A very bright anthropology student from Michigan, with a personal interest in mathematics, statistics and probability theory, asked for my opinion on some of his interesting thoughts about where we all came from. Here is my reply.
I wish I had your knowledge of, and skills with, numbers so I could respond more intelligently to your thoughts and questions. Following are some of my thoughts based on what I’ve read, and what I see daily as I visually travel back and forth through the most extremely interconnected web of thousands of years of ancestral history (the Family Forest®), based on recorded history.
I believe that the theoretical estimate that an average person in 1500 has about 1.5 million offspring alive today is too low. Here’s why.
The Family Forest® is based on what actually did happen, according to recorded history, and not on what might happen, theoretically. Here are a few examples of what can happen in just one century.
Martha (Clarke) Willard (b. 1694, d. 1794) was said to have had 12 children, 90 grandchildren, 206 great-grandchildren, and 45 great-great-grandchildren when she died at the age of 100.
Catharine (Andrews) Shattuck (b. 2/16/1753 Ipswich, MA, d. 11/19/1845 Temple, NH) was said to have had 150 living descendants when she died, seven children, 51 grandchildren, 90 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren when she died.
Esek Brown (b. 3/8/1678/9 Newport, RI, d. 12/4/1772 Swansea, MA) was said to have been survived by 11 children, 112 grandchildren, and 129 great-grandchildren.
As is explained in the third-from-the-bottom paragraph at http://www.familyforest.com/captainslog/36.html, from Mayflower Society estimates 1.5 million offspring appears more reasonable from 1600.
In addition, I believed I read that one of the foremost living genealogists, Gary Boyd Roberts, estimated that prominent Colonial ancestor Governor Thomas Dudley may have 10 million descendants.
So couple the three actual one-century examples from above with the 1600 estimates, and it seems that a reasonable estimate from a 1500 person is tens of millions of living descendants.
It would be difficult to factor in the overlap that would need to be subtracted, but certainly the number should be very large.
Considering how many boxes each of us would need to fill in to truly know a substantial part of our deep ancestry (http://familyforest.com/resources/51/ancestors-at-a-glance), it may seem reasonable to assume that going back 400-500 years ago, we most certainly had at least one Japanese or Chinese ancestor.
Visually exploring so many generation-by-generation ancestral pathways zig-zagging geographically over the millennia in the Family Forest®, according to recorded history, leads me to the following opinions.
My odds of having at least one Japanese or Chinese ancestor in the last 500 years is in the range of slim to none. During the last 1,000 years, the odds becomes quite possible. During the last 2,000 years, I believe it is almost certain.
I also believe that the reverse is true about Japanese or Chinese descendants having some European ancestors.
Hopefully this helps. Please stay tuned here for a free Family Forest® give-a-way that will be available in a couple of days. It will help illustrate genetic migration over centuries.