Suffolk/Norfolk and USA Roper Families' Connections
L. David Roper,
1001 Auburn Drive, Blacksburg VA 24060-8123

It has been known for a long time (The Ropers of Sterling and Rutland by Ella E. Roper, 1904) that the progenitor of a large USA Roper family came from just north of the Suffolk border (New Buckenham, Norfolk) to Massachusetts in 1637. (See .) This family spread west across the US. Some of its members are:

Another large Roper family originated in the US in Virginia ( about 1650 or in the early 1600s. Many Virginia colonial records were destroyed by fires, so no data exists to connect this family back to England. This is my family. This family spread south and west across the US. Some of its members are:

Roper genealogists wondered for many years if there was a connection between these two northern and southern Roper families. The answer was found to be "yes" in November 2001 when Clyde F. E. Roper, mentioned above, had his Y-chromosome tested ( His first 12 markers differed by 1 relative mutation from my first 12 markers. Further analysis showed that he differed by only 1 relative mutation from me for 25 markers and only 2 relative mutations from me for 37 markers. The latter comparison gives probabilities that he and I share a common ancestor as follows: 69% in the last 250-350 years, 91% in the last 450 years, 98% in the last 550 years. Thus the northern and southern USA Ropers are related: I call this combined family the Majority USA Roper (MUR) family.

Later, two other northern Ropers had their Y-chromosomes tested to compare to about over thirty southern Ropers who had done it. One intriguing result is that one of the northern Ropers exactly matches my and one other southern Roper's 37 markers. This makes it probable that some of the Ropers who came into Virginia in the mid-1600s were more closely related to the Massachusetts Ropers than they were to their neighboring kinsmen.

All of the above implies that at least some of the southern Ropers came from the border area of Norfolk and perhaps Suffolk England.

So, in January 2003 I went to Norwich England to try to find out more about Ropers of Norfolk. I got a small amount of data and one Roper to be Y tested. But his markers were very different than the MUR markers; in fact, none of the other over 20 English Ropers that have been tested to date match him. Another Roper in London was tested, and he matched a small Roper family in West Virginia which is not related to MUR.

I tried some other possibilities of testing English Ropers in Lincoln, Cumbria, etc., but found none that matched MUR.

2005 Trip to Suffolk and Norfolk England

I had been collecting Roper data from anywhere for over forty years. Noticing that I had many data for Ropers in northern Suffolk, I decided to take a trip to the border area of Norfolk and Suffolk in late February 2005. This time I got some very good advice of a Norfolk Roper genealogist, who is unrelated to me. He helped me locate Internet addresses of newspapers, libraries, historical societies and radio stations in Norfolk and Suffolk. I was interview by BBC Radio Suffolk and BBC Radio Norfolk before I left the US, telling about the upcoming visit. The occurrence of the BBC TV program "Who Do You Think You Are?" during the previous year had prepared people to be more interested in helping me.

I scheduled a Roper-families meeting in my Thetford hotel for a Sunday evening. Prior to that I visited in two Roper homes in Stanton and Bury St. Edmunds. Seven Roper males and their spouses came to the meeting. I received seven phone calls and five letters from others who could not be at the meeting. The result was that I collect much new data for Roper families in the border area and ten male Ropers agreed to be Y tested.

Three of the ten tested match exactly the 12 markers of two-thirds of the MUR members! One of them whose family is from the same area of southern Norfolk as are the Massachusetts Ropers tested closest to EMUR for 25 and 37 markers. So we now have DNA evidence that matches the genealogical data that at least some MUR ancestors came to the US from the Suffolk/Norfolk border area. I call this combined English/USA Roper family the EMUR family. One of the tested English families was in Eye, Suffolk for many generations. Another one has ancestors who were in Thornham Magna and Woodbridge, Suffolk. The third one has Bressingham, Norfolk ancestry, which puts his family very close to the English origin of the Massachusetts' Ropers.

One of the matching testees had contacted me before I left for England, so his Y result was available shortly after I returned from England. I immediately ordered that his number of markers be extended to 37. Those are in now and he differs by only two relative mutations from my 37 markers, the same genetic distance as Clyde F. E. Roper of Massachusetts mentioned above. He, other Roper genealogist and I are working hard at trying to take his ancestry back as far as possible. We think that we know how the three English EMUR members are connected and how they connect to the Massachusetts Roper, but we may never know how the Virginia members of EMUR connect to the English and Massachusetts EMUR members.

There are six different Roper families in Norfolk and Suffolk so far as determined by the Y tests (See Roper male-lines Y-chromosome project for details and testee abbreviations.):

  1. EMUR (England/Majority USA Roper family). Three members of EMUR [PJR, AGGR & APR] in Suffolk have been measured.
  2. SRR, who lives just east of Norwich.
  3. RR, who lives in Bungay Norfolk, right on the border of Suffolk.
  4. CR2, who lives in Ickburg, Norfolk, not far from Suffolk. (The same family as the West Virginia Roper family.)
  5. KNR, who lives in Denton, Norfolk, right on the Suffolk border. (The same family as the Rooper, WSR, family of Oregon.)
  6. RGR2, of northeastern Norfolk ancestry.

There is some indirect evidence that Virginia Ropers are connected to the well-known Kent, England Ropers (Baron Teynham, William Roper who married Margaret More, etc.).

I am interested in collecting all data that I can get for Roper families in Suffolk, Norfolk and Kent. Also, I am interested in testing more males with surname Roper from any county in England. To order such a test, go and fill out the form. It costs $103 (including outside-USA handling) for 12 markers, $193 for 37 markers and $273 for 59 markers.

John Roper's mill in Hoxne, Suffolk, England.

Dave Roper, 7 May 2005