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History of the Isles Scottish Haplotype


However, the entire Scottish haplotype is both very young, dating only to 300 AD, with not a large amount of genetic variation, and apparently concentrated in southwestern Scotland.   Therefore finding TheophilusMcKinstry’s closest matches in that part of Scotland doesn’t as strongly support thinking that a thousand years ago his people were in Galloway, as one might otherwise think.   

It does look very likely that a thousand years ago TheophilusMcKinstry’s ancestors lived in the western border region of Scotland.   This includes Dumfries.    

While it looks like the Isles – Scottish haplotype is concentrated in southwestern Scotland and has been so atleast since the Anglo-Saxons settled in southeastern Scotland, it is less clear how the Isles-Scottish haplotype got to southwestern Scotland.   The parent L126/ L137 clade (I2b1a1), is numerically strongly dominated by the Isles-Scottish haplotype.  However, in both England and Scotland, it has twice as much genetic variation as does the Isles-Scottish haplotype.   The L126/L137 clade does not seem to be innate to Ireland, as it is found mostly in the part of Ireland where it would have been carried by the Scotch-Irish migration.   The parent M284 clade, on the other hand, which is much older, is found throughout Ireland.   Usually a clade originated, not where it is most common today, but where it has the greatest genetic variation today.   I2b1a1 probably came to Scotland from England.  

Before drawing too firm conclusions it is necessary to realize that it looks as though both M284 and its L126/ L137 subclade could have come to England from continental Europe.  More on this later.   It was previously thought that M284 developed in England, because it was never or rarely found outside of England.   Knowledge of where SNP’s are found depends on people spending the extra money to test for SNP’s, or else scientists raising money to do research, which supplies a very small amount of data on Y DNA and its clades.   Until recently not many people tested.  As more people are testing, both M284 and L126/L137 are being found more often in Europe.  Part of this may be explained by people from England migrating to the continent, which has happened repeatedly throughout history and sometimes involved large numbers of people.  They did not however migrate in significant numbers to Spain, which together with its former colonies seems to be something of a M284 hotspot.   What is more, both M284 and L126/ L137 have slightly but significantly more genetic variation in continental Europe than in England, which suggests that both may have come to England from the continent soon after they evolved.   I2b1 is strongly concentrated in the German Rhineland, modern Belgium and the modern Netherlands, and that region had enough ancient intereraction with Spain to potentially explain how these clades got there.   

Someone in the I2b1 project thinks that it may actually have been Romans bringing soldiers from the German Rhineland who brought L126/ L137 to Scotland, even though the clade was already present in England.

In terms of pure probability, since L126/l137 was present and not rare in England, it probably crossed over the Scottish border.    The Isles-Scottish haplotype is a western border region phenomenon; it is not at all common north of Glasgow, and it probably got to Glasgow by migration.  It is also important to realize that the sheer numbers of the Isles-Scottish STR cluster in Scotland requires that there was a founder effect.  The founder of this entire cluster must have lived in a place with low population where his immediate descendants were isolated for a time, and his Y DNA had a chance to become common.   Any place where Roman soldiers settled would have been densely populated.   The people who carried this Y DNA cluster began to multiply around 300 AD.   Romans were definitely there at the time.   The Isles-Scottish STR cluster would have had its best chance in a place like isolated rural backwater Galloway, which the Romans almost completely left alone.   Their strategy dealt with Galloway by isolating it from the more powerful nearby Celtic tribes who the tribe that lived in Galloway tended to support.   The Romans marched through Southern Scotland in two lines, which went right by Galloway on their way north, and their nearest forts in Dumfries isolated Galloway more than anything else.   Late in time, I now of Romans and “Picts” (local Britons) battling Gaels from Ireland, in Galloway near the Cree River near where McKinstry’s lived in 1500, but this sort of thing had to have been rare.   As far as I know, Galloway is the only part of southern Scotland that the Romans left alone to this degree.  The Romans securely held all of southern Scotland for three or four hundred years. 

This all points to the conclusion that probably, the ancestors of Isles-Scottish had been in England for some time.   Formerly it was thought that they must have been there atleast since M284 originated in England around 2000 BCE – or maybe significantly earlier.   L126/ L137 has probably been in England for almost twice as long as the Scottish haplotype is old, to judge from its genetic variability.   It could have come to England more than once.   What this means is that when the Romans came to Britain, the I2b1a1 people would have been “Britons” – or “Celts”.   Later I discuss in more detail when and how the ancestors of M284 and L126/ L137 may have gotten to Britain.    If the L126/ L137 people did come from the continent, they got to Britain significantly later than the Urnfield/ Proto-Celtic people of the middle Bronze Age, who spread across Ireland and may account for its branch of the Celtic language family.   M284 spread across Ireland, but L126/ L137 did not.   (The Urnfielders were the latest of a number of great waves of migrants to Britain from the German Rhineland and Belgium.)  

