Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The Origins of Lineage III - the Gleeson's of West Clare

There are currently four genetic groups within the DNA project. This post is a summary of what DNA tells us about the third group, Lineage III.

In brief, this group has origins in County Clare and their terminal SNP marker is L226, a SNP marker associated with the Dál gCais group of surnames. This group is genetically distinct from the North Tipperary Gleeson's of Lineage II, but there are a variety of different possible explanations for this and it remains to be seen if we can determine the most likely reason and when it occurred.

Note that for added security (as well as ease of reference), ID numbers now consist of the member's initials followed by the last 4 numbers of his kit number.

Characteristics of Lineage III

All the members of Lineage III have done the Y-DNA-37 test (which assesses STR markers) and in addition one has tested positive for the single SNP marker L226.

Below are the 5 members of Lineage III with their ID number, Surname, Most Distant Known Ancestors (MDKA's), Country of Origin, current Terminal SNP marker, and initial STR marker results.

Lineage III members
(click to enlarge)

The most noticeable characteristic of this small group is that the Most Distant Known Ancestors (MDKA's) of the members all come from Clare, and specifically from either Coore or Connolly, several miles west of Ennis. This indicates a very specific location for their ancestral origin. Or at least a relatively recent one. They will have had other ancestral origins prior to this (i.e. 5000 years ago, 20,000 years ago, etc, ultimately ending up in Africa 60,000 years ago).

Another obvious characteristic of the group is that they all belong to Haplogroup R (shared by 85% of people in Ireland) and one member has tested positive for the SNP L226. This will be discussed further below in the section on Deeper Ancestry.

Coore & Connolly, Co. Clare - ancestral homeland of the Clare Gleeson's?

The Traditional Genealogy of Lineage III

Four of the five DNA tests are managed by Bill Gleeson, who gives the following account of his current thinking about how the different families within this group are connected:

Some of the following is speculation based on some solid findings in fact. I have tried several scenarios to make things fit and I am aware that not all of this is perfect nor should it be taken as such.
I now believe that Cornelius Gleeson is the patriarch of the Gleeson branches in West Clare. I think he was born between 1740 and 1750 maybe in Clare but likely in Tipperary because that is the county that the Gleesons are traditionally from. He may be the Gleeson in family legend that sold his share of the farm in Tipperary to his brother and moved to Clare in the townland of Boulinagleragh in the southern most part of Kilmaley Parish. I believe that he gave rise to two main branches of the family we call the Connolly Gleesons and the Gleesons of Coore. He may also have given rise to other branches of the family that we have yet to identify as relatives that settled in West Clare in the early 1800’s.

Cornelius would have had at least two sons, Matthew and John both of whom would have been born in Boulinagleragh between 1770 and 1780. Matthew, I believe would have grown up in Boulinagleragh and married there. He would have a son named after his father, Cornelius around the late 1790’s. Matthew and family (including young Cornelius) left Boulinagleragh, “traveled across the hills and settled in Coore.” This would likely have been in the early 1800’s. His son, Cornelius originally from Boulinagleragh would have met and married Mary Killeen of Coore. Cornelius Gleeson and Mary Killeen would have married in the 1820’s and I believe had at least two sons, Matthew and Michael as well as daughter named Mary. These children would have been born in the 1830’s. Matthew married Sarah Walsh and we have good records from here to present of the Gleesons of Coore.
Michael married Bridget Moloney and lived on the Meade farm in Mt Scott and gave rise to the Cooper Gleesons (my branch) which I now think is a sub-branch of the Gleesons of Coore. Mary married James Marrinan and gave rise to the Marrinan branch of the family. 
The other son of Cornelius Gleeson born c1750 was John as I said previously. John would have been born later, around 1780 and stayed in the area of Boulinagleragh having farmland in both Furroor and Booleyneaska. He would marry and have at least three sons: Cornelius, Patrick, Michael and a daughter Catherine (known as Kate). Cornelius, born around 1812 marries Mary Meade and settles in Reanagishagh on the farm where the Sullivans live today. Patrick marries Bridget Kinnane and lives in Booleyneaska farming with the Lynch family. Michael marries Margaret McCarthy , lives a short time in Coore and one son, Patrick immigrates to the US along with some of the Lynch family to Middletown, Ct. giving rise to KEG-1144’s branch of the family. Catherine “Kate” marries Michael Eustace and they live on farm in Furoor and that would account for Jackie Eustace’s side of the family.

