Discussion:
Using Y DNA for medieval genealogy
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Dora Smith
2017-07-21 04:06:37 UTC
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Has anyone here used Y DNA for medieval family groups?

I've got a family group that appears to be medieval and am running into some issues.

Yours,
Dora Smith
j***@gmail.com
2017-07-21 04:11:55 UTC
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Please provide more information. What does it mean for a family group to appear medieval meaning you have a group of people and you are not sure if they lived in medieval times or not? You are trying to prove when a particular individual lived based on y DNA

Joecook
Andrew Lancaster
2017-07-21 06:21:17 UTC
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Post by Dora Smith
Has anyone here used Y DNA for medieval family groups?
I've got a family group that appears to be medieval and am running into some issues.
Yours,
Dora Smith
I agree with Joe. You'll need to explain the context more.

The one type of DNA I have seen used in a way which can say something about medieval connections is Y DNA, but it can only give relevant information in very limited circumstances such as when ancient DNA is available or when something like a surname change helps with the dating of the split between two lines. Generally what we see are a group of men who look like they are in the same male line, and then comes the question of how to date the splitting of their lines of descent.

Autosomal DNA testing which is the one being sold the most now can help show general levels of relatedness in recent generations.

Mitochondrial DNA is rarely useful in genealogy because it mutates so slowly, and because female lines are unfortunately not often possible to trace with any paper trail. (Richard III was a special case for example, with a traceable female line over many generations, an ancient DNA sample and the luck of a very unusual haplotype.)
Dora Smith
2017-07-22 04:48:28 UTC
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No, I'm not going to explain the context more.

I'm looking for people who have used Y DNA in medieval genealogy, not an argument with crocodiles.

Anyone who doesn't want to deal with crocodiles is welcome to contact me privately. villandra at gmail dot com . No that isn't the email I've posted from, but it is the one I risk getting spammed at.

If a discussion occurs here between people who have used Y DNA for medieval genealogy, and crocodiles don't outshout it, then I'll explain the context.

I know that it has been done. Y DNA was used on the Hamilton Y DNA project, together with documentation. Diana Gale Matthieson used to be on this list and evidently has her own methodology.

I am seeing certain things that may be typical of older haplotypes, such as systematic variation in only the fastest changing markers.


Yours,
Dora Smith
Post by Andrew Lancaster
I agree with Joe. You'll need to explain the context more.
The one type of DNA I have seen used in a way which can say something about medieval connections is Y DNA, but it can only give relevant information in very limited circumstances such as when ancient DNA is available or when something like a surname change helps with the dating of the split between two lines. Generally what we see are a group of men who look like they are in the same male line, and then comes the question of how to date the splitting of their lines of descent.
Autosomal DNA testing which is the one being sold the most now can help show general levels of relatedness in recent generations.
Mitochondrial DNA is rarely useful in genealogy because it mutates so slowly, and because female lines are unfortunately not often possible to trace with any paper trail. (Richard III was a special case for example, with a traceable female line over many generations, an ancient DNA sample and the luck of a very unusual haplotype.)
Dora Smith
2017-07-22 04:59:13 UTC
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No, I'm not going to explain the context more.

I'm looking for people who have used Y DNA with medieval lineages, not an argument with crocodiles.

Anyone who has used Y DNA with medieval lineages but doesn't want to deal with crocodiles is welcome to contact me privately. villandra at gmail dot com . Not the address I posted with - but it is the one I risk being spammed at.

If we get into a constructive discussion here and it isn't shouted down by crocodiles, then I'll certainly provide the context.

I know it's been done. Y DNA was used in the Hamilton project, both to estimate the age of the Hamilton A cluster, and to figure out the relationship between the Hamilton A and Hamilton B clusters (an early nonpaternity event led to different Y DNA taking over the senior line).

Gale Matthieson evidently has her own methodology. I'm looking for people willing to explain their methodology to me.

