Monday, 15 August 2016

Lineage II: our Nearest Neighbours - why are we related to them?

In the previous post we identified the nearest neighbours of the Lineage II Gleeson's from North Tipperary. In this post we explore why we might be related to them and how.

Our closest neighbours genetically are four people called Carroll. Next to them are a Prendergast, a Phelps, two McCarthy's, four McMahon's, a Bell, and an O'Keefe. Further back, we have a connection to another McCarthy and a host of other surnames including: Creamer, Miller, Treacy, Bowman, Nicholson, McConnell, & Mack. Somewhere in the mix there may be an Orgain and a Morrison, but their exact relationship to the others is not well-defined. And finally there is a list of additional surnames some or all or none of which may be related to the Gleeson's at some stage in the last few thousand years.

Note that the red dashed line in the diagram below indicates that the individual sits at or somewhere below the SNP indicated. See this Glossary (to follow) for abbreviations used in the text.

Lineage II Gleeson Neighbours - output from the analysis described in the previous post
Border indicates source: blue Nigel, grey Z255, green L21, red Ireland Y-DNA

Why might any of these surnames be related?

There are several possible explanations for the genetic connection between any two of these various surnames:
  • Pre-surname connection i.e. both spring from a common ancestor pre-surnames (i.e before 1000 AD approximately for Irish surnames)
  • Ancient NPE (surname switch)  e.g. a McMahon family swore allegiance to the ruling McCarthy's and adopted their surname. Thus McMahon DNA was passed down with the McCarthy surname in subsequent generations
  • Recent NPE (DNA switch)  e.g. we saw in a recent post how the Phelps connection may be the result of a secret adoption of a Gleeson/Carroll/similar child sometime around the 1670s
  • Convergence - i.e. because of Back & Parallel Mutations, two surnames look more closely related than they actually are and the connection is 5000 years ago, not 1000 years ago. This is more likely to be a problem with those surnames that were generated from the Matches Surname Analysis (orange box to the right in the diagram above).

Our genetic neighbours could be related in any number of different ways

Is it possible to distinguish between the various possible reasons for the genetic connection?

There are several techniques that can be used to explore this question and the output can increase the likelihood of one explanation over another.

If you know how old a particular group of people is, this can help place their emergence on the Human Evolutionary Tree. TMRCA estimates using STR data are a helpful starting point, but are probably too crude to date the age of a group before 1000 AD. When dating the emergence of a particular group prior to 1000 AD, TMRCA estimates using SNP data are a lot more accurate than STR-based TMRCA estimates. Using these techniques we might be able to determine the likelihood of which came first - the (Gleeson) chicken or the (Carroll) egg. 

However, it should be borne in mind that the TMRCA estimates the branching point between two people/groups - the emergence of the defining SNP may be several hundreds of years before that. Thus the placement of a group on the Haplotree may be further back than the data might suggest. In other words, SNP-based TMRCA estimates may place a group at a later timepoint on the Haplotree than when it (and the defining SNP marker) actually first emerged.

A recent NPE is more likely when there is only a single occurrence of that particular surname with that particular genetic signature within the database, and most of the other people who bear that surname have a different signature. A recent NPE may also be more likely if the GD Spread within a group is small, indicating an MRCA within the last few hundred years.

The most difficult situation is trying to distinguish an ancient NPE from a pre-surname match. And this is where historical evidence (e.g. from the Ancient Irish Annals) may be of some help. Is it more likely or less likely that a particular surname would be subject to a surname switch or a DNA switch?

For example, the Gleeson's were never the most powerful Lords in the Kingdom. The Kennedy's and the O'Brien's were the important chiefs. Thus it would be perhaps more common for other families to adopt the Kennedy name as a mark of allegiance ... which from the Kennedy point of view results in a DNA switch (i.e. same surname, different DNA), and from the Gleeson point of view results in a surname switch (i.e. same DNA, different surname). In this case, one man's surname switch is another man's DNA switch.  Extrapolating from this, it would be more likely that the Kennedy and O'Brien surnames would be characterised by a host of different genetic signatures. 

The corollary of this is that families more lower down on the social scale would tend to not have a diverse range of genetic signatures associated with them, because there would have been no tendency for other families to swear allegiance to them. Thus the Gleeson's may have kept their surname relatively genetically intact compared to the more powerful Kennedy's.

However there may be other forces acting in the opposite direction. There was no concept of illegitimacy or infidelity under Brehon Law ... apparently. If this indeed was the case, then there could have been an awful lot of DNA flying around. Perhaps the more powerful men were in a better position to do this (they had the means to support concubines and had ready access to servants). This could mean that the DNA of powerful people (e.g. the Kennedy's) is more likely to emerge under the guise of different surnames than perhaps Gleeson DNA.  In other words, the Gleeson's may have been more inclined to keep their DNA to themselves. And as a result we might find that some Gleeson's will carry the DNA of important families (the Kennedy's and O'Brien's were Dal Cassian so we should expect the SNP L226 to feature among us, as indeed is the case with Gleeson Lineage III). 

So, as far as the Gleeson surname is concerned, some forces pull us in the direction of having relatively few genetic signatures associated with the name (e.g. we were not a powerful dynasty), and other forces (e.g. ancient shenanigans by the chief) pull us in the opposite direction.

If there is an ancient NPE somewhere between the Lineage II Gleeson's and their neighbours, then there is a relatively limited gene pool from which it may have arisen. Below is a map of the main families in the area of North Tipperary towards the end of the era of the Gaelic Clan System. Based purely on proximity, it is among these names that we would have higher expectations of stumbling upon the source of any NPE.

from The History of the Ely O'Carroll Territory or Ancient Ormond by Rev. John Gleeson 

Based on the above, there are certain questions we can ask when examining the evidence for each genetic neighbour:
  1. Does it look like a recent NPE?
  2. Where did the person/group come from? Is there a specific ancestral location identified?
  3. How old is the group? Can we determine when it branched off from the main trunk of the Haplotree? and if so, where does this place it in relation to the estimated branching points of other related surnames?
  4. Do Surname Dictionaries give us any clues to the surnames origin? 
  5. Did any of the related surnames exist in close proximity to each other?
  6. Is there any historical evidence (from recent history or the Ancient Irish Annals) of a relationship between any related surnames?
Let's look at each of our supposed genetic neighbours in turn. I'll deal with the recent NPEs first as these are easier to identify.


We have already explored how this is probably a recent NPE. Thomas Phelps was a Cromwellian soldier from Gloucestershire who was granted land right in the heart of Gleeson territory. The evidence suggests that somehow "local DNA" became associated with the Phelps surname, probably sometime around the 1670s, and subsequent descendants carried this to America, including Maryland and North Carolina. See this previous post for the full account.


