Friday, 1 December 2017

Analysis of Group 4 (R1b-GF4)

The Farrell DNA Project currently has 13 distinct genetic groups. Each group consists of people who are close genetic matches to each other and thus probably share a common ancestor some time since the introduction of surnames about 1000 years ago. 

The analysis of each group involves getting answers to a series of questions, which may include how old is the group? where is it from? where do the group members sit in relation to each other on the overall "family tree" for this particular group? does this tell us anything about the evolution of the surname and its global spread?

Below is an analysis for Group 4 (R1b-GF4) which attempts to address these questions. Sam Hanna, the newly appointed Co-Administrator of the Farrell DNA Project, is actively working with Group 4 members and exploring their collective genealogical data.

Background information

Group 4 in the Farrell DNA Project consists of 14 members currently. There are a variety of surname variants present in this group including Farrell, Ferrell, Ferridge & Farris. This group appears to be genetically related to the 6th group (cyan) in the Farris DNA Project (some of whose members are in both projects). For some of the questions discussed below, the two groups have been amalgamated into one larger group (using the public data available for the Farris group).

Farrell Group 4 (R1b-GF4)

6th Farris group (cyan) aka "Farris Group 6" for this analysis

Only 1 member of Farrell Group 4 has done Big Y testing (167989). The other members who have done SNP testing have either done a SNP Pack test or simply a single SNP test. These are indicated in the diagram above. This places Group 4 on the Tree of Mankind somewhere below the "major subclade" branch characterised by the SNP marker FGC5494 and (going further downstream) below the sub-branch characterised by BY10339. This particular branch is some 4000 years old so ideally we need at least one more person in this group to do the Big Y test so that further "downstream SNPs" that characterise this group can be identified. 

Also, all members should send their Big Y data to Alex Williamson so that they can have additional analyses performed (all completely free) and thus be placed accurately on The Big Tree (Haplogroup R of the Tree of Mankind). Instructions for transferring your Big Y data can be found here.

Group 4 on The Big Tree (the SNP Progression is at the top)

In addition, all the available SNP and STR data from the larger amalgamated group was fed into the SAPP Programme (at and a Mutation History Tree was generated. This represents a "Best Fit" model of the actual family tree for all the members of this group (given the currently available data). It will change (perhaps only slightly) as more members join and as more data becomes available (particularly Y-DNA-111 STR data and Big Y SNP data). Click on the diagram to enlarge it. A pdf version of this tree can be downloaded from this Dropbox link here

Interestingly, the members of the amalgamated group tend to split into two major branches. The large branch on the left consists mainly of people called Farris (although there is one Ferrell), whilst the large branch on the right consists of a mixture of different variants (Farrell x4, Ferrell x1, Faris x5, Ferriss x1, and Ferridge x2). For ease of reference, let's call the left branch the Farris branch (from Node #32 down) and the right branch the Farrell branch (from Node #48 down).

The Mutation History Tree generated for Group 4 via the SAPP Programme
(click to enlarge, or download from Dropbox)

The orange boxes represent the 3 members who have tested positive for BY10339, whilst the pink boxes represent the 2 members who have tested positive for the upstream SNP FGC5494 (about 4300 years old). The member's surname and MDKA birth location (where available) have been included. To maximise space, kit numbers have been replaced by F numbers (see key below):

F01=Ferriss 95122 F14=Farrell=Donegal 467935
F02=Rogerson=Dumfries 105093 F15=Farrell=Donegal 474621
F03=Vance=VA 108691 F16=O'Farill=Cuba 517921
F04=Ferrell=VA 132618 F17=Ferridge=Berks 526034
F05=Jones 146752 F18=Faris=Leitrim 528214
F06=Faris=IL 150821 F19=Dearduff 546155
F07=Faris=TN 159717 F20=Farrell=Donegal 631095
F08=Farris=MO 167989 F21=Ferridge=Berks 772230
F09=Ferris=Sferra 259311 F22=Farris=SC B11734
F10=Faris 265571 F23=Farris=Ulster B7006
F11=Farrell=Donegal 307389 F24=Farris=MO H1249
F12=Faris=DE 324313 F25=Faris=DE H2266
F13=Ferrell=VA 369768 F26=Farris=MO H2275

Has the group been grouped accurately? 

The purpose of grouping people (in the Farrell DNA Project at any rate) is to identify people who are closely genetically related to each other and who are likely to have descended from the same common ancestor within the last 1000 years, roughly since the introduction of surnames. The Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) may very well be the person who originated the particular Farrell surname variant carried by the men in the group (or it could be one of his descendants since that time).

In order for the analysis of any group to be accurate, the grouping itself must be accurate. And that means being able to identify any false positives (e.g. Chance Matches due to Convergence that have inadvertently been allowed in to the group) or false negatives (Outliers that are difficult to spot and have been inadvertently left out of the group)?

Grouping is primarily based on Genetic Distance but other factors such as Rare Marker Values or Unique STR Patterns can also be helpful. The other big aid to grouping is SNP Testing (using the Big Y or SNP Packs) or Downstream SNP Prediction (by analysing the terminal SNP of a person's matches). You can learn more about the grouping process in this video of a recent presentation I gave at the FTDNA Annual Conference in Houston (10-12 Nov 2017). These various methods help identify false positives (people who should not be in the group) and false negatives (people who should).

Possible False Positives

In relation to the amalgamated Group 4 & Farris Group 6, there are several distant matches currently in the larger group and it is questionable whether or not they belong here. They are:
  • F16 O'Farrill 517921 (GD is >7/37 to any member of Group 4 - he was originally placed here for comparison purposes and was never removed)
  • F24 Farris H1249 (in Farris Group 6 so I don't have access to his data)
  • F09 Ferris 259311 (as above)

These can be seen to be lying on the outskirts of the Mutation History Tree above. These people should do the Big Y test to clarify their terminal SNP and whether or not they belong in Group 4. Now is the time to buy the Big Y test while it is reduced in cost (now $475) during the Christmas Sale (till Dec 31st) and while further discount vouchers are available to reduce the Sale price to $400 or even $375. FTDNA are also offering a free upgrade to Y-DNA-111 for anyone who buys the Big Y test during the sale.

There are two non-Farrell's in Group 4 (Dearduff, Vance) but their STR marker profile suggests that they are closely related to others in the group, and additional SNP marker testing confirms that they are FGC5494 positive which again suggests they do indeed belong here. In addition, Vance lists his MDKA (Most Distant Known Ancestor) as a Ferrell from Virginia.

There is limited evidence of Convergence in this group. The person closest to the modal haplotype (Ferrell 369768) shows no risk of Convergence at 111 or 67 markers, minimal risk at 37 markers (37 matches in total, but only 1 with a non-consistent terminal SNP - and he has a different surname), and a high risk at 25 markers (3468 matches) but none of these matches bear a Farrell surname variant.

