Elliott (And Border Reivers) DNA Project News (January 25, 2007)

Hello Border Reivers & Other Rapscallions,


Newcastle Border Reiver Study Inspired By This Project

Last June, I was approached by a fellow from the Newcastle Science Centre in England named Nick Blackwood. Mr. Blackwood expressed considerable interest in our Border Reivers DNA Project, saying that he and his colleagues found it "fascinating", and that they wanted to enlist our aid in getting a similar project started in Newcastle . I told him I would help him anyway I could, including sharing our data with his project. We corresponded for a while, and then I didn't hear from him again.

Fast forward to this fall, and there is a flurry of publicity about a Border Reivers DNA project sponsored by the University of Newcastle . I am including a number of links below that will tell you all you need to know about it. Their goal is (or was) to gather at least 600 DNA samples from local men, starting with the Robson clan. I informed one of our Robson participants - Ed Robson - and he immediately contacted the scientist directing the project. The Newcastle folks are looking for people with qualifications that most of us lack - proof that all four grandparents were from Cumbria , Durham , Northumberland or the Scottish Borders. That effectively disqualifies most of our non-British participants. They are also engaging a local British DNA testing company (not Oxford Ancestors) and will be sequencing only 12 STR markers, which - as most of us know by now - is not really sufficient for fine-tuned genealogical analysis. Ed Robson has discussed with them the possibility of acquiring data from that project when it is completed, and I will contact them myself sometime this winter. The acquisition of this data on the Robsons and other clans might give us additional insight into their overall genetic composition - but not so much info about specific genealogical connections. The participants themselves will be completely anonymous - aside from their surnames - and we will not be allowed to contact them, even if we do obtain their haplotypes.

Although the leaders of the Newcastle project have not officially acknowledged our role in inspiring them, I thought you'd like to know that we inspired them nonetheless.

http://www.24hourmuseum.org.uk/newcastleandgateshead/news/ART41688.html  "Centre For Life Undertakes DNA Testing To Trace Reiver Clan Members" from 24 Hour Museum.

http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press.office/press.release/content.phtml?ref=1164702467  "'Border Reiver' families sought for genetics research" from Newcastle University.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/6189776.stm "'Clan's' blood needed for survey" from BBC News.

http://www.life.org.uk/about/press/articles/18 "Robsons sought for clan research" from Center For Life.

http://www.pattinson.co.uk/public/content/Articles/Notorious_bandits_DNA_sought.htm "Notorious bandits' DNA sought" from Pattinson

New Book On The Genetic Heritage Of Britain

I would like to recommend Stephen Oppenheimer's The Origin Of The British. This is a study of the Y- DNA and mtDNA genetic signatures of the people of the British Isles , with many rather intriguing conclusions about their origin. Dr. Oppenheimer repeats the contention that all the paternal ancestors of R1b Britons are essentially indigenous, having arrived in the British Isles in prehistoric times primarily from Spain . This is hardly news for most of you, I'm sure. It's pretty much the standard assertion made by population geneticists everywhere. My own feeling is that R1b has always been plentiful, to a greater or lesser degree, in a wide arc that stretches from Northern Spain to Western Norway , and that groups and individuals have been carrying that haplogroup back and forth between this region of Continental Europe and Britain for thousands of years.

If that was Oppenheimer's only theory, the book wouldn't be worth reading. Fortunately, he offers others. He believes that Scandinavian and Germanic genetic signatures - such as R1a, I1a and I1c - have also been coming to Britain since prehistoric times, at least since the Mesolithic. He suggests that the Shetland Isles were genetically Scandinavian long before the Vikings captured it, and that the natives of Eastern England may have been speakers of some Northern Germanic language before the Romans even knew Britain existed. He cites the lack of evidence for Celtic speakers in that vicinity, yet he also believes that the impact of the so-called Anglo-Saxons was minimal, both genetically and linguistically. He emphasizes the Danish origin of the Angles and the Jutes, and contends that there is a greater similarity between Old English and Norse than between Old English and German. He invokes the well-known Scandinavian cultural flavor of the "Anglo-Saxon" epic Beowulf, and uses this and other circumstantial evidence to suggest that persons of Scandinavian origin had been settling continuously in Britain for millennia, and that the Jutes and the Angles were less newcomers than latterday immigrants come to join their distant cousins. He believes that, while three quarters of the Brits are descended from Iberian Celts, most of the remaining quarter are actually descended from Scandinavians of one vintage or another.