The distribution of the Scottish haplotype has things to tell us about where the McKinstry’s originated.  The Scottish haplotype of M284, M284 itself, and all of I2b1, are strongly concentrated within Scotland, in southwestern Scotland.  The following map shows the distribution of the people in the I2b1 Y DNA project, with the Scottish haplotype, who have tested positive for L126.   (L126 and L137 so far always occur together, and many people tested for one or the other.)    Within the group defined by the L126 and L137 mutations, the majority of people share the Scottish haplotype. 

The first screenshot of a section of map from Google Earth, shows the entire McKinstry sphere of influence.  Look at how localized it is.   From 1499 through the 16th century, they lived in Minnigaff and Penninghame parishes on the Cree River, in Galloway.  Over the next three centuries they gradually spread across Galloway and Dumfries, migrated to Glasgow, and rowed across the narrow strait to County Antrim in Ireland.  Carrickfergus, where Theophilus’s ancestor William was born around 1722, is almost the first land someone rowing from Galloway would encounter.   Over time they did spread to other parts of northern Ireland, especially Down and Armagh.   They don’t seem to have been a feature of Londonderry where the greatest concentration of the Scotch Irish settled.  

Notice the spread to northern Ireland by the Scotch-Irish migration.   This screenshot did not include all of Scotland; just the southern portion of it.   There was no L126 from the I2b1 project found in northern Scotland.   Scottish L126 is found in eastern Scotland, but is much less common there.   The point of origin of most people named McKinstry, in Scotland, is the Cree River;  that southwestern point of land, second river inlet, near the second datapoint from the coast.  Most McKinstry’s went just across the narrow strait to that point of land in northeastern Ireland.  This is exactly what Theophilus’s ancestors did; William McKinstry who married Mary Morse was born in Carrickfergus, county Antrim.  


Map showing McKinstry origins in Minigaff and near Newton Stewart, eventually spreading through Galloway.  Carrickfergus, label somewhat obscured,is on the coast of northern Ireland.

Distribution of L126, from I2b1 DNA project

L126/ L137, M284, and I2b1, are all strongly concentrated in southwestern Scotland.  

Unfortunately it isn’t clear whether this haplotype is actually concentrated in southwestern Scotland or it merely looks that way.   Notice another strange feature; that L126 looks considerably more common in Ireland than in Scotland, though it did not originate there!    It probably also isn’t more common there.   This is probably an illusion created by a bias in the data.  Most people in the databases are Scotch-Irish, and more of the Scotch Irish know specific places where their ancestors lived in Ireland than know where they lived in Scotland.  William McKinstry’s descendants are typical; they believe that he was of Scottish descent but know for a fact that he was born in Carrickfergus, Ireland about 1722.  

On the other hand, there is some reason to expect haplogroups and clades that predate the Saxon arrival in the British Isles to be concentrated in the west of Scotland.   M284 and its daughter clade both predate the arrival of Anglo-Saxon people in Scotland.  Anglo-Saxon people include people who are I2b1.  They did not include much if any people who were M284+.   The Anglo-Saxon people established a large, powerful kingdom on the coast of southeastern Scotland and northern England, called Northumbria.  The native Scottish peoples were pushed westward.  

Other haplogroups that came with the Anglo-Saxons or are common and widespread enough for the population rearrangement not to matter, should show less effect of people moved westward.  However, if the data is biased by the fact that much of it is Scotch Irish, any clade I look at should show the most people in southwestern Scotland.   I went to the I1 and R1b1b2 projects and mapped them for Scotland.  R1b1b2 shows some westward concentration, but both are much more evenly spread out.   Anglo-Saxon generic I1 is evenly distributed across southern Scotland.  The thing about Anglo Saxon generic I1 is that it probably should be concentrated in southeastern Scotland, so if the spread is even there is probably a westward bias of the data.  

It looks as if M284 really is atleast somewhat concentrated in southwestern Scotland.

Two experts in Scottish genealogy who I talked with, at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, had an interesting take on the situation.   Both insisted that the Isles/Scottish clade is your basic “Pictish” clade and should therefore be concentrated in, of all places, southeastern Scotland.   Both complained vehemently that the Scotch-Irish bias to the data falsely makes it appear otherwise.  

