Stonehewer to Stanier DNA Project FAQ
What is this DNA test all about?
There are two types of DNA tests now available for genealogical testing: the Y-chromosome (Y-DNA) test and the mitochondrial (mtDNA) test. A direct female line can be traced by testing mitochondrial DNA. However, since we are presently interested in tracing surnames, which are usually passed from father to son, the testing of the Y-chromosome DNA is what we are interested in. For more information on DNA and Y-chromosome testing see John A Blair's DNA101.
Will a DNA test tell me who my ancestors are? What will the test tell me?
No, a DNA test will NOT tell you who your ancestors are. The test WILL tell if two or more participants share a common ancestor, and give you a probability of the number of generations to the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA).
Can the test tell me anything about my distant ancestors?
Yes, to some extent. Close analysis of small changes in the DNA, known as markers or STRs (Short Tandem Repeats) can be used to assign you to a group known as a Y-Chromosome Haplogroup. Examination of the distribution of these haplogroups in a large number of DNA samples has given some insight into their history.
If, for example, your DNA is in Haplogroup I1a, then it is believed your direct male ancestral line migrated from the Middle East to Southern Europe some time between 35000 and 18000 years ago, spending the Iron Age in Iberia. From here it spread northeast into the Low Countries, Germany and Scandinavia, and into England through Vikings or Anglo-Saxons.
Family Tree DNA will predict your Y-Chromosome Haplogroup from the results of your Y-DNA test.
Why do we analyze the Y chromosome?
The Y chromosome is the only chromosome passed unchanged from father to son, and therefore indicates the paternal line of descent. All males in a patriarchal line have the same Y chromosome. The Y chromosome is not present in females.
What is analyzed?
We look at specific parts of the Y chromosome to obtain a "signature". Two or more males whose Y chromosome signatures match come from the same paternal line of descent. Those whose signatures do not match are from different lines.
Exactly what does a Y chromosome match demonstrate?
A Y chromosome match shows that two males have a common male ancestor. This ancestor could be their father, or it could be a male from a thousand years ago.
Does a Y chromosome match prove this relationship?
Although no evidence is ever absolutely certain, the confidence level for such a match is very high. Typically, there is less than one chance in a million or more that the demonstrated relationship is in error.
How many markers are tested?
More markers increase the confidence with which we may assess the number of generations to the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA). We need a test sufficiently precise as to test the hypothesis that all Staniers descend from John Stonehewer of Biddulph [fl 1560], some 16 generations back.
FTDNA offer five different tests:-
We need to test at least 25, and preferably 37, markers to get the precision we need: if all 37 markers match there is a 50% probability that the MRCA is 3 generations or less, a 90% probability that the MRCA is 5 generations or less, and a 95% probability that the MRCA is 7 generations or less. Should not all markers match, the probability of an MRCA within a given number of generations reduces.
Do Y chromosome analyses sometimes match, but not at every point?
Yes. Over a period of many years, a small number of mutations can be counted on to appear, so there may be one or more points where the Y chromosome analysis does not match exactly.
If no Y chromosome match is found, what does that show?
It demonstrates to a very high degree of probability that the two males analyzed do not share a male ancestor. Although this is true for the two individuals tested, it may not be true for the family groups of the individuals who were tested, because there are a number of sources of "non-paternal events".
My maiden name is Stanier and I would love to have this information, but I am female and have no brothers and my father has passed on now. There are no living males with surname Stanier in my family, only male cousins named Stanier, some quite distantly related.
Your male cousins probably have the same Y-DNA as your father and his male ancestors with surname Stanier. Testing your cousins is the same as testing your late father if they are the natural children of your Stanier ancestors. That is because the Y chromosome passes unchanged from father to son apart from random mutations. So if your father and your cousins have any known common ancestor, even back to your 4th great grandfather or beyond, the DNA sample should be the same as testing your father, give or take a mutation or two.
My line split off from the Stanier family two hundred years ago. My ggg-grandmother was a Stanier. I do research on my Stanier ancestors but have no close Stanier relatives.
If you know or can find male surname descendents of your gggg grandfather Stanier, you can in effect "test" him by testing his descendents. That is because the Y-DNA is passed on without change from father to son. If you test a couple of your Stanier cousins and they match, you can say with high confidence that their Y-DNA is very close to the Y-DNA of your gggg grandfather. Then you can compare his sample to other samples in the study and possibly learn much new information about his line for your research.
Why are you excluding women? We are the children of our Stanier ancestors as much as the men.
The technology does not exist to trace Stanier surname ancestors through their female descendents, at least not yet. Women have two X chromosomes, and men have one X and one Y. A child either gets an X from the mother and an X from the father, and thus becomes female; or an X from the mother and a Y from the father, and becomes male. It is the Y chromosome we need to test to trace the Stanier line, and so we have to test men only.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is passed to the children only by the mother, so there are genetic tests of mtDNA that trace female lineages, but they are not useful for single surname studies.
Women (and men) can contribute to the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Database. This is of limited immediate usefulness for family history, but may be of immense benefit in the future. And it is free.
