Tag Archives: history

Y-DNA Don’t Match ≠ Why DNA Don’t Match




It’s official: a skeleton found in 2012 under a parking lot in Liecester, England is the remains of the infamous King Richard III. This is–honestly–*big news* for historians & genealogists…oh yes, and for the 100s of millions of people around the world genetically descended from the family to which this poor Richard belonged.

But wait; there’s more!

The accessibly written and hyper-informative scientific, peer-reviewed published study which details just how they figured this out includes the scoop on Richard III’s male-line-inherited Y-DNA and how it totally doesn’t match the Y-DNA of living descendants of the same male line…which, they’re supposed to match.



John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster; Son of Edward III, ancestor of living men whose Y-DNA was tested


Edmund of Langley, Duke of York; Son of Edward III, ancestor of King Richard III, whose Y-DNA is now known.

The two chaps you see pictured either side of this texty bit were brothers, sons of King Edward III. Neither became king, but the much-ballyhoo’d War of the Roses has the one on the left to thank for the House of Lancaster (Henry’s IV through VI), and the one on the right to thank for the House of York (Edward IV, Edward V, Richard III).

Said War of said Roses (red and white, respectively) ended up resolved in the form of one rose to rule them all, er, man…one MAN to rule…oh, sorry, one HENRY, that’s definitely better…one Henry to rule them all, since of course, King Henry VIII descended on his father’s side from John (of Lancaster; the one on the left), and on his mother’s from Edmund (of York; the one on the right).

Richard III’s “right of succession” to the throne was based on being a son of a son of Edmund.

As fate would have it, there exists a line of man-to-man descent from John (the one on the left) to this very day.

But something is–or rather, was–rotten in the state once and futurely ruled [sic] by Denmark*….

The living dudes’ Y-DNA is not the same as Richard III’s (from his skeleton), and yet it should be the same. The only thing that could make these two batches of Y-DNA not match is a break in father-to-son transmission of the Y-DNA…somewhere along the line(s)….and it could be between Richard and the man who’s supposedly the male-line ancestor of all these chaps (4 generations from Richard III back to Edward III), OR it could be somwhere along the 17 generations from Edward III down through his son John, (pictured above Left) to the current living dudes.

READ THE WHOLE THING… H E R E  … at the Global Family Reunion site.


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Medieval Daddy DNA













The rabbit hole opens wide, gnarled and deep as the results of the Y-DNA analysis of the remains now confirmed to be Richard III of England are released, along with the results of a comparison to the Y-DNA of other men who, like Richard III, are ostensibly also descendants of King Edward III…and the DNA don’t match, folks!



John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster; Son of Edward III, ancestor of living men whose Y-DNA was tested


Edmund of Langley, Duke of York; Son of Edward III, ancestor of King Richard III, whose Y-DNA is now known.

So the question is, where and when was the one or more alternative fatherings of any one or more of the 19 links between the living men whose DNA was tested and the infamous King Richard III?

My full post on this is going live at the Global Family Reunion site any time. I’ll update with a link so check back today or tomorrow for that.

In the meantime, click here for a handy chart.


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Still Movements Among Reflections on July 4, 1776

So yes, the presence of the past.

A few years ago I figured out how many of my kids’ ancestors were here in America on July 4th, 1776. Turns out 142 people were on these shores then from whom my kids descend! This map shows where those folks were 241 summers ago.

13 1 MAIN 2.png

18 fought in the American Revolution, or participated in some other way.

1776 4.png


Six of that 18 were on their mom’s side; her dad’s from Louisville, Kentucky and all his predecessors that were here in 1776 were in Virginia (typical of Kentuckians; and seen to the right –>).

1776 2.pngTwelve of the 18 patriots were on my side, clustered in Massachussetts and Pennsylvania (the next 2 maps). And some who served from Pennsylvania were within that large set of deeply religious folks that most people use the catch-all “Amish” or “Mennonite” to describe, and thus were pacificsts. Some paid fines to the colonial and then brand-spankin’ new state (and I think federal) government for not taking up arms; others helped instead by contributing blankets, clothing &/or care for the Continental Army, for instance, at Valley Forge.

1776 3

Speaking of Valley Forge…a father-son pair of my ancestors were stationed there together that infamously harsh winter of 1777. The son died, the father made it through the winter and fought on under General Washington’s washington-s-troops-winter-at-valley-forge-valley-forge-united-states+13216408848-tpfil02aw-20960command. And yet another ancestor who served from New Hampshire was a fifer in a company that included Asael Smith. My ancestor’s grandaughter moved west and started a family which helped settle southwestern Wisconsin. Smith’s grandson also moved west, but started not just a family, but the Mormon Religion!