Interestingly, Bell does not even show up among the STR matches of any of the Lineage II project members. This indicates that his genetic distance from the Gleeson's is below the threshold for declaration at every level of comparison (from 111 markers down to 25 markers). 

However, I have received information that this particular individual does not have any close matches among the 486 other Bell's in the Bell DNA Project (thus suggesting this may be a recent NPE). Furthermore, his MDKA is a Percy Bell, born before 1912 in New Orleans, Louisiana, who was apparently African American. This information suggests an NPE occurring somewhere in America during the time of slavery on this person's direct male line, with a Gleeson or a Gleeson neighbour as the genetic ancestor.


Similarly to Bell above, this Prendergast individual does not show up as a match to anyone in Lineage II. His terminal SNP is Z16443 (Haplogroup R1b) and the TMRCA to the Lineage II Gleeson's is about 170 AD (via Susan Hedeen's calculations - see the Z255 Yahoo group).

He does appear however in the Z255 Project which reveals that his MDKA was born in Maine in 1849. In the Prendergast DNA Project, he sits in a separate group on his own, and has no close genetic matches (all of which suggests an NPE).

MacLysaght (1985) reports that Prendergast is a Hiberno-Norman name and first came to Ireland in the 12th century with the Norman Knight Maurice de Prendergast, a contemporary of Strongbow. A branch of the family established itself in Newcastle, Co. Tipperary but their lands were subjected to the post-Cromwellian confiscations of the mid-1600s. Some lands were retained, however, and their holdings in Tipperary included Ardfinnan Castle. This places the Prendergast name in roughly the right place for an NPE to occur.

The Prendergast DNA Project and Haplogroup R1a Project have reasonably-well characterised the SNP markers for the Prendergast's with YP543 and it's downstream SNPs (YP4467, YP544, & YP541) being exclusive to the Prendergast surname (i.e. so far, they do not occur in association with any other surnames). All of these SNP markers belong to Haplogroup R1a, a completely different Haplogroup subclade to our Prendergast's Haplogroup R1b. 

Extract from the Haplogroup R1a Project

The earliest of these Prendergast-specific SNPs emerged sometime between 550 and 850 AD, and the most recent one emerged about 1625.  So this currently places the Prendergast common ancestor on the Haplotree somewhere between 550-850 AD, indicating that the roots of this lineage are very old.

The balance of the evidence suggests that DNA from a "Gleeson or neighbour" entered the Prendergast line and was passed on to subsequent generations. This could have happened relatively early on (say between 1200-1600) given that the TMRCA with the Lineage II Gleeson's is 170 AD.

Dates of emergence of Prendergast-specific SNPs
(from the YFULL Haplotree)


Four Carroll individuals were identified from the previous analysis. These all belong to group "R-L21, Z255, Z16437" in the Carroll DNA Project. This particular group has 16 members suggesting that this is not a "chance signal" (e.g. recent NPE) but rather quite a substantial one.

Is there any indication of a specific ancestral location?
Of the members with declared Irish origins, 3 are from Tipperary, one from Kilkenny.  This certainly places some of them "in the right place", given that the Lineage II Gleeson's are from North Tipperary.

The relevant Carroll group from the Carroll DNA Project

How old is this group?
There appears to be quite a degree of GD Spread in this group, with the maximum Genetic Distance between any two members being in the region of 18/37. This suggests that this is a very old group with a common ancestor that goes back to perhaps some time before the 1300's. This in turn suggests that there is no NPE in this group since this time. It is not possible to get a specific STR-based TMRCA  estimate for this group without access to the data so in this situation it is necessary to write to the Project Administrator and ask him/her for the information. 

It would be useful to perform Big Y tests on the most distantly related members of this group so that we could maximise the chances of identifying the defining SNP for this particular group, and so that we could get another age estimate for the MRCA using SNP data (in addition to the STR-based estimate used above).

Interestingly, the MSA (Matches Surname Analysis) for Lineage II revealed a low maximum mpm (matches per member) value of 0.3 (at 37 markers). This could happen with a very distant connection (e.g. pre-surnames, for example). In other words, one would expect the signal of a genetic connection to be diluted and eventually lost over time as the two groups diverge from each other with progressive STR mutations. This is why SNP evidence is more informative when trying to detect a distant connection between two surnames.

What is the origin of this surname?
The Carroll DNA Project quotes Woulfe (1923) as describing six possible Carroll origins. Of relevance to our story ...
  • the Ely O'Carroll were originally Lords of Eile which comprised the baronies of Ballybritt, Clonlisk, Ikerrin, & Eliogarty ... in other words, just east of the Gleeson stronghold of Upper Ormond (see map above). This is in effect "next door" to the Lineage II Gleeson's. 
    • The Project Admins suggest they have identified the most likely genetic signature for this group, namely R-L21, DF21, 492=11, the Ely Carroll modal category. 
    • They say: In September 2011, the Carroll project announced that "so far no one has come forward who can trace their Carroll roots back to the 1500's except of course the participant Member Kit Number 112378 who is a close relative of the family of Charles Carroll the Signer." Of Carrolls who have tested 67 or 111 markers, 15% are in this Ely Carroll category.
    • This is a completely different category to the one to which the Lineage II Gleeson's belong.
  • the O'Carroll's of Oriel (Airgialla) were of the same stock as the McMahon's (close genetic neighbours to Lineage II) but they hailed from the Kingdom of Oriel which is a bit too far away (around modern Armagh & Monaghan). So unless there was a mass migration it seems unlikely that we would be related to this particular group. Perhaps these are a different set of McMahon's too ...
    • The Project identifies a possible genetic signature for this group, namely: R-L21, DF21, 511=9, 425=0, 505=9, the Clan Colla modal category. 
    • They note: In September 2009, the Carroll project announced that a group of participants "may be related to the O'Carroll Princes of Oriel (Monaghan and Louth). This Kingdom located in the North of Ireland was founded by the three Collas Brothers around the year 327 AD." Of Carrolls who have tested 67 or 111 markers, 23% are in this Clan Colla category.
    • This is also a completely different category genetically to the Lineage II Gleeson's.
  • the O'Carroll's of Ossory (Osraige) came from modern day Kilkenny, still within the province of Munster but east of Tipperary (near present-day Kilkenny).
    • they are potentially identified by R-P312, DF27, Y5058, A641, 390=25, 481=24, 520=21, CDYa=33, the Breassal Breac category. Again, this is a different category to the Lineage II Gleeson's.
Modern Irish Map compared to maps of the Ancient Gaelic Kingdoms

So there is no apparent genetic connection or genetic consistency between the Lineage II Gleeson's and any of the above O'Carroll categories. And this despite the Ely O'Carroll group and the Ossory O'Carroll group being practically next door neighbours. The closeness seems to be crying out for some sort of an association. Possibly an NPE? Did some Gleeson's switch their surname to Carroll as a sign of allegiance to their neighbouring chiefs?