The current draft family tree that connects all the members of the group looks something like this:

(click to enlarge)

Importantly, if this tree is correct, the relationship between the different people tested would be as illustrated in the table below (assuming that the person tested is 1 generation below the last person listed in each line):

Relationship between group members if tree is correct

The accuracy of the tree and the closeness of the relationships between the various people in this group could be supported by selective and judicious autosomal DNA testing of the five members above (or of other individuals from their families). It would be particularly useful for confirming closer rather than more distant cousin relationships (e.g. 3rd cousin vs 5th cousin).

Recent autosomal DNA results for WJG-1141 and JFG-1142 predict that they are 3rd cousins (with a range 3rd to 4th cousins) - just what we would expect from the postulated relationship above. Further autosomal DNA testing of other family members is ongoing.

The Recent Ancestry of Lineage III

The members of this group all match each other, and are either exact or very close matches, indicating a very close relationship.

The 37-marker STR results indicate that the Genetic Distance* between group members varies from as low as 0 to as high as 3 (which is not very high). This is illustrated in the matrix below.

Genetic Distance matrix shows minimal GD Creep

When was the Common Ancestor for this group?

The "GD Creep" (spread of values) is very narrow in this particular group suggesting that they share a common ancestor in the relatively recent past (within the last several hundred years). TMRCA estimates (Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor) between the most closely related and the most distantly related members are as follows:

  • TMRCA estimates (using the TiP Report) predict that the most closely related members have a Common Ancestor within 0-2-7 generations (5% - 50% - 95% point estimates) = 0-60-210 years before 1950 (assumed average birth year of members)  = 1950-1890-1740 (i.e. the Common Ancestor was born about 1890 but within a 90% range of about 1740-1950)
  • TMRCA estimates predict that the most distantly related members have a Common Ancestor within  1-6-14 generations (5% - 50% - 95% point estimates) = 30-180-420 years before 1950 (assumed average birth year of members)  = 1920-1770-1530 (i.e. the Common Ancestor was born about 1770 but within a 90% range of about 1530-1920)

These figures suggest that this is currently a very tight knit group with a common ancestor for the entire group at about 1770, a figure that is not too far away from the estimated birth year of 1750 for Cornelius Gleeson, the presumed patriarch.

Can we build a tree for this group based on their mutations?

It is possible to build a family tree for this group (known as a cladogram, phylogram or Mutation History Tree) using the STR marker mutations rather than named people and then seeing if this superimposes neatly on top of the draft family tree based on traditional genealogy described previously. Ideally we would need 67 or 111 marker STR data, and some downstream SNP data (ideally via the Big Y test or the new L226 SNP Pack test), in order to most accurately construct this "Mutation History Tree", but that would be a lot of testing and a very expensive exercise.

However, because they are so closely related, the 37-marker data may give us a pretty good prediction of the actual tree for these 5 individuals. And in fact, there are only 4 mutations to play with (coloured squares in the diagram below) so the tree will be very basic indeed (i.e. without a complex branching system).

The 37 Y-STR marker values for the five Lineage III members
(click to enlarge)

The resulting tree is in fact very simple and has a branching pattern that is 100% compatible with the draft tree based on traditional genealogy. It reads from left (distant time) to right (recent time), ending with the 5 members of the group. The STR marker mutations mark branching points (A, B, C) within the tree and are indicated in blue. However it is not possible to accurately predict when each of the three mutations occurred and the actual branching in the diagram is more figurative than real. In other words, the actual order of branching could be BCA or CAB rather than the ABC indicated in the diagram below.

The timing of each branching point in the tree could be estimated based on average mutation rates for each of the STR markers in which mutations occurred, but these would only be estimates and their accuracy could not be relied upon. For example, marker 449 is a fast-mutating marker (indicated by the dark red colour in the diagram above) and the mutation in this particular marker is more likely to have occurred more recently than the other two mutations ... but that may not necessarily have been the case.

Mutation History Tree for Lineage III based on 37 STR marker data

The Deeper Ancestry of Lineage III

What is the terminal SNP?

L226 seems to be the current most downstream SNP for this group based on the single SNP test of one of the five members (WJG-1141). But can we predict what further downstream SNPs might be?