Possible False Negatives

Using the Admin's Genetic Distance tool, there is no evidence that any Ungrouped project members belong in Group 4 (i.e. all members who should be in this group are already in this group). When the member closest to the Group 4 modal haplotype (Ferrell 369768) is compared to all other group members at the 37, 67 & 111 marker level, there is no sign of any "outliers" who could possibly belong in Group 4. Thus we can be reasonably confident that no one has been "left out" by mistake.

How old is the group?

There are various ways that the age of a genetic group can be calculated:
  • accurate pedigrees (i.e. genealogical data)
  • triangulating using TiP Report data (uses only STR data)
  • SAPP Programme (using Ken Nordtvedt's Interclade Ageing methodology - uses SNPs & STRs)
  • YFULL methodology (SNPs only)
  • Big Tree (Iain MacDonald's methodology)

I currently find that the SAPP Programme estimates appear to be the most accurate (but this may change in time). Based on these values, the overall age for the group appears to be about 1000 years old. The MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor) is represented by Node #49 in the Mutation History Tree above and the estimated TMRCA (Time to MRCA) is 37 generations (67% range 23-50) which gives an estimated date for this particular branching point as 950 AD (67% range 550 AD to 1300 AD). The date 950 AD is tantalising close to the supposed origin of surnames which makes it look like it could very well be an accurate estimate ... but we all have a natural tendency to pick the number that best suits our preconceived ideas. So a pinch of salt is in order.

TMRCA estimates of the MRCA and the two major branches
(click to enlarge)

Interestingly the TMRCA for the Farris Branch (Node #32 on the left) is 1300 AD, whilst the TMRCA for the Farrell Branch (Node #48, right) is 1650 AD. So the two branches appear to be quite distantly related to each other. It also suggests that there may be a lot more Farrell's and Farris's out there who may be descended from additional "ancient" branches of this genetic group which have yet to be identified. This may become clear as more people join the project.

Where is the group from?

There are several sources of evidence that may help determine the likely ancestral origins for any particular genetic group. These include the following:
  • extensive (and accurate) direct male line Pedigrees, rooted in the Old World
  • Surname Dictionaries 
  • old genealogies found in Ancient Annals (and similar texts)
  • Nearest Neighbour Analysis using Surname Distribution Maps


Most people in the Farris branch (Node #32 down) have a New World location for their MDKA (Most Distant Known Ancestor) and only one suggests an origin from "Ulster". In contrast, on the Farrell Branch (Node #48 down) most people have an Irish origin (x5), 3 are from the US, and 2 cousins have origins in Berkshire (UK). However, none of the MDKAs go back beyond about 1600 and some of these pedigrees are guesstimates rather than supported by hard documentary evidence, so no firm conclusions can be based on the evidence from MDKAs and pedigrees.

Surname Dictionaries suggest the following ...

Thus the surname Farrell and its variants is quite ubiquitous. The variants Farris and Ferris could either be of Irish, Scottish or English origin.

Ancient Annals

Does anyone know if the Farris name appears in ancient genealogies, either Scottish or Irish? If anyone knows of any such data please leave a comment below and I will update the post accordingly with any new discoveries.

Nearest Neighbours

Looking at the nearest genetic neighbours to Group 4 in the Big Tree diagram above, it appears that they are Belgian, German & English and the common ancestor was some 4000 years ago. This is too far back to draw any firm conclusions. A lot can happen in 4000 years!

However, The Big Tree is constructed using only SNP data from NGS tests (i.e. Next Generation Sequencing tests, such as the Big Y). It does not use SNP Pack data or data from single SNP tests. Such data may be present in Haplogroup or Geographic Projects (which is why all project members should join these projects), and may give further clues to the nearest genetic neighbours of Group 4.

A trawl of the L21 Project and FGC5494 Project revealed several additional people who were positive for BY10339. Bearing in mind that this is about 4000 years old, these additional genetic neighbours may be very distant and may not therefore be terribly informative. Nevertheless, here are the surnames (and their origins) identified as being BY10339 positive:

  • From the Big Y ...
    • Jansen (Netherlands)
    • Ducate (Belgium)
    • Ellis (England)
    • Young (England)
    • Willis (England)
    • Dunavant / Dunavent (England)
    • Justiss (England)
  • From the Haplogroup Projects ...
    • Mitchell (USA)
    • Virtue (USA)
    • Cottle (USA)

Surname Distribution Maps for the various names above are appended below (from They are based on the 1881 UK census and the 1901 Irish census.  There is no definitive pattern when taking all these names as a whole, and thus no firm conclusions can be drawn from this exercise. Some maps suggest a Scots-Irish distribution, others Northern England, others the West of Ireland, and some indicate that by 1881/1901 the surname is so ubiquitous in Ireland & Britain that no single origin is suggested. Further downstream SNP testing will be needed to see if we can better define the closest genetic neighbours to Group 4. And earlier Surname Distribution Maps may be helpful.

But for now, there is no clear indication as to the origins of this group.

What are the Next Steps

Those who haven't done so already should follow steps 1-3. Everyone should consider Step 4.
  1. Enter the birth location for their MDKA - see instructions here
  2. Post your pedigree on our Post Your Pedigree page  
  3. Join the appropriate Haplogroup Projects ...
    1. R1b & Subclades project
    2. L21 project
    3. FGC5494 project
  4. More Big Y results are needed - members should take advantage of the low cost of the test in the current FTDNA Sale and reduce the cost further with these discount vouchers
    1. Ideally we should have at least 1 person do the Big Y test from the Farrell Branch ... but the more people in Group 4 who do the Big Y test, the more we shall learn.
    2. Ideally each surname variant should do the Big Y test - Ferridge, Ferrell, Faris, Ferriss

Maurice Gleeson
Nov 2017

Friday, 17 November 2017

FTDNA Holiday Sale until Dec 31 2017

FamilyTreeDNA have launched their Annual Holiday Sale. This runs from the last day of the Annual FTDNA Conference (Nov 12th 2017) until the end of the year. So now is the time to buy FTDNA tests and take advantage of some of their lowest prices ever. They also make perfect Birthday, Thanksgiving & Christmas gifts for friends and family.

2017 Holiday Sale Discounts

There are discounts on many of their products including upgrades on mtDNA and Y-DNA. The discounts represent approximately a 10-30% reduction from the usual price.

There is a special offer regarding the Big Y test. The usual price is $575 but there is a $100 discount in the sale. Further discounts are possible with the vouchers described below. But everyone who buys a Big Y test will automatically get a FREE upgrade to the Y-DNA-111 test. So if you have only tested your Y-DNA to the 37 marker level, buying the Big Y will get you a free upgrade to 111 markers (which would normally cost you $188).

Even if you haven't done a Y-DNA-37 test yet, you can order it at the Sale Price, and use a voucher for a further discount, and then once it has registered on the system, you can order the Big Y test and get the $100 Sale Price discount, and any additional voucher discount, and a free upgrade to 111 markers. This is a very good deal indeed!
So if you were very lucky, you could get the Y-DNA-37 for $109 (using a $20 voucher) plus the Big Y for $375 (using a $100 voucher) and the free upgrade to 111 markers. This wold normally cost $169 + $575 + $188 = $942 but you would be getting it for $484. This is only 51% of the price you would normally pay.

