New MacLeod DNA branch!

Exciting news from the L165 and Clan MacLeod DNA projects, there is a new subclade to the MacLeod R1b-BY3210, and it has a famous member! The new Subclade is BY19718, and it has been found positive in a descendant of Donald MacLeod of Galtrigal “Faithful Palinurus”, the boatman who aided the rebel prince Charles Edward Stuart’s escape from the failed 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. For a rough Pop Culture reference to Prince Charlie’s escapades, see series Outlander

Some background on Donald MacLeod of Galtrigal

The SNP Pathway to the MacLeod Y-DNA block for those familiar with Y-DNA:

R1b-M269>…>P312/S116 > Z40481 > ZZ11 > DF27/S250 > Z195/S355 > Z198 > L165/S68 > FGC29987 > BY3224 > BY3253 > BY3210 (STR estimate dates 1230-1350AD most recent common ancestor (MRCA), not SNP dated yet)

MacLeod Subclade Branches:

–BY13703: Isle of Harris potential association (STR estimate date 1650AD MRCA, not SNP dated yet)

–BY19718: Donald MacLeod of Galtrigal “Palinurus”


New overview of L21 (Gael Y-DNA SNP)



L21 researcher Mike Walsh has updated the “tip of the iceberg” for L21+ folks (a very common Scots and Irish Y-DNA haplogroup) in light of the results from the recent beaker people’s paper, source:

David Vance of the L21 Project Discussion group on Yahoo has also made this comprehensive chart: L21tree


Based on the latest discoveries out at the R-L165 DNA project, it looks like we are closer to discovering a marker for direct male-line descent from Leod!

Right now what is known:

Y-DNA Haplogroup R1b, marked by the SNP marker M343, originates about 16,500BC (Paleolithic)

Marker M269 originates about 4500BC (Bronze Age, Yamnaya culture, located on the Pontic Steppe & Between Black and Caspian Seas

Middle Bronze Age large scale migration to Europe, Marker P312 originates about 3500BC (Bell Beaker Culture; Proto-Italo-Celto-Germanic)

Marker DF27/S250 (Ibero-Atlantic Celt Branch) >  Marker Z195/S355 > Marker Z198 > Marker L165/S68 originates probably 3000-2000BC>

L165 divides into a group that later becomes MacNeils of Barra, Lindseys and Buies of Jura, some MacDonalds, and at least one Norwegian (>BY129/130/131/132/133/134/135/Y5114/R-BY132) and another, FGC29987 /BY456 (origin not certain, but before 600AD) which later gives rise to Leod about 1229AD

An introduction to genetics in a genealogy/historical context Part 7

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) as we mentioned earlier, is DNA that is only inherited from the mother. It is not the X chromosome, it is actually in the mitochondria of a cell.  mtDNA is non-nuclear DNA, so it is not part of your chromosomes or “genes” and is passed “unchanged” (except for SNP mutations that occur) from mother to all children, but can only be passed on by a mother, so a mtDNA shows the distant female-line descent. Genealogy mtDNA tests are for SNPs. mtDNA SNPs are not very numerous, so the branches are quite infrequent. Perfect matches may still not have had a common female-line ancestor for 500 or 1000 years. It is most useful on very old specimens, as samples have remained stable to test for many thousands of years.

Polar Representation of the spread of mtDNA Haplogroups

Polar Representation of the spread of mtDNA Haplogroups, color coded by thousands of years ago

At first mtDNA was compared by mutations against the revised Cambridge Reference Sequence (rCRS), which is the Haplogroup H2a2a, but now uses Letter and number Haplogroups just like Y-DNA.

Some of the Y-DNA groups we mentioned earlier have equivalents in mtDNA– Y-DNA Haplogroup I is probably the same population source as mtDNA U Haplogroup, and Y-DNA R1  is probably the same population source as mtDNA H, and specifically H2a1 mtDNA may be same population as R1a Y-DNA. 50% of Europe today is mtDNA H.

