There is much fascination about where we, ultimately, come from. It is a
hard thing to puzzle out and DNA can give us only part of the answer.
Archeology, anthropology & history help to fill in the blanks. Our
primary focus is on Europe and Great Britain, as that is the origin of most
of our Taylor DNA lines.
A warning, however: If you are offended by the idea that the world is much
older than 6,000 years, do not read further! Our
timeline of events affecting our Taylor ancestors will upset you.
The Short Answer
Not all one place. Most Taylor lines of descent appear to have originated
in Great Britain, specifically England & Scotland. Some immigrants to
Britain and the US from non-English-speaking countries anglicized their
surnames to Taylor.
The overwhelming evidence debunks the notion that all Taylors are related
within the number of generations for which it's possible to do genealogy (the
"genealogical time frame"). At the time (ca1350) that surnames came into
use for common people, many formerly un-surnamed families adopted the Taylor
Our best -- but highly unofficial -- estimate is that the original lines of
Taylors numbers somewhere between 2,500 to 7,000.
That too is hard.
We are, of course, part of a larger whole, whose outlines are only dimly known. We
do know that those who later got the Taylor surname were part of the
population of Europe and probably living in the British Isles when surnames
came in general use -- shortly after 1350.
We can get only rough estimates for how many lived in Europe and Britain.
Here is a chart of the total population estimates, beginning with the end of the last Ice Age:
Notice how the two curves roughly parallel each other; they rise and fall about the same times.
(Europe & Britain are on separate scales, differing by an order of
Events affecting the numbers & places of people
Some notable events had significant effects on the population of Europe and Britain and,
10,000 BC -- The ice sheets retreated, opening up more livable
areas, and seas rose, cutting England off the the continent; "Doggerland"
was submerged. Population of all Europe
is thought to be between 200,000 and
700,000 (we averaged the high and low estimates). At this
time, the culture was that of hunter-gatherers; crops were not being farmed
nor had animals been domesticated.
7,000-3,0000 BC -- The Neolithic Age brought crop farming, domestic animals,
and new peoples to Europe. It began in the Fertile Crescent and spread to Greece
by 7,000 BC, reaching northwest Europe by 3,000 BC. The various cultures are
known by their pottery and stone tools.
3806 BC -- Roads provide evidence of a sizable English population
and probably Neolithic culture.
Some whose descendants are Taylors were undoubtedly helped build those
43 AD -- Romans began conquest of the land they called Britannia.
The name is taken from a Greek word meaning many islands.
200 to 300 AD -- Population surged in Britain under Roman occupation and
immigration of Angle, Saxon & Jute peoples -- collectively known as
Anglo-Saxons. They were brought in by the Romans to fight off the Celts & PIcts. Many whose
descendants became Taylors were among the immigrants, as well as those who'd
already been there for centuries.
At the same time, the Roman Empire began to decline due to a decreased birth
rate, political instability and more military expenses; it was split into a
western half and an eastern (Byzantine) half in 286.
~350 AD -- Rivalry and civil wars between the Empires became common, allowing
invading tribes to encroach on imperial territory while the two militaries
were fighting each other.
~400 AD -- Romans began withdrawing from England. The Empire was
under assault from many sides and the Legions were needed closer to Rome.
410 AD -- Rome was sacked by the Visigoths under King Alaric. Other sackings include:
455 by Geiseric, King of the Vandals, and 546 by Totila, King of the Ostrogoths.
Rome fell and the Middle Ages began.
442 AD -- Anglo-Saxons mutinied against the Romans, probably for
not being paid as agreed.
476 AD -- Romulus Augustus, the last Emperor of the west, was
deposed; this is considered the fall of ancient Rome and the beginning of
the Middle (Dark) Ages. However, the Empire was already almost powerless
outside Italy. Extensive migrations had occurred throughout Europe and new
European and British population began a long,
slow decline. Towns shrank or were abandoned, trade was almost non-existent
and knowledge was preserved only in the monasteries. Life for most was
"nasty, brutish and short".
490-510 AD -- Battle of Baden Hill (precise date unknown), in which Britons defeated Anglo-Saxons.
Ancestors of Taylors probably fought on both sides.
542 AD -- Plague of Justinian reduced the population throughout Europe.
This plague is thought to be the same disease (yersenia pestis) to strike eight centuries
~613 AD -- The prophet Muhammad began publicly preaching his
revelations from God, thus founding the religion of Islam. By 714, Islamic
forces controlled much of the Iberian Peninsula.
768 to 814 -- Rule of Charlemagne, AKA Karl de Grosse, founder of the Holy Roman
Empire and "father of Europe".
793 -- First documented Viking raid on England.
ca840 -- Vikings began to settle in France, where they became
known as "Normans".
980 to 1015 -- Vikings warred against Anglo-Saxon England.
1016 -- Cnut of Denmark became king of England.