Yours,
Dora Smith
Post by Andrew Lancaster
I agree with Joe. You'll need to explain the context more.
The one type of DNA I have seen used in a way which can say something about medieval connections is Y DNA, but it can only give relevant information in very limited circumstances such as when ancient DNA is available or when something like a surname change helps with the dating of the split between two lines. Generally what we see are a group of men who look like they are in the same male line, and then comes the question of how to date the splitting of their lines of descent.
Autosomal DNA testing which is the one being sold the most now can help show general levels of relatedness in recent generations.
Mitochondrial DNA is rarely useful in genealogy because it mutates so slowly, and because female lines are unfortunately not often possible to trace with any paper trail. (Richard III was a special case for example, with a traceable female line over many generations, an ancient DNA sample and the luck of a very unusual haplotype.)
j***@gmail.com
2017-07-22 10:26:28 UTC
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No one is shouting you down and the topic is of Interest.. with all due respect the question you provided you no way provided enough information to even know what it was that you were asking. This is why clarification was requested. If it is impossible to understand the question no one can answer. It does not mean people are shouting it down
Andrew Lancaster
2017-07-22 16:47:30 UTC
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On Saturday, July 22, 2017 at 6:59:15 AM UTC+2, Dora Smith wrote:

Dora thank you for explaining this was concerning Y DNA. Yes there have been many efforts to use Y DNA to prove or disprove medieval links, and there have been many times when studies or projects have come across patterns which seem to be best explained by common medieval descent and/or branching in the middle ages.

A famous example is the R1a haplotype which is associated with descendants of the highland/Norse Somerled.

An example I noticed once is the unusual Calhoun Y DNA haplotype, which does not match more recent chiefs for reasons which check out against that clan's history.

...and so on.

But I believe it is very difficult to use the standard tests to really date a branching event, and so other data such as paper trails becomes important, or else perhaps full Y DNA sequencing. One of the things which could definitely help if it was done more is more thorough triangulation of distant relatives, but of course most projects are working with small groups.
Dora Smith
2017-07-23 04:47:08 UTC
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Thanks, Andrew!

Estimating time to most recent common ancestor when the lineage is more than 500 years old, is exactly the problem I'm working on. I can see the entire subject of TMRCA is problematic, but still worth a try - especially since everyone involved seems to be taking their own stab at it anyway.

People who have tried to do it may have come up with methodologies that might be more or less accurate. Someone might even have managed to get their paws on a reasonable set of mutation rates for STR markers. The Hamilton Y DNA project came up with an accurate if vague estimate of Group A's age, but hasn't said how they did it (or who did it). The estimate was 1000 to 500 years ago, but in that case they were able to identify the founder, who was born about 1270 AD. I'd like to pin it down within a couple of hundred years if I can. Noone believes that at that distance one could pin it down to a generation; that can't even be done with recent ancestors.

Family Tree DNA had suggested to me that since much of the genetic variation is in a single fast moving marker, I might do best to find the time frame in which that marker would have done that amount of changing - but noone seems to be coughing up a workable mutation rate that that would be based on!

On the other hand, Diana Gale Matthias told me she gave up on TMRCA and applies logical reasoning to shortened haplotypes that look only at the changes.

I'll tell you what. If the rest of you who've been trying hard to argue with me about God knows what, are good boys and girls, I'll post what I'm working on when I get it properly worked up. :)

Yours,
Dora Smith
Post by Andrew Lancaster
Dora thank you for explaining this was concerning Y DNA. Yes there have been many efforts to use Y DNA to prove or disprove medieval links, and there have been many times when studies or projects have come across patterns which seem to be best explained by common medieval descent and/or branching in the middle ages.
A famous example is the R1a haplotype which is associated with descendants of the highland/Norse Somerled.
An example I noticed once is the unusual Calhoun Y DNA haplotype, which does not match more recent chiefs for reasons which check out against that clan's history.
...and so on.
But I believe it is very difficult to use the standard tests to really date a branching event, and so other data such as paper trails becomes important, or else perhaps full Y DNA sequencing. One of the things which could definitely help if it was done more is more thorough triangulation of distant relatives, but of course most projects are working with small groups.
Andrew Lancaster
2017-07-23 07:41:40 UTC
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On Sunday, July 23, 2017 at 6:47:10 AM UTC+2, Dora Smith wrote:

By all means try Dora, but even from surname projects looking at just a few centuries of branching I think experience keeps showing that TMRCA calculations using 111 markers or less give extremely broad ranges of possibilities, that can look totally different with just one new sample for example.

