Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sinclair DNA Basic Training Had Wide Following

So far, the DNA training we had for the Sinclair / St Clair / Siceler family has had 203 listeners. The ability to track your success (or failure) is one of the great features of online properties. For instance, here are our overall statistics:

492 Listeners - "St Clair DNA Research & Prince Henry Sinclair" - 2/17/2011 - This was the interview with Richard White, author of the book on Prince Henry Sinclair.

317 Listeners - "Sinclair DNA and SNPs, the Next Step - Terry Barton" - 3/8/2012 - This was the interview with Terry Barton, founder of

1,435 Listeners - "Sinclair DNA and Bennett Greenspan, Founder of FTDNA" - 4/14/2012 - I promoted this one heavily before the show and the recorded version got a very good following.

778 Listeners - "Sinclair DNA Interviews Andrea Di Robilant" - 12/29/2011 - This was a very fun show about Andrea's new book, "Irresistible North, From Venice to Greenland on the Trail of the Zen Brothers," regarding the voyage of the Zeno Brothers.

203 Listeners - "Sinclair DNA Basic Discussion" - 3/03/2012 - The DNA training session.

Naturally, those shows which have been up for a long time will continue to built up "listeners" because they continue to attract attention.

It's gratifying that we're putting up content that people find useful. The latest one, the DNA training session, will definitely help those who are new to DNA testing.

Other ways Sinclair DNA can help out beginners

On our website,, you'll notice the links to the left. There, if you click the link "New Visitors Click Here," you'll see a series of 6 pages you can visit. I highly recommend two of these -
About DNA Testing - This page has 2 videos on it from Family Tree DNA, our testing lab. It also covers the basics of what will happen with your results.

Privacy Concerns Answered - Early in our DNA study, several people expressed concerns about giving something so private as their very DNA to a testing company. After a lot of research on the question, I answered all this openly and honestly.

Another link down that left hand side of our website is "Methodology." This is a lengthy page that approaches the subject scientifically, starting with 2 hypotheses. On this page I show you what your results page offers; I define a Lineage; discuss the limits of YDNA versus mtDNA; and generally lay out the overall approach of this or any DNA study.

On the left hand side of the Sinclair DNA website, you'll notice 3 other links where we get into the meat of the study. As we move forward in time, you'll notice more links at each of these 3 sections of the website. That's because we're working our way from the "trunk" of the family tree out to the disparate "branches."

Early Path Through Time - This page takes you all the way back to the origins of man and begins the journey forward. The chart you'll find there needs to be updated for some of our SNPs. For families to have arrived at a place during a time period, they had to have come from somewhere. The locations of their travels were effected over long periods of time by outside events, like the last glacial maxim, 18,000 years ago. If you're alive today, then your ancestors were, in some way, effected by that event.

Lineages - More Recent Path - This page is in the process of being updated and re-structured. The big changes that have effected our study and the way the results must be displayed is SNP studies. This page and the links on it are all the result of our being split into Lineages by SNP studies.

Genealogy Groups - 1600 AD+ - This is the most recent of the 3 pages that get into our path through time. As genealogy must, this page divides our family based on where they migrated since the 1500s. Accurate records research before the 1600s is nearly impossible. But the combination of SNP studies plus honest records research can begin to point the way to understanding who our ancestors were.

The final DNA step

On the Sinclair DNA website, you'll see a page called "A Confluence of Surnames - SNP Connections." This is my attempt to connect the dots between SNP studies and ancient documents. An important part of this 24-page document is the statement that I'm not making any claims in this research. This particular paper took me about 9 months of ongoing research into ancient documents, DNA connections and more. The great joy of the project for me was in not making any claims, but simply looking to see if medieval records also connected in similar patterns to our SNP connections.

Every St Clair / Sinclair DNA participant can take the same approach

If you're in a DNA study, don't just focus on your DNA. Instead, look into the records of your ancestors. If you decide to look back in the medieval period, then you might find people of different surnames circulating around each other. Remember that the use of surnames was very fluid in the medieval period. I found several records in which people were clearly using a different second name based on where they lived. Too many "purists" think their ancestors used the same surnames since the 1100s. It's highly unlikely.

If you look through that "Confluence" section on the Sinclair DNA website, you'll see 14 mentions of the name Ashley. This is one that shows up in my STR matches. My next stop would be to go look at their DNA results. Click here.

There you'll see they have quiet a large group who show the R1b1a2a1a1b4 SNP. This is the L21 group. Many of them claim ancestry back to England. I only count 3 participants who look like they'll show the U106 SNP, a clear divide in our family.

This is all very interesting because, in my STR connections, I have the Ashley name. Also, I'm a part of the L21 SNP, just like the Ashley family. And to top it off, in my medieval records research I found 13 different mentions of the Ashley family in close proximity to the St Clair family, likely descendants of Bretel de St Clair. They signed documents together at Wells Cathedral, the Benedictine Priory of St. James at Bristol, and Montacute Priory. The Ashley family received all but one of the Domesday properties of Bretel St Clair upon his death.

And to really seal the deal, there is a record of a Willelm de Sancto Claro (St Clair) who had 2 sons: one was Philip de St Claro, and the other was Walter de Esselega (Ashley). That second son took a different surname.

As you can see, DNA is fun, but the real satisfaction comes when you see strong coincidences between your DNA and ancient documents. When you find medieval records which clearly connect people with different surnames, and you see the same surname connections in your DNA SNP matches, then you may be on your way to some real discoveries.

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