 I learned on the I2b1 forums that these two people have an agenda.  One of them is associated with the Oxford anthropological DNA outfit.   The pair of them just published a book together, on the genetic history of Scotland.   Unfortunately Orson Welles with the Genographic Project, a major anthropological genetics project organized by National Geographic and IBM, is as weird.  His thing is proving that all of us are “Phoenicians”.  He is putting huge amounts of project resources into testing people around the Mediterranean to “prove” that.  Phoenicia was a tiny place where Lebanon is now, in northern Palestine.  It had a large empire in northern Africa and was conquered by Rome.   However, the people throughout the Middle East and North Africa are genetically Middle Eastern, and have been since the Neolithic.   

It’s probably a good idea to discuss the Picts, since a current movie, the Ninth Eagle or something of the sort, presents another outlandish and improbable theory of their origins.  Even the Wikipedia article is full of nonsense.   The Picts were not a prehistoric tribe who in Roman times lived in the far north of Scotland and hunted seals.  They are not mentioned by anybody before the Roman conquest of Britain.   They were not a tribe, nor an ethnic group.   My careful research at the UT graduate library finds that the Romans mentioned them for the first time in 297 AD, when they attacked Hadrian’s Wall, in central Scotland.   A hundred years previously, the Romans had so badly decimated the people of northern Scotland that it took them over a century to recover.   The Picts were what a militarily unified entity in northern Scotland that resisted the Romans, called themselves.  They consisted ethnically and culturally of the people who lived in the land they ruled.   Their outdated fighting customs – naked and covered with blue paint – have the look of a fundamentalist resistance movement.   I wonder if their runic writing on rocks had something to do with extensive exposure to the Norse. 

This map makes more sense; the text explains that the Picts lived in the low lying areas of “Eastern” Scotland, while the Gaels (Scots) and Britons occupied the southwest.   But the map simply shows the Picts as the people of northern Scotland.   Notice that the northeast is occupied by Northumbria – the kingdom, or pair thereof, of the Angles.  The lines and squares are a rough, and not strictly accurate, representation of the military lines of the Romans.   The later map shows the Britons and Scots (kingdom of Dalriada) in the southwest and Picts in the east, north of Northumbria.   Galloway, in the far southwest, was Briton territory, secondarily Norse on the coast, and eventually politically dominated by the Gaels.   Unsurprisingly, the Angles had a major monastery and missionary center or two, and other cultural sharing, in Galloway.  



By the 8th century, the Picts also occupied central southern Scotland.  At that time they allied with the Gaels, who had a powerful kingdom in Strathclyde in western Scotland, to fight against the Vikings.  In time the Gaelic and Pictish royal families united by marriage, and this gave rise to the medieval kingdom of Scotland. 

The Picts never were located, let alone centered, in southeastern Scotland.  Moreover, noone who previously lived in southeastern Scotland continued to live there once the Angles moved into that area.   The Picts also did not occupy nor hold power in Galloway.  That area was successfully a Briton or Celtic kingdom, then within the sphere of the Gaelic kingdom, though most of its occupants probably continued to be Britons.   Penninghame and Minnigaff parishes do show extensive signs, particularly in place and personal names, of Norse occupation.

Pertinent to the name McKinstry is the fact that the language of Galloway was largely Scots Gaelic until the 18th or 19th century.   Surnames came into use there late as well, and McKinstry is a patronymic.  The name abruptly showed up in the land and probate records toward the end of the 15th century, and the first McKinstry could have had a father with a very different name.   An expert on Gaelic entymology wrote a standard reference on Scots Gaelic names and their English equivalents, and he decided that McKinstry was Mac An Astrigh, with a longer actual Gaelic spelling, and meant Son of a Wanderer or Son of a Traveller.   Scots Gaelic names are so similar and were so frequently intermingled that that might be true or might not.   One thing that is true of the name McKinstry, however, is that with the exception of versions that left off the final ee sound or the initial Mc, the name McKinstry has always been spelled in ways that were phonetically consistent.   The most important mangling that has occurred is that it often got rendered as McKinster, which is apparently a different surname.   MacKinstray is another common variation.   At one village to the north of Galloway it changed to “Kingstree”.   The name has never sounded, for example, like McKenzie or McKinsey.  The family were farmers who held several fields at a time (which was typical of farming practices of the time), and at times they were minor manor officials. 

In Ireland one or two families with this name were exceedingly prosperous.  In Armagh there was a family of minor gentry by this name, and they claim descent from Roger McKinstry, the father of Rev. John McKinstry, who allegedly lived in Edinburgh, who studied at Edinburgh University and came to New England.  Maybe he was born near Carrickfergus, or maybe “Brode” was in County Armagh.  His alleged descendants aren’t too sure.   ;)   However, McKinstry families that came to the U.S. and Canada have tended to claim descent from both Roger McKinstry and the wealthy Armagh family.   These links are so far unproven.