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The project will:

We are a young project and only have a few tests complete at this time. So as you can see we need representatives from YOUR line. Please find someone from your tree who qualifies and submit a test as soon as you can!

Contact co-administrators of this project, Cherie Ohlsson ( with any questions.

Those who want to, once and for all, put to bed the family lore that you are related to the family from Ross Castle in Kerry Ireland; the original Ross clan chieftain Fearchar Mac-an-T-Saigart of Balnagowan Castle, Scotland; the Antarctic explorers Sir James Clark Ross and Sir John Ross; John Ross, husband of US flag maker, Betsy Ross; or to Cherokee Chief John Ross (or other famous / infamous people)…DNA testing is the way.

The project uses high technology DNA analysis to determine whether families share a common ancestor. The male chromosome is passed down virtually unchanged from father to son. So, two male Ross 7th cousins would have virtually the same male DNA pattern. This scientific fact is useful in genealogy when one does not have documentary records to show a family connection despite circumstantial evidence that suggest a family connection. If the DNA of the descendants of the branches one is trying to connect do not have the same DNA pattern, then one knows they are not closely related. If the pattern does match, then there is a common ancestor at some point in the past lineage. The technology can’t pinpoint how many generations back the ancestor is, but it can tell us if there is a common ancestor.

Participants joining the project are sent a lab kit in the mail. The kit includes a “Q” tip or toothbrush type of instrument that one rubs along the inside of one’s cheek with for 30 to 60 seconds. Then the swab is placed in an envelope and mailed to the lab. That’s all it takes.

Within 6 to 8 weeks, results are available for the sample submitted. When enough samples are collected to make comparisons between branches of the family, a summary sheet will be supplied to each participant indicating which branches were shown to have a common ancestor.

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A fellow researcher sent the following page that contains a list of good resources for genealogists. If you have a good website for that we should list here, let me know.


Useful list of records available in Ireland
PRONI in Belfast is the best source ror Ulster Records. There website is

Useful source of free records at the following site!

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To help the pay the costs of donations FTDNA has funds set up for each project. If you would like to help defray the cost of tests for other people go to Be sure to specify the donation is to be given to the “Ross” project. Thank you for your generosity!

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The gaelic word "ros" means a "headland" and is often used as part of place names in Scotland. The clan crest is a hand holding a laurel wreath, and the Ross' noble motto is Spem succussus alit - "Success nourishes hope", which nowadays we would call "Success breeds success". Scotland's highlanders have long been renowned for their fierce fighting spirit their proven highland blood.

There was an ancient Celtic earldom of Ross in the north-east of Scotland, in what is now the county of
Ross and Cromarty, between the Cromarty and Dornoch Firths, north of Inverness. The clan was sometimes referred to as Clan Anrias or Gille Andras/Gillanders, the old Celtic Earls of Ross, who were said to have descended from Gillianrias, the son of the hereditary abbot at the monastery of Applecross.

Clan Ross takes its name from the Clan's lands in the beautiful County of Ross. Originally known to the Highlanders as Clann Grille Aindreas, "the sons of Andrew", patron saint of Scotland, the Clan has a bloodline dating back to the original Celtic people of Scotland. Their origins are closely tied with the old Celtic church, the Clan descending from an ecclesiastical family who held an hereditary priesthood. The founder of the Clan Ross was Fearchar Mac-an-T-Saigart (Farquhar, the Son of the Priest), abbot of Applecross in Wester Ross, who inherited the abbacy early in the 13th century.

In 1214, when Alexander II led an army to the north to repress a rebellion by Donald Bane, who was claiming the throne, Clan Ross assisted the king and was rewarded with the title Earl of Ross. Fearchar's loyalty to King Alexander II was rewarded in 1215 when he received a knighthood, and in 1226 he was created Earl of Ross.

The Ross clan was prominent in the Scottish affairs and supported an alliance with Llewellyn, the Welsh Prince, against the English. They fought at the Battle of Largs against the Vikings in 1263 and spoke in Parliament in 1283 to support settling the succession of the throne on the infant Princess Margaret, the Maid of Norway.

