My Ancestry DNA results


This section reviews my results from DNA test conducted by Ancestry DNA. The Ancestry site test autosomal DNA (see introduction to this DNA section for background information on this test) which can be used to identify people with DNA matching yours (common parental and or maternal ancestors) back to your 4 X great grandparents and sometimes for several generations beyond that.

The Ancestry site also allows you to search their database for DNA matches with other people who have tested their autosomal DNA with them. When I got my test results the closest matches with Newell connections were a first cousin once removed and several 3rd cousins who are descendants of  siblings of my 2X great grandfather John Newell (1793-1855) from ‘The Dock’.  I did not find any Newell first cousins which is not surprising since, to the best of my knowledge, none did the test.  I have seven second cousin matches, most of which link to my maternal side, but none with known Newell connections. A second cousin would share a common great grandfather. My Newell great grandfather, John Newell Jr. (b 1828 d 1908) and his wife Caroline Wells had two sons and five daughters. My grandfather Albert was his youngest son, the eldest son died before he had children, one daughter died childless and the remaining daughters moved to New England. To the best of my knowledge non of their descendants have done the DNA test. Recently (2019) my sister did the test and got similar results.

The Ancestry search found  80+  3rd cousin matches but only a quarter of these posted any significant family history (searchable names). The 3rd cousin matches included several who trace their roots back to my 2X great grandfather John Newell (their ancestors were siblings of my great grandfather John Jr.).

My mother’s Snelgrove ancestors (her mother was Jessie Snelgrove from Bears’s Cove, Harbour Grace) represented the majority of the 3rd cousin matches and had the had the most complete family trees. The higher proportion of matches from this family is partially due to the size of the family but most significantly can be trace back to the efforts of one person, Ethel Knight of Milwaukee, USA, who visited Newfoundland in the 1960s and did research on the Snelgrove family tree. I was a kid but can remember her visiting my Aunts (see following from St. John’s Daily News, Aug 28, 1963).

What this demonstrate is that the potential for finding DNA matches from any set of ancestors will depend not only on reproductive success (number of surviving children) but also on an interest of genealogical research in that family (building trees and doing test).

One of the advantages of DNA is that it provides the possibility of identifying links to early Newell relatives not currently in my tree. In this regard 4th and 5th cousin matches are the most interesting since these are cases where I share a 3X or 4X grandparent with the match. On the Newell side my 3X great grandparents are Philip Newell and his wife Amy Batten who are my earliest documented Newell ancestors. Interestingly, the Ancestry test may have provided  evidence for a theory first presented to me by Harold Newell  in 1971; he noted that on the same day when Philip Noel (Newell) married  Amy Batton at St. Pauls’ Church, Harbour Grace, Nfld. in November 1784 a William Button (Batton) married a Mary Noel. Harold suggested that it was a case of siblings marrying siblings in double marriage ; however, there was no hard evidence for this (see my discussion of ‘The Early Newells‘ under ‘The Dock’ Tab on this site). The Ancestry DNA test may have found  evidence for this since I had a 3rd or 4th cousin match (Confidence: Extremely High) with a person that traces back to a Isaac Batten of ‘The Dock’ born c 1869 (see my research into non Newell Ancestors). A 3rd cousin match can occur in this case since when siblings marry siblings their children on both sides are “double cousins” and their DNA more closely resemble siblings than 1st cousins (see )

Once we move into the area of 4th and 5th cousin matches the issues associated with identifying connections become more complicated.  Everyone has 32  3X grandparents and in most cases only one of these was born with the family name (DNA).  Calculating the number of descendants from each of the 16 sets of 3X grandparents is not a simple process but with a few assumptions (e.g. 3 surviving children per couple) it is is possible to estimate that after 6 generations my 16 pairs of 3X grandparents could potentially have 11664 descendants . It is, therefore, not surprising that Ancestry identified almost 1000  4th and 5th  cousin DNA matches with me; however, the vast majority of these will not have the Newell name or DNA.  To assist with sorting matches I have prepared a shared Spreadsheet (to view right click link and select open in new Tab) to show my ancestors by family name for each generation. For example, the Spreadsheet shows that my parents are John Newell and Gladys Norman and their parents, my grandparents, are Albert Newell and Clara Andrews on the paternal side and Thomas Norman and Jessie Snelgrove on the maternal side.  The row at the bottom shows the number of direct ancestors in each generation versus the number of these where I know their family name.

I know the family names of all my great grandparents but only 12 of my 16  2X grandparents and 17 of my 32  3X grandparents. The largest gap relates to the ancestors of my great grandparents Abraham Norman and his wife Harriett. What this means is that potentially I might only know the family name of the common ancestors for half of my 4th cousins. In addition, the relationship between myself and someone with matching DNA may be more distant than my ancestor suggests. For example, I found a number of 4th cousin matches for people with the Andrews, Wells and Dawe in their trees (my grandmother was Clara Andrews from Port de Grave , my great grandmother was  Caroline Wells from Salmon Cove and my 2X grandmother was Frances Dawe / Daw of Port-de-Grave).  The fact that these were 4th cousin matches and not 1st, 2nd or 3rd cousin matches indicates that the common ancestor for these matches was one or more generations earlier (e.g. someone descended from a uncle or aunt of one of these people).

The remainder of this document focuses on using my Ancestry DNA results to research my distant Newell ancestors; however, I have prepared several other documents that focus on other aspects of my DNA research (see screenshot of Web Page sub directories below).

