Ancient Cotton DNA Origins

Farmer  46%

Roughly 8,000–7,000 years ago, after the last glaciation period (Ice Age), modern human farming populations began migrating into the European continent from the Near East. This migration marked the beginning of the Neolithic Era in Europe. The Neolithic Era, or New Stone Age, is aptly named as it followed the Paleolithic Era, or Old Stone Age. Tool makers during the Neolithic Era had improved on the rudimentary “standard” of tools found during the Paleolithic Era and were now creating specialized stone tools that even show evidence of having been polished and reworked. The Neolithic Era is unique in that it is the first era in which modern humans practiced a more sedentary lifestyle as their subsistence strategies relied more on stationary farming and pastoralism, further allowing for the emergence of artisan practices such as pottery making. 

Farming communities are believed to have migrated into the European continent via routes along Anatolia, thereby following the temperate weather patterns of the Mediterranean. These farming groups are known to have populated areas that span from modern day Hungary, Germany, and west into Spain. Remains of the unique pottery styles and burial practices from these farming communities are found within these regions and can be attributed, in part, to artisans from the Funnel Beaker and Linear Pottery cultures. Ötzi (the Tyrolean Iceman), the well-preserved natural mummy that was found in the Alps on the Italian/Austrian border and who lived around 3,300 BCE, is even thought to have belonged to a farming culture similar to these. However, there was not enough evidence found with him to accurately suggest to which culture he may have belonged. 

Although farming populations were dispersed across the European continent, they all show clear evidence of close genetic relatedness. Evidence suggests that these farming peoples did not yet carry a tolerance for lactose in high frequencies (as the Yamnaya peoples of the later Bronze Age did); however, they did carry a salivary amylase gene, which may have allowed them to break down starches more efficiently than their hunter-gatherer forebears. Further DNA analysis has found that the Y-chromosome haplogroup G2a and mitochondrial haplogroup N1a were frequently found within the European continent during the early Neolithic Era. 

Hunter-Gatherer  43%

The climate during the Pleistocene Epoch (2.6 mill – 11,700 YA) fluctuated between episodes of glaciation (or ice ages) and episodes of warming, during which glaciers would retreat. It is within this epoch that modern humans migrated into the European continent at around 45,000 years ago. These Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH) were organized into bands whose subsistence strategy relied on gathering local resources as well as hunting large herd animals as they travelled along their migration routes. Thus these ancient peoples are referred to as Hunter-Gatherers. The timing of the AMH migration into Europe happens to correspond with a warming trend on the European continent, a time when glaciers retreated and large herd animals expanded into newly available grasslands. 

Evidence of hunter-gatherer habitation has been found throughout the European continent from Spain at the La Brana cave to Loschbour, Luxembourg and Motala, Sweden. The individuals found at the Loschbour and Motala sites have mitochondrial U5 or U2 haplogroups, which is typical of Hunter-Gatherers in Europe and Y-chromosome haplogroup I. These findings suggest that these maternally and paternally inherited haplogroups, respectively, were present in the population before farming populations gained dominance in the area. 

Based on the DNA evidence gathered from these three sites, scientists are able to identify surviving genetic similarities between current day Northern European populations and the first AMH Hunter-Gatherers in Europe. The signal of genetic sharing between present-day populations and early Hunter-Gatherers, however, begins to become fainter as one moves further south in Europe. The hunter-gatherer subsistence strategy dominated the landscape of the European continent for thousands of years until populations that relied on farming and animal husbandry migrated into the area during the middle to late Neolithic Era around 8,000–7,000 years ago. 

Metal Age Invader  11%

Following the Neolithic Era (New Stone Age), the Bronze Age (3,000–1,000 BCE) is defined by a further iteration in tool making technology. Improving on the stone tools from the Paleolithic and Neolithic Eras, tool makers of the early Bronze Age relied heavily on the use of copper tools, incorporating other metals such as bronze and tin later in the era. The third major wave of migration into the European continent is comprised of peoples from this Bronze Age; specifically, Nomadic herding cultures from the Eurasian steppes found north of the Black Sea. These migrants were closely related to the people of the Black Sea region known as the Yamnaya. 

This migration of Bronze Age nomads into the temperate regions further west changed culture and life on the European continent in a multitude of ways. Not only did the people of the Yamnaya culture bring their domesticated horses, wheeled vehicles, and metal tools; they are also credited for delivering changes to the social and genetic makeup of the region. By 2,800 BCE, evidence of new Bronze Age cultures, such as the Bell Beaker and Corded Ware, were emerging throughout much of Western and Central Europe. In the East around the Urals, a group referred to as the Sintashta emerged, expanding east of the Caspian Sea bringing with them chariots and trained horses around 4,000 years ago. 

These new cultures formed through admixture between the local European farming cultures and the newly arrived Yamnaya peoples. Research into the influence the Yamnaya culture had on the European continent has also challenged previously held linguistic theories of the origins of Indo-European language. Previous paradigms argued that the Indo-European languages originated from populations from Anatolia; however, present research into the Yamnaya cultures has caused a paradigm shift and linguists now claim the Indo-European languages are rooted with the Yamnaya peoples. 