However ... Woulfe could be wrong in his categorisation of the O'Carroll clan origins; there could be other Carroll septs that have not been identified so far; the Carroll DNA Project could be incorrect in associating certain haplotypes with specific O'Carroll septs / clans; there may be other reasons for the lack of similarity that we haven't thought of ... yet. If you have any suggestions, leave a comment below!


According to  the McMahon DNA Project website, there were two main groups of McMahon's - the MacMahons of Oriel in the north of Ireland (around Co. Monaghan), and the MacMahons of Thomond in the south (around Co. Clare). Thomond is right beside the North Tipp Gleesons.

Woulfe gives this information about the surname:
Mac MATHGHAMHNA—IV—M'Mahowna, M'Maghowney, M'Maghone, M'Machan, MacMaghone, MacMaghon, MacMaghen, MacMachon, MacMahon, MacMahan, MacMann, Mahony, Mahon, (Matthews, Mathews); 'son of Mathghamhain' (bear). There are two great Irish families of this name, viz.: the MacMahons of Thomond, and the MacMahons of Oriel. The MacMahons of Thomond are a branch of the O'Briens, and derive their name and descent from Mahon, son of Murtagh More O'Brien, King of Ireland (1094-1119). Their patrimony was Corca Bhaiscinn, which comprised the baronies of Moyarta and Clonderlaw in the south-west of Co. Clare ... 
The MacMahons of Oriel were formerly one of the most powerful families in Ulster. On the decline of the O'Carrolls in the 13th century, they became lords of Oriel, a rank which they retained down to the reign of Elizabeth; and even as late as the Cromwellian wars, they had considerable possessions and power in Co. Monaghan. 

The McMahon DNA Project has a group of 16 McMahons that are all closely related, two of whom have tested positive for Z16438 and two positive for the next downstream branch Z16435/6. It is therefore likely that all McMahon's in this group would test positive for Z16435/6. The group is currently split in two but the modal haplotypes for each group (C3.1 and C3.2) are very close to each other (GD approximately 2/37) and so I would consider these as all belonging to the same group.

The GD spread within the group is about 10/37 suggesting a midpoint TMRCA maybe some time in the 1300s-1400s. So this is an old well-established group and not a recent NPE.

Irish counties included among the ancestral locations for group members include: Galway, Limerick (x3), Clare (x2), & Kerry. This is in keeping with the traditional location of the McMahon's of Thomond.

The McMahon neighbours of Lineage II
(click to enlarge)
The question is: does the connection with Lineage II represent a pre-surname connection (i.e. via a common ancestor, as might be documented in the Ancient Annals) or an ancient NPE (involving a surname switch or DNA switch or both)?

Is there any evidence that the McMahon's and the Gleeson's were "of the same stock"?

So, what are the possibilities:
  • It is interesting that the O'Carroll name occurs in relation to the McMahon's of Oriel, given that an association between the North Tipp Gleeson's and the Ely O'Carroll or Ossory O'Carroll groups has been postulated. But is this an important finding or a coincidence? Is it a hot lead or a red herring? The fact that Oriel is so far removed from Tipperary makes me think this is more likely to be a red herring ... unless there was a mass migration from Oriel to Tipperary.
  • Group members have ancestral locations in Clare & Limerick primarily, in keeping with the Thomond McMahon's.
  • If the Thomond McMahon's were a branch of the O'Brien's, they should test positive for L226. Only one member does. 
  • If they shared a common ancestor with the Lineage II Gleeson's, the Gleeson's should bear L226 also. They do not.
  • So that leaves the following as possibilities:
    • The Gleeson's and McMahon's do share a common ancestor but it is not recorded in the annals.
    • An ancient NPE occurred and either a) genetic Gleeson's became McMahon's by name, or b) genetic McMahon's became Gleeson's by name.

It is conceivable that because the McMahon's were a powerful sept, that the Gleeson's swore allegiance to them and changed their name accordingly (i.e. surname switch from Gleeson to McMahon). There is little to suggest that the Gleeson's were ever war-like enough to command allegiance from other septs ... although a motto of "the strong hand will be uppermost" does give one some pause for thought.

An alternative scenario could have been that a Gleeson and a McMahon switched surnames independently to "Carroll" ... so the Carroll's ended up with both Gleeson and McMahon DNA associated with their surname.


Here is what Woulfe says about the McCarthy surname:
Mac CÁRTHAIGH—IV—M'Carhig, M'Carhie, MacCarha, MacCarthy, MacCartie, MacCarty, MacArthy, &c.; 'son of Cárthach' (Old Celtic Caratacos, loving, an ancient Irish personal name). The MacCarthys were the chief family of the Eoghanacht, i.e., the descendants of Eoghan Mor, son of Oilioll Olum, King of Munster in the 3rd century. They took their name from Cárthach, lord of the Eoghanacht, whose tragic death, in 1045, is recorded in the Annals. Cártach was the son of Saerbhreathach (a name still in use in the family, anglicised Justin), who was the grandson of Ceaillachán of Cashel, King of Munster in the Danish period. Prior to the Anglo-Norman invasion, the MacCarthys were Kings of Desmond, or South Munster; but shortly after that event they were driven from the plains of Tipperary into the present counties of Cork and Kerry, where, however, they became very numerous and retained considerable possessions down to the revolution of 1688. They were divided into three great branches, the heads of which were known respectively as MacCarthy More who resided chiefly in Kerry, MacCarthy Reagh, lord of Carbery in West Cork, and MacCarthy of Muskerry; and there were numerous minor branches.

The McCarthy men who match the Lineage II Gleeson's are a group only four people in McCarthy group E1. Two of the members hail from Cork & Kerry respectively, in keeping with what Woulfe writes about their ancestral locations.

Interestingly, one is positive for Z16435 and two for FGC39568, a SNP on the adjacent branch. The time to their common ancestor is about 120 AD, which is very far back indeed. Perhaps as more people test this group will break into two? ... just a thought that crosses my mind.

Also, a group of four is quite a small group. This raises the (low) possibility of a relatively recent NPE (within the last 500 years).

Furthermore, the Project Admin (Nigel McCarthy) identifies Creamer as a McCarthy in disguise. Here is what he writes:
... a West Cork McCarthy family - known to the writer - which took Cremane as an agnomen in due course became the Creamer family following migration to London, with no hint any longer of its McCarthy origins. Similarly some nineteenth century baptism and marriage records refer, for example, to the surnames Farshing, Crimeen and Meenig, but it is often clear from research that these are McCarthys.

