Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Question of Royalty

I was watching amazon prime last week and watched two series/miniseries related to the Tudor's. Which got me thinking about the "supposed" connections two of Dad's lines has to them. The Howard family, which is supposed to be an offshoot of the Howard family (two of Henry VIII's wives) and the McCurdy which is supposed to be related to the Stewarts.

It is clear to me that the Howard family is no where near being proven. The furthest I can get conclusively is that Nehemiah Howard and Obadiah Howard belonged to the same church in North Carolina. When Obadiah Howard and his family, along with Phillip Mulkey moved their church to the Union District area of South Carolina, Nehemiah is listed as one of the members remaining in the new New River church formed at that time. Not long afterwards, Nehemiah is found mentioned in documents with the church members who had moved to South Carolina. He also witnessed a will there, and Obadiah is also mentioned.

Online genealogies list a father for him, but to be honest, there are several Howard's in North Carolina who may or may not be related, and their immigrant ancestor is sometimes disputable. Nehemiah and Obadiah would appear to be related, but then, they are the only ones in the area, the rest of the Howard's in different locations. The (to me) best documentation on Nehemiah is the written account from his grandson, Thomas S. Woodward who states Nehemiah was from a Virginia family.

As for the McCurdy's, well, it may be premature to try and figure that one out, especially given that though DNA shows several of the McCurdy cousins are related to the Pennsylvania group, we still can't connect our Elijah born in 1793 (and not the same as the Elijah born 1796 who lived in Dekalb and was a son of an Elijah, and who we share DNA with), on paper with any of the family. At this point I have started to wonder if Elijah's father didn't die when he was very young and his mother remarried, or if he was illegitimate. The one thing that is telling is he was literate. For his time, that meant his parents had money, or he was apprenticed. I don't know if South Carolina bonded out bastard's like North Carolina, and I surely haven't run across anything like those records. Perhaps if one of his many great grandchildren still living (Hint, Sherry) tested DNA and we did a YDNA on one of the many linear male descendants we may have some more answers.

But back to the Royalty question. From early books on the family, all the remaining books and researchers state that the Pennsylvania group descends from a Pethric McCurdy, a son of a Donald McCurdy who was married to Peggy Cameron. Pethric is supposed to have married a Margaret Stewart. Genealogies say that Peggy is a descendant of James IV of Scotland and Margaret Stewart is also.

What is clear is that the Stewarts of Bute and the McCurdy's of Bute were both given land to lease by King James the IV in Scotland. The Stewarts of Bute, of which the McCurdy clan is a sept, were descendants of Robert the Bruce (an ancestor to the Stewart line of Scottish Kings) through his illegitimate son John who he entitled with the title of Sheriff of Brute. One of his great grandsons, Ninian Stewart is the progenitor of the Stewarts of Ballintoy. The books all refer to the "brothers that escaped via boat" in 1666 to the Ulster area of Ireland, but the census of 1659 or is it 1660 shows the McCurdy's were already in the area (Ballintoy is in Ulster) in Raithlin and surrounding area's around Ballintoy, which means that the 1666 date is unlikely.

It is probable that McCurdy's did travel to the Ulster area either with the Stewarts or because of the religious persecution that took place in Scotland from 1650-1670. The association of Stewart descendants lists the Stewarts of Ballintoy's lineage, but no where does it say conclusively that a Charles Stewart (the supposed father of Margaret) belongs to that line, though I did find one note that he may be an illegitimate son. If in fact that is true, then Margaret Stewart, if we are from this line indeed, (and it does look like we are), was not a descendant of one of the King James' of Scotland, but of their ancestor Robert the Bruce.

The Peggy Cameron portion appears to be true based on a letter (that I can't find anywhere except in the books), from a William Cameron who states that his cousin Peggy who married Donald McKirdy was an example of the religious problems at the time, and in another letter writes (in 1660), that some of Donald's sons had capitulated, but some sons, among them Pethric had remained true to the faith.

I can't find any reference relating the Cameron's as a descendant of the Stewarts, though there is a suggestion that Ewan Cameron is a descendant of the Stewarts through an unknown Stewart female. What I could find on his descendants didn't include anything on a Peggy. Also, I did find that at the same time frame (1660), in the Ulster area a Scottish minister (Presbyterian Covenanter) known as John Cameron (who had a son William) was a minister. It is during this same time frame not only was the Scottish Presbyterian church under fire from Cromwell (among one issue), but the Irish rose up in Ireland about the attempt to put down Catholicism, including the Ulster area.