These reports focus on:

4th and 5th Cousin DNA matches

When I searched my Ancestry DNA matches for  people with the Newell name in their tree I found 128  4th and  5th cousin matches (this number will change over time) including several that have links to ‘The Dock’ and others with links to other communities in Newfoundland. The earliest confirmed matches to Newells from ‘The Dock’ were several 4th cousin matches who are descended from James son of Philip. There were several  matches to people with Newell ancestors from Clarke’s Beach, situated near ‘The Dock’, and this is not unexpected since some Newells from ‘The Dock’ moved there. There were also several links to people from Burnt Head situated on the opposite side of Bay-de-Grave from ‘The Dock’. There include a link to an Ann Newell (b. 1819) who married a Morgan at Burnt Head,  but no indication that she was a Newell from Burnt Head (she could have been a Newell from ‘The Dock’).

There were also several links to Newell/Noel/Noall from Brigus / Georgetown including:

  • several that trace back to Stephen Noall of Brigus born c. 1826;
  • several that trace back to Patience Noel of Brigus, born c1804;
  • several that trace back, though different family lines, to James Henry Noall of Brigus born 1836;
  • several that trace back to late 19th and early 20th century Roman Catholic Newells/Noels (see note below) from Turks Gut/Mary’s Vale/ Conception Harbour (all near Georgetown) and
  • a possible but not confirmed link to Agnes Noel (b 1866) of Brigus, daughter of John Noal b 1837.

The published trees for many of the above link back to John Noel  of Brigus born 1790s or his father; however, these links to John Noel may simply reflect assumptions based on the fact that he was the earliest documented Noel/Newell in Brigus. There is the possibility that my DNA links to Newells from Brigus come from my other Newfoundland ancestors (e.g. Norman, Wells, Daw, etc.) that have links to Brigus. The missing ancestors for my great grandfather Abraham Norman may play an important role here since I suspect that they were from Brigus. The Normans were among the earliest settlers in Brigus and intermarried with other Brigus families such as Antle, Bartlett and Noel. Comparing my Brigus DNA links to results for two of my 3rd cousins, descended from brothers of my great grandfather, suggest that we have several of these Brigus matches in common especially for links tracing back to James Henry Noall/Newell of Brigus.

There were several links to Newells from Pouch Cove but nothing  definitive enough to prove a connection between the Newells of Pouch Cove and  ‘The Dock’. Interestingly, the links to Pouch Cove are at the 4th cousin level (only one at 5th who was clearly further removed) suggesting the link might be through a common ancestor who was living in the late 1700s.  It is also interesting that I get links to Thornes of Pouch Cove (see below).  There were also a number of 4th and 5th cousin links to Newells from St. John’s (not Pouch Cove) including a Margaret Newell (c.1790-1888) who married Richard Stanley Cross. Margaret was the daughter of Nicholas Newell and Frances Mugford who have been linked to the Pouch Cove Newells . Based on the matches and her date of birth I initially suspected that Margaret might be a a daughter of Philip; however, after further research on the ancestors of the matches I now suspect that the DNA connection may be through my Comby / Cumby ancestors of Western Bay who are likely the same family as her Crummey relatives.

The largest set of 4th and 5th cousin Newell matches are with individuals with links to the Newells of Trinity. The bulk of these matches were at the 5th cousin level (more on 5th cousin matches in a subsequent section) and the 4th cousin matches might reflect cases with multiple DNA connections (Trinity Newell plus another ).

There were several  several 4th/5th cousin matches that related to families not in my tree but who could be candidates for missing  2X or 3X grandparents. These include several local families like French (links to Batten) and  Mugford (poss Newell, Batten & French links). One name that was unexpected was Thorne which had several distant DNA matches to the Thorns of Torbay and New Harbour, Trinity Bay. Both of these families trace roots back to John Thorne, an agent for Trinity merchant Benjamin Lester. Thorne was established in New Harbour, Trinity Bay by the 1770s. There is some Newell family history that suggests a connection to the Newells of Trinity. The Thorns of Harbour Grace were merchants that had strong connections with several families in ‘The Dock’ including building the schooner Thorne in Bareneed c 1818.  In addition, my family had business connections to the Nuttall family (of Harbour Grace and Brigus) who were related to the Thornes (see Merchant Connections).

One totally unexpected connection was an apparent link to John Neville who was married at St. John’s (RC church) in 1805.  A 3rd cousin (related to Nathaniel Newell of the Dock) also shares this DNA link which suggest it predates our common 2X great grandfather (John son of Philip).


St. John’sNEVIL,
Dunbrody, Co. WexfordCORBIT, Anne

John Nevil (later Neville) was from Co. Wexford, Ireland. The early Nevilles of  Wexford were a Norman family that is frequently referenced as Newell in early (per 1700) documents (I have researched the Irish Newells and plan to do a section on them in future).  However, the DNA connection might also be through his wife Anne Corbit who may be related to the Corban  (Corbett/Corbit/Corbet/Corbin) family of ‘The Dock’ (Bartholomew Corban was settled there in the 1770s); I also get several 5th cousin DNA matches to this family.

One set of non Newell connections that is especially interesting are a number of 3rd, 4th to 5th cousin matches to Noels from Harbour Grace.  Peter Noel, who has done considerable research on the Noels of Harbour Grace, has speculated about a connection between the two families. Peter and I did Y-DNA test (more on this in Y-DNA report) that suggest a possible distant connection that would likely be well beyond the 5th cousin level (to the best of my knowledge he did not do the Ancestry autosomal DNA test but I think he did a similar test with Family tree). After further research, I suspect that some of my autosomal DNA links to Noels may come through my mother’s ancestors who were Snelgroves and Cakes from the Harbour Grace area who intermarried with several Noels from this area or from the ancestors of my grandmother Clara Andrews.