Group E1 from the McCarthy DNA Study

So which came first? Possibly the McCarthy's if the TMRCA estimate of 120 AD is to be believed.

There is nothing to suggest that the McCarthy's and Gleeson's were descended "from the same stock" so a pre-surname connection seems unlikely.

Thus we are once again left with the idea that perhaps Gleeson's changed their name to McCarthy out of allegiance ... but this would not have happened around 120 AD ... so our picture here is incomplete. We need more data to draw more robust conclusions.


This name was one of the many surname offshoots of the Eoghanacht McCarthy sept in the south of Ireland.


Another name that comes up as a recurrent match among Lineage II members is McCloughan.  The similarity between the name McLachlan and McCloughan seems like an extraordinary co-incidence. Or is it? Could they both be derived from the surname Moloughney, a supposed Muskerry surname associated with the Gleeson surname? or is this a red herring?


The data is fragmented and is drawn from a variety of different sources. Having it collated in one place might aid interpretation (for example, they should all join the Z255 haplogroup Project and the Munster irish Geographic Project).

The DNA evidence suggests a close association between the Gleeson's of Lineage II and a variety of neighbouring surnames, some of quite powerful septs. Phelps and Bell are highly likely to be recent NPEs; Prendergast also.

But the association with other surnames is less clear. There is little evidence of a pre-surname connection for the association with the Carroll's and the McMahon's, and the possibility of an ancient NPE seems a more plausible explanation.

The McCarthy association is the most difficult to decipher. The small numbers in the Group E (four only) and the presence of markers on adjacent branches of the haplotree is difficult to explain.

More accurate TMRCA estimates and timing of SNP emergence/formation would help.

This topic will be one of ongoing enquiry so this post will be updated periodically as more data becomes available (and is absorbed and digested).

Maurice Gleeson
August 2016

Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Nearest Neighbours of Lineage II

In the last blog we looked at one of the closest neighbours of the North Tipperary Gleeson's of Lineage II, namely the Phelps of Group 8 of the Phelps DNA Project. And we learnt that there was a Cromwellian soldier, Thomas Phelps from Gloucestershire, who was granted land in the mid-1600s. This land was later sold by the Phelps family to Lord Bloomfield in 1820. Many Gleeson's lived on Lord Bloomfield's estate, including my own great grandmother.

Now we turn to a general overview of our other close neighbours. And to help illustrate this, we will use four major resources - Alex Williamson's Big Tree, Nigel McCarthy's Group E Phylogenetic Tree, information from relevant Geographic & Haplogroup Projects, and my own Matches Surname Analysis of Lineage II members.

And why do we do this? Because it may gives us clues to the deeper ancestry of the Lineage II Gleeson's i.e. prior to the general usage of surnames, which in Ireland was about 1000 years ago. In other words, this exercise may help connect us to information in the Ancient Irish Annals that will allow us to jump back in time to the Gaelic Clan System that operated up to the middle 1600s.

And that will put us in touch with a past that few of us ever dreamt we would have access to.

The Big Tree

First off, Alex Williamson's Big Tree. This only has people who have tested with the Big Y or similar Next Generation Sequencing tests and includes the 9 Gleeson's from Lineage II who have undertaken Big Y testing. And our closest neighbours here are families by the name of Carroll, Pendergast, Phelps, Creamer, McCarthy, Miller, & Treacy. Note that this analysis is based entirely on SNP marker results.

Lineage II Gleeson's & their neighbours on the Big Tree
(TMRCA dates in blue i.e. Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor)

Nigel McCarthy's Z255 Tree

The next resource is Nigel McCarthy's Group E Phylogenetic Tree and this uses a combination of SNP data and STR data, but only from those individuals who have tested to at least 67 STR markers. Nigel's tree is more comprehensive than Alex's Big Tree and includes 13 Lineage II Gleeson's as well as several additional neighbours to those mentioned above -  McMahon, Bell, McConnell, Crimeen, & Creamer.

Group E Phylogenetic Tree - Gleeson's above & neighbours below
(click to enlarge)

Haplogroup & Geographic Projects

The main projects relevant to Gleeson Lineage II are as follows:

The DNA Results pages of these various projects were reviewed for anyone with the known SNPs at or downstream of Z16437/9. It is important to review all these projects because some individuals may have joined one project but not another. Some additional surnames arising from the review include: Orgain, Morrison, O'Keefe, McMahon, McLachlan, McCarthy, Bowman, Nicholson, McConnell

Z255 Haplogroup Project members at / downstream of Z16437/9

Matches Surname Analysis

The last resource for identifying our close neighbours is a Matches' Surname Analysis, and this uses only STR data. It involves noting down every surname on each member's Y-STR matches list and how often they occur. Only the most common surnames among the matches are outlined below - there were many other less common surnames and you can see the full list in the tabular outputs of this analysis at the end of this post. New names not previously mentioned above are highlighted in bold:

  • Thus, the 8 Lineage II members who tested 111 STR markers had 59 matches in total, and the most common surnames among their matches were Gleason (averaging 3.13 matches per member), Gleeson (2.13 mpm), & Little (0.88 mpm).
  • Similarly, the 13 members who tested to 67 markers had 315 matches between them, and the most common surnames among their matches were: Gleeson (4.23 mpm), Phelps (3.85), Gleason (3.46), Doty (0.92), Little (0.77), McLachlan (0.77), Reardon (0.69), and Ashcraft, Lewis, Mobley & Tripp (all 0.54).
  • Likewise, the 19 members with 37-marker data had 286 matches in all, and the most common surnames were: Gleeson (2.68), Gleason (2.16), Phelps (1.68), Hamilton (1.32), Little (0.95), McLachlan (0.79), Reardon (0.68) & Tripp (0.58).
  • And finally, the 21 members with 25-marker data had 523 matches between them, with the most common surnames being: Gleeson (4.37), Gleason (4.16), Little (1.79), Hamilton (1.11), Treacy (0.89), Phelps (0.63), McLachlan (0.63), & Daley (0.53).

The reason why this latter exercise is useful, and complements the other analyses above, is that not everyone will have done Big Y / NGS testing and therefore won't be included in Alex's Big Tree, not everyone will have tested to 67 STR markers and therefore won't be included in Nigel's Group E,  and not everyone will have joined a Haplogroup or Geographic Project ... so the Matches Surname Analysis may capture additional individuals not detectable by the other methods above.

However, there are drawbacks and caveats to the Matches Surname Analysis and the dataset may be heavily contaminated with misleading data due to Convergence, NPEs, or a mixture of both. I discuss these issues in greater detail in this blog post here.

So whilst the latter analysis could potentially be useful for generating clues worth pursuing, one should be circumspect about its output. In short, be very wary.

