Y-DNA Test – I am a Viking, OK!

Y-DNA Test – I am a Viking, OK!


When I was 10, my dad found an article in the local paper by an old chap called Arthur Rimmer.  I’ve still got the 1980 original.   Arthur had spent years researching the origin of the Rimmer surname and concluded that we were descended from Vikings who had originally settled in the West Lancashire seaside town of Southport.  As a youngster, the thought of Viking ancestry really grabbed my imagination, so Arthur’s pronouncements were good enough for me.

Years later, great advances in genetic research have shed much light on the origins of our species and its migration patterns over the whole planet.  They also show that old Arthur may not have been too wide of the mark regarding the Rimmers.

Freebie DNA Test

My family history research of the Rimmers had been run aground for a number of years at around 1657 with the birth of my ancestor Nicholas Rimmer, a yeoman farmer near Liverpool.  I had heard about DNA Testing, but it sounded too complicated, too expensive and I wasn’t sure it would help me anyway.  Then a couple of years ago I came across an advert in the local paper asking for volunteers to take part in a project to determine the genetic legacy of the Vikings in northwest England.  It was being run by geneticists at the University of Leicester.  The criteria were that volunteers should be male and have a paternal grandfather born in northwest England.  So far, so good – my Grandad Rimmer was Blackburn born and bred.

The project planned to “exploit the power of the link…between surnames and Y-chromosomal DNA (both of which are passed from father to son)”.  The Rimmer surname was considered to be a ‘Medieval’ sample, because it appeared on an old list of West Lancashire surnames of those “promising to contribute to the stipend of the priest of the altar of Our Lady of Ormskirk, 1366”.  I seemed to be an ideal candidate, and it was free, so I applied.

A few weeks later an envelope came through the post containing a swab kit and instructions.  I swabbed the inside of my cheek to collect the requisite cells for analysis, signed a consent form with my contact details and sent it off.  I was told that the results would be returned to volunteers at the end of the project in around 18 months’ time.  So I carried on with my life.

A year-and-a-half later an e-mail duly arrived out of the blue one Saturday morning.  It contained 2 PDF files.  The first one showed a set of 16 numbers under the heading STR markers and predicted Haplogroup – I2b.  The second sheet showed a brief explanation of what each haplogroup meant.  It explained that Haplogroup R1a is “generally quite rare in Britain except in regions with strong Norse ancestry and often regarded as a signature of Norse Viking ancestry” and that Haplogroup I1 is also “a possible signal of Viking ancestry, since it is found at high frequencies in Scandinavia”.  For my own predicted haplogroup I2b it gave the rather bland assessment, “Contains rarer subgroups of haplogroup I found at lower frequencies in Britain, as well as Central and southern Europe”.

I was a bit crushed.  No mention of Vikings?  Me and Sandra had taken a cruise of the Norwegian fjords the previous summer so that I could visit the old homeland. And I had felt an affinity walking around Bergen and Stavanger, etc.  So how could this be?  It struck me just how deep rooted my perceived tribal identity was, no matter how far back its origin.  But that’s just stupid, right?  Who can say for sure where they originated centuries ago?  Some people can’t even be sure from whom they originated one generation ago – “It is a wise child who knows its own father” as Homer (not Simpson) put it.  Anyway, the subject definitely warranted further investigation.

I wanted a second opinion on haplogroup I2b. I found a link for Ethnoancestry, a commercial genetic genealogy company.  It said:  “Haplogroup I2b appears to have originated near modern day Germany, where it reaches it peak frequency. I2b is found spread across a broad area of NW Europe including the British Isles, where it has been brought by numerous historical migrations”.

German? Well, I felt more of an affinity here.  I had studied German at school and with the Open University, preferring it over French, and had enjoyed a number of visits there. Also, Germany and Denmark share a border, so a Viking connection may still be on the cards.  I felt a bit more heartened.

Next I registered with DNA-Forums and introduced myself and my results.  There were some very bright contributors on there who were very well up on genetics and the history of Bronze and Iron Age tribes.  A flurry of posts began, debating whether my origins pointed to Viking, Celt, Pict, Angle, Jute or Saxon.  It all seemed a bit abstract, but a consensus emerged that Viking ancestry could not be ruled out.  The final post also strongly suggested that I get tested by Family Tree DNA.

A bit of shopping around showed me that Family Tree DNA (or FTDNA) was the market leader in genetic genealogy.  Their products page had an array of tests for both males and females, ranging from a test to see if a man has ‘the Warrior Gene’ (apparently men with this gene are more likely to be risk-taking, aggressive and competitive than those without it) to a ‘Comprehensive Genome’ test.  What the hell did it all mean?  I had dropped biology at school because I couldn’t handle cutting up frogs.  So time for a dummy’s crash course in genetics (as it relates to the male line).

