Ham(m)on(d)(s) Ancient Ancestry

The information provided here is mostly my opinion based on email discussions with DNA genealogists and my own research. Most of the information used to help possibly locate where our ancestors lived prior to immigrating to England is based on population genetics and my deep SNP testing. There is no paper trail backing any of these statements and probably never will be.

A simple question, but a difficult one to answer, especially the further one goes back in time.  Our MDKA (most distant known ancestor) is believed to be John Hamonde1 (d: 1546) of Scarning, Norfolk, England.  How confident are we in that?  There appears to be excellent evidence connecting John Hamonde to Ambrose Hamond2, who was baptized in St. James Parish in Clerkenwell3, England on 28 February 1647.  We next find Ambrose listed as Ambrose Hamon in a Virginia Land Patent4 that was granted to two individuals on March 26, 1666.  This is not the date he arrived in America, but the recorded date for the fulfillment of the patent.  According to many sources, his arrival time would have been prior to this date and most likely several years prior.  Obtaining these patents was not always quick or easy.  Apparently red-tape was also an issue in colonial times as well.  


The question is, is Ambrose Hammon of Old Rappahannock the same Ambrose of Clerkenwell, England?  There is circumstantial evidence that says yes.  Both Ambrose and his father, John Hamond I5 (b: ca.1610, d: 1700), become absent from the record books of the greater London area and then those names appear in Old Rappahannock County, Virginia Colony.


This is not about providing evidence for John Hamonde (d: 1546) as our MDKA or about making the link through Ambrose the immigrant.  We assume these to be true.  What they do establish is where our ancestors lived prior to immigrating to America; England.  This discussion is about going deeper into our past. 


If we can only trace our lineage back to John Hamonde (d: 1546), how can we determine where our ancestors we came from without more connections?  We know that we have not been in England forever because during the last Ice Age6 it was covered and uninhabited.  To accept the following discussion, one must believe several things.  First, one must believe what DNA, genetic anthropology7, and the Genographic Project8 tells us.  We definitely will not delve deeply into the subject of DNA as volumes have been written on the subject, but the bigger issue is the difficulty of the subject matter.  Genetics was easily the most difficult class I took in college and when researching the genetic term haplotype, Wikipedia added a disclaimer at the top of the page stating, “This article may be too technical for most readers to understand.”9  Their emphasis, not mine.  Second, if you believe in the strict age determination of the Earth based on Biblical calculations, this will disappoint you.  Sorry.  If you do not accept the truths of DNA or believe the Earth is 6,000 years old or less, then this discussion for you is moot.


There are several types of DNA, but the one that is most useful for genealogy is y-DNA.  This is the DNA that is passed down from father to son with very little change over the generations.  While no two people have the exact same total DNA package (except for identical twins), fathers and sons do share the same y-DNA, excluding the occasional mutations that occur.  This is why my 8th cousin and I am a perfect match for 67 y-DNA genealogical markers even though our families branched off from each other around the 1750’s.  Our MRCA (most recent common ancestor) is John Hammon, Sr. (b: 1685, d: 1758/9). 


To go beyond our “immediate” ancestors we must look into population genetics and define the term haplotype and haplogroupHaplotype is defined as combinations of DNA sequences at adjacent locations on a chromosome that are inherited together.10Haplogroup is defined as: a group of peoples who share a set of genetic markers (haplotype) and therefore share an ancestor, this ancestor being very distant in the past.  Our haplotype, through selected y-DNA genetic markers, has been determined to belong to the haplogroup J.  Haplogroups and subgroups (subclades) are differentiated by various mutations that occurred in an individual and then were passed down to offspring through subsequent generations; think of them as clans.  Lack of mobility prior to the 20th century meant that most people tended to stay put11.  The average distance of spouses birthplaces from 1600-1850 was about 6-miles.  After 1850 this rapidly rose to 25-30 miles over the next 100-years12.  Today I’m sure that distance is much greater, though I have not found any research showing the value.  This lack of movement meant their genes tended to stay put in a small area making the possibility that you would end up marrying someone you were related to very high even if distant.  The idea behind the Genographic Project is to gather as much DNA data from around the world as possible before globalization completely erases the boundaries.  Once these boundaries are erased, then we will lose the possibility of defining where certain populations came from.


There are several haplogroups, designated as A through T, and most of those are further divided into sub-groups or subclades.  Further testing of specific regions (known as snips or SNP) of our y-DNA reveals we belong to the subclade J2b2.  Personally I have had additional testing done that even further subdivides and places us in the subclade J2b2a1a1a.  Okay … so what does all that mean?


The Haplogroup J213 is not a common genetic pattern found in England or the rest of north Europe or northwest Europe.  In England it is found in only 3.5% of the population.  Here is the J2 frequency found in north and northwest Europe14.


