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Spearin Surname Project



Variants & Deviants

what's in a name?

Where & When ... Temporal & Geographic Distribution

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Interpreting Results

Direct Male Lines & Mutation History Trees

Genetic Distance and Estimates of TMRCA (Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor)

Trawl of the internet for more genetic cousins


What does the future hold for our past?

Trawling the internet in search of distant genetic cousins

There are many laboratories that do genetic testing. The members in this project have used Family Tree DNA and DNA heritage, but there are many other companies that perform the same kind of tests. It is possible that some of our distant genetic cousins tested with these laboratories and their results are just sitting in the companies database waiting to be found.

Comparison with Public Data

Various public databases were searched for potential Spearin variants and this identified Y-DNA information for the following surnames: Spear, Spears, Speer, Speers, Speir, Spiers, Spearman, Spiering, and Sperry.

McGee's Y-utility tool was used to calculate the genetic distance between the Modal Haplotype for Spearin GF1 (SMH-GF1 in these tables) and every other subject tested. The results are presented below. Only a comparison on the FTDNA 67 markers was made.

For subjects within Spearin GF1, there is a 94.6% to 100% match with the MH. For subjects on public databases, the match varies from as low as 12% (a Spearman), to 61% for those in Haplogroup I2b1, to as high as 87% for a group named Sperry from Utah.
The table on the right shows that many subjects in the Spears DNA Project have very small genetic distances from each other (0, 1, 2, etc) and are therefore related (the coloured squares). However, they all have large genetic differences compared to SMH-GF1 (the modal haplotype for Spearin Genetic Family 1), with distances ranging from 24 to 48 on 67 markers, and corresponding TMRCA estimates of 2500 to 7000 years ago. It's safe to say that none of these Spears are related to Spearin GF1 subjects in the last several hundred years. Furthermore, this data provides no evidence that the names Spears and Spearin are variants of each other. On the contrary, it suggests that the names arose completely independently of each other, from different origins.
The next comparison was with subjects named Spears, Speer, and Spearman from the Y-Search database and this too revealed large genetic distances between all their haplotypes and the SMH-GF1. The TMRCA estimates ranged from 2900 to 21,000 years. The actual marker values can be viewed in the Results section.
The comparison with the database at Sorenson labs (SMGF) produced some surprising results, on two counts. There is a minimal genetic distance with a group of people bearing the surname Sperry from Utah, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania. This is not a variant we have come across before. I had to manipulate the data slightly for technical reasons so it is not completely accurate but it still shows a surprisingly close association between the Sperry's and SMH-GF1. The TMRCA estimates indicate a common ancestor approximately 1000-2000 years ago. This may even be within the time frame of the emergence of surnames. Did they originate from Northern Europe? How did they get to the US? This warrants further investigation.

The second surprise from the Sorenson data relates to the last subject in the list, by the name of Spiering. We have always speculated that a possible origin of the Spearin name was Spiering, and it is still quite a common name today in Northern Europe. The MDKA for this particular subject was a Friedrich Wilhelm Spiering, born in Feb 1824 in Lubczewo, Poland. However, his genetic distance from the SMH-GF1 is huge and he is in no way related. However, it may be that this represents an NPE and does not rule out the possibility that other people bearing this name may be related to Spearin Genetic Family 1.

Y-search (Spears, Speer, Spearman) 
- genetic distance from SMH-GF1

SMGF (Sorenson labs)
- genetic distance from SMH-GF1
SMGF (Sorenson labs)
-TMRCA estimates (50% probability)

A comparison with public data from the DNA Ancestry database will follow in the near future.

So what can we conclude from the comparisons so far?

  • None of the obvious Spearin variants appear to be remotely related to Spearin Genetic Family 1. 
  • The one subject bearing the European name Spiering is one of the most distantly related people.
  • People named Sperrry may be related to the Spearin's within the last 1000-2000 years.

The next step will be to contact the Sperry's and try to establish if and where we connect. It would also be good to test other Spiering's from an unrelated line to that of the subject mentioned above. 


Maurice Gleeson
Oct 2011


Copyright 2011 ( Rights Reserved.  Creative Commons License
The Spearin Surname Project at is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Information and data obtained from the Spearin Surname Project must be attributed to the project as outlined in the Creative Commons License. Please notify administrator when using data for public or private research. 

Last update: Oct 2011

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