Next, each of these surnames was searched in order to try to identify a terminal SNP. Here is what was found:

  • Doty ... M269, but likely to be Z16433
  • Reardon ... M269
  • Ashcraft ... M269
  • Lewis ... L21
  • Mobley ... Z255
  • Tripp ... M269 & DF13
  • Hamilton ... M269
  • Daley ... M269

Any individuals identified as not below Z16437/9 were to be excluded from the analysis. Any with no identified sub-Z16437/9 SNP were to be tentatively included. However, it was not possible to identify any SNPs that were sufficiently downstream. Therefore these matches could either be "true matches" (i.e. close neighbours) or alternatively due to NPEs or Convergence or a mixture of both. So all the above surnames are tentatively included as potential "close neighbours" of the Gleeson's of Lineage II. 

The Bigger Tree

Thus, collating all the above information allows us to generate a revised diagram of the neighbours of Lineage II incorporating all the information from the various sources. The red dashed line indicates that the individual sits at or somewhere below the SNP indicated.

What becomes apparent from this analysis is that there is a strong signal for the Carroll family being our closest neighbours, followed by the McMahon's and McCarthy's and possibly the McLachlan's & O'Keefe's, and finally a bunch of people under A557/8.

Interestingly, the Matches' Surnames Analysis picked up a very low signal for these "closest neighbours". The surname Carroll only scored a maximum of 0.3 mpm, McCarthy was 0.38, and McMahon was 0.15. This suggests that it may not be a very useful way of identifying related surnames and may be subject to a large degree of Convergence.

Border indicates source: blue Nigel, grey Z255, green L21, red Ireland Y-DNA

Next Steps

The purpose of exploring all these resources is to try to identify a signal for surnames that may be related to us via a common ancestor prior to the advent of surnames. By determining which non-Gleeson surnames we are closely related to, we may be able to link in to some of the Ancient Irish Genealogies described in the Ancient Annals and that could shed light on our deeper origins within Ireland (back in the first 1000 years AD).

In the next post, we will look at the neighbouring surnames identified by these analyses and explore how each of them might be connected to the North Tipperary Gleeson's of Lineage II.

Maurice Gleeson
August 2016

Matches Surname Analysis  - reveals the most common surnames among Lineage II members' matches
Key: green indicates mpm >1, yellow mpm >0.5 but <1
(click to enlarge)

Saturday, 30 July 2016

The Phelps Connection

There are several surnames that turn up as close matches to the North Tipperary Gleeson's of Lineage II, and one of these is Phelps. Some of our project members have up to 10 Phelps individuals among their Y-DNA-37 matches and 8 Phelps individuals among their Y-DNA-67 matches. 

The North Tipp Gleeson's of Lineage II and the single Phelps in the Big Tree are connected by the SNP marker Z16438 which is estimated (by YFULL) to have been formed some time between 550 and 1200AD. Now at that stage (if we are to believe the ancient texts), the North Tipp Gleeson's would have been living somewhere between Muskerry (North Cork) and the Kingdom of Aradh (between present day Nenagh and Lough Derg). Furthermore, they would probably have been "pre-Gleeson" because the surname was probably not commonly used until sometime after 1000 AD. And these pre-Gleeson's could have given rise to not only people called Gleeson, but also people called Carroll & Prendergast.

Lineage II Gleeson's & their neighbours on the Big Tree
(TMRCA dates in blue i.e. Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor)

Now Phelps is not a Gaelic name. It is in fact very English. The story is that it is an Anglo-Norman name with a particular preponderance in Gloucestershire. So why is a Phelps so closely genetically related to the Gleeson's and their clearly Irish neighbours the Carroll's, the McCarthy's, & the Treacy's? Well, there are several possible explanations.
  • Could it be that they both have the same common ancestor? In other words, some time between  550 and 1200 AD, a man had two groups of descendants, one of which gave rise to the pre-Gleeson's of North Tipperary and the other to the Phelps of Gloucestershire ... this seems unlikely.
  • An alternative explanation could be that sometime during 550 to 1200 AD, a Phelps was in close contact with a pre-Gleeson descendant (let's call him "North Tipp Man") and (for whatever reason) the DNA of the North Tipp Man became associated with the surname of the Phelps. This could have been due to an adoption by a Phelps of a North Tipp Man's child, or perhaps the wife of a Phelps had an illicit encounter with a North Tipp Man or had a child from a previous marriage to a North Tipp Man and the child was raised as a Phelps.

The latter explanation seems more probable but is there any evidence to support it?

Surname Distribution of Phelps in the late 1800s with preponderance in Gloucestershire

There were Gleeson's and other Tipperary men in England from early times. One of these could feasibly have introduced North Tipp Man DNA into a Phelps line. This is an option that should be kept in mind.

Looking at the alternative scenario, there were Phelps in Ireland but very few of them. The 1911 and 1901 census returns have 22 and 17 of them respectively (mainly in Dublin & Clare), and Griffiths Valuation (1850s) reveals two landholders in Dublin, another two in Co. Down and one in Armagh.

But it's when we turn to the Landed Estates Database that we hit the jackpot:
Thomas Phelps, a Cromwellian soldier from Gloucestershire, was granted lands in counties Tipperary, Kerry and Down and at the Restoration settled in Limerick city. His descendants were involved in linen manufacturing in the North of Ireland. In 1864 John Lecky Phelps married Rosetta Anne, daughter of Colonel John Vandeleur of Ballinacourty, county Limerick, and in 1878 he purchased the Broadford estate in the barony of Tulla, county Clare, from Charles William White, son of Lord Annaly. In 1906 John V. Phelps is recorded as the owner of untenanted lands in the rural districts of Limerick No 2 and Tulla.
And sure enough, we find the original Thomas Phelps in 1670 in the Down Survey of Ireland, right in the heart of Gleeson country. The land he owned was situated in ten townlands around Killoscully, south and west of Silvermines (namely Goulreagh, Clonalough, Munnia, Controversy, Rossaguile, Aughavehir, Coolruntha, Maryglen, Barnabaun, & Bunkimalta - land previously held by the Ryan's).

Land held by Thomas Phelps in 1670

So this seems to put a Phelps in the right place at the right time. 

Furthermore, the matching Phelps belongs to Group 08 of the Phelps DNA Project. This group is associated with the Chowan and Tyrell counties of North Carolina and there is a separate geographic DNA Project for Phelps from this particular area. Interestingly, the 15 people in this group seem to be very tightly related with many of them having a Genetic Distance of 0/37 or 1/37 to other members of the group. The furthest distance between any two members seems to be 6/37. This suggests that the common ancestor for the whole group is some time in the past several hundred years, possibly some time after the appearance of Thomas Phelps in Tipperary in 1670. 