Netherlands 6.0%
Germany 4.5%
Belgium 4.0%
England 3.5%
Sweden 3.0%
Denmark 2.5%
Scotland 2.0%
Estonia 1.0%
Ireland 1.0%
Wales 1.0%
Latvia 0.5%


Despite the fact that we have what is considered a Germanic surname (coming from a Germanic language such as English, German, etc.) and can trace our ancestors back to England, we are not typical English Ham(m)on(d)(s) [to be spelled as HAMOND from this point forward].  Currently we are the only HAMOND family in England belonging to J2; all the other HAMOND families tested belong to the haplogroup R and haplogroup I15.  On the Family Tree DNA website, those HAMOND families tested who belong to haplogroup I state their MDKA as coming from England, Wales, or Germany.  Those belonging to haplogroup R state their MDKA as coming from England, Germany, Netherlands, or Ireland.  Despite being in the same haplogroup (either R or I), not all of these individuals claim the same MRCA.  Their common ancestor probably goes back several thousand years further into the past.  The only individuals who belong to the J2 haplogroup in the HAMOND project are … us!


Population genetics and the Genographic Project shows that the haplogroup J2 was first detected in the Fertile Crescent16.  The Fertile Crescent is the area around the Euphrates River and Tigris River (Mesopotamia).  From there the J2’s moved north into Anatolia (modern day Turkey) and east into India.  India is not important to us because there are many other genetic factors that exclude them.





As you can see from the map, the genes of our ancient ancestors have their highest frequency in central Anatolia (Turkey), northeast Iran, the Balkans, and parts of Italy.  The early emphasis from genealogical researchers suggested the Balkans as the highest probability for our ancestral location prior to England; however, that was when the only available data categorized us as belonging to the J2b2 subclade.  While the Balkans still remains a probability for our ancestral location for sometime in the distant past, it just may not have been their location prior to moving to England.  The reason the Balkans are still viable is because there are many individuals from this region who’s DNA matches us at some level.  Mathematic probability calculations (91% probability) have several of those individuals showing us has having a common ancestor roughly 24 generations ago.  John Hamonde is my 13th great grandfather and he lived 500 years ago, which roughly means this 24-generation-ago common ancestor lived about 900-1,000 years ago.


Here is the J2 frequency found in the Balkans and the immediate surrounding regions.

Cyprus 37.0%
Greece 23.0%


Italy 18.0%
Bulgaria 15.5%
Romania 13.0%
Macedonia 12.0%


As you can see, these are much higher frequencies than in northern Europe.  Some of our distant (24 generations+) matches are from Albania and Bulgaria.


What Additional SNP Testing Provided


Anthropological science says that man’s “place of birth” was Africa and he moved away from there to populate the world.  Haplogroup J left Africa and settled in the Fertile Crescent around 50,000 years ago.  He is a “J” because he had a specific mutation at a specific gene that was different than the mutation that made “R”, “I”, “E”, etc.  One of the descendants of the original “J” mutated once again, giving rise to “J2”.  This “J2” was thought to arise about 10,000 years ago and has been found in Anatolia, Iran, south-central Asia, the Caucasus region, Balkans, and Greece.  As you can see, the “family” began to slowly spread out from the Fertile Crescent.  Another mutation in the family created the “J2b’s” who first formed about 5,000 years ago and are most prominently in India, Anatolia, Balkans, and Albania.  Subsequent mutations eventually gave rise to J2b2a1a1a.  Where are these folks most prominent?


J2b2a1a1a is a recent designation and we need a lot more people to have this deep ancestry testing in order to be certain, but what can be added to the possibilities on our ancestral map are Poland, Slovakia, and western Russia, all designated as Eastern Europe.  Genealogical researchers agree that J2b2 is a Slavic haplogroup, but Slavs are not relegated to the Balkans.  The Slavic groups17 are the Balkans (southern Slavs), Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic (western Slavs), and Russia (eastern Slavs).


Of those who have been tested by Family Tree DNA and found to be J2b2a1a1a, a majority is from the Russian Federation (especially the Belarus region).  Others claim their most distant known ancestor is from places such as the Ukraine and Poland.  It should be noted that Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine all border each other.


One genealogical researcher suggested, long before there were subsequent deep ancestry testing, that our DNA profile suggested a northern Slavic connection.  He suggested I look into the Zamagurie18 region as a possible location for our ancestral home prior to England.  The Zamagurie is a region on the Polish-Slovakia border.  While he did not explain why he made this possible determination based on our genetic profile, his insight may prove to be more correct than I first thought.


