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
(from www.johngrenham.com)

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

Monday, 30 May 2016

The Ramey - Harrell - Farrell connection

I am delighted to introduce this guest post by one of our project members. John Wells has been working on his family history for many years and with the advent of DNA testing has managed to solve a family mystery that had confused genealogists for generations.

John manages kit JMR-8902 for his cousin, a gentleman by the name of Ramey (who appears in the previous post). Have a read of this fascinating account of how this particular surname was passed down through the ages and why it is associated with the Farrell surname.

If anyone has a story of how DNA has helped them break through a Brick Wall on their Farrell line, write it up for the blog and I will be happy to publish it. We learn a lot from the experience of others - that's what collaboration is all about.

Here's John's story.

The Thaddeus Ramey Family Ancestry Mystery Solved
 John B. Wells III

The Ramey family of Johnson County, Kentucky, can be justly proud of its French Huguenot roots. These brave Protestants suffered generations of religious persecution in their native France until finally finding freedom of worship in America. The lineage of the Ramey/Remy family of Johnson County, Kentucky, is well-documented from the year 1680 when Jacob Remy (later spelled “Ramey”), “a Natural born subject of the French King,” became a naturalized citizen of the British Colony Virginia.

By the Deputy Govr. Of Virginia

John Ramey/Remy, the great-great grandson of Jacob Ramey/Remy, was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, about 1769, and married in Washington County, Virginia, on 11 October 1797, to Nancy Romans. (Washington County, Virginia, Marriage Register 1782-1820, R-V). The couple was married by the Rev. Charles Hardy, a Methodist minister. By 28 November 1808, John and Nancy had settled in Floyd County, Kentucky, when John “Ramey” was appointed to mark a new road “around Thomas C. Brown’s plantation.” (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826,” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, page 49).

                  The 1810 U.S. Census for Floyd County included John Ramey’s family as consisting of 2 males under 10 years old, one male aged 26-44, 2 females under 10, one female aged 10-15 and one female 26 to 44 years old. The two younger daughters were Jemima and Elizabeth while the oldest, born between 1795 and 1799, was named Mary, nicknamed “Polly.” Jemima married on 3 August 1820 to John McDowell while Elizabeth is thought to have married James Wheeler in Floyd County on 13 March 1817. (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826,” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, pages 300 & 304). 

                  Mary AKA “Polly” turned out to be the problem child.  On 21 December 1818, the Floyd County Court ordered that an illegitimate child "Thadeus Remy … not .. be bound out as it appears from evidence that John Remy, his grandfather, takes care of him." (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, page 175). A loose slip of paper placed next to entry for “Thadeus Remy” included the penciled note “R. Hamil. father.” Several genealogists have interpreted this note to mean that a man named “R. Hamilton” was the father of Thaddeus Ramey. 

                  The name of his mother was established at the meeting of the Floyd County Court on “Monday the 20th day of March, 1820” when "William Dixon appear[ed] to answer a charge of Bastardry charged against him by Polley Ramey. The said Ramey not appearing to prosecute the case, the said Dixon consented to pay the costs therefore the said Dixon is discharged." Apparently, Dixon accepted responsibility for a second illegitimate son named Owen Ramey, also the son of Mary “Polly” Ramey. Just below the record of the charge against Dixon is recorded another order: "Ordered a subpoena be issued against Polley Ramey to appear and show cause, if any she can, why her two children Owen and Thaddius shall not be bound out as the law directs." (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, page 184).

                 The tombstone for “Thadeus Remy,” located on the Old Ramey Farm on Route 201, just south of Blaine in Lawrence County, Kentucky, records that Thaddeus was born on 2 January 1815. (“Thadeus Remy born Jan. 2 1815 dec. July 18, 1890”). It appears that Mary “Polly” Ramey was just a teenager when both boys were born and was unable to care for them herself. Interestingly, Mary “Polly” Ramey married on 29 June 1818, to Thomas Puckett but Thaddeus and Owen remained with their grandfather. Giving his permission for Polly to marry Puckett, John Ramey noted that “my daughter Polley … is under 21 years of age.” Apparently, Thomas Puckett had no interest in raising two children who were not his own so the boys remained with their grandfather.  (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, pages 158 & 301). On 15 May, 1820, the County Court again intervened and “Ordered a subpoena be issued aginst[sic] John Ramey to appear and show cause, if he can, why his two grandchildren, Owen and Thaddias, shall not be bound out as the law directs.” (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, page 164).