I have strained for example with several family groups in several projects, and often the best you can come up with is that a group probably has a common ancestry in a certain range of centuries and in a certain broad area. Plus in bigger samplings there are often enough distinctive mutations to name clear branches defined by more than one marker, or by a very unusual mutation. For my own Lancasters for example branches can be proposed but not very securely, and so paper trails are still more important.

I am not up to date with efforts which I know have been made about using full Y DNA sequencing to date splits, but of course there is a good reason this is going to be difficult for now. It is much more expensive, and probably even more importantly, no commercial genealogy companies are really advertising this while they are all pushing the idea of their chip based autosomal tests. So this is what "normal" genealogists are using their DNA budget on for now, and unfortunately Y DNA has been forgotten a bit, despite in my opinion still being extremely useful and promising.
D. Spencer Hines
2017-07-22 19:19:16 UTC
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'Strod'nry!

DSH

Heinlein's Razor

"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by
stupidity, but don't rule out malice."

Robert Anson Heinlein [1907-1988] U.S.N.A. '29

"Dora Smith" wrote in message news:2e63944a-9930-4660-b310-***@googlegroups.com...

No, I'm not going to explain the context more.

I'm looking for people who have used Y DNA with medieval lineages, not an
argument with crocodiles.

Anyone who has used Y DNA with medieval lineages but doesn't want to deal
with crocodiles is welcome to contact me privately. villandra at gmail dot
com . Not the address I posted with - but it is the one I risk being
spammed at.

If we get into a constructive discussion here and it isn't shouted down by
crocodiles, then I'll certainly provide the context.

I know it's been done. Y DNA was used in the Hamilton project, both to
estimate the age of the Hamilton A cluster, and to figure out the
relationship between the Hamilton A and Hamilton B clusters (an early
nonpaternity event led to different Y DNA taking over the senior line).

Gale Matthieson evidently has her own methodology. I'm looking for people
willing to explain their methodology to me.

Yours,
Dora Smith
Post by Andrew Lancaster
I agree with Joe. You'll need to explain the context more.
The one type of DNA I have seen used in a way which can say something
about medieval connections is Y DNA, but it can only give relevant
information in very limited circumstances such as when ancient DNA is
available or when something like a surname change helps with the dating of
the split between two lines. Generally what we see are a group of men who
look like they are in the same male line, and then comes the question of
how to date the splitting of their lines of descent.
Autosomal DNA testing which is the one being sold the most now can help
show general levels of relatedness in recent generations.
Mitochondrial DNA is rarely useful in genealogy because it mutates so
slowly, and because female lines are unfortunately not often possible to
trace with any paper trail. (Richard III was a special case for example,
with a traceable female line over many generations, an ancient DNA sample
and the luck of a very unusual haplotype.)
Dora Smith
2017-07-23 04:27:32 UTC
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Thanks, Millard! I haven't had a chance to look at it yet, but this is the sort of thing I'm looking for!

Yours,
Dora Smith
I sent this 24 hours ago, but it hasn't appeared, so I'm trying again.
Post by Dora Smith
Has anyone here used Y DNA for medieval family groups?
One of the more extensive applications I have seen is the Bannockburn Genetic Genealogy Project
http://www.strathgenealogy.org.uk/projects/bannockburn-genetic-genealogy-project/

Best wishes
Andrew
--
Chair, Trustees of Genuki: www.genuki.org.uk
Maintainer, Genuki Middx + London: www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/MDX/ + ../LND/
Academic Co-ordinator, Guild of One-Name Studies: www.one-name.org
Bodimeade one-name study: community.dur.ac.uk/a.r.millard/genealogy/Bodimeade/
My genealogy: community.dur.ac.uk/a.r.millard/genealogy/
sstclair
2017-07-23 21:24:58 UTC
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Post by Dora Smith
No, I'm not going to explain the context more.
I'm looking for people who have used Y DNA with medieval lineages, not an argument with crocodiles.
I have used YDNA SNP testing to study medieval connections, in particular affinity family connections. DNA testing using FTDNA's Big Y test with Yfull.com's verification and comparison to medieval records has finally arrived at the point where we can begin to see connections between people alive in a medieval period and their possible descendants today.