The Science Bit

We all carry DNA in our cells; fathers provide the Y-chromosome, mothers provide the X-chromosome. The Y-chromosome is passed down from father to son, unchanged, generation after generation. A rare event may occur at conception: a mutation – a random, naturally occurring change at some point on the Y-chromosome, which the son will pass down to his sons, and so on. These very rare mutations act as signposts. They can be detected by lab testing and traced through male generations for thousands of years. By reasoning out when and where a marker first occurred they can clarify prehistoric human migrations. The theory is that the founder’s descendants are bunched more densely near the original location of the founder and then thin out as they disperse over time, so they give a rough idea of a lineage’s migrations and how the small tribes of our species grew, diversified and then spread around the world.

Lab analysis of the Y-chromosome results in a series of numbers – these are repeat counts against DNA Y-chromosome Segments (or DYS for short). The repeats at each DYS marker are known as alleles. The number of alleles against each DYS can tell their own story of a man’s origins, but taken as a whole they can give a pretty good indication of what his haplogroup is.

A haplogroup is a particular gene group and is assigned a letter for ease of reference.  Each haplogroup can be further divided into subclades, which are also referenced by letters and numbers.  New subclades are being discovered all the time as more and more people are being tested, so naming conventions can shift fairly rapidly.  Each haplogroup can be thought of as the ancient ‘tribe’ or ethnic group to which our ancestors belonged.  When we know our haplogroup and its subclades, we can guess roughly when and where our ‘tribe’ migrated throughout its history.

Paying for a DNA Test

What the University of Leicester had given me as a freebie was a test against 16 of my DYS markers.  From this they had predicted my haplogroup as I2b.  What I needed from FTDNA was a test of more of my DYS markers to pull that prediction into sharper focus.  The maximum available was a 67 marker test.  My 40th birthday was coming up so I thought ‘what the hell – I’m worth it’ and ordered it.

Within a couple of weeks, the testing kit had arrived from the US.  Again, I took cheek swabs (FTDNA asks for 3 samples as a belt and braces approach) and sent them off by post.  On ordering my test, I had been given my unique customer username and password to log on to my personal page on the FTDNA site.  From here I could track the progress of the test, which took around 6 weeks for all 67 markers.

When the test was complete, my DYS markers were available on my personal page.  I was also notified of near genetic matches with other customers.  This included probabilities of sharing a common ancestor, as well as the opportunity to get in touch by e-mail (which I did).  I had the opportunity to join the many project groups that had been set up on the site.  Naturally I went for the Viking Project, which listed the names, originating countries and DYS markers of those who think they may have Old Danish or Norse blood in their veins.

There was a link to Ysearch, the world’s largest database of Y-DNA data, which FTDNA offers as a free public service to allow those that have tested with different companies to compare their results and get in touch.  Other features include a tool to calculate how closely people are related genetically and the ability to upload family trees (in the form of GEDCOM files).

DNA Results – Making Sense of Them

The important job was to make sense of my markers.  FTDNA confirmed that I was in Haplogroup I and offered me a Deep Clade test, at a cost, to refine that further.  This is useful for those with more uncommon results, but with 67 marker scores I reckoned I could find out my haplogroup with a good degree of accuracy for free.  I found Jim Cullen’s World Haplogroup & Haplo-I Subclade Predictor, which works on an algorithm based on the research of acclaimed Haplogroup I guru, Ken Nordtvedt (now there’s an excellent Viking-sounding name!).  You feed your marker scores in, and your predicted Haplogroup is churned out.  It was almost right.  It predicted me as being in Haplogroup I2b1.  When I applied to join the I2b1 project on FTDNA, the eagle-eyed project leader spotted anomalies in some of marker scores and e-mailed me to see that she had referred my results to the resident Haplogroup I expert (for the Y-DNA geeks amongst you the anomalies where the values of 10 & 12 at DYS 455 & DYS 454 and 19, 19 at YCA II a & b).  In fact, I was unmistakably in the less common Haplogroup I2b2.

