Latest Blog Posts

My first talk since Covid was given at the end of March 2023 at Kihleeshil and Clonaneese Historical Societies Community Centre in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland! The talk 'Rewriting the history of... More
THE hundreds of Y-DNA Case Studies completed at Scottish Origenes have facilitated the production of the Scottish Origenes ethnicity map (pictured). Each Y-DNA Case Study has a pinpointed origin and... More
Research at Scottish Origenes has revealed that about 20% of Scottish surnames are exclusive to a single location within Scotland. Since Scottish surnames are often a genealogical record of one’s... More
Introduction (Updated September 2022) 17th Century Gaelic Ulster was one of the last redouts of the ancient Celtic world. A world that had been eclipsed in Mainland Europe by the Romans over a... More
A simple painless commercial ancestral Y-DNA test ONLY explores the paternal line, and it can therefore be used to pin one’s direct male ancestors to specific locations at specific time points in... More
A surprise finding from 10 years of Scottish Origenes Y-DNA Case Studies was the considerable number of males with Mediterranean-associated Y-DNA Haplogroups. Intriguingly, each Scottish Origenes Y-... More
Oct 2021. Scotland and Ireland are close neighbours, and it is no surprise that commercial ancestral Y-DNA testing and the resulting hundreds of Y-DNA Case Studies conducted at Scottish and Irish... More
What do >300 Scottish Origenes Y-DNA Case Studies reveal about the modern Scots? October 2021. The Y-DNA test explores the male paternal line, and anyone you match upon Y-DNA testing shares a... More
In 2021 Scottish and Irish Origenes launched a new FREE website ( dedicated to the Origenes maps series, where one can zoom in and explore the surnames, clans, castles, and DNA... More
(February 3rd 2021). When commercial DNA testing began it focused completely on Y-DNA STR testing. While Y-DNA STR results can routinely be used to pinpoint a paternal origin, the STRs themselves, as... More
In June 2018 Irish Origenes was commissioned to do a Y-DNA Case Study report for a Mr David McGinnis from Oregon in the USA. In that report (based exclusively on his commercial Y-DNA test results)... More
UPDATED October 2020, NEW (6th) McDonald Case Study Added! The McDonald surname is probably one of the most famous, spawning one of the world’s most notable brands. It is also one of the most common... More
The challenge with modern commercial ancestral mtDNA testing is linking a specific maternal Eve with a precise geographical location. However, pinpointing an origin for one’s direct female ancestor... More
The Autosomal DNA test is by far the most popular commercial ancestral DNA test worldwide (tests like’s, 23andMe, MyHeritage and FTDNA's Family Finder). BUT are you really getting the... More
Previous Scottish Origenes research has revealed how the Irish and Scottish Gaels share a common origin within the Rhineland of Central Europe, and that the progenitors of both groups sought refuge... More
The first ever Plantations Surnames of Ireland map has been completed just in time for the Back to Our Past Event in Belfast in 2019. The map details the precise location where farmers with each... More
Commercial ancestral Y-DNA testing has revealed that up to 40% of all Scottish males (and males with paternal Scottish ancestry) will have a Gaelic origin (the Y-DNA test only explores the paternal... More
Step I: When the Gaelic surname 'MacMichael' becomes Norman 'Mitchell' A change in ‘cultural identity’ can be quite rapid (think modern Americans who are a mix of almost every nation on the planet)... More
Ireland is one of Scotland's closest neighbours, and their shared heritage runs deep; it is reflected in surnames (Mac or Mc?), language (Gaelic) and not to forget their national drink (Whisky or... More
Anybody who has taken a simple painless commercial ancestral Y-DNA test (which only explores your paternal ancestry) will potentially have matched many people with lots of different surnames, and... More
Don Anderson, who is an adoptee from Oregon, has released a book which is a must read for all adoptees wishing to uncover the identities of their birth parents. Its also a must read for anyone... More
The DNA does not lie and upon commercial ancestral DNA testing the people who appear as a genetic match to you share a common ancestor with you, it is merely a matter of when that shared ancestor... More
A Sample DNA Case Study which shows how the NEW Scottish Origenes Surnames, Clans, Castles and DNA maps can be used together with a simple painless commercial ancestral DNA test to rediscover your... More
DETAILING the origin of approximately 4,000 different Scottish surnames, the Medieval territories of 400 of the most prominent Scottish Clans and Families, and the precise location of 1000 Scottish... More
Surname distribution mapping reveals that the Graham surname is associated with Scotland and bordering English Counties. Since farmers with each surname still concentrate in the area where one’s... More
The beauty with the DNA approach to researching one’s ancestral origin is that the DNA does not lie! The area identified in an Irish, Scottish, English or Welsh Origenes personalised DNA report can... More
Surnames evolve over both time and distance, and change usually at the whim of an administrator who simply records an unfamiliar surname as he hears it. In this manner similar sounding surnames... More
At Family Tree DNA’s  annual conference in 2012 I presented results demonstrating that the Scottish 'Valentines' were descended from a MacGregor who had changed his surname sometime in the early... More
I’ve been busy recently doing Case Studies and working on a Surnames and Y-DNA Map of Scotland (previewed here). But this Valentine Case Study is one of my all-time favourites and I’d like to share... More
Sometimes a quite remarkable Y-DNA Case Study comes along that I will try my best to get published in a Genealogical magazine. The latest one published in Family Tree Magazine details the Paterson... More
Every successful Irish, Scottish, or English Origenes Case Study tells an interesting story, some like the Durkin Case Study are easy to solve, others like the MacKenzie Case Study which features in... More
I was a guest speaker for Family Tree DNA at the 2013 Who Do You Think You Are LIVE event in London. The slides for that talk can now be downloaded by CLICKING HERE. This is my second set of talks... More
I was invited by the world’s largest commercial ancestral DNA testing Company 'Family Tree DNA' to give a talk entitled 'Pinpointing a Geographical Origin' at their 8th Annual Genetic Genealogy... More
The Royal house of Scotland sprang from the Kings of the Scots, who constituted only one of the 6 peoples inhabiting the modern lands of Scotland. Yet when Kenneth, son of Alpin, united the Picts and... More
When one thinks of Scottish surnames, one almost always thinks of those that begin with Mc’ or Mac.’ This is an over simplification as Scottish surnames are quite diverse and reflect the various... More
Scotland was first settled roughly 10,000 years ago after the end of the last ice age. The first reference to the people of Scotland comes from Roman sources that referred to the people north of... More

