by Ron Bentz

Ron Bentz

The Clan DNA project is administered by After many years of considering sending a sample, this spring I did so. The sample must be given by a person with a clan surname. If you are like me and are a Donnachaidh through your mother, then you must get a sample from a male relative – in my case, my maternal (Duncan) uncle.

You can test from 12 up to 111 markers. 12 will give you the most general of your matches. The higher the number you test, the better idea you get of your close matches. I’m now up to 67 markers. The next would be 111. It is suggested that, if you wish find true relatives, to go with at least 37, which is where I started. The sample is very easy to get. They send you a kit in the mail, then you rub swabs on the inside of the mouth, drop the swabs in the mail, and await your results. If you’re like me, you check the website every day, even though you will be sent an email when your results post.

So what did I find out? I was grouped in m222. This was discovered several years ago. At first it was suggested that people with these markers were all from the famous Irish King Niall of the Nine Hostages. That is no longer thought to be true, though some with these markers likely are. The m222 project, to which I belong, consider it northern Irish/southern Scotland. At this time, they can’t determine if it started in Ireland or Scotland. From a Clan perspective, Crinan, the father of King Duncan, was lay abbot of Dunkeld, and was therefore likely of the kindred of St. Columba. And Columba was kin to Niall.

At twelve markers, most of my matches were indeed from Ireland. However, once you get up to 37 markers and higher, you find your true matches. At 67 markers, I have close matches with three Duncan’s. The first has the family line back to 1691 in East Lothian, Scotland. The markers came back 25/25, 36/37, and 64/67. They have something called the tip calculator; using this gives you an idea of when you and your matches shared a common ancestor. For this match, at twelve generations back, they say there’s an 83% chance we share a common ancestor. The numbers gets higher the further you go back: at twenty generations, it’s 99%. Each marker has a different value when considering the match. There’s another Duncan I’m at 63/67 with, but for this match at twelve generaons it’s 89% we have a common ancestor, and at sixteen generaons it’s 98%. Lastly, there’s another Duncan I match with. This match also goes back to East Lothian. This match is 61/67. At twelve generations, this match is 74%. I have matches with other surnames as well at 67 markers. Most of these are found in southwest Scotland. It should be noted that, if you send a sample, you are at the mercy of whoever else sent samples. It is possible you won’t have close matches.

To say I’m pleased with my results would be an understatement. I’d given up on finding my link to Scotland, as I couldn’t make the paper trail back. But now with modern science, I’ve been able to find my genetic link to Scotland. Anyone who sends a sample and would like to compare to mine, I’m in Duncan subgroup E genetically linked to Scotland. I would encourage all to send a sample if you can. The more samples collected, the more links will be found with our cousins in Scotland, and how we are connected.