Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Scots-Irish: Iníon Dubh, Scottish Princess

The Scots-Irish: Iníon Dubh, Scottish Princess: model and photographer Niamh O'Rourke and actor, archaeologist, Dave Swift portray Iníon Dubh and Redshank in a recent Irish photo sho...

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Mid Argyll MacAlpins

Kilmichael Glassary Parish, Mid Argyll

The Mid Argyll Kinship DNA Project is a genetic genealogy research project on a group of families that share the same paternal ancestry, primarily from the parish of Kilmichael Glassary in mid Argyll.  Two of the families in the group are the MacAlpins (Mac Ailpín) and MacCains (Mac Eáin).  The chronology of the common male ancestor of these two mid Argyll families is currently under study.  Members of both families are doing the "Big Y" DNA test.  The BIG Y is a direct paternal lineage test and explores deep ancestral links.  It tests both thousands of known branch markers and millions of places where there may be new branch markers.  Both the Mac Ailpín and Mac Eáin families share SNP FGC19435 and the projected chronology to the TMRCA is circa 500AD.  The basic question is, are these MacAlpin families connected to the historical king from mid-Argyll, Coinneach Mac Ailpín (810 AD – 858 AD).  Coinneach Mac Ailpín was the first king of Scotland and founder of a dynasty which ruled Scotland for much of the medieval period.  This would mean the entire Mid Argyll Kinship group descends paternally from this old Dal Riada family.

The MacCains go back to a pivotal figure of Giolla Chríost who was a lord in Kilmichael Glassary in the 1200s.  He had three sons. One of these sons, Giolla Padraig, was the progenitor of the Cowal Clann Lachlainn.  His other two sons, Giolla Easpuig and Eoghann, had lands in Kilmichael Glassary in mid Argyll.  The descendants of Giolla Easpuig and Eoghann eventually lost their lands in Glassary to the Scrymgeour family.  In the late-1200s, Giolla Easpuig’s line failed to produce a male heir and their lands went to Ralf of Dundee by marriage. The lands of Eoghann were held by his son named Eáin, which passed to his sons by the 1340s.   In 1346, the Scottish Crown forfeited the Glassary lands of Eáin’s sons to Gilbert of Glassary, who was a grandson of Ralf of Dundee.  So by the late 1300s, Gilbert of Glassary had acquired, technically that is, much of the lands of the descendants of Giolla Easpuig and Eoghann, the two sons Giolla Chríost.  However, Gilbert of Glassary produced no male heir and in the 1370s all of these lands went to Alexander Scrymgeour, who had married Agnes, the daughter and heiress of Gilbert of Glassary.

How much control the Scrymgeour family had over the lands that had belonged to Giolla Easpuig and Eoghann Mac Giolla Chríost is questionable.  At this time, Glassary was the epicenter of the Redshanks society. Redshanks were a warrior class in high demand as mercenaries in Scotland, Ireland, and Europe.  They were a law unto themselves. They were supported by the tenants of the lord, a practice called “sorning.”  One sixteenth-century Scottish observer complained that the Glassary Redshanks were, “wild men who cannot be coerced or punished by secular judge or power.”[1]  The local lore says, and it is probably correct, that the descendants of Eáin son of Eoghann Mac Giolla Chríost took the “clan” surname of their cousins, the Mac Lachlainns of Cowal, and remained on their lands in Glassary.  It is also remembered that the Scrymgeours, quite wisely, made no changes and did not require rents, per se.  Given the remoteness of mid Argyll and the warlike nature of the local Gaels, the Scrymgeours showed wisdom.  The status of land possession in Glassary becomes clearer when a “McCain” family appears there in the 1430s and we are told they are of Clann Lachlainn.

