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The McKinstry’s are … Scottish.   

Theophilus McKinstry’s Y DNA is I2b1a, Isles-Scottish; M284+, L126+, L137+.    Y DNA data on I2b1 shows most I2b1 subclades, particularly Isles-Scottish, to be strongly concentrated in southwestern Scotland, but the data may be biased    Most of it comes from people of Scotch-Irish ancestry, and most of the Scotch-Irish came from southwestern Scotland.   On the other hand, Anglo-Saxon settlement pushed most people who already lived in Scotland toward western Scotland, so that by Norman times the Isles-Scottish clade may well have been concentrated in western Scotland.   Distant Y DNA matches support the notion that the McKinstry’s came from Southwestern Scotland, since they all come from either southwestern Scotland or Edinburgh.   Unfortunately the entire Isles-Scottish clade, while numerous, is very young and lacks genetic variation, and Theophilus McKinstry tends to differ from them in the same ways that he differs from the Isles-Scottish modal values.  In fact, his closest match at Y Search is the Isles-Scottish modal haplotype.  

Y DNA testing so far confirms that William McKinstry of Sturbridge carried Theophilus McKinstry’s haplotype.   A descendant of the Bucks County Pennsylvania McKinstry family closely matches the Sturbridge familly’s Y DNA.    Two fast moving markers are acting unusual, and it is too soon to judge how closely related the two families may be.   A descendant of the large South Carolina McKinstry family, and a family that settled in western Pennsylvania and moved to Ohio, have also recently been tested.  

Online there is a lot of speculation, backed seemingly by old and independent traditions, that a large number of people named McKinstry who lived immediately northeast of Carrickfergus were descended from Rodger, the father of Rev. John McKinstry.   This Rodger allegedly lived in Edinburgh when he was forced by religious persecution to go to County Antrim, in 1669, during the period of the Covenanter movement.  Rev. John McKinstry was allegedly born in “Brode”, County Antrim, in 1677.   The consensus is that Brode was most likely Broad Island, or Broad, pronounced Brode, also known as Templecorran.   This parish was the location of the first Presbyterian Church in Ireland in 1613.   The minister, planted there by the Scottish landlord of his district, was said to have fled religious persecution in Scotland, and actually fled a charge of adultery by the local Presbyterian authorities.  

The pattern of McKinstry distribution in the Griffiths tax survey of the mid 19th century strongly suggests the possibility that a single family group may have settled northeast of Carrickfergus, between Carrickfergus and Larne, focusing on Templecorran or Broadisland, which today is called Ballycarry.   On the other hand, this point of land is where anyone rowing across the Irish sea from the main exit town of Galloway would have landed, and multiple McKinstry’s could easily have settled there.   I found three other clumps of McKinstry settlement in northeastern Ireland.   Whether or not they were all related, McKinstry’s living around Ballycarry might well have given Carrickfergus as their point of origin once they were living in America.   Carrickfergus was the major town of the area until Belfast supplanted it in about the 19th century.  

Documents that are summarized at the end of this report, suggest that the McKinstry surname originated probably with just one family, who lived in two adjacent parishes in southern Galloway just before 1500.  Most McKinstry families in the U.S.carry traditions about religious persecution, but they often are not true    Local historians think that actually McKinstry’s migrated across the narrow Irish Sea over time, looking for land and women to marry.   Certainly they had spread across southwestern Scotland by 1800, in a stepwise, generational pattern.  .  

The Isles-Scottish haplotype was gaining numbers in southern Scotland by about 300 AD, during the period when the Romans held southern Scotland.   Its parent clade, M284 (I2b1a) has probably been in England for atleast 4000 years.  The SNP mutations that go with the Scottish haplotype probably evolved in England, and appear to have been carried to Scotland when the Romans ruled England.  Both mutations are sometimes found across western Europe.

McKinstry’s seem to share a common temperament type; stubborn and hot headed.  Signs of it, statements about it, and stories about it appear throughout most of these families.   That is consistent with a common history or unusual likelihood of having been involved in Scotland’s religious troubles, or perhaps just a history of being Scotch Irish.   In several McKinstry family groups, large numbers of people fought in the Civil War – on both sides, as McKinstry families were located all across the U.S. at that point.   Most genealogies contain notes of people having fought in the Civil War, like badges.   My Smith two times great grandfather paid someone else to fight for him, and that was common in his village.   However, large numbers of McKinstry’s, on both the Union and Confederate sides, were killed or permanently disabled.    They wanted to be in the thick of the action.  

The Minnigaff area was upland hill country, where sheep and cattle were grown and pastured on the moorland hills, and crops of oats and barley were grown to meet subsistence needs.   Nowadays the hills have been planted over with trees, giving a landscape that looks like land around Lake George, NY, or the Texas Hill Country,  but when McKinstry’s lived there it was all open moorland.   McKinstry’s were more likely to live in upland parts of Galloway than in the coastal lowland areas.   In this country, these family groups typify several aspects of prototypical Scotch Irish experience.   The McKInstry’s were probably the Scottish equivalent of freeholders; with long term leases that went through probate on one’s death.   They seem to have typically held several plots of land, that I’m told consisted of some land to grow crops on and some to pasture cattle and sheep on, in a traditional pattern.   A McKinstry was commenting to me today that his McKinstry ancestors kept moving, always to barren, poor quality, hilly land, just like the land they moved from.   Scotch Irish people in the U.S.continued to think and to act in many ways that were ways their ancestors had lived.   Galloway supplied the greatest bulk of the Scotch Irish migration, and nearly all of it came from the border region between Scotland and England.  

Galloway was out of the way, and land there was owned by small, minor aristocratic landowners who were independent of spirit, and strongly pro-reformation.  In Minnigaff and adjacent Newtown Stewart the landlords met in the forest and read from English bibles to groups of their neighbors (and tenants).   Galloway  and its small land owners always played primary roles in Scotland’s religious rebellions, especially the Covenanter movement.  

As nearly as I can tell, the Border Reivers were further east along the Scottish border.   People of Galway needed to cross a broad long bay to get to England; they couldn’t get on their horses and raid across the border; neither could people in England raid across the border into Galloway.   But the people played strong roles in religious rebellion, and England had a strong motive to send as many of the people as possible to pacify Ireland..  

I suspect that population must have been as driving a force in migration to Ireland as anything else.   Famine certainly played roles.  Huge numbers of people who became emigrants to  Ireland seem to have been packed into a few select communities, across the upland region toward a point of land facing across the  Irish Sea to Templecorran and Carrickfergus.  The common explanation of local historians that most people who migrated wanted a bit of land and a girl to marry, seems to assume that these commodities were hard to come by at home.  

Introduction to Y DNA Mutations

Y DNA STR Mutations show close genealogical connections between male lines.

SNP Mutations show deep roots in time.

Haplogroups show patterns in migration of peoples

"Theophilus" McKinstry's I2b1a1 haplotree.   (The subject of this Y DNA project wants to be anonymous.)

See Family Tree Y DNA Project at Family Tree DNA.

Deep History of I2b1a1

The Gravettians (Haplogroup I)

The Isles Scottish Haplotype.

History of the McKinstry Surname

McKinstry family groups - links by family group to my McKinstry database at Rootsweb.  This database is intended to help McKinstry's pin down their family group.

McKinstry in Griffiths Evaluation of Ireland, an 1862 (roughly, varied slightly across Ireland) tax census.   

McKinstry from other Irish records

Anone who wants to, check out the rest of my family history.


(Theophilus is not my brother in law's father's real name.  He wants to be anonymous.)