The clan and their chief, William, served with distinction in the Wars of Independence against the English. There is a great write-up of the Ross clan and the family at the
My Clan website.) Their chief was captured at the Battle of Dunbar in 1296 and was taken as a prisoner to London. He was released but was captured again while protecting Robert the Bruce's wife and daughter at the shrine of St Duthac in Tain. Following in the tradition of Fearchar's early support for the Crown of Scotland, his grandson, William, the 3rd Chief and Earl, supported the great King Robert the Bruce by leading the Clan Ross against the English at the glorious Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The clan fought bravely at Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and the earl's seal is one of those on the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320.

Hugh, the 5th Chief and Earl married a sister of Robert the Bruce and fell at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333. His son, William, died without male heir in 1372 and so the Earldom passed through the female side into the Clan Leslie. The chieftainship was granted to William's brother, Hugh Ross of Rariches, who was granted a charter to the lands of Balnagowan in 1374. Not all Ross’s totally supported the Crown.

The earldom was forfeited when the Lord of the Isles was defeated in 1476 but the surname survived and the chieftainship devolved to the Rosses of Balnagowan near Tain. After a long struggle with the neighbouring clan MacKays, the clan Ross was defeated at a battle at Strathcarron by the Mackays in 1486 and never recovered. Despite this, Ross is still one of the five most frequent names in the northern Highlands and the 16th most frequently registered in the whole of Scotland in 1995.

The 12th chief led 1,000 of his clansmen against Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. However, many were captured and transported to the colonies in New England.

For over three centuries the chiefship rested with the Ross’s of Balnagowan, until the death of the 13th Chief of the Clan, David Ross of Balnagowan, in 1711. The chiefship then passed to another Ross family, and the Chief became the Hon. Charles Ross, son of Lord Ross of Hawkhead in Renfrewshire. A Norman family called de Ros settled in south-west Scotland in the 11th century and some of their descendants also became known as "Ross" or sometimes "Rose". At one time they managed to convince the Lord Lyon that they were the chieftains of the clan Ross but this was overturned in 1903 and David Ross of Ross and Shandwick is the current chief.

The chiefship now rests with the family of Ross of Pitcalnie, heir of the line of David, last of the old family of Balnagowan. For more information about the Ross heritage see The Corbet, Dingwall, Duthie, Fair, Gillanders, Haggart, McLulich, MacTaggart, MacTear, MacTire, Taggart, Train, Vass and Wass families are all regarded as septs (sub-branches) of the powerful Clan Ross.

See the Clan Ross Website for more information on the international clans sanctioned by the current chieftain. Much of the information here was taken from the website at

The Ross clan has spread from Scotland throughout the world, particularly in England, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and America. (Did they migrate from or to England?) The Celtic Ross families go back to at least 150AD. See the website describing the development of the Ross-on-Wye in Roman.


The Rose connection: John Robert Ross's book " The Great Clan Ross" published in limited edition in 1972 lists the Kilravock estate as formerly being owned by a Ross family until about 1688. The passage reads:

" Hugh Ross (Rose) fourteenth Laird of Kilravock and Rosshill had a delayed infeftment in 1672. He married a daughter of James Lord Ross and Dame Margaret Scot, and the history of this family of Rosses ends abruptly with Hugh's death in 1688. In 1672 there was a change in entail and a change of name and the records indicate that the family of Rose of Kilravock became the proprietors of these estates." (p 148)

The Great Clan Ross Cover

The Great Clan Ross Page 1

The Great Clan Ross Page 2

The Great Clan Ross Page 3

Here is another place where this Ross spelling is declared:,M1

The entail is highly likely to have a strong Ross/Rose family connection and probably was a Ross who took the Rose spelling and changed historical references to Rose. One list of Rose Lairds can be found at

Info on Rose (Kilravock) Castle is on the Rose clan website: where it states the castle was erected in 1460 by Kilravock VII under charter by John, Lord of the Isles and Earl of Ross.