He attributes E3b and J2 to prehistoric immigration as well, citing the genetic similarity between parts of Wales and Spain both known for their Neolithic mining communities. The spread of J2 has certainly been attributed to the spread of Neolithic farmers before - as well as to the spread of Graeco-Roman influence - but this book is the first to attribute virtually all haplogroups found in the British Isles today to prehistoric immigrants.

For those of us who are R1b, this has little effect on how we have already been encouraged to think of ourselves. We may be descended from any Western European group - Normans, Vikings, Anglo-Saxons, Flemish, whatever - but we are most likely descended from the prehistoric inhabitants of Britain. That is what we have always been told. Those who are R1a or I1a, on the other hand, have been allowed to fancy themselves as the scions of "invader" stock - Danes, Vikings and Anglo-Saxons. But if such folks buy Oppenheimer's theories, then they too will be thrust into the same uncertainty that has frustrated R1b folks all along. They may be "invaders", sure - but, like us, they may also just be descended from the natives.

I think you have to take some of Oppenheimer's theories with a grain of salt. He is a very sharp man, the doctor responsible for proving that the congenital blood disease thalassemia spread across the Mediterranean because its side effect, an immunity to malaria, conferred a selective advantage to its victims. On the other hand, Oppenheimer did publish a book claiming that the Polynesians originated from some lost continent in the Indian Ocean - a book that was praised by, of all people, Graham Hancock, author of The Fingerprints Of The Gods, who would have us believe that the Sphinx was not carved by the ancient Egyptians. Both authors seem to have a penchant for exaggerating the sheer ancientness of human cultures, envisioning in their minds bustling proto-civilizations of 10,000 years ago, and asking us to identify with tribes whose names we can never know and whose physical reality seems as weird and remote as the crowd scenes in a Conan movie. Personally, I'd rather be genetically linked to ancestors that are Vikings or Normans or Romans - at least I can picture those guys vividly in my head. But, alas, as an R1b I am stuck in the mist with the faceless clan of Oisin, whoever he was.

Oppenheimer based much of his insistence on the native origin of most British haplotypes on his analysis of the age of certain STR mutations. He does not say which STR markers he's looking at, or how many. He also doesn't say much about what database he's comparing his British haplotypes to. Unless I see the actual haplotypes he's using and what European control group he's comparing them against, I remain unconvinced of the validity of his methods. In my own experience searching the YHRD database for hundreds of different 9 marker haplotypes, I have discovered that very few are found exclusively or even predominantly in the British Isles . The most significant exception is the haplotype now famous as the Ui Niall signature, which is most likely of native Irish origin.

Expedition To Donegal Planned

I am dusting off my pith helmet - or my skally cap at least - for an expedition to Donegal, which I plan to undertake during the last week of August 2007.  I have made arrangements to stay in an authentic stone cottage in Laghey Village , which is about 4 miles southwest of Donegal Town .  Laghey (sometimes spelled Laghy) is approximately the same distance from Screen (or Skreen) Townland, where my Elliott cousins apparently still live.  I will even be bringing along a few DNA testing kits, should I happen to bump into a third cousin or something.  Our future hostess at Mairead's B & B told me in an email that she knew an Elliott when she was growing up.  His name was Andy (a name associated with my branch of the family), he drove a school bus, and he was a "wee gentleman".   Recalling that my own Elliott grandfather was reputedly only five-foot-eight, I realized he might actually have been the tall one in his family, briefly imagined my Donegal cousins as a race of leprechauns, and wondered for a moment how they would respond to a shaven-headed American of six-foot-one bearing plastic swabs and babbling away about haplotypes.  Ah, well.   What is life without a little adventure, eh?

