I am roughly half French and half English. My father’s family was French.
My Paternal Lineage
A few years ago I joined Family Tree DNA to be able to determine my earliest ancestry. I learned that my DNA Haplogroup is J-M172. When I first began using the site I discovered a 20.5%, 10.8% and 9.6% correlation with Sephardic Jews from Morocco, Bulgaria and Turkey respectively, and an approximately 10% correlation with Askenazi Jews from Belarus, Lithuania, Romania, Poland and Russia. These were my highest correlations with any groups or nationalities in the charts. (Later the site design changed significantly and those correlations were no longer reflected in the charts.)
Based on those correlations, I hypothesized that my Joyal family line, which was predominantly Roman Catholic in the 1600 -1900s, may have been Sephardic Jews of the Iberian peninsula during the Inquisition of the late 1400s and 1500s, and were possibly among those many Jews who were converted (forcibly or “voluntarily”) to Catholicism during that period. My earliest known paternal ancestor is Etienne Joyal of Perigueux, France who married Suzanne Masseau in the early 1600s in the Catholic cathedral of Bergerac, France, where she was apparently born and raised. Bergerac is just north of the Pyrenees mountains that separate Spain and France, about as far outside the boundaries of Spanish control as Morocco is to the south.
About a year later I received this email from an apparently very distant relative, which seemed to bolster my hypothesis:
“hello scott,my name is shlomo … from jerusalem.i did 3 family dna test and according to the results we have an equal match on y-dna.do you have in your background jewish family surnames like : medina-saraga-altit-matitia-bergel-sarfati-beniflah ?our origins are in spain-portugal-france-italy-greece-turkey – america and the midle east ( israel-egypt…).is it possible we are related ?” I was not able to find evidence of those family connections, which likely predate the 1600s.
My father’s family is still predominantly Roman Catholic, and I was as well through my childhood, even serving as an altar boy at St. Joseph’s church in Buckland, Massachusetts. At about the age of 12, I turned away from Christianity in favor of my own blend of Humanism, New Age fads, and counter-cultural philosophies until in my late 20s I was saved and healed in prayer to Jesus Christ from alcoholism and drug addiction. As a Christian pastor and founder of First Century Bible Church, I now describe myself as a pre-Roman small “c” catholic Christian who studies the Bible from the Hebrew cultural perspective of the Apostles and the Prophets.