Other names with possible Y-DNA connection (see Y-DNA Section) that produce a significant number  5th+ cousin level (possible distant link)  are Clark/Clarke and Cheek.  These names are not in my tree so this could reflect a  distant link or just genetic noise (see next paragraph).  The Y-DNA Clark connection links back to Dorset/Devon where many of my ancestors have their roots. The Cheek Y-DNA connection links back to the early colonial period in the Southeast USA.

One factor that  confuses autosomal results for people with roots in Conception Bay North is that there were a limited number of families that settled in this area during the 18th century and not a lot of subsequent in-migration. As a result many people with deep roots in the Dock will share some DNA ( around the 5th cousin level) with almost everyone else.  This occurs since any person will have 32 3X grandparents and this is close to the number of family names in the Dock (and neighboring communities) during the 18th century so the probability of any two two people with deep roots in the Dock sharing some DNA is high. This amplification of DNA connections is an example of the Endogamy effect. My paper on Conception Bay South investigates some of these connections.

Search for the Ancestors of my 3X Great Grandfather, Philip Newell (using matches to distant cousins)

The biggest mystery in my family tree is identifying where the ancestors of my 3X great grandfather Philp Newell came from. The only information we have is that his father’s name might have been James.  Any DNA matches at the 4th cousin level would have Philip or one of his children (if they are removed from me) as the common Ancestor. The search for Philip’s origins must; therefore, focus on what Ancestry DNA referees to as “Distant Cousins” (5th or greater cousins).  As indicated earlier these matches are near the limit of DNA testing. This does not mean that the people who match me at the  5th cousin level are not  related but that I may have many 5th cousins that will not show up on the test. Similarly, there might be a 5th cousin relative who is a match to me but  one of my more recent Newell  cousins might not have this person as a match.  Another challenge is that there is no certainty that Philip’s  family name was Newell.  We know that Philip was frequently referred to as Philip Noel or Philip Nuel and that the names Newell, Newall, Newill, Noel, Nowell, Newhall, Knowle, Knoll, Knowles,  Knowlton, Nevil and Neville were frequently confused in early documents.  Given this, we must investigate all of these as possible family names for Distant Cousins.   The good news is that, unlike Y-DNA matches (see later discussion), I had a large population of autosomal 5th + cousin matches with at least one of these names in their tree. Having a match with one of these names does not necessarily establish a link through that name but does make this person a candidate for one of my Newell ancestors. Another issue to be aware of is that establishing a match involves matching DNA  (generally reliable) and finding a name in a persons published family tree. The reliability of the info in most family trees starts to drop off after 6 or 7 generations; so while it is relatively certain that I match that persons DNA it is much less certain that that person has one of these names (especially if it is not the paternal family name).   My methodology was to sort my list of Distant DNA matches for each of the candidate names which gives a list of people matching my DNA with this name in their tree. I then excluded matches that had made their tree private unless I obtained info from them and individuals with very limited data in their tree (e.g. just a name but no location & or dates). In cases where there were multiple matches with same tree (same admin) I only used the first reference. Of the names I searched, only four produced significant numbers of matches; these were: Newell, Knowles, Noel and Neville. Others like Nowell, Newall, Nevil and Knoll had limited number of matches and frequently included another name so are likely a different spelling of one of the more common names. (e.g.  Nowell>Noel; Newall>Newell; Nevil>Neville; Knoll> Knowles)

I have prepared a shared Spreadsheet that compares the number of matches by location for the four main names (to view right click link and select open in new Tab).  The Spreadsheet shows that Newell had the most distant cousin matches that met the criteria outlined above and Neville the lowest but this is somewhat misleading. Some names had significantly more matches from Newfoundland than others. This is significant since a 5th cousin match from Newfoundland might not represent a 5th  cousin but a 4th cousin once or twice removed; in addition, it might represent a link to one of my non Newell ancestors from Newfoundland (many predate the Newells in Newfoundland). In this case we might be detecting descendants of Philip or perhaps other Newfoundland descendants of Philip’s parents (James and Ann?) or other non Newell ancestors. The Noel 5th cousin matches stand out with the highest proportion of earliest ancestors being from Newfoundland. Further, most of these listed Carbonear or Harbour Grace as the earliest known ancestral home and many identified Clement Noel as their ancestor. Peter Noel (see ) and others have done extensive research on the family tree for the Noels of Harbour Grace which may biases the data towards this name.  This large number of distant DNA matches might be considered as supporting the theory that the Newells of ‘The Dock’ were really Harbour Grace Noels; however, the problem is that my mothers ancestors (Snelgrove, Cake, Herald and Smith) were all from the same area as the Noels and many intermarried with the Noels (evidence from 2nd, 3rd & 4th cousin matches). Further, selective searches on many Noel 5th cousin matches show shared matches with these non Noel individuals in my tree. Likewise my matches to Noels of Grates Cove and Brigus (AKA Newell) can be explained by other connections. My Y-DNA (see My Y-DNA section of Web Site) suggest a possible distant (not in range of the Ancestry test) connection to the Noels of Harbour Grace (Peter Noel); however, my DNA link to the distant Ancestry matches likely did not come from my direct paternal ancestor.  