So it seems possible that Thomas Phelps who was in Tipperary in 1670 may have had a son or grandson who carried the Phelps surname but North Tipp Man DNA, and this son/grandson emigrated to the US, perhaps to live with other Phelps family members, eventually ending up in North Carolina.

The earliest known ancestor among the members of Phelps Group 8 is a Seth Phelps born about 1745 (i.e after 1670). But there is also a theory (as yet unsubstantiated) that this group descended from Cuthbert & Mary Phelps who arrived in Maryland in 1654 - this would be against the idea that one of the sons or grandsons of our Thomas is the progenitor of Phelps Group 8.

Testing living Irish Phelps men and finding a close match to Group 8 members would lend support to this theory. There is one Phelps in the Irish phone book and he lives in Mayo. Is he a descendant of our Thomas Phelps? Would his DNA match Group 8?

Are there any clues as to the identity of the North Tipp Man whose DNA was passed down along the Phelps line? We might get a clue from looking at the surnames of the matches of those in Phelps Group 8 - it might reveal some probable candidates for the surname of North Tipp Man.

Was it a Carroll? or a Pendergast? or some other Tipperary surname? I might be able to offer some suggestions in a subsequent post.

Maurice Gleeson
July 2016

Some additional information on Thomas Phelps:
  • He was born in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire in 1623 and died in Limerick in 1697. He appears to have been in Ireland from the 1640s onwards (according to some unsourced family trees on Ancestry). His first wife is reported to have been Susanna Fennell whom he married about 1650. One of their sons may have been the one that carried non-Phelps Y-DNA to America.
  • He had a son Thomas (1656-) who was granted land in America by William Penn. These were called the “Back Lands”, amounted to 5000 acres, and were in the county of Philadelphia. Thomas was one of 5 people to whom the land was granted. Could this be how the Irish Phelps got into America?
  • The Phelps estate in Tipperary was sold in 1820 to Lord Bloomfield for £43,000. It contained 12 townlands in the Barony of Owny & Arra, amounting to 3092 acres. Rental was £2274 per annum. 
  • According to "The Phelps family of America and their English ancestors" he had many descendants who spread all around the globe (UK, Australia, etc) - there should be someone of them who can undertake Y-DNA testing to see if they match the Phelps of Group 8.
  • Since writing the blog post I have heard that the Phelps of Group 8 match many Irish surnames including Ryan (GD 10/111), Doty, Mobley, O'Connor, Connelly, McMahon, and others.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The Origins of Lineage III - the Gleeson's of West Clare

There are currently four genetic groups within the DNA project. This post is a summary of what DNA tells us about the third group, Lineage III.

In brief, this group has origins in County Clare and their terminal SNP marker is L226, a SNP marker associated with the Dál gCais group of surnames. This group is genetically distinct from the North Tipperary Gleeson's of Lineage II, but there are a variety of different possible explanations for this and it remains to be seen if we can determine the most likely reason and when it occurred.

Note that for added security (as well as ease of reference), ID numbers now consist of the member's initials followed by the last 4 numbers of his kit number.

Characteristics of Lineage III

All the members of Lineage III have done the Y-DNA-37 test (which assesses STR markers) and in addition one has tested positive for the single SNP marker L226.

Below are the 5 members of Lineage III with their ID number, Surname, Most Distant Known Ancestors (MDKA's), Country of Origin, current Terminal SNP marker, and initial STR marker results.

Lineage III members
(click to enlarge)

The most noticeable characteristic of this small group is that the Most Distant Known Ancestors (MDKA's) of the members all come from Clare, and specifically from either Coore or Connolly, several miles west of Ennis. This indicates a very specific location for their ancestral origin. Or at least a relatively recent one. They will have had other ancestral origins prior to this (i.e. 5000 years ago, 20,000 years ago, etc, ultimately ending up in Africa 60,000 years ago).

Another obvious characteristic of the group is that they all belong to Haplogroup R (shared by 85% of people in Ireland) and one member has tested positive for the SNP L226. This will be discussed further below in the section on Deeper Ancestry.

Coore & Connolly, Co. Clare - ancestral homeland of the Clare Gleeson's?

The Traditional Genealogy of Lineage III

Four of the five DNA tests are managed by Bill Gleeson, who gives the following account of his current thinking about how the different families within this group are connected:

Some of the following is speculation based on some solid findings in fact. I have tried several scenarios to make things fit and I am aware that not all of this is perfect nor should it be taken as such.
I now believe that Cornelius Gleeson is the patriarch of the Gleeson branches in West Clare. I think he was born between 1740 and 1750 maybe in Clare but likely in Tipperary because that is the county that the Gleesons are traditionally from. He may be the Gleeson in family legend that sold his share of the farm in Tipperary to his brother and moved to Clare in the townland of Boulinagleragh in the southern most part of Kilmaley Parish. I believe that he gave rise to two main branches of the family we call the Connolly Gleesons and the Gleesons of Coore. He may also have given rise to other branches of the family that we have yet to identify as relatives that settled in West Clare in the early 1800’s.

Cornelius would have had at least two sons, Matthew and John both of whom would have been born in Boulinagleragh between 1770 and 1780. Matthew, I believe would have grown up in Boulinagleragh and married there. He would have a son named after his father, Cornelius around the late 1790’s. Matthew and family (including young Cornelius) left Boulinagleragh, “traveled across the hills and settled in Coore.” This would likely have been in the early 1800’s. His son, Cornelius originally from Boulinagleragh would have met and married Mary Killeen of Coore. Cornelius Gleeson and Mary Killeen would have married in the 1820’s and I believe had at least two sons, Matthew and Michael as well as daughter named Mary. These children would have been born in the 1830’s. Matthew married Sarah Walsh and we have good records from here to present of the Gleesons of Coore.
Michael married Bridget Moloney and lived on the Meade farm in Mt Scott and gave rise to the Cooper Gleesons (my branch) which I now think is a sub-branch of the Gleesons of Coore. Mary married James Marrinan and gave rise to the Marrinan branch of the family. 
The other son of Cornelius Gleeson born c1750 was John as I said previously. John would have been born later, around 1780 and stayed in the area of Boulinagleragh having farmland in both Furroor and Booleyneaska. He would marry and have at least three sons: Cornelius, Patrick, Michael and a daughter Catherine (known as Kate). Cornelius, born around 1812 marries Mary Meade and settles in Reanagishagh on the farm where the Sullivans live today. Patrick marries Bridget Kinnane and lives in Booleyneaska farming with the Lynch family. Michael marries Margaret McCarthy , lives a short time in Coore and one son, Patrick immigrates to the US along with some of the Lynch family to Middletown, Ct. giving rise to KEG-1144’s branch of the family. Catherine “Kate” marries Michael Eustace and they live on farm in Furoor and that would account for Jackie Eustace’s side of the family.

