The recent appearance of Mr Fraser’s result within the Bachuil group is an interesting development particularly because there are already three individuals bearing the names Fraser, Frasier and Frazier who have tested positive for the snp A6099 that falls under S756, one of the main branches of S764. These Fraser/Frasier/Fraizers share the snp A6099 with a Livingstone/MacLeay and a MacLean/MacLay as well as several other participants whose ancestors appear to have resided at one time in the Muir of Ord/Beauly/Aird/Abriachan district stretching from Strathconon in the north within Ross & Cromarty to Glen Urquhart in the south within Inverness-shire. It is interesting that this is also the area in which Mr Fraser’s ancestors resided.
Over the past few years a number of interested observers have suggested that the common ancestor of S764 may have lived about 600AD and most likely resided within the population group known to history as the Cenel Loairn. They point to the fact that the majority of the members of Clan MacRae and a large portion of Clan MacPherson [both suspected Cenel Loairn clans] have tested positive for snps falling within branches that fall below S764. As far as I can see this suggestion is even clearer in the branching below S756 for at the present time there are three branches that have been identified as follows.
The oldest and by far the largest branch is headed by the snp Z16328 which arose within a common ancestor that lived about 1000AD. This is the branch to which Mr Mikkenie [Makelij] of our Scots R1b group belongs – older readers of the forum will remember that his ancestor was a Scottish soldier that settled in the Netherlands and whose earlier name was pronounced in the Netherlands as Mac-a-lay. This branch consists of a number of families that carry recognisable Argyllshire surnames or the surnames of the leading families of that area (Campbell, Stewart, Ferguson). Also there appears to be a number of individuals with ancestors that migrated from Argyllshire to Northern Ireland at some point in the past.
The second largest branch is headed by the snp A6099 and is said to have had a common ancestor about the year 1100AD. This branch has a north eastern focus and is the branch referred to above in my opening paragraph.
The third branch is headed by the snp BY25527 and is thought to have also had a common ancestor dating to around 1000AD. It consists of two men with the surname MacKay from Sutherland. Clan MacKay tradition asserts that their 13th century ancestors were originally settled alongside the MacRaes in the same general area as the second branch above, before the leading members of their family were moved to Sutherland by the Crown.
It is tempting to suggest that these results tend to support what is known about the recorded history of the Cenel Loairn, some of whom, from the 9th century onwards, started to migrate into the Province of Moray which at times embraced the area described above, and where, in the 11th century, they appear as leading men within that province. I dare say that the picture is a bit more complicated than that but it is interesting to note how the results so far are tending to follow what is generally known about the Cenel Loairn.
Before leaving this subject I think it is important to point out that up until the 18th century surnames were not in common use within the Highlands and generations of a family line will have been known to their contemporaries simply by their patronymics which often included the name of an illustrious ancestor, a personal characteristic or some activity with which members of that family were associated. When it came to adopting a surname in the 18th century some of these families will have retained a better memory of their roots than others and some will have gone out of their way to assert and record their original clan affiliation, while others will have simply taken the surname of the landholding clan with whom generations of their family were associated through continued occupation of the landholding clan’s land and through defending the landholding clan’s interests.
I recently completed a family tree for a friend of mine that highlights how often this occurred. This man’s ancestors were known by the early surname of McIldonich/Mcoldonich and resided on Lord Lovat’s estate and before that were anciently settled on the neighbouring Chisholm estate in Strathglass where they were said to have assisted the Chisholm by settling a ‘knotty problem’ (whatever that involved). His family, in common with the majority of the Mcildonicks/Mcoldonichs within the general district, took the name Cameron, presumably because of some ancient connection with the Lochaber district. However, other members of clan Mcildonich, who were settled on the Chisholm estate took the name Chisholm, and others who were settled on the adjoining Lord Lovat’s estate ended up taking the name Fraser. In this particular man’s case it is worth pointing out that the men in his family line all married Fraser women, so genetically it could probably be asserted that he was probably more of a Fraser than anything else.
These territorial influences need to be taken into account when comparing ones immediate matches for it is easy to envisage how the descendants of a 16th century man with a patronymic ending in Mconlea would intermarry with other families within the district and as their descendants moved further afield, they would in time develop there own distinctive patronymics. Later, in the 18th century, it is conceivable that a number of Mconlea’s descendants would very likely take the name MacKenzie, Munro, Fraser, Chisholm, etc., if the family lived in the north east, or Campbell, MacDougall, Stewart, Ferguson, etc., if they lived in Argyllshire. On the other hand some of Mconlea’s descendants would have been more vigorous in retaining their early identity and would have expressed the name Mconlea in the shortened forms of McLea, McLeay, McLay, depending on whichever spelling was adopted in the district.
It appears that Mr Fraser’s result is more closely aligned with the Bachuil group than with the individuals that have tested positive for A6099, however, the project results page tends to suggest that none of the Bachuil group participants have so far embarked on snp testing. Looking at their STR readings it is conceivable that they may also fall within one or other of the branches below S756. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone from within the Bachuil group – and indeed anyone from within the Scots R1b group – to consider taking a further step on their DNA journey by undertaking the BigY. I appreciate it is rather expensive but the last two sales have certainly brought the price down to a more affordable level and the more participants of our DNA project that undertake a snp test the greater will be our understanding of how the various branches of the Highland Livingstones evolved.
I hope there is something of interest in the above and apologise if anything is wide of the mark.
George H Macdonald
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