Answer–The English differ from the Irish, Scottish, and Welsh. Merging these peoples under the term British is misleading and historically incorrect.
Stephen Oppenheimer in The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story: The Surprising Roots of the English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2006) consolidates much evidence to support his conclusions. Well-illustrated with maps, pages of them, Oppenheimer shows that geography, trade winds, migration patterns of peoples and names demonstrate the differences that the DNA corroborates.
Movement of people and culture has made strange bedfellows of us all. I picked up the volume (lurking among a recent book donation to my Genealogy Library Center) and spent the rest of the day reading it–all 534 pages of it with footnotes and bibliography and maps and charts and glossary and appendixes and end-notes and new genetic understanding:
the use of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and the mutations which change the descent of the DNA from our original mother down through the daughters in subsequent generations. These mutations give us each a slightly different code from all our relatives. pp.424-5.
This is not recent DNA connections; the DNA described here is millenia back in time. And over the generations provides between 7 and 15 mutations for a “cumulative dossier of our own maternal prehistory.” p. 425.
My head was spinning, when the day was done, with all the implications present in this important study. Oppenheimer is the recognized expert in the use of DNA to track migrations–and this is just one of the books summarizing his view.
Add this title to your study list this Fall if your ancestors come from British Isles–you will be so glad that you did. It is not a beginner’s book; it is not hard to understand however. And you will glimpse the back-story of your British ancestors and why they intermarry with certain ancestors and leave others alone. Your favorite British genealogist, Arlene Eakle.
PS My ancestry is all British Isles–English, Welsh, Scottish, and Isle of Man. And if what I have been told is correct, I have Irish as well. Haven’t found the Irish yet, and I’m not very far back, as proven lineages go.