Affinity Families: a grouping of people with different surnames who were benefactors to the same medieval abbeys and priories, hoping the monks would prey for their souls and those of their ancestors. They also showed up in land records, and marriages among the same families again and again. Many of these people shared male ancestry, YDNA, even though they had different surnames.

So when we see these same surnames matching in YDNA SNPs, we can rightly assume these people, living today, are the male descendants of the medieval people who were together in the records.

Steve St. Clair
www.StClairResearch.com
taf
2017-07-25 23:14:32 UTC
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Post by sstclair
Affinity Families: a grouping of people with different surnames who were
benefactors to the same medieval abbeys and priories, hoping the monks would
prey for their souls and those of their ancestors. They also showed up in
land records, and marriages among the same families again and again. Many
of these people shared male ancestry, YDNA, even though they had different
surnames.
This need not be a medieval phenomenon, wherein people of the same male lineage came to adopt different surnames. It may instead be an artifact of social interaction. In a cluster of closely interacting families, the men would have known their neighbors' wives, and may have 'known' them.

taf
sstclair
2017-07-29 15:05:50 UTC
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Post by taf
This need not be a medieval phenomenon, wherein people of the same male lineage came to adopt different surnames. It may instead be an artifact of social interaction. In a cluster of closely interacting families, the men would have known their neighbors' wives, and may have 'known' them.
taf
Naturally, and there has been work done by some SNP admins to estimate the likelihood of this "Knowing" in every generation. There are also other ways to account for different surnames matching. In the medieval era, people often took the name of the land they lived on. For this reason, we suspect we'll find the surname Ashley matching one of our Saint-Clair lineages in our YDNA SNP matches. We haven't yet and that could be due to their line or ours "daughtering out" or simply that we haven't found the Ashley living descendants to test. Another way names could have changed was someone in the medieval era taking the second name of the mother's family, or even adoption.

Patricia asked, "I am interested in this process. I have the full sequence mtDna. What test for SNPs do I need?"
I recommend testing a brother, father, or uncle of the surname you're looking to trace Patricia. FTDNA's Big Y is a direct paternal lineage test. The SNPs they're testing for number in the thousands and usually come all the way forward in time to one's "family" or "terminal" SNP. One man I had tested in the Sinclair DNA study because we think shares an ancestor in the 1700s has a terminal SNP different than mine - it's his family SNP. Then we connect further back.

Steve
sstclair
2017-07-29 23:33:01 UTC
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If you can afford it, the Big Y test is a good plan. The less
expensive (but slower) option is to use the haplotype region predicted
by the 67 marker test to order tests for specific SNP's that will be
relevant to your case, in order to gradually narrow down the terminal
SNP of the testee.
Stewart Baldwin
One other recommendation we deploy is to get people who can’t afford the Big Y to do SNP Pack testing. This is useful as FTDNA has many of the downstream SNPs built into these packets, so it gets test subjects closer to those in the group who have Big Y tested. Cost for SNP Packs is about $118 vs over $500 for Big Y.

The key in any lineage (a group who match well on 67 or 111 markers) is to get two people to Big Y test. Preferably the test subjects will be two people in the lineage who are furtherest apart on their 67 or 111 marker tests, yet still within a reasonable genetic distance AND they MUST have paper trails that point to a shared ancestor.

The above 2 Big Y results (with further detail provided by sending the two BAM files off to Yfull.com) can be used by those doing the SNP Packs to be reasonably sure of matches based on how recent the mutations happened to create downstream SNPs.

Yfull details are imperative before any claims of time to most recent ancestor are made.

An Example:

Sir Adam Forrester acquired the barony of Corstophin in the western part of Edinburgh. His son John married a daughter of Henry II Sinclair of Rosslyn 1st Earl of Orkney.