Recently, there was an article in the Donegal Times about the Donegal Mart - some kind of farmers' market - that was started in Donegal Town 40 years ago by three locals, two of whom were Elliotts from Screen.  I suspect they were distant relatives of mine.  One of them, William Elliott of Screen, is shown below at the far right.  He's the broad-shouldered fellow with the white hair looking straight at the camera.  He doesn't look so wee...

If any of you - especially you Elliotts of Donegal stock - have been to Donegal Town yourselves, and wish to give me tips on finding Elliotts, either alive (in pubs, farms, etc.) or dead (in church records, graveyards, etc.) - or tips on anything else, for that matter - I would be most appreciative.  I might even hunt down some of your Elliotts, too.  

A Report On Recent DNA Results

Since our last bulletin on May 30th of last year, we have received:

  • 1-12 marker results for 2 Armstrongs, 2 Burns, 1 Coulter, 3 Davisons (or Davises), 1 Drysdale, 16 Elliotts, 1 Forrest, 1 Gray, 1 Hall, 1 Headley, 2 Hendersons, 1 Hetherington, 1 Hodgin, 1 Hunter, 2 Irwins, 1 Johnston, 2 Kerrs, 1 Kirkland, 2 Littles, 1 Musgrave, 1 Ogle, 1 Plunkett, 1 Robertson (or Robson), 2 Ridleys, 1 Rutherford, 3 Scotts, 1 Tait, 1 Trumble, 1 White and 1 Veitch - 53 new DNA profiles altogether.
  • 13-25 marker results for 2 Armstrongs, 2 Burns, 2 Davisons (or Davises), 1 Drysdale, 10 Elliotts, 1 Forrest, 1 Gilchrist, 1 Gray, 1 Hall, 1 Headley, 1 Henderson, 1 Hodgin, 1 Hunter, 1 Irwin, 1 Johnston, 2 Kerrs, 1 Kirkland, 2 Littles, 1 McClain, 1 Musgrave, 1 Oliver, 1 Plunkett, 2 Ridleys, 1 Rutherford, 1 Scott, 1 Tait, 1 Trumble and 1 Veitch.
  • 26-37 marker results for 2 Armstrongs, 2 Burns, 2 Davisons (or Davises), 1 Drysdale, 13 Elliotts, 1 Forrest, 1 Gray, 1 Hall, 1 Headley, 1 Hodgin, 1 Hunter, 2 Irwins, 1 Kirkland, 2 Jameses, 3 Johnstons (or Johnsons), 1 Kerr, 2 Littles, 1 Musgrave, 1 Oliver, 1 Plunkett, 1 Ridley, 1 Scott and 1 Trumble.
  • 38-47 marker results for 1 Armstrong, 1 Beaty, 1 Burns, 1 Clendaniel (AKA Glendenning), 1 Dilks, 1 Dixon, 1 Douglas, 1 Drysdale, 1 Dunn, 1 Eckersley, 1 Elder, 7 Elliotts, 2 Halls, 1 Henderson, 1 Heron, 7 Irwins, Irvins, Irvines or Erwins, 2 Johnsons, 1 Kenny, 2 Kerrs (or Carrs), 1 Logan, 1 Porter, 1 Scott, 1 Taylor and 1 Trumble.
  • 48-60 marker results for 1 Armstrong, 1 Beaty, 1 Dilks, 1 Clendaniel, 1 Dixon, 1 Douglas, 1 Dunn, 1 Eckersley, 1 Elder, 8 Elliotts, 2 Halls, 1 Henderson, 1 Heron, 7 Irwins, Irvins, Irvings or Erwins, 1 Kenny, 2 Kerrs (or Carrs), 2 Johnsons, 1 Logan, 1 Porter, 1 Scott, 1 Taylor and 1 Trumble.
  • 61-67 marker results for 1 Armstrong, 1 Burns, 1 Clendaniel, 1 Dilks, 1 Dixon, 1 Drysdale, 1 Drysdale, 1 Douglas, 1 Dunn, 1 Eckersley, 1 Elder, 7 Elliotts, 2 Halls, 1 Henderson, 1 Heron, 8 Irwins, Irvins, Irvings or Erwins, 2 Johnsons, 1 Kenny, 2 Kerrs or Carrs, 1 Logan, 1 Porter, 1 Scott, 1 Taylor and 1 Trumble.
  • mtDNA marker results for 1 Armstrong, 3 Elliotts, 1 Hall, 1 Logan, 2 Johnsons or Johnstons, 1 Ogles, 1 Scott and 1 Whitfield (AKA Page). Most of these were for standard HVR1 and HVR2 results, but the Hall participant got H subclade test and Mega test results.
  • SNP results for the following: Deep- SNP R1b for 1 Burns, 1 Dilks, 1 Dixon, 1 Duckworth, 1 Eckersley, 5 Elliotts, 1 Ellwood, 1 Hamblen (AKA Erwin), 1 Heron, 1 Johnson, 1 McCallum (AKA Bell), 1 Neely, 1 Porter, 1 Plunkett, 1 Rutherford, 1 Rutledge, 1 Thibault and 1 Trumble; Y-HAP-Backbone M253 (I) for 2 Carothers, 1 Dodson and 1 Elliott; Y-HAP-Backbone M24 (R2) for 1 Simpson; Y-HAP-Backbone M17 & M196 (R1a) for 1 Scott; Y-HAP-Backbone M2 for 1 Oliver; Deep- SNP -E3b for 1 Johnston and 1 Ogles; Deep- SNP -C for 1 Elliott; Deep- SNP -G for 1 Hall; Deep-SNPI for 1 Douglas, 1 Hunter and 1 Johnston; and Deep- SNP -J for 1 Pople.

