Monday, 22 December 2014

Update - Winter 2014

Current Status

A very Merry Christmas to everyone. And wishing you all the best for the new Year.

2014 has seen a significant increase in membership, due in large part to the number of members joining the project with autosomal DNA results. The project now has 71 members altogether, up from 46 at the start of the year. There are now 40 members who have contributed their Y-DNA results to the project, an additional 13 people since the last update (Jan 2014). 

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In addition, 41 people have contributed their Family Finder autosomal DNA (atDNA) results. This is up from 19 at the beginning of the year, so these numbers have doubled. Several people from Genetic Family 1 have contributed their autosomal DNA results and even though the connection to a common ancestor is likely to be in the 1700's, several members are showing matching segments of DNA. This is very promising and will be the subject of a separate post in the New Year. 

It is likely that the combination of Y-DNA and autosomal DNA (atDNA) will help clarify which family branches are more likely to be related to which other family branches. Project members who have not yet tested their atDNA as yet are encouraged to do so, especially now when the Christmas sale has the Family Finder test on offer for $89 instead of the usual $99. 

Y-DNA Results

An additional genetic family has been created and added to the project bringing the total number of genetic families to eight. Genetic Family 8 has connections with Newfoundland and probably originated from England. There is an NPE somewhere within this genetic family and further research is ongoing.

As always, we need to keep in mind that even though different families may not be "genetically" related, they may still be “genealogically” related. This situation arises due to NPE’s (non- paternity events) such as adoption, illegitimacy, or legal name change. The rate of such NPE's is estimated to be 1-2% per generation, so after 24 generations (which roughly brings us back to the time when surnames first began to be in common usage), the likelihood of having an NPE along your particular direct male line is about 24-48%. The take home message is that these events are common.

The largest group is still Genetic Family 1 (the Limerick Spearin's) with 11 members listed. An additional member (kit 388986) has recently joined from family branch CAN8-ON3 but their results have been transferred from 23andme and therefore no STR markers were tested. However SNP testing at 23andme reveals that this new member belongs to the haplogroup I2b1 which is the same haplogroup as other members of Genetic Family 1, and were this member to have his STR markers tested (e.g. with FTDNA's Y-DNA-37 test), then it is likely that he would also fall into GF1.

In addition, several new members with ancestral links to the Early Limerick Spearin's have joined GF1. They don't carry the Spearin surname and therefore their links are not via the direct male line.  They have contributed autosomal DNA results to the project and there have been several lively discussions on the Facebook page about possible connections.

There are 2 members in Genetic Family 6 (Spearman), and 2 in Genetic Family 3 (Spearin/Spearing). There is only 1 member in Genetic Families 2, 4, 5, and 7 (singletons), and the remaining members are temporarily in either "Ungrouped R1b" (4 members) or "Ungrouped" (2 members). These members will be move into newly created Genetic Families once additional members join the project and match them.

Of interest, several new members with "European" variants of the surname have joined the project:
Spiering x2
Spierings x1
Sperringer x1
None of these new members match each other or anybody else currently within the project. This situation is likely to change as new members join.

SNP testing
As the genetic genealogy community sifts through the thousands of new SNP markers discovered in the past year, the size of the Y-haplotree has grown to gargantuan proportions. These new SNP markers will help define the finer branches of the tree and the place of each Genetic Family on it. 

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The particular branch of the tree upon which GF1 sits has been the subject of some ongoing SNP testing. Bob (kit 200083) has volunteered to represent the GF1 group and has been undertaking sequential SNP testing. In effect, his results serve as a proxy for everyone else in the group. Advice on which SNPs to test next are kindly provided by Aaron Torres and Wayne Roberts who are Admins for the I-M223 Y-haplogroup project. 

