Latest Blog Posts

The latest talk by Dr Tyrone Bowes at Scottish Origenes can be viewed on YouTube by clicking here. The holy grail of Academic Ancient DNA research is to accurately date the rate at which Y-DNA... More
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

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The Scots Irish (Ulster Scots)

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 Plantation Surname concentrated in early census data. Although the map features surnames of Scottish, English, Welsh, Pallantine and Gaelic Irish origin, it is the Scottish surnames that dominate in both number and frequency! It is the descendants of these Scots-Irish or rather 'Ulster-Scots' who would go on to shape the United States of America! Nearly half of all US Presidents have Ulster Scots links, and an estimated 8% of Americans claim Scots Irish ancestry. The vast majority of the Ulster Scots can trace their roots to the Scottish Lowlands, particularly along the once fluid and often lawless borderlands with England. The experience of living in a hostile borderland made them ideal colonisers in Ireland, where they would find themselves living among the sometimes hostile Native Gaelic Irish, together with the descendants of earlier Scottish settlers from the Highlands and Islands of Western Scotland. They became experienced frontiersmen in Ulster, clearing the land for settlement, dealing with frequent rebellions, until they had eventually colonised almost all of Ulster (within a few generations their descendants were on the move once more, but this time to the Americas).

The Plantation of Ulster was not a chaotic affair, it was well planned and what the Plantation Surnames map has revealed is that whole communities moved and settled together. Today, for instance, one can explore the Plantation surnames in the farmland that surrounds a town like Ballymena in Antrim and discover surnames associated with specific locations within North Ayrshire or Wigtownshire in Scotland. However, DNA studies have revealed that the Plantation Scots that arrived in Ireland were a mixed bunch, those from North Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, Lanarkshire and Dumfriesshire were English speaking Scots of Ancient Celtic Brythonic origin with surnames like Crawford, Boyd and Paisley. Those from the Lothians, Roxburghshire and Berwickshire were English speaking Scots of Anglo-Saxon origin with surnames like Hume, Kerr, and Turnbull. In contrast, the Gaelic speaking Scots of Wigtownshire and Kirkcudbrightshire in the far southwest brought with them their distinctive Gaelic surnames like MacLellan, MacKie and MacMichael. What DNA studies have also revealed is that those Gaels from Galloway were in fact the descendants of earlier Irish Gaelic settlers within Southwest Scotland (in 1100AD), the vast majority of whom also carried the Northwest Irish R-M222 paternal genetic marker. The descendants of those R-M222 Gaelic Irish settlers in Southwest Scotland returned to Ireland 500 years later as Lowland Protestant Scots and settled among their distant Gaelic Irish cousins. Many of the Gaels of Galloway would have been well aware of this earlier Irish connection; some even carried the surname 'Ireland.' The DNA has also revealed that a large proportion of the Ulster Scots who originated near Dumfries town carried exotic Mediterranean DNA markers, which have ultimately revealed that they were descended from Roman colonisers in Scotland (the remains of a Roman road and military forts can be found close to Dumfries town). The map also reveals a surprising number of Gaelic surnames with no Scottish equivalent, which implies that a large number of Gaelic Irish Clans were adsorbed into the Plantation community.

The Plantation Surnames map is the final instalment of the Scottish Origenes maps. The map can be purchased HERE (all 4 Scottish themed maps can be purchased together at a discount HERE). The maps are designed for genealogical use, but also for use with the results of some popular commercial ancestral DNA tests. For example, if you know where in Ireland your Scots Irish ancestors lived, then one can examine the surnames found in that area and identify their origin within Scotland. If you have no idea where your Scots Irish ancestors lived within Ireland, then you can take what's called an 'autosomal DNA test,' one can then examine those results, identify an area within Ireland, and then, by examining the Plantation surnames in that area, one can work back and identify where in Scotland they originated. If you want to discover where your Scots Irish ancestors lived then contact me for a FREE CONSULTATION click HERE

Irish Origenes

English Origenes