29 December 2011

MacGregor DNA Project annual update 2012

MacGregor DNA Project annual update 2012

Welcome to the 2012 update of the MacGregor DNA project. For this update, as a result of the nature of the test results which have appeared over the past year, I am concentrating on three groups: Greig/Gregg/Grigor; MacGregor distant and Septs. There have been only a few Ian Cam MacGregor new results this year and a few upgrades from 37 to 67 markers. At the end of this article I comment on what relationships if any can be inferred from those results. I will also comment on relationships to be found in the various subgroups that are listed on the results page at www.familytreedna.com/public/macgregor. This year’s update does therefore not include discussion of the Ian Cam group, the Irish related group and the Viking groups which have all been covered in detail in recent updates. At the moment I am not including discussion of McAdam(s), Grier and Gregory results as there are separate projects for these which have many more results than those listed in the MacGregor project. However as always I am happy to provide commentary on these by e-mail.

The three groups which I am dealing with this year should not be thought of as containing participants who were all related in the recent past. Most of the branches of the trees presented here are several thousand years old before they converge on a single ancestor who was the original founder. This means that there are participants who share the same name but not the same genetic signature within the time of the adoption of surnames (from approximately 1300-1350). However what the charts do suggest is some definite and some possible connections which participants may wish to explore further. Often these connections are through the same surname even if spelt differently (when only church clerks could write how they chose to spell a name was sometimes idiosyncratic). Occasionally the trees suggest a connection between individuals with different names. This can be simply an accident of genetic mutation but could suggest a connection relating to the late adoption of a surname, or of adoption.

For the two groups after the Gregg/Greig/Grigor tree I have drawn two charts which include the same information. The first chart has no labelling apart from the kit number and the first couple of letters of the name of the earliest known ancestor (I had to adapt a couple of entries but these should be obvious). The second chart contains the information supplied concerning the earliest known ancestor of the line. In some of the charts these labels can be quite close together but hopefully comparative use of the two charts should make it clear what label belongs with which branch.

In these charts I include the MacGregor of Glencarnoch entry (kit 2124) and the typical Gregory signature for the largest group of that family (kit 179683) again for comparison.

Chart 1 Gregg/Grieg/Grigor (excludes the Gregors near Perth who changed to MacGregor in the late 18th/early 19th centuries)

This chart suggests:

- Gregg kits 137236, 76121 and 110496 are closely related – unfortunately no ancestral information has been supplied

- Gregg kits 130191 and 6979 are closely related and seem to have an connection with Tipperary in Ireland

If these two lines (and Gregor 44975) are connected it will probably be at the earliest time of surnames

- 214992 Gragg, 7489 Gregg and 141020 Gregg are all related through a common ancestor. Interestingly this is one instance where two quite different spellings are from the same family. There appears to be a connection therefore between Kilkenny County in Ireland and South Carolina

- Gragg 158127 and 81282 are related and appear to come from Antrim in Ireland

- Greig 9690 and Grigor 131056 are probably not related by surname – there is a possibility that both families originate in the north east of Scotland. The fact that the MacGregor of Glencarnoch line is attached to this branch has been discussed in an earlier update – the suggestion is that this connection dates from what has been known in the past as the Dark Ages (c500-1000).

- Gregg 64662 and Greig 45360 are related and appear to have a Scottish connection

All the other lines are almost certainly separate genetic lines and not related directly to those discussed above. Chart 3 is a chart which takes the entries above and places them in a grid which estimates the time to the most recent common ancestor. The numbers should only be used as a guide since DNA mutates randomly. The grid is generated by Dean McGee’s Y-Utility found at http://www.mymcgee.com/tools/yutility.html?mode=ftdna_mode. What is obvious is that the time distances between individuals extend well beyond the time of the adoption of surnames.

