Monday, 11 May 2015

Update - Spring 2015

Current Status

The project now has 71 members altogether. There are 42 members who have contributed their Y-DNA results to the project, and 40 people have contributed their Family Finder autosomal DNA (atDNA) results.

Y-DNA Results

New results became available for member 388986 whose ancestry goes back to John Spearin (b.1789) from Family CAN8-ON3. It was thus expected that he would match other people in Genetic Family 1 and indeed he does. His genetic distance (GD) from the modal haplotype is 1/37 indicating a very close match.

Interestingly, another member of this particular family has tested previously (kit no. 221180), and their common ancestor is the same John Spearin (b.1789) as above. However, these two members differ from each other by a GD of 2/37. One might expect that two people so closely related might share exactly the same genetic profile, but it appears that various mutations have occurred in the generations since John Spearin.

The specific markers that appear to have mutated are as follows:
  • DYS576 mutated from a value of 17 to 16 somewhere along the line from the Common Ancestor to member 388986
  • CDYa mutated from a value of 33 to 34 somewhere along the line from the Common Ancestor to member 221180
Based on these results, can we predict what John Spearin's genetic profile might have been? Yes we can. Assuming that no back mutations occurred during the 5 generations or so from the Common Ancestor, we can predict that the most probable profile was that of the current modal haplotype.

This process of "triangulation" potentially allows us to define the genetic signature of each of the MDKAs in each family, which in turn would allow us to help clarify which family branch is most closely related to the others.

Additionally, a member of the Maine Spearin's (family US41-ME4) has ordered a Y-DNA-37 test and we look forward to reporting the results in the next update.

SNP testing

Bob (kit 200083) has volunteered to undergo sequential SNP testing. Thus, with Bob acting as our proxy, members of GF1 are currently allocated to the group Cont 1 Group 2 in the I-M223 Y-haplogroup project.

Bob's SNP profile is as follows:
  • SNPs for which Bob has tested positive: Z78, Z185, L1198, Z166
  • SNPs for which Bob has tested negitive: Z190, Z79, F3195, PF5268
More downstream SNPs are being discovered all the time and there are 3 additional SNPs (so far) that we could test for, but we are waiting for the commercial companies (FTDNA or YSEQ) to develop specific tests for these new markers (S20905, Y6060, and P195.2, see green arrows in diagram below). In the long run, it may be cheaper to get one of the members of GF1 to do the Big Y test (currently $425 in the FTDNA Sales).

The particular subclade within Haplogroup I to which GF1 members belong, has been evolving. Previously, the positive presence of SNP Z78 placed us in the group Cont1-X (May 2012), then SNP Z185 placed us in the group Cont1-XXX (Jul 2012), then L1198 placed us in Cont1 Groups 1 and 1a (Sep 2012), and finally the presence of Z166 places us in the group Cont1 Group 2 (Oct 2014). There are currently 4 subgroups below this and in the future we may be placed in one of these, or alternatively in a completely different one (yet to be discovered). Further subclassification is bound to happen as time goes on, and it may be that the number of subgroups below Z166 expands from its current four to maybe forty. Ultimately, we will identify SNP markers that are specific for the Spearin family and will help determine our origins.

Unfortunately, reviewing the members characteristics in each of the subgroups currently at or below Z166 does not give any further clues as to the origins of the Spearin surname. It could be from the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, or Scandinavia. Many more people from Europe need to be tested in order to try to tease out on which of the finer branches of the human evolutionary tree the Spearin surname sits.

Subgroup Z166 - click to enlarge

Subgroups below Z166 - click to enlarge

Traditional Genealogy update

The second MDKA profile has been posted on the blog. This one is for Luke Spearing, Most Distant Known Ancestor (MDKA) of the US65-NJ1 branch. More profiles will be published in due course. 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.

Several new pages have been added to the website. On the Homepage, under the Traditional Genealogy Heading, there is a new heading entitled: All Records. Clicking on this brings you to a page where we are slowly building a collection of all the records available for anyone named Spearin anywhere in the world. This is part of the systematic approach recommended for all One Name Studies by the GOONS (Guild of One Name Studies) and complements the work we have already done on the website, in particular the table relating to the Orphan Records which Bob has done great work on. 

We are starting with the Irish records but this will be expanded to all records everywhere in due course. Data from the records available online have been "scraped" off the relevant website using Outwit Hub and then tidied up into spreadsheets that are stored on Google Drive. Clicking on the links at the end of each entry will bring you (in most cases) to an image of the original document (or further links which will eventually lead you to the original). Hopefully (in time) it will be possible to allocate each entry to a specific family and a specific individual - columns have been inserted into each spreadsheet to allow this.

Click to enlarge


Our Facebook group has 224 members and is a wonderful place for sharing information, photos, documents, and newspaper articles. There is currently some great discussions ongoing about the Maine Spearin's (US41-ME4) and it looks like the MDKA has been pushed back from John Spearin (born 1720) to his father Joseph (presumably born about 1690).

In the News

Here are several dates for your diary. I've been invited to give a presentation on the Spearin Surname Project at several venues over the course of the next few months. The details are below and it would be great to see you there if you are able to make any of them. I'll put the presentation up on YouTube as a video so those unable to make the event will be able to "join in" afterwards.

May 24th (Sunday) - The Simcoe County Museum (2-3pm)
1151 Highway 26, Minesing, Ontario L0L 1Y2
Sunday opening hours are 1pm to 4.30pm.
Admission to the museum is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, & $4 for children.

May 31st (Sunday) - Ontario Genealogical Society's annual meeting (1-2pm)
Georgian College, 1 Georgian Dr, Barrie ON L4M 6J8
Registration is required and is $115 but ends on May 15th.

Aug 22nd (Saturday) - The Genealogy Event, Limerick (10.30-11.15 am)
FitzGerald's Woodlands House Hotel, Adare, Limerick
Registration is required and costs 30 euro.

Maurice Gleeson 
Project Co-Administrator 
May 2015