Thursday, 31 March 2016

The Birth of a New Genetic Family (R1b-GF6)

If you have read previous posts in this blog, you will have seen that I frequently predict the emergence of new genetic families. Farrell (and its variants) is likely to be a multi-origin surname that sprung up at various times in disparate locations throughout Ireland (and maybe even in Scotland and England). And as more people test and join the project, some of the project members who are currently in the Ungrouped section will suddenly find that they have a new match, a genetic cousin, and they are no longer "all alone in the world" but rather have connected with genetic family.

There follows a case in point, where two individuals tested recently, to see if they were indeed related as their paper trails suggested. And the results came back positive. They are related. And not only that, but they are also related to other members in the Ungrouped section. All four of them have started a whole new genetic family, the first for 2016. And we will call this new family: R1b-GF6.

Here is their story.

New Member -4174, Farrell, MDKA Longford

Basic information

Kit Number ending: -4174

Name: Farrell

Current Group: R1b-GF6

MDKA: Daniel Joseph Farrell, b abt 1825 Longford, d 1901 Iowa

Background: His family folklore and Census data research says that his great-grandfather was born about 1825 in Longford, Ireland, and came to the US in about 1857. There are Census records that suggest this, but there is some uncertainty about their being the correct ones. This new member was contacted by another Farrell (see -4178 below) who thought that they might have a common great grandfather. Both men did the Y-DNA-37 test to resolve this question. Here is the Farrell pedigree of the present individual:

1) Daniel Joseph Farrell b.15 Aug 1825, Longford, County Leinster, Ireland (or Cork); d.7 Jul 1901, Dunlap, Iowa
2) Daniel Joseph Farrell b.29 Jan 1860, Illinois; d.31 Oct 1934, Omaha, NE
3) Andrew Harry Farrell, b.18 Mar 1910, Omaha, NE; d.15 Jan 1993, Fairfax, VA, USA
4) Researcher: PDF (pfarrell at pfarrell dot com)

Other projects: in accordance with our recommendations (see Getting the Most out of your DNA Test), this member should join several appropriate haplogroup & geographic projects including the following:

STR marker profile

This individual did the Y-DNA-37 test and at the 37 marker level he has 37 matches with a lot of Irish sounding names like Hart, Hogan and O’Brien ... and one Farrell - the presumed second cousin with known ancestry in Ireland (see below). This makes it highly probable that his particular direct male line is Irish as suspected.

His “Genetic Distance” (GD) to his presumed cousin is 3/37. This is a relatively close match rather than a very close match, and raises a question about the closeness of their relationship. Are they really second cousins or is the relationship further back than that (third, fourth or fifth cousins)? Nevertheless, the Y-DNA results confirm that they are closely related to each other and this match sees the birth of an entirely new genetic family within the project.

Next Steps: One way to answer the question regarding the closeness of their relatedness would be to do autosomal DNA testing (FTDNA's Family Finder test, $99). Second cousins would share about 3.125% of their atDNA in common, 3rd cousins would share about 0.78% in common, and 4th cousins would share about 0.2% in common. The Family Finder test would be able to give a better probability of the closeness of their relationship than the Y-DNA test.

Interestingly, this new member's next closest matches within the project are two men called Frawley (kits 121852 and B1778). He has a GD of 5/37 to both of these men and this is just below the threshold for declaring a match. This could be a chance finding, or it could indicate that these two additional individuals could also be part of this new genetic family. This is explored further below.

SNP marker profile

The other big clue to this persons ancestral origins is the terminal SNPs of his matches. His 37-marker matches have the following terminal SNP markers:
FGC5659 (x1), FGC5628 (x7) and L226 (x7)
A similar profile emerges when reviewing his 25-marker matches (with the addition of DC1 and YFS231286). This gives us the following estimated SNP Progression:

R- ... P312 > L21 > DF13 > ZZ10-1 > Z253 > Z2534 > L226 > FGC5660 > FGC5628 > FGC5659 > DC33 > DC1 > YFS231286

L226 is the defining SNP marker for the Irish Type III haplotype. This is a genetic signature associated with Irish surnames from the southern part of Ireland and most frequently in the counties Clare, Tipperary, & Limerick. There is a wealth of information provided by Dennis Wright, the Administrator for the Irish Type III Project, on the project's website.

Marker L226 is also the supposed genetic signature of the famous Irish High King, Brian Boru. In fact, on the Big Tree, the YFS231286 SNP marker leads us down to three individuals called O'Brien (far left below). So it looks like this particular Farrell line goes back to the ancient tribe of the Dal Cais. They may even have fought at the battle of Clontarf in 1014! Who knows, maybe that is where they got their Farrell name (Farrell means Man of Valour in Gaelic). As more people join this Farrell group and do SNP testing, we should be able to clarify this interesting association.

Terminal SNP markers of this individual's matches (click to enlarge)

Next Steps: We could confirm that the SNP Progression is correct by doing sequential single SNP tests (at $39 each) starting with (say) L226 and working downstream toward YFS231286. Or we could test with one of the available SNP Packs - the best bet probably being the Z253 SNP Pack ($119) which includes all the downstream SNPs in our estimated SNP Progression.

But do the two possible Frawley matches (kits 121852 and B1778) have a similar SNP Progression? This is discussed below.

