How many of us have seen stories about the purported origin of our family surname? Until now, I never thought about DNA perhaps holding the answer to whether these origin stories might be accurate – but in the case of Campbell, it seems DNA might provide a clue if not an answer.
Ron, on my blog, posted the following query:
“There was a story about Campbells I read in Reader’s Digest probably 40 years ago. They said a Medieval family named Fairfield fell out of favor with English royalty. Many fled the country and translated their name to the native language. Those who went to France became “Beau Champ” while those who fled to Italy became “Campo Bello”, each meaning “Fair Field.”
Some years later they were allowed back home where they Anglicized their names. Beau Champs became “Beachams” and Campo Bellos became Campbells. Now the Fairfields, the Beau Champs, the Campo Bellos, the Beachams, and the Campbells are all related. Hmmm. I wonder if that story is true?”
I had seen these stories myself, years ago, but I had entirely forgotten about them. Thanks Ron, for jogging my memory.
From this oral history, it looks like Campbell should also match these or similar surnames:
- Campo Bellos
The first thing I’ll do is to check my own family lines of Y DNA. My Campbell lines match that of the Campbell clan from Inverary, so if this is a true story, the Inverary line should match at least some of these surnames.
At 12 markers, where the most matches would be found there are no matches to any of these surnames. There were also none at higher match levels. While this doesn’t entirely disprove the story, it certainly doesn’t lend any credibility to it either.
Do you have any surname stories in your family that DNA could help to prove or disprove? Even if you don’t have someone to test, you might discover that your line has already been tested by checking the surname projects at Family Tree DNA or by checking by surname at www.ysearch.com.