Sunday, October 9, 2016

Autosomal DNA Test in Irish genetic genealogy

Y-DNA test When No Paternal Relative Is Available II 



This post will again address genetic genealogy for Irish, Scots, and Scots-Irish, when no male relative is available to DNA test.  Why is a male needed?   In surname studies we use the Y chromosome, it is only passed from father to son.  

Women cannot take this test.  And, males that are researching a line other than their father's cannot use their Y chromosome test to find matches.  Males only carry the Y chromosome of their father and no other Y chromosome will show up in their DNA test.

Gaelic Warrior Lord AD 1000

So, what do women, and men researching lines other than their father's, do?
Here is an example:  I have already researched my father's paternal line, all the way back to Ireland and Scotland.  Found them, have been over to visit, found the progenitor in the primary sources.  Total success.

But, I wanted to research my father's mother's father's line.  Their surname is Tweedy and I do not carry the Tweedy Y chromosome.  However, I do carry a lot of Tweedy DNA, just not the Y chromosome.  I used another test which used this other DNA material.

I did the Family Tree Autosomal DNA test.  They call it their Family Finder test.   Through this test I located a female Tweedy cousin.  She had a brother.  He did carry the Tweedy Y chromosome and we had him do the Y chromosome DNA test.  Through this simple method we obtained the Tweedy Y chromosome and are using it to research the family.

We have many ladies that participate in our projects.  They use a male relative to proxy test for them.  If they have no known male relative from the line they are researching they will use the Autosomal DNA test to locate one, as I did.

I manage several large Irish and Scottish DNA projects.  There are hundreds of people that have used this method to research a family line where they do not have access to a known male descendant. 
Autosomal DNA testing does have limitations.  As a research tool, it can only go back around five generations.  But, most people can locate a co-lateral line they need within this time frame.  In my case it was fourth cousins and the time connection was mid 1800s.

All you need is one good match to the family you want to research and then have a male in that family test their Y chromosome.  Once you get the Y chromosome, you are set.  The Y chromosome does not have time limitations, you will find close cousins, find distant cousins in Ireland and Scotland, confirm real clan connections,  and even research tribal histories going back several thousand years. 

My recent book, Finding the McCains is a guide that illustrates how much can be accomplished through a well run Y chromosome genetic genealogy project

Good luck with your research and do not fret about those brick walls, they can be smashed.

Barry R McCain

Irish and Scots Female Ancestor Names

Irish & Scots Female Ancestor Names in Primary Sources

As you progress with your genetic genealogy research you will eventually reach a point where records were not written in modern English.   The records are in Gaelic or written is an English dialect, such as Lallans, with the surname rendered into phonetic Gaelic.

With men’s names this does not present too much difficulty if you are familiar with their Gaelic forms, but, do not overlook the possibility of locating a female ancestor from this time period.  Most records and pre 1600 genealogies tend to feature only male names.  However, in some cases the name of a female ancestor will appear, but you will need to know how to recognize the surname when you see it.

Finding the name of a male ancestor is fairly straight forward.  It will appear in some anglicized or phonetic spelling of the original Gaelic surnames.  Most people are familiar with male surnames in Gaelic; Ó means “descendant of” and Mac means “son of.”   Mag is an alternative spelling of Mac and was sometimes used when the name that follows it began with a vowel.  The ladies used a similar system. Girls and unmarried women with surnames that began with Ó would have before their surname.  Girls and unmarried women whose family surname began with Mac would use Nic.
Married women would take their husbands names, but the prefix form was different than the male form.  Ó became and Mac became Mhic.  This name change did not always hide the surname of the woman’s father however.  In traditional Gaelic society some women were known by their maiden names due to the strong sense of family and clan affiliation.

Two examples from the mid to late 1500s:  Fionnuala Nic Eáin married Dónaill Mac Ailín.  Her “married name” becomes Fionnuala Mhic Ailín.  In actuality, she retained her maiden name in the community and is listed by that name in the records.  Her name appears crudely anglicised as Finvall Nikean.  Here is an entry from the Argyll records where she appears:
…In the same year (1572) Finvall Nikean, the wife of Donald M'Alane V'Donile of Dunnad, resigned to James Scrymgeoure of Dudhope constable of Dundee the twenty shillinglands of Carnyame, the said Donald warranting the constable free of all harm in respect of the lands from the heirs of the deceased Lauchlane M'Donald V'Alane.
This data allowed me to place Fionnuala Nic Eáin to the House of Dónaill Mac Ailín’s cousin.
          The next example is Aifric Nic Dhonnachaidh Rua the wife of Malcolm Scrymgeour.  Again, this Gaelic woman does not use her husband’s surname, but rather a name that identifies her clan.  In this case she is linked to the family of Donnchadh Rua Mac Ailín of Dunemuck, a thane in Glassary and who held his lands through Clann Lachlainn.  In the actual record her name is recorded as “Effreta nein Donche roy.”
 When you get on the trail of your ancestors pre 1600 be aware of both male and female forms of your surname.  You might make a great find, I have done it several times now.