New Member -4178, Farrell, MDKA Ireland

Basic information

Kit Number ending: -4178

Name: Farrell

Current Group: R1b-GF6

MDKA: Peter (Patrick?) Farrell born c1830, died 1902 in Kilmallock, Co. Limerick.


1) Peter (Patrick?) Farrell. Born abt 1830. Peter (Patrick?) died in Kilmallock (Limerick) in 1902; he was 72.
2) John Farrell. Born in Aug 1871 in Shandrum, County Cork, Ireland. John died in Maiden Hall, Ballincolly, County Cork, Ireland, on 21 Nov 1956; he was 85. Buried in Cooline Cemetary.
3) John (Jack) Farrell. Born on 15 Aug 1912 in Maiden Hall, Ballincolly, County Cork, Ireland. John (Jack) died in Mallow Hospital. Buried Charleville in Holy Cross Cemetary, Charleville, County Cork, Ireland.
4) JPF (DNA kit -4178). Born in Ardnageehy, Charleville Co. Cork Ireland.

Background: The following (privatised & paraphrased) account is from -4174 above.

"We think that -4178's GGrandfather Peter (Patrick) Farrell born about 1830 is the brother of my
GGrandfather Daniel J Farrell born about 1825. Our folklore family history includes a letter dated about 1900 from Peter to Daniel. And the folklore have three siblings, Daniel, Andrew and Peter. We have no written records of the parents of Daniel, Andrew and Peter. There are US Census records for Daniel in the 1880 and 1870 records."

Other projects: in accordance with our recommendations (see Getting the Most out of your DNA Test), this member should join several appropriate haplogroup & geographic projects including the following:

STR marker profile

Like his presumed Farrell cousin above, this new project member has also taken the Y-DNA-37 test. He too has 37 matches at the 37-marker level, his one Farrell match being the individual discussed above.

The Genetic Distance (GD) between him and his cousin -4174 is 3/37 (as already described above) but the GD to his next two nearest matches (the Frawley matches; kits 121852 and B1778) is 7/37 in both cases, indicating that he is possibly more distantly related to the two Frawley matches than his presumed Farrell cousin.

It is helpful to create a matrix of these 4 individuals and the GD between each of them in turn:

The Genetic Distance between all 4 individuals

Although the genetic distance suggests a tantalisingly close relationship, it is not conclusive and we need to look for other evidence of a close connection between these four individuals.

Incidentally, the two Frawley matches have both tested out to 67 markers and are a GD of 9/67 from each other (again, just outside the threshold for declaring them to be a match to each other).

SNP marker profile

Not surprisingly, both presumed Farrell cousins (-4174 & -4178) have a similar STR and SNP marker profile. This individual's matches have almost the same profile of terminal SNPs as his presumed Farrell cousin:

  • at 37 markers: L226 x8, FGC5628 x5, FGC5659 x1, YFS231286 x1
  • at 25 markers: L226 x4, FGC5628 x2, DC1 x1 x1, YFS231286 x3

Thus, this is consistent with our previously estimated SNP Progression:
R- ... P312 > L21 > DF13 > ZZ10-1 > Z253 > Z2534 > L226 > FGC5660 > FGC5628 > FGC5659 > DC33 > DC1 > YFS231286

Both Frawley matches have tested out to 67 markers. Surprisingly, the first Frawley match has only 1 match himself and that is at 12 markers only, and it is to another Farrell (N70429, who in turn has only tested to the 12-marker level and has not tested any downstream SNPs). The second Frawley match (B1178) has the following profile:
  • At 67 markers, 17 matches with terminal SNPs: DC30 x1, FGC5628 x3, L226 x7, YFS231286 x1
  • At 37 markers, 4 matches: DC30 x1, L226 x1
  • At 25 markers, 31 matches: DC36 x1, FGC5628 x1, L226 x5

Thus the second Frawley profile is largely consistent with what we had already predicted to be the SNP Progression for our two new members, the presumed Farrell cousins -4174 & -4178. But the clincher is the fact that this second Frawley match (B1178) has already done sequential single SNP testing and is positive (in green below) for the following SNPs:
DF13, L226, FGC5628
However, he has also tested negative (in red below) for the following SNPs:
FGC5659, DC1
Testing for DC40 is ongoing (in orange below; this SNP is not currently placed on Alex Williamson's Big Tree).

The second Frawley match (-1178) is not positive for SNPs below FGC5628 (green)

So here we have a contradiction. The second Frawley match does NOT completely fit with our estimated SNP Progression for the two new members. He matches as far down as FGC5628 but not further downstream than that. This means either that:
  1. our predicted SNP Progression is correct as far as FGC5628 but incorrect below this
  2. or that the SNPs further downstream than FGC5628 are correct for the Farrell individuals but not for the Frawley matches. In other words, maybe they branched away from each other and the SNPs downstream of FGC5628 represent more recent developments on the Farrell branch of this particular portion of the human evolutionary tree (e.g. since the divergence of the surname Farrell from Frawley); 
  3. or that the two presumed Farrell cousins and the two Frawley matches are not related at all and what we are seeing is an example of Convergence - in other words, the genetic match has occurred by chance alone (more or less) and they just happen to have similar surnames. 