The current draft family tree that connects all the members of the group looks something like this:

(click to enlarge)

Importantly, if this tree is correct, the relationship between the different people tested would be as illustrated in the table below (assuming that the person tested is 1 generation below the last person listed in each line):

Relationship between group members if tree is correct

The accuracy of the tree and the closeness of the relationships between the various people in this group could be supported by selective and judicious autosomal DNA testing of the five members above (or of other individuals from their families). It would be particularly useful for confirming closer rather than more distant cousin relationships (e.g. 3rd cousin vs 5th cousin).

Recent autosomal DNA results for WJG-1141 and JFG-1142 predict that they are 3rd cousins (with a range 3rd to 4th cousins) - just what we would expect from the postulated relationship above. Further autosomal DNA testing of other family members is ongoing.

The Recent Ancestry of Lineage III

The members of this group all match each other, and are either exact or very close matches, indicating a very close relationship.

The 37-marker STR results indicate that the Genetic Distance* between group members varies from as low as 0 to as high as 3 (which is not very high). This is illustrated in the matrix below.

Genetic Distance matrix shows minimal GD Creep

When was the Common Ancestor for this group?

The "GD Creep" (spread of values) is very narrow in this particular group suggesting that they share a common ancestor in the relatively recent past (within the last several hundred years). TMRCA estimates (Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor) between the most closely related and the most distantly related members are as follows:

  • TMRCA estimates (using the TiP Report) predict that the most closely related members have a Common Ancestor within 0-2-7 generations (5% - 50% - 95% point estimates) = 0-60-210 years before 1950 (assumed average birth year of members)  = 1950-1890-1740 (i.e. the Common Ancestor was born about 1890 but within a 90% range of about 1740-1950)
  • TMRCA estimates predict that the most distantly related members have a Common Ancestor within  1-6-14 generations (5% - 50% - 95% point estimates) = 30-180-420 years before 1950 (assumed average birth year of members)  = 1920-1770-1530 (i.e. the Common Ancestor was born about 1770 but within a 90% range of about 1530-1920)

These figures suggest that this is currently a very tight knit group with a common ancestor for the entire group at about 1770, a figure that is not too far away from the estimated birth year of 1750 for Cornelius Gleeson, the presumed patriarch.

Can we build a tree for this group based on their mutations?

It is possible to build a family tree for this group (known as a cladogram, phylogram or Mutation History Tree) using the STR marker mutations rather than named people and then seeing if this superimposes neatly on top of the draft family tree based on traditional genealogy described previously. Ideally we would need 67 or 111 marker STR data, and some downstream SNP data (ideally via the Big Y test or the new L226 SNP Pack test), in order to most accurately construct this "Mutation History Tree", but that would be a lot of testing and a very expensive exercise.

However, because they are so closely related, the 37-marker data may give us a pretty good prediction of the actual tree for these 5 individuals. And in fact, there are only 4 mutations to play with (coloured squares in the diagram below) so the tree will be very basic indeed (i.e. without a complex branching system).

The 37 Y-STR marker values for the five Lineage III members
(click to enlarge)

The resulting tree is in fact very simple and has a branching pattern that is 100% compatible with the draft tree based on traditional genealogy. It reads from left (distant time) to right (recent time), ending with the 5 members of the group. The STR marker mutations mark branching points (A, B, C) within the tree and are indicated in blue. However it is not possible to accurately predict when each of the three mutations occurred and the actual branching in the diagram is more figurative than real. In other words, the actual order of branching could be BCA or CAB rather than the ABC indicated in the diagram below.

The timing of each branching point in the tree could be estimated based on average mutation rates for each of the STR markers in which mutations occurred, but these would only be estimates and their accuracy could not be relied upon. For example, marker 449 is a fast-mutating marker (indicated by the dark red colour in the diagram above) and the mutation in this particular marker is more likely to have occurred more recently than the other two mutations ... but that may not necessarily have been the case.

Mutation History Tree for Lineage III based on 37 STR marker data

The Deeper Ancestry of Lineage III

What is the terminal SNP?

L226 seems to be the current most downstream SNP for this group based on the single SNP test of one of the five members (WJG-1141). But can we predict what further downstream SNPs might be?

Each member in this group has anywhere from 11 to 43 matches (at the Y-DNA 37-marker level). By examining the terminal SNPs of each member's list of matches, we can see which SNPs occur most frequently among the close matches of the members of Lineage III. This is what I call Matches Terminal SNP Analysis (MTSA) and is described in this video here (from 1:12:50 onwards). Below is a summary table of the terminal SNPs of each member's matches (at both the 37- and the 25-marker level). For example, among KEG-1144's matches at the 37-marker level, one has the terminal SNP DC128, another has DC292, another one has DC38, and 4 have L226. At the 25-marker level, the equivalent figures are 1, 0, 1 and 2.

Matches' Terminal SNP Analysis for all 5 members of Lineage III
at the 37-marker level and the 25-marker level

Terminal SNPs of Matches of Lineage III members
(yellow circles) indicate downstream convergence

Crudely adding up the different frequencies for the different terminal SNP markers identified by the analysis, the most common SNP is L226 followed by DC128 and DC38. When we plot all these SNPs on the haplotree,  it becomes apparent that all are at or below (i.e. downstream of) L226. This is a very good indication that these members will all test positive for L226 (as indeed one member already has).

However, not all of these SNPs are on the same single branch of the tree (see diagram on the right, which is based on FTDNA's haplotree). In other words, there is evidence of "downstream convergence". By this I mean that whilst it is clear that all the terminal SNPs identified by the Analysis fall below (i.e. downstream of) L226, there is some dispersal of terminal SNPs below this point. What this means is that even though the Genetic Distance to these matches (which is based on the comparison of their respective STR values) suggests a close relationship (perhaps within the last 300-400 years), the actual relationship is likely to be a lot further back than that (possibly 600-2000 years). The matches "appear" closer because their STR-based genetic signatures are "convergent" or "converging" on each other due to one or more Back Mutations or Parallel Mutations making them appear more closely related than they actually are.