To read more, check out:

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An introduction to genetics in a genealogy/historical context Part 6

Autosomal DNA (atDNA) is recombined randomly between atDNA of both parents. The unit of measurement of shared segments is the CentiMorgan (cM): “It is defined as the distance between chromosome positions (also termed, loci or markers) for which the expected average number of intervening chromosomal crossovers in a single generation is 0.01”

Segments below 5cM might be identical by state (IBS), not identical by descent (IBD). Identical twins have a 6722.2cM match, Parents a 3400cM match; Siblings average 2640cM match; Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, ½ siblings- 1700cM; Great Grand Parents, 1st Cousins, Great Uncles- 850cM; 1st Cousins once removed- 425cM; 2nd Cousins, 1st Cousins 2x Removed- 212.5cM; 3rd Cousins, 2nd Cousins 2x Removed- 53.13cM; 5th Cousins- 3.32cM; 8th Cousins- .05cM


Percent of shared atDNA with different relatives

atDNA Products include FTDNA ‘s “FamilyFinder” and 23andMe, AncestryDNA, etc. Most of these companies sell Cousin matching (reliable to 5th Cousins and very occasionally out to 7th and 8th), and usually offer a very generic Biogeographic Analysis or “Ethnic Composition”

Picture12Where this becomes interesting is where you can download your raw data, and use at a site like against population genetics databases, and ancient DNA to make chromosome paintings like these:




The only problem is, the percentages vary depending on what was in the source/comparison database, so you can never take the percentage as universal- it’s just what percent was shared with that group in the comparison database. This has also led to an under-reporting of Native American heritage, as for various legal and sociological reasons many of that culture are opposed to testing and are therefore not found in many comparison data sets. The previous 4 graphics were all made with the same autosomal data, just against different databases.

One further complication is that due to recombination, all of your true genealogical ancestors are not going to be found in your atDNA. Since you can picture atDNA as two decks of cards that are shuffled between your parents, then half discarded, leaving only one 52 card deck going forward- repeat that with 2 more decks over many generations and shuffles the two hybrid decks and discard half gain, repeat with another 2nd gen hybrid deck, etc.. and there may be no cards from one of the original decks left in the many-many times descendant deck. Random chance determines some of this, so mixed population people like many Americans will have this problem with confirming distant ancestors admixtures.

Part 7 will conclude with mtDNA

An introduction to genetics in a genealogy/historical context Part 5

I1 is the Y-DNA hapolgroup associated with the Mesolithic (Stone Age) to early Chacolithic (Copper Age) dominant inhabitants of Europe. Some archeological cultures that have been postulated to belong to haplogroup I1:
Linear Pottery Culture (LBK) (5600-4240 BCE), Ertebølle culture (EBK) (5300-3950 BCE), Funnelbeaker culture (4000-2700 BCE) and Pitted Ware culture (3200-2300 BCE). Grooved Ware peoples, inhabitants of Skara Brae ~3100-2500BCE and builders of the Neolithic Megalith stone circles of Lewis (Callanish 2900-1000BCE) and Orkney (Stones of Stenness 3100BCE, Ring of Broadgar 2500-2000BCE, Ness of Broadgar 3500-2000 BCE , Maeshowe 2800BCE, etc)

I1 makes up 35% of the Y-DNA lines of modern Norway, and a majority of Fenno-Scandian Vikings. I1 is found in higher concentration on Lewis than Skye. Some subgroup SNPs such as I1-M253, P109, L1301, L1302, M307 are though to be Viking markers, but could just as easily be the aboriginal people of the Hebrides.

Picture10Part 6 will continue with some more about atDNA

An introduction to genetics in a genealogy/historical context Part 4

R1a  was thought to be dominant haplogroup among the northern and eastern Proto-Indo-European language speakers, which evolved into the Indo-Iranian, Thracian, Baltic and Slavic branches.

The Yamna culture of 3300-2500 BCE is a possible origin for R1a Proto-Indo-Europeans. Their expansion is linked to an early adoption of bronze weapons, the domestication of the horse in the Eurasian steppes and the invention of the chariot. The first expansion into europe probably occured with the Corded Ware Culture, sometime called the battle-axe people because of the corded-impressed pottery and polished battle axes found at sites associated with the Corded Ware culture. Testing bone from archeological digs confirmed R1a1a in samples from:
Corded Ware culture in Germany (2600 BCE), from Tocharian mummies (2000 BCE) in Northwest China, Andronovo culture (1600 BC) in southern Russia and southern Siberia, and finally various Iron-age sites from Russia, Siberia, Mongolia and Central Asia.

Picture7R1a1 is defined by SNP M17. In a UK or Scots context, the R1a-M17 found is usually the sub-group R1a-L176.1, associated with Norwegian Vikings (30% of modern Norway) and the Gall-Ghàidheil, particularly in it’s appearance in the Chiefs of MacDonald and their claimed descent from Somerled. However, Many Gall-Ghàidheil descendants are also of R1b haplogroup, often L165 and L21 subclades, and R1b still comprises 28% of the Y-DNA lines of modern Norway.

Picture8Part 5 Continues the story with the Y-DNA Haplogroup  I1