Consulting the YFULL Tree reveals that the age of FGC5628 is approximately 1350 years old (95% Confidence Interval 1600-1150 years before present), and DC1 formed approximately 1100 ybp (95% CI 1350-850 ybp), so this does not rule out option 2 above as a possibility.

But let's look for one more piece of evidence ...

Rare Marker Values

By consulting Leo Little's excellent chart on the distribution frequencies of the different values for each STR marker, we can identify if there are any potentially rare marker values. If there are, and they are shared among the 4 individuals, then this lends support to the possibility that they are all relatively closely related to each other and probably shared a common ancestor since the emergence of surnames about 1000 years ago.

And the good news is that there do indeed appear to be shared rare marker values among these 4 individuals, justifying their being grouped together in the same genetic family, namely R1b-GF6.

Here are the shared rare marker values among the 2 Farrell cousins and the 2 Frawley matches:
  • the values for DYS459a & b (the 14th & 15th STR markers) are 8 and 9 (written 8-9). These values occur in approximately 3% and 17% of the general R1b population and thus the first of these markers can be considered rare. In fact, these 4 individuals are the only R1b individuals in the entire Farrell project to have this sequence of values, and no other R1b project member has a value of 8 for DYS 459a.
  • the values for the DYS464a-d markers are 13-13-15-17. These values occur in approximately 2%, 1%, 11%, and 69% of the general R1b population and thus the first two can be considered rare. Nobody else in the entire project has a value of 13 for DYS464b and only 1 other person in the entire project has a value of 13 for DYS464a.

The only caveat is that these particular rare marker values are quite common below L226, in fact they are the norm (see the DNA Results page for the L226 Haplogroup Project). So although we can be reasonably confident that the members of R1b-GF6 lie somewhere below Z253 and L226, where they lie below that is still open to question. And the further downstream we go from L226, the more speculative our "best guess" becomes.

Nevertheless, on the basis of these rare marker values, and taking into consideration the other evidence, it seems reasonable to conclude that these 4 individuals are indeed related (within a genealogical timeframe) and should be grouped together.

Shared rare marker values (red arrows)

The biggest advantage of grouping these four members together is that it provides further evidence of the ancestral origins of these people. One of them has a Most Distant Known Ancestor (MDKA) from Longford and another from Limerick. So on the basis of this information alone, we can say with a fair degree of confidence that the ancestral origin of group R1b-GF6 is Ireland.

Conclusions & Next Steps

So in this particular instance, the testing of the two Farrell cousins (-4174 & -4178) confirms that they are indeed related on their Farrell line. 

A GD of 3/37 is a bit surprising for second cousins but can happen nevertheless. To confirm if they are indeed second cousins, they could do an autosomal DNA test. We would expect them to share approximately 3.125% of their DNA in common if they are 2nd cousins.

As the two Farrell cousins are closely related, either of them could do confirmatory SNP testing via the Z253 SNP Pack (i.e. no need for both of them to do it). This would confirm whether or not the Farrell cousins are positive for the more downstream SNPs that at least one of the Farley matches  (-1178) tests negative for. It would also be useful if the other Farley individual -1852 did the Z253 SNP Pack - the results might suggest that the negative tests were specific to the particular Frawley individual tested (i.e. -1178) rather than all people called Frawley.

All 4 members should join the following haplogroup & geographic projects:

The Genetic Distance between the Farrell cousins and the Frawley matches was just outside the matching threshold but the estimated SNP Progressions were suitably similar to suggest that there might be a closer genetic connection than one might initially suspect. The presence of shared rare marker values lends considerable support to this theory and warrants the 4 individuals being grouped together. Further SNP testing (as indicated above) is likely to help justify this grouping.

This is a great example of how members can be waiting in the Ungrouped section for months or years  before a close match comes along. It also illustrates that once that new match arrives, a new genetic family is created. Over time, the proportion of people in the Ungrouped section should diminish and the proportion in Groups should increase.

This case also illustrates how essential it is to have precise genealogical information about the MDKA (Most Distant Known Ancestor), in particular their earliest known location (such as their place of birth). Knowing this information anchors the particular genetic family to a specific ancestral homeland and everyone in the group benefits from this knowledge. This is particularly relevant for diaspora populations who may not have documentary evidence or family lore of origins in a specific country.

Friday, 25 March 2016

New Members - B75592, 404565, 428569 (all Ungrouped)

The DNA results of the tests that people bought during the Christmas Sale are beginning to trickle in. As a result we have new members in four of the existing genetic families (R1b-GF1, -GF2, -GF4, & -GF5) and I'll be discussing these in subsequent posts.

However three new members received their results recently, and none of them match any of the members in the currently identified genetic families within the Farrell DNA Project. However, each of these new members has their own unique story as revealed by their DNA.

New Member - B75592, Farrell, MDKA Ireland

Basic information

Kit Number: B75592

Name: Farrell

Current Group: Ungrouped

MDKA: William Farrell, Ireland

Background: The Most Distant Known Ancestor (MDKA) is believed to have been of Irish descent.

Other projects: in accordance with our recommendations (see Getting the Most out of your DNA Test), he has joined several appropriate haplogroup & geographic projects including the following:

STR marker profile

He has no matches at 111 markers, 110 matches at 67 markers, 32 at 37, and 343 at 25 … but there is not a Farrell among them, and his closest matches within the project have a Genetic Distance of 8/37,  12/67, and 20/111. This indicates that there is no one in the project with whom he shares a common ancestor for probably 1000-2000 years.

It may be that there was an NPE (Non-Paternity Event, such as a secret adoption, infidelity, etc) somewhere along his direct male line (back in the mists of time) or that he is the first of his particular branch of Farrell’s to take the test. Thus, for the moment I have placed him in the Ungrouped section of the project but this is likely to change as more people test and join the FamilyTreeDNA database - eventually he should be paired up with a match. 

Next Steps: Testing his most distant documented Farrell cousin (if he can locate one) could help to ascertain if there has been a relatively recent NPE (i.e. in the last few generations). If his cousin is an exact or close match to him, then any NPE would have to have occurred prior to their common ancestor (grandfather or great grandfather, for example).

SNP marker profile

This individual's Haplogroup assignment is simply R-M269 i.e. M269 is the terminal SNP. This SNP marker is very far upstream in the human evolutionary tree (it appeared about 13,500 years ago). However, by reviewing his matches’ terminal SNP markers, we may be able to predict which downstream SNP markers he is likely to test positive for. Here are the terminal SNPs of his matches (at 67 markers):
  • A1206
  • A260 x5
  • A5902 
  • A725
  • A883
  • A887
  • DF105
  • DF109
  • FGC12948
  • FGC4077
  • FGC8739
  • M222 x13
  • S588 x2

By placing these markers on the FTDNA haplotree (we could also use the ISOGG Haplotree or YFULL Haplotree, among others), we can estimate on which branch of the human evolutionary tree this individual is likely to sit, and the good news is that every one of the SNP markers falls under M222 so we can be 99% certain that he would test positive for this SNP marker. This marker was formed about 4300 years ago and so testing positive for this SNP moves us down the human evolutionary tree by almost 10,000 years.

And as M222 is the genetic signature of Niall of the Nine Hostages, the famous Irish warlord, we can be reasonably sure that this person's ancestry goes back to Ireland. We can also estimate that his likely SNP progression (based on the preponderance of the evidence) is as follows:
R … DF49 > Z2980 > Z2976 > DF23 > Z2961 > M222 > S658 > DF104 > DF105 > A1206 > A260 > (un-named SNPs x2) > A883 / A887
SNPs in bold are the ones found among his matches that fit this estimated progression. This analysis is also born out by the terminal SNPs of his matches at the 25 marker level, so there is a reasonable chance that this estimated SNP Progression is correct.

Next Steps: So to clarify the above, we could either do the single M222 SNP test ($39) followed by the M222 SNP Pack ($119) or go straight to the M222 SNP Pack, which is what this member chose to do.

If the SNP Progression is correct (and he is on the A883/A887 branch), then this would place him in Alex Williamson’s Big Tree next to a Mr Riley and a Mr Flynn ...

The lower branches of the M222 portion of the human evolutionary tree

Furthermore, on the YFULL tree we can get an estimate of how old these SNP markers are and this tells us that the A260 SNP was formed about 1450 years ago (550 AD) and so he, Riley and Flynn share a common ancestor some time after that. More precise estimates will follow in time (as more people test and join the different company databases).

A260 is about 1450 years old

click to enlarge
Update: his M222 SNP Pack results arrived just as I was about to publish this post. And as predicted, he is positive for M222. His new terminal SNP is S566 and his SNP Progression is as follows:
R … DF49 > Z2980 > Z2976 > DF23 > Z2961 > M222 > S568 > S566

This SNP (S566) also goes by the name of FGC453 (many SNPs have alternative names, just to confuse us) and currently (on the YFULL tree) there is no time estimate of when it was formed, but we know it was some time after M222, which is 4300 years old.

Interestingly, this SNP progression places him on a different sub-branch of the M222 portion of the tree than that predicted above (see green arrow in diagram below). He has tested negative for the predicted SNPs S658, DF105, A1206, A260, A883, and A887. His nearest neighbours are now a Conroy and a Byrnes. Both of these are Irish surnames and this further supports an Irish origin for this particular Farrell branch.

The fact that the more downstream SNPs (below M222) are not as we had predicted suggests that there is quite a bit of Convergence (genetic overlap, for want of a better expression) among the lower branches of the M222 portion of the human evolutionary tree. If we look back at the terminal SNPs of this individual's matches, we can see that whilst the majority predict one particular downstream progression (red arrow), other SNPs are quite widely distributed within the M222 sub-branching system as indicated by the yellow circles below.
Red arrow is the predicted sub-branch, green arrow is the actual sub-branch (click to enlarge)

Further update (25 March 2016):
Susan Hedeen, one of the Administrators of the R-M222 Haplogroup Project, has kindly provided the following feedback having looked at the SNP results in the Farrell project SNP Pages for this individual. Susan has been able to predict a few additional downstream SNPs and a give an estimate of 800 AD for the emergence of the most downstream SNP
You are also derived for FGC440 that is downstream of where we believe PF1169 is located. This is the path as we believe that we know it now: S568>S566>PF1169>FGC440/FGC450/FGC456<--these thus far are considered equivalent, and FGC450 and FGC456 as well as these downstream-->FGC452/FGC455/FGC456 may be tested at YSEQ (FTDNA does not single SNP test for any of the others).
You would join these men who are also derived for FGC440
The Time to the Most Recent Common Ancestor (TMRCA) for the men above is 1150+/-260 ybp for a timing window of 540-800-1060 CE (current era); all before surnames.

