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