Chart 2 Gregg/Grieg/Grigor Time to Most Recent Common Ancesto

Part 2

MacGregor (Distant) charts (includes the Gregors near Perth)

In the following charts what is immediately clear is that these are a good number of families called M(a)cGregor who are separated from each other genetically and that their common ancestor existed before surnames.

Chart 3 – unlabelled MacGregor distant

There are several reasons why different families adopted the same surname and previous updates have explored some of these in depth. Briefly, families adopted surnames to replace patronymics (so Donald McGregor would replace Donald son of John son of Ewan, or sometimes Donald son of Duncan son of Gregor), or, a surname was adopted to be part of the clan group – especially if living on land owned by a powerful or influential Laird or Chief. There are, for example, quite a few people called Grant today because their ancestor lived on the land owned by the Laird of Grant. Sometimes these changes of name are recorded in the parish registers when a child is baptised but often not.

Chart 4 MacGregor distant - labelled

I will discuss this chart from left to right clockwise starting in the lower left corner.

- kit 5356 is very distant from all the others and goes off the page for the same distance again since this result belongs to a completely different haplogroup (group which defines a more common genetic origin). All the others in this group belong to haplogroup R1b which dates back approximately 12,000 or more years so 5356 is connected many thousands of years even before that. There is no significance to the fact that 213368 and 15199 connect to this line. These are single result families at this point and not connected in time of surnames

- 155381, 99676, 186233, 164124, and 158870 – all these, from the evidence, are related. It seems likely that this family originated in Rosshire

- 170627 (no genealogical details) and 75529 Drummond alias McGrigor in Kincardine, Perthshire may be related in the period of surnames but all the others in that group (117991, 98515, 60181, 79517 and 179182) are either not related within the surname period or are connected in the centuries before proscription of the clan (from 1603)

- 13403 (John born 1753) and 130631 (no details) are probably related to each other within the last 400 years – it is less likely that 20630 James Ross MacGregor is other than distantly related to them

- 153633 James born in Forgue and the Gregory line are quite separate from all others and not connected in surname time – the connection is certainly 2000 or more years ago.

- 27811 (James Gregor Moneydie) and 161907 (no details) are definitely related, as are 7183 John Gregor Bankfoot, 2726 Alexander MacGregor 1770 and 138485 (no details). Charts in earlier updates have suggested that these five should be considered as a group and may have their origins using the surname Gregor in parishes near to the town of Perth.

- 132396, 167829, and 90803 (no details supplied for these) – if there is a connection here it must be very early or DNA has been subject to increased mutation

- 178662 Daniel 1814 and 100843 Alexander in Creich – likewise this is either an early connection or DNA has been subject to increased mutation

- 95193 James in Rathven could be related to 94589 Charles in Clackmannanshire but again this would be either distant or DNA has mutated quickly, but 94589 is closely related to 158917 and 129009 no details for either)

- 65444 and 35981 Patrick McGregory can only be related distantly

- 153297, 4151 and 198351 are all related and probably descend from three brothers born 1769, 1772 and 1766 respectively. Since this is my own family I can be quite sure about most of the detail in it. What is significant and therefore may hold true for other families too is the significant amount of mutation that has occurred in each branch over the last 200 years. The computer program still links the three lines together but the short time distance and the relatively long twigs that are produced over such a short time suggests that similar rates of mutation could be found in other families. This is why it is hard to say that some families are definitely NOT related within the period of surname adoption.

- The next branch containing MacGregor of Glencarnoch 2124 and 17711 John, Milnathort, 122079 James, Greenville, 121543 (no detail), 28296 Donald McComas and 17621 James McKinlay all appear to be closely related but the problem here is that we believe there has been no mutation in 2124 in 600 years which would put connections earlier than the adoption of surnames. This may explain why James McKinlay and MacGregor of Glencarnoch are related as there is a tradition of connection between these clans pre surnames. Alternatively McKinlay could be an alias adopted by a MacGregor but again it would have to be very early in the 2nd Millennium that this happened.