The results so far reveal that the members of GF1 belong to a subgroup of Haplogroup I2b1 known as "Cont1". Earlier this year, the particular SNP profile of Cont1 was M223 >>> Z161 > L801/Z76 > CTS6433 > Z78 > Z185 > L1198, the latter being the then-terminal SNP for this group (i.e. the most "downstream" SNP marker discovered up to that point in time). Bob has tested positive for the most downstream of these SNP's (Z185 and L1198). Since then, additional SNPs have been discovered in this group and Bob has tested positive for Z166, but negative for the more downstream SNP PF5268. This has only recently been reported (this week) so it remains to be seen what are the implications of this result and what are the next steps.

As more people test, the migration patterns of this particular I2b1 subgroup will become more clear and may give us clues as to how the Cont1 subgroup moved across Europe in the period from 4000 years ago up to the present day. And this in turn may help us elucidate the early migrations of the ancestors of GF1 prior to their arrival in Ireland. 

Traditional Genealogy update

The first MDKA profile has been posted on the blog. This one is for Patrick Spierin, MDKA of the IRL4-DUB1 branch (MDKA is Most Distant Known Ancestor). More profiles will be published in due course. It would help if each member completed the exercise for their own branch's MDKA (using the same style as the one just posted). The aim of these profiles is to characterise the MDKA of each branch and allow comparisons to other MDKA profiles of other family branches, in the hope that the parents of this individual can be identified or links with other family branches can be established.

Of particular relevance in these profiles is where the MDKA lived (i.e. the location) and also the names of witnesses at his wedding, and sponsors at his children's baptisms, as these will give possible clues to his siblings. Also, naming convention will give clues to his parents. Take a look at the first MDKA profile and see how much of it you can complete for your own MDKA. Send me what you have in a Word document and I will upload it to the blog (don't worry if it is incomplete - it can always be updated as more information becomes available).

At some stage in 2015 (it didn't happen in 2014), it is hoped that several members will visit Limerick to search through the Estate Papers of the Earl of Dunraven. This may unlock the secrets of many of the Spearin branches.
It really helps if people work on their own family trees and make them available online for collaboration with other members. Ideally, two links should be provided - one to your tree on Ancestry and another to your tree on Rootsweb. Ancestry requires a subscription and not everybody has one, but Rootsweb is completely free.

If you need help with this please use the Facebook group for assistance or email me directly for advice -  

Facebook & Website

Our Facebook group continues to grow and currently boasts 219 members, 37 additional members since the last newsletter. It is a wonderful place for sharing information, photos, documents, and newspaper articles. 

If you haven’t done so already, please fill in your family ID in the document “Which Family Are You” – just click on Edit Doc and add your Family ID. This helps everyone to know exactly where you fit into the bigger picture! You will find your Family ID in the Traditional Families table on the website.

And if you have an online tree please share it with the rest of the group - just send me the link via email and I will include the link in our Traditional Families Table.

Also, as we near the end of 2014, our website has received over 36,000 hits, that's 6000 additional hits this year. 

In the News

This October I had the pleasure of organising Ireland's second national genetic genealogy conference - Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2014 (GGI2014). This was once again held in the RDS (Royal Dublin Society) in Ballsbridge, Dublin, as part of the annual "Back to Our Past" genealogy exhibition and it was great to see so many familiar faces there. FTDNA sponsored the lecture series and I organised it on behalf of ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy). There is a separate blog about it and hopefully this will be come a regular annual feature on the Irish genealogical landscape.

The lecture series was recorded and you can view the presentations on the dedicated YouTube channel - Genetic Genealogy Ireland.

Also, I have been invited to speak at the Ontario Genealogical Society's annual meeting on 29th-31st May 2015, and this year it will be held in Barrie, Ontario! I was very pleasantly surprised by this as so many Spearin's ended up in Barrie and many of them still live there. With a bit of luck we can have a Spearin family reunion to take advantage of this. I'll be speaking about the project and what it has told us so far.

Spreading the Word

Please feel free to pass this on to anyone who is interested in researching the Spearin name, or ask them to send me their email address and I will add them to the list.