Further update (20 July 2016):

During a routine audit of this project members results by FTDNA, it was discovered that the wrong results for the M222 SNP Pack had been uploaded to his account! He was notified in late June that the correct results had been uploaded and verified for accuracy.

The new results give this member a new terminal SNP, namely BY3338, which sits immediately above the terminal SNP(s) we had predicted from his Matches' Terminal SNPs Analysis (namely A883 / A887). Previously the two SNPs above A883 / A887 had not been named (they were simply referred to by their position on the Y chromosome) but since then one of them has been given a name - BY3338. YFULL dates SNP A260 (the one upstream of BY3338) as having formed about 1550 years before present, so BY3338 would have formed some time after that (it does not currently appear on the YFULL tree).

The new terminal SNP is BY3338, shared by Moody & Ford
(click to enlarge)

This BY3338 SNP marker is shared by two other people - Moody and Ford - names which appear among his 119 matches at 67 markers (he has no matches at 111 markers). If this Y-DNA is the result of an NPE (non-paternity event), then either of these surnames could be the surname of the genetic ancestor from whom this member's Y-DNA was derived. The Moody match has an MDKA (Most Distant Known Ancestor) from Ohio, the Ford match has an MDKA from Leitrim, in Ireland. However, this is the only time such names appear among this member's matches (at the 67, 37, & 25 marker level) so there is no strong signal for either of these particular surnames and the surname of the genetic ancestor could be something completely different.

Turning to the M222 Haplogroup Project, this project member sits in his own discreet grouping. However, the grouping of project members under A260 (the SNP 1-step upstream from BY3338) demonstrates an array of different surnames, albeit Irish-sounding, and several with MDKAs from Leitrim. Hopefully, as more people join the database and get SNP-tested, a closer match will be found and this may give clues to the ancestral origin of our member and to which particular surname he is most strongly related.

There are several Take Home Messages from this turn of events:
  • everyone makes mistakes, even the lab
  • the Matches Terminal SNPs Analysis (MTSA) correctly predicted the SNP progression to within a single branch of the new terminal SNP and appears to be a robust method of predicting the terminal SNP to within a few adjacent branches (in most cases?)
The varied names of those A260+ individuals in the R-M222 Haplogroup Project

New Member - 404565, Farrell, MDKA Ireland

Basic information

Kit Number: 404565

Name: Farrell

Current Group: Ungrouped

MDKA: Thomas Farrell, Ireland

Background: The Most Distant Known Ancestor (MDKA) is believed to have been of Irish descent.

Other projects: in accordance with our recommendations (see Getting the Most out of your DNA Test), he has joined several appropriate haplogroup & geographic projects including the following:

STR marker profile

He did the Y-DNA-37 test and at the 37 marker level he has 3 matches - no Farrell’s, but 2 Bradshaw’s and what looks like someone called Brannin. At the 25 marker level, he has 6 matches - again no Farrell’s, but the names of his matches look quite Irish (Fitzpatrick, Dalton, Gough, and even Ronan and Keating).

I also checked his “Genetic Distance” (GD) compared to everyone else in the Farrell DNA Project and his closest match among our members has a GD of 13 out of 37 i.e. he is 13 mutations away from his closest Farrell project match. That could be because his particular Farrell branch is quite rare and he is the first of the branch to test, or it could be that there may have been an NPE somewhere along his Farrell line within the last 1000 years or so, since the emergence of the Farrell surname. An NPE is a non-paternity event, such as an adoption, infidelity, etc, and the likelihood of this happening is about 1% per generation which is somewhere in the region of 33% over 1000 years (allowing 30 years per generation). In other words, about one third of us will not be genetically descended from the originator of our surname.

So for now, he has no close matches within the Farrell DNA Project but this may change over time as more people are tested.

Next Steps: Because he does not match anyone else within the Farrell project closely, I think that the chances of finding new Farrell matches by upgrading his 37 marker STR test to a 67 or 111 marker test are very slim indeed. However, we might find other non-Farrell matches (such as Bradshaw’s - his closest current matches). This could give us further clues to the origins of his direct male line. However, upgrading is not cheap - a 67-marker upgrade is $99 and an 111-marker upgrade is $220.

SNP marker profile

We have one further clue about the possible origins of his direct male line, and that is the terminal SNP marker of one of his matches, namely R-FGC5494. This is placed on the human evolutionary tree (Y-Haplotree) as follows:

R .. > M269 > L169 > L23 > L51 > L151 > P311 > P312 > L21 > DF13 > FGC5494

If this member shares the same SNP as his match, this would place him still fairly upstream in Alex Williamson’s Big Tree. This particular section of the tree has quite a few English and Welsh people, with some Scottish and Irish, but there is no particular preponderance of one or another nationality so this does not give us many clues to the origins of this direct male line (other than "somewhere in Britain or Ireland"). 

Next Steps: We would need to do some further testing to see a) does he also have the above SNP marker; and b) can we identify any further SNP markers “downstream" that would give us a better clue to the country origins of his direct male line. In order to do this, it looks like he would need to do the R1b-M343 Backbone SNP Pack ($99) followed by a "more downstream” SNP Pack (if there is an appropriate one currently available).