By the Bronze Age, the Y-chromosome haplogroup R1b was quickly gaining dominance in Western Europe (as we see today) with high frequencies of individuals belonging to the M269 subclade. Ancient DNA evidence supports the hypothesis that the R1b was introduced into mainland Europe by the Bronze Age invaders coming from the Black Sea region. Further DNA evidence suggests that a lactose tolerance originated from the Yamnaya or another closely tied steppe group. Current day populations in Northern Europe typically show a higher frequency of relatedness to Yamnaya populations, as well as earlier populations of Western European Hunter-Gatherer societies.


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After substantial costly DNA testing, Cotton Y (male line) DNA is pure Celt and descends from the Irish O’Byrne Clan, whose origins derive from the King of Leinster, Braen mac Máelmórda, who was King of Leinster from around 1016 until he lost the kingship in 1018 after being blinded by his cousin the King of Dublin Sitric Silkenbeard son of Amlaib. Bran then retired to Cologne, probably to the Benedictine monastery of Great St Martin which was run by Irish monks at the time. The Annals of Ulster record in 1052 that “Braen son of Mael Mórda, king of Laigin, died in Cologne”. After Braen mac Máelmórda was deposed in 1018, Cotton DNA traveled across the Irish Sea to the Wirral Peninsula about the year 1050.

Detailed DNA testing discovered that John Cotton’s surname origins date back to Richard de Cottam, who lived about 1204 in Singleton, Lancashire. Richard was the son of Robert de Singleton, who owned land in the village of Cotham. His son, Richard, changed his surname to conform with where he owned land, i.e. Robert de Singleton and Richard de Cottam. As a result, John Cotton’s surname evolved from Singleton. The diagram below shows the unique haplogroup containing Singleton & Cotton surnames. Members of Family 11 of the Cotton DNA Project include the surnames COTTON, COTTAM, and COTHAM.

Shown below, Cotton DNA belongs to a unique haplotype BY2574 with two Singletons and a Clayton.

Detailed DNA testing discovered that John Cotton’s surname origins date back to Richard de Cottam, who lived about 1204 in Singleton, Lancashire. Richard was the son of Robert de Singleton, who owned land in the village of Cotham. His son, Richard, changed his surname to conform with where he owned land, i.e. Robert de Singleton and Richard de Cottam. As a result, John Cotton’s surname evolved from Singleton. The diagram below shows the unique haplogroup containing Singleton & Cotton surnames. Members of Family 11 of the Cotton DNA Project include the surnames COTTON, COTTAM, and COTHAM.

Shown below, Cotton DNA belongs to a unique haplotype BY2574 with two Singletons and a Clayton.

The Cotton surname has been proven genealogically to Roland Cotton born London, England 1558. Based on the Singleton/Cotton haplogroup, the Cottam surname shows a lineage back to St. Michael on Wyre, Lancashire, England to a Thomas Cottam circa 1740 and a William Cottam born 1779.

Surprisingly, a link between Cottam and the Cotton surnames resulted from the results of my recent Big Y Test and how these results placed in the Big Tree Project. The Cotton DNA Project attempts to bridge genealogical proofs with DNA Test results. Fortunately for Family 11, the Cotton surname genealogical proof has been confirmed by a large number of prestigious lineage and hereditary societies. In addition, the Family DNA Big Y test is the most extensive DNA test available.

Cotton DNA falls in subclade R-DYS435, which is dominated by the Irish clan O’Bryne. Subclade DYS435=12 groups the Cotton line solidly with the Irish Sea or Leinister Modality as the group is dominated by Z16430 and the Irish Clan O’Byrne, as shown below.

The O’Byrne Clan derives from the King of Leinster “Braen mac Máelmórda”, who was deposed in 1018. About 1050, Cotton DNA traveled across the Irish Sea to the Wirral Peninsula. More recent than the Clan Byrne is a unique mutation that now forms its own haplogroup containing, two Singletons and a Cotton (me). Further research seems to indicate that the Singletons took their name from the Lancashire township of Singleton. Later, in the early 12th Century, a Singleton purchased land in the nearby township of Cottam and took the surname “de Cottam”. As a result, it seems that a potential nexus of historical and DNA data exists showing that Cottam and Cotton surnames derive from the Singleton family of Lancashire early in the 13th century.’