Many of the Neville distant DNA matches are from St. John’s and appear to be connected to 4th cousin matches to John Neville, birth c.1776, Wexford, Ireland who married Anne Colbert at St John’s, Newfoundland in 1805.  As I indicated earlier this DNA connection may be through his wife. It should also be noted that Philip Corbett (AKA Corbin) of Bareneed was part owner of the schooner Thorne which was built in Bareneed (see my web page on Merchant Connections).  However, one other link to a Thomas Neville of North River (near the Dock) raises the possibility of a connection with the North River Nevilles.   The Newell matches to Newfoundland have peaks associated with Brigus, St. John’s and Trinity. The Brigus connection to Newell and Noel may come from my mothers family. Her father was a Norman from Bay Roberts but his family roots were likely in Brigus. I get lots of matches to early Brigus families like Antles, Bartletts and Noel.  The St. John’s connections may come from a sibling, child or grandchild of Philip who moved to St. John’s or from another connection like Neville or Thorne. The Trinity connection is the most interesting since my father  suggested that there might be a family connection to the Newells of Trinity, Nfld. but not to those of Bonavista.  If you trace back the links they all connect to children of Jonah Newell  1728 – 1799 and his  wife Hannah Mears  1736 – 1788 of Trinity (I get a number of distant DNA matches to people with the Mears name).  My DNA matches also include a significant number of matches to other family names associated with Trinity and the Newell family including: Thorne,  OldfordFifieldAbbott, Jones  and Newhook.   The issue with these matches to Jonah Newell is that, despite in-depth research on the Newells of Trinity, it is difficult to make a connection. Jonah had a son James who died young and there is no evidence he is the link. My father indicated that we had some connection to the Newhooks of Trinity Bay and the DNA show a connection to Charles and Catherine Newhook from New Harbour, Trinity Bay.  Catherine was a daughter of Jonah so this is just another connection back to Jonah. The Newhooks were famous shipbuilders in Trinity Bay and the DNA connection back to John Thorne of Trinity may be connected in some way since, as indicated earlier, a schooner Thorne was built at Bareneed c 1818.   My DNA connections, regardless of family name, include people connected with many towns in Trinity Bay (see shared Spreadsheet). These connections are strongest at the 4th and 5th cousin level suggesting a links with one or more of my 3X grandparents or possibly earlier. It should be noted that many of the communities listed were originally settled by people from Trinity.  

  Some of my DNA connections  to  Grate’s Cove and Old Perlican may have come from my mothers side (Snelgrove, her grandfather’s family) via a direct or indirect (through Benson or Smith) link to the ancestors of Daniel Noel/Newell of Grate’s Cove.  This link or the links to the Newells of Trinity might also explain some of the early DNA links to Newells of St. John’s.  

Searching for Roots in the Old World

In the preceeding analysis (see spreadsheet) there were a limited number of Old World matches compared to those for New England and Nova Scotia and apart from a peak in Lancashire they were scattered across the UK. Overall, for all 4 names there is a higher frequency of matches for these four names from the North of England & Scotland than from the south of England (even more significant when adjusted for population). My Y-DNA results (discussed later in this document) that focus on paternal (Newell) DNA also suggest a stronger connection to the north of England and south Scotland than to the south of England (note: this only applies to my Newell ancestors since many of my other ancestors roots trace back to Devon and Dorset).  

Ancestry provides a seperate analysis of your Ethnicity based on makers in your DNA (see a seperate sub section of this report on Ethnicity Estimates). The most recent update to this analysis identified my Ethniticy as:

  • “England, Wales and Northwestern Europe” 80%
  • Ireland & Scotland 15%
  • Norway 5%

In addition Ancestry identified a focus of my English ancestry on the south cost of England (see following map).

Ancestry Map showing my Ethnicity by Region

Given that my Newell ancestors almost certainly had their origin, however distant, in either the UK, Ireland or mainland Europe, I set out to map distant (5th cousin +) Ancestry DNA matches to people with the Newell name and variants of this name in their tree. For each DNA match I mapped the location associated with their most distant Newell ancestor in the ‘Old World’. I only mapped data for cases where the location of the ancestor was know to the town or county level. There is a high probability that any individual might lose some of these distant connections but, thanks to my sister Shirley and two 3rd cousins that share a common Newell Ancestry giving me access to their match data, I was able to adjust for this by plotting matches for four decendants of John Newell and Patience Porter. Having data for the two 3rd cousins also reduces the effect of matches that might be linked to more recent non Newell ancestors.

The following map shows the location (Old World only) of the earliest Newell ancestor for cases where there was a match to myself, my sister or one of the 3rd cousins.

Distant DNA Matches Linked to Newell Name

Perhaps the most striking aspect of this map is the low number of matches (30 including one Newall and one Newhall). The matches tend to have a strong cluster around London and a second cluster in the north of England and south Scotland. The Newell name had no matches in mainland Europe. The cluster around London might reflect migration from other parts of England or immigrants from Europe gravitating to London (see Immigrants) while the northern cases might reflect:

  • a pre 1066 origin,
  • a post Norman Invasion (1066) migration,
  • a later settlement e.g. Protestant Weavers from Europe between 1500 and 1750.

The next name mapped was Neville (see map below). This name might seem to be totally unrelated unless you understand that in Ireland the names Newell and Nevill are frequently interchangeable. The reason being that the letters V and W did not occur in the Irish  alphabet. In my research on the Newells of Ireland I frequently found the same person referenced as Newell by English sources and Nevell by Irish sources. As expected matches to this name was found in Ireland but also in the north and midlands of England (an areas settled by Irish immigrants).

Distant DNA matches linked to Neville

The next name mapped was Noel (14 matches including one Noell). One Noel (in Surrey) was a double match with Newell in a case where both names were linked to the same family. The Noels were clustered in the Channel Islands, along the eastern border of France, the Netherlands and south England.