- 173181, 185487, 126138, 29834, 200914, 137093 and 84081are all related in some way to Rev William McGregor through collateral lines or forebears who lived a few generations before him

- 174561 is supposed to descend from Rob Roy MacGregor but the DNA suggests otherwise

Part 3

Sept names

In a way the Sept names are easier to deal with in that one does not expect these to be close together. A Sept was created by linking a surname with a clan, usually by tradition, and it is quite possible that individuals with the same surname are not related to each other (as for example with Black and King in these charts).

Chart 5 – Sept names unlabelled

Once again I begin at the bottom left and this time with the participants called Turk. There is no question that these individuals are all related and connected with Antrim in Northern Ireland. However the family has a tradition of actually coming from Brig o’ Turk in the Trossachs, Scotland. Their DNA signature suggests a connection with MacGregor of Glencarnoch that may have been before surnames were common. If this was a name adopted as a result of proscription then it was probably based on geographical proximity to the MacGregors and a shared genetic heritage going back into the ‘Dark Ages’.

Chart 6 – Sept names labelled

In the next group, the Skirlings, 16710, 13678 and 13635 are closely related, and the rest: 2124 MacGregor of Glencarnock, 205188 Enoch Murray, 23501 James Stirling Inverarity, 81803 Brown and 129382 Black are probably all related within the period up to the adoption of surnames rather than after it, so again this may demonstrate geographical proximity and a common ancestor during the ‘Dark Ages’.

203008 White and 179484 would have a common ancestor probably 2,000 or more years ago. There are no other matches for these in the project at this point. A similar comment applies to the group 205721 Shanklin, 61249 Walker, 3963 Black and 179683 Gregory. This is the same for 208986 Whyte and 168162 Magee (this last has a different genetic origin from the larger group which will be discussed later). The same applies to 126778 Black and 95320 West. 104782 Gregson 50101 White, and 10279 McPeters are singles with no matches in the project at 37 markers.

120116 and 115596 are not related to others in the project apart from, surprisingly 27575 King, but are closely related to each other. 17586 McGeorge and 158878 Dougall are not closely related – it is just that their respective DNA has not undergone much mutation. 41034 and 188467 both share the surname Black and look as though they could be distantly related but their individual DNA has mutated rather quickly if that is the case. 74820 and 179850 have the same known ancestor and are indeed closely related genetically.

All the other DNA profiles are unrelated to each other and the rest of the group with the possible exception of 32205 White and 114313 Lackie who may share a common ancestor in the last 600 years. 108644 Black, White 151731 and 166858 Grigsby are from completely different haplogroups than the R1b shared by all the other participants in this group. They all belong to haplogroup G but even in that group they are quite distant from each other. According to Wikipedia:

Various estimated dates and locations have been proposed for the origin of Haplogroup G. The National Geographic Society places haplogroup G origins in the Middle East 30,000 years ago and presumes that people carrying the haplogroup took part in the spread of the Neolithic. Two scholarly papers have also suggested an origin in the Middle East, while differing on the date. Semino et al. (2000) suggested 17,000 years ago. Cinnioglu et al. (2004) suggested the mutation took place only 9,500 years ago.

Finally in this group, all the participants, apart from the one already mentioned, who bear the name Magee, McGehee, Mackgehee and McGee are all closely related having no doubt descended from the ancestor who emigrated to the United States in the 17th century.

General Comments on other results:

In the Ian Cam line kit 191228 was received this year. This line has sufficient mutations to suggest that it has developed independently for some hundreds of years, possibly since the time of proscription. However the DNA may imply an ancestral connection with kits 119330 (Malcolm b 1780 Buchanan), and James McPherson (bc 1752 Abernethy) and 94903 (no details) going back to the early 1600s.

Kit 217464 (no details) is also new this year. It is hard to place this exactly as a result of a very distinctive mutation in locus 29 (19 where most have 24 or 23). This means there could be a connection with 94903 (no details). Alternatively there could be a connection through the locus 32 mutation (to 19) with 152478 (no details), or 90446 (Duncan b 1795 Paisley), or less likely, 119330 (Malcolm b 1780 Buchanan) and 4714 (Duncan MacGregor Fortingall 1773?).