As mentioned above, you can use Holiday Reward vouchers to lower the sale prices even further. These will be issued every Monday until the end of the Sale but each voucher only lasts for 7 days so you have to use them quickly. In effect, this may reduce the cost of the Family Finder atDNA test to $49 and Y-DNA-37 to $109.

A $20 voucher for the Y-DNA-67 test

To access your voucher, simply log on to your FTDNA account and click on the Holiday Reward icon on your home page. If you make a purchase during the Sale, you frequently get a Bonus Reward as well. This gives further discounts on other tests.

And if you want to use the voucher for yourself, simply click on the Enjoy Rewards button and the product will be added to your Cart and the discount applied. Alternatively you can give the voucher to friends or family by clicking on the Share Rewards button. Each voucher can only be used once, and must be used before the weekly deadline.

A lot of people donate any vouchers they are not using so check the ISOGG Facebook group and Genetic Genealogy Ireland Facebook group for any unused vouchers that you might be able to take advantage of. Be warned, they go fast so you might have to try several before you find one that works.

Enjoy the Sale!

Maurice Gleeson
Nov 2017

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

R1b-GF8 ... a new genetic family with links to Niall of the Nine Hostages

Recently, the results of a new project member (LF-4319)* became available and as a result, two people have been moved out of the Ungrouped section and a new genetic family has been tentatively formed.

STR marker profile
Member LF-4319 is a 2/37 match to member CCF-1500, and he in turn is a 4/37 and 7/67 match to MJF-2356. Thus the first two members seem to be a reasonably close match but the third member is much more distantly related to the first two.

The 3 members in this new genetic family share several relatively unique marker values in common that distinguishes them from other groups in the project:
  • 390 is 25
  • 385 is 11-13
  • 392 is 14
  • 458 is 19
  • 464 is 15-16-16-17
  • 607 is 16
  • 413 is 21-23
  • 534 is 17
  • 481 is 25

Matches' Terminal SNP Analysis
Analysis of the terminal SNPs in the match list for each of these 3 members reveals the SNP markers detailed below. All of these SNP markers fall below the SNP marker M222 on the Tree of Mankind indicating that each of the members in this new genetic cluster will probably test positive for this SNP marker (with 99.9% probability). In fact, one of them already has (MJF-2356).

1. Member LF-4319 
  • has 9 matches at 37 markers (M222 x1 and FGC30690 x1)
  • has 158 at 25 markers, including ...
    • BY2720 x1 ... below M222
    • BY470 x9 ... below M222
    • DF105 x3 ... below M222
    • DF97 x2 ... below M222
    • FGC12183 x1 ... below M222
    • FGC30690 x1 ... below M222
    • FGC5939 x7 ... below M222
    • FGC8739 x2 ... ??
    • M173 x4 ... way upstream
    • M222 x15 
    • PF2028 x1 ... below M222
    • S7049 x1 ... below M222
2. Member CCF-1500 has 2 matches at both the 25 and 37 marker levels with one match at each level being M222+

3. Member MJF-2356 has 31 matches at the 111 marker level, including ...
  • A11360 x2 ... below M222
  • A1206 x1 ... below M222
  • A260 x1 ... below M222
  • BY3344 x1 ... below M222
  • BY470 x1 ... below M222
  • BY586 x1 ... below M222
  • DF105 x1 ... below M222
  • DF85 x1 ... below M222
  • FGC8739 x1 ... ??
  • M222 x4 ... below M222
  • S588 ... below M222
  • S7049 ... below M222

M222 is an upstream SNP marker (formed about 4300 years ago), typically associated with the Irish warlord, Niall of the Nine Hostages (NOTNH) who is the legendary progenitor of the Uí Néill (pronounced: ee nail) clan of north-west Ireland and lived around 370-450 A.D. (1) 

M222 has the following SNP Progression: 
R-P312/S116 > L21/S145 > DF13 > Z39589 > DF49/S474 > Z2980 > Z2976 > DF23 > Z2961 > M222

The M222 SNP Pack is recommended for all 3 members of this new genetic family to see on which downstream branch they sit. This can be ordered via FTDNA for $119 by clicking on the blue UPGRADE button on the home screen after logging in.

Also, these members should join the M222 Haplogroup Project which will be able to provide us with further support and advice.

Earliest Known Ancestors
Two of the members have a Most Distant Known Ancestor (MDKA) from Ireland and the third one has an MDKA from Wales. All members are encouraged to upload their Farrell pedigrees to the Pedigree page on this website.

Having performed the above analysis, I went back and reviewed members in the Ungrouped section, and one of them is M222+ (member PJF-1790). I compared his results with the others in the new group and decided that he probably belongs there too. He is a 5/37 match to MJF-2356, and a 8/37 and 9/37 match to the other two members. This suggests he is quite a distant match to others in the group and may not actually belong there, but if he also does the M222 SNP Pack this will help clarify the situation.

The new genetic family ... R1b-GF8

Maurice Gleeson
Dec 2016

* for added security, project members are now described by their initials and the last 4 digits of their kit numbers

(1) A Y-Chromosome Signature of Hegemony in Gaelic Ireland, Moore et al, Am J Hum Genet. 2006 Feb; 78(2): 334–338.

Friday, 23 September 2016

The Origins of R1b-GF5

(Please note: for added security, project members are now described by their initials and the last 4 digits of their kit numbers)

The results of a new participant (GTJF-6791) have recently become available and he most closely matches the members of group R1b-GF5. So this presents a nice opportunity to review the characteristics of this group.

The new member has a Genetic Distance of between 2/37 and 6/37 to other members of the R1b-GF5 group. He also matches an Ungrouped Farrell project participant (SF-0861), which raises the possibility that this person could also belong to R1b-GF5. We'll look at that possibility later.

Ancestral Locations for R1b-GF5
There are currently 7 members in R1b-GF5. Surname variants include Farrelly (x3) and Farley (x3). There is also a member called Walsh which may be an NPE or an example of Convergence.

MDKA locations for these members include counties Leitrim (x1) and Meath (x1) in Ireland, and Illinois (x1) in the US. Five of the 7 members have listed Ireland as their country of origin. It would be helpful if all members could list birth locations for their MDKA (Most Distant Known Ancestor). See how to do this here.

R1b-GF5 on the Results Page of the Farrell DNA Project website

The Nearest Neighbours to R1b-GF5
Three members have tested to 37 markers, 2 to 67 markers, and 2 to 111 markers. Among their matches, the surnames Beatty, Berry and Byrne turn up frequently, suggesting that there may have been a surname or DNA switch with these families at some time in the past. But which came first? Did Beatty become Farrelly? or did Farrelly become Beatty? The same considerations apply to Berry and Byrne/Burns. The distribution of the surname Beatty in particular has an overlap with one of the traditional ancestral origins of the Farrell surname (i.e. the midlands / Longford).