1042 -- Edward the Confessor (an Anglo-Saxon) inherited
throne from Cnut.
1066 -- Battle of Hastings in which William (the Conqueror), duke
of Normandy defeated Edward and established Norman rule. This would
have been the year the word "tailleur" was introduced to England.
1348 AD -- "Black Death" (bubonic) plague struck Europe, and reduced the population
of England from 3,757,500 in 1348 to 2,745,000 in
1360-61 (26%) and further to 2,100,000 in 1400 -- about 44% less than in
pre-plague years. (See
source.) Additional epidemics struck in 1361 & 1369. (Source.)
Social upheaval in the
aftermath is thought to be responsible for the mandating of surnames.
1587 -- Virginia Dare was born, the first child of English parents
Her fate, and that of her parents and fellow "Lost Colonists" of Roanoke, is
1607 -- First successful English settlement in North America:
Jamestown Virginia. We take this date as the beginning of of British
migration to America.
1620 -- The ship Mayflower landed Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock to establish
Massachusetts Bay Colony.
1638 -- Covenanters protested interference in the Scottish church
by James I, King of England. and for whom the "King James Bible" is named.
1642 to 1649 -- English Civil War. Parliament, under the
leadership of Cromwell, defeated, then tried and beheaded King Charles I.
1649 to 1653 -- Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. (The Irish had
sided with the Royalists and were continuing to give them sanctuary.)
1690 -- Battle of the Boyne decisively ended organized Irish
resistance to English rule. Many Scots & English were resettled in Ireland,
undoubtedly some of the Taylor surname.
1703 -- Scots-Irish migration to America. Religious persecution
encouraged many Presbyterians (see above) to leave Ireland.
1709 -- Palatine (Germanic) migration to America began. Some
Schneiders may have changed names to Taylor.
1776 to 1781 -- Revolutionary War gained independence from
Britain and established the United States of America.
This is most simply stated this way:
As we go back in generations, we have more ancestors but there were
not enough people living then to account for all of our ancestors.
Each of us has 2 parents, 4 grandparents and 8
great-grandparents; the number of a person's ancestors increases by a power of two with
each generation in the past. Thus, n generations back, you have 2n ancestors,
a rapidly-increasing number . Go back 31 generations and you have --
theoretically -- about 2 billion ancestors.
But, as we go back in time (as shown in the graph above) the population
becomes less. Excluding population crashes, population shows a "natural
increase" over time -- about 2% to 4% per year.
At some point in the past, the number of your ancestors exceeds the number of people
available to bear children. 31 generations ago, there weren't 2 billion
people in the entire world.
In fact, the number of ancestors of one person with European
ancestry crosses above the
population line of Europe about 27 generations back (roughly,1400 AD).
But, we do not draw our ancestors from all of the world, or Europe or
England. We draw, instead, from several different locations, where
selection of mates was limited. In short, many of our ancestors occupy
multiple places on our pedigree charts.
For most of the period charted -- none; No one carried this surname or any other for that matter. But we may estimate that our ancestors were about
of the population in the British Isles after 1066.
More current statistics have Taylors at about 3/10% of the populations of
the US & UK, However, we estimate that the proportion has been reduced
in both countries by immigration and was, therefore, higher in the past.
If Taylors represented 1/2 to 1% of the British population in the post-Plague era,
that means there were about 14,000 to 28,000 Taylor-surnamed people in England in 1360.
If the average family size was four to five with father, mother and children --
there were , to 7,000 families bearing the name.
About one million years ago, the entire population of early human
species -- including Homo erectus, Homo ergaster
and archaic Homo sapiens -- was almost wiped out
by something unknown. The world's entire early humanlike population was reduced to a
maximum of about 55,000 individuals. The evidence is based on DNA studies of
genetic diversity. (See
450,000 years ago, "Boxgrove man" lived in England. With the climate
much warmer than today, he needed to defend himself against lions, rhinoceros
and elephants as well as wolves and bears. He lived in caves and made simple
140,000 years ago, the "Mitochondrial Eve", who
would (much later) gain fame in Richard Dawkins' book, was bearing daughters.
She was, apparently, much older than "Y-chromosomal Adam", whose age is estimated at
60,000 to 90,000 years — a new twist on May/December
Revision: New discoveries now put the age of Y-DNA Adam troughly
338,000 years. Adam was the "December" and Eve the "May".
About 70,000 years ago, the population crashed greatly again in an
called the "DNA bottleneck". Some theorize it was caused by
eruption of a
super-volcano producing a long perpetual winter and 1,000
year global cooling. Whatever caused this calamity, many DNA lines
of modern humans ceased to exist. It is estimated that the number of men and women able to
reproduce was reduced to 10,00 (or even as low as 1,000) pairs in small
groups isolated from each other. All of us
today descend from those few thousand.
About 40,000 years ago, early modern humans were living in Europe,
alongside their distant cousins, the Neanderthals. Both species made tools
of stone, bone and wood. By 25,000 years ago, the
Neanderthals had disappeared and our ancestors had Europe to themselves. (Source.)
Note: At about this point, the ~2,000 year difference between BC/AD and
"years ago" (before present) starts to get significant.
15,000 years ago, sophistication of tools improved. People in Britain
made clothing from animal skins and jewelry from bone, teeth and shells. The
terrain was mostly tundra; few trees grew in Britain.
12,000 years ago, the last Ice Age, or "glacial maximum",
began to end: Most of the
known population of Europe had been confined to the warmer, southern sections,
known as "refugia". (If there were people living on the ice sheets, they left
no remaining traces.) Britain has had people a very long time, partly due to
the southern portion not having been covered by ice sheets. The retreat of the ice had two important effects:
It expanded the land available for living. Game animals expanded into
the now-fertile areas and human hunter-gatherers followed.
It closed the land/ice bridge between Europe and Britain. Where
access on foot had been possible before, you now needed a boat.
10,000 years ago, the development of agriculture in Mesopotamia marked the beginning of the
Neolithic (late Stone Age) period. (Some estimates place it as much as 2,000
years earlier.) In England, the climate warmed and forests
began to proliferate.
6,500 years ago, the practice of farming was introduced to England. Crops of wheat and
barley were raised and domesticated cattle, pigs and sheep (as well as hunting)
provided meat. British mined flint for making tools and dug elaborate burial
chambers. Clothing, however, was still animal skins.
5,800 years ago, the people in Britain were of sufficient numbers
and prosperity to build roads which still exist. Those early Britons
may have been (mostly) Celtic.
4,500 years ago, circular monuments called "henges" (Stonehenge being
the most famous) began to be built. At first, they were simple ditches with
local stones and wooden poles. This period lasted a thousand years.
4,000 years ago, the Bronze Age began in earnest in England. The
British were making their own bronze by smelting copper and tin together in an
alloy, which was much stronger and able to hold an edge than copper alone.
3,000 years ago, forts were built on hills. Fighting had become
prevalent, probably in contests for arable land.
2,650 years ago, The Celtic people introduced iron into England. They were divided
into tribes who warred against each other. Swords & spears made of iron were used
from horseback or light chariots as well as on foot.
Society was divided into classes:
At the top of the Celtic hierarchy were the nobles, headed by a king or chieftain. Also, in this
class were the priests or Druids.
Below the nobles were the craftsmen -- blacksmiths, bronze smiths, carpenters,
leather workers, potters, glassmakers and jewelers.
Farmers supplied food and foot soldiers.
Last, were the slaves.
Of interest to Taylors, the Celts wore garments of woven cloth, rather than
skins. Men wore long-sleeved tunics and long trousers; women wore long dresses and mantles. They
dyed the cloth with plant materials in blues, reds and yellows. Wealthy Celts
wore gold ornaments, called "torques", around their necks.
The Celts traded extensively with continental Europe. they exported metals,
wool, cloth and grain. They imported luxuries such as fine pottery and
expensive metal goods. They lived in round houses built around a central poles,
with walls of wattle and daubed mud and thatched roofs. Benches around the walls
also served as beds.
The Celts are thought to have originated in central Europe and gradually
spread outward, eventually enveloping the British Isles, where their culture is
most strongly felt in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Their language had a
different base than the Indo-European of others. For further reading,
We Taylors are blends of many parts: Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Norse, French
and others. We haven't even mentioned the Jewish, Polish, Hungarian and
other immigrants who may have anglicized their names.
We don't know who it was that were living in Britain before the Celts arrived.
We don't know what language they spoke or what genes they had. we don't know
if they were absorbed into the general society or ceased to exist.
The Celtic influence on our Taylor ancestors shows up mostly in DNA. The Celtic language
has disappeared from
much of Britain, but Celtic DNA shows up strongly in the south and west of
England -- not to mention Wales, Scotland & Ireland.
That the Vikings simply killed, pillaged and sailed back to their
homeland is not the whole picture. They established many permanent
settlements in the British Isles, as well as other lands. Over time, they
melded with the local population.
A significant number of those in Taylor Family Genes have a haplotype
associated with Scandinavia. The influence of the Viking raids and conquest of Britain are shown in both language & DNA.
In both, there is some overlap with the Anglo-Saxon. Norse influence
is strongest in the parts most accessible by sea.
About one-third of the words in English come from the Norse language,
including words such as star (for something to steer by) and barn are Norse.
The base of the English language -- one third of the words (especially,
the cruder ones) and the grammar come from the Anglo-Saxons. The dialect of
Frisia (a region extending along the North Sea from the Netherlands to the
border of Denmark) is the closest counterpart of English.
Anglo-Saxon DNA is almost indistinguishable from that of the Celts generally.
William and his successors overlaid a language (French) and customs on
the foundation they found in England. The remaining one-third of English
words come from French. For a thousand years,