With one exception all the McFarlanes in the Ian Cam group, however spelt, are related to each other genetically as well as having a distinctive signature that suggests a MacGregor connection.

At the outset I promised a comment on each of the smaller groups listed in the DNA project page at www.familytreedna.com/public/macgregor.

All these comments relate to a comparison of the Y chromosome as the results appear on the FtDNA chart. It is possible that a male adopted the name of his mother rather than that of his father. Any relationship between such males cannot be verified genetically at the moment.

The two Andersons are not closely related genetically. The Gruar/Grewar pair ARE closely related genetically. 34571 M(a)cDonald is not closely related genetically to 90496 and N12949 but these last two are related genetically within the period of surnames. All the Magruders in the project are related to each other. 147767 McLachlan and 149586 McLaughlin are not related to each other or to 153144 McLaughin and 84701 McLaughlin. However I would expect these last two to be related through a quite recent common ancestor since it looks like 84071 has faster mutating DNA up to this point. The McNee/McNie pair ARE closely related and should look to find the common ancestor. 187136 Mitchell is not related to the other two in the group. A2881 could increase to 37 markers which would probably confirm a connection with 126082 Mitchell.

In the Moore group the four individuals are probably not genetically related in the time of surname adoption although it is hard to be absolute about 18134 who has only tested 12 markers. The two individuals in the Mustard group ARE closely related. In the Nichols group it is possible that 112863 and 202529 are related within the time of surname adoption but in that case would have more rapidly mutating DNA. The other two are not related either to each other in the Y chromosome and indeed 65000 belongs to the G haplogroup whereas the others are R1b.

I have spoken about the Orrs in previous updates. The two Reids are not related genetically, nor are the three Smiths (and 24436 has Viking DNA). In the Stirling (other) group 52255 Starling and 41885 Starling are closely related. The other two in the group are not related to each other or to these two.

At the moment I have not attempted to draw a chart of the ungrouped entries but will do this during the year for report in the next update. In the meantime if anyone in the ‘Ungrouped’ section would like to indicate to me if they have matches within the MacGregor project subgroups at 35/37 and 63/67 and above I will run their results within the group to which their matching project member belongs.

Finally a note about 67 matches. Keith MacGregor (Clan Gregor Society North America representative) has raised a question with me on the issue of public availability of contact information on order that individuals can contact directly (from the charts I generate) others who appear closely related through the various branches. Unfortunately as a result of the data protection laws in Britain I cannot release that information but I do give the kit number so that members of the project can easily identify each other using when using the Matches section of their personal DNA webpages on Family Tree DNA.

I would point out, however, that not all individuals with 67 marker matches are members of the MacGregor project, and in fact with a few exceptions those on the matches grid who show 5 to 7 mutations away from an individual often have surnames which are not related to Clan Gregor at all. These are not generally people whose ancestors adopted aliases but indicate how little genetic mutation has occurred in the last 2000 years in many families’ DNA. More distant 67 matches will almost certainly NOT have the characteristic marker mutations which distinguish members of the MacGregor bloodline. In particular we would expect to see the fourth and fifth markers as 10,10, the 12th marker usually at 30, and the 29th marker usually at 24. It would be unusual in the MacGregor bloodline profile for ALL of these markers to show mutation.

These reports are always longer than I imagine they are going to be and I try to be as clear as possible taking account of the fact that DNA mutates randomly and therefore the prediction of connections cannot be an exact science. As always I am prepared to answer questions from participants with regard to individual results. Please contact me on richardmcgregor1ATyahoo.co.uk.

The trees are generated using the program Splitstree4 for which the following reference applies:

D.H. Huson and D. Bryant ‘Application of Phylogenetic Networks in Evolutionary Studies’, Molecular Biology and Evolution, 23(2):254-267, 2006.