Now we have a branch of the Sinclair family who shows a Big Y / Yfull-verified match to a Forrester descendant who is well-proven to be of the Corstophin branch.

So two families together in geographic proximity, in a late medieval marriage, AND in DNA SNP matching. Another way to describe the process above: a criterion of multiple independent connections.

The timing of the Yfull verification currently seems late, but this can change as more in this lineage send their Big Y results to Yfull.

While NO claims can yet be maid that we have a lineage of people alive today who are now proven to be the descendants of these Sinclairs of Rosslyn based on this connection to the definitive Forrester lineage, we are working in a way that can eventually prove such connections and other families could follow our example.

Sources:

Sinclair, Gerald and Rondo B B Me, “The Enigmatic Sinclairs Volume 1” (All new work and totally credible, available on Amazon), p. 65

Debrett, John, “The Peerage of England, Scotland, and Ireland: Or, the Ancient and Present …” p. 197
John Watson
2017-07-30 18:05:58 UTC
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Using Y-DNA to find your medieval direct male ancestor is quite simple. Just follow these steps: -

1. Find where your proposed medieval male ancestor is buried.

2. Dig him up.

3. Remove some teeth, taking care not to contaminate them with your own DNA.

4. Rebury your proposed ancestor (optional).

5. Take the teeth to a laboratory which specializes in ancient DNA sampling.

6. Pay them lots and lots of money.

7. If they find any Y-DNA (doubtful), have it compared to yours.

8. If it's a match you may be a descendant of this man, or his brothers, or his uncles, or his cousins or his second cousins, or ...

Regards,

John ;-)
taf
2017-07-30 18:31:26 UTC
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Post by John Watson
Using Y-DNA to find your medieval direct male ancestor is quite simple.
Just follow these steps: -
1. Find where your proposed medieval male ancestor is buried.
2. Dig him up.
3. Remove some teeth, taking care not to contaminate them with your own DNA.
5. Take the teeth to a laboratory which specializes in ancient DNA sampling.
6. Pay them lots and lots of money.
Well, if you are going to go to this effort, you might as well optimize your chances. There is a bone in the inner ear where DNA is preserved much better than in teeth.

taf
Dora Smith
2017-07-31 03:37:46 UTC
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I have cleaned up my spread sheet, arrived at some unexpected conclusions, and am doing my writeup.

I have some comments on the conversation.

1. You do NOT HAVE to submit Big Y results to Y Full. There is atleast one other service that will extract the SNPs, or you can learn how to do it yourself. Everyone in the AS121210 cluster had issues with YFull. They're in Russia. They provide no details about themselves, no phone number, and no contact address, on their web site. Some of us had concerns about the privacy of data. They seem to do good work, but I don't care for their setup or their attitude. What is more, it is plain wrong to do what the haplogroup I project admins are doing, which is getting people to do Y DNA testing and then telling them they have to pay YFull $49 to get the results!

Project admins ought to be capable of extracting SNPs from BAM files themselves. There are utilities out there for doing that.

Most people doing this work are going to belong to large R1b clades or large I1a clades, not brand new and tiny new branches of haplogroup I1 where little work has been done, like AS121210 - but we've begun to make the effort. We can atleast see who shares what, and what we DON'T share, and then argue about how old that is. It can certainly provide useful information about the relative time when branches branched off. Unfortunately the first line to split off was probably the Jewish family, and we won't be able to get them to do a Big Y.

2. Someone asked about what kind of DNA testing she would use to get results. I'm not sure what results she wants and that would determine what testing she would use.

Mitochondrial DNA won't usually identify recent relatives because it changes over time periods of thousands and not hundreds of years. It can sometimes usefully rule people in and out as relatives or ancestors.

For recent relatives, 3rd cousins or closer, who are not of your paternal line, usually one does autosomal DNA. Autosomal DNA can identify, or confirm, ancestors at times as far back as the 16th century, but not at all reliably. At that distance one also runs into the liklihood of sharing more than one ancestral couple, and results that there is no way to make sense of. I keep appearing to be descended from the Rev. Thomas Hooker family. The Hooker family repeatedly lived where my people lived, but.... we'd need better evidence than that if they shared more than the word of God with their congregations.