New Member - 428569, Ferrell, MDKA Ireland

Basic information

Kit Number: 428569

Name: Ferrell

Current Group: Ungrouped

MDKA: unknown

Background: unknown

Other projects: in accordance with our recommendations (see Getting the Most out of your DNA Test), he has joined several appropriate haplogroup & geographic projects including the following:

STR marker profile

So far, his Y-DNA-67 results indicate that he is not a close match with anyone in the Farrell DNA Project. The Genetic Distance to his closest matches among Farrell project members are 10/37 and 17/67 indicating that they are very distant indeed and I have placed him in the Ungrouped section for now.

If there has been an NPE somewhere along his direct male line, it might be possible to get some clue as to the name of his genetic ancestor by looking at the frequency of surnames in his surnames list. He has 1 match (Bruner) at 67 markers, 1 at 37 (the same Bruner again), and 426 matches at 25 markers. A review of the names of his Y-DNA matches suggests a preponderance of the following surnames:
Anderson, Brown, Chandler, Chumney, Clark, Crow(e), Duncan, Grigsby, Hughes, Loucks/x, Martin, Matheson, May, McPheeters, Rodriguez, Spencer, & West
Any of these names might be the surname of his direct male line genetic ancestor. And because they sound English, they may very well indicate an English origin for his father's father's father's line.

Next Steps: further resolution might be achieved by upgrading to 111 markers but it is a bit of a long shot and may not produce further matches or further refinement of the candidate surnames for the genetic ancestor.

SNP marker profile

This project member did the R1b-M343 backbone test, which assigned him a terminal SNP of Z36. So his established SNP progression looks like this:
R … > M269 > L150 > L23 > L51 > L11 > P311 > P312 > U152 > Z36

His Z36 terminal SNP places him quite far downstream on the Y-DNA Haplotree (the Tree of Mankind) and you can see his genetic neighbours on Alex Williamson’s Big Tree here. I attach a screenshot of it below (Z36 is on the second "row" from the top). No particular surname or nationality jumps out so unfortunately this gives us no clue to the country of origin of his direct male line.

Next Steps: There have been further SNP markers identified downstream of Z36 (at least 16) but the only way for this member to be evaluated for these would be for him to do a Big Y test ($575) or test for them individually ($39 each). Before paying out that amount of money, it would be worth his while joining a few relevant Haplogroup Projects (which he has) and asking the Admins for advice on next steps. It is never any harm to get a second opinion!

Z36 is on the second "row" from the top


So all three of these new members have been placed in the Ungrouped section for now. Over time, as more people get tested, the hope is that new people will join the FamilyTreeDNA database and turn out to be a match to each of them in turn. Once that happens, the newly-matched member can be moved from the Ungrouped section into an entirely new group. And if we are lucky, his new match will have a direct male line pedigree that has documented evidence of a specific place of origin so that the project member, by extrapolation, can finally identify the ancestral homeland of his father's father's father's line.

But for now, it's a waiting game.

And good things come to those who wait ... 

... as we will find out in the next post.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

New Member - 449094, O Fearghail, MDKA Ireland, Ungrouped

Basic information

Kit number: 449094

Name: O Fearghail

MDKA: not yet supplied

Background: not yet supplied. This new member hails from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland and bears the surname O Fearghail, which is one of the many Gaelic forms of O'Farrell (and has been covered in a previous post).

Other projects: in accordance with our recommendations (see Getting the Most out of your DNA Test), he has joined several appropriate haplogroup & geographic projects including the following: 

STR marker profile

He has a massive 160 matches at 67 markers and this suggests a degree of Convergence may be present. However he does not match any Farrell, which suggests either that an NPE (non-paternity event) is present somewhere along his direct male line (e.g. a secret adoption, infidelity, or illegitimacy) or that he is the first person in his particular genetic Farrell family to be tested. If the latter is the case then this becomes a waiting game for some other Farrell with a similar genetic signature to take the test and turn up as a new match to him. For the moment he has been placed in the Ungrouped section.

Reviewing his matches, many have ancestry from Monaghan, Armagh, and Cavan, and there is a strong suggestion of a close tie to the surname McMahon.

SNP marker profile

His terminal SNP seems to be A77 (again judging by the preponderance of his matches who share this SNP). This seems to be confirmed by the FTDNA haplotree which has R-A77 adjacent to other SNPs that occur frequently among his matches (e.g. BY3159, BY3166 & BY3170). His SNP progression therefore appears to be as follows:
R-L21 > DF13 > FGC35995 > DF21 > Z16267 > Z3000> Z3006 > Z3004/Z3008 > Z16274 > Z16278 > Z16273/Z16277 > Z16275 > A77
All the identified terminal SNPs of his matches fall below Z3004/Z3008, and most below Z16274. 