                  Thomas Puckett remains a mystery. The last surviving record of his presence in Floyd County is from the Court Book for 17 August 1818 when Thomas Puckett and Zachariah Rose appeared in court “to answer a charge of breach of the Peace.” (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, page 168). It is thought that he was the same Thomas Puckett, a native of Russell County, Virginia, who at age 18 enlisted in the United States Army as a private in the 24th Regiment. He was court marshalled at Nashville, Tennessee, in October or November 1814 for desertion and sentenced “to be shot.” However, the sentence was rescinded and he returned to active duty. He deserted again on October 24, 1816, just before he appeared in Floyd County, Kentucky. (U.S. Army Register of Enlistments, 1798-1814,” National Archives, Washington, D.C.)  Thomas Puckett was not listed in the 1820 Kentucky census and later records describe Mary “Polly” Ramey as “widowed.” The date and circumstances of his death are unknown.

                  Although essentially an orphan, Thaddeus Ramey built a successful life for himself in Lawrence County, Kentucky. By 1831 he was living with his uncle on Hood’s Fork in Lawrence County. He married to “Jannie” Caldwell on 2 April 1835, (Lawrence County, Kentucky Marriage Register, Volume 1 & 2, page 130), by whom he had seven children. After her death he remarried on 12 March 1845 to Diana McDowell who gave him an additional ten sons and daughters. (Lawrence County, Kentucky Marriage Permits, filed in boxes, transcribed by Opal Muncy).

                  The 1860 Lawrence County census listed the value of his land at $1,050 and a personal estate of $850. The tax assessments for 1865 listed his occupation as “distiller” and the owner of a large orchard. (1865 U.S. IRS Tax Assessments, 1862-1918, Microfilm 768, Roll 21, National Archives, Washington, DC). Clearly, Thaddeus Ramey had survived his tumultuous childhood to become a successful farmer. 

                  Thaddeus Ramey died on 18 July 1890 in Lawrence County. His will, written on 5 May 1890, reflects a certain degree of financial success. He bequeathed property that he had not already given to his older children to his wife Diana in life estate. To his other children he gave both land and money. In the will he mentioned specifically two separate orchards. Obviously, he was still working as a distiller at his death. (Kentucky Wills and Probate Records, 1874-1989, folio 154, Ancestry.com).

Although his mother, Mary “Polly” Ramey Puckett was apparently absent during his formative years, she did live with Thaddeus at least from 1860 until her death sometime after 1880. In the 1880 Lawrence County, Kentucky, census she was included in his household, aged 82, a “widow.”

The tombstone of Thadeus Ramey

In spite of a wealth of records chronicling the life of Thaddeus Ramey, the identity of his biological father has remained a mystery. Family researchers have speculated for decades that his father was a man named “R. Hamilton” based on a penciled note in the Floyd County court orders that identified him as “R. Hamil.”

In recent years a revolution in genealogical research has taken place as the science of DNA analysis has become more and more sophisticated. Where concrete documents are lacking, genealogists have been able to use DNA to determine the identities of previously unknown and “unresearchable” ancestors.

                  In 2015, the paternal great-great grandson of Thaddeus Ramey submitted his Y-DNA to Family Tree DNA for analysis and comparison to other donors. Not surprisingly, his results did not match any other male Ramey descendant except those who descend directly from Thaddeus Ramey. However, he did match with 100% certainty to at least twelve males by the name of Harrell.

At least six of the resulting matches based on 37 genetic markers were 100% identical while the remaining six donors differed by only one marker. All of the matches shared the same family name: HARRELL. All of the Harrell donors were members of the family of Reuben Harrell of Virginia and his siblings. A closer examination of the penciled note in the Floyd County, Kentucky Court Book revealed that researchers have misread the name of “Harril” as “Hamil.”   The DNA results conclude clearly that the male ancestor of Thaddeus Ramey was “R. Harril (Harrell)” and not “R. Hamil (Hamilton)”