Mid-1800 Surname Distribution maps of Nearest Neighbours of R1b-GF5

An alternative explanation is that these matches are the result of Convergence (i.e. chance matching).  This is suggested by the fact that three of the members who have tested to at least 67 markers, have more than 100 matches at this particular level of comparison. Further DNA testing (with the Z255 SNP Pack - see below) would help resolve this question.

Which branch of the Human Evolutionary Tree is it on?
On examination of the terminal SNPs of the matches among R1b-GF5 members, there is again evidence of Convergence with several different downstream SNPs occurring (e.g. FGC32916 > A1154 > BY3247, A1235, Z16432, Z16434, and Z16950 ... all adjacent downstream branches). However, all of these adjacent branches fall below Z255 so it is very probable that all R1b-GF5 members will test positive for Z255, and it is recommended that one of them at least orders the Z255 SNP Pack.

Close neighbours to R1b-GF5?

Rare Marker Values
In terms of rare marker values, the modal value for marker CDYa is 39 and this occurs in only 4% of the R1b population. Other than that, there is no evidence of rare marker values.

Other possible members from the Ungrouped section
Finally, review of the Genetic Distance between R1b-GF5 members and all other participants in the Farrell DNA Project suggests that there may be one other person who is currently Ungrouped who may belong to R1b-GF5. This is the project member SF-0861 mentioned in the second paragraph above. At the 111 and 67 marker levels, R1b-GF5 members only match other R1b-GF5 members. But at the 37-marker level of comparison, SF-0861 comes up as a match to three R1b-GF5 members, with a GD of 7/37 each time. So for the time being I have placed him in this group. The accuracy of his membership of R1b-GF5 could be confirmed by doing the Z255 SNP Pack.

Next Steps
  1. Full MDKA information should be included for all group members. The most important information is the surname and the birth location of the MDKA (Most Distant Known Ancestor). See how to do this here.
  2. The Z255 SNP Pack is recommended for members of this group. Ideally, at least 1 or 2 members should do this test. The tentative member SF-0861 should definitely do this test, in order to confirm that he does indeed belong to this group.
  3. Ideally, 1 other person within the group should do the Big Y test ($575), but I'd recommend waiting until the next FTDNA sale when it may come down in value to about $460.
  4. All members are reminded to follow the suggestions in the link below in order to maximise the benefit from their DNA results ... Getting the Most out of your DNA Test

Friday, 12 August 2016

A New Genetic Family is born? (R1b-GF7)

A new project member (FJF-4599) joined the Farrell Project in June this year and was a close-ish match (GD 4/37) to one of our Ungrouped members (JF-6813). So I tentatively placed them together into an entirely new genetic family, named R1b-GF7. Both of them have the surname Farrell and their respective earliest ancestors are from Wicklow and Londonderry.

The Wicklow Farrell recently upgraded his Y-DNA test to 67 markers and this revealed no close matches in the project, at this level. It would be necessary for the Londonderry Farrell to upgrade to 67 markers in order to see if the Y-DNA match between the two of them is maintained or lost.

Rare Marker Values

However, in the process of reviewing these new results, it became apparent that the Londonderry Farrell has rare marker values for the markers DYS385a & b (the 5th & 6th markers in the string of results).  His values are 10 & 12 and these only occur in 3% and 2% of Haplogroup R1b individuals respectively. The chances of them occurring together are therefore somewhere in the region of 0.06% or 1 in 1667. So these rare marker values, coupled with the surname Farrell, could identify other members of this particular group.

Marker values for DYS385a & b
from Leo Little's spreadsheet

And indeed there is one other member in the Ungrouped section who meets this profile. He is a Ferrell with ancestry from England, and although he has only tested to the 12-marker level, his rare marker values in combination with his surname is sufficient evidence to warrant his inclusion in this group. He only has the one match at 12 markers (the Londonderry Farrell) so there are no more clues from his limited Y-DNA results.

The new group ... R1b-GF7

Further clues?

The Londonderry Farrell (JF-6813) has only 1 match at the 12 marker level (i.e. the English Ferrell), 1 at the 25 marker level (a Sullivan), and 1 at the 37 marker level (i.e. the Wicklow Farrell). So there are no major clues here.

However, the Wicklow Farrell (FJF-4599) has 14 matches at 67 markers, 28 matches at 37 markers, and 145 matches at 25 markers. There are strong associations with the surnames McCarthy and Longacre, and with the SNP markers S15280 and BY4065, and some evidence of links to Scandinavia and Holland (as well as Ireland). He has already tested positive for the SNP marker Z253, which lies upstream of the markers S15280 and BY4065, and reviewing his Matches' Terminal SNPs, it looks likely that his Estimated SNP Progression is:
R- ... Z253 > BY4086 > FGC17436 > A494 > S7898 ... and then either S15280 ... or Z18132 > BY157 > BY357 or BY4065
On the Big Tree, you can see that this places this group either on a predominantly Irish branch (below S15280) or on a "Scandinavian" branch (below Z18132). The dates for the branching points on this portion of the tree (from YFULL) are as follows:
  • S7898 ... 4300 years ago (equivalent to Y13500)
  • Z18132 ... 1850 years ago (equivalent to Y13501)

An Historical Perspective

I asked Sam Hanna, long-term Farrell researcher and historian, for his thoughts on the possible connections between the group members and here is what he says:
The creation of a new genetic family, R1b-GF7, is very interesting. One member has a most distant ancestor from Castledawson, south Derry, and another from Aghowle in Wicklow.
Obviously, conclusions based upon one link such as this must be treated with extreme caution, however, this result may ultimately point to the origin(s) of at least one branch of Ulster Farrells.
In 1639 a Patrick Farrell of Magherafelt, south Derry, was associated with the Honourable Irish Society. The Irish Society oversaw the plantation of Derry, and Farrells of plantation origin have been domiciled in south Derry and southeast Tyrone ever since. This is evidenced in various 18th century records and the Griffth’s Valuation of c.1860. For example, a Thomas Farrell was known at Ardboe in 1796.
This ‘Farrell Plantation Cluster’ is by no means unique in Ulster, with the largest concentration in south Donegal dating to the 1630’s. However, as yet there are no historic records which confirm links between the various clusters; and so far there is insufficient genetic data to compare clusters.
There was significant Farrell settlement in Wicklow from at least the end of the 16th century. Therefore, the discovery of a genetic link between south Derry and Wicklow may ultimately assist the search for the origin(s) of at least one branch of the Ulster Farrells.

Next Steps

At this stage, this grouping remains tentative and we need to confirm that these 3 Farrell's are indeed related to each other. We also need to explore the Irish vs Scandinavian connection and to this end further SNP testing is recommended.

