister, Agnes
Randolph. Young Agnes Dunbar had been
named after this aunt. Aunt Agnes was
known throughout northern Europe as “Black Agnes,” the famous defender of
As children, young Agnes and George Dunbar had been
raised by their aunt and uncle. Young
Agnes was inside
Agnes soon became perceived as a cast-off and a potential burden to her brother George, Earl of Dunbar. George prevailed upon his friend Archibald the Grim Douglas to help him find a match for her. Archibald approached his cousin, James Douglas, with the idea. Although Agnes was several years his senior, James agreed to marry her. The wedding took place in 1372.
James Douglas had been working hard to achieve
recognition as the head of a branch of the
By his wife Agnes, James Douglas of Dalkeith had five children in very quick succession – two boys and three girls. One of the girls was the Janet Douglas whom we have been here discussing. Agnes Dunbar Douglas died sometime prior to 1378 (perhaps while giving birth). Janet would have been a very young child, perhaps only an infant. In 1378, James Douglas of Dalkeith took as his second wife the twice-widowed Egidia Stewart, a half-sister of King Robert II. By the terms of the indenture by which this second marriage was contracted, it appears that Dalkeith was induced by the offer of a match for Dalkeith’s eldest son with one of the King’s younger granddaughters. These arrangements certainly served to establish a close connection between James Douglas of Dalkeith and King Robert II, and between Dalkeith and the greater household of the Royal Stewarts.
At the same time, if we examine the matches that Dalkeith secured for his daughters, we find that John
Hamilton fares well by comparison. Dalkeith had married off his other two daughters to an
Arbuthnot and a Livingstone, respectively.
The Arbuthnots and the Livingstones
were respectable families, but they had nothing over the
In 1375, King Robert II had prevailed upon John Hamilton’s father, Sir David, to yield some of his lands in the barony of Bathgate to the very same James Douglas of Dalkeith. This land transfer was to settle some unspecified issues existing among Dalkeith, the King, and Sir David Hamilton. As compensation for his loss of the lands of Bathgate, David Hamilton was to be relieved of his obligation to make annual payments to the crown out of his Cadzow revenues. (This annual payment dated back to the original grant of Cadzow to Walter FitzGilbert Hamilton.) This relief from the annual payments was intended to be permanent, but the demand for payment was reinstated in 1384 when King Robert was removed from direct rule and replaced by a Regency government. In response, John Hamilton then petitioned for the return of the Bathgate lands, relying upon the terms of the original charters by which the lands had been “resigned” to Douglas of Dalkeith.
How this petition might have played out in the courts
is far from certain, but before any such determination could be made, James
Douglas took action to render the issue moot.
He offered his daughter Janet to John Hamilton, with the Bathgate lands
being a part of her dowry. In this way, Dalkeith was able to spare himself a great deal of his
landed wealth by providing a dowry out of lands that he might lose to
At the time of their marriage in 1388, Sir John Hamilton of Cadzow was approximately twenty-three years old. Janet Douglas was somewhere between twelve and fourteen. Such marriage contracts and betrothals involving what today would be considered “underage” girls, were the norm in those days. Regardless of whether Janet was twelve or fourteen, immediately after the wedding ceremony her new husband was gone from home for an extended period. Her father was gone also, and for similar reasons.
This was yet another in a long line of wars between
In any event, if unknown circumstances led Janet
Douglas Hamilton into a fling or an affair, the timing and other circumstances
could not have been better. Immediately
following the campaigns against the English in 1388 and 1389, John Hamilton of Cadzow and James Douglas of Dalkeith
were to be gone yet again. For the
greater part of another two years, they assisted Archibald the Grim and the
Earl of Fife in Fife’s campaigns against the renegade “Wolf of Badenoch” in the north of
It would not be until after 1390 or 1391 that John
Hamilton would have returned home for his first extended period of domesticity
with his young wife and “their” young son.
The son, James, had evidently been named after Janet’s father, James
Douglas of Dalkeith.
The name “James” had not appeared in the
In the meantime, the 1388-89 war with
In the meantime,
The Frames of Scotland appear to be descended from a
male line that sequentially used the following surnames: Bertran (
So, in the time period that we are interested in,
members of the Frame family would actually have been known as Fresne or Fransche or Frenche. There is
some circumstantial evidence of close connections between the Fresnes and the Hamiltons dating
back to the 1100’s and 1200’s. This
evidence connects the Paynels (the Fresnes under their previous name) with the Hameldons and Hamiltons of Northumbria and York.
Here, the Fresnes or Paynels
appear to have been important members of the households of the more prominent Hameldons and Hamiltons. They are found serving as executors and
stewards for the
This still leaves us at a dead end, but we can at
least speculate as to possible scenarios that would account for the known
situation in 1388 to 1390. There could
easily have been a Fresne employed by Sir John
Hamilton as a steward or other member of the household staff at
If the laird’s wife (Janet) was at Cadzow during this period, she would have had a close working relationship with the household staff while the laird himself was away. Keeping in mind that this is all speculation, perhaps our Mr. Fresne would have been a younger man who had recently inherited a staff position when his father passed away. Or perhaps a member of the household staff was an older Mr. Fresne who had sons (a number of young Mr. Fresnes) in the castle who were just now reaching adulthood. In either scenario (or a hundred similar scenarios), Janet Hamilton and our particular Mr. Fresne would have had the opportunity for more than a mere working relationship.