I2b2 is a very rare subclade of Haplogroup I and was only discovered in May 2005.  It is purely European.  There is still much to discover about it, but its story is being advanced by gifted hobbyists such as Hans de Beule who has published a number of articles on the wanderings of I2b2 people.  Haplogroup I was one of the earliest groups to settle on the continent around 40,000 years ago.  Today I2b2 is thinly spread over Europe but its frequency is highest in the Upper Rhine region of Germany, making it a likely point of origin around 6-7,000 years ago.  Given its subsequent spread across Europe over the millenia, it is entirely possible that I2b2 people moved northwards into Denmark and possibly southern Norway to eventually become Vikings.  Certainly, there were complex movements of peoples all over the Continent over this period, complicating the DNA picture considerably

The History Bit

Viking raids on the east coast of England in 793 AD gradually led to their control of the northern and eastern counties, where they settled.  The Viking Kingdom of York extended over modern Yorkshire. Viking raids on Ireland in 795 AD eventually led to their settlement of Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Wexford.  The influence of the Viking Kingdom of Dublin extended across the Irish Sea into modern Lancashire.  At various points in this period the Irish were able to drive the Vikings out, leading to Scandinavian immigration into Lancashire, particularly the coastal areas south of the River Ribble (which was part of the Viking trade route between Dublin and York), and including the villages of North Meols (which later became modern day Southport).

An excellent article by Clare Downham on the anachronistic national labelling of the Vikings as either ‘Norwegian’ or ‘Dane’ argues that this is over-simplistic and would not have concerned the Vikings themselves; Viking warbands comprised a diverse range of people and were not uniformly from just one part of Scandinavia.  Maps of Viking Age Britain have the Pennines as a buffer between the ‘Norwegian’ Kingdom of Dublin and the ‘Danish’ Kingdom of York, like the one below from the highly recommended MacDonnell of Leinster site:

The over-simplistic way in which Viking place-names have been interpreted is evident in such maps  showing eastern and western Scandinavian settlements in different colours as if Norwegian and Danish populations lived in geographically separated zones; this was not a Viking Age reality.

Scandinavian communities in northern England and Ireland merged with the local populations, as evidenced by the modern connection between Danish and German I2b2 samples with northern English and Irish ones, suggesting that some I2b2s mingled with north German and Scandinavian populations and migrated to England and Ireland as Vikings.  The impact on culture and language of this Anglo-Scandinavian assimilation in northern England is still felt to this day, particularly in the distinctive dialects of English spoken in the north, which can still be unintelligible to people from the south!

The Grimrs

My preferred theory for the origins of the Rimmers in Lancashire is migration and settlement with the Vikings, as part of a population that had earlier moved northwards from the I2b2 heartlands in northern Germany to Denmark.  This map, courtesy of Worldnames showing the modern distribution of people with the surname Rimmer in northwest Europe supports this.

It shows an unusually high concentration in west Lancashire, as well as a moderate frequency in Denmark (and a very low frequency in Norway and Sweden). A prehistoric origin, or an Anglo-Saxon origin, would explain a more uniform frequency of I2b2s from the continent across the length and breadth of England, but does less to explain the later presence of a high concentration of people with a common surname in such a localised area.

Where does the Rimmer surname come from? The old Scandinavian personal name Grimr probably signified the Norse god Odin and was given to male children to encourage the god’s protection; with a silent ‘g’ it may be the origin of Rymer/Rimer/Rimmer, as well as other surnames common in Lancashire such as Grimshaw, and in Ireland such as Grimes. It also occurs in placenames in Lancashire, such as Grimsargh (“Grimr’s hill pasture”) and Yorkshire/Lincolnshire, such as Grimsby (“Grimr’s farm”).

The Rimmers may either have originally settled in Viking York and gradually moved westwards to the Lancashire coast, or settled in Viking Dublin and arrived abruptly on the Lancashire coast following expulsion in the early 10th century. The latter course seems more likely given the very high frequency of Rimmers in west Lancashire, centred on the ancient parish of North Meols (recorded in 1086 as Otegrimele or “Ote Grimr’s Sandbank”) in modern day Southport. There was relatively little population mobility in medieval times, so surname distribution would have changed little. Anglo-Scandinavian culture and naming practices were still strong in Lancashire when true surnames began to be widely established from the 12th century; there is evidence of Anglo-Scandinavian naming customs surviving in Lancashire parish records well into the 17th century.

Rimmer DNA Evidence

Links between haplogroups and surnames can be imprecise due to hidden paternity and adoptions at some point in a family’s history. However, a match of DNA markers within the I2b2 haplogroup, a common Rimmer surname match, plus a link to a common geographic location within the last 1,000 years can support my theory.

My close male relatives will have the same or near identical markers and biologically unrelated people will typically have quite different ones. By using average marker mutation rates it is possible to compare two profiles and back-calculate how long ago their most recent common ancestor lived.

The table below shows a selection of Y-chromosome results posted by members of the public on DNA databases such as Ysearch and DNA Reunion. The numbers across the top row represent the DYS markers, the numbers beneath them represent the repeats or alleles. The values of 10 & 12 at DYS 455 & DYS 454 and 19, 19 at YCA II a & b signify Haplotype I2b2; the 7 individual samples below are, therefore, all I2b2 males.