Altogether, the Family Tree DNA labs have been very busy with you guys in the last eight months.

The complete Y- DNA results for all official participants may be found at this URL: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gallgaedhil/Border_Reiver_Y-DNA.xls  

The complete mtDNA results for all official participants may be found at this URL: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gallgaedhil/Border_Reiver_mtDNA.xls

A Count Of Official Participants By Surname

We now have 361 official participants. Of these, 346 have so far returned their kits. The total includes:

  • 16 Armstrongs
  • 1 Barraford
  • 1 Beaty
  • 4 Bells
  • 1 Bennett
  • 1 Bone
  • 1 Bogue
  • 4 Burns
  • 12 Carothers, Carruthers and Cruthirds
  • 1 Clendaniel (or Glendenning)
  • 1 Cook
  • 1 Coulter
  • 1 Crawford
  • 1 Cresswell
  • 1 Crozier
  • 5 Davisons and Davises
  • 1 Dilks
  • 4 Dixons
  • 1 Dodson
  • 3 Douglases
  • 1 Duckworth
  • 1 Dunn
  • 1 Eckersley
  • 113 Elliotts, Elliots, Eliots and Ellwoods
  • 1 Elder
  • 1 Fenwick
  • 1 Fletcher
  • 2 Forresters and Forrests
  • 4 Gilchrists
  • 1 Gowland
  • 2 Grahams
  • 11 Halls
  • 1 Hanson (female Border Reiver descendant)
  • 1 Hamblen (but likely patrilineal Irvine or Irving ) 2 Headleys 7 Hendersons 7 Herons and Herrons 1 Hetherington
  • 1 Hodgin
  • 1 Hume
  • 3 Hunts and Hunters
  • 16 Irvings, Irvines, Ervins, Irwins and Erwins
  • 2 Inglises or Engles
  • 2 Jameses
  • 17 Johnsons and Johnstons
  • 1 Kenny
  • 9 Kerrs and Carrs
  • 1 Kilpatrick
  • 1 Kimbley
  • 1 Kirkland
  • 1 Koch (female Border Reiver descendant)
  • 1 Laidlaw
  • 5 Littles
  • 1 Logan
  • 3 Lowthers
  • 1 McClain
  • 1 McCormick (but possible Witherington)
  • 1 Milburn
  • 1 Minto
  • 1 Muhn (female Border Reiver descendant)
  • 2 Musgroves and Musgraves
  • 1 Neely
  • 2 Nixons
  • 1 Noble
  • 3 Ogles
  • 2 Olivers (1 female)
  • 2 Plunketts
  • 1 Pople
  • 1 Porter
  • 1 Reade
  • 2 Ridleys
  • 3 Robsons
  • 5 Rutherfords and Retherfords
  • 1 Rutledge
  • 3 Scotts
  • 1 Shortridge
  • 5 Simpsons (although 1 person apparently joined twice)
  • 1 Spence
  • 1 Stevenson (or Steenson)
  • 2 Stewarts (although 1 claims to be a Drysdale)
  • 1 Storey
  • 3 Taits or Taitsons
  • 1 Thibault (Border Reiver descendant through non-patrilineal lines)
  • 5 Taylors
  • 1 Telford
  • 1 Trumble (or Turnbull)
  • 1 Tweedie
  • 1 Veitch
  • 2 Watsons
  • 1 Waugh
  • 1 Weir
  • 1 White
  • 1 Whitfield (but probable descendant of another North British lineage, possibly a Page)
  • Wilson
  • 5 Witheringtons and Wetheringtons