In 1432, a John M’Ean (Eáin Mac Eáin) appears in the Glassary writs selling a tract of land at Kilmun in Cowal to John Scrymgeour, son of Alexander.  In the writs, we are told John M’Ean’s uncle is Giolla Easpuig Mac Eáin, showing us they both were known by the same surname.[2]  Then four years later, in 1436, Ailean Mac Eáin received a grant to extensive lands in Glassary which included many of the lands that had been held by Giolla Easpuig and Eoghann, the two sons of Giolla Chríost.  Ailean Mac Eáin’s son, Dunnchadh Rua, is also listed as “McCain” in the 1400s.  In other words, a McCain family appears on the scene in the 1430s in control of the lands held by Giolla Chríost’s two sons in Glassary.  Alastair Campbell of Airds, the Officer of Arms of Scotland and historian, noticed the appearance in Glassary of these McCains in his book The History of Clan Campbell.  When writing about the sale of land by John M’Ean to Sir John Scrymgeour he noted, “the lands of Kilmun presumably held by the MacIans or MaKanes, whoever they may have been.”[3]  Mac Phail, the editor of the The Highland Papers, also noticed this McCain group and observed they were probably descendants of Giolla Easpuig Mac Giolla Chríost.[4]   I would agree with this observation, but suspect they were the descendants of Eáin the son of Eoghann Mac Giolla Chríost. This is why they were known in Gaelic as the Mac Eáin family.  The salient point is that, from the early 1430s onward, there was a McCain family and Ailean Mac Eáin and his son Dunnchadh Rua were part of this family and they were connected to the Scrymgeour family through multiple marriages and land transactions.

Much of the history can be deduced from the lands themselves.  Several of the Glassary lands that Eoghann and his brother Giolla Easpuig held are the same ones granted to Ailean Mac Eáin in 1436 and later held by his sons.  Put into a historical context, the 1400s were a golden age for the local Gaelic powers in mid Argyll and Eáin Mac Lachlainn’s (Taoiseach of Clann Lachlainn) grant to Ailean Mac Eáin reflects this.  There may have been official land resignations, but the reality was Clann Lachlainn still retained control of much of their ancestral lands in Glassary and the 1436 grant confirms this.

By the late 1500s, McCain was fixed as a surname. This was almost certainly done to distinguish them as the line of Ailean Mac Eáin.  This use of the surname was noticed by local historian Herbert Campbell in the 1922, volume 38 edition of The Genealogist.  As he put it, “it is practically sure that two of the three Johns nicknamed ‘reoch’ belonged to the Dunadd line, so that it looks as though the family were playing with the nickname.”[5]  “John Reoch” was Campbell’s way of anglicizing Eáin Riabhach.  He was correct. The name was being used more at that time.  An example of what Herbert Campbell meant is seen in the name of Giolla Easpuig Mac Eáin Riabhach Mhic Dhonnchaidh Rua Mhic Lachlainn, who appears in the Lamont Papers in 1612.  This derbhfine name would be Archibald McCain in today’s English.  In 1570, Alexander M’Ean of Glassary held the lands at Bormolloch.   Bormolloch is the farmstead to the immediate east of Creag an Tairbh.  Significantly, Alexander M’Ean is listed in the Scrymgeour family records showing yet another connection between these two families.[6]  One Campbell tacsman listed in the year 1603 is “John M’Donald V’Ean, alias M’Loauchlan.”[7]  In Gaelic, his name was Eáin Mac Dónaill Mhic Eáin.  The “alias M’Loauchlan” means also known as Mac Lachlainn.  In 1705, another example of the multiple surname use is recorded in the Argyll justiciary records, with “Duncan Vc Lauchlane alias McEan.”[8]  These are examples of a clerk feeling the need to clarify a McCain’s clan affiliation.

The Mid Argyll MacAlpins are more difficult to locate in the primary sources in the 1400s, but in the 1500s they appear and are linked to the Ailean Mac Eáin family.  On 6 May 1573 John McDonche VcAlpine (Eáin Mac Donnchaidh Mhic Ailpín) was a witness to a sasine given by Alexander Scrymgeour at Kirnan, Kilmichael Glassary parish.  Alexander Scrymgeour was father of James Scrymgeour who was married to Aifric Nic Dhonnchaidh Rua (a descendent of Donnchadh Rua Mac Eáin).   This established a connection in the primary sources between the Mac Ailpín and Mac Eáin families.  Next we have, on 4 January 1608, in the Poltalloch Writs recorded at Inveraray castle, the Earl of Argyll addressed a precept of clare constat to Duncan McAlpine (Donnchadh Mac Ailpín) in Garbhallt.[9]  Garbhallt was part of Donnchadh Rua Mac Eáin's lands.  By the 1600s, there are many Mac Ailpín families that show up in the records, often living in the same settlements as the McCains other descendants of Ailean Mac Eáin. The MacAlpin families that participated in the DNA test were from the Loch Ederline area, which is on the southern end of Loch Awe within minutes of both Garbhallt and Bormolloch.

