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Archiver > DNA-R1B1C7 > 2011-03 > 1300736491

Subject: Re: [R-M222] Dohertys
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2011 15:41:31 EDT

In a message dated 3/21/2011 9:36:58 A.M. Central Daylight Time,

What struck me about the MacLeod site is that it makes it clear that clan
membership has historically been open to sons-in-law. Also mentioned is
foster children. Given that, 47% is a huge proportion to descend from just one

I don't know how the other Scottish clan studies shake out. It might be
worth re-visiting what Sykes had to say about the McDonalds:

"I had managed to find this chromosome not just in the clan chiefs but in
a great many other men bearing the name. It was impressive to find the same
Y-chromosome in all five of the chiefs, but it was a surprise that so many
other members of all three clan could also now claim to have a direct and
unbroken line back to Somerled himself. Among the Macdonalds who
volunteered their DNA, 18 per cent had inherited Somerled's Y-chromosome. The
proportion among the MacDougalls was higher - 30 per cent of MacDougalls had his
Y-chromosome in their blood - an higher still among the MacAlisters, almost
40 per cent of whom carried the clan founder's Y-chromosome. Admittedly,
this was a relatively small sample, but why was there such a difference?
Surely those bearing the name Macdonald should include more of Somerled's
descendants than the other surname groups? Initially I was surprised that the
MacDougalls and MacAlisters, who were, in my mind, somehow less directly
connected to Somerled than the Macdonalds, had actually inherited his
Y-chromosome in greater proportion. But when I went over these results with Margaret
Macdonald, the archivist at the Clan Donald centre, the explanation
suddenly became clear."
The reason I had never expected to find any detectable association between
Scottish clan names and Y-chromosomes was because of the widespread
practice of name adoption, which I have already mentioned. I was pretty sure that
this would drown out any authentic genetic signals from a common ancestor,
like Somerled, because so many men would have taken the name of their clan
chief, without being related to him. But the results speak for themselves.
Against all the odds, there really is a clear and consistent Y-chromosome
signal from the common ancestor himself, not just in the clan chiefs but in
a great many others. But why is the proportion of men who have inherited
Somerled's chromosome higher among the men of Clan Alastair and Clan Dougall
than among those of Clan Donald? The answer, I believe, lies in the
relative wealth of the three clans and the lands they controlled. Clan Donald is
by far the biggest clan of the three. Through the acquisitions of their
ancestors, starting with Somerled's son Ranald, the clan became by far the
most important and influential in the west of Scotland. With so much land
under Clan Donald control it is no surprise that so many men took the name.
Clan Dugall, on the other hand, forfeited much of its land when it backed the
losing side in the war between the English king Edward II and Robert the
Bruce in the early fourteenth century, which culminated in victory for Bruce
at Bannockburn. A smaller clan with less land and fewer people adopting the
name would mean that a higher proportion of MacDougalls would be
genetically related to the chief. And that is exactly what we found. Clan Alastair
has always been the smallest of the three clans, with the least land and so
with even fewer people having good reason to take the name, and among the
MacAlisters an even greater proportion are related to the chief of the clan.
The real surprise is that so many men are directly descended through an
unbroken paternal lineage, from the founder of each clan and, further back,
from Somerled himself. The numbers are astonishing. Take the Macdonalds.
There are somewhere in the of two million male Macdonalds worldwide. If the
proportion sharing Somerled's chromosome in our sample is representative of
all Macdonalds and there is no reason I can think of why it should not be,
then there are something like four hundred men with Somerled's
Y-chromosome alive today. Add in the MacAlisters and the MacDougalls and the number
approaches half a million. That is half a million copies of a Y-chromosome
from just one original in the space of only nine hundred years, Had we
stumbled across the world's most successful Y-chromosome?
Somerled's own traditional genealogy stretches back through hi,father,
Gillebride, to his grandfather, Gilledomnan, and back to the kings of Ireland
- to Colla Uais in the fourth century and as far back as the legendary Conn
of the Hundred Battles in the second century, This is a fitting pedigree
for a Celtic hero. However, I do not think it can be accurate, for the
following reason. Somerled's Y-chromosome is a class 3 - a type that is almost
unknown in Ireland outside the Scandinavian enclaves. From a study organized
by Dan Bradley and his colleagues at Trinity College Dublin it is pretty
clear that more or less all of the Irish Y-chromosomes that were around in
the first millennium AD were in class 1. So Somerled's chromosome is in
the wrong class to have come from the long line of Irish kings that is
claimed for him in the traditional, genealogy. It is also a rare chromosome in
Scotland outside the three clans. But the one place it is not rare is Norway.
We have found six exactly matching chromosomes, and many that are very
closely related to it, among the samples from volunteers which Jayne and
Eileen brought back from Oslo. This is a classic Norse Y­chromosome. On this
evidence Somerled, the Celtic hero, was directly descended from a Viking."

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