Distant DNA Matches linked to Noel Name

The Noel name was the only name with matches to the Channel Islands. It should be noted that I did not include matches that traced their Channel Island roots through Clement Noel of Harbour Grace, Newfoundland. The Noel matches in eastern France fall within the Alsace Lorraine region (see map below) that borders Germany and some parts of which were historically part of Germany. The Protestant populations of eastern France, in AlsaceMoselle, and Montbéliard were mainly ethnic German Lutherans.


The last of the four main name mapped was Knowles. This name is clustered in Lancashire with a few matches in south England. There is more discussion of this name in subsequent sections.

Distant DNA Matches to Knowles

The preeceding discussion has focused on the four names (Newell, Noel, Neville and Knowles) identified in the earlier analysis of my DNA matches. What is clear from this more indepth analysis of DNA matches, for four individuals with Newell ancestors from ‘the Dock’, is that a case could be made for any of these being the original name for the “Dock Newells”. One possible interpretation is that one of these or possibly a completely different name was the source and the others arose from this core. Given the family history of the Old World matches it is almost certain that this divergence occured prior to 1500 since family names started to become standardized around this time. I am not argueing that all Newells, Noels, Nevilles and Knowles are related but that my ancestors adopted these different spellings of their name, perhaps to fit with the name most common in the area where they lived.

We might get some sense of how this could have evolved by examining how the names might have evolved. The following Diagram list some of the names I investigated in my research. The four names examined earlier are in the upper section of the diagram. The lower section list some related names that might be candidates for a root name.

Evolution of Names

The first new set of names I examined were some that are similar to Noel (see Noel + map below). These include: Nowell (8), Noll (11), Nolle (1) and Noall (5). The following map plots these along with the Noel data. The new data added Nowell matches in the north of England (Derbyshire) and Wiltshire; it also added a significant number of Noll matches in Germany and Noall matches in Cornwall. Noll is a German name with one possible source for Noll being from Middle High German nol ‘hillock’, ‘knoll’. The Noll matches in Germany appear to be geographically related to the Noel matches in eastern France, possibly reflecting different versions of the same name.

Distant DNA Matches to Noel Plus

Since, as indicated above, the German name Noll may be related to Knoll (hill) I searched for DNA matches with the Knoll name (see map below). This produced 8 cases with all of these in Germany. The highest frequency is in the State of Baden-Württemberg (home of the Black Forest) which was also the case for Noll.

Distant DNA Matches to Knoll

I did not find any Knoll matches in the UK; however, there were five matches to Knel in southern England and one to Knill in Cornwall that may be related (knoll Middle English variant of knell ).

To this point we have built a case that there is a large cluster of “Dock Newell” DNA matches along the course of the Rhine River between Amsterdam and the Black Forest. On the French side these are associated with the Noel name while on the German side they are associated with Noll and Knoll.

One other group of names names possibly associated with a hill in early English records include the names Cnoll, Canol, Cnolle, Canoll. In Middle English knolle is a ‘hilltop’, ‘hillock’ and in Middle High German knol is a hill or ‘peak’; however, in Old English is the word for hill is cnoll (Old  English  cnoll  “hilltop,  small hill,  clod, ball,”  related to  Old Norse knollr “hilltop;”  German knolle  “clod, lump;” Dutch knol  “turnip,” nol “a hill.” ).

Cnoll, Cnolle, Canol and Canoll occurs as names in early Norman records for different areas of England. Note: The sound of the French letter “C will change depending on if it is followed by a hard or a soft vowel: soft pronunciation – In front of an ‘E,’ ‘I,’ or ‘Y,’ the ‘C’ is pronounced like an ‘S’ ; hard pronunciation – In front of an ‘A,’ ‘O,’ ‘U,’ or a consonant, ‘C’ is pronounced like a ‘K’ . Thus cnoll (old English for hill) when used as a name would be pronounce like Knoll.

The English publication The Parliament Writs list a number of references to individuals with the Cnolle name in the 1300s (see below):

The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland list Cnolle as an early version of Knowles. Sir Robert Knowles a noted English mercenary fighting in Brittany and France in the 1300s was referred to as Sir Robert Canolles or Canole by French writers. A family Web Site for the Knell / Knill family names ( ) has several comments sections (1 &3) that demonstrate that Cnoll, Cnolle were linked to the Knell families in England and that in the immediate centuries following the invasion these names were used interchangeably with Knell, Knill, Knolles, Knowles. By the fifteenth century in England the names Cnoll, Cnolle, Canol and Canoll were superseded by Knoll, Knolle, Knowles, etc.. In France there are historical records of the name dating from the 1600 mainly in the Charente-Maritime region (Rochelle) but virtually no modern references (see ). Many of the historical French records link to individuals that subsequently emigrated to the French colony of Acadia (now Nova Scotia).

There were a number of DNA match to the Canol name, with all four “Dock Newells” investigated having matches and all but one having multiple matches. However, all of these matches had the same individual in their tree.

Marie Anne De Canol, BIRTH 1651 • St Martin De Re, La Rochelle, Charente Maritime, France DEATH 1693 • Pisquid, Minas Basin, Acadia, Canada.

All the links to Canol were linked to Marie Anne and her husband Jean Doiron; however, there were even more links to the Doiron name; perhaps linked to the 7 children they had in Port Royal, Acadia (now Nova Scotia). one of these children was Noel Doiron (c 1684 – 1758) who was referred to as the “father” to all the Acadians on Ile St. Jean (present-day PEI ) and was the namesake of the village Noel, Nova Scotia  (see ).