01 January 2011

January 2011 MacGregor DNA Project update

Welcome to the MacGregor DNA project January 2011 update. I have decided to present it in a slightly different form this year, making use of the earliest known ancestor genealogies which participants have provided on the Family Tree DNA website. As I hope to show these pieces of genealogical information can be extremely valuable in linking the DNA results with family histories and can give clues as to possible previously unknown relationships.

I would encourage those who have not already done so to make use of the section under User Preferences on their personal DNA pages to indicate earliest known ancestor. It does not matter if this ancestor is only known in the place of emigration and not in Scotland since it is possible that clues as to the actual place of origin may come through links with DNA relatives. I have worked mainly with entries which have provided such information rather than make the charts much less easy to read as the result of labels which indicate ‘no detail’. However, some charts do include ‘no detail’ entries so that possible avenues of investigation could be pursued.

What this update focuses on

I have dealt primarily with those surnames immediately related to MacGregor – that is, Gregor, Grigor Grieg, Greer, Grier, Grierson, but some other representative surnames are included by single examples embedded in the charts (e.g. Magruder). In addition I have run a series of charts for the DNA profile which FTDNA assign to ‘descendants of Niall of the Nine Hostages’, which as will be seen below groups a variety of surnames within a rather tight timeframe, for the most part indicating connection in the Dark or Middle Ages.

If your kit has not been included in this update then please feel free to contact me, and I will run a chart for you with whichever other entries you wish – though it may take a while if everybody mails at the same time! It normally needs about 15 minutes to generate a chart without genealogies: adding genealogy detail increases the time required considerably as it has to be done by hand. Some of the other surname groups have not been included, partly because there are often specific projects for these names (e.g. McAdam) and in many cases genealogical information is missing. You can see the current state of the project at:


If you see that your genealogy entry is blank this is the time to sort it! If you have forgotten your various codes then you can contact me with the relevant information (about 8-10 words of text only) and I will do it for you.

Chart generation methodology

In previous updates I have included details of the process undertaken to produce the charts so I will not repeat that here, except to add that the labels were added in a simple ‘Paint’ program making use of the T(ext) feature. The labels are added to the chart to be as near to the kit number to which they apply – this means that, depending on the shape of the tree chart they can be above, below or beside the relevant kit number. For those interested, all the charts have been generated using a standard 40% likelihood of Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor (TMCRA) and using the mutation rates defined by Doug McDonald. As I was preparing this update I experimented with various configurations including using 95% confidence and FTDNA’s rate calculations. What the 40%/McDonald combination does is generally to pull older dates further back into the past and more recent dates closer. Occasionally a few (no more than 2 or 3) participant results change places on the charts when using these two different modes of generating chart material, and I will comment on a couple of these as I go on. At the end of this update I show an example of this variation on a limited number of the ‘Irish’ 67 results through Tables generated by Dean McGee’s Y-DNA Comparison Utility:


DNA commentary – Ian Cam group

[Note: double click on the charts to view]

Chart 1: MacGregor (Ian Cam) group 67 markers

What this chart suggests is that participants 185140 and 50589 are very closely related and possibly descend from two brothers in Kenmore, or certainly a father or grandfather of the same. A more distant connection might bring in participant 3346. The McFarland/McFarlane/McFarlins are all related – or rather all those in the project are – presumably through founder effect in America. Participants 26174, 16798 and 168387 are all related but that was known before. Chart 1 suggests that kit 2125 might be connected with this branch but chart 2 below (generated using 95% confidence and FTDNA mutation rates) shows 2125 connected with 1774. As this represents a change from supposed House of Roro to the House of Glengyle clearly some more results are needed to try and make the exact connection of 2125 clearer! Other connections worth investigating are:

- a possible more recent ancestor for 191035 and 94875 linking Perthshire with Govan - another result coming into this pair might help to clarify this apparent similarity