“The Lancashire Chartulary, Series XX. Charter No. II (A.D. 1153-1160 Stephen to Henry II) shows the confirmation of William Warren, Count of Mortain, to Ughtred, son of Huck de Singleton, of the village of Broughton in Amounderness. “ A note by the Chetham Society, XXX. Page 5, in their Latin comments about the Charter state, “Broctun, now Broughton, in the parish of Preston, was assessed to Danegeld in 1066 as on teamland, and was a member of Earl Tostig’s great manor of Preston in Amounderness. Hucca or Uck is the Anglo Saxon Hoc, a tribal name retained in the place name “Hucking”. The individual so named in the charter seems to have been the successor of the preconquest thane or drengh of Broughton, and Singleton. He was the ancestor of the Singleton family, which with its various offshoots at one time held estates in Amounderness. Ughtred, son of Huck, is frequently mentioned in charters and other records of the time of Henry II. At Michaelmas, 23 Henry II, 1177, he rendered account at the Treasury of 5 marks to have the King’s confirmation or warranty of land which he held by the gift of Geoffrey de Valoiness…” Based on this charter and the notes of the Chetham Society, the following lineage has been established:

  • Huck (Ecke) de Singleton (born circa 1125)
  • Ughtred (Uctred) de Singleton (born circa 1153)
  • Robert de Singleton (born circa 1180)
  • Richard de Cottam (born circa 1204) Richard, son of Robert, owned land in the village of Cottam and thus changed his surname to conform to the common practice “of being from a place” i.e. Robert de Singleton and Richard de Cottam.  (Pipe Roll, No. 71, m.I.) From the Cockersand Chartulary, it appears that Richard de Cottam was son of Robert, son of Ughtred, who was the brother of Richard de Singleton (1180-1212)⁠
  • Richard de Cottam (son of Richard, born circa 1230) “Writ dated at Westminster, June 10th, 21st year of Edward I (1293), directed to the sheriff of Lancaster and his coroners, reciting the same terms as the previous writ (No. LXXI) the petition of the venerable father R. Bishop of Coventre and Lichfield respecting the lands and chattels of Richard de Cotton, clerk, which had been taken into the King’s hands owing to a charge against the said Richard, of the death of William le pauper, and directing the sherif to make inquiry as to the said Richard’s conversation and reputation….. By the oath of 12 free and liegemen of the neighborhood of Amundernesse, who say that Richard de Cotton is of good and honest conversation and of good report nor was he ever a public or notorious malefactor except for the death of William le Paumere of which he was accused (arectatus) before the Justices in the last eyre at Lancaster, of which he afterwards solely vindicated (expurgavit) his innocence.” 

Singleton, Sam, Singleton Family Association. A History of John Singleton of American Fork, Utah, His Ancestors and Descendants, Spanish Fork, Utah: JMart Publishing Company, 1973.

Cheshire, Record Society of Lancashire and. Record Society for the Publication of Original Documents Relating to Lancashire and Cheshire, 1903.



About 10 years ago, I crafted an eBook titled ‘green’. It was a collection of verses I had written over the past 50 years or so. Over the past 10 years technology and the tools available for crafting eBooks and printed books have greatly improved. And, my skill at using these tools has grown over time.

As a result, I am in the process of re-crafting ‘green’ into a work-in-progress titled: THE INTIMACY OF BEING. Some excerpts follow below. Click on any image to enlarge and view as a ‘slide show;.


The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was jointly awarded on Wednesday to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for the development of a method for genome editing in 2012.

“This year’s prize is about rewriting the code of life,” Goran K. Hansson, the secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, said as he announced the names of the laureates.

Dr. Charpentier and Dr. Doudna discovered the Crispr-Cas 9 tool, a kind of genetic scissors that allows researchers to alter the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision.The 2020 Nobel Prizes ›

Claes Gustafsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry, said, “There is enormous power in this genetic tool, which affects us all. It has not only revolutionized basic science but also resulted in innovative crops and will lead to groundbreaking new medical treatments.”

Both women are featured on the PBS program NOVA.

The 2020 Nobel Prizes

Updated Oct. 6, 2020 from the New York Times


The COVID 19 pan-epidemic is approximately 3 months old, as I pinch myself to see if I am dreaming or not.

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Concurrent to the pandemic outbreak, I moved with my son and his family to a new home more central to downtown Austin, and for the first time since moving to Austin, I began to feel like I was living in Austin. But on May 25th, three days after we moved in, the City of Austin issued a “Stay Home- Work Safe Order” and I have barely been out of the house since.

As I covet solitude, social distancing is welcome. Living in the loving presence of my two grandsons, ages 6 and 3, their parents and my wife is all the company I need. And, having been allotted the ground floor master bedroom (due to my bad knees), I have fashioned a retreat of my own in which to meditate, read, research, and write.

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My main concern is that our daughter works on the ‘frontline’ of the pandemic as an emergency room nurse in Austin and Port Arthur, Texas. Austin is in Travis County, which has had nearly 2,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 58 deaths. Although she is where she wants to be and is totally dedicated to her vocation, I worry that she works too hard and sleeps too little. The need to maintain strict ‘social distancing’ means that we sometimes meet in the driveway to talk as a safe distance.

To my Superhero daughter, Stacy, and all her colleagues in Emergency Rooms and Intensive Care Units around the world, your dedication is admirable, your calling is noble and you are in our hearts and minds daily.

Philosopher, George Santayana, once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” From this, evolved the often quoted, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” SO LEARN, PEOPLE, LEARN!

LEARN! PEOPLE, LEARN! Please, people, learn from history and help all of us survive this thing.