The preceding discussion has examined DNA matches between a group of “Dock Newells” and individuals with roots in Europe and the UK that have names in their tree that are generally recognized as having possible links to Newell or Noel. In the course of this research I identified several other names which had DNA links that are only tangentially related to Newell or Noel but where there are other factors that potentially link them. The left side of the following diagram list some of the other names I examined.

Other Names Investigated

The most interesting name on this list is Yule which Ancestry describes as:

A Scottish and English: nickname for someone who was born on Christmas Day or had some other connection with this time of year, from Middle English yule ‘Christmastide’ (Old English geol, reinforced by the cognate Old Norse term jól). This was originally the name of a pagan midwinter festival, which was later appropriated by the Christian Church for celebration of the birth of Christ.

Within the UK the name Yule is most common in Scotland. This Scottish bias likely occurs since prior to the Scottish Reformation of 1560, Christmas in Scotland was known as Yule .  This is likely a result of the Scandinavian influences in northern Scotland. From the 8th to the 15th centuries  Norse settlers, mainly Norwegians and to a lesser extent other  Scandinavians, colonized parts of what is now Scotland.  This origin of the name Yule is relevant since the name Noel is derived from the Old French Nouel, from noel, nouel (natal, Christmas), which is from the Latin natalīs diēs (birthday of the Lord e.g. Christmas).  My earlier speculation that the original family name for my family may have changed to similar sounding local names when my ancestors moved into new regions can be applied in a somewhat different way in this case. Rather than adopting a similar sounding name a transition from Noel to Yule might represent a case of adopting a name with the same meaning. Like most names there appears to be some variation in the spelling of the Yule name which is reflected in the DNA matches. Some of the variations with DNA matches include Yuill, Youell and Youle. The following map plots the distribution of the matches to these names. There were 23 matches including 2 matches in England with the Youell spelling and one Yuill in Ireland. Apart from these and several matches in northern Scotland the bulk of the matches are clustered around Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Comparing this map with earlier maps for other names such as Knowles demonstrates that with the exception of several Newell & Newall matches around Kirkcudbright, Scotland (see my research on the Newalls of Scotland) there were no other matches north of Lancashire. The gap between the Yule matches which are clustered around Edinburgh and Glasgow and Lancashire can be partially explained by the low population density in the Lake District and the Scottish Border.

Distant DNA Matches to Yule, Yuill, Youell and Youle.

Research on the Yule name in Scotland (also recorded as Youle, Youll, Yoell, Youell, Youhill, Yuill, Yuille, Zuill and Zowlle) demonstrates that in 1374 a John Yule was recorded in Haddington and in 1391 another John Yule was a Chaplin in Aberdeen. By the mid 15th century the Yules were established in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Haddington (see: link for a detailed history of the Yule family of Haddington. In 1503 Sir Robert Yule was a Taxman in the Orkneys, and Inza Yule held lands in Firth in the Orkneys. In 1610 a “Patrik” Yule was skipper of the ship “Unicorne of Leyth” bound for “Orknay”. In 1676 the Yules emerged with two senior houses, the Yules of Darleith House, Cardross (NW of Glasgow) , and the Yules of Leyhouses (formerly in Haddington now in East Lothian). A more detailed view of the Yule matches in Scotland (see below) demonstrates that there are clusters near Edinburgh and Glasgow. The Yule spelling occurs more frequently in the Edinburgh cluster and the Yuill spelling in the Glasgow cluster.

By the 18th century the Yuille family of Darleith were tobacco merchants in Scotland and Virginia. Before 1774, when dredging of the River Clyde allowed ships to take merchandise directly to Glasgow, tobacco and other goods were offloaded downstream at Greenock or Port Glasgow. Interestingly both of these towns had strong connections to Newfoundland:

Merchant firms at both ports had been regularly trading with Newfoundland and Labrador since the 1770s, when the American Revolution severed their trade ties with the American colonies. Between 1781 and 1791, approximately 74 vessels left Greenock for the island of Newfoundland to trade provisions and gear for saltfish or other goods.

Earlier I had suggested a possible link between the Yuel and Noel names. In this regard it is interesting to note that c 1109 a Ralph (or Radulf or Roger) Nowell or Novell or Nouell or Nuel was consecrated Bishop of Orkney. This Ralph was reportedly a priest in York before he was consecrated by the Archbishop of York. Unfortunately for Ralph his tenure was short since the Norwegians who had control of Orkney had appointed their own bishop; however, Ralph still acted in that capacity from York. Ralph is reported to have had several children, several of which entered the Church.

The final family names that I investigate were Jewell and Juel. These names are only very loosely connected to Newell/Noel. Jewell is similar to Newell (see Ancestry) and Juel is similar to Yule. The following is some background on the possible origins of these names:

Jewell is an English surname of French Breton or Celtic Cornish origin.  The root is the Old Breton Iudicael or the Celtic Judand hael,composed of elements meaning “lord” and “generous” or “bountiful.”  The name was borne by a 7th century saint, a king of Brittany who abdicated and then spent the last part of his life in a monastery.  As Jule, Jewel, Jewell, or even Jekyll, it was a name found mainly in Devon and Cornwall.   Judhael de Totnes from Brittany, a prominent supporter of William the Conqueror, was granted a large landholding in Devon after the invasion.  He may have been the origin of many of the Jewell names in that county

Juhl is a surname originating in Denmark.  In Danish, “Juhl” is pronounced ‘yool’ or ‘yooh’. In American-English, “Juhl” is pronounced the same as the English word ‘jewel‘ or Jool.

I had investigated the Jewell name in the past since there was a Philip Jewell and a James Jewell (somewhat similar to my Philip and James) living in Lanivet, Cornwall in the late 1700s (see ).