Ethnicity Testing


There is one other type of DNA testing that I had done and it is an autosomal test, some refer to as ethnicity testing.  This was done in 2006 when the database for this test was in its infancy and therefore a small number of participants.  What this test does is add substantial weight to the J2b2a1a1a connections.  My positive checks were the following:


Native American, only one parent and probably came from my mother’s side.

European, which came from both of my parents.

Eastern European, which is defined as Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Latvia, Ukraine, and Russia – from one parent

Ashkenazi Jew – from one parent

Sub-Saharan Africa – from one parent


What is interesting is that the report states that Eastern European markers are also found in Ashkenazi Jews and vice-versa and that Sub-Saharan Africa is a common false positive for Eastern European.  Positive markers for Eastern European by itself would not have been a very strong indicator, but the fact that I tested positive for Ashkenazi Jew and a probable false positive for Sub-Saharan Africa makes the Eastern European a much more solid connection.


Does our surname help?  At first glance no.  Most research brought up our surname as Germanic in origin and most probably Norman or Old Norse.  For that reason it was assumed our family chose the surname HAMOND because it was brought over with the Norman invasion and it was therefore “English” (actually French) and selected in order to fit in.  Hammon is also Biblical19.  Hammon means “warm springs” and is a Levitical city in the tribe of Asher near Zidon (Sidon) and south of Tyre on the Mediterranean coast.  The name is found in Joshua 19:28 (And Hebron, and Rehob, and Hammon, and Kanah, even unto great Zidon).  I was unable to find if this name is Jewish or Phoenician in origin since it appears that the city and its name were in place prior to the Israelite movement into Canaan.  The larger city to the north, Tyre, was a city settled by the Carthaginians and there is reason therefore to believe Hammon could have also have belonged to them due to their close proximity to each other.  Either way this name would not be Germanic in origin.  I have also found the surname in the Slavic languages as Hamonowicz, which means son of Hamon.  What is not known is if Hamon was taken from its Germanic roots and used in the Slavic language: Hamonowicz being Polish.




Our DNA profile is unique among English Ham(m)on(d)(s) families in that it is Slavic in origin as opposed to Germanic.  Our genetic haplogroup points to a migration out of Africa into the Fertile Crescent and then into places such as Anatolia (Turkey), Iran, Balkans, Greece, and Italy.  It is uncertain in which location we settled, but there are strong indicators that the Balkans are the most likely.  From there it appears our ancestor migrated away from the Balkans north into Eastern Europe (Poland, Slovakia, Belarus, etc.) prior to moving to England.  Autosomal (ethnicity) DNA and deep y-DNA analyses point strongly to Eastern Europe as being our ancestral home prior to England.


1 - As spelled in his will.

2 - The surname was usually spelled HAMOND while the family was in Norfolk and the London area; however, I have seen it spelled HAM’OND and HAM’MOND.  Only on John Hamonde’s will is it found spelled with an “e” on the end.  I have two of his son’s wills (Edmund & John II) and in both wills it is spelled HAMOND.  I found on Ancestry.com where someone stated that it was not unusual to see and “e” on the end of this surname up to the 1700’s.  As for Ambrose, Neal O. Hammon stated that when found in America, his surname was spelled HAMMON.  On the Virginia Land Patents (see footnote #4) it is spelled HAMON.

3 - At the time Clerkenwell was outside the city of London.  The metropolis has since swallowed it up in modern times.

4 - Nugent, Nell Marion. Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, Volume One: 1623-1666.  Richmond, VA: Virginia State Library and Archives 1992.  Page 548

5 - John’s name reappears in London record when he married Dorothy Latham of Old Rappahannock County, VA on 22 June 1669., but then both John and Dorothy Hamond disappear for good from the London records.

6 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_glacial_period. The maximum extend of the glaciers peaked around 22,000 years ago.  During this time the British Isles were completely covered with ice and uninhabitable. 

7 - Also known as deep ancestry or population genetics.

8 - Wells, Spencer. Deep Ancestry: Inside the Genographic Project, The Landmark DNA Quest to Decipher Our Distant Past. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2006

10 - Wells, Spencer. Deep Ancestry: Inside the Genographic Project, The Landmark DNA Quest to Decipher Our Distant Past. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2006

11 - ibid, page 31

12 - ibid, deduced from chart.

13 - Also found as J2-M172, J2-M172 Y-DNA Basic Population Size Analysis. Version 5, 2013. By R.H.A. Sanders. Arnhem, The Netherlands.

14 - ibid

16 - There are many sources quoting this fact, including Wikipedia sources and Deep Ancestry: Inside the Genographic Project, The Landmark DNA Quest to Decipher Our Distant Past (see footnote #8).





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Rodney R. Hammons

433 N Main St

Rushville, Indiana 46173-1637

Phone: 337.499.8674