For one's male line, one usually starts with 37 markers or 67 marker STR haplotype at Family Tree DNA. 67 markers is most useful down the road, but sometimes 37 markers yields enough information, especially in the unusual event one has no matches at all at that level. Sometimes people want to know if they belong to a surname group but not where in the surname group they belong. One can do a 111 marker upgrade to see if a common ancestor lived very recently. Unlike the autosomal DNA test it can't specifically identify your father.

SNPs come in handy if you aren't satisfied with your ancestral information at that point, or

3. I like the concept of affinity factors. LOL. The surprise that I found when I looked at my AS121210 cluster in more detail, is that London merchants were evidently trading Y DNA along with the furs and wool, and even a financier in the system picked it up. It also wouldn't surprise me if the Y DNA focused on groups who were particularly interested in the settlement of the colonies.

I'll drop dead from astonishment if I ever identify a surname behind the cluster, or even a family.

4. I can clearly see that I'm not going to establish the age of this cluster more closely than within one to two hundred years either way.

5. Digging up the ancestor is all of our dream. But if I already know who he is and where he's buried I'm not likely to bother, LOL!

Yours,
Dora Smith
Peter Stewart
2017-07-31 05:44:07 UTC
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Post by Dora Smith
5. Digging up the ancestor is all of our dream. But if I already know who he is
and where he's buried I'm not likely to bother, LOL!
I can't say my sleep is much disturbed by this ambition, Dora, but I get your point about knowing the right place.

Very few medieval people have marked tombs inside churches, and fewer still have marked graves outside them. Very few churches have not had interior changes since the occupants were first placed in their tombs, and quite a lot of these structures have been shifted over the centuries leaving their owners' bones behind, and/or reopened to place others in with them.

Just because you may have have rubbed the brass on an ancestor's splendid tomb - that over time came to be treated more as a decorative object than a shrine - doesn't mean that his or her bones are necessarily still inside it. Even the kings and queens of France, many of them in Saint-Denis, can't all be located with certainty today; some of their tombs have been moved and reconstructed several times.

Peter Stewart
Petter Vennemoe
2017-07-31 21:01:22 UTC
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disagree.

Surely if medieval genealogicaI disagree.

Surely if medieval genealogical connections may be to some extent be
validated or "proven" or "disproven" through the use of DNA testing, this is
of interest?

Petter V.

-----Opprinnelig melding-----
Fra: Karen McKellar [mailto:***@tds.net]
Sendt: 31. juli 2017 14:40
Til: 'Dora Smith' <***@gmail.com>; gen-***@rootsweb.com
Emne: RE: Using Y DNA for medieval genealogy

How about those who are interested in the details of DNA testing take this
discussion to a list dedicated to DNA testing so that this list can return
to its purpose-- sharing data on medieval genealogy.

I for one are tired of getting these messages over and over again.

Karen

Michael OHearn
2017-07-24 03:07:08 UTC
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Post by sstclair
So when we see these same surnames matching in YDNA SNPs, we can rightly assume these people, living today, are the male descendants of the medieval people who were together in the records.
This has helped me quite a bit in pinpointing both my actual paternal ancestry and the branching off from the main line pedigree within a few decades circa 1300 AD based upon estimated formation time for new SNPs.

Additionally, close Y matches with known connections in Ireland helps to identify the location from where the more recent branches occur.

Since my surname differs from that of the matching O'Briens, I also found out the true origin of my surname in Irish being Ò hEaghrain, apparently a variant of Ò hEaghra anglicized O'Hara. This is based on marriage and family records for O'Haren with or without the prefix occurring along with O'Brien in these areas, and that my settler ancestor bore the surname Haran or Haren in early Wisconsin records.

Interestingly, while O'Briens descend medievally from R-L226 ancestors, O'Haras are apparently from the much earlier R-M222 group originating in Britain about the beginning of the common era.

Of course other later branches are being discovered with each additional SNP along the way.

Sent from my iPhone
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