The Harrell family (often spelled “Harold” in East Kentucky in later years) settled in Floyd County early in the 19th century. Floyd County Deed Book “A” records the purchase of sixty acres on “Abbott Creek” by Robert Herrell on 25 April 1815, the year in which Thaddeus Ramey was born. (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, page 21). Robert Herrell was also exempted from paying Floyd County property taxes for the years 1811 and 1812. (Floyd County Court Book 4, 23 January 1826). Additionally, Robert Herrell (Harrell) was the son of Reuben Harrell, the kinsman of all of the Y-DNA matches for Thaddeus Ramey. It appears that the family mystery has been solved. Thaddeus Ramey was the son of Robert Herrell (Harrell) who was born between 1786 and 1791 in Montgomery (now Wythe) County, Virginia, the son of Reuben and Rebecca (Smith) Harrell. Possibly, the reason Mary “Polly” Ramey did not file bastardy charges against Robert Herrell (Harrell) is that he married soon after the birth of Thaddeus. On 2 August 1815, Robert married Lucinda Turman and moved to his father-in-law’s farm “on Sandy River” in what is now Johnson County. Ironically, Robert and Lucinda had no male children. Therefore, the male descendants of Thaddeus Ramey remain as the only male descendants of Robert Harrell. (“Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky 1800-1826” by Charles C. Wells, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1983, page 298).

Reuben Harrell was born in 1750 in Frederick County, Virginia, and died on 2 September 1825, in Washington County, Virginia. He married Rebecca Smith about 1770 in Frederick County, Virginia. She was born between 1744 and 1749 in Frederick County, Virginia, and died on 12 March 1842 in Floyd County, Kentucky. (Harrell Collaborative, Family #2, www.harrellcollaborative.com).

Reuben Harrell was a patriot soldier in the Revolutionary War, serving as an officer, possibly with the rank of Major. Apparently, his son Robert claimed a disproportionate amount of his mother’s widow’s pension in her declining years. The pension is housed at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

                  Much more research needs to be done in order to trace the Harrell family back to their origins in Europe. Several Harrell family genealogists speculate that the father of Jacob Harrell is John Harrell who was born in Northumberland County, Virginia, about 1688. John “Harrold” was bound out as an apprentice to John Trimlett at age seven, his father Walter having fallen on hard times.  
"18 March 1695/96 John Harrold son of Walter and Priscilla Harrold seven years old last December is bound by the Court and apprentice to serve John Trimlett and his wife and their heirs until he attaines twenty one years of age and the said John Trilett causeing the John Harrold to Read and Write in the case ye s’d Jno Trimlettt…until ye expiration of said terme to teach him the trade of cooper…..” (Northumberland County Apprenticeships 1650-1750 compiled by W. Preston Haynie, part 1, page 720)."

Little is known about Walter Harrold (Harrell) other than he was born sometime prior to 1660 and married a woman named Priscilla. Walter and Priscilla also bound out their two other sons, Hugh and Nicholas, in 1695/96, but were both dead by 1702/03 as the following document suggests:
“John Harrold orphan child about fifteen years old Having been formerly bound by the Court to John Trimlett and Hannah his wife under four provisions and the said Trimlett and his wife being deced and it having been presented to this Court that the said child is incapable of getting his living and toytoring (tutoring) and idleing his time away loosely and almost naked and Capt. Thomas Winder and the boy consenting in court thereto having offered in Court provided the said child shall serve him to be taught the trade of a cooper and to read.. shall appeare the next Court to the conrary Jno. Cooke of Lancaster County by Capt. Richard Haynie his attorney claiming the said boy and ordered the said boy be produced the next Court and upon Tryal of the matter the order to be confirmed or mad void….” (Northumberland County Apprenticeships 1650-1750 compiled by W. Preston Haynie, part 1, page 237).

                  Y-DNA results provide the only additional information about the Harrell lineage. All of the male Harrell descendants, including Thaddeus Ramey, belong to Y-DNA Haplogroup Z253 with the SNP of FGC20561. Other than the Y-DNA matches with the Harrell participants, the Y-DNA results for Thaddeus Ramey also match closely with several other families such as Murtha, Kelley, Yorke, McConnell, Carolan, Kenny, Riley, Cain, Christie, Kilchrist, Farrell, Darby, Rock, Geraghty and Gannon, all of which trace their origins to the central and southwestern Ireland.  In Ireland, the family name of Harrell is the Anglicized form of Gaelic “Ó hEarghail” meaning a descendant of Earghal, a personal name with the same etymology as Fearghal, the progenitor of the Farrell family who hailed from County Longford.  (“Irish Names and Surnames,” by Rev. Patrick Woulfe, Dublin, 1922).

John Wells
May 2016

The revised family chart of member JMR-8902

Thank you John for an excellent article. What a wonderful account of how DNA solved a family mystery.

But John's story does not end there. The final paragraph raises the tantalising possibility that the surname Harrell is derived from the same root as the surname Farrell. Can DNA provide evidence of this connection?

Well that is the topic of a subsequent article. 

But hopefully we have whet your appetite for more.

Maurice Gleeson
May 2016