- a possible connection geographically between Buchanan Stirlingshire 119330 and Abernethy/Kincardine in Strathspey with the adoption of the McPherson alias for 121048

- a suggestive link with upper Loch Tay 133637 Stronfearnan 133637 and the emigrant ancestor of Pennsylvania in 1802 of 131269 and 146413 [I’m sure I’ve seen some indication of Love used as an alias in Balquhidder but I can’t quite identify it in my sources]. Also connected to this group is 108707 whose earliest known ancestor married in Irvine in 1815

- a possible connection between Alva (26752) and Glasgow in 1847 (10897)

- a possible connection between 2909 whose ancestor turned up in Jamaica and Loch Rannoch (10454)

- an interesting thought that the ‘Renton’ John (24029) could be connected to the ‘Forfar’ John 44327 - in a previous generation – and as a result, a possible genetic relationship for the participant named Pierson (believed to be previously Stewart)

- 187511 and 24470 descend from the same individual in Muthill

- the Stirling connections were already known

Chart 2 Ian Cam group 67 markers using 95% confidence/FTDNA mutation rate

Additional Notes:

- participants 94903 and 121048 could be more distantly related, though there is no further detail on these

- possible connection between 119330 in Buchanan, Stirlingshire, 26752 in Alva Stirlingshire and 90446 (no details) [this might seem to contradict a link between 119330 and 131269/146143 – but see the next main paragraph]

Chart 3 Ian Cam group on 37 markers

Many of the links suggested in Charts 1 and 2 above hold true for the smaller number of markers but there are some additional possibilities and a cautionary message concerning mutations.

We’ll start with the cautionary: if you look at the chart you will see that 131269 and 146413 appear to be at some distance from each other. This is because there are 3 mutations difference and, rather unusually (that is in perhaps 1 case out of 50) these are actually from the same known family. Since 131269 shows less mutations from the modal (that is the average of all the participants in this group) it means that 146413 has acquired more mutations than would be expected in what is effectively less than two centuries. In fact there is some indication that in large families the oldest and youngest males can have a mutational difference, and there’s also some circumstantial evidence that the older the father is the more likely it is that the DNA will have a error on the ‘passing on’, in other words, a mutation.

This means that we should always consider possible links between members with similar DNA as exactly that – possibilities, not certainties. The problem is more evident when dealing with a common ancestor who lived in more recent times. With more distant genetic connections as seen in chart 5 these differences tend not to be so obvious or significant.

That said, the following links are possible:

- Auchtar in Perthshire (129554) and Kilsyth Stirling 1745 (28699) though at some distance in time

- Possible links between Kilmun (near Dunoon) (108052), Paisley 1807 (12596), Rannoch c 1762 (12162) and Perthshire c 1750 (94875) - if there is a more recent common ancestor for this group it might be someone who lived in the time of the early proscription (from 1603)

Chart 4 – various M(a)cGregor results at 37 markers to show possible geographical origins

In this chart we are dealing with a much greater time span than just 600 years from the founder Gregor/Ian Cam group so the results begin to collect together more clearly. The locations are suggested based on the participants’ statements of most distant known ancestors.

Starting from bottom left:

- a very clear group of 5 individuals who certainly descend from a common ancestor and that person may well have lived in Rosshire, perhaps in the 17th century

- N62107 and 153532 may well descend from a founding ancestor in America

- 126138, 17381, 84081 and 29834 almost certainly all descended from Rev William McGregor traditionally from Glen Ossian in Scotland

- 129009 and 94589 appear to share a common ancestor in Clackmannanshire

- 95193, 100843 and 13403 could be distantly related and possibly in the north/north east of Scotland

- 27811, 161907 (no detail), 138485, 2726 (Scottish place of origin not known), and 7183 may be connected to an ancestor living in the vicinity of Perth - and the genealogies suggest that the name during proscription was Gregor not McGregor

- the lower right consists mainly of some representative members of the Ian Cam group with 17711 and 28296 possibly representing earlier genetic connections (i.e. in the Dark Ages) unless these families have experienced more vigorous DNA mutation

Chart 5 The MacGregor Distant group with Greig/Gragg/Grigor (also includes representative Magruder result), on 37 markers

This chart does NOT include members of the Ian Cam MacGregor group.