The most widely accepted account of the Roses is in the book "A Genealogical Deduction of the Family of Rose of Kilravock with Illustrative Documents from the Family Papers and Notes Rose, Hugh” by Cosmo Innes,M1.

Here is synopsis of what this document states is the lineage of the Rose Clan:


England’s John Ross and nephew James Clark Ross were knighted for their polar expeditions and giving us the Ross Sea.

A descendant of Hugh, the 9th Chief, was Colonel George Ross, an officer in the American Patriot Army which fought the British in the War of Independence. His signature appears on the American Declaration of Independence.

Betsy Ross (married to another John Ross) made the first example of the present U.S. flag at the request of George Washington.

Another of the many of the Clan to rise to prominence in the U.S.A. was John Ross, who was born in 1790 of a Scottish father and part Cherokee mother. Fair haired and blue eyed, John Ross to be principal chief of the Cherokee Nation and vigorously opposed the westward migrations onto Cherokee lands. During the Creek war he led the Cherokees against the Creeks, - who were led by their Chief, William MacKintosh, also of Scottish descent.

Charles “Charley” Brewster Ross, was the 1st kidnap for ransom victims in the US in 1874. It was the most famous such case in the country until the Lindbergh baby. The Charles Ross case was never solved. We are looking for a documented descendant from this line. Charles had 3 brothers who had many descendants. You can read more at We are trying to prove or disprove the claims of one family who claims to descend from Charley. The story is documented in the following article:

The footnotes for the article are at:

A great description of the Scots-Irish migration to America can by found in "Born Fighting, How the Scots-Irish Shaped America" by James Webb:

    "The Scots-Irish Presbyterians began trickling out of Ulster soon after the 1704 Test Acts came into force [in Ireland].  In the next two decades a rather small assortment of families, typically traveling in "parcels of 600 to 800 people, ventured across the Atlantic to test America's promise as well as its receptivity to their religion and their cultural ways [...] In this first experimental wave of emigration the Ulster emigrants scattered their arrivals amount the major ports of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Annapolis, and Charleston, South Carolina.
    But by the early 1720's, when the large-scale migrations from Norther Ireland began, the port of choice had become Philadelphia.  Over the next five decades the overwhelming majority of Scots-Irish settlers entered the American colonies through either Philadelphia or the nearby cities of Chester, Pennsylvania, and New Castle, Delaware, which were just south of Philadelphia along the Delaware River.  From these locations the Scots-Irish settlers first spread westward into the vicinity or Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and then later followed the mountain roads southward into Virginia, North and South Carolina, and points beyond.
    From the early 1720s to the beginning of the American Revolution in 1775, there were four great surges of Scots-Irish migration.  Each was brought about not only by events in Ireland, but also by a series of incidents and incentives in different American colonies that affected both the pace of their migration and the locations they chose for settlement.  The first large migration, from 1720 to about 1730, brought them heavily to Pennsylvania.  The second, concentrated in the years 1740 and 1741, drew them to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and brought with them many of those who had already settled in Pennsylvania.  The third, beginning in the mid-1750's, saw a heavy influx farther down the Appalachian and Allegheny Mountains into southwest Virginia and then into North and South Carolina.  This influx included many Scottish highlanders - although they generally arrived in Wilmington, North Carolina, rather than in Philadelphia and settled in the Piedmont rather than in the mountains - as well as Scottish and English borderers, these three groups having been uprooted by political events that followed the Battle of Culloden in 1746.  The final surge, in the years just before the beginning of the American Revolution in 1775 saw large numbers of new settlers from Northern Ireland move into the communities that had already been established, especially in the southwest Virginia and the Carolinas.
    Philadelphia became the Ulster Scots' most popular port of entry for two reasons.  The first was that the Pennsylvania colony had been created with an eye toward accommodating religious freedom and thus largely welcomed the Ulster dissenters, at least initially.  And the second - equally as important- was that the communities in New England and New York wanted nothing to do with them.
    The Ulster Presbyterians who migrated to New England in the early 1700s had believed that the Puritan communities would embrace them as fellow Calvinists, but "the Puritans liked neither Scots nor Irish[...] they were shortly informed that citizenship would not be granted in any Puritan colony except by membership in the established church, which was Congregational."  As a result, most of the Scots-Irish moved off to the frontiers [...]  Feelings against them grew so strong that in 1729 a mob arose to attempt to prevent the landing of one of the ships arriving from Ulster.  "Wherever the Scotch-Irish went into New England it was made abundantly clear to them that they were unwelcome."
    Early migrations to New York and New Jersey were even smaller than those that went to New England, with much the same consequences.  There was "nothing to attract them to New York.  Its land policy was not generous, its country regions along the Hudson were taken up in great estates, and no special effort had been attract colonists from Northern Ireland...only three small colonies of Scotch-Irish settle in New York throughout the eighteenth century."