While the research is still on going, the DNA results of the mid Argyll Mac Ailpín family suggests they may be the historical Mac Ailpín family and their paternal line provided other clan progenitors in mid Argyll. The ancestral origins results for the family shows connections to central Scotland and no deep connections to Ireland, which  points to an indigenous Cumbric or Pict progenitor of this family.  News and research updates of the mid Argyll Mac Ailpín families will be posted on the Mid Argyll Group’s blog page.

[1] Heather Frances James, Medieval Rural Settlement, a study of Mid-Argyll, Scotland, (PhD thesis, University of Glasgow) 124.
[2] JRN MacPhail, 175.
[3] Alastair Campbell, The History of Clan Campbell, Volume I, From Origins to Flodden, (Edinburg, Edinburg University Press, 2000) 127.
[4] MacPhail, 225,226.
[5] Harwood,”Poltalloch Writs”, 71.
[6]  J Maitland Thomson, ed., Inventory of Documents Relating to the Scrymgeour Family Estates 1611 (Edinburgh: J Skinner and Company, 1912), 24.
[7] Innes, Parochiales, 165. Taken from the Brendalbane Charters.
[8] John Cameron, ed., The Justiciary Records of Argyll and the Isles 1664-1705, Volume 1(Edinburgh, The Stair Society), 75.
[9] Ibid., 142.

R-S1051 Project

George Chandler is an independent scholar and genetic genealogy researcher.  He is the administrator of the R-S1051 Project which is with Family Tree DNA.  The families in the Mid Argyll Kinship group are in the R-S1051 haplogroup and are encouraged to also participate in George's project.  The families with the R-S1051 all share the same paternal ancestor.  Many of the families are from the mid Argyll area have a TMRCA that dates to 800AD to 1500AD.  Some of the families in the R-S1051 group go much further back to the TMRCA, dating to Bronze Age Iberia.  There are several Portuguese and Spanish families in the group that are the very distant cousins of the Mid Argyll Group families.

Link to George Chandler's research:  R-S1051 Project 

Below is the introduction to George Chandler's R-S1051 Project.

Recently many new SNP's have been discovered for this unique haplogroup which is located below DF13.

The majority of this family group have 5 main Patriarch SNP's (S1051, FGC9655, FGC9661, FGC9658 and FGC9657). The current age estimate for these Patriarch SNP's is approximately 3,200 to 4,500 years old and likely originated within what is known as the Bell Beaker culture. When examining other haplogroups of a similar age the S1051 people are very few by comparison.

Evidence suggests that the geographic origin of this family group could have been from what is now modern Scotland.
 S1051 Project SNP results spreadsheet page 1 of 2. 
S1051 Project SNP results spreadsheet page 2 of 2 - FGC17906+

On the above spreadsheet links I've placed "SNP dates" which are an approximation as these mutation rates can vary. So far on average there is 1 Sanger SNP verified per 139 years so it's important to stress that these dates could change slightly as more research needs to be completed. There are instances like the single defining McCeney SNP which likely exceeds 200 years since it's mutation and other examples which were fewer than 139 years. Other factors to consider are the number of SNP's captured from the various sequencing types and the number of raw SNP's which are culled due to reliability issues. The age estimate 139 years per SNP was calculated by using known genealogy, full Y testing, Sanger verification, STR calculations and averaging the number of raw SNP's located below DF13. It's also important to understand that chronology of many of the SNP's (including the 5 main oldest ones) are still unknown.
For those in the Mid Argyle FGC17906 Group - they will find this valuable book written by Barry McCain interesting and worth the purchase.
The following link is to a 64 page paper written by Ronald Henderson that I recently discovered online. Although some concepts found within may stir debate within the historical or scientific community I believe it was well written and worth adding to project page.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Finding the McCains

 (this book explores the connections of the McCain family to Ailean Mac Eáin Riabhach, Taoiseach of Glassary circa 1436-1470)