Rimmer DNA

1.   The row of values in red are mine; if you are related to me through the direct male line within the last 6 generations, they will be yours also.

2.   These values belong to a closely matched individual with the surname Rimmer whose immediate ancestors were living in Southport 100 years ago.  It is estimated that our most common recent ancestor (MRCA) goes back 22 generations, or (with an average of 25 years per generation) 550 years. This means that our MRCA was most probably living in or near the old parish of North Meols around the mid 1400s, so at some point in the 200 years between this MRCA and my first traceable ancestor, Nicholas Rimmer (1657-1717), the Rimmers gradually moved south from North Meols to Liverpool; the towns en route: Ormskirk, Formby and Crosby all have Scandinavian origins and sizeable populations of Rimmers.

3.   These values belong to a more distantly matched individual with the surname Rimmer who was born and still lives in Southport, as did all of his traceable ancestors.  It is estimated that our MRCA could go back as many as 50 generations, or over 1,200 years. Applying a sensible margin of error of a couple hundred years either side of this, this means that our MRCA may have been resident in the ancient district of Otegrimele, or may even have helped to found it as a refugee from Viking Dublin.

4 & 5.   These values belong to 2 separate individuals in the USA with the surname Raymoure. They have not been able to trace back further than their common ancestor Thomas Raymor who married in Massachusetts in 1758. Our MRCA is estimated at 16 generations, or 400 years. Raymor is probably a corruption of Rimmer (or Rymor as it was often spelt in 16th and 17th century Lancashire parish registers).  American genealogists have found such surname corruption was very common, particularly amongst the very early migrants to the USA.  It is not difficult to imagine an I2b2 Rimmer in the 18th century making the short trip to Liverpool to board a ship to emigrate to the New World, and Massachusetts was a very popular area of settlement for subsequent generations of Lancashire folk.

6.   These values belong to an individual in the USA with the surname Grimes. Our match is too distant to be useful in identifying a common link to a particular place, but nonetheless it is a I2b2 sample and we probably shared a common ancestor within the last 2,000 to 1,500 years. Grimes is a common surname in Ireland and in Lancashire, but it is ultimately of Scandinavian pre 7th century (i.e. pre-Viking age) origins and also probably derives from the personal name Grimr.

Is DNA Testing a Scam?

Genetic genealogy is still a very new science and much remains to be discovered.   Y-DNA testing has been criticised for giving ‘hyped promises’ about precisely what it can reveal about an individual’s ancestry, where they lived and which ‘tribes’ they belonged to.  It is true that Y-DNA testing concentrates on only a very narrow part of an indicidual’s ancestral origins, that is the direct male line.  I disagree, however, that this makes it a ‘vanity project’ of little value to family historians.  I have hopefully shown that it can be extremely useful for those with a specific goal in mind, e.g. finding out the origins of your surname.  On the face of it Y-DNA testing, will indeed just provide you with a set of numbers.  But those numbers can set the starting gun on some fascinating self-motivated research and the chance to make contact with like-minded (distant) relatives, which is the fun part of family history research.  I’ve certainly learned more about basic anthroplogy, prehistoric, ancient and medieval social history in the past few months than I have throughout my schooling – so much so that I have been compelled to write another post on the 60,000 year story of my male ancestors’ journey from the Rift Valley to Lancashire.

If I ruled the world, DNA tests would be compulsory at birth.  But I don’t, so all I can do is urge anyone with an interest in their male line origins to take a Y-DNA test – we need reinforcements!  With a worldwide Y-DNA database large enough and diverse enough to properly identify different populations, we may one day be able to determine with much greater clarity just how we are related to distant ancestors, and when and where they lived.

In the meantime, I will continue to trawl the existing DNA databases to prove that I am a Viking and that old Arthur was right.  Whatever happens, in this day and age it’s what you feel yourself to be that counts!


Further Reading:



  1. United Kingdom Hi Lee,

    I don’t think Viking ancestry is very likely for a I2b2 (although the possibility can not ruled out altogether).

    My latest finds (that,if all goes well, will be published this weekend at http://rjgg.molgen.org/index.php/RJGG )rather point to bronze age, iron age or Norman migrations to explain the presence of I2b2 on the British Isles.

    Ps: did you already become member of the FTDNA I-L38 (I2b2) project ? http://www.familytre…b2/default.aspx



  2. United Kingdom Thanks Hans

    I will look forward to your latest findings with great interest.

    Although I2b2 isn’t synonymous with the Vikings, I was hoping to present a case which perhaps makes my Rimmer I2b2s a rare exception. The basis of this is the very highly localised point of origin of our surname on the west coast of Lancashire, in an area close to the Ribble estuary which saw a high level of Scandinavian settlement – the course of the River Ribble was a trading thoroughfare between the Viking kingdoms of Dublin and York (the Cuerdale Hoard comprising coins, English and Carolingian jewellery, hacksilver and ingots – the largest Viking silver hoard ever found in W Europe – was discovered in South Ribble, Lancashire). Also, the I2b2 match between 2 other people with the surname Rimmer with likely MRCAs at 600 years and c.1000 years respectively.

    I ruled out an earlier migration because of this high degree of localisation of the surname, and ruled out a Norman migration because I’m not aware of the Rimmers ever being of the Lancashire landowning class! Their likeliest point of origin in Lancashire was the village of ‘Otegrimele’ (or Ote Grimr’s sandbank in Old Norse) recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 – this became North Meols, now a district of modern day Southport.

    PS – yes, I am registered with the FTDNA I2b2 project. My 67 marker results are also on Y-Search – 84VED.



  3. United Kingdom Hi Lee,

    1. Do you know where exactly Nicholas Rimmer lived? Liverpool? In my network runs I only include samples that can be tied to a known historic location of origin.

    2. I’ll include your STR values in a next network run => so you have an indea which I2b2 samples are related

    3. What do you think of these explanations of the name Rimmer http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Rimer , http://www.houseofna…er-family-crest

    Ps: the World Family names site is an interesting tool: http://worldnames.pu…r.org/Main.aspx



  4. United Kingdom Hello Hans

    1. Nicholas Rimmer/Rimer (c1657-1717) lived in the small hamlet of Allerton, which is now a district of Liverpool. I’m not sure he was actually born there. The map of Lancashire in my post Rift Valley to Ribble Valley in 60,000 Years traces the recorded and presumed route of my male Rimmer ancestors from 900 AD.

    2. Thank you, I would be fascinated to see that. I know there is a general shortage of I2b2 samples, which makes migration plotting difficult for us.

    3. I don’t buy in at all to the explaination of my surname Rimmer being an occupational derivitive of a ‘rhymer’, or a poet. Why would a poet, or poets cluster in an obscure West Lancashire coastal village? I explain a more likely origin of the surname in my post.



  5. United Kingdom Hi Lee,

    Just ran the network program with your str values integrated.
    Send me an email and I’ll you send the bitmap as attachment.

    What I will send you is a detail of the network branch to which your haplotype is attached. The entire network will be published soon in the RJGG article => this way you can position your haplotype in the published network.

    Seems your sample is nearest to a Danish one (4 mutations in between them, which means 2 mutations to the common ancestor of both haplotypes). The average mutation speed of the used 16 markers is 1 mutation every 27 generations. Thus; distance to the common ancestor is 54 generations (*30 years per generation) = 1620 years ago = in the 4th century.

    Interesting case,


  6. United Kingdom Hans

    Very many thanks for coming back to me with this result. A Danish match is a ‘Eureka moment’ for supoorting my case for probable Viking ancestry and may be of interest to other as yet untested I2b2s in Lancashire and Yorkshire. Most grateful for your attachments and the time you have taken to consider my case.

    Kind Regards


  7. United Kingdom Hi Lee,

    Attached you find a detail of a network run with your STR data included. It is a detail of exactly the same network as will be published soon in the RJGG (they’ll publish one of these days – as soon as their technical editor is back from a business trip).

    Your sample has the code “RIM”.

    When you compare the attachment to the published network you’ll notice that the layout of the extra network is a bit different – this is normal since I lay-outed the network in the Fluxus software (to make it more accessable).

    RIM STR data



  8. United Kingdom Hi Lee

    I just stumbled across this article as I have an interest in my own DNA too. I recently did a dna test with Oxford Ancestors, and was pretty suprised with the results. I did the paternal test and the results said I was of celtic origins. This was a bit of a shock to myself and my family as we always assumed German/Danish origins due to the fact that my father’s side is mostly from these two places. I still am learning about genetics but was wondering if there was any light you could shed on this from what you have learnt so far?

    My results were:
    19 – 15
    388 -12
    390 -24
    391 – 13
    393- 13
    389i – 10
    389ii -17
    425 – 12
    426 -12
    385a- 11
    385b -15
    437 – 15
    438 -12
    439 -12

    Is there anything you can discern from this? I spoke to someone who did not favour Oxford Ancestors, and said that with these fewer markers it is not enough evidence to say that the paternal side is entirely Celtic, and that more tests should be done.

    Any help or information would be very appreciated.


    • United Kingdom Hi Rich

      Thanks for posting.

      It seems likely that you are haplogroup R1b, which is the most common in Western Europe. The Celtic suggestion may have come from the fact that over 80% of the population in Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, western Wales, the Atlantic fringe of France and the Basque country is R1b. However, there are so many other hotspots all over Europe – parts of Russia, Central and South Asia, as well as the Atlantic and North Sea coasts of Europe (which may align with your assumption of German/Danish origins) – that you cannot rule out any connections. More markers and a deep clade test would tell you much more, if you have the money.

      I can’t speak for Oxford Ancestors, but I chose FTDNA because they are probably now the market leader and have more samples for comparison – but you can still register with their public database – http://www.ysearch.org/ – for free to see how your results match up with others. Also, if you register with http://dna-forums.org/ and post on the R Haplogroup Y-DNA board, there are some big brains there who will give you a good steer.

      Does your surname origins give you any clues?


    • Australia Britons fought in the Roman Army all over Europe and North Africa, Alfred the Greats ancestors were ancient Britons the first Kings of Britain and Ireland were Britons (Stuarts) most of the so-called Vikings of Britain were actually pagan British. There is more female Scandinavian DNA in Britain than male, probably slave women ( the term from the Latin) remember The DNA of the Pharaohs is DYS 390-24 which means Moses was probably related to most Britons. I would much rather be descended from the Setantii sea faring race of Lancashire than Scandinavian offshoots of the German and Slavs the term Celt was only coined 200yrs ago by Hubert to describe a style like the seax knife sword . The correct term for most Britons is Atlanteans.

  9. United Kingdom Hi Lee

    Thanks for replying.

    I would love to do further tests but don’t have the money at the moment. I think further investigation is necessary. I did a database search before and the closest match was with someone in South-West Germany.

    My surname is of Old-German/Anglo-Saxon origins.

    One thing that does confuse me is the 24 at dys 390, I have read that that is a celtic marker, and that 23 is usually a Germanic pointer in R1b. Are there any other markers that suggest either a Celtic or Germanic sway that I should look out for?

    Thanks again

  10. United Kingdom Hi Lee I read your pages I was very interested as of the D.N.A.I don’t know where you dad was born but most Rimmer,s can trace back their origins back to west lancs between River Alt & Ribble & over 50% tested were from that area. I was born in Formby 1934, as was my 3 brothers & 1 sister,also my dad Edward Rimmer in 1901 he had 3 brothers & 4 sisters at least My granddad William Rimmer 1863 & was the Head Greenkeeper at Formby Golf Club, as was my dad at Freshfield G C later to become a fighter airodrome Woodvale.
    I have always been aware I was born in a Viking settlement RIMMER has always been a prominent name in this area not all blood related (Rim of Mere? )
    I have been led to believe that the Vikings that landed at Fresh field /Formby were chased out of Ireland ( Dublin) by the Monks so they landed west Lancs& I..O..Man They didn’t rape & pillage because no one was living there so they settled built crofts. Fished, farmed and lived. When the Vikings landed there was no Liverpool docks 20miles away (Forbi) Formby was straight across from Ireland . It was not until 1800s when the rail line was layed from L,pool to Southport nd all the wealthy people moved in & built big houses Golf Course,s etc
    If you want to read about my childhood in Formby read–My Formby ISBN 0 9512278 23 & Formby Remembered ISBN 0 9512278 31. By Joan Rimmer
    I left Formby to sail the seas M.N. I left but my heart did not.

    All the best Ted Rimmer

    • United Kingdom Ted

      Many thanks for some very interesting comments – I will certainly look up your book recommendations. Do you still live in Formby or did you settle elsewhere after you left the Merchant Navy? Also, would you ever get your DNA tested?

      Cheers Lee

  11. United Kingdom Hello again Lee thanks for your reply I left Formby in 1950 first to go to Sea training ship “Vindecatrix” then I was sent to London from there I was sent to Antwerp to join a old WWII cargo boat. 23 months later after tramping around the world we arrived home only two of us did the whole trip the Captain & me It certainly educated me & I never regretted it. During that time my family had moved ( My parents did tell me ) My dad got a job as head Greenkeeper at Leasowe Golf Club. I did a couple of trips out of Liverpool I didn’t like living on the Wirral to much I had a few friends Formby was to far to travel. Then I was sent to Southampton and joined the Cunard liner in the Kitchen
    RMS Queen Mary, 2yrs I was on there for the Queens Coronation when all the ships gathered in the Solent for the Spithead review. From there more cunarders Saxonia, Ascania, Saxonia from there in New York I transferred to the Rms Mauretania 1956 cruising around Caribbean with very rich Americans, I’m sure at the time we were the only British ship cruising ,but one thing is for sure it was the best we had a great time we loved going ashore in all the ports especially Havana Cuba we were in there the day Castro took over no shore leave he spoilt or fun!! it was a happy ship and that contributed to me staying in this area I had lots of good friends all from the Southampton area and we stayed friends for years by this time my Dad had semi-retired so he moved to Farnham Surrey to work with one of my brothers who was a head green keeper also. Not to far to visit Mum &Dad . I live in Milford-on-Sea New Forest I stayed at sea until 1977 more ships Sylvania,Carinthia, Ivernia, Queen Elizabeth, Quueen of Bermuda, Caronia, cape town Castle, Pendennis Castle Windsor Castle, Reina del Mar. When I got married in 1965 I did a season on Thoroson Car Ferries to France under Norwegian Flag “VIKING 1-2-3-4 ”that was before they amalgamated with Townsend. I did make it to Head Chef!