He later says the Scots-Irish were lured to Pennsylvania as people to protect the pacifist Quakers against marauding Indians and into the Maryland borderland to as a frontier line against encroaching Maryland Catholics. 

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The Ross Family DNA project seeks to include data from the various Ross DNA projects and incorporate their data. Family Tree DNA’s (FTDNA) laboratory is recommended. It is affiliated with Dr. Michael Hammer and the University of Arizona and tests the Y-chromosome for genetic matches between males. Results are placed in FTDNA's Y-DNA database and when 2 people show matching results, the lab will inform both parties (provided both signed the FTDNA Release Form). Please visit the FTDNA website for more information and an explanation of Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA).

Other projects use other labs, but the results cannot be loaded into the FTDNA database. However, if you send us the results we will match them with the members data in this project and we will add the results to our display.

By ordering through FTDNA you receive project group rates, which are less expensive than standard rates. The following Y-chromosome DNA tests are available.  Please see the FTDNA website for availability of other types of DNA testing.

The 12 marker test is best at ruling out relatedness with another participant, but
is of limited value in genealogy and is not recommended. The 25 marker test is more refined. And FTDNA is now offering the 37 marker test. Whichever you choose now can always be upgraded later for an additional fee.

Other kits are available for testing Haplogroups.

By ordering the kit through our project you are agreeing to have your results incorporated with other tests and displayed on this site.

Click here, to order a DNA Sample Kit, or email one of the administrators for assistance. Please note, that when you order your sample kit online you may string other email addresses in the email contact information. Separate them by a semicolon. For example:; may include anyone you wish, such as anyone who took part in paying for your test.

When you receive the test, you will find a release form. Please complete it and return it with your sample. This will make your results (numbers only, no personal information) accessible in online searches of the FTDNA database and will enable FTDNA to notify you of future matches. However, it does not make your information available to other surname projects or Ysearch.

We strongly encourage all participants to make their results public in the FTDNA database and in YSearch (for Ydna tests) and MitoSearch (for mtDNA tests). (Information at this link was gratefully obtained from Phillip Hawkins on his excellent Hawkins surname project.

Lastly, if you would email your family tree to us, minus living people, we would really appreciate it, so we can add it to this site. If you have your data on a website you may send the address for that. Please let us know if you would be willing to be a coordinator for your specific Ross line. If you do we post your name and email address as a contact for anyone wishing to get more information or to find other people in the tree. The time commitment should be small.

For more information, contact the project co-administrators above.

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Ysearc& MitoSearch

Please upload your information to Ysearch, if you have not already done so (some ROSS members have not done this). Doing this will not compromise any security that you desire to protect.

Family Tree DNA participants: Go to your Personal Page and simply click Upload, to automatically upload your Y-DNA results to Ysearch.  If you then upgrade your Y-DNA test, such as from 25 Markers to 37 Markers, the Upload selection will reappear on your Personal Page, as a reminder to upload the additional Markers.


Also Ysearch ( has been enhanced so that the location for your most distant male ancestor can be entered using latitude and longitude coordinates.  It is important to update your Ysearch record with this information.  For Europe, the latitude and longitude coordinates will give your ancestor a pin on the HaploMap. Please take a moment now and add this information.  Follow the directions at Ysearch, which include a link to a site to look up the latitude and longitude coordinates.

Also, you may now upload your family file (.ged).