When I plotted Jewell and Juel matches for myself, my sister and the two cousins (see map below) I found a strong cluster of Jewells in Cornwall and NW Devon; a scattering of matches in southern England (includes one each of Elwell, Kewell, Joel and Judkins); and three matches in northern Germany (two in the Holstein region bordering Denmark).

Jewell and Juel DNA Matches

The Jewell matches in NW Devon are interesting since there were Newells from this area (Barnstaple) that were involved in the Newfoundland fishery in the 18th century but I found no Newell DNA matches from this area.

The one final map (below) is a summary of the DNA matches for all the names investigated:

This map indicates that the “Dock Newells” have numerous distant DNA links to people with Newell, Noel, etc. names in the UK. In addition, there are a scattering of matches to Ireland which likely represents out migration from Scotland and England, a cluster near the Black Forest in Germany and scattered matches along Rhine and along the Atlantic coast of France. It is not unreasonable to speculate that there is an apparent “dead zone” in central France that may be a result of the French wars of religion.

The Scottish Mystery

Prior to starting this recent research, if asked about Scottish connections, I would have said that to the best of my knowledge I had no Scottish ancestors. The matches to Yule, described earlier, can be explained by the Scottish Yules representing an early (pre 1400) offshoot of Noels from North England who adopted a different spelling of their name or a pre 1800 connection through marriage. However, other data point to a deeper connection with Scotland.

The results of my Y-DNA test indicated that I am connected to a Y-DNA Haplogroup that has a cluster of modern matches in the Argyll and Bute region of Scotland and Y-DNA STR data, if adjusted for population, suggest that I have similar numbers of matches in England and Scotland. To investigate this further I started comparing my total number of Distant DNA matches (regardless of name) in selected areas of England and Scotland. In England, I compared areas that have connections to a significant number of my non Newell ancestors (e.g. Devon and Dorset) and areas in the North of England (e.g. Lancashire) that are connected to the Nowell and Knowles names. In Scotland, I examined areas with connections to Yule and Y-DNA data. Not surprisingly, at the county level Devon, Dorset and Somerset had the highest number of matches followed by Lancashire. However, England has 10X the population of Scotland. When adjusted for population Dorset had the highest density in England but in Scotland the density of matches was even higher in Argyll (NW of Glasgow) and Midlothian (historical county south of Edinburgh). At the town/ village level when adjusted for population the towns of Lyme Regis in Dorset, Uplyme, Bidford, Brixham, Newton Abbott and Barnstaple in Devon had the highest density in England. However, in Scotland a number of towns had a higher density of matches; these towns include: Rothesay, Bute; Earlston, Berwickshire; Kirkcudbright; Dumfries; Bonhill, Dumbarton and Cardross, Renfrewshire. The latter two towns are within a few miles of Darleith House which is connected to the Yule family; Earlston is approximately 25 miles south of Haddington (Yule); Rothesay is near the center of the Haplogroup matches identified in the Y-DNA section; and Kirkcudbright is the centre of the Newell DNA matches in Scotland.

In the Y-DNA Section I speculated that the cluster of Y-DNA Haplogroup matches might be linked to descendants of Alan FitzFlaad, a Breton who came over to Great Britain not long after the Norman conquest. Alan had been the hereditary steward of the Bishop of Dol in the Duchy of Brittany; Alan had a good relationship with the ruling  Norman monarch Henry I of England who awarded him with lands in Shropshire. The FitzAlan family quickly established themselves as a prominent Anglo-Norman noble house, with some of its members serving as High Sheriff of Shropshire. It was the great-grandson of Alan named Walter FitzAlan who became the first hereditary High Steward of Scotland, [founder of the Scottish Stewarts/Stuarts] while his brother William’s family went on to become Earls of Arundel see This family has been linked to the Allen/Allan and Stewart/Stuart names in Scotland.

A branch of the Stewart family became established in the area of Argyll and Bute (see map below) by the 15th century. James Stewart was sheriff of Bute between 1445 and 1449. He was succeeded by his son, William, who was also keeper of Brodick Castle on Arran. In 1627 Sir James Stuart of Bute was created 1st Stuart Baronet, of Bute in the Baronetage of Nova Scotia by Charles I of England .

Argyll and Bute

Based on this theory first developed from the Y-DNA research I investigated my DNA links to the Stewart and Allen/Allan names. The number of matches to these names were higher than any of the Newfoundland names in my tree. The high number matches to Stewart is likely partially a result of the popularity of the name in Scotland (7th most common) plus the genealogical interest in this name. By comparison, Yule/ Yuill only had 7% of the matches that Stewart had; however, Yule is not a well know Scottish name (ranks number 626 in list of Scottish names). Other common (top 12) Scottish names with high number of matches include: Campbell (who were Earls of Argyll), MacDonald / McDonald and Scott. Distant DNA links to popular Scottish names such as these only suggest that my distant ancestors likely had some connection with Scotland, either directly or through marriage.

Researching the history of the Yule family I identified several families that had close connections with the Yule family. These include:

  • Buchanan (Yules, Yuill, Yool and Zuill are listed as Septs of Clan Buchanan),
  • Shaw (link through Shaw Stewart Baronetcy, of Greenock), and
  • Crawford (links through Greenock, Darleith House and Virginia)

A search of my DNA matches for each of these names (none of which is in Top 50 Scottish names) and Scotland produced the following distant matches : Buchanan (39), Shaw (55) and Crawford (53). Matches for my sister and the two Newell cousins noted earlier produced similar results (see below).

