I've recently submitted a DNA sample to see more than anything else what I might learn from the exercise, like most people I was more than a little sceptical. That said, I had certainly read and listened to enough case studies in family history press and on podcasts to convince me it was worth trying.
When I had the test done initially I requested the basic analysis known as the 12 marker test to see if I had any high level matches with other Grays on FamilyTree DNA’s database. The results weren’t immediate.
The reason for going through this exercise is largely because of the frustration caused in reaching the apparent dead ends in Gray family trees in and around County Down and particularly my own Gray line at about 1780. So in essence the driver was to help me break down the wall and take my own line further back. However, I cannot deny that a second reason for doing this was the hope of identifying my long lost American lines who seem to disappear off the records after the 1850 US census. DNA testing is a very modern approach to being able to definitively prove a link between different family lines. The advantage of it is that once you are registered your details remain in the database as long as you wish and are constantly being cross-referenced for matches with new submitters. That is to say at some point in time, maybe not this summer or even in 2008 or perhaps not even by 2012… but at some point in the future my DNA may be linked to another individual who has in their own time decided to go down this route.
For those of you who have looked at this website in some detail you will note that there were a large number of Grays in County Down, with numbers reducing as we go further back. The Grays in County Down are largely (although not exclusively) assumed to have come over the Irish Sea from Scotland as part of the Ulster Plantation from 1609 onwards under the guidance of the Ayrshire lairds Hamilton and Montgomery. The earliest records show 5 separate Grays, who were possibly related and therefore likely to share the same DNA. By testing a larger number of direct descendents of the County Down Grays we will be able to prove or disprove this theory as well as verify closer and more distant links between major lines.
The breakthrough for me came during 2007, as a result of the initial tests I had done. Based on a 12/12 match we have managed to prove that there is a direct link between the Ballysallagh Grays and my own line from Gray's Hill based on tests done on John Gelston Gray in Australia, a descendent of the Ballysallagh Grays and myself Douglas Gray a descendent of Gray's Hill living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
By upgrading the analysis of out tests from 12 to 67 markers we were able to understand that their is a greater than 83% certainty of a common ancestor within 8 generations. The same surname and 5 mile distance in the earliest known residences support the probability statistics.
In comparing 67 markers, the probability that Mr. Douglas E.N. Gray and John Gelston Gray shared a common ancestor within the last...
4 generations is 43.94% 8 generations is 83.73% 12 generations is 96.45% 16 generations is 99.33% 20 generations is 99.89%
24 generations is 99.98%
The Next Step:
By adding in the known paper trails / family trees for each line we can further refine the statistics. We know that John Gelston Gray is the 5th generation since William Gray of Ballysallagh born circa 1800 and that I am the sixth generation since James Gray of Gray's Hill born 1782. We can therefore assume that our earliest common ancestor was pre 1782, but post the Ulster plantation in 1609. This leaves us with 173 years, or approximately 5 generations to base our hypothesis on. Now that we know these 2 lines are connected it would be FANTASTIC if we could also tie in the Ballyvernon / Holywood line amongst others.
Knowing that Mr. Douglas E.N. Gray and John Gelston Gray could not have had a common ancestor in the last 5 generations, their 67 marker comparison shows that the probability that they shared a common ancestor within the last...
5 - 9 generations is 70.98% 13 generations is 93.66% 17 generations is 98.81% 21 generations is 99.8% 25 generations is 99.97%
29 generations is 99.99%
Enter a new value in the box, if you want to see if it would affect your results.Mr. Douglas E.N. Gray and John Gelston Gray did not share a common ancestor in the last 5 generations. (Because the important factor in calculating the time to the Most Recent Common Ancestor is the number of generations between which mutations could take place, the number of years per generation is irrelevant in FTDNATiP™ calculations.).
We would be really grateful to any other County Down Gray descendents who decide to get this test done, especially from those around Bangor. I would strongly urge you to use the Family Tree DNA as we're aware there are differences in the categorisation of markers by different companies.
Why would you do this ???
The test involves simply scraping an inside cheek with a small stiff brush like object, inserting the used stick in a plastic tube and popping it into a jiffy bag.., The guys at Family DNA did the rest. If you have any questions or are interested feel free to drop me a mail. My email address is on the homepage. Right now I'm waiting for other Bangor Gray descendents to complete this test in the hope that we can prove the hypothesised links between different lines
The Ards Peninsula Families Project
From a Geographic perspective Mary Becker has set up a DNA project for the Ards Peninsula. The Ards Peninsula Families Project has been created to assist genealogists and historians in exploring the ties between the families of the Ards. This is a project by, and for, the families of the Ards, and those who care about the history of those families.
The Ards Peninsula is a section of County Down, Northern Ireland, and is bounded on the north by Belfast Lough, the west by Strangford Lough, and on the east by the Irish Sea. Civil Parishes include: Bangor, Newtownards, Donaghadee, Grey Abbey, Ballywalter, Inishargy, Ballyhalbert, Ardkeen, Ardquin, Castleboy, Slanes, Ballytrustan and Ballyphillip.
Additional Haplogroup Analysis
For those of you who’re really interested in “where you came from” in the somewhat longer time frames you may be interested in finding out more about your Haplotype. To me this was interesting, but not very powerful in assisting with my more immediate family tree…
My Haplogroup is R1b1 c 6, which tells me little more than that I descend from a group of people who hid out from the last Ice Age in the Iberian peninsula some 10,000 years ago. From this point they are believed to have moved North from the Iberian peninsula into France and then into the UK.