So the next steps would be as follows:
  1. the English Farrell (RWF-6123) should upgrade to 37 markers ($99) in order to confirm that the relationship to the others is genuine
  2. the Wicklow Farrell (FJF-4599) should do the Z253 SNP Pack ($119) and confirm where he sits on the Human Evolutionary Tree - is it in Ireland or is it in Scandinavia?
  3. the Londonderry Farrell (JF-6813) could either upgrade to 67 markers (about $99), and then do the single Z253 SNP test ($39), and (depending on the results) possibly do the Z253 SNP Pack ($119). 
  4. all three should join the R1b & Subclades Project and the Z253 Project (if they test positive for Z253).

It will be interesting to see where this new group takes us.

The predicted section of the Y-Haplotree wherein this new group may reside
(pink SNPs are covered by the Z253 SNP Pack)

Maurice Gleeson
August 2016

Update 23 Aug 2016
The Londonderry Farrell (JF-6813) upgraded to 67 markers and the results show 8 matches at this level, 2 of them called McCarthy. He has a GD of 6/67 to the Wicklow Farrell (FJF-4599) and the same SNP markers are present as described above. This means that the Estimated SNP Progression for this group remains as follows:
R- ... Z253 > BY4086 > FGC17436 > A494 > S7898 ... and then either S15280 ... or Z18132 > BY157 > BY357 or BY4065

Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Origins of R1b-GF2 (Part 3) - our nearest neighbours

(Please note: for added security, project members are described by their initials and the last 4 digits of their kit numbers)

We have previously examined the DNA profiles of several new members of group R1b-GF2 and seen how this has resulted in a reassessment of those in the Ungrouped section. This re-evaluation resulted in 15 potential R1b-GF2 candidates being identified among Ungrouped members, 4 of whom succeeded in "passing the test" and are now nestled comfortably in the warm embrace of R1b-GF2. In this article, we look beyond R1b-GF2 to see who are our nearest neighbours and does this tell us anything about the origins of our group.

Our (current) position on the Human Evolutionary Tree

We saw in Part 1 of of this series of articles, that the likely terminal SNP* for all members of R1b-GF2 is FGC20561 - a SNP downstream of Z253, one of the major R1b sub-clades. The SNP progression for R1b-GF2 would be as follows:
  • R- ... M269 ... > L21 > DF13 > ZZ10 > Z253 > S847 > S844 > S856 > S845 > S846 > Z17685 > FGC20561
Where this places us on Alex Williamson's Big Tree, the YFULL version of the haplotree, the FTDNA & ISOGG versions of the haplotree is illustrated in the diagrams below. As we are at the cutting edge of science when it comes to using SNP data to explore our roots, FGC20561 is so new that it does not even appear on Alex's tree (yet). The more upstream SNPs do (i.e. Z17685 and above). Similarly, the YFULL haplotree only includes S845 but nothing further downstream. Both FTDNA & ISOGG versions do include FGC20561, but none of the trees include any SNPs further downstream of FGC20561. In other words, for now it is the terminal SNP of the group ... until further SNP testing (such as the Big Y) reveals a new terminal SNP.

There are some minor differences between the trees because we are still at the experimental stage of putting together the Tree of Mankind - for example, YFULL has the SNPs S844 and S856 as being equivalent SNPs (i.e. more or less at the same position on the haplotree) whereas FTDNA and ISOGG have S856 as a SNP further downstream of S844.

But bit by bit, we will continue to move further downstream along the Human Evolutionary Tree until we identify the SNPs specific to the Farrell's of R1b-GF2, and maybe even SNPs specific to sub-branches within this particular group, or specific to individual R1b-GF2 Farrell's.

R1b-GF2 on Alex Williamson's Big Tree

The YFULL haplotree stops at S845 (formed 1900 years ago)

FTDNA's haplotree - some minor differences in branching structure

FGC20561 and adjacent SNPs on ISOGG's haplotree

Insights from a Haplogroup Project Administrator 

Ray Murta is one of the Admins of the Z253 project. Ray kindly contacted me earlier in the year to share some of his project's findings in relation to the Farrell surname. Ray noticed that there was a close genetic connection between the Farrell's of R1b-GF2 and people with the surnames Kelley and Harrell. 

In brief, Ray put together a family tree for a subgroup of members of his Z253 project based on the SNP results of their recent Z253 SNP Pack tests.  This subgroup is known as the Z253-1716-11 sub-group and consists of over 300 people who have contributed their SNP & STR results* to help the further analysis of the branching structure in the Z253 subclade. Within this Z253-1716-11 sub-group is a further sub-group of about 50 people, which Ray refers to as the Farrell-Harrell-Kelley Cluster.  So we have the Z253 sub-clade (583 members), and below this the Z253-1716-11 subgroup (300 members), and below this the Farrell-Harrell-Kelley Cluster (50 members), and below this our own Farrell group R1b-GF2 (20 members).

Two people within this cluster have taken SNP tests and are positive for FGC20561. One of these people is our very own project member JMR-8902 who is the subject of an earlier blog post describing how Harrell DNA became associated with the Ramey surname.

Below is Ray's version of our portion of the haplotree, showing the line of descent from S856 to FGC20561 (in green) and it's adjacent branch FGC20562. The Big Y testers are in yellow (these are the same people as in Alex Williamson's tree above, namely Yorke & Roderick) but there are additional people included who have not tested on the Big Y - two other Yorke's, Cain, Ramey, Finch, Farrell, Harrell, & Kelly. Because several different surnames share the SNP FGC20561, this suggests that it is not specific to the Farrell surname of R1b-GF2. Currently, the three members of R1b-GF2 who have undertaken SNP testing have done either a single SNP test (1 person) or the Z253 SNP Pack (2 people). We would need two or more people to undertake the Big Y test in order to determine downstream SNPs that may be specific for the Farrell surname of R1b-GF2.

The surnames associated with the adjacent FGC20562 branch are Christie, McKenna, & Hazleton (Big Y testers) as well as McReynolds, Reynolds, Bankstown, Robbins & Gilchrist. There is a third branch, currently defined by FGC20560 (aka Z17685) with surnames Finlay & Robbins.

Interestingly, Ray dates FGC20561 & FGC20562 to about 1100 AD, and the slightly upstream SNP FGC20560 to 1000 AD.

Ray Murta's version of the haplotree showing the FGC20561 branch (in green)
(click to enlarge)

Ray’s analysis has linked several surname projects together, including ours. The other Surname Projects include the Harrell Project and the Kelley DNA Project. The particular Harrell group is Harrell Line 2 with roots in Augusta county, Virginia, US (Roberta Estes, renowned blogger, is one of the Admins and the project results can be viewed here). And the particular Kelley group is their group 19A (results here), again with roots in the US.

Farrell & Harrell

You will immediately be struck by the similarity of the surnames Farrell and Harrell. And this similarity begs the question: is there a possible connection between these two surnames? And the answer is a resounding yes.

