Argall family Worldwide

About the One-name Study

The Beginning of the Study. Around 1972, I developed a serious interest in my own ancestry; I began to re–establish contact with the Cornwall relatives and began to find out much about my more recent ancestry. By 1975 I started to find out something about my ARGALL grandfather’s family. However, it was not until 1990 when, because of the rapid strides made in the availability of genealogical information coupled with the advances made in information technology, I was able to marshal this data in a more organised way. Since 1990, when I bought my first computer, my progress became more rapid.

Corresponded with numerous other persons mainly in the United States and Australia, but also in England, New Zealand and South Africa, which enabled me to recreate many of the ARGALL families from the past. However, this approach threw up almost as many problems for events in England as it solved. I obtained extracts of ARGALL birth, marriages and deaths, some of which served to confuse simply because of the multiplicity of the same forenames living in the same area at the same time. It then fell to a patient analysis of the original records (Parish records, Wills and Census information) to establish who was born where. By 1994 I finally concluded the investigation of all ARGALL entries in the indexes of the General Register Office in London up to that date; these entries are updated annually as more registers are added.

The need to solve these problems caused me to embark on a total study of all occurrences of the ARGALL surname and so in 1992 I registered the ARGALL name with the Guild of One–name Studies in London. The objective of the study is to establish the origins of the ARGALL family and to determine and record its growth and development throughout the world. When I retired in 1996, I resolved to undertake research on behalf of the global Argall family on a virtual full–time basis. By the end of the year 2009, the Study had grown to a database size containing over 8900 individuals and more than 3250 marriages of those individuals who are, and which are, connected with the ARGALL name and families. These figures represent, I believe, about 97% of all the ARGALLs who ever lived.

DNA Evidence. In 2007 I decided to have my own DNA tested in order to determine whether the documented origins of our own (ARGALL) paternal ancestry (i.e. on the male side) was supported by the DNA results. Since I have concluded from other evidence that all those with the ARGALL surname (apart from those whose ancestry is affected by adoption) are blood-related, the findings are of general applicability to us all. Six key genetic markers are characteristic of the Y chromosome, these are: M168, M89, M9, M45, M173 and M269. The oldest of these (M168) first appeared in a man who lived in East Africa about 90,000 years ago. However, the M173 marker indicated that our own (Argall) ancestors were part of a more westward expansion. Some of these people journeyed back into Africa and others to South Asia, but our own Y chromosome also bears the M269 marker, which we inherited from a man who lived around present-day Turkey during the Upper Palaeolithic period.

[Picture - The spread of the M269 DNA genetic marker (the marker is expressed in percentage terms in red as a segment of the circle)]


Around 35,000 years ago, the expanding Aurignacian culture brought some of this man's M269-bearing descendants into Europe. Later, from around 20-13,000 years ago, the advancing glaciers of the Ice Age forced many people out of northern Europe and into various glacial "refuges", while most M269-bearing men found shelter in one such refuge in Iberia. When the ice eventually receded, people expanded from these areas, repopulating Europe. A number of M269-bearing hunter-gatherers spread from Iberia to the North European plain and were the first humans to cross to the British Isles, including Ireland. A strong link with these pre-Celtic ancient inhabitants still survives in Celtic-speaking areas of Great Britain, such as Cornwall and Wales, where M269 is today found at very high frequencies, reaching almost 100% in men in western Ireland. Those from whom the modern-day ARGALL families descend are included in this group.
If you have undertaken a DNA test yourself, I would be interested in hearing from you whether the M269 marker is present.

Conclusions of the One–name Study. By 1992, I had discovered that there were about 1000 ARGALLs alive in the whole world, the majority of whom appear to come from a single family who were living in Cornwall in the mid–16th Century. Most of these now live in the United States and Australia; only just over 50 ARGALLs are left in the United Kingdom. The emergence of DNA testing is beginning to reveal that the ARGALL bloodline is essetially Celtic in origin. However, there are still a few persons outside the UK, who have not yet been linked into the ARGALL families. Sometimes the reasons are because of adoption, but others appear due to the Anglicisation of continental European names – especially Hispanic.

The Argall Character and Social Standing. It is evident from this Study that the ARGALL family consisted, in the main, of upright middle–class, hard–working individuals. There is no evidence of criminal activities, as the name does not appear as part of those who were transported to penal colonies. The early families were farmers, but they became, clerks, lawyers and administrators, although many of those left in Cornwall turned to the tin and copper mines – the major employment areas of the time. Essentially the family were traditionally moderately prosperous in the medieval period and developed in Cornwall from an essentially Celtic bloodline, and this bloodline was largely preserved until the normal movements of families in the 19th century led to the introduction of English (Anglo–Saxon) blood into the family.

Health and Medical Observations. The study has revealed a number of interesting facts, including those of longevity and causes of death. Over a 300–year period, those ARGALLs who survived childhood (many had died before reaching the age of 5) stood a good chance of living well into old age, unless struck down by accident. In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, there are numerous examples of deaths not occurring until the individual’s 8th or 9th decade. When death finally took its toll, the most common cause has been heart disease or failure. This trend of longevity has continued to the end of the 20th century, when the then oldest living Argall (Ernest Charles Kelway Argall in England) celebrated his 100th birthday in January 1999 – the first ARGALL so recorded to have lived for so long.








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