I checked this progression against Alex Williamson’s Big Tree at and it places him fair and square in the Clan Colla / AirgĂ­alla type 1 group - you’ll find it at this link here and there is an extract below … the A77 group is 10th block in from the left.

click to enlarge

Next Steps

There are several possible next steps:
  1. He has already joined the appropriate Haplogroup projects (R1b & Subclades, Clan Colla) and additional Surname projects (McMahon, Carroll) and could ask the Admins for advice on further testing as well as further documentary research.
  2. He could explore his more downstream SNPs by testing for individual SNP markers or with one of the SNP Packs. There are single SNP tests available for each of the blue SNPs in the diagram above ($39 each), including A77. However, in case our estimate of his terminal SNP is incorrect, it may be wiser (and more economical than repeated single SNP testing) to go for one of the available SNP Packs (via the blue Upgrade button > Advanced Tests > SNP Pack):
    • R1b-M343 Backbone SNP Pack ($99) - this would only help him move downstream to Z3000 but no further
    • R1b-L21 SNP Pack ($119) - again, this would only move him downstream to Z3000
    • R1b-Z3000 SNP Pack ($119) - this would move him all the way downstream to A77 and would also clarify whether or not he was positive for adjacent SNPs. This would be the best test to undertake. The chances that his terminal SNP does NOT sit at or below Z3000 is (I would say) less than 1%.

Update (2nd March 2017)

FGC35995 is non longer part of the SNP Progression above. It has been taken out and the revised SNP Progression (from FTDNA) is as follows:

R-L21 > DF13 > DF21 > Z16267 > Z3000> Z3006 > Z3004/Z3008 > Z16274 > Z16278 > Z16273/Z16277 > Z16275 > A77

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

New Members - 449744 & B12101, Farrell, MDKA Ireland? - R1b-GF2

Basic information

Kit Numbers ending: -9744  &  -2101

Name: Farrell

Current Group: R1b-GF2

  • Francis Farrell b1753 Philadelphia d1825 NC (-9744)
  • Patrick Farrell b c1722 ?Philadelphia d c1783 PA (-2101) - the presumed father of the above

Background: The Most Distant Known Ancestors (MDKA) are believed to have been of Irish descent. The pedigree for kit -9744 has been posted as a Comment (23 Jan 2016) at the bottom of our Post Your Pedigree page here, and is reproduced again below. After comparing trees, these members discovered that they shared a common ancestor in John Wesley Farrell 1801-1873. He is great grandfather to -2101 and 2x great grandfather to -9744, making them second cousins once removed. This is a fine example of how Y-DNA testing can connect people who were not previously aware that they are cousins.

The direct male line of kit ending with -9744 is as follows:
1. Francis Farrell - b.1753 Philadelphia PA, d.1825 Chatham Co. NC, m.Edith Fields, Chatham Co. North Carolina, US
2. John Wesley Ferrel - b.1798 Chatham Co. NC, d.1870 m. Mary Polly Neal, Chatham Co., North Carolina US
3. George W. Ferrel - b.1845 Chatham Co. NC, d.1899 Chatham Co. NC, m. Martha G. Thomas, Chatham Co., North Carolina
4. George Monroe Farrell, Sr. - b.1883 Chatham Co. NC, d. Orange Co. NC, m. Vennie Elizabeth Honeycutt
5. George Monroe Farrell, Jr. - b.1917 Halifax Co. NC, d. Roanoke Rapids NC, m.Ruth Lee Haley
6. -9744

Here is an additional account from the family of member -2101:
Briefly, Dr. Francis Farrell was our first ancestor in Chatham County, North Carolina. He was born in Philadelphia in 1753, educated at the English Jesuit Academy in Bruges, Belgium, and evacuated Philadelphia in 1776 for Natchez, Mississippi (then British West Florida) at the start of the American Revolution, where he served as attorney for the district under the Spanish administration that followed the British loss of the territory. His father was Patrick Farrell, a well to do cooper in Philadelphia. Patrick's father was Andrew Farrell, a tanner and merchant with connections to Maryland and the West Indies who helped establish the first Catholic Church (Old St. Joseph's) in Philadelphia. His father seems to be Edmund Farrell, also a tanner, who is in Philadelphia in 1726. Here the trail runs out (at least for now) but based on the historical patterns some likely conjectures are that (a) Edmund was a tradesman who immigrated directly to Philadelphia from Ireland, (b) Edmund was a Catholic refugee whose family moved to Philadelphia as Maryland and before that Virginia became more intolerant (there is a noticeable progression of the Farrell surname from Virginia to Maryland to Pennsylvania that corresponds with religious tolerance in those provinces), (c) he was a Catholic merchant from the West Indies who moved to Philadelphia as economic opportunities arose (see the many Farrells in Barbados and the Leeward Islands, and the network of Irish merchants in the Atlantic), or (d) someone else.

Other projects: in accordance with our recommendations (see Getting the Most out of your DNA Test), both members have joined several appropriate haplogroup & geographic projects including the following: 

STR marker profile

Member -9744 has tested to 111 markers but has no matches at this level. He has 19 matches at 67 markers, 4 at 37, and 131 at 25 markers. His closest matches are in fact already members of the Farrell Project groups R1b-GF2a (Genetic Distance ranging from 4 to 5 out of 37) and R1b-GF2b (GD range 7-10/37 and 7-10/67).

Member -2101 was a Y-DNA-46 transfer (from Ancestry) and does not have a match list for this reason. Sadly this member has passed away and obtaining a further sample is not possible. Because of the limited functionality associated with this member's results, it is also not possible to compare his Genetic Distance to other project members using the usual tools available to Administrators. So we resort to a visual comparison of his results on the DNA Results page. And from this it appears he is a very close match to -9744, differing only at DYS442 (14>15), giving them a Genetic Distance of 1/43. Similarly, this additional mutation makes his GD 5 to 6 out of 37 when compared to other members of R1b-GF2a and 8-11 out of 37 for R1b-GF2b.