Without the letter, is it possible that John (or a brother) was who wrote the letter referred to? John was ordained in Ulster in 1755 and died there in 1799, he was born in 1724 near Edinburgh. Is he a relative of Peggy Cameron? And are they related to royalty? I can't say, I just can't find enough data. The lineage I can find for both the Stewarts and Camerons is more focused on the male descendants, and so it is really not clear if all of the female's are mentioned.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

DNA Melting Pot Surprise

My great Aunt wanted to get her DNA tested. She's 86. We joked, she was English, we all know that, but she wants to know what her results are. Surprise!... this is what ancestry says she is

Irish 32 %
Scandinavian 23 %
Iberian Penninsula 17 %
British  15 %
Western European 11 %

So why is this a surprise. Well, her mother was the first one born in the United States. Both of her mother's parents were born in England. And except for her maternal grandmother's grandmother, who we have no name for, every one of that family has been born in Staffordshire since the 18th century.

Her paternal grandmother's father said he was born in England (I can't find his parents) in about 1825. Her paternal grandmother's mother was either a Canadian or English immigrant, who was English as far as we all know.

Her paternal grandfather's family is exclusively from colonial (think Plymouth Rock and shortly there after) with one exception, one man born in Ireland in 1740.

So how in the heck did we get 32 percent Irish? I am clueless. But she will be tickled pink.

A (Not So) Scientific Look at the Randomness of DNA

I have now tested myself, my daughter, my parents, my maternal first cousin, my maternal grandfather's first cousin, my maternal grandfather's half nephew, my maternal grandmother's sister, and three distant cousins of my father. Along with several of my correspondents who have also tested that I know the relationship, I already had some theories about the randomness of DNA.

There are multiple blog posts on the X chromosome DNA. How entire sequences seem to pass from one generation to the next. How the distribution of that DNA isn't scientific. But there isn't much, except for a few posts on "sticky" DNA that addresses the other 22 chromosomes.

I knew for instance, my mother and her half first cousin seem to have gotten the same but unequal parts of DNA from their grandfather. Mom tended to get more of the Hager side, and her cousin more of the Collins side. I knew that mother's colonial Massachusetts DNA and the DNA from her Wallen ancestors was "sticky". She matched larger segments than the relationship should allow. I knew that in a cases beyond 3rd cousin, how much DNA I got from my parents really depended on the number of segments. If it was one segment, I either got it or I didn't. If though it was several, I more often than not got at least one segment, if not all of them.

I was anxious to see just how my daughter's DNA looked. Would she share more from one grandparent than the 25 %? I suspected she would. So here is a look at my daughter's DNA mostly from Gedmatch (I know some of the math seems off with my mother's)

Relationship to my daughter
Total cM’s
Percent of DNA of both parents
Percent of DNA as my Half contributed
(percent of my 50 %)
My DNA Total cM’s
3581/194.7 (X)
27.95/39.6 (x)
55.9/79.2 (x)
44.3/24.1 (x)
Maternal GG Aunt
Maternal 1C1R
Maternal 1C3R
1/ 4.2 (x)
2.1/8.5 (x)
Maternal ½ 1C2R
Maternal 3C1R #
Maternal 2C3R
Maternal 3C1R
Maternal 1C2R *
Maternal 1C2R *
Paternal 2C1R *
Paternal  2C *

·         * Total DNA from Remaining Kits are from Gedmatch results.
·         # is a double cousin. Both my and her great grandparents (one set) were siblings married to siblings. 

S    So how does my great Aunt fair? Well, I suppose because she's 86, she has much fewer matches. But here is the percentages she shares with my mother, my cousin, and me (see above for my daughter). She shares 2006.1 cM's with my mom or roughly 28% of my mom's DNA. She shares 1247.2 cM with me or roughly 17.4 % of the DNA with me. I share none of her X chromosome (she's my maternal grandmother's sister) but my mom shares 61.1 cM or roughly 39 % of her maternal X chromosome. My first cousin (who is her great nephew) shares 998.9 cM or roughly 13.9 % DNA with our Great Aunt. I share more DNA with my great Aunt than my first cousin, and my first cousin shares slightly more with me than with my great Aunt, even though in both cases the tables show we should share an average of 12.5 %.