The present, then, rooted firmly or otherwise, in the past.

And these photos…rooted firmly in actual 35 mm film exposed by yours truly in the late summer of 1988!

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Happy birthday, USA!

So, the “birthday” of the good ole U.S. of A., that ole gray mare that just doesn’t bark like she used’ta, that entity that’s trumped even Rome…even the United Kingdom…even the Middle Kingdom (for now, anyway! :-0)…yes, the “day” (or day(tes) of “birth”of these, this, them, those, our onlyest ones and ownslies United States of America breaks down like this in


April 12 — in Halifax, Province of North Carolina, clever lawyers among that colony’s governing committee draft the “Halifax Resolves” as part of their new rules governing the conduct of their delegates to the 2nd Continental Congress that year up in Philadelphia. The Resolves gave the NC delegates the authority that no one in the Continental Congress had yet had to join with their fellow delegates to declare independence from Great Britain’s Empire.


burgesseshouse1May 15 — in Williamsburg, Virginia, the local provisional governing body (necessitated by the Royal Governor’s ominous dissolving of the 150-year-old Virginia House of Burgesses in 1774) issued official instructions to its delegates to the Continental Congress to start the ball rolling and propose independence from the Empire for the 13 colonies.





June 7, 1776 — in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Richard Henry Lee, delegate from Virginia, per his operating instructions, makes the proposition for independence to the 2nd Continental Congress.



June 11, 1776 — a motion is passed creating a committee to write up the reasons for the move for independence. Much politicking takes place in Philadelphia and probably via Declaration House 2horseback up and down stretches of what’s now the I-95 from NYC to Virginia. The house to the left is a reconstruction on site of the house Jefferson lived in when he wrote the Declaration.


July 2, 1776 — in Philadelphia, the 2nd Continental Congress tallied a unanimous vote of 12 of the colonies (New York’s delegates were not yet authorized to declare the colony independent of Great Britain, and so abstained from the vote, thereby allowing it to be approved) approving delegate Lee’s resolution, thus, thereby, forthwith, evermore and just like that declaring and making in fact the united states such as they were, of America a nation of its own. This, a Tuesday, was the day the USA was born. (Massachusetts delegate John Adams was certain for a time that July 2nd would henceforth be massively revered and celebrated for generations.)


taylor-s-kennedy-a-view-of-the-declaration-of-independence  July 4, 1776 — Congress votes on and approves the document drafted by the committee (primarily by Virginia delegate Thomas Jefferson) created on June 11 announcing this new independence. It is signed and endorsed by only the President of Congress, John Hancock of the Massachusetts delegation, and the secretary, Benjamin Harrison, of Virginia.


July 8 — in Philadelphia, the Declaration of Independence is officially read aloud publicly for the first time in the town square in front of the State House where Congress met.phillyd1.png


July 9 — General George Washington has the Declaration read to his troops in NewScreen Shot 2019-07-03 at 4.53.58 PM.png York City. As well, a German translation is published in Philadelphia (perfectly analogous to a Spanish or Chinese translation being published if it were happening in California, today).


July 20-August 1 — a fancy-schmancy permanent version of the Declaration is printed again on parchment.


August 2 — the document is formally endorsed by the 2nd Continental Congress with each delegate signing his name to it (a few adding their signatures later.)


Fascinating, no? History is always more muddy and complex than it appears — or is shown to us — at first.

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Genetic Poetic

As I’ve mentioned in posts on my other blog (that’s focused just on what I call “FamTracking”, er, genealogy), and maybe here, too, I didn’t know bupkis about my dad’s background at all until just a couple years ago.

What I *did* I know about his genealogy: his mother was “full blood” Italian, ie, both her parents were born in Italy in the 1800s, making him half Italian. His father’s people were pretty much all from Ireland, (about which, see here) making him half Irish, genetically speaking. That would make me about a quarter Irish and a quarter Italian.

Well wouldn’t ya know, the pie chart you see up top ‘o this post, shows that the DNA, she don’t lie.

That pie chart comes as an adjunct to getting my very own actual genome tested through 23andme last year. There’s an amazing and free site called GedMatch that allows you to upload your raw genome data, that then runs other specific analyses through the viewpoint of population genetics. It takes only a few seconds for the data to be processed and then, et viola! A nice pie graph showing the geneto-geographical origin matches of your actual DNA within 12 groupings.