If you tested with Family Tree DNA, but have not yet established a record at, go to your Personal Page, and click "Ysearch."

If you tested at another vendor, here is the link to first create a record for your result

If you have also taken a mitochondrial test you may update your data to MitoSearch which is similar to Ysearch. The link will appear at the top of your personal page. Mitochondrial markers are passed from mother to child, but are only passed along by the daughters. Since mitochondrial tests are maternal markers they are not associated with a surname.

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John Blair has an excellent explanation of the DNA process on his Blair Surname Project. Basically there are 43 DNA Markers which are passed from father to son and remain the same generation to generation with an occasional mutation. This is why only males can do this test. All Y-DNA tests allow you to identify your ethnic and geographic origins (Haplogroup), both recent and far distant on your direct male descending line. Among others, you will be able to check your Native-American or African Ancestry as well as for the Cohanim Ancestry. A description of Haplogroups follows this section.

A wonderful set of videos describing DNA testing and how it can help you in your genealogy research is provided on the Family Tree DNA website at

FTDNA also has an explanation of the genetic distances (when the markers are different) and what it means at Basically out of 25 markers tested, if you mismatch on:

0 markers – you are related

1 marker – you are related

2 markers – you are probably related

3 markers – you are probably not related, but more tests need to be done

4. markers – you are not related but it is vaguely possible.

5 markers – you are not related but possibly shared an ancestor over 2000 years ago.

6 markers – you are not related but possibly shared an ancestor over 5000 years ago.

7 (or more) markers – you are not possibly related.

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FTDNA Y-DNA tests allow you to identify your ethnic and geographic origins (Haplogroups), both recent and far distant. Among other features, this test will also be able to indicate your Native-American Ancestry and which of the 5 major groups that settled in the Americans you are most likely to be descended from. It can also describe African Ancestry as well as other ethnic origins.

Y-DNA Haplogroup Descriptions:

The following Haplogroup Descriptions are from the website which was the testing company used to determine the nearest Haplogroup assigment based on the individual's haplotype results from the Y-DNA test. These verbatim Haplogroup Descriptions and/or excerpts are copyrighted by and all rights to these descriptions are claimed by These descriptions have been printed here with the permission of These descriptions cannot be used elsewhere without the written permission of

Please note that people in different Haplogroups cannot be related within many thousands of years, and that each male test result provides a prediction of the Haplogroup currently about 90% of the time. If your Y-DNA matches suggest that you belong, for example, to Haplogroup R1b, you may confirm that by ordering a Y-DNA SNP test for the R1b clade.

In general the following rule of thumb may be used: R1b = Western Europe, R1a = Eastern Europe, I = Nordic, J2 = Semitic, E3b = Semitic, Q3 = Native American.

Haplogroup B is one of the oldest Y-chromosome lineages in humans.

Haplogroup B is found exclusively in Africa. This lineage was the first to disperse around Africa. There is current archaeological evidence supporting a major population expansion in Africa approximately 90-130 thousand years ago. It has been proposed that this event may have spread Haplogroup B throughout Africa. Haplogroup B appears at low frequency all around Africa, but is at its highest frequency in Pygmy populations.

Haplogroup C is found throughout mainland Asia, the south Pacific, and at low frequency in Native American populations. Haplogroup C originated in southern Asia and spread in all directions. This lineage colonized New Guinea, Australia, and north Asia, and currently is found with its highest diversity in populations of India.

Haplogroup C3 is believed to have originated in southeast or central Asia. This lineage then spread into northern Asia, and then into the Americas.

Haplogroup D2 most likely derived from the D lineage in Japan. It is completely restricted to Japan, and is a very diverse lineage within the aboriginal Japanese and in the Japanese population around Okinawa.

Haplogroup E3a is an Africa lineage. It is currently hypothesized that this haplogroup dispersed south from northern Africa within the last 3,000 years, by the Bantu agricultural expansion. E3a is also the most common lineage among African Americans.

Haplogroup E3b is believed to have evolved in the Middle East. It expanded into the Mediterranean during the Pleistocene Neolithic expansion. It is currently distributed around the Mediterranean, southern Europe, and in north and east Africa.