Finding the McCains

Finding the McCains, is an account of a man’s 40 year odyssey to find the McCain family in Ireland.  Senator John McCain and his cousin, novelist Elizabeth Spencer, both include a short history of the McCain family in their respective memoirs Faith of our Fathers and Landscapes of the Heart.  Their history is a romantic tale of Highland Scots who supported Mary Queen of Scots and who fled to Ireland after her downfall in 1568.  The search for the McCains became a mystery story with clues, false turns, many adventures, and then ultimate success through Y chromosome DNA testing.  In 2008 the McCains were reunited with their family that remained in Ireland, after 289 years of separation.
The McCain history includes people and events familiar to readers of Irish and Scottish history; Redshanks, Iníon Dubh, Mary Queen of Scots, the Earls of Argyll, the Ulster Migration, and the Scots-Irish, are all part of this family’s history.  Faint memories of this past were told for generations in Mississippi and as the research progressed the facts behind these memories were uncovered.
The Y chromosome DNA results revealed that the McCains of Mississippi, which include Senator John McCain’s family, are the same family of Wallace and Harrison McCain, the founders of Canada’s McCain Foods, one of the most successful corporations in the world.  They are also the same family as James McKeen who organized the 1718 fleet that began the great Ulster Migration to the English Colonies.  All these families are paternally related and they all descend from one Gaelic man named Mac Eáin that lived in Kilmichael Glassary parish, in mid Argyll, in the Scottish Highlands, in the 1400s.
The book tells of the author’s many trips to Ireland in search of his distant cousins there.  There are anecdotal stories, some humorous and others involving “famous” people; such as, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, Mary Coughlan (Irish Tainste or vice president), Cindy McCain (wife of Senator McCain), Seán Mac Stiofáin (1970s head of the IRA) , Alan Heusaff (WW II German officer in Dublin who later became president of the Celtic League), and Muhammad Ali.  There is even an encounter with a Bean Sí (faerie woman) on the windy cold hill of megalithic stone ruins at Loch an Craoibh.  All presented from the perspective of a native Mississippian. 
Another theme in the book is the Scots-Irish.  Contemporary histories about the Scots-Irish present stereotyped and romanticized accounts of this dynamic group.  Finding the McCains reveals a more complex history and shows the cultural conflation common in Scots-Irish popular history.
Finding the McCains is an excellent read for all interested in Irish and Scottish history and is an how-to guide for those interested in how-to guide for those who would like to use genetic genealogy to locate their family in the old country and recover lost family history.

To purchase from Amazon: Finding the McCains

To purchase from Ulster Heritage directly send US $20 (postage paid) to:
Ulster Heritage
PO Box 884
Oxford MS 38655

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Scots-Irish: Native Tribes of Britain

The Scots-Irish: Native Tribes of Britain: The majority of the Scots-Irish are descendants of the native Celtic tribes of north Britain.  Here is a link to an article on the BBC Histo...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

DNA Project Update

We have two sub groups that have developed in the Mid Argyll Kinship Group.  The DNA locus 485 has a value of 13 for all the Mac Eáin origin surnames and a value of 16 for the rest of the men in the project.  The norm for the R-L21 haplogroup is in fact 15.   So, both sub groups within the Mid Argylll Kinship Group, i.e. the R-L21 9919 A-1 group to use geneticist jargon, have a 485 different than the norm.  This is a valuable research factor.

This mutation of the Mac Eáin sub group may have happened circa 1450 to 1550.  Pure speculation.  It may be 'the' marker of families that descend from Donnchaidh Mór Mac Eáin, as his family used the surname McCain beginning in the late 1400s.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Viking Britons

Link to a fascinating article by Scottish historian Tim Clarkson.  Most students of Irish and Scottish history are very familiar with the Gall Ghaeil, but Tim Clarkson has proposed that there was also a Gall Bhreathanaigh.   Gall Ghaeil means the foreign Gaels and Gall Bhreathanaigh means the foreign Britons, as in the Celtic people that lived in Scotland.  This is linked to McCain history and our DNA results.  When I have more time I will post an explanation.  This article specifically about Clan Galbriath, but relative to the McCains.

The story here:  The Viking Britons