Explaining the Elliot(t) FTDNA Project

By Gail Riddell
Voluntary FTDNA Project administrator

On 23 June 2013 James Elliott accepted me into an already established Family Tree DNA project  (abbreviated to FTDNA) named Border Reivers  he was running with another gentleman.  In addition to this, he was also running a private project, although affiliated with the FTDNA project.

Because I have ELLIOT(T) surnames in my family tree, I set out to first revamp and reorganize these and along the way, found numerous discoveries which I shall refer to later.  But to ensure you understand the difference between my approach and that of Jim’s, he deals with genealogy whereas I deal with solely DNA genetic matches.

You can view Jim’s project. He mentions some of the history of the families, whereas in the FTDNA project, I deal ONLY with the genetic families.  In both sites, ensure you click through to all the other sections within each.

This means, because of the frequency of the inter-marriages and the “taking” (or hand-fasting) of partners from the various members of all the differing families from the region, there are sometimes numerous surnames mixed and muddled into these genetic families.

To fulfil this request to write something, I am separating the topics into three overviews, namely:

  1. From the point of view of only the FTDNA project, and
  2. A little regarding the Elliotts and their genetic families
  3. the advantages associated with DNA testing for genealogical purposes.

1. The FTDNA project

The Border Reiver project has a total at the date of writing September 2015, of 1438 members – male and female – with some 136 genetically different families.  Their names (although eclipsed by Elliot(t) include  Ainsley, Allison, Anderson, Archbold, Armstrong, Ballantine, Ballantyne, Barraford, Beatty, Bell, Blekinsop, Bogue, Boone, Bromfield, Brown, Bruce, Bunyan, Burn, Burrell, Carlisle, Carlton, Carnaby, Carothers, Carr(e), Carruthers, Cecil, Cessford, Chamberlain, Chisholm, Clifford, Collingwood, Coulter, Cranston, Craw, Crawford, Cresswell, Crichton, Crisp, Crozier, Cruthirds, Curwen, Cuthbert, Dacre, Dalgliesh, Davidson, Davison, Dixon, Dodd(s), Douglas, Drysdale, Dunn(e), Elder, Eliott, Elliot, Elliott, Elwood, Etherington, Eure, Fenwick, Fleming, Forster, Fraser, Gilchrist, Glendenning, Glenn, Goodfellow, Gordon, Gowland, Graden, Graham, Gray, Grey, Hadley, Hall, Halliday, Harden, Harle, Hedley, Henderson, Hepburn, Heron, Hetherington, Hildreth, Hodgson, Howard, Hume, Hunter, Huntley, Inglis, Irvine, Irving, Irwin, Jackson, Jamiesn, Jardine, Johnston(e), Kennedy, Kerr, Kilpatrick, Kinmont, Kirkland, Kirkpatrick, Laidlaw, Langley, Liddell, Lindsay, Lisle, Little, Lowther, MacLellan, Maxwell, McCulloch, Medford, Milburn, Minto, Moffat, Moffit, Montgomery, Murray, Musgrave, Nixon, Noble, Ogle, Oliver, Orde, Orr, Percy, Plunkett, Porteous, Potts, Pringle, Pyle, R(o)utledge, Radcliff, Rayburn, Reade, Reaveley, Redpath, Reed, Ridley, Rob(e)son, Robinson, Robison, Robson, Rowell, Rutherford, Salkeld, Scoles, Scott, Selby, Shaftoe, Shortridge, Simpson, Snaydon, Sommerville, Stamper, Stapleton, Stephenson, Stewart, Storey, Swinton, Taggart, Tait, Taylor, Telford, Thom(p)son, Trimble, Trotter, Turnbull, Turner, Tweedie, Veitch, Waddington, Wake, Wallace, Watson, Waugh, Weir, Wetherington, Wharton, Wilkinson, Wilson, Witherington, Yarrow, Young

The principal receiving clans and families are named as including  Armstrong, Bell, Burn, Charlton, Crozier, Dacre, Dodds, Douglas, Elliot, Fenwick, Forster, Graham, Hall, Harden, Irvine, Johnstone, Kerr, Maxwell, Milburn, Noble, Reed, Robson, Scott, Turnbull.

2. The ELLIOT(T)s and their genetic families

Within the section consisting of mostly Elliot(t) surnamed members and within the FTDNA project, we have 270 testers with this surname.  For those of you who are aware of Haplogroups (a kind of ‘genetic surname’), we have men belonging to a wide range – from C, E, G, I, J, L and from both lineages of R.  Automatically, this means that a male with a haplogroup having a genetic signature of one type (say E), is not and cannot be from a family with a genetic signature of another type (say R).  The most common (which fits with the Northern English and the Southern Scots of today’s geographic border) is R1b1a2 although this is frequently indicated by the description R-M269 or a derivation of a downstream SNP (this is a miniscule segment on a segment of a chromosome and is abbreviated from ‘Single Nucleotide Polymorphism’).

As new testers join us in the FTDNA project, my main task is to allocate that new man to his genetic family within the project.  From that point, two things can occur.

