An Analysis of the Spence DNA project results                        Last updated: 17/07/2006

Main pages:

http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~willspnc/spence/dnatables.htm

http://www.familytreedna.com/public/Spence/

 

I have grouped together families tentatively, as shown by the colours.

 

Table 1. E3a.

 

Most Distant Ancestor

*

Kit

3

3

1

3

3

3

4

3

4

3

3

3

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

G

Y

Y

4

6

5

5

C

C

4

4

H

9

9

9

9

8

8

2

8

3

8

9

8

5

5

5

5

5

4

3

4

4

6

6

6

6

6

A

C

C

5

0

7

7

D

D

4

3

a

3

0

 

1

5

5

6

8

9

9

2

9

8

9

9

5

4

7

7

8

9

4

4

4

4

0

T

A

A

6

7

6

0

Y

Y

2

8

p

 

 

 

 

a

b

 

 

 

|

 

|

 

a

b

 

 

 

 

 

 

a

b

c

d

 

A

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

l

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I

I

 

 

 

 

a

b

 

 

o

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

H

I

I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a

b

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plymouth, Washington Co NC

E3a

18995

13

21

15

10

15

18

11

12

12

13

11

30

16

8

10

11

11

25

14

21

32

13

15

16

17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes for Table 1:

 

E3a is an African Y haplotype. The haplotypes above were predicted from the STR markers above, rather than being properly checked by looking for SNP mutations. But in any case it seems that this haplotype looks African, and it is not closely related to any other Spences who have joined the project so far in these early days. E3a is found in Europe in very small amounts, and so there is a small possibility that this Y type came from Europe, and not directly from Africa to America. However, Africa is far more likely. Note that Y chromosomes do not define race.

 

Table 2. I types

 

 

 

Notes for Table 2:

 

Rootsi wrote the classic paper on I haplotypes, and Dennis Garvey wrote a useful summary. Ken Nordvedt now also has a new webpage summarizing the latest findings about the regional variations found in I haplotypes. Note that I have not yet converted this webpage over to the new naming terminology that Ken recently proposed, which would for example make I1c become I1b2a.

 

I1a.

 

In British contexts, I haplotypes are normally attributed to the post Roman movements of people from especially the more northerly parts of Europe. At an early stage in the Spence project, when there were fewer members, Ken Nordtvedt wrote about this selection:

 

You have an interesting variety of I1a types. Two of them seem related and of the Norse variety of I1a [390=23]. One of the other is the Anglo-Saxon type [390=22], and the last is my own 15/22 at DYS19/390 type. These latter two seem not related within the last millenium or longer.

 

I have had a problem coming up with a nickname for the 15/22 I1a motif. There is a fair amount of it all over Germany and Denmark, but it really comes into its own in Eastern Norway and on into Sweden somewhat.

 

Since making those comments, our project has new members, and Ken has further divided up the “clusters” within I. One which is particularly unusual is that of the family of William Spence from Ireland.

 

Looking first to the so-called Anglo-Saxon I1a types, our Isaac Spence on the one hand, and Jonathan and James Thomas Spence on the other, are felt to descend from a first immigrant to Britain who was an “Anglo-Saxon”, broadly defined. This means they were likely to have come from the North Sea coast of mainland Europe between Southern Denmark and Northernmost France, and at the time they were probably speaking one of the dialects that were to become English.

 

Looking to the so-called “Norse” type, the first immigrant ancestor to Britain of Henry de Spens and his Scots-Irish relative, Andrew Spence, may have been either a Viking, or a Dane. It should be kept in mind that the difference between the two was often purely political. Other likely sources of Norse genes were there relatives the Normans and Anglo-Saxons.

 

It should be pointed out that the above two generalizations are based on what is probable. The “Anglo-Saxons”, Norse, Danes and Normans were mixed peoples who we remember as categories in retrospect. The North Sea and English Channel in the Dark Ages was however a chaotic time – not called “dark” for nothing. Even the people who lived in that time might have sometimes found it hard to categorize themselves under one of these labels! The general impression is though that the above Spences tend to descend “more than average” from people who came to Europe after the collapse of the European empire.

 

I propose that Isaac Spence of NC may have been a relative of the KY Spences despite the big differences on DYS385. Interestingly, the descendents of Isaac Spence seem to have a common ancestor who received only one version of the two DYS385 markers. It is now known to be possible that a family can go from 12,16 to 12,12 in one generation, because of a special type of over-writing mutation. Scientists are learning more now about the special ways in which the Y chromosome maintains itself using sections of itself which reflect one another. (Other nuclear DNA comes in exact pairs – Y DNA seems to have copies of genes within itself.) This theory could be checked by getting more markers tested for individuals of both families.