Each member in this group has anywhere from 11 to 43 matches (at the Y-DNA 37-marker level). By examining the terminal SNPs of each member's list of matches, we can see which SNPs occur most frequently among the close matches of the members of Lineage III. This is what I call Matches Terminal SNP Analysis (MTSA) and is described in this video here (from 1:12:50 onwards). Below is a summary table of the terminal SNPs of each member's matches (at both the 37- and the 25-marker level). For example, among KEG-1144's matches at the 37-marker level, one has the terminal SNP DC128, another has DC292, another one has DC38, and 4 have L226. At the 25-marker level, the equivalent figures are 1, 0, 1 and 2.

Matches' Terminal SNP Analysis for all 5 members of Lineage III
at the 37-marker level and the 25-marker level

Terminal SNPs of Matches of Lineage III members
(yellow circles) indicate downstream convergence

Crudely adding up the different frequencies for the different terminal SNP markers identified by the analysis, the most common SNP is L226 followed by DC128 and DC38. When we plot all these SNPs on the haplotree,  it becomes apparent that all are at or below (i.e. downstream of) L226. This is a very good indication that these members will all test positive for L226 (as indeed one member already has).

However, not all of these SNPs are on the same single branch of the tree (see diagram on the right, which is based on FTDNA's haplotree). In other words, there is evidence of "downstream convergence". By this I mean that whilst it is clear that all the terminal SNPs identified by the Analysis fall below (i.e. downstream of) L226, there is some dispersal of terminal SNPs below this point. What this means is that even though the Genetic Distance to these matches (which is based on the comparison of their respective STR values) suggests a close relationship (perhaps within the last 300-400 years), the actual relationship is likely to be a lot further back than that (possibly 600-2000 years). The matches "appear" closer because their STR-based genetic signatures are "convergent" or "converging" on each other due to one or more Back Mutations or Parallel Mutations making them appear more closely related than they actually are.

Nevertheless, we can make a guess at the "most likely" terminal SNP for the Lineage III members. Most of the SNPs we have identified can be accounted for by placing them on the following single branch (SNPs detected by the MTSA are in bold). This therefore represents the most probable Estimated SNP Progression:
R-P312 > L21 > DF13 > ZZ10 > Z253 > Z2534 > L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > ZZ31 > FGC5628 > FGC5659 > BY4103 > ZZ34_1 > DC33 > DC38 > DC46 > DC292 (or DC294)

The leftover SNPs appear on adjacent branches, all below L226:
- DC311, DC128, DC269 & DC70

So, to summarise, all the SNPs identified by MTSA fall below L226 but there is thereafter some evidence of "downstream convergence" (i.e. similarity to genetic signatures on adjacent branches of the haplotree).**

Based on the above, it is clear that analysis of each member's matches' terminal SNP strongly suggests that all members will test positive for L226, they will probably test positive for FGC5659, and possibly for either DC292 or DC294.

Testing with the new L226 SNP Pack (to be released in July/August 2016) will help define the more downstream SNPs for this group, including the current terminal SNP for Lineage III.

How old are these SNPs?

YFull estimates the following ages for the key SNPs above:
  • L226 ..........  4300 years before present
  • FGC5628 ...  1350 years before present

Where do we sit on the Haplotree? and who sits beside us?

Below is a diagram of where this places Lineage III on the Haplotree (i.e. the Human Evolutionary Tree of Mankind). It also shows us what surnames lie nearby. Many of these will be related to the Lineage III Gleeson's prior to the adoption of inherited surnames (about 1000 years ago in Ireland). Testing with the L226 SNP Pack will place this group further downstream on the haplotree and will help identify the most closely related neighbours from the surnames below.

Based on the most likely Estimated SNP Progression (ending with the terminal SNP DC292 or DC294), our closest neighbours would be Peavy & Brown. Other nearby names are clearly associated with the Dál gCais.

  • O'Brien goes back to Brian Boru, originator of the O'Brien name
  • Morrissey is from de Marisco, a Norman family who had large holdings in North Tipperary
  • Dunn could refer to the O'Kennedy Donn, a branch of the O'Kennedy clan
  • O'Meara were physicians and poets to the O'Kennedy's and held large swathes of land in North Tipperary

The haplotree below L226 - Lineage III members are likely to sit on one of these branches,
possibly with Peavy & Brown on DC46 or beside them on a separate (new) branch
(click to enlarge)

Do Haplogroup Projects give us additional information?

L226 is the SNP associated with the Irish Type III group. This was first discovered in 2006 using STR markers. Dennis Wright is the Project Admin of the L226 Irish Type III Haplogroup Project and runs the Irish Type III website. He also published his findings based on STR marker analysis in a 2009 article in JOGG (Journal of Genetic Genealogy, 5(1):1-7, 2009) concluding that the distinctive STR signature associated with the Irish Type III group occurred more frequently in people with Dal Cassian surnames than those with non-Dal Cassian surnames, strongly suggesting that the Irish Type III signature was in fact the DNA signature of the Dál gCais.

Surnames associated with the Dál gCais
(from JOGG 5(1):1-7, 2009)

The Dal Cassian signature is associated with several sets of distinctive marker values:
  • DYS459 = 8,9 
  • DYS463 = 25 
  • DYS464 = 13-13-15-17 
The equivalent modal values for Lineage III are:
  • DYS459 = 8,9 
  • DYS463 = not tested 
  • DYS464 = 13-13-15-18 
Thus the STR values for Lineage III are very close to what one would expect for Irish Type III.

Furthermore, from the Y-DNA-37 STR results, the group members have between 11 and 43 Y-DNA matches each. Surnames with multiple occurrences among their matches include: Brown, Gleeson/Gleason, Hogan, Maloney/Moloney, McMahon, O'Halloran, Peavy/Pevy, Sullivan & Trench. Some of these surnames are associated with the Dal Cassian sept (in bold), the principal family of which was the O'Brien's. In fact, there are several single O'Brien & Bryant matches in some of these member's matches lists. Many of the MDKAs associated with these matches are from the southern counties of Ireland (Clare, Tipperary, Cork & Kerry), in keeping with the origins of the Dál gCais.

Gleeson is not a surname traditionally associated with the Dál gCais. Why then does Lineage III have a Dal Cassian genetic signature associated with it? There are several possible reasons for this.

  1. These results could indicate that this group of Gleeson's arose completely independently from the Gleeson's in Lineage II (the North Tipperary Gleeson's). In other words, two separate groups of people, in neighbouring counties, adopted the surname Gleeson and developed independently of each other. However there is little evidence to support this theory.
  2. Alternatively, there could have been a Surname-DNA Disconnection at some point in the past, ancient (1000-1300 AD, for example) or recent (1600-1800, for example). This seems like the more probable explanation as it is likely to occur in about 50% of our ancestral lines. There could be many reasons for this including adoption, fosterage, taking the name of the clan chief to show allegiance, taking the name of the wife (she being of higher social status), or the accepted custom of having sexual liaisons with powerful chiefs or leaders (thus gaining protection, and an inheritance, for the family). If an NPE occurred some time in the dim and distant past, further SNP testing may  possibly identify what the surname was before it became Gleeson.

The member who has tested positive for L226 has joined this project and is currently grouped with a lot of other L226+ group members. Further (more downstream) SNP testing is recommended in order to clarify on which "further downstream" sub-branch Lineage III sits, and to narrow down the field of candidates responsible for any potential NPE.

  • The most recent common ancestral homeland for his group clearly lies in County Clare.
  • Traditional genealogical research suggests a possible relationship between the various members of this group and a draft family tree with named (potential) ancestors has been created .
  • A Mutation History Tree (cladogram) generated from STR mutations is consistent with this draft family tree.
  • Genetic Distance analysis suggests a tight-knit group, sharing a relatively recent Common Ancestor born about 1770 (which is in keeping with the traditional genealogical evidence).
  • The one member who underwent SNP testing is positive for L226. MTSA (Matches' Terminal SNP Analysis) suggests an Estimated SNP Progression for the group that includes L226 and suggests a most likely terminal SNP below FGC5628 (possibly DC292 or DC294).
  • The modal haplotype for the group includes marker values for DYS459 and DYS464 that are close to those STR marker values considered distinctive for the Irish Type III genetic signature.
  • Surnames of the close matches of the members of this group include some with supposed Dal Cassian origin (Hogan, McMahon, O'Brien, Bryant).

Next Steps
  • Additional SNP testing is recommended with the new L226 SNP pack (due July/August 2016) for at least one member (probably $119)
  • Upgrading to 67 or 111 STR markers may help establish how closely these group members are related to each other and help develop the Mutation History Tree. However, as they are all supposedly very closely related to each other, the results may be of minimal value.
  • Undertaking further autosomal DNA testing of the oldest members of each family within the group could also offer supportive evidence of how closely the various group members are likely to be related to each other.

* Genetic Distance is the number of steps away from an exact match between two people
** DC24 could not be found on the FTDNA haplotree

Maurice Gleeson
July 2016

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