If there is a Family Tree DNA project dedicated to your surname, we strongly encourage you to double-join into that.  In the meantime, all of your results will be posted in Ysearch and in the Border Reiver Y- DNA spreadsheet mentioned above. If you don't see your surname in the "Border Reiver DNA By Surname" web pages at the "Elliott (And Border Reivers) DNA Project" website, don't be alarmed. You are still part of the project. Some of your DNA results that have not yet been included on that website will be included eventually. In some cases, there is simply a backlog of DNA results to post. In the case of surnames that are new - or possibly inappropriate - to the Border Reivers DNA Project, I often need to do some research on them, and to supplement your DNA results with those of other members of your clan, which I must gather from Ysearch, Sorenson or Ybase.  This generally takes a while.

Border Reivers Web Site - Changes And New Features

I haven't done very much to change the general format of my website since last May, but I have made - or am planning - the following changes:

  • For the web pages dedicated to particular clans, which are available from the "Project" links on the "Border Reiver DNA By Surname" web pages for Armstrong, Carruthers, Elliott/Ellwood, Hall, Herron and Irvine/Irvings, I have modified the DNA Results tables to make them more readable
  • I have received occasional complaints in the past about the color scheme I have used for many of my web pages, which sets white text against a black background. It looks fine on my Dell computer, using Internet Explorer - and that's the venue in which I designed the pages. However, I have used a couple of NEC monitors at some of my client sites (I'm an IT consultant) in the past year or so on which the white text is more difficult to read. As a result, I've been experimenting with a new format. I have an example of that format posted online at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gallgaedhil/haplo_experiment.htm. This is an alternate version of one of my YHRD geographical match pages (in this case for J2 haplotypes).  Please check it out when you get a chance, and give me some feedback on it if you wish. I believe it is definitely more readable. Not only that, but the text is better organized. You can even print it if you choose. To check out how the page would look when printed, set the "Page Setup" format to "Landscape" and click on "Print Preview".   The "Portrait" option unfortunately results in righthand truncation.
  • The "Border Reiver DNA By Surname" web pages have been modified to include several new surnames.  These include Coulter, Drysdale, Elder, Kirkland , Turnbull (Trumble) and Veitch.  These web pages are available at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gallgaedhil/dna_by_surname_1.htm and http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gallgaedhil/dna_by_surname_2.htm .   A total of 1650 haplotypes are currently listed, representing 126 surnames.  More haplotypes will be added very shortly.
  • The "Border Reiver Deep Ancestry" web page unfortunately has not been modified in the last several months, and sorely needs an update.  When I update this web page, I will add a discussion of Stephen Oppenheimer's findings, and duly emphasize that Border Reiver DNA haplotypes belonging to any haplogroup may have existed in Britain since prehistoric times.
  • The web page http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gallgaedhil/haplo_r1b_ht35_analysis.htm  - which focuses on the R1b variant characterized by a DYS 393 value of 12 - will soon be modified to include Ken Nordtvedt's list of the additional STR values he believes are associated with ht35.
  • I will soon create a new web page featurig the Newcastle Border Reiver DNA project, which will include photographs, quotes and other text.