 

I1b. (Will become I1b1 according to the latest proposals of Ken Nordtvedt.)

 

Ken Nordtvedt has distinguished two main groups of I1b. In order to distinguish I1b types, important markers are DYS 437, 459, 448, and 449. Unfortunately our one seeming I1b participant has not had this marker tested, but it might be interesting. On the other hand his haplotype so far gives clear indications of being a type more common in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe.

 

However kit 50383 has 25 markers in and they show him to belong to I1b, but not either of the most common branches of I1b. Instead, this participant seems to be a member of a branch of I1b which is now most common in Sardinia, which is uncommon everywhere else. It is believed to have split from the rest of I1b in very ancient times, and possibly originated in Spain or France. The Wormiston family was aristocratic and perhaps it makes sense that they would have an unusual international haplotype.

 

I1c. (Will become I1b2a according to the latest proposals of Ken Nordtvedt.)

 

I1c is one I haplotype where there is speculation that there might have been a British presence before the post-Roman invasions. Based upon his large scale study of statistics, there are several main groups distinguished by Ken, but it is often difficult to be sure which one we are looking at in any particular case, especially if there are less than 37 markers.

 

I? Probably the so called “x cluster” which is a cluster within I1b2 according to the new terminology proposed by Ken Nordtvedt, meaning it is a cousin to the old I1c.

 

N9363 has only had 12 markers tested but I am reasonably confident that if he tests DYS455 and DYS454 he will show the distinctive signs of the so-called x cluster, which is found in small amounts scattered all over Europe. I have done a special webpage about this: http://users.skynet.be/lancaster/Ix.htm . He appears to sit within a British or Irish division of this haplogroup which I believe to be very old.

 

 

Table 3. R1b

 

 

 

Notes for Table 3.

 

First note that as per the normal conventions, 389-1 and 389-2 must be looked at together. Values of 13 and 29 would imply a match on 389-2 for someone with values of 14 and 30!

 

All of the above are not so far from the most common haplotype in Europe, the so-called Western Atlantic Modal, which I have therefore marked in for reference. When slow moving markers are above the modal value, I have used Red background. When they are below, I have used Yellow. Fast moving markers are shown in Red letters.

 

R1b is also a haplotype which has been in Western Europe for a long time. It was there before the Celtic language was there, and possibly even before Basque. However, R1b is now commonly associated with Celts and Basques for the reason that Celts and Basques live in parts of Europe which were more isolated, and they maintain a higher percentage of this haplotype than other parts of Europe.

 

Given how common this haplotype is with British families, we must be careful not to assume connections between the groups above too quickly, especially whenever any slow moving marker is different. Note in particular how the DNA signature of John Spence is an exact match for the WAMH, at least on slow moving markers, and he will have millions of matches in the general European or North American population. However, it is certainly very possible to think that the single mutation which so far distinguishes the descendents from Lewis Spence and the other relatives of Burwell Spence is just chance. Presumably then, the more markers tested the more this difference will show itself up to be the exceptional case.

 

I would encourage anyone with this type of DNA signature to upgrade to 37 markers, in order to avoid making conclusions based upon possible coincidences.

 

The Spence from Carroll VA (Judge Hackler Spence, b. 1886) is not from this project, but from a publicly searchable database called the Sorenson database (smgf.org). Presumably the person who put this information on to that database was a descendant or at least relative of Burwell Spence.

 

Note how we have also found a match to a Spence from the Shetland Island DNA project (http://www.davidkfaux.org/shetlandislandsY-DNA3). Although only 12 markers have been tested, the haplotype is unusual enough to suppose that this is not a coincidence, given that the two individuals have the same surname. So one Texas Spence family had distant relatives from the Shetland Islands. It is likely that the Shetland Island Spences had connections to the Orkney Island Spences, but we do not yet have any confirmed Orkney Spences.

 

Note to participants. The DNA also seems to have called some participants’ paper trails into question.

 

  1. Spence families with two completely different DNA types, both seem to claim Isaac Spence of Georgia as an ancestor.
  2. One of the descendents of Burwell Spence is also of a completely different DNA type than the rest of the descendents of Burwell.