There is only one living male person surname Stanier in my family. Is there any point joining the study if I don't have two or three family members who are Stanier surname males?
Yes, there is potential value for you to join the study. The reason for testing two or three distantly related cousins is that this "validates" the family at least back to the known common ancestor. A single test could provide incorrect data for the family if there is an unknown adoption or a false paternity somewhere back in the past. If you alone take the test and it matches others in the study, you will have learned that your branch of the Stanier family is related to theirs, with little doubt. If it does not match and you cannot find any cousin to test to validate the result, at least your sample will sit there in the database until sometime in the future a match is secured.
I was adopted by Staniers as a child. Is there any benefit to do a DNA test?
That depends on whether you are trying to trace your "biological" family or your Stanier family. If you're trying to trace your "biological" family you would have your own DNA sample tested. If you already know the surname of your "biological" family, it would probably be best to try to find a DNA project for that name since your results would more likely match someone in that group than the Stanier group.
If you're interested in tracing your Stanier family roots you would need a DNA sample from your Stanier father or other male Stanier family member.
My male Stanier cousins don't care a thing about family history. They won't pay for this.
There is no rule that says the person ordering and paying for the test must be the person being tested. If your cousins will consent to doing this simple, painless test, you can order the kits on line and then send them to your cousins, and return them with your own payment. Some of the other family reconstruction projects have multiple researchers in the same family line that have split the cost of testing male cousins who have no interest in our hobby.
I already know my Stanier family comes from somewhere in Staffordshire. What are we going to learn from doing this that is new?
First of all, you may discover many Stanier families that are your cousins that you did not know about before. They may have new information and family histories that will be useful to you, and you will know they are your relatives with little or no doubt. A couple of families named Stanier side by side in the census could be brothers, or could be coincidence. But DNA is proof. Second, as the study expands over time, you may discover the exact village where your ancestors came from in Staffordshire, possibly even Church records that take you back hundreds of years.
All it takes is one break a long time ago and you won't be able to match up a whole line of Staniers. You will never be able to put all the Staniers together.
That is very likely true, but the purpose of this is to help different Stanier families link up to further their genealogical research. Even if long ago a Mr. Stanier adopted a boy whose natural father was Mr. JOHNSON, all his male descendents will still be with a common ancestor, which may prove useful. Also, if someday a JOHNSON has a test done, we may find that match as well!
How is the DNA sample obtained?
DNA can be obtained from any cell, but one of the easiest samples is obtained by swabbing the inside of the cheek with a sterile cotton swab.
How do I participate?
How will my DNA information be used?
This poses a declicate balance between making the information available to others while protecting the privacy of the participants. DNA test results are of little use on there own. Their value is how they compare to other test results and who they match. So we publish all results, to enable differecnes to be seen, while not giving names unless the participant has agrred to this.
The header of the matrix is mostly the marker names (note that some have been omitted to save space).
The remainder of the table is one line per participant, containing 47 fields:-
Each participant's line is colour-coded, to group together participants with very similar haplotypes.
How will my DNA information be protected?
Only the participant providing a DNA sample and the Project Administrator will know what his results are (unless they decide they would like to share that information - see next question). All samples and identifying information will be received by Family Tree DNA and will be assigned an identifying number. This ID number will be the only identifying information anyone else sees, so no one other than the Administrator will know who participates in the study or which result is from which person. The portion of the DNA tested gives a distinctive "signature" for a lineage rather than for an individual, so there is no risk of this data being of any use to anyone for personal identity.
I noticed my DNA markers match those of several other participants. Is there anyway I can contact them?
If the participant chooses not to identify himself, you can contact the Project Administrator who will forward your request on to the participant.
Couldn't it be embarrassing if an individual's Y chromosome does not match when it should?
Yes, and for this reason no participant's results will ever be revealed except by a code. Names of participants will not be published or released unless the participant give his permission to do so.
My test results do not match any others, does that mean I'm not a Stanier?There is always a possibility that you could get disappointing test results. Samples that vary by three or more markers from the main group may do so for a number of reasons. One possibility is that they represent distinct lines either older or younger than the currently observed most frequent line. Another is that there has been a "non-paternal event" at an unknown past time. There are several possible types of non-paternal event in addition to a pregnancy gained outside of a marriage. For example, a child may be adopted and given the Stanier name; a man may take the Stanier name when he marries a Stanier daughter; a Stanier man may marry a pregnant widow; a couple where the wife is the Stanier may choose to give their children the Stanier name for various reasons; clerical error in recording administrative data may assign a Stanier name to the wrong person, and so on.
It should be stressed that adoptions were quite common in every age (ie parents died by disease or war and a relative took in the children and raised them with their name; or young daughters had a child out of wedlock and the parents raised it as their own).
Some may not want to see a result indicating a non paternity event but we are all legal Staniers and a small sample size could be misleading. One may get a DNA sequence which suggests a non paternity event but they could be of the original blood Stanier line. Let me explain. Twenty people are tested and 19 are very similar but the last is clearly different. It could turn out that the 19 descend from the same person 300 years ago and this person was an adopted Stanier while the other is of the original blood line going back 600 years.