Haplogroup G may have originated in India or Pakistan, and has dispersed into central Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. The G2 branch of this lineage (containing the P15 mutation) is found most often in Europe and the Middle East.

Haplogroup H is nearly completely restricted to India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.

Haplogroup I1b was derived within Viking/Scandinavian populations in northwest Europe and has since spread down into southern Europe where it is present at low frequencies.

Haplogroup J is found at highest frequencies in Middle Eastern and north African populations where it most likely evolved. This marker has been carried by Middle Eastern traders into Europe, central Asia, India, and Pakistan.

Haplogroup J2 originated in the northern portion of the Fertile Crescent where it later spread throughout central Asia, the Mediterranean, and south into India. As with other populations with Mediterranean ancestry this lineage is found within Jewish populations. The Cohen modal lineage is found in Haplogroup J2.

Haplogroup Q is the lineage that links Asia and the Americas. This lineage is found in North and Central Asian populations as well as native Americans. This lineage is believed to have originated in Central Asia and migrated through the Altai/Baikal region of northern Eurasia into the Americas.

Haplogroup Q3 is the only lineage strictly associated with native American populations. This haplogroup is defined by the presence of the M3 mutation (also known as SY103). This mutation occurred on the Q lineage 8-12 thousand years ago as the migration into the Americas was underway. There is some debate as to on which side of the Bering Strait this mutation occurred, but it definitely happened in the ancestors of the Native American peoples.

Haplogroup R1a is believed to have originated in the Eurasian Steppes north of the Black and Caspian Seas. This lineage is believed to have originated in a population of the Kurgan culture, known for the domestication of the horse (approximately 3000 B.C.E.). These people were also believed to be the first speakers of the Indo-European language group. This lineage is currently found in central and western Asia, India, and in Slavic populations of Eastern Europe.

Haplogroup R1b is the most common Haplogroup in European populations. It is believed to have expanded throughout Europe as humans re-colonized after the last glacial maximum 10-12 thousand years ago. This lineage is also the haplogroup containing the Atlantic modal haplotype (HG1).

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We have result from the many lines, but we need representatives from the following notables:

  1. England’s polar explorers Sir John Ross and Sir James Clark Ross

  1. Colonel George Ross, signer of the American Declaration of Independence.

  1. John Ross, husband of Betsy Ross who made U.S. flag

  1. Cherokee Chief John Ross.

  1. Charles “Charley” Brewster Ross, the 1st kidnap for ransom victims in the US

  1. Sir Robert Ross, malaria doctor

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CLICK HERE to go to the DNA Results for the project. Notes about some markers follows to clear up confusion.

Our project recommends a minimum of 25 markers be tested, 37 is even better.

To be considered a match you should match 11 out of 12 in a 12-marker test, 23 out of 25 for a 25-marker test and 34 out of 37 for a 37-marker test. This does not rule out that you might be related to someone where you don’t match the numbers. You and someone else who don’t match could match a third person, with each of you only mismatching the third person by 2 markers…just 2 different markers.

On a different note, what happens if you have documented your tree and are sure you have a connection to another tree, yet the DNA samples don’t match? It could be that in some past generation, the father was not who the child thought it was. For instance, it was not uncommon for orphans to be adopted (legally or just family members raising other family members’s children) and never be told. This is where the public databases in FTDNA and Ysearch become very useful. Your test results can be matched to all results that people have allowed to be public in those databases. If you find a match, you then MAY know the surname tree of your elusive ancestor. This is why it is so important that people make their data public.

There are two ways to display the result of the second test on marker 389. In both cases, the name for the marker is 389-2. The first way to display the result is by showing the result from the original test, which is the total for the entire 389 marker, including the first section. This is how Family Tree DNA displays the result.

The second way is to show the result only for the second section that is tested by subtracting the 389-1 score from the original second test score. This is how the Genographic Project displays the result.

Basically, converting between the two is easy: simply add together the two 389 values from the Genographic Project to get the 389-2 value for Family Tree DNA, or subtract the 389-1 value from 389-2 from the Family Tree DNA results in order to get the 389-2 value for the Genographic Project.