Latest Developments By Clan


Here is a partial report on the results of our analysis and research on selected Border Reiver families.  I have focused on clans that have the largest number of official participants, because most of you belong to these.   Don't feel slighted if your clan has not been mentioned.  If you have any questions about our analysis of your haplotype and our investigations into your genetic heritage, please email me directly - and I will respond.


The Armstrongs


The number of haplotypes posted has grown to 33.   One of the new Armstrongs very closely matches several members of the Irvine/Irving clan at 67 markers, and is most likely a patrilineal descendant of that clan.  We have also recruited another Armstrong from the UK who claims descent from Johnnie Armstrong, and eagerly await his test results.   The URL for the Armstrong web page is:  http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gallgaedhil/haplo_armstrongs.htm 


The Carruthers


We have no new Carruthers haplotypes, but one independent Carruthers whose DNA results I had previously obtained from Ysearch has joined our group officially, and we are glad to have him.  The link for the Carruthers web page is: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gallgaedhil/haplo_carruthers.htm 


The Elders


Since we accepted an Elder participant into our project, I have obtained a total of 27 Elder haplotypes from Ysearch and posted them in our online database.  These are a subset of the available Elders in Ysearch, and consist of all those who believed they could trace their ancestry directly back to the British Isles .   A significant minority of the Elders have a very distinctive Y- DNA signature - 13-24-15-10-10-14-12-12-12-13-13-29.  Only two other entries in our database share that 12 marker haplotype - an American Erwin and a Davis with roots in County Donegal .  This haplotype is rare even in YHRD, where it is found among two European Americans, a Brazilian and person from Hamburg , Germany .   It may have come to Britain with either the Germanic invaders or the Celtiberians, but it is certainly Western European in origin.


The Elliotts

  • We have currently have 113 Elliott, Eliot and Ellwood haplotypes posted, and will very shortly have 114.  The Western Atlantic Modal Haplotype continues to predominate among the clan, and has certainly become established - at least in my mind - as the main genetic signature of the Scottish Elliotts.
  • We have a pair of Elliotts, both of who claim Scottish origin, that match an Irwin of Scots-Irish origin at a genetic distance of 1 or 2 steps out of 37 markers.  We've seen very close matches between a couple of Scots-Irish Elliotts and various other members of the Irvine/Irving clan before, but this is a completely different set.  While the previous matches were all R1b, these three are all I1a.   Haplogroup I1a is thought to be of Northern Germanic or Scandinavian origin - at least when it appears in Northern Britain - but it is quite anomalous for either the Elliott or the Irvine/Irving clan.  The modal 25 marker haplotype for the group is 13-22-14-10-14-16-11-14-11-12-11-29-15-8-9-8-11-22-16-20-28-12-14-14-15.   They have no other close matches so far in our database.  The mere fact that members of two different Border clans, each claiming either Scottish or Scots-Irish descent, are each other's closest matches definitely tends to suggest that all three are truly of Scottish origin - even if their shared haplotype is atypical of their respective clans.  The Elliotts involved have the Ysearch IDs 6PX8S and GZY67, and the Irwin has the Ysearch ID B74JR.
  • We now have 67 marker results for 5 Elliotts, all of whom matched either other closely on 37 markers.  They continue to match each other closely on 67 markers, with a genetic distance of 5 steps or less among all five.   According to Family Tree DNA , this means they are "Related".
  • We have discovered a new variant of the Elliott name - "Aylett", two of which we found in Ysearch.   Although these "Ayletts" hail from Essex , England , they are both WAMH and match several Scottish Border Elliott fairly closely on 25 markers.  It is very possible, although by no means certain, that these Ayletts are descended from the genetic mainstream of the Scottish Elliotts.  We have encountered other Elliotts whose most immediate British roots fell in Southern England , but whose DNA results match the Scottish Elliott Modal Haplotype exactly.  So why shouldn't these Ayletts be related as well?
  • The URL for the Elliott web page is: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gallgaedhil/haplo_elliotts.htm.