In a previous blog post, I described the different variants of the Farrell surname and one of these is Harrell. You can see how this evolved by looking at the Gaelic version of the surnames: Farrell was derived from Ó FEARGHAIL which - owing to the aspiration of the initial f - mutated into Ó hEARGHAIL from which was derived Harrell. This reasonably explains how the similarly sounding surnames were derived from the same root.

STR data in the Farrell-Harrell-Kelley group

Ray has entered the 50 odd members of the Farrell-Harrell-Kelley Cluster into a spreadsheet and analysed their STR data. This exercise produced some interesting results:
  • The cluster includes 4 members of the Kelley Surname Project, one of whom tested negative for FGC20561. This suggests that some Kelley's branched away from the rest of the FGC20561 group around about 900 AD.
  • Excluding the 4 Kelley members, the common ancestor for everyone else in the group is estimated to be about 600 years ago (i.e. 1400 AD).
  • There are smaller clusters within the group with STR profiles suggesting a much more recent common ancestor. For example, the Harrell's are estimated to have a common ancestor who lived within the last several hundred years. 
  • The DNA evidence suggests that the Harrell group branched off from the Farrell group. Based on STR data, this branching roughly occurred about 9 generations back, or about 1680 AD (90% range 1380-1860). A more accurate assessment of the TMRCA will hopefully be available in the not too distant future. The one Lakey member is a suspected NPE who probably descends from a Harrell male.
  • Certain STR profiles appear to be solidly associated with the group. Here is what Ray writes in a recent email:
One aspect that I'm pleased with is that the analysis on FGC20561 and it's brother FGC20562 has highlighted a STR profile that appears to uniquely identify prediction of belonging to one or other of the Haplogroups. It involves just two Markers, namely DYS464, and DYS422. I had never previously considered DYS464 to be a reliable indicator, but in this case it appears to have been pretty stable for the past 1000 years, and DYS442 is a bit of a flip-flop marker in the Z253-1716-11 Cluster.
The unique marker values first appeared in FGC20560/Z17685 which lies immediately above FGC20561 and FGC20562 with a mutation in DYS464 from (14-15-16-17) to (14-14-16-17) combined with a value for DYS442=13. There was a subsequent mutation that occurred under FGC20561 of DYS442=13>14. I have used Mike Walsh's R-L21 Haplotype spreadsheet to check the prominence of these values, and every single one out of more than 14000 results occurs in a member of the Z253-1716-11 Cluster, with an overall STR profile that matches FGC20560, or FGC20561 or FGC20562.
Based on this information, I have located some additional FGC20561 suspects who also match the Farrell/Harrell/Kelley profile and have added them to the Spreadsheet which is attached. they include a Fagan group, a Pickett, May, Rock, Grace and Devine. Incidentally, Farrell Kit # xx9133, currently in the ungrouped section of the Farrell Project, belongs in the GF2 group.
In the previous post, member xx9133 was identified as an additional member from the Ungrouped section who belonged in R1b-GF2. The fact that he matches the "unique STR profile" (which is akin to rare marker values) provides additional internal consistency and lends further support to his inclusion in R1b-GF2.

More individuals will become apparent over time, and each addition to the group brings us a step closer to figuring out where they came from.

Links to Ancient Genealogies

Ray points out that the Lordships (territories) of the O'Farrell and O'Kelly clans were side by side, with the O'Farrell's in Longford and the O'Kelly's in neighbouring Roscommon and Galway. This could very well point to Central Ireland as the ancestral origins for the members of the Farrell-Kelley cluster.

But there are other clues that might help us pinpoint the ancestral origins of R1b-GF2. If we take a closer look at the Farrell-Kelley Cluster and the surnames associated with it, we may get a better idea of the likely ancestral origins for this group. This Surname Distribution Exercise is a big undertaking and will be described in a separate article.

Lessons Learned

There are several important lessons to learn from this new information:
  • Haplogroup Project Administrators have a much broader view of DNA results than Surname Project Administrators and have valuable contributions to make to surname projects by linking them with their closest neighbours.
  • This underscores the importance of all project members joining their relevant Haplogroup Project, which for R1b-GF2 include the following major projects (there may be others as well):
  • The current terminal SNP for R1b-GF2 is FGC20561 and this is dated to about 1100 AD.
  • The R1b-GF2 Farrell group appears to be at least 600 years old (1400 AD).
  • The Farrell - Harrell branching point is about 1680 AD.
  • FGC20561 is not shared uniquely by the Farrells of R1b-GF2 - other surnames sharing this SNP include Yorke, Cain, Ramey, Finch, & Kelly ... and all appear to be Irish surnames.
Next Steps
  • Several members in R1b-GF2 should undertake the single SNP test for FGC20561 (or preferably the Z253 SNP pack) in order to confirm that they are positive for this SNP. This applies in particular to the 4 members who were recently moved from the Ungrouped section (i.e. kit numbers ending 7344, 9133, 8478, & 0126).
  • Several members should also consider doing the Big Y test in order to discover additional SNPs downstream of FGC20561, one (or several) of which will eventually be definitive for the Farrell's of R1b-GF2.  Two members would be optimal in the first instance, as far apart genetically as possible (i.e. a Genetic Distance of 10/37).
  • Upgrading to 67 or 111 markers will help facilitate the construction of a Mutation History Tree and define the branching structure within R1b-GF2, and indeed the whole Farrell-Harrell-Kelley Cluster. This in turn will help date the various branching points in the tree and identify which R1b-GF2 Farrell's are most closely related to each other.

* Remember: there are two types of DNA marker (SNP markers and STR markers) and therefore two kinds of DNA data (SNP data and STR data)
Maurice Gleeson
June 2016

Monday, 6 June 2016

The Origins of R1b-GF2 (Part 2) - expanding the group

While doing the Genetic Distance (GD) analysis on the three new members for group R1b-GF2, it became apparent that some of the project members who are currently in the Ungrouped section appear as distant matches to these new members. This sparked a re-examination of Ungrouped members to see if any of them could be moved out of the Ungrouped section and into R1b-GF2, particularly in view of the fact that we have identified the terminal SNP FGC20561 among several of the members of the group. For reference, the Predicted SNP Progression for this genetic family is as follows:
R … > M269 > L150 > L23 > L51 > L151 > P311 > P312 > L21 > DF13 > ZZ10 > Z253 > S847 > S844 > S856 > S845 > S846 > Z17685 > FGC20561

First I repeated the GD analysis for each of the 16 current members of R1b-GF2 who have 37 marker results, and identified the Ungrouped members who turned up interspersed among their fellow R1b-GF2 matches.

Then I looked at each of these Ungrouped members in turn, assessing the terminal SNPs of their own matches to see if there was any hint of their terminal SNP being FGC20561 or somewhere near it.

Here is what I found.

Genetic Distance Analysis of existing R1b-GF2 members

No Ungrouped members appeared in the GD analyses performed at the 111 and 67 marker levels. But at the 37 marker level, GD analysis suggested that the following Ungrouped members might belong in R1b-GF2. 