This places both members within the group R1b-GF2a (with a reasonable degree of confidence).

For -9744, Ireland comes up as a strong contender for ancestral homeland on both his Ancestral Origins page and his Haplogroup Origins page.

SNP marker profile

On examination of -9744's matches, at 67 markers the following "downstream" SNPs occur:
  • L21 ... x3
  • Z253 ... x1
  • FGC20561 ... x1

There are no new revelations at the 37 marker level, but at the 25 marker level, the following SNPs occur:
  • L21 ... x4
  • Z253 ... x8
  • FGC20561 ... x1
  • S845 ... x1
  • S846 ... x3
  • DF103 ... x1
So where do these SNPs sit in relation to each other on the human evolutionary tree and can we predict a SNP progression for these two members? There are three Haplotrees that we can examine, each with subtle differences in terms of where some SNPs have been placed on the tree by the authors - the ISOGG Haplotree, the FTDNA Haplotree, and the YFull Haplotree. For people in Haplogroup R, Alex Williamson's Big Tree is also very useful (for SNPs at the level of P312 or further downstream). Currently, the FTDNA Haplotree and the YFull Haplotree are the most useful, although the latter is more experimental (and hence perhaps more up-to-date).

All of the downstream SNPs among -9744's matches can be placed in a single continuous progression, except for the last one, DF103 (this is on a completely different branch). The progression of "consistent" SNPs is as follows (SNPs found among matches are in red):
  • R- ... M269 ... > L21 > DF13 > ZZ10 > Z253 > S847 > S844 > S856 > S845 > S846 > Z17685 > FGC20561

The above SNP progression is based on FTDNA's Haplotree but the other versions are broadly similar. 

Thus one would predict based on the SNP results of -9744's matches, that the terminal SNP of -9744 would be at or close to FGC20561. And if we see where this is located on Alex Williamson's Big Tree, we find that this particular branch is shared by several people with Irish ancestry sporting the names Yorke, Christie, Murta, & Deignan (see diagram below). This further supports Ireland as the country of origin of these project members (and in fact, all of their matches in R1b-GF2).

We could take this a step further by looking at Surname Distribution Maps and see where the adjacent surnames occur most frequently. This may give us some indication of where in Ireland (which county) this particular Farrell variant originates. But that is the topic of a subsequent post.

Z17685 (the penultimate SNP) is on the far left in Alex Williamson's Big Tree

Next Steps

  1. As these two members are quite closely related (2nd cousins once removed), they should show up as strong matches to each other on their autosomal DNA. -2101 has already done this test so if -9744 did it, he should find that he shares about 1.6% of his DNA with -2101. In addition, any of their joint matches (i.e. the same people showing up as a match in both of their matches lists) are likely to be related to them via their common ancestor, John Wesley Farrell 1801-1873. This would help focus their Farrell research and provide new avenues of enquiry and collaboration.
  2. It would be useful to confirm if the predicted SNP progression (and the terminal SNP) is correct. This would help our endeavours to isolate the country (and even county) of origin for these members. This could be achieved in several ways:
    • by testing individual SNPs ... but at $39 each at FTDNA and $17.50 each at YSEQ, this could turn out to be quite an expensive option in the long run.
    • by doing a SNP Pack. There are several available, the most "top-level" being the R-M343 Backbone SNP Panel, but this only drills down as far as Z253 on our predicted SNP Progression. There is a Z253 SNP Pack* (see the SNPs covered below) and this includes all of the SNPs in our predicted progression, so maybe the cheaper option would be to order this one instead ($119) ... and perhaps first confirming that -9744 tests positive for Z253 by ordering a single SNP test ($39).
    • via the Big Y test ... this is a "discovery test" and it will confirm most or all of the SNPs in the predicted SNP Progression and will probably identify new ones, including some that are unique to the individual doing the test. But at $575 it is expensive and it may not be necessary to answer all our questions, the chief ones being: does this DNA go back to Ireland? and if so, where in Ireland?
In the end, member 449744 decided to go straight ahead with the Z253 SNP Pack and we will update this post with the results in about 8 weeks time.

Maurice Gleeson
Feb 2016

R1b - Z253 SNP Pack
Includes the following SNPs on the haplotree:
Z253, Z2201, F1969, L226, CTS9881, FGC8244, A14, CTS3849, Z2186, CTS4314, A287, FGC17551, Z2185, Z2534, FGC17449, S15280, BY157, Z18132, S7898, FGC3251, FGC3221, PF825.2, FGC3222, L554, FGC3268, BY312, FGC20561, Z17685, S846, S845, FGC20563, L1308, S856, S844, S847, BY279, DF73, CTS10108, S23267, YFS231286, DC1, FGC5628, DC8, FGC12290, FGC5660, CTS4296, CTS9251, CTS12232, BY325, FGC20566, FGC3249, FGC3236, S7897, BY414, BY411, BY412, Z18123, BY410, DC25, FGC5659

Includes the following SNPs that are NOT on the haplotree:
BY127, DC29, DC30, DC36, DC39, DC41, Z18126, S8388, ZP155, ZP156