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Is DNA "The Emperor's New Clothes?"

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  • Is DNA "The Emperor's New Clothes?"

    I asked a simple (I thought) question. If YDNA goes back through the male line how come I have a lot of matches with different surnames? It should have been on the Family Tree DNA website I thought but no.... I asked the question and I was told it was too complicated and had to be referred to "an expert". The expert replied in one sentence saying "that a lot of people change their names" I don't accept that but so far I have got nothing else. Can someone please explain the reason for matches with so many different surnames before I begin to believe that DNA testing is like "The Emperor's New Clothes"

  • #2
    One of the things I found is that people's surnames would be based on where they lived or other factors rather than a family name. I haven't fully researched as to why, but there are LOTS of stories out there.

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    • #3
      Its odd this is posted in the BigY thread but ...

      The answer is that even using 111 markers the MRCA
      of two people with identical 111 marker results could
      have lived before surnames. If a haplotype is very common,
      there are certain to be such people.

      Its unlikely that two people will be absolutely identical
      in the BigY and even less likely with a Full Genomes Y test
      if the MRCA lived before surnames. This is counting
      non-STR indels.

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      • #4
        [QUOTE=dtvmcdonald;380319]Its odd this is posted in the BigY thread but ...

        The answer is that even using 111 markers the MRCA
        of two people with identical 111 marker results could
        have lived before surnames. QUOTE]

        I hadn't thought that far back. Thanks for this.

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        • #5
          Matches

          Dna is very much like statics it's accuracy is dependent on sample size. Very few people are tested. Only people living when the test was available could have been tested and very few of the possible people have had the test. So if the definition of match is set too high few people tested would see any matches, so it is set low to include more results.

          An extreme example would be Dna testing as we like to see in a criminal court where the definition of match is set very high so we should only see a match to our self and no one else. A paternity test would be a little lower level.

          I'm happy with my results and the results have helped me expand my tree and confirm what was already known.

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          • #6
            The answer to the original question, why don't all the matches have the same surname, is that surnames as they are used in most of modern Europe (family name automatically inherited from your father) are a fairly modern invention.

            Yes, there was a period when most people didn't have a family name at all, in the records that have come down to us. At least in some areas, by about the 15th Century, or perhaps a little earlier, most people in at least some areas had a family name -- but the family name was not necessarily stable. I have one ancestral line where the family name changed several times during the 15th and early 16th Century. I have heard of Irish families using more than one family name (and not for nefarious purposes) as late as the middle of the 18th Century. Scandinavian families are famous for using "patronymics" instead of stable family names, and the same system has been used at various times in other parts of Europe. Jewish families in some areas of Europe did not use stable family names until required to do so in the early 19th Century.

            When I see a wide assortment of Scottish names among my Y-37 matches (alas, none of them are even close to perfect matches), that tells me that closely related Scottish families happened to choose many different family names at some point in the past several centuries. Why they did so in any particular case, we will probably never know.

            Bottom line, the genetic patterns we find on the Y chromosome can date from a period well before the adoption of stable family names. For genealogical research, this situation is less likely to be observed at the Y-67 or Y-111 levels, unless we happen to be dealing with a population that adopted surnames very recently.

            Another bottom line, the idea that, in a population where family names were not used, everyone woke up one Tuesday morning centuries ago and picked a surname that has survived unchanged until the present time -- that's just not realistic!

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            • #7
              And, at times throughout history, some Jewish people have taken Christian names to avoid persecution.
              Last edited by Biblioteque; 28th March 2014, 03:22 PM. Reason: add

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Dunromin View Post
                I asked a simple (I thought) question. If YDNA goes back through the male line how come I have a lot of matches with different surnames? It should have been on the Family Tree DNA website I thought but no.... I asked the question and I was told it was too complicated and had to be referred to "an expert". The expert replied in one sentence saying "that a lot of people change their names" I don't accept that but so far I have got nothing else. Can someone please explain the reason for matches with so many different surnames before I begin to believe that DNA testing is like "The Emperor's New Clothes"
                You'll have to tell us at what marker level you're getting matches with different surnames - 12, 25, 37, 67 or 111? The answer to your question will depend on what marker level of matches you're asking about.