If you want to be Y-DNA tested at a discounted rate through our project, click here. Currently the discounted rate for the Y-DNA-37 is $149 US (about £90 or 108 euro).

Be sure to get notification of each new post by putting your email address in the "Follow by Email" box at the end of the column to the right.

And if you ever want to unsubscribe from this list at any time, just let me know.

Aims of the Project

Just to recap on the goals of the project - to use genetic genealogy to enhance traditional (documentary) genealogical research with the ultimate goal of tracing each family with the Spearin/Spearing/Sperring surname (or other variant) back to their ancestral roots. The DNA part of the project has the following objectives:
  1. to identify which Spearin/Spearing families can be grouped together and therefore are related to each other genetically
  2. to identify the likely origin of each genetic family
  3. to establish which Spearin families are most closely related to each other and thus help to focus further documentary research (for example, are the Irish Spearin's related to the English Sperring's or the Dutch Spierink's?)
  4. to help people named Spearin/Spearing establish to which genetic family they belong
  5. to generate theories based on the DNA data relating to the deeper ancestral origins of each genetic family, both within a genealogical timeframe (i.e. after 1000 A.D.) and before it (i.e. route of migration out of Africa and into Europe, up to 1000 A.D.) 

Maurice Gleeson 
Project Co-Administrator 
Dec 2014

MDKA Profile – Patrick Spierin c1802-1872 (IRL4-DUB1)

Patrick SPIERIN is the MDKA (Most Distant Known Ancestor) of the family branch IRL4-DUB1. The purpose of this profile is to characterise this individual and allow comparisons to other MDKA profiles of other family branches, in the hope that the parents of this individual can be identified or links with other family branches can be established.

There are no clues from wedding witnesses or baptism sponsors as to the names of his parents or siblings, but based on Catholic naming convention his father may have been John and he may have had a brother called Nicholas. Where he was born is not known – the earliest evidence for his residence is his marriage record (Killenaule, Tipperary).

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No birth or baptism record has been found for Patrick. His 1872 death certificate[1] records his age as 70, suggesting a year of birth as 1802. However, a death notice in the Freeman’s Journal[2] reports his age as 64, giving a birth year of 1808. His wife (Mary MORGAN) has an estimated birth year of 1800 so the 1802 estimate may be closer to the truth than the 1808 estimate. His birth location is unknown.

A church marriage record reports that he married Mary MORGAN on 21st Jan 1828 in Killenaule, Co. Tipperary (about 10 miles east of Cashel).[3] He was apparently a member of the Peace Preservation Force (armed militia) and it may have been customary to post officers outside of the county in which they had been born in order to avoid any chances of intimidation of their family.

Witnesses at his Wedding
These were Bridget MORGAN (possibly a sister of the bride) and Ellen SAVAGE. No men are mentioned as witnesses.

They had 7 known children, according to church baptism records (some from Cashel & Emly, North Tipperary). Interestingly, the children were born in different places, suggesting that the family moved house frequently. This would be in keeping with Patrick being a member of the militia and thus being posted around the country from station to station. After their marriage in Killenaule (1828), they moved around northern Tipperary and resided in Rodus, Emly (1830); Killenaule (1833); Peake, Boherlan (1835); Donaskeagh, Knockavilla (1838); and then Dublin (about 1845).

Sponsors at children’s baptisms
As Patrick is likely to have been stationed quite a distance from his “home county”, the sponsors at the baptisms of his children are unlikely to have been from his family. And in fact there are no sponsors named SPIERIN. The MORGAN woman who acted as sponsor may have been a sister of his wife who travelled from Limerick to stay with her during her confinement.