The Glendennings


We have a new participant with the surname Clendaniel, which is a variation of Glendenning.  The Glendennings are a Scottish clan with roots in The Borders, many of whose descendants match the Scottish Elliotts very closely at 25 markers or more.  This one is the closest yet.  Out of 67 markers, Mr. Clendaniel is 2 steps and 5 steps distant, respectively, from two Elliott participants who stand in the middle of the Scottish Elliott genetic mainstream.  Mr. Clendaniel is most likely descended from the same patrilineal ancestor in some recent century.   He is also just 1 step distant from a Glendenning and 5 steps distant from a Clendenin - so clearly he is not atypical of his own clan either.  These 67 marker results strongly suggest a shared patrilineal ancestor for significant pluralities of the both the Elliotts and the Glendennings.


The Hetheringtons


We have a new participant named Hetherington whose results have been released by Family Tree DNA , but which have not yet been posted in our online database.  Nonetheless, we are pleased to report that Mr. Hetherington exhibits a variation of the Ui Niall 12 marker haplotype, as did a large percentage of the Hetherington, Heatherington and Edrington individuals tested by DNA researcher Harold Ethington in Northern England .  Since the Hetherington family is generally considered to be of Norse origin, their ancestors may have been belonged to that mixed group of invaders - half Norse and half Gaelic - who crossed the Irish Sea from Ireland to colonize Cumbria in the 10th century.   The Ui Niall haplotype is found in Iceland , and among many individuals in Ysearch with Western Scottish surnames reputed to be of Norse origin.  Although the Ui Niall haplotype is presumed - probably correctly - to be native Irish when found in Ireland , it could easily suggest a Norse-Gaelic origin when it is found in Scotland or Northwest England .


The Irvine/Irvings

  • I have been in correspondence with James Irvine, the new administrator of the Irwin Clan project.  He has helped me gather additional info about the Irvines, Irvings, Irwins, Erwins, Irvins and Erwins, and I have supplemented our sample from that clan quite amply.   The Irvine/Irving DNA Results page now has 50 entries.  The URL for the web page is: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gallgaedhil/haplo_irvings.htm
  • Irrespective of variations in surname, the members of this clan continue to group very closely at 25 and 37 markers.  The most common haplotype for the clan at 25 markers is 13-24-14-11-11-15-12-12-12-13-13-29-17-9-10-11-11-25-15-20-30-15-16-17-17.  Even at 67 markers, the clan coheres fairly well.  About a half dozen clan members have obtained 67 marker results - including John Hamblen, who is genetically an Irvine .  All but one of these - an Irish Erwin - are 7or fewer steps distant from one another, which Family Tree DNA classifies as "Probably Related".
  • Among the lineages outside of the Irvine/Irving genetic mainstream, there are two Irwins from Limerick who match fairly closely and appear to be related.  One of these claims that Irwin is an Anglicization of a Gaelic surname, which suggests that the other Limerick is of Gaelic origin as well.  Both Irwins can be found in Ysearch - IDs QY7VH and AUXRF - but neither is a participant in our group.
  • There are two Irvines and one Irving from the Orkney Islands , and another Irvine from the Shetlands.  None of these is a close match for the Irvine/Irving genetic mainstream, although the Orkney Irving and one of the Orkney Irvines match each other at a distance of only 4 steps on 37 markers.
  • We have entries for two descendants of the Irvings of Bonshaw, and one descendant of the Irwins of Drum.   All three belong to the Irvine/Irving genetic mainstream.  Out of 37 markers, all three are within 2 to 3 steps of the same "bridge" group - and all three are within 4 to 5 steps of one another, which Family Tree DNA classifies as "Related" or "Probably Related".  Our conclusion is that the Irvings of Bonshaw and the Irwins of Drum were originally branches of the same family.

Final Notes


I have not forgotten my intention, announced in previous newsletters, to create web pages dedicated to clans and families such as the Rutherfords, the Hendersons and the Witheringtons.   Considering that I have acquired additional haplotypes for these groups in the last few months, now may be the time to make good on my promise. 


As always, the main web page for the Border Reivers DNA Project may be accessed at:


http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gallgaedhil/elliott_border_reivers_dna.htm (or just plain http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gallgaedhil )


If you wish to consult previous newsletters, click on the link labeled "Project News" and the page will navigate to a submenu with links to each.




James V. Elliott

Group Administrator

Border Reivers DNA Project