CLAN MACNAB DNA PROJECT

The Clan Macnab DNA Project was founded in late 2016. The  focus of the project is YDNA testing, because YDNA is passed on unrecombined from fathers to their sons. What makes YDNA so useful for surname studies is that it mutates relatively slowly, and each mutation leaves a marker behind. 

 

We are very much in need of more testers from around the world to help us expand our knowledge of the various Macnab lineages. Please consider joining us in this incredible opportunity to leave a historic legacy for all future McNab/Macnab/McNabbs. 

If you have any questions after reading the FAQs below, please feel free to contact me at macnabhistory@gmail.com

 We also ask that you consider making a donation to the Macnab DNA Project - even small donations can make a big difference. We use these funds in a number of ways, including:

  • To assist with funding of tests for key testers 

  • To assist with upgrading of tests for existing testers who may (for example) be deceased 

  • To fund occasional expert analysis 

 

If you would like to earmark your donation for testing of a particular lineage of Macnabs (say, descendants of Baptist McNabb, or Acharn McNabs), please email macnabhistory@gmail.com to let me know.

Loraine Smith

Shennachie to the Chief of Clan Macnab

 

FAQ

 

WHAT KIND OF TEST SHOULD I TAKE?

We generally recommend that testers start with a Y37 STR test. This is a basic test, at a (relatively) low price point, which gives enough information for us to know if you match any other groups of Macnabs already in the project. If you do, it will likely be necessary for you to upgrade to a higher level test to establish how closely you may be related to the other men in the group.

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE?

The project is open to males (because only males have a y-chromosome to test) with the Macnab surname (of any spelling or variant), or any sept surname. We also have members who do not have the Macnab surname, but whose YDNA makes it clear that they are genetic McNabbs. Female Macnabs (or any McNab descendant in a female line) can participate by finding a male McNab in their lineage and coaxing/prodding/bribing him to test.

BUT DON'T ALL MCNABS DESCEND FROM THE SAME ABBOTT OF GLENDOCHART AND THEREFORE HAVE THE SAME YDNA?

Well, that's what the myth said, but it turns out nothing could be further from the truth. So far, we have 22 different 'flavors' of McNabbs in the project that do not share a common direct patrilineal ancestor with each other for at least 1500 years. Part of the aim of the project is to work out where all these Macnabs came from and how they acquired the surname.

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED SO FAR?

In just over three years, we’ve learned:

 

  • That the lines of the main Macnab Cadet Houses who have tested (Acharn, Innishewan and Barravorich) share a common pre-surname ancestor with each other, and also with the line of the Cameron of Lochiel Chiefs (which fits with at least one of the Clan Macnab origin stories).

 

  • That, as certain sources had said might be the case, the Barravorich McNabs are descended from the Acharn Macnabs, and the Innishewan Macnabs originated from the same source as both (but earlier in time).

 

  • That it is clear that McNabb is not a single origin name - that is, all McNabs do not descend from one son of one Abbott in Perthshire. It looks like there might have been more than one Abbott who had a son!

 

  • That the web of early US colonial McNabbs is even more tangled than we thought, and that many of the ‘known truths’ about them may prove to be just a little less than true.

HOW DOES YDNA TESTING WORK?

To give you a simplistic example, if Finlay 12th Chief of Clan Macnab did in fact have 12 sons, he passed on his exact YDNA to each of them, unless there was a mutation. If a mutation occurred in his son Duncan's YDNA, then Duncan's YDNA, including the mutation, was passed to Duncan's sons - and if we had today one descendant of Smooth John and one descendant of Duncan, Duncan's descendant's YDNA would still bear the marker of that mutation, whereas Smooth John's would not. Thus, we would be able to distinguish a person descended from

Smooth John from one descended from Duncan by their YDNA. 

 

Now obviously, we can't go back and YDNA test Finlay 12th (although don't think I haven't given some thought to digging up a few ancestors to snitch a little DNA!). What we can do, though, is test as many individuals as possible, some of whom know their line of descent and some of whom do not, and put them all together and see where the matches and mutations lie. So if you know you're a Macnab, but your people left Scotland (or Ireland, or England) so long ago you don't know what branch of the Clan you came from, you might discover that your YDNA carries a mutation marker that only appears in the Innishewan Macnabs, and that would show your kinship with the line of the Innishewan Macnabs.

WHAT ARE THE GOALS OF THE PROJECT?

1. To shed light on the origins of Clan Macnab, and determine if the DNA evidence supports any of the origin stories of the Clan.

2. To shed light on Clan Macnab's connection to other Scottish Clans.

3. To assist McNabs and Macnab descendants all over the world in determining their connections to other MacNabbs.

4. To assist McNabbs in determining if they have a connection to the known Cadet Houses and collateral lines.

5. To clarify the likely origins of the many differing lines of Macnabs.

HOW DO I JOIN?

Go to the web link found in the first FAQ. Click the Join button. That will take you to a page where you can join the project and purchase a kit. 

 Once you've placed your order, please email macnabhistory@gmail.com with the following info:      

  • Kit number

  • Name

  • Country of residence

  • Cadet house affilation, family lore about origins, etc.

  • Earliest known proveable Macnab ancestor - name, dates, locations

Wait for your kit to arrive, follow the instruction, mail it back, and try to contain your excitement while you wait for the results!

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I GET MY RESULTS?

The project admins will look at and analyze your results as soon as possible - please keep in mind that project admins are unpaid volunteers, and may have actual lives outside of Clan Macnab that may occasionally cause slight delays. We will then contact you to advise what we see, what it means, and what further testing might be recommended. We're also happy to answer your questions.

 

You can also contact anyone you have matches to, to see if you can figure out how your McNabb lines connect. 

You may also want to get involved in recruiting other testers from your line, to help clarify your particular lineage.

WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT YDNA TESTING AND ANALYSIS?

Here are links to some of my favorite blogs/videos/websites with great information ranging from the very basics of how YDN is inherited to more advanced analysis and surname projects. The last video discusses the use of YDNA in researching Irish Clans, but the same concepts apply equally to Scottish Clans (some of which, of course, originated from Irish Clans).

DNA Explained - Roberta Estes

YDNA for Genealogy Part 1 - David Vance

 

YDNA for Genealogy Part 2 - David Vance 

YDNA for Genealogy Part 3 - David Vance

Research your Clan using DNA and Documentary Records - Dr Maurice Gleeson

WHAT COMPANY SHOULD I TEST WITH?

The Macnab DNA Project is at Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), and all YDNA testing should be done there. Here's the link to the project:

Macnab DNA Project

WHAT ABOUT ANCESTRY DNA (AUTOSOMAL DNA TESTING)?

YDNA testing looks at only one narrow line of your ancestry - the direct patrilineal line (which also happens to be the path of surnames in our society). Autosomal DNA testing (which is what Ancestry does) looks at ALL of your ancestors. It is also a very valuable tool, and we would encourage everyone to consider doing it.

 

However, it has two drawbacks in terms of a Clan DNA Project:

- it can only effectively reach back about 5 or 6 generations (you do have DNA from ancestors further back, but proving which ancestor it      came from past about 6 generations is very difficult)

- it is complex and time consuming to work with properly past the first few generations

We do allow and encourage Macnab descendants who have done autosomal testing to join the project and work collaboratively together, but (for now at least) we are unable to offer any analysis of autosomal DNA results.