Now, there is a Scottish or Scotch-Irish genetic tidbit in my mom’s heritage. It’s the source of my last name, and comes down to me from one of my sixteen great-great-great grandfathers, one George Campbell, whose parents came to America together from Northern Ireland (and in line with the defining factors of the Scotch-Irish, he and the missus were probably fully or at least predominently of Scottish parentage). George Campbell, like every one of the thirty-two people who were my fifth generation ancestors, contributed just a smidgen more than 3% of my full DNA package.

And wouldjya look at that graph up there: the population cluster labeled “Western European” is, as explained on the site, indicative of matching DNA from Western Ireland. That would be the 25% from my dad’s dad and that small but namingly significant vestige from my mom’s gr-gr grandad. If nothing else, it’s a sort of sideways corroboration of the genealogy I’ve assembled. So I got that goin’ for me. ;-)

Speaking of: another of the analyses from that GedMatch site identifies 0.4% of my genome as matching Amerindian, Native American. This is juuuust about what I’d calculated it to be if what I’ve recently learned about the ancestors of George Campbell’s wife, a lady named Rachel Bilderback. Her dad’s people were settlers of New Sweden, which is what’s now Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, and included one who’d married a local girl, that is, a local Indian girl, named Wakum So To Me. So taking that as face value (I haven’t come across refuting claims or evidence engendering doubt) then she would have contributed 0.2% to my genome.

So on top of my DNA bearing her out (thanks, 8th-great-grandma!) it seems to indicate another of America’s Own First Tenents somewhere else around 10 generations back in my family tree.

Interestingly, a study done by an aquaintance of mine, Dr. Mark Shriver (we met at the wedding of my brother-from-another-mother, Erich; he and Mark are profs at Penn State – Erich had the good sense to seat us next to each other at the reception.:-)… anyway, I happened upon a study led by Mark which indicated that among “white-identifying” Americans (self-identifying as of Euro descent) there was an average genetic admixture of 3.2% Native American. I’ll break it down for you: 3.2% is the amount of your DNA that comes from any single one of your gr-gr-gr grandparents. If that’s the average, by extension, then, most white Americans have an Indian in their tree only 5 generations back, making them 1/32nd Native American. Lucky for poor ole Uncle Sam, right? Cuz 1/16th entitles a person to reparation-like benefits from the US government.

I’m note sure who’s laughing at the weired irony in that, but I’m hearing the faint, but still sibilant echo of the smug, abusive chuckle enjoyed by the “Great White Father” after the as-if-the-extermination-wasn’t-enough sucker punch known as the Dawes Act of 1887 bilked a “final” 90 million acres from the Natives.

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Fatherhood …Opiatic….

This is a good one.

Hilarious, even, in its way.

On Feb 22 I learned something new about the Father of our country. I studied American history for a semester in college under Joseph P. Ellis, a well-known and basically eminently regarded historian of the Colonial era and the Founding Fathers in particular. (And can report happily that I received an A with extra commendation), and I’ve read a fair amount about George Washington, yet I hadn’t come across this fact I’m sharing in this post. I rather think it sheds some light on Washington’s famously laconic nature.

Feb 22 was, of course, Washington’s birthday (or did you not notice the four-day extravaganza of this year’s President’s Day Weekend Vacation?!?). So a radio show I listen to every morning at 9am, The Writer’s Almanac, hosted by Garrison Kiellor, contained the historical factoid in question. (This radio “show” is a six-minute segment aired daily in which Keillor reads literarily oriented facts relevant to the day, closing with a poem.)

He usually reads in his inimitible and rather slow manner. But this past Wed he led with the bit about Washington and read it very quickly, which caught my ear before he got past the first four words. Here’s what he said*:

“Today is the birthday of George Washington, born in Westmoreland County, Virginia (1732). His favorite foods were mashed sweet potatoes with coconut, string beans with mushrooms, cream of peanut soup, salt cod, and pineapples. He lost all of his teeth except for one by — according to second president John Adams — cracking Brazilian nuts between his jaws. He got dentures made out of a hippopotamus tusk and was constantly in pain. He used opium to alleviate the pain.”

Oh. Well opium is sure easy to use just occasionally. Unless it’s, umm, NOT.

Oh, my.


* What was broadcast differed a teensy bit from the transcript that appears on their site, for the rigorously fact-checkity among us. :-)


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