    (“What was the question again oh when did I leave Formby oh”)
    Regarding D.N,A I don’t know how much the cost would be, kind regards Ted

    • United Kingdom Ted

      Fascinating stuff! You can read about my grandad’s navy exploits elsewhere on this site (Blackburn Brothers Missing at Sea) – I went for the relative domestic stability of the RAF myself. The New Forest is a lovely place to live. We will settle in the Ribble Valley when I retire, but the New Forest would come a close second – Sandra would love to be so close to Southampton for the cruises (when we can afford them!)


  12. United States This was a very interesting report. I have been searching for the orgins of my family ,the dna for our Hamilton line does not match any others. It appears to be older than the other Hamilton groups in Scotland. I also have some very tall relitives and grand fathers.I am doing reasearch on my Smock / Smack family who lived in the Gelder Land area also.
    Even my son is interested in history now. He would make any viking father proud. He’s 6’1 has long armes and big feet.He is only 15.
    Your plublished work helps novis researchers like my self .
    Thank you


  13. United Kingdom After reading these comments I am still unsure who is best to test my origins from my DNA. Can anyone help?

  14. United Kingdom There are many DNA Ancestry testing companies on the market, but the main ones are: Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, Oxford Ancestors, BritainsDNA (formerly EthnoAncestry), and Genebase. Any one of these could probably give you what you’re looking for – but I would say that Family Tree DNA and 23andMe are the market leaders with the best range of services.

    23andMe probably offers the most comprehensive testing and tends to be favoured by the more professional genetic genealogists, but they are expensive.

    I went with Family Tree DNA because it seemed the best option for a beginner. The prices and range of tests on offer are good, and you get your own ‘myFTDNA’ web page, which shows any other people (relatives!) who match your DNA markers. They also run a wide range projects for groups who share your haplogroup and ethinic origin. As you learn more, you can order other tests from their range using your original sample. The overall costs of course add up, but you can pick and chose those that interest you.

    I’d better warn you that I am an affiliate for Family Tree DNA, hence the advertising links on my site. However, I wouldn’t advertise them if I didn’t think they were the best and I didn’t use them myself.

    Google each company and see which one you feel most comfortable with – there are also reviews on various DNA forums (but these can sometimes leave you feeling more bewildered!).

    Cheers and good luck

  15. United Kingdom I am a Graham and assumed my DNA test would come back with a haplogroup of J1 when in fact it is I2b2 and my genetic origins are Saxon! I appears a Graham female had a DNA injection possibly around the mid 1500’s to early 1600’s and her resulting son took the Graham name. This is at the time when James I of Scotland banished the Graham family from the Debateable lands of the Scottish borders blaming us for all it’s woes. Something hardly documented in mainstream history for some reason?

  16. United Kingdom Hello Lee
    I was curious about my family name, Rimmer too, and I also doubted the Rhymer occupational name. I’ve pondered on the name and also had DNA tests.
    On attending a steel production course at Warrington I learned Rimmed steel is the name for ingot cast steel which was the usual method before the current continually cast steel method.
    I was struck by the similarity of the names Lorimer, and Reiner. These relate to horse reins and the metal parts of horse reins. Of course these metal parts are wrought iron produced by stretching ingots or sponges of smelted iron. ‘Lor’ is to pull, as in lorry. Irish for field is réimse.

    The german river Rhine has an etymology common with ‘run’ and means ‘to flow’.
    Maybe the Lorimer pulls iron and the Rimmer pours or casts iron.

    My BritainsDNA result was G-S314 Ancient Caucasian, subtype G-S317.

    This sub-type, G-S317 is listed against an alternative classification,
    G2a1c2a1b L497. S317. L353_1
    at the following website http://www.isogg.org/tree/ISOGG_HapgrpG.html .

