DNA Testing for the Charles E. Goulden (Golden) line

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Updated 2014.01.02

Y-DNA test results (FTDNA Kit #312329) for a son of Charles E. Goulden, 1925-1965, shows the following haplotype result: “G” / G-M201.

A haplotype represents our place within a unique group of humans as they spread across the globe. Tracking family via names is difficult and at best can only go back to about 1600 with any accuracy. Our DNA allows us to match ourselves with our ancestors across thousands of years.

Over time we all experience genetic changes. When those changes are passed on then at some point our collection of unique genes and other characteristics become so unique that science can identify us via DNA as belonging to unique families across tens of thousands of years.

Haplogroup G Map

At the 12 marker level, this DNA matches at least 10 other Golden families that have taken Y-DNA tests with either zero or just 1 step difference. A ‘step’ means that a single DNA marker out of 12 is different. Across time, perhaps just one marker changes in value once every 300 years among DNA that is shared between a father and a son. It is the ultimate paternity test.

For males, a father passes down to his son an almost exact copy of his Y chromosome. This acts like a barcode. This DNA can remain fairly constant across thousands of years with a single marker change on average once every 300 years. A great grandfather with multiple sons and grandsons will have passed a near exact copy of the Y-DNA to each — making it possible to track family relationships without the need for documentation.

A 12 marker test is good for identifying general familial relationships. Testing at the 37 marker level would yield significantly more information and make it possible to definitively link any two individuals as directly related.

This family’s lineage:

  • Charles E. Goulden, 1925-1965
  • Louie Karo Golden, 1901-1974
  • James Seaborn Golden, 1881-1943
  • Noah Golden, 1849-1933
  • Seaborn G. Golden, 1821-1901
  • John James Golden, 1797-1857

Some family histories claim that this line traces back to William Golden, of South Carolina, who married Jane Smith — and that they supposedly had a son named John James Golden (1797–1857). My opinion is that William Golden and Jane Smith are erroneous adoptions of parents and some family historians have just carried the error along in their own genealogies.

There is a well documented family  of William Golding (Golden) 1772-1848 and Jane Smith 1783-1850. Both are from South Carolina. William Golding and Jane Smith are the grandparents of John W. Cannon, who authored a family sketch in 1904. Their oldest son was Richard, b. c1800. William is the son of Richard Golding and grandson of William Golding and Elizabeth Foster. Known descendants are all in Haplogroup R1b – Lineage III at the Golden DNA Project.

Probable parents or grandparents for John James Golden (1797-1857) are either Richard Golden (c.1746) or Mark Golden (b.1762). Of note, the unique name ‘Seaborn’ appears among several individuals within the Mark Golden line.

Pre-America Family Origin

Family lore has it that this line came from Ireland. It may be more probable that the family came from Wales where a distinctive “G” G2a3b1 type (DYS388=13 and DYS594=11) dominates there. The truth is that we just do not know the family’s origin because there is no known DNA match outside of Golden families within the USA … although the historical use of names tends to favor Welsh United Kingdom origin over Irish origin (this is my subjective opinion as there are trends among names).

There are three villages in Wales where “G” is higher than anywhere in the isles: Oban, Stonehaven and Llanidloes.

“G” males are actually very rare anywhere in Ireland or the United Kingdom (I/UK) area. One estimate is that this group made up less than 1% of the male population in the I/UK during the 15th century and even today “G” still makes up less than 1% of the male population, except in Wales.

There are two dominant theories as to how the “G” DNA arrived in I/UK:  “G” may be the genetic remnant of the European Celts who brought the Celtic languages into Britain. It is considered more likely that the presence of “G” comes from the Roman settlement of Britain. “G” is found highest in Europe in northern Italy and the Alps region. The “Iceman Otzi” is a member of the “G” Haplogroup.

This particular line of Golden/Gouldens thus come from a people that settled in the British Isles at least 500-1000 years ahead of the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and the Normans — who comprise the overwhelming ancestral majority of most families named Golden, Golding, Goulding or some such variation.

Before Migration to Europe (From FamilyTreeDNA):

Haplogroup “G” was the first branch of Haplogroup “F”  just outside of Africa. “G” is found mostly in the north central Middle East and the Caucasus, with smaller numbers around the Mediterranean and eastward. “G” spread out from the Middle East in relatively recent historic times, within the past few thousand years.

LEARN MORE about Haplogroup G-M201


Thanks to Tom Young for his notes on “G” and the William Golding/Jane Smith background.

You are welcome to add to or to correct this story by contacting: Bill Golden, Norfolk1956@gmail.com

BTW – I look forward to sharing your Golding/Golden/Goulding et al stories, photos and in-search-of quests. Contact me at the email address above.

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