  1. I may see something in the results that sends me to wider searching in an effort to unravel whatever the issue is, or
  2. Jim may zero in on the gentleman immediately and be able to immediately pin-point him as belonging to a particular genealogical family.

There is no way either of us can predict the outcome of what a tester will receive – for my part, my mantra is that every male in the world should automatically test Y111 plus atDNA (Family Finder).

The former gives the Direct Paternal lineage back through many hundreds of years, whereas the latter is in the last two hundred years or so, being cousins from both maternal and paternal sides.

If you go to the site   www.familytreedna.com/public/border_reiver_dna  set your page size to 193 and refresh.  This will enable you to start at the beginning of the ELLIOT(T)s as well as easily view all the column headings and each tester’s results.

To begin, click on P 3.  Notice the headings of each subgroup?   Notice the column headings?  All of these things mean something.  The group headings are pertinent to a particular group of testers and the colun headings designate the particular position on the Y chromosome that the results occur.  (To learn more about the column headings, click on the orange wording in the description above the chart).  To a newcomer, these things will mean very little but when they realise that throughout every Y-DNA chart of every FTDNA project, all these columns are in the same order, they can begin to start understanding what their results actually mean.

To begin, let us start with the column headed DYS393.  Automatically, this signifies

D=DNA test;
Y=the Y chromosome;
S= Short Tandem Repeat value at that position.

I hear you asking “what is a ‘short tandem repeat’?”

Within the Y chromosome used only for genealogically testing (and has nothing to do with medical or with forensic testing), the are sequences of nucleotides.  These are the proteins A (adenine), T (thymine), C (cytosine) and G (guanine).  The laboratory seeks out the area where these nucleotides looking for repeated sequences of this at that specific position.  In DYS 393, it maybe that the result is a sequence of ATGT, ATGT, ATGT and the same sequence is repeated 12 times in Haplogroup C.   Alternatively, in Haplogroup I, it might be repeated 14 times.

Until a man is actually tested and until a man has another person with whom he can be compared, there is no method of predicting any outcome.

But this may be more than you need to know right now and so back to the ELLIOT(T) testers.

Scrolling down the page of the previously stated site, click on P4.  Up will come more groups of testers.  (Remember these are all different genetic families because as already stated, I take no notice of the genealogy when grouping these testers.)  P5 shows the last remnants although you will also find some located in other surname groups within the FTDNA project…  (This is because the tester matches are strong with that of another surname group).

Return to page 4 and go to the two groups labeled   ELLIOTT – Hap’group R1b1a2 – L193

At first glance they will not appear to be related – this is because the genetic connection ranges over 1,000+ years.  But related genetically they indeed are.  They are the two largest groups and I have yet to finally sort them into the needed categories.

Just below these two large groups is one labeled  ELLIOTT – Hap’group R1b1a2 Unallocated, awaiting others to Upgrade   Throughout the project are those men who have chosen (presumably for financial reasons) to test at very low levels.  Sometimes this backfires on them and they can get no further simply because of the Haplogroup their DNA has given them.  And until I get certainty of matching at a worthwhile level, I choose to leave them awaiting their decision to upgrade (or as the case often turns out), they are the only representatives of their particular lineage to test and eagerly await others to join.  Hopefully, you will gain the idea that DNA testing is almost a “must” for the ELLIOTs.

3. Advantages of using DNA testing for Genealogical purposes

Although I am about to list the advantages available to a DNA tester who takes the plunge into the fascinating world of genetic genealogy, it is also necessary to point out the risks.

In no particular order (and are not conclusive), these include:-

  • Are you (the tester) prepared to take the risk that you may not be who you think you are?
  • If that occurs, what will you do with your paper trail laboriously put together?
  • If you do not learn which test you need to discover what you are seeking, are you prepared to either take direction or spend more money? (There are three main tests but females can only take two main types, i.e. autosomal and mitochondrial).
  • Do you know that only Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) is the only company offering offers all the tests?
  • That you may possibly be the only representative of your family who has ever chosen to test and consequently there is no other member of your genetic family against whom your results can be compared. (This is most unusual although it can happen).

Now to the advantages:

  • To bring certainty to your current genealogical paper trail;
  • To break down that brick-wall you may have been facing for what seems like ‘forever’ – it usually seems to occur either late in the 18th century or early in the 19th century;
  • To expand your genealogical tree and to make contact with family members you never knew you had;
  • To learn into which places on the globe your family has migrated;
  • To add an invaluable tool to your genealogical ‘tool-kit’;

Remember that genealogical testing is not for insurance purposes;  it is not for criminal or forensic purposes;  it is not for medical purposes.  (Testing for those purposes considers different aspects of the human chromosomes and frequently involve blood, whereas Genealogical testing is usually a cheek swab although some companies use saliva samples, for example Ancestry.com and 23andMe.com.  But Ancestry and 23andMe focus on the autosomal DNA.  FTDNA offers the entire spectrum for genealogical testing – in fact it is the only reputable testing firm who appears to do this currently.

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