You are here


BigY Match Mapping!

The DNA does not lie and upon commercial ancestral DNA testing the people who appear as a genetic match to you share a common ancestor with you, it is merely a matter of when that shared ancestor once lived; and as a rule the more markers (or mutations) that two people share the more recent that shared ancestor once lived. In addition, if you have enough matches you will begin to notice patterns in your DNA results; a particular surname that reappears frequently among your matches, or a common ancestral location recorded by their earliest ancestor. Hence the detail revealed by your genetic relatives upon YDNA, mtDNA or Autosomal DNA testing are NOT RANDOM; they reflect the relationships that developed in specific locations among ones various ancestral lines.

In 2010 YDNA STR testing at FTDNA had reached a critical threshold (maybe 400,000 samples). It was at that point that I noticed that in my YDNA results that I always matched males named Bowe/Bowes, Carroll, Dooley and Flanagan (Irish-associated surnames which I realised were becoming too frequent to be ignored!). When I analysed where Bowe/Bowes, Carrolls, Dooleys and Flanagans where found in early Irish census data it identified County Laois in the Irish Midlands as their common area of association. The logical conclusion was that those surnames had arisen among a tribal group of related males living in County Laois an estimated 1,000 years ago (when surnames first appeared). Subsequent independent DNA testing of Bowe and Bowes in County Laois confirmed the location (they were a close YDNA match to me). Conclusively confirming my Bowe Laois origin. 

If you carry the M222 marker then BigY DNA testing has also reached that critical threshold; with numerous surnames now recurring throughout the one's BigY matches. One can now identify the closest most frequent BigY surname matches and begin to reconstruct one’s paternal ancestral journey! Mr Ted McGill (email: is the Administrator of the McGill FTDNA Surname Project, whose family tradition holds that his McGills were Scots. His earliest ancestor being a James McGill who came to the American Colonies in 1775 and fought in the Revolution. McGill (or Magill) is one of those surnames which can be of Irish or Scottish origin. Mac or Mc surnames are exclusive to Ireland and parts of Scotland (see attached image), within Ireland they predominate in the North while in Scotland they dominated the Highlands and Islands together with Southwest Scotland.  The complete McGill Case Study can be downloaded and studied by clicking here. It is no surprise therefore that upon BigY testing Mr McGill's closest and most frequent surname matches were completely dominated by exclusively Scots, exclusively Irish, or surnames that can be of either Scots or Irish origin (see attached image). In addition those surnames were NOT RANDOM; 50% of the surnames that appeared in Mr McGill’s BigY results recurred among his BigY matches, by grading those surnames according to frequency, and then their position at which the surname appears among his BigY results (as judged by FTDNA) it reveals that Scottish surnames dominated his closest matches while more distant recurring matches are dominated by Irish surnames; this indicates a more recent paternal ancestral link with Scotland but an earlier link with Ireland (no surprise given his M222 marker). Those surnames can then be mapped to reveal where in Scotland his paternal ancestor settled and where in Ireland his distant genetic relatives spread! The full story of the spread of M222 can be read here. As ever contact Scottish Origenes here to find out what DNA test is suitable for you or for a FREE CONSULTATION on your DNA results.

Irish Origenes

English Origenes