Warburton DNA Strategy Article

I have written an article entitled New Approaches to Y-Chromosome DNA Testing in the Warburton One-Name Study.  I have submitted it for publication in a future issue of the Journal of One-Name Studies (not the next, but hopefully the one after). A link to it can be found on the DNA Project page.

In it I discuss some of the findings from the Warburton Project as well as a discussion on how my testing strategy has evolved to reflect the growing emphasis on Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) testing rather than the Short Tandem Repeat (STR) tests which have been the mainstay of the project so far. STR tests do still have a role but it is your personal SNPs that define the history of your Y-chromosome.

From now until December 31st the annual Chtristmas sale is running at Family Tree DNA so now seems a good time to review where we are at, and what might be done. We have already done a fair bit of SNP testing for the Cheshire and Lancashire Groups, but none otherwise.

To recap, a SNP is a mutation in a single DNA  base pair. Once one has occurred the world can be divided into those who have inherited it, and those who haven’t. For example a SNP called M269 occurred about 6,000 years ago on the Russian steppes and was predominant amongst a group of horse riding cattle herders who migrated into Europe. Today about 60% of males in the British Isles carry the M269 SNP. Most Warburtons who have tested have been predicted as M269 from their STR results.

Maybe 1,000 years later SNP U106 occurred within the M269 population, somewhere in the Rhine valley in western Germany. About 20% of males in the British Isles have this SNP,  including both the Cheshire and Lancashire groups.

I have a SNP called FGC13446 which I share with a Dutton and a couple of others. It is a SNP that will identify any Warburton as a member of the Cheshire Group. It is one of 25 SNPs shared by a group of Warburtons, Dutton’s, Howells, and Neeleys, but no one else. This indicates that no-one has been tested who descends from a line that branched off our line during a 3,000 year period prior to the Dutton-Warburton split. The Dutton-Warburton link ties in with the history that says a branch of Warburtons were originally Duttons who arrived with the Norman conquest. DNA testing for genealogy is illegal in France so the lack of branches can be explained if our ancestors have been in France for millennia and didn’t just arrive with the Norsemen.

Similar histories can be developed for any Y-chromosome. The Lancashire Group’s Y-chromosome arrived with the Anglo-Saxon migrations and is most common in north-west England. However apart from the Cheshire and Lancashire groups these histories haven’t been developed for other Warburton Y-chromosomes, and there are numbers of Warburton clans that haven’t been tested at all.

If money is no object I would recommend anyone take the Family Tree DNA BigY test. The only caveat is that diminishing returns set in if a close relative has already tested. By this I mean that there is a common ancestor in the last few hundred years. On average SNPs uncovered by the BigY test occur every 130 years so the differentiation between people with a common ancestor in the last few hundred years will be small. This is one area where a detailed STR comparison might offer greater detail.

BigY is undergoing changes. All previous results are being reanalysed to a new level, the test now incorporates an 111 marker STR result (though I believe this is implied rather than tested), and from January you will be able to order  BigY without having done a previous STR test.

A BigY test is now probably all the Y-chromosome testing one will need. There are tests from other companies that cover more of the Y-chromosome, and so uncover more SNPs, but these are even more expensive.

The change to ordering after January comes too late to take advantage of the Xmas sale. Big Y costs $475 (a $100 reduction) and may be reduced by a further $50 by using one of the vouchers that are regularly being offered. So if you have already done an STR test at Family Tree DNA this is a big opportunity for anyone willing to pay that sort of money for a test. I used the last sale in the summer to order an additional BigY from the Cheshire Group (the results have just come in) and I plan to use this sale to get one for the Lancashire Group.

It is important the BigY result is exploited by joining the appropriate Haplogroup project and sharing your result. This where work is done to develop the specific history for the haplogroup. The Cheshire and Lancashire Groups both fall within the U106 project.

For those not willing or able to buy a BigY test there needs to be a cheaper, or at least  incremental approach to uncovering your Y-chromosome history, and this is where my new strategy comes in. The 37 marker STR test which is currently the mainstay of the projecti costs $149 ($129 in the current sale). However you could test the same 37 markers at a company called YSEQ (website yseq.net) for $85. The downside is the results wouldn’t be integrated into the project results at Family Tree DNA, though I can easily check for matches. Furthermore you can test 18 markers for $58 and I am confident that is sufficient to determine if a match is likely.

If the likely match is with the Cheshire or Lancashire Groups, all that is necessary to confirm the match is an $18 dollar single SNP test (e.g. for the Cheshire Group this would be a test for FGC13446). I would recommend this approach to anyone simply wishing to know if they match other Warburtons. Over time I am looking to identify other, more recent SNPs which will tell us how the various clans link together, not just that they match.

For all those who have results, past and present, which don’t match the Cheshire or Lancashire Groups then work on SNPs is recommended. A BigY test would be ideal, and where a small group has been identified there may be an opportunity to share the cost. A cheaper alternative is to test a SNP panel that covers your predicted haplotype, and maybe further panels to discover your more recent SNPs, which then can be used directly to confirm future matches.

I am particularly keen to use my new testing strategy to get results from clans that don’t yet have one. The largest such is the Ashley and Morley clan where a test was recently started but it seems to have stalled. Both this and the smaller Altrincham clan are potential Cheshire Group members and it would be nice to prove it. The Shochlach 2 clan and two Bolton clans plus many smaller families are also without a result.

Two other clans were only recently associated with the Warburton name. Testing the Bancroft and Mongon clans would be to understand their history before they became Warburtons. The same would be true of any further testing on other results known to have come from a non-paternal event.

Three largish clans, Pool Bank, Poynton, and Sandbach, have one unmatched result. These Y-chromosomes could be recently associated with the Warburton name through a non-paternal event, or the association could date back to the Middle Ages, but be represented by a small number of modern day descendants. Here a second result is required, from someone as distantly related to the first tester as possible. Here the objective is the triangulate the first result to show it goes back several generations to a common ancestor, or to bypass it to uncover a match.  I know from my work on the Crewe obituaries that several members of the Sandbach clan live in the Crewe area today whose common ancestor with the previous tester was born 200 years ago. The are descendants of a John Hedley Warburton who died in 1945.

December sales make it a good month to consider how you might enhance your knowledge of your family history with DNA. Y-chromosome testing is just one form of DNA testing but it is the most closely associated with your family name, and it can give you a history of one of only two pieces of DNA that has been passed down virtually unchanged for millennia. In addition you now have a choice between an all inclusive, one off test, and a much cheaper, incremental approach.


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