Nevertheless, we can make a guess at the "most likely" terminal SNP for the Lineage III members. Most of the SNPs we have identified can be accounted for by placing them on the following single branch (SNPs detected by the MTSA are in bold). This therefore represents the most probable Estimated SNP Progression:
R-P312 > L21 > DF13 > ZZ10 > Z253 > Z2534 > L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > ZZ31 > FGC5628 > FGC5659 > BY4103 > ZZ34_1 > DC33 > DC38 > DC46 > DC292 (or DC294)

The leftover SNPs appear on adjacent branches, all below L226:
- DC311, DC128, DC269 & DC70

So, to summarise, all the SNPs identified by MTSA fall below L226 but there is thereafter some evidence of "downstream convergence" (i.e. similarity to genetic signatures on adjacent branches of the haplotree).**

Based on the above, it is clear that analysis of each member's matches' terminal SNP strongly suggests that all members will test positive for L226, they will probably test positive for FGC5659, and possibly for either DC292 or DC294.

Testing with the new L226 SNP Pack (to be released in July/August 2016) will help define the more downstream SNPs for this group, including the current terminal SNP for Lineage III.

How old are these SNPs?

YFull estimates the following ages for the key SNPs above:
  • L226 ..........  4300 years before present
  • FGC5628 ...  1350 years before present

Where do we sit on the Haplotree? and who sits beside us?

Below is a diagram of where this places Lineage III on the Haplotree (i.e. the Human Evolutionary Tree of Mankind). It also shows us what surnames lie nearby. Many of these will be related to the Lineage III Gleeson's prior to the adoption of inherited surnames (about 1000 years ago in Ireland). Testing with the L226 SNP Pack will place this group further downstream on the haplotree and will help identify the most closely related neighbours from the surnames below.

Based on the most likely Estimated SNP Progression (ending with the terminal SNP DC292 or DC294), our closest neighbours would be Peavy & Brown. Other nearby names are clearly associated with the Dál gCais.

  • O'Brien goes back to Brian Boru, originator of the O'Brien name
  • Morrissey is from de Marisco, a Norman family who had large holdings in North Tipperary
  • Dunn could refer to the O'Kennedy Donn, a branch of the O'Kennedy clan
  • O'Meara were physicians and poets to the O'Kennedy's and held large swathes of land in North Tipperary

The haplotree below L226 - Lineage III members are likely to sit on one of these branches,
possibly with Peavy & Brown on DC46 or beside them on a separate (new) branch
(click to enlarge)

Do Haplogroup Projects give us additional information?

L226 is the SNP associated with the Irish Type III group. This was first discovered in 2006 using STR markers. Dennis Wright is the Project Admin of the L226 Irish Type III Haplogroup Project and runs the Irish Type III website. He also published his findings based on STR marker analysis in a 2009 article in JOGG (Journal of Genetic Genealogy, 5(1):1-7, 2009) concluding that the distinctive STR signature associated with the Irish Type III group occurred more frequently in people with Dal Cassian surnames than those with non-Dal Cassian surnames, strongly suggesting that the Irish Type III signature was in fact the DNA signature of the Dál gCais.

Surnames associated with the Dál gCais
(from JOGG 5(1):1-7, 2009)

The Dal Cassian signature is associated with several sets of distinctive marker values:
  • DYS459 = 8,9 
  • DYS463 = 25 
  • DYS464 = 13-13-15-17 
The equivalent modal values for Lineage III are:
  • DYS459 = 8,9 
  • DYS463 = not tested 
  • DYS464 = 13-13-15-18 
Thus the STR values for Lineage III are very close to what one would expect for Irish Type III.

Furthermore, from the Y-DNA-37 STR results, the group members have between 11 and 43 Y-DNA matches each. Surnames with multiple occurrences among their matches include: Brown, Gleeson/Gleason, Hogan, Maloney/Moloney, McMahon, O'Halloran, Peavy/Pevy, Sullivan & Trench. Some of these surnames are associated with the Dal Cassian sept (in bold), the principal family of which was the O'Brien's. In fact, there are several single O'Brien & Bryant matches in some of these member's matches lists. Many of the MDKAs associated with these matches are from the southern counties of Ireland (Clare, Tipperary, Cork & Kerry), in keeping with the origins of the Dál gCais.

Gleeson is not a surname traditionally associated with the Dál gCais. Why then does Lineage III have a Dal Cassian genetic signature associated with it? There are several possible reasons for this.

  1. These results could indicate that this group of Gleeson's arose completely independently from the Gleeson's in Lineage II (the North Tipperary Gleeson's). In other words, two separate groups of people, in neighbouring counties, adopted the surname Gleeson and developed independently of each other. However there is little evidence to support this theory.
  2. Alternatively, there could have been a Surname-DNA Disconnection at some point in the past, ancient (1000-1300 AD, for example) or recent (1600-1800, for example). This seems like the more probable explanation as it is likely to occur in about 50% of our ancestral lines. There could be many reasons for this including adoption, fosterage, taking the name of the clan chief to show allegiance, taking the name of the wife (she being of higher social status), or the accepted custom of having sexual liaisons with powerful chiefs or leaders (thus gaining protection, and an inheritance, for the family). If an NPE occurred some time in the dim and distant past, further SNP testing may  possibly identify what the surname was before it became Gleeson.

The member who has tested positive for L226 has joined this project and is currently grouped with a lot of other L226+ group members. Further (more downstream) SNP testing is recommended in order to clarify on which "further downstream" sub-branch Lineage III sits, and to narrow down the field of candidates responsible for any potential NPE.

  • The most recent common ancestral homeland for his group clearly lies in County Clare.
  • Traditional genealogical research suggests a possible relationship between the various members of this group and a draft family tree with named (potential) ancestors has been created .
  • A Mutation History Tree (cladogram) generated from STR mutations is consistent with this draft family tree.
  • Genetic Distance analysis suggests a tight-knit group, sharing a relatively recent Common Ancestor born about 1770 (which is in keeping with the traditional genealogical evidence).
  • The one member who underwent SNP testing is positive for L226. MTSA (Matches' Terminal SNP Analysis) suggests an Estimated SNP Progression for the group that includes L226 and suggests a most likely terminal SNP below FGC5628 (possibly DC292 or DC294).
  • The modal haplotype for the group includes marker values for DYS459 and DYS464 that are close to those STR marker values considered distinctive for the Irish Type III genetic signature.
  • Surnames of the close matches of the members of this group include some with supposed Dal Cassian origin (Hogan, McMahon, O'Brien, Bryant).

Next Steps
  • Additional SNP testing is recommended with the new L226 SNP pack (due July/August 2016) for at least one member (probably $119)
  • Upgrading to 67 or 111 STR markers may help establish how closely these group members are related to each other and help develop the Mutation History Tree. However, as they are all supposedly very closely related to each other, the results may be of minimal value.
  • Undertaking further autosomal DNA testing of the oldest members of each family within the group could also offer supportive evidence of how closely the various group members are likely to be related to each other.

* Genetic Distance is the number of steps away from an exact match between two people
** DC24 could not be found on the FTDNA haplotree

Maurice Gleeson
July 2016