Before They Sailed: Mayflower DNA

Started by Justin Swanstrom on Monday, February 2, 2015
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4/28/2015 at 6:53 AM

I have had my y-DNA tested on family tree DNA. My current genealogical research indicates that I am a descendant of the following Mayflower passengers: Francis Cooke, Stephen Hopkins and his wife Elizabeth (Fischer) Hopkins.
Gary L. Allen

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4/28/2015 at 7:27 AM

What happened to using records , if they are advailable? I have several connections by just following the paper trai and it's more fun,

4/28/2015 at 7:45 AM

Records are fun, but so is DNA. There's been a lot of discussion lately about whether the genealogical standard of "a reasonably exhaustive search" should include DNA. A lot of people think it does.

The fun part is when DNA supports the paper trail. Not fun, but much more interesting, when DNA disproves the paper trail ;)

4/29/2015 at 2:15 PM

Justin, I was hoping you would discuss Stephen Hopkins dna. As you know, I'm a complete novice at reading these charts.
What I thought interesting was that his son, Giles, had fewer "green bar" matches than I would have thought for a y-dna carrier. Also, was the haplogroup in there, somewhere?
Thank you!

4/29/2015 at 3:46 PM

Linda, this particular type of DNA comparison is autosomal -- the whole thing, excluding the x and y chromosomes. The y chromosome is inherited only by sons, so it wouldn't help for something like this. The x chromosome has a an odd sort of pattern that would skew the results. That's why there isn't a yDNA haplogroup anywhere in this article.

From other sources, we know Stephen Hopkins was Haplogroup R1b. Not a surprise. It's the most common group in western Europe. Here's an article that discusses his distant ancestry and puts him an Anglo-Saxon subgroup (S493).

Getting back to this article, what they are trying to do is see how much of Stephen Hopkins' DNA has survived in different branches of his descendants. The way they are doing it is to compare the autosomal DNA of his descendants, and try to filter out the matches that might come from some other ancestor.

To help be sure they are looking at DNA inherited from Stephen, they are specifically looking for DNA that is shared by descendants of his different children. That's what the green lines are.

For example, if you look at the one green line that goes all the way across, this shows a DNA segment that has been inherited by Stephen Hopkins' descendants through five different children. And, it's the same for all of them even though some were children of his first wife and some were children of his second wife. So, it's fairly certain that this is really a piece of DNA inherited from Stephen himself.

In other places, some of the children have descendants with that piece of DNA but they haven't yet found any descendants of the other children with it. That means, perhaps, that those other children didn't inherit that part of Stephen's DNA so they couldn't pass it on to their descendants. Or, if those children did inherit it, their children didn't. Or, the researchers just haven't found the right descendants yet.

The fact that descendants of son Giles inherited less of the shared DNA doesn't really mean anything. Biology being what it is, he still got half his father's DNA (plus his father's y chromosome). But, he either got fewer of the same pieces the other kids got, or he passed different pieces of his father's DNA on to his descendants, or they haven't found the right descendants.

I hope that helps. It's not difficult really, but learning to see past the technical babble can take awhile ;)

4/29/2015 at 5:04 PM

Justin's given a great basic description of what the article is doing, but I'd like to point out one minor correction: the Stephen column represents not a descendant of Stephen Hopkins but rather a combined haplotype for himself his first wife and his second wife. Due to the author's prior papers on the triangulating method used here, there is a good degree of certainty that any piece of DNA passed down through at least three of the four descendant lines in this study come from Stephen. In fact, we can go further and say there's a very good chance that any piece of DNA passed down through 2 descendant lines of half siblings (examples being one on chromosome 3, two on chromosome 6, and one on chromosome 13) come from Stephen. Having had two children with descendant lines with two different wives makes Stephen Hopkins a great choice for a preliminary test of this technique to isolate autosomal DNA inheritance from a particular individual as oppsed to an ancestral pair.

5/11/2015 at 5:46 AM

Giles Hopkins and Constance Hopkins Snow are my 7th great grandparents. the Constance Hopkins Snow link has been accepted by Mayflower Society, but while mostly a Snow male linkage down to my grandmother, I don't know if this works for DNA analysis? Advice?

5/11/2015 at 10:36 AM

Sandra Jane Larson - for the purposes of the paper discussed here either line would have been fine, but since you have two lines your DNA would likely not have been a good choice. It's likely a moot point in any case, since the Hopkins lines have already been done now.

5/11/2015 at 1:09 PM

thanks for responding, Living. This is all over my head.

5/11/2015 at 3:42 PM

I don't know whether the study is over or not, but this is the kind of thing that would continue to pay off as more people are tested -- even though an initial report has been published.

5/11/2015 at 4:02 PM

Justin Swanstrom I'm not positive the study of Stephen Hopkins' autosomal DNA ends with the publication of the paper either, but since the blog post recruiting descendants of Stephen Hopkins has disappeared it's a pretty good bet the author got what he needed for a first run at it. He has a lot of other Mayflower ancestors listed on the website which he appears to be associated with - so if I had to guess, I would say it's pretty likely that he'll be moving along to another study and paper at this point.

6/4/2015 at 10:57 AM

I've done to DNA and one was 23 and Me the other Not sure where I would connect on the mayflower? Most of my ancestry is Great Britain and Ireland! The name that I get from Wales is Watkins.

10/6/2016 at 5:44 PM

I am descendants of Standish Alden Sampson

8/22/2018 at 2:43 PM

I'm related to chilli's and Francis cooke is my 11th grandfather

8/22/2018 at 2:44 PM

Chilton sorry typo phone has a mind of its own...

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