1830 Catherine – Gerald FITZGERALD, Catherine MORGAN (possibly a sister of Mary)[4]
1833 John – Patrick MCCORMACK, Ann KENEDY[5]
1835 Edward – Michael COLLINS, Margaret STACK[6]
1838 Catherine – Elenora KELLY, Edmund TIERNY[7]
1842 Patrick – no baptism record found. 1901 census reports he was born in Dublin (1841-1842) but no record on
1842-1844 Nicholas – born in Dublin per 1881 UK census
1846 William – 1901 census says born in Dublin but baptism record (1846 Sandyford, Dublin) does not list sponsors

He was a sergeant of police, according to baptism records of his children. He probably worked for the Peace Preservation Force as there is no record of him in the Royal Irish Constabulary. The PPF were an armed militia and apparently there are no records extant. There is a Constable Speering mentioned in several newspaper articles and this is believed to be Patrick Spierin. He was the arresting officer in the murder case of Wayland & Cooper, an "agrarian outrage" which eventually sparked the Devon Commission.

No direct information available.

But if Patrick & Mary followed Catholic naming conventions, their children’s names would imply the following family first names:

Deductions from male children’s names:
Father’s father:                     John
Mother’s father:                    Edward
Father:                                    Patrick
Father’s oldest brother:       Nicholas
Mother’s oldest brother:      William

Deductions from female children’s names:
Mother’s mother:                  Catherine
Father’s mother:                   Catherine (uncertain, as this was a “replacement child” for the one who died previously)
Mother:                                  n/a
Mother’s oldest sister:          n/a
Father’s oldest sister:           n/a

The precise dates of the births of the last 3 children are uncertain and so the above naming convention may be incorrect, but the presence of the first name Nicholas among the children’s names links this family branch to the Early Limerick Spierin’s of the late 1600’s/early 1700’s.

No direct information available.

Other information
Further details of Patrick Spierin can be found on the online trees available at the following links:
Ancestry -
Rootsweb -

[1] Transcription: 16-Jan-1872 17 James Street Patrick Speirin married 70 porter on railway ch. Bronchitis, infirmity, 6 months, uncertified Mary Fowler present at death 17 James Street 27-Jan-1872
[2] Transcription: Patrick Speirin, 17 Jan 1872 at 17 James St, aged 64, employed in GSWR for 24 yrs (Great Southern & Western Railway)
[3] Transcription: On 21-1-1828, in the KILLENAULE Parish Register reference: K/AUL211 The Marriage of PATRICK SPIERAN and MARY MORGAN Groom's Address: Bride's Address: KILLENAULE Groom's Occupation: Bride's Occupation: Witnessed by: MORGAN BRIDGET SAVAGE ELLEN Priest: Comments: SPIERAN/SPIEREN IN REG.
[4] Name: CATHERINE SPIRIN Date: Date: 11/1/1830 Parish: EMLY Address: RODUS Father: SPIRIN PATRICK Mother: MORGAN MARY Occupation: Sponsor: FITZGERALD GERALD Sponsor: MORGAN CATHERINE Priest: Register: Comments: Comments:
[5] Name: JOHN SPIERAN Date: Date: 5/8/1833 Parish: KILLENAULE Address: KILLENAULE Father: SPIERAN PATRICK Mother: MORGAN MARY Occupation: Sponsor: MCCORMACK PATRICK Sponsor: KENEDY ANN Priest: Register: KILLEN\1106 Comments: SERGENT OF POLICE Comments:
[6] Name: EDMOND SPEARIN Date: Date: 8/9/1835 Parish: BOHERLAHAN Address: PEAKE Father: SPEARIN PATRICK Mother: MORGAN MARY Occupation: Sponsor: COLLINS MICHAEL Sponsor: STACK MARGARET Priest: Register: B/LAHAN/565 Comments: Comments:
[7] Name: CATHERINE SPEARMAN Date: Date: 28/1/1838 Parish: KNOCKAVILLA Address: DONASKEAGH Father: SPEARMAN PATRICK Mother: MORGAN MARY Occupation: Sponsor: KELLY ELENORA Sponsor: TIERNY EDMUND Priest: Register: K/AVILLA/342 Comments: (POLICE) Comments: