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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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Pinpointing Your MacDonald Origin! 4x DNA Case Studies!

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 surnames found in both Scotland and Ireland. However, not all McDonalds (McDonnells, McDond, Donalds and Donaldsons) are the same. Donald (Donal/Domhnaill) is a Gaelic personal name, and multiple unrelated Scottish and Irish Clans emerged that merely shared a surname derived from what was a very common personal name. So, today, it is only through commercial ancestral DNA testing that one can uncover one’s McDonald roots, identify which of the estimated 47 distinct Clans one is related to, pinpoint an origin and determine whether ones McDonalds were descended from Viking settlers, Celtic Scots or Irish Gaels, or Ancient Britons.

To uncover your McDonald roots you should ideally get a male McDonald, McDonnell, Donaldson or Donald relative to take what is called a Y-DNA test. That test only explores the male Y chromosome (which like the surnames is only passed from father to son). Anyone you match upon Y-DNA testing will share a common male ancestor with you, BUT their surnames will differ from you (that is because your shared male ancestor lived before surnames first appeared). So what one is seeing in the Y-DNA results is a snapshot of the surnames that arose among related males living in a specific location 1,000 years ago. Hence, it means that each McDonald Clan will have a ‘fingerprint’ of genetically matching surnames revealed upon commercial Y-DNA testing. Since surnames arose in an agrarian society, and farmers with each surname in early census data could be found in the area where ones ancestor lived when surnames first appeared; one can examine the surnames revealed in one’s Y-DNA test results and pinpoint an origin for one’s McDonald ancestors.

There are now 6 different McDonald Y-DNA Case Studies that can be downloaded and studied (click on the links on the accompanying table below). All five Y-DNA results have their own 'fingerprint' of genetically matching surnames, different pinpointed origins, and are from very different ethnic groups! The first Case Study links the test subject's paternal ancestor to the Viking-Gael 'Somerled' and pinpoints an origin on the Isle of Mull. The second Case Study details how one can pinpoint an origin with few Y-DNA matches; it reveals a test subject from a Scottish Celtic Brythonic line with an origin with Dunbartonshire. The third Case Study is an Irish McDonnell Clan with an origin in Southern Ulster. The fourth Case Study details how BOTH Y-DNA and Autosomal DNA testing identified an origin for the test subject's paternal line in Southern Scotland, and that his paternal ancetsor acquired the McDonald surname through a non-paternal event that occurred in County Armagh in Ireland at some point after the Plantation of Ulster (post 1600AD). The fifth Case Study details how its quality over quantity when it comes to DNA matches, it also reveals a pre-historic (pre-Celtic first farmers) paternal Y-DNA marker. The sixth Case Study demonstrates that the test subject's paternal ancestor was originally named 'McKimmie' and acquired the McDonald/McDaniel surname in Morayshire. What will your DNA reveal?

McDonald Y-DNA Case Studies
  Haplogroup Y-DNA revealed surname matches Pinpointed origin Ethnicity LINK
Case Study 1 R1a MacDonald / MacAlister / MacIan / MacKinnon Dervaig, Isle of Mull, Scotland Viking (Norse-Gael)

CLICK HERE to download

Case Study 2 R1b Johnson / MacAdo / Mitchell Baldernock, Dunbartonshire, Scotland Brythonic Celt

CLICK HERE to download

Case Study 3 R1b McKenna / McMahon / McDonnell / McDaniel Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, Ireland Brythonic Celt

CLICK HERE to download

Case Study 4 E-M35 Wells / Jones Lochmaben, Dumfriesshire, Scotland and Armagh, Ireland Roman

CLICK HERE to download

Case Study 5 I-P37

McDonnell / Merrick / Fowler

County Mayo, Ireland Neolithic CLICK HERE to download
Case Study 6 R1b McKimmie / Noble / Scott Morayshire, Scotland Brythonic Celt CLICK HERE to download


You can contact Scottish Origenes CLICK HERE for a FREE CONSULTATION on your DNA results (Y-DNA, Autosmal or mtDNA) or to find out which commercial ancestral DNA test is suitable for you. Remember folks, I am a trained Scientist with over 20 years’ experience in both Academic and Industrial Labs. Always check the scientific qualifications of the blogger offering DNA advice. An honorary qualification is no substitute for decades of genuine awards and practical experience.

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