Leicester University Genetics Department has a world-wide reputation for research into DNA, in particular into the characteristics of the Y chromosome, which is inherited from father to son down the ages.
The Y chromosome can be divided into a number of different groups, known as haplogroups, each of which indicate a different origin for people re-populating the British Isles after the last Ice Age and through historical times and indeed right up until today.
Leicester University has recently (2009) had published the results of an investigation into the closeness of the relationship of peoples’ different surnames with the different categories of Y chromosome, using a sample of 40 different surnames (Founders, Drift, and Infidelity: The Relationship between Y Chromosome Diversity and Patrilineal Surnames by Turi E. King and Mark A. Jobling in Molecular Biology and Evolution, online at http://www.mbe.oxfordjournals.org/.).
One of the names investigated was Winstone and its variants Winston etc. 85% of the Winston(e)s in the sample were found either into haplogroup I (46%) or R1b1 (39%), broadly indicating either a NW European origin or a SW European origin before arriving in Britain.
As you may know there are 3 main groups of Winston(e)s in Britain originating in South Wales (Trewin, Monmouthshire), Gloucestershire (Winstone or Winson) and County Durham (Winston), plus a few others in Suffolk and Devon. Interestingly, in the 16th century a number of Trewin Winston(e)s settled in Gloucestershire along the Western edge of the Cotswolds and no doubt penetrated the Stroud Valley, some descendants moving later into Bristol and Somerset. Conversely in the 19th century a number of Gloucestershire Winston(e)s no doubt moved into South Wales in search of employment.
Reece Winstone’s family are Gloucestershire Winston(e)s who were asked to participate in the Leicester University Research survey. We lived in the parish of Bisley from the 16th century until the 20th century and our Y chromosomes were found to be part of haplogroup I. We would be fascinated to learn whether we are descended from the 16th century Welsh incomers or perhaps more likely from the original, probably Anglo-Saxon, immigrants into Gloucestershire in the 5th or 6th centuries.
If you are, or believe you are, of Welsh (Trewin) origin, and know or can ascertain your Y chromosome haplogroup, it would be very interesting to hear from you so that we can see what haplogroup the Welsh Winston(e)s fall into. If you are haplogoup I, the Welsh Winstones may be of Norman origin or even descend possibly from a small minority of neolithic settlers from NW Europe apparently found in Mid Wales.
For completeness a Cirencester Winstone’s DNA, the other main group of Gloucestershire Winstones, would add more to the knowledge of this surname heredity. DNA can be taken easily enough by a cotton bud from a test kit in the mouth, and sent to a lab. for analysis. Laboratories participating in the DNA Ancestry Project currently charge about £99 for detailed analysis.