Starting from the left hand middle:

- these two results (5356 and 19304) are probably both haplogroup J and not connected to the main R1b group shown here

- Gregg results 6979 and 130191 share a recent common ancestor, presumably in Ireland. The connection of 75529 John Drummond McGregor to these seems unlikely

- There could be a connection between 94589 in Clackmannanshire and 100843 in Sutherland. In the late 18th century and during the early 19th century there was a great deal of movement from the very north of Scotland to the Lowlands for work. The ministers of the Sutherland and Caithness parishes speak of it in the 1st Statistical Account of Scotland 1793. Most of this movement was seasonal but some workers settled in the Lowlands (and usually because they had found a bride!). It’s possible that something like this happened in relation to these two results

- 45360 Greig and 64662 Gregg may be distantly related: the location Pathhead in Scotland might give 64662 a place to start looking for connections

- there’s a strong suggestion of distant genetic links among the group which has Magruder 61472 to Grigor 131056 but this will almost certainly be pre surnames in the ‘Dark Ages’

- a possible geographic connection between 9690 Greig and 131056 Grigor (this would have to be extended out to 67 markers to see how well the connection held up)

- an interesting (to me as it is my line) possible connection has emerged between 4151/153297 and 20630 which I am currently investigating genealogically

- the 158127 and 81282 Gragg results clearly do indeed share a common ancestor although at the moment no connection with Greig/Gregg is evident

- the proposed Rosshire group is represented here by 158870 and 164124

- N62107, 153532 and 164088 are clearly related to each other, probably through a founding emigrant, though I cannot yet directly place these results with other MacGregors for comparison

- the two Greggs 137236 and 110496, for whom I have no genealogical details are clearly related, probably to a founding emigrant

- the line of Rev William McGregor of ‘Glen Ossian’ is represented here by 29834 and 84081

Chart 6 selected results from the Distant MacGregors, Gregory, Greer, and Gregor surname groups on 67 markers

Chart 6 brings in some exemplar results from other MacGregor related surname groups based on 67 marker results which also have stated genealogies. Some results which do not have genealogical detail given are also included:

- the Ian Cam group is shown at the far right. The 9690 Greig result and 36006 are shown here to be very close genetically to the main Ian Cam group. Results like this suggest either a genetic line with a tendency to mutate faster, or, a connection to MacGregors pre Gregor the traditional 13th/14th century founder. It would be nice to think that this gives support to the descent of different lines from King Alpin as the genealogies suggest, but we need a lot more results before making that a definitive claim!!

- the Gregory results in the middle left are interesting because they suggest descent from a common ancestor, presumably an early emigrant to the United States. However the genetic connection to any other members of the group is very very distant

- still on Gregory, N52932 (David Gregory no detail) may share a common ancestor with 36102 in Virginia

- there is an interesting possible correspondence between 29834 (Rev William McGregor) and the Greer of Fermanagh 57019

- finally a possible linkage is suggested between 121543 (McGregor no detail), 130108 McGregor Loch Katrine, and 122079 James MacGregor Gow

'Irish’ DNA

One of the ways in which the geographical origin of genetic groups is being, and will in the future be, deduced, is through the use of SNPs. These have nothing to do with the Scottish political party but the acronym stands for Single Nucleotoid Polymorphisms and they define older population splits, as distinct from STRs – (Short Tandem Repeats) which are used in surname studies such as this one (where participants receive a string of numbers which can be compared with those of other participants).