The list below includes the kit number of each individual currently in R1b-GF2 (a & B) followed by the kit numbers of those Ungrouped members who are close to or among each individual's R1b-GF2 matches (in the order of closeness). Each Ungrouped member's kit number appears in bold the first time it occurs. Please note that for added security only the last 4 numbers of their kit numbers are shown.

members   ... Ungrouped members that appear among / near their other R1b-GF2 matches
  • 9744 ... 7344 9133 0126 1164 8478 8451 
  • 2693 ... 9133 7344 0126 1160  
  • 7250 ... 7344 9133 0126 8478 8451 1491 3273  
  • 8902 ... 7344 9133 0126 1055 8478  
  • 4990 ... 0126 7344 9133 2356 3459  
  • 6145 ... 7344 9133 0126 1160 8451 2356 3459  
  • 7657 ... 7344 9133 8478 0126  
  • 5650 ... 9133 7344 0126 8478  
  • 6772 ... 7344 0126 9133  
  • 3181 ... 9133 7344 0126 8478  
  • 1867 ... 7344 9133 0126 3273 1491 8451 8478 9094 0754 0861  
  • 5271 ... 7344 9133 0126 3273 8478 8451 1491  
  • 7960 ... 7344 9133 0126 3273 8478 8451 1491  
  • 3189 ... 7344 9133 0126  
  • 1784 ... 7344 0126 8478 9133 8451 (see diagram below as an example of this exercise)  
  • 7099 ... 7344 9133 0126  

This GD analysis identified 15 potential candidates (in bold) for membership of R1b-GF2. 

Example: GD analysis (at 37 markers) for member PSF-1784 ... this reveals that
5 Ungrouped members (orange dots) turn up among his R1b-GF2 matches

How often do we see them?

Some of the potential candidates appeared in the R1b-GF2 match lists on multiple occasions, some only once. It is perhaps more likely that those who appeared many times are more likely to be real candidates for R1b-GF2 membership. Here is a list of the 15 candidates and the frequency with which they appeared in the R1b-GF2 match lists. (Note: again, only the last 4 digits of their kit numbers are shown).

7344   x16
9133   x16
0126   x16
1164   x1
8478   x10
8451   x7
1160   x2
1491   x4
3273   x4
1055   x1
2356   x2
3459   x2
9094   x1
0754   x1
0861   x1

The next step was to see if there was any evidence that the terminal SNP of each of these 15 candidates was at or near FGC20561. Those candidates that "passed the  test" are indicated in green; those that did not are in red.

Assessment of each potential candidate for evidence of FGC20561

7344, Farrell
Matches 16 members of R1b-GF2, including the other 3 Ungrouped members (red arrows) who are now considered probable/possible members of R1b-GF2.
GD to R1b-GF2 members = 4-10/37

Example: GD analysis (at 37 markers) of Ungrouped member 7344 - his closest matches are consistently in GF2
SNP analysis
At 37 markers, the following SNPs appear among his matches: Z253 x2, S846 x1
At 25 markers, Z253 x13, S856 x1, S846 x2, FGC20561 x4, FGC20562 x1, FGC20563 x1 ... plus some less frequent convergent subclade SNPs (Z29706, Z225, U152, S7015, FGC5494, DF23, DF13, DF103, BY3495)

So there is a strong indication that his SNP progression is similar to that of other members of R1b-GF2. And so he is now included in R1b-GF2.

9133, Farrell
Matches 16 members of R1b-GF2.
GD to R1b-GF2 members = 4-11/37
SNP analysis
At 37 markers, Z253 x1
At 25 markers, Z253 x14, S845 x2, S846 x2, S856 x2, Z17685, FGC20561 x4, FGC20562 x2, FGC20563 x7, plus some other single SNPs (A306, A600, DF103, L1308, L193, U152, Z145, Z198)

So again, the strong signal of a terminal SNP somewhere at or near FGC20561 warrants inclusion of this individual in R1b-GF2.

0126, Farrell
Matches 16 members of R1b-GF2.
GD to R1b-GF2 members = 6-11/37
SNP analysis
At 37 markers, no matches
At 25 markers, S11601 x1 ... this is a very distant SNP so currently there is insufficient evidence to move this individual into R1b-GF2. However, single SNP testing of FGC20561 may confirm that he belongs in R1b-GF2, which I would suspect that he does, given that he appears as a match (albeit distantly) to ALL 16 members of R1b-GF2. For those who appear as matches to R1b-GF2 members less frequently, a more general SNP Pack might be more advisable (such as the M343 Backbone Panel).

1164, Farrell
Matches 1 member of R1b-GF2.
GD to R1b-GF2 members = 12-19/37
SNP analysis
At 67 markers, no matches.
At 37 markers, no matches.
At 25 markers, no matches. So there is insufficient evidence to move him into R1b-GF2. Testing with the M343 Backbone Panel would provide some further direction.

8478, Farley
Matches 10 members of R1b-GF2.
GD to R1b-GF2 members = 9-15/37
SNP analysis
At 37 markers, no matches.
At 25 markers, 3 matches (all R1b-GF2).  But no SNP suggestions.
At 12 markers (I only went down to this level because of the low number of matches at the previous level), only 21 matches but 15 of them are in the Farrell project. And there are suggestive SNPs ...  Z253 x1, FGC20561 x3 ... but FGC11134 x1 and FGC34047.

The balance of the evidence suggests that this member belongs in R1b-GF2 but a single SNP test for FGC20561 would be helpful to confirm it.

8451, Farley
Matches 7 members of R1b-GF2.
GD to R1b-GF2 members = 10-16/37
SNP analysis
At 111, 67, & 37 markers, no matches.
At 25 markers, 70 matches, but no evidence of SNPs close to FGC20561, not even Z253.

Therefore this individual should not be moved into R1b-GF2 and a M343 Backbone Panel might be the best next step.

1160, Farrell
Matches 2 members of R1b-GF2.
GD to R1b-GF2 members = 11-17/37
SNP analysis
At 37 markers, 1 match.
At 25 markers, 24 matches, but no evidence of SNPs close to FGC20561. Therefore this individual also remains Ungrouped and a M343 Backbone Panel might be the best next step.

1491, Carroll
Matches 4 members of R1b-GF2.
GD to R1b-GF2 members = 10-18/37
SNP analysis - this individual has done the Big Y test & his terminal SNP is Z16277. This is on a completely different part of the haplotree (i.e. below L21 > DF13 > DF21 > Z3000) and therefore this individual is not closely related to those in R1b-GF2.

3273, Largent
Matches 4 members of R1b-GF2.
GD to R1b-GF2 members = 10-17/37
SNP analysis
At 37 markers, 12 matches. No evidence of FGC20561.
At 25 markers, 17 matches. Again no evidence. So he remains ungrouped.

1055, Farr
Matches 1 member of R1b-GF2.
GD to R1b-GF2 members = 11-15/37
SNP analysis
At 37 markers, 17 matches with no evidence of FGC20561.
At 25 markers, 349 matches but again no evidence. He remains ungrouped.