Ranking and # / 100K from

When comparing the statistics presented above with the map of Yule matches it should be noted that the map only includes cases where there is a direct link between the one of the Yule names and a specific location in Scotland while the Table above includes any results from an Ancestry search of DNA matches that has the name plus Scotland in the location.

Possible North American Links

If we focus on non Newfoundland, North American matches then Knowles has the highest number (41) followed by Newell (31), Neville (15) and Noel (14). Drilling down further both Newell and Knowles had more than half of the non Nfld. matches from New England plus Nova Scotia while Noel and Neville had none from these areas! Noel and especially Neville had a high proportion of non Nfld. matches that trace their roots back to early colonial Virginia and surrounding states (note connection to Cheek distant Y-DNA matches discussed earlier). Noel also had several matches with connections to Quebec.   Knowles has the most interesting pattern of North American (excluding Nfld.) matches. The Knowles matches are focused on Chatham, Barnstaple, Massachusetts (located at the “elbow” of Cape Cod, Chatham was a shipping, fishing and whaling center) and Shelburne, Nova Scotia. This is not a random connection since the area around Shelburne was settled in the 1760s by families from Barnstaple and Nantucket, Mass. (see: A History of Barrington township and vicinity, Shelburne County, Nova Scotia, 1604-1870).   The book “The Knowles Family of Eastham, Mass.”  by C.T. Libby states that a:  Richard Knowleswas first located on the New England records of Plymouth, Massachusetts in January of 1638. He married Ruth Bower  on 15 August 1639 and they later settled in Eastham, Massachusetts (Near Barnstaple). Other sources suggest that Richard was possibly from  Lancashire, England.  The family names of the settlers that moved to Shelburne County, Nova Scotia in the 1760s included:  Knowles, Smith, Paine, Snow, Hopkins, Crowell, Freeman and Harding . Another name that is frequently associated with the Knowles DNA matches is Smith. The Smiths were another family from Barnstaple Mass. and intermarried with the Knowles in Nova Scotia.  Thankful Knowles married David Smith and they are the ancestors of several Nova Scotia DNA matches.  The links to Knowles, while centered on the Barnstaple and Shelbourne areas, extends to other Knowles throughout New England and Nova Scotia. In addition, I also get significant numbers of DNA matches to other families linked to the Knowles of Barnstaple and Shelbourne (e.g. Freeman, Doane, Paine, Snow, Folger, Nickerson, Coffin, Harding and Smith).  Smith and Snow are both in my Newfoundland tree so I get both sets of matches for them.  The link to these other families is that they share a common heritage with the Knowles over 6-7 generations and in many cases  intermarrying with them several times over different generations and as a result they share common DNA.   While the case for a direct link to Knowles is strong there is the possibility that this DNA link comes indirectly through non Knowles families in my tree. One interesting possibility is that there might be a Newell connection in Nova Scotia or Massachusetts.  A large number of Newells from ‘The Dock’, including my grandparents, moved to Cape Breton, NS and Massachusetts in the mid to late 1800s. However, these Newells would be 2nd, 3rd or possibly 4th cousins plus the diversity of connections to the Knowles (spread over large geographic area and different families) makes this unlikely. One especially interesting connection is that one of my great aunts (Albert’s sister) married a Smith from Nova Scotia (they likely met in Mass.) and this family of Smiths trace their roots to the Knowles who moved to Nova Scotia from Barnstaple, Mass.; however, this connection would be at the 2nd cousin level. There are five 5th cousin links to Newells of Nova Scotia.  In four of these cases the common ancestor is Henry Newell born 1755 in Boston  who married a Smith from Chatham, Barnstaple, Mass. [home of Knowles] and subsequently moved to Nova Scotia;  in the remaining case a later Newell b 1819 in the same town as the others (poss relative) married a Nickerson (name linked to Knowles). The tree for one of these matches traces Henry back to Newhalls of Lynn, Mass; an area where many of the Newells from the Dock moved to in the 1800s. However, this tree includes many family names associated with Knowles & Barnstaple so it is possible Henry was a Knowle.   The remaining option is a connection through one of my non Newell ancestors.  Perhaps my Smith or Snow ancestors from Newfoundland are related to the Smiths and Snows from Massachusetts; however, both of these families have deep roots in Newfoundland and there is no suggestion of links to New England (still possible).  I recently investigated the possibility of a link through the Freeman family of St. John’s (William Sr. b c. 1755 and Jr. b 1785). The Freeman name is very closely tied to the Knowles of Barnstaple, Mass. and Nova Scotia and William Freeman Junior is connected to several of my non Newell ancestral families in the Port de Grave area (e.g. Batten and Andrews). In addition, William Senior and Junior have possible connections to the Newells of St. John’s. See my Ancestry tree for William Freeman and my Web Page on William Freeman  for more information. Despite numerous DNA links to the Freeman name I was not able to identify a DNA link to William Freeman of St. John’s. There were possible DNA connections to the Freeman families of Salmon Cove (now Champney’s West) , Trinity Bay and Twillingate; however, I could not find a connection between these families and William Freeman of St. John’s.   One way to isolate the Knowles connection is to compare my results with those for other Newell relatives. A 3rd cousin once removed had 6 matches to Knowles, all 5-8th cousins, all Great Britain as main ethnicity, ties to Massachusettes and a 3rd cousin had  two 4th cousins and over 70 in the distant cousin category that linked to Knowles.  The rapid drop off between a 3rd cousin and a 3rd once removed is not surprising since distant cousins are near the edge of detection.  This does support the conclusion that the connection to Knowles is real and is since these 3rd cousins predate my Andrews ancestors it rules this out as a primary cause of my matches; however, a Andrews connection might be amplifying my DNA link to Knowles.