Family Tree DNA says the following:

The Y chromosome contains two types of ancestral markers. Short Tandem Repeats (STRs) trace recent ancestry. The second type of ancestral marker, SNPs, document ancient ancestry. SNPs are small "mistakes" that occur in DNA and are passed on to future generations. SNP mutations are rare. They happen at a rate of approximately one mutation every few hundred generations.

You can read the rest of this at:


Irish genetic studies tend to identify this specific geographical location through two different routes. First it is generally predictable by the series of STR results which looks similar to this:


Generally the 25, 11, 13, and the 14 on the 2nd, 5th, 6th and 11th markers respectively are present in the participant’s DNA signature as in the above example, although there can be mutations.

Family Tree DNA have gone further and, on the basis of documented studies, suggest that those with this sequence (and extending out to 25 markers) are possibly descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, one of the “Kings” of Ireland (FTDNA calls him a ‘warlord’). You can read the relevant page here:


Whether this is strictly true or not there is no doubt at all that those who bear this signature have a comparatively recent link to a common ancestor in Ireland (no more than 3000 years ago and quite likely even more recent) and all the R1b results in the Greer/Grierson/Gregory/McGregor group given below have this characteristic. The link can be further confirmed by testing SNPs as there is a characteristic mutation known as M222+ (i.e. ‘positive’ – they have it) which is common to this group.

The following participants have had this SNP tested and are confirmed positive

4175 (McGregor), 7874 (Grier), 81125 (Gregory), 76382 (Greer), 127845 (McGee), 155715 (Greer), 165777 ( Greer), 165907 (McAdam).

For interest you may wish to know that the main Ian Cam line has also been SNP tested and the current result is:

P25, M269, S116 (P312), S127 (L11), S128 (P311), S129 (P310), S145 (L21)

(the numbers in brackets are the alternative labels for the same SNPs)

If you follow FTDNA’s assertion then all the participants on the following charts are descendants of Niall with the probable exception (though with an earlier connection) of Skinner 57893, White 120077, and McGregor 35727. In order to test how this might hold up I did a couple of Tables for ‘Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor’, using a variety of ways of generating data, and as you will see there is comparatively little time difference, most results falling after the lifetime of Niall (believed to have died c 450AD).

Chart 7 - Irish related 37 marker results with genealogies

More recent (but this could be after Niall and before surname adoption in cases where the surnames are different) genetic connections are suggested for:

- Mitchell N6852, Gregory 81125, Magee 149721 and McGreer 72557

- White 2153, McGregor 4715 and Black 136599

- Stranahan N5324 and Strannigan (Stranhan) 4717

- Black 112442 and McGee (127845)

- Greer 27441 and Grierson 173150

- Grier 7874 and Grier 94757

- Greer 97279 and Greer 106143

- All Greers:- 176539, 165777, 46156, 76382, 102002, 155715 - common emigrant ancestor
from Dumfries area?

Chart 8 – Irish related 67 marker results with genealogies

Although there are less participants results to show here the groupings (those which remain) stay the same as above except that McGrew 81138 comes closer in to Mitchell N6852 etc.

Chart 9 (Table 1) and Chart 10 (Table 2)

These two Tables take the results of chart 8 and compare each with each other using two different mutation rates and probability factors. As I suggested earlier the only real differences are that the older dates are pushed a little further back using 95% probability and FTDNA mutation rates, while more recent dates are brought closer to the present time through the use of 40% probability and the Doug McDonald derived mutation rates. The numbers are ‘years before present’, and the table is read as you would read a distance chart for different towns in a country. These figures should only be taken as guides since they are based on average rates of mutation: some families therefore show more mutations than average, and some show less than average.

Finally, I was sent an interesting little table that compares the DNA of a couple of individuals at 25 markers with the proposed DNA for certain famous individuals. Perhaps one day we will be able to include King Alpin! These ‘Famous DNA’ predictions can be found at the following websites (compare your own!):




Chart 11 (Table 3) - comparing participant and ‘famous DNA’

[Please see 'Comments' below - I have revisited David Grierson's comments on last year's report. Please do read them and mine below].