2356, Farrell
Matches 2 members of R1b-GF2.
GD to R1b-GF2 members = 10-15/37
SNP analysis: this member is M222 positive - a completely different branch. He remains Ungrouped.

3459, Farrar
Matches 2 members of R1b-GF2.
GD to R1b-GF2 members = 12-19/37
SNP analysis: this member has a terminal SNP of S7370 which is on a completely different branch (DF21). He remains Ungrouped.

9094, O Fearghall
Matches 1 member of R1b-GF2.
GD to R1b-GF2 members = 13-19/37
SNP analysis: his terminal SNP is likely to lie below DF21 (a different branch). He remains ungrouped.

0754, Farrall 
Matches 1 member of R1b-GF2.
GD to R1b-GF2 members = 11-18/37
SNP analysis: his terminal SNP is L48 (a different branch). He remains ungrouped.

0861, Farrell
Matches 1 member of R1b-GF2.
GD to R1b-GF2 members = 12-16/37
SNP analysis: no evidence of being close to FGC20561. He remains ungrouped.


Reviewing the evidence

So at the end of that analysis, we can be reasonably confident to add 3 new members to R1b-GF2 (namely 7344, 9133, 8478) and I have provisionally added the fourth member also (0126) even though it would be better to have confirmation that he does indeed test positive for FGC20561. In fact, it would be useful if all these four new members did the single SNP test to confirm they are positive for FGC20561 as predicted.

All the evidence points to their inclusion but how much of it can be considered to be independent pieces of evidence and how much of it may be influenced by circular arguments? There are three main pieces of evidence:
  1. Genetic Distance - does the individual fall within the recommended thresholds for declaring a match? The closest GD of the four new members is 4/37, 4/37, 6/37 and 9/37. Traditionally the first two would be declared matches, the third one would be considered a possibility, and the last one would be dismissed as likely to be unrelated within a genealogical timeframe.
  2. Number of times a specific Ungrouped member appears "close to" R1b-GF2 members in the GD analyses: it is striking how often the new members appear among the closest matches of the 16 members of R1b-GF2 - three of the new members appear all 16 times, the fourth appears 10 times.
  3. Analysis of terminal SNPs among an individual's matches: although both of the first two measures rely on GD as their basis, this third measure is much more independent of the two so the risk of a "circular argument" is reduced. There is reasonably strong evidence of the terminal SNP being at or near FGC20561 in 3 of the 4 new members. The fourth one would have to do the single SNP test to confirm this.  
There are two other pieces of evidence we could examine to see if there is internal consistency in the evidence to support the inclusion of these 4 new members in R1b-GF2, and these are: the TiP24 Score and rare marker values. These concepts are discussed in a previous post here - Criteria for allocating members to specific Genetic Families.

There are no rare marker values among the R1b-GF2 group (see previous post) and so this particular "Marker of Potential Relatedness" is of no use in this instance. Here are the TiP24 Scores (at 37 markers) for each of the 4 new members (compared to their closest R1b-GF2 match):
  • 7344 (Farrell) ... 95.30%
  • 9133 (Farrell) ... 94.65%
  • 8478 (Farley) ... 70.57%
  • 0126 (Farrell) ... 80.65%

Thus, two members show a strong signal (>90%) and two show a weaker signal. And depending on where you draw the threshold for inclusion, these members are either out or in. If it is 60%, then they are all in. If it is 80% then only 3 of them are in.

However, it is always best if you compare other potential members to the member whose haplotype is closest to the modal haplotype for the group. Here are the TiP24 Scores (at 37 markers) for each of the 4 new members compared to member BRF-7960 whose genetic signature is closest to the modal haplotype for R1b-GF2a (GD=1):
  • 7344 (Farrell) ... 79.73%
  • 9133 (Farrell) ... 76.13%
  • 8478 (Farley) ... 55.90%
  • 0126 (Farrell) ... 52.64%

These TiP24 Scores are much less convincing than the previous ones and only 2 of the 4 would qualify for inclusion, and only at the lower threshold value of 60%.

A further major caveat is that the TiP24 Score relies heavily on Genetic Distance (albeit accounting for variable mutation rates) and therefore it could be argued that there is a degree of circularity in using this measure and it is therefore not truly independent. Nevertheless, the TiP24 Score adds some further credibility to including at least 2 of these 4 members.

Ancestral Origins

Let's turn now to a different question. Does the addition of these new members add anything to our exploration of the origins of this group? Here is the MDKA information for each of these new members:
  • 7344 (Farrell) ... William Farrell Tipperary Ire 1844
  • 9133 (Farrell) ... Bernard Farrell 1828 - ? arrived in US in 1850
  • 8478 (Farley) ... none given
  • 0126 (Farrell) ... James Farrell b.3/20/1842 Restigouche Co NB Canada
Only one of the new additions points to Ireland as the country of origin, and specifically County Tipperary. Thus, within R1b-GF2, there are two members who cite Ireland and specifically Tipperary as the ancestral origin of their MDKA. All other members (who have included MDKA information) cite US origins for their MDKA. This again highlights the need for all members to include accurate MDKA information in order to facilitate this analysis, especially birth location (even if it is an educated guess).

So (currently) Tipperary is the leading candidate for the ancestral homeland of R1b-GF2 but this is only based on information from two members and so has to be taken with a large grain of salt ... for now. In the next article we will be looking at other evidence.


Because each of the analyses of the terminal SNPs of the matches of the individual members points to the terminal SNP for this group being FGC20561, there is no longer any major justification for the group being split into the "core group" R1b-GF2a and the more "peripheral group" R1b-GF2b. This concept was a useful exercise in the early days of the project when we wanted to separate out people whom we were very confident to group together from people who we were less confident about grouping together.

As a result of the new analyses, the two sub-groups will be amalgamated into just one larger group, R1b-GF2. This is further justified by the fact that the modal haplotypes for each of the sub-groups are virtually identical. The only differences between the Modal Haplotypes (up to 67 markers) for R1b-GF2a and R1b-GF2b are as follows:
  • dys456: 17 in 2a, 18 in 2b
  • CDYa: 38 in 2a, 39 in 2b

What's Next?

Further evidence to justify this amalgamation of the two groups could be obtained by everybody within the group testing for the terminal SNP FGC20561. This could be done via a single SNP test ($39) or via the Z253 SNP Pack ($119) or via the Big Y test ($575).

It would be good if several people from the group did the Big Y test as this would not only confirm if FGC20561 was the terminal SNP for the group, but could also possibly identify further downstream SNPs which are specific to the Farrell surname. To this end I am asking for volunteers to do the Big Y test when the next sale at FTDNA is announced. The current price is $575 but in the last sale this came down to $460 so I would propose to wait until then to buy this test. If anyone is interested please leave a comment below. It may be that several members would like to group together to raise the money for a test.

The old look of R1b-GF2a & 2b

The new look of R1b-GF2

Maurice Gleeson
May 2016