    According to
    L497 is considered probably Etruscan. The Etruscans became Roman Army Auxilia Corps, and had with links to Raetia, Switzerland and southern Germany.
    Raetia was desired by Rome because of its production of the strongest known steel swords.
    Etruscans traded tin, and controlled the supply of tin from Cornwall into the Mediteranean.
    The Etruscan island of Elba near Corsica was a big iron producer around 500BC.
    Etruscans were perhaps descended from Trojan survivors of the Greek Trojan war. Cattle DNA tests show Tuscan (Etruscan) cattle came from north west Turkey. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Peoples#cite_note-52 Trojan hypothesis
    So my hypothesis is becoming the idea that the Rimmers were in the metal trade, swords and ploughs and survived till now by escaping danger by having valuable links along the trade routes.

    • United Kingdom Hi David
      Interesting thoughts. Generations of my Rimmers were iron moulders, so there could be something in it.

  17. United Kingdom Alternatively maybe Rimmer was Rhimmer, Himmer, & Cimmer.

    Later Cimmerian remnant groups may have spread as far as to the Nordic Countries and the Rhine River. An example is the Cimbri tribe, considered to be a Germanic tribe hailing from the Himmerland (Old Danish Himber sysæl) region in northern Denmark.

  18. United Kingdom Lee
    My brother had similar issues believing that we would find Viking paternal yDNA.
    I2b2* was discovered which I now believe is renamed.
    ysearch 4VY56
    traced back to Caithness, Scotland late 1600s Surname MORE and variants. Tricia

  19. United States Amazing reading. I am Kimalia Coldiron from North Carolina. Grandparents from the British Isles. I too was led to believe that I originated from Viking Ancestry. My last name is present in the church of England, my family has been traced back to the 100 year war where 12 Coldiron Viking men fought together and were granted landed by William of Normandy. I am very interested in the genetic testing for reasons of both heritage and health issues. I was also led to believe my name was an episis for Kipling’s poem COLD IRON. Additionally the name Rimmer was listed in some of my Great Great Grand Father’s writings and studies. I’m very curious. Not sure where to start my journey?

  20. Canada Hi
    I am from Canada but I was born in Bulgaria and I have the same haplogroupe I2b2.My grandfather comes from a village in Macedonia. I had interesting meeting with a lady who told me that my father originated from swedish tribe called Gothy. He really was tall and blond we were thinking that he is a slave, but we always knew that he is not like the Russians or the Pols nether Bulgarian. That’s how my genetic research started. Apparently not all goths left the Balkans. So think about the Goths they are Vikings too.


  21. United States My 23&Me test came in as ‘I2b2’. FTDNA test after extensive testing came in as ‘I-M170’. From those results the FTDNA results were derived from uploading 23&Me raw data. I would assume that 23&Me do a more advanced test, however I read that 23&Me’s test is somewhat outdated, which in turn leaves me rather perplexed. My FT research sofar reveals that my Paternal ancestry dates back to 14th century central Scotland and my Maternal ancestry ‘T2’ dates back to the 14th century Scottish Highlands. The above story tends to provide some explanation.

  22. United States If anyone is interested, the Surname Goolsby and the variant is on Viking Ancestry. Goulceby England is in Lincolnshire England and was a Viking Village (part of the Viking Way). Recent DNA test of a Goolsby showed a match to Swedish (Scandinavian).

  23. United States Echoing previous comments. My family surname is Bellew (spelling changed circa 1900), and I have confirmed Norman lineage. My oldest known ancestor was a Marshal with William the Conqueror in 1066, after which the family was awarded lands in Wales, Yorkshire and later Ireland. There are several Bellew connected castles in Ireland.


  24. United Kingdom I have been going to this for so long, my gran used to tell me such interesting stories, one about the berbers and that there was a Spanish connection as with the berbers

  25. Australia Hello. My children (now in their 40s) have Rimmer ancestors in Australia. William Rimmer came to Australia about 1848/9. DNA samples from my boys would be of no use to you as they are three generations removed from the male line. William left no useful information behind him except that he was born in Lancashire. Grrr.
    Found your information most interesting.

  26. United Kingdom My family originated from Aughton and Ormskirk, over the the last 200 yrs, the Hardings and Rimmers have inter-married several times. The story from my Rimmer family is that the name originated from the Spanish Armada, when one of the Spanish ships being shipwrecked of Southport. Some of the crew swarm ashore and settled in the Southport area. Rimmer,Rymmer,Remmer or Rhymer was a sailor who made the blocks for the rigging.

  27. United States Having just received my DNA testing results from Ancestry.com, I was delighted to find this post to help me bore down more via further testing. I’ve only been able to trace my Rimmer ancestors to the early 1800’s but they all lived in the Southport area (my grandfather emigrated to the US in 1905). So I was surprised by my Ancestry results which showed 18% Irish. I’m interpreting this result as support for your theory of the Vikings arriving in the area from Ireland.

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