                If you're asking about many matches with different surnames at the 12 marker level (as I suspect is the case), it's very common to have that situation. That's especially the case if your haplogroup is R1b-M269, the most common haplogroup for European men, and you have common marker values.

                Even exact matches at the 12 marker level could represent a common ancestor 2,000 or more years ago, long before surnames came into use. Even matches that show up at 25 markers, in most cases, represent a common ancestor before the use of surnames. It's only when FTDNA tells you that someone matches you at the 37 or higher marker level that you should take it very seriously if you're interested in using your results for genealogical research.

                So, please tell us. At what marker level are you seeing many more matches than you expected to find? And how many markers have you tested and, if you tested 37 or more markers, do you see many matches at the higher levels?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by John McCoy View Post
                  When I see a wide assortment of Scottish names among my Y-37 matches (alas, none of them are even close to perfect matches), that tells me that closely related Scottish families happened to choose many different family names at some point in the past several centuries. Why they did so in any particular case, we will probably never know.
                  The MacGregors did that when their surname was prohibited by law in 1603.

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                  • #10
                    And of course, you have illegitimate births, where some times the baby had the mother's surname, and if the mother was married the baby might have her husband's surname, whether or not the husband knew the child wasn't his. Adoptions, formal or informal. And until quite recently in the US, you could change your surname for whatever reason you wanted, nefarious or not, without legal action.

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                    • #11
                      Well, to answer your question, there are many possibilities for having different matches from different surnames at Y-67 Marker or even 111. You all belong to the same great great great..etc grandad. Either from 300 to 1200 years or even more (depends on how steps away they are + if you both test positive for newest downstream SNP available for testing)

                      The possible explanations from my own opinion are either one of their grandads was adopted, so the name was changed to the family who hosted him or maybe one of their grandad moved to different country, and his next generations decided to change the name to become like the locals there (happens sometimes!) also if you think about it, maybe one of their grandads either was involved in a crime or something so he escaped away and changed his name to secure him self.

                      A lot of different reasons are there, but you can't tell which of them are true due to lack of history for a certain period of time.

                      For 12 , 25, 37 markers, it is normal to have different surnames from far away countries.

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                      • #12
                        opposite: Same surname matches ONLY at 12 markers

                        I have a situation where 25 men with the same surname - who are very, very distantly related by genealogy - but have essentially no other surname matches at 12 markers (and certainly none at higher marker levels) All go back to early colonial southern America and all match closely witeh more markers tested. I have a theory on this but what is your thought?

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                        • #13
                          The expert replied in one sentence saying "that a lot of people change their names" I don't accept that but so far I have got nothing else.
                          It happens. My great grandfather was born Corbett Griffith and died Corbett McDaniels. He was put in in orphanage and was indentured out in 1904. He grew up with the McDaniel family and for whatever reason, took that surname and added an 's.' I can speculate as to why: perhaps, he felt like kin to them since he lived with them for about 20 years or perhaps he was mad at the Griffith's who abandoned him? Maybe he just liked the name better.

                          My grandfather, Corbett's son, is tested to 67 markers and I put his last name as Griffith-McDaniels but he only ever went by McDaniels, and I was also born with that name. My grandpa got a perfect match to a Griffith but I couldn't connect to him because it appears he died in 2010. Nevertheless, a big FF match to a Griffith gave me the most distant Y ancestor, so now I know. Currently there are 9 McDaniels carrying the Griffith Y lineage so I feel good that my grandpa is tested and the name change is noted. Maybe 100 years from now someone will stumble upon my grandpa's results and will know that his most distant Y ancestor was Evan Griffith, born 1729 in Cardigan Wales, but he might be going by the name of McDaniels...or something else?!

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                          • #14
                            In one of my family lines in Northern Germany, the farms had names which was usually the family name. The Meyer Hof, for example. If farmer Meyer had no son, when his oldest daughter marries the new husband changed his name to Meyer to inherit the Meyer Hof.

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