What this means is you may be off one in the 389-2 display, but only because you were off one in the 389-1 marker. If so, it only means you differ by 1 marker, not 2.

FTDNA gives this explanation on the fast moving markers:

Y DNA: Marker Selection

From a genealogical perspective, useful markers are those which can change, but which do not change too often.

By selecting a mix of markers that change slowly and therefore are relatively stable, as well as more rapidly-changing markers, Family Tree DNA is providing the best selection of markers for genealogical purposes. Multi-copy markers are a very important component of the marker mix.

On the Group Administrators' Y-DNA Results Page, fast moving markers are shown in red in the heading. These markers are:

DYS 385a, b
DYS 439
DYS 458
DYS 449
DYS 464a, b, c, d
DYS 456
DYS 576
DYS 570
CDYa, b

You will notice on the above list, that several of the fast moving markers are multi-copy markers, which are very valuable, since they change more rapidly.

A multi-copy marker is one where several copies of the marker exist on the Y chromosome. The name of a multi-copy marker includes small letters, such as a or b, following the marker DYS name.

When selecting the markers for our various tests, Family Tree DNA included 1 or 2 multi-copy markers in each panel, corresponding to the four Y-DNA tests available. The 12 marker Y DNA test has 1 multi-copy marker. The upgrade to 25 markers adds 2 multi-copy markers, and the upgrades to 37 markers and then to 67 markers each include 2 more multi-copy markers. Inclusion of these multi-copy markers is important based on both scientific attributes of the marker as well as the genealogical implications.

Test Multi-Copy Markers
==== ==================

12 Marker 385a, 385b
25 Marker Upgrade 459a, 459b and 464a, 464b, 464c, 464d
37 Marker Upgrade YCA II a, YCA II b and CDY a, CDY b
67 Marker Upgrade 395S1a, 395S1b and 413a, 413b

For markers to have value to genealogical research, they must be stable, but not so stable that they can't differentiate lineage, and also change, but not change so quickly that closely related persons don't match. A well-formed panel includes a range of markers which change more rapidly and markers which change less rapidly.

Multi-copy markers tend to change more rapidly. Markers which change more rapidly are valuable to genealogical applications of DNA testing, to differentiate lines or branches, or identify persons who are not related. Rapidly changing markers are valuable in differentiating unrelated individuals using a small number of markers.

Marker DYS464 is a rapidly changing Y chromosome marker and a multi-copy marker. It most often has four copies, which are labeled: DYS464a, DYS464b, DYS464c, DYS464d. Marker DYS464 is also known to occur more than four times. Additional copies of DYS464 are called: DYS464e, DYS464f, and so forth. When more than four copies of DYS464 are found in a DNA sample, the results for all the copies are provided by Family Tree DNA.

When testing a random sample of 679 males for DYS464, scientists have found that the result 15,15,17,17 occurred in 10.6% of those tested, 15,15,16,17 occurred in 7.5% of the samples, and all the other results occurred less than 5% of the time, with over half these results only occurring once. This illustrates that marker DYS464 is valuable in differentiating unrelated persons.

The results for a multi-copy marker are reported in ascending order. For example, here are some results for DYS464:
11 11 14 16
12 14 15 16

Since the results are reported in ascending order for multi-copy markers, this must be taken into account when comparing the results of the markers between individuals. For example, consider the following results:

Example 1: 15 15 17 17
Example 2: 13 13 15 17

At a glance, you may see 3 differences, but there are really only 2. To correctly interpret the results for this multi-copy marker, the results that match are not counted as differences. The 15 in the first example above matches a 15 in the second example, so the 15 is not counted as a difference, even though the two 15's do not line up in the display of the results. A 17 from the first example matches the 17 in the second example. The two 13's in the second example do not have a match in the first example, so in comparing these two results, we find 2 differences.

Since multi-copy markers change more rapidly, these markers are an excellent tool to identify branches or lines, or to identify persons who are not related in a genealogical time frame.

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