Barron DNA Project

  • 332 members




What is a “Clan”?

Clan: kin group where membership is defined in terms of descent from a common ancestor called the apical ancestor. (Encyclopedia, 2008)



-       Late Middle English from Scottish Gaelic clann ‘offspring, family’,

-       from Old Irish cland,

-       from Latin planta ‘sprout’.


Apical Ancestor: In kinship and descent, a common ancestor from whom a lineage or clan may trace its descent. The ancestor who is at the apex of the genealogy.  (apical ancestor, 2020)

In the field of kinship and descent (aka DNA) the word clan refers to a group of individuals united by actual genetic kinship and descent from a common ancestor.  In terms of Y-DNA, that common ancestor was a male and membership within his clan is defined and determined by the Y-Chromosome he passed down to one or more sons, who have passed it father to son, generation after generation to today and that only male members of his clan share.

How are clans formed?

Great question.  Here is the short answer: When two or more members match on Y-DNA, but do not match members in an existing clan, a new clan is formed. If a participant’s Y-DNA does not match any other participant’s Y-DNA they are “unassigned” and no new clan is formed. In other words, there are no clans of one – as the defining element of a clan is the common ancestor that passed down his Y-DNA that determines membership. For a detailed explanation, go to click here.

How does the Barron DNA Project determine if two or more members match or what clan they match? 

Each of the 11 Clans are comprised of contemporary Y-DNA participant/donors whose Y-DNA marker values results on the 37, 67, 111 or Big-Y700-marker tests match almost perfectly.  The closer the match of alleles values, the higher the probability of having a recent common ancestor.  For an individual to be assigned to any Clan, his 37-marker DNA test results should demonstrate at least a 90% probability of having a Common Ancestor within the past 15 generations with any other individual in a Clan.  For more information, click here.

Due to sharing this common male ancestor, every individual in each distinct clan, by definition, is some level of cousin to every other individual in his Clan.  The level of cousinness can run the gamut – from say 5th Cousin 1X removed (5C1), 7th Cousin (7C), First Cousin (1C) and even brother/father/son/grandfather/uncle. That common male ancestor may have lived perhaps as recently as a hundred years ago, or as far in the past as many centuries ago. However far back it may be – and even if the lineage detail is unknown, it is the Y-Chromosome that came from that common male ancestor and was passed down from father to son, generation after generation that defines and determines the “kinship” (the membership) of each and every member within the distinct clan.

Looking at it in another direction, there is virtually no possibility of any participant in one Clan being remotely paternally related to a participant in another Clan, regardless of the duplication of the surname "Barron."

What is meant by loosely or closely related clan?

In the Barron DNA Project, we describe some clans as very closely related, meaning that there are few mutations when comparing the Y-DNA results of the members.  Barron Clan 2 is a strong example of a closely related clan. 


Other Barron clans are very loosely related, meaning that in Y-DNA tests some clan members do not match all other clan members (there are too many mutations for Family Tree DNA to identify a match).  In this case, the Barron DNA Project requires the potential clan members to upgrade to at least 67 Y-DNA markers to provide further data. At that point, if there is still no universal match, a “bridge” member who matches every clan member can bring the clan together.  Clans 6, 7 and 8 fall into this category.  The common ancestors for these loose clans may have occurred in the more distant past than those clans which are more closely related.

What is a Non-Paternal Event (NPE)?

The term Non-Paternal Event (NPE) is used when the link to the genetic surname is broken, such as in the case of adoption or a non-marital child. About half of the Clans in the Barron Project have experienced one or more NPEs.   The surname change can go either way such that:

- the Y-DNA Tester has a Non-Barron Surname, yet their Y-Chromosome matches the genetic paternal Barron line or

- the Y-DNA Tester has a Barron Surname, yet their Y-Chromosome does not match the Barron genetic paternal line.   

For more information on NPE’s in genetic genealogy click here.


My own and/or ancestor’s surname is Barnes, how am I a Barron? 

While our Y-DNA group is officially the Barron DNA Project, there are a number of members whose surnames are variants of Barron: Barran, Barren, Barnes, Barrow, even Burns/Burnes.  While some members with variant surnames were surprised when Y-DNA showed that their ancestral line was originally Barron, the situation is not unusual. Over generations, the Barron surname was regularly corrupted, often temporarily, sometimes permanently, due to several factors, including:

·    pronunciation/accents;

·    illiteracy – an individual knew their name but not how to spell it;

·    recorders such as clergy, census takers and clerks writing surnames as they heard them (phonetically);

·    the fact there were no spelling rules (shocking but true); and finally…

·    the great vowel shift that occurred during the 15th-18th Century and radically changed how English vowels were pronounced.

Due to all of the above, while you're researching your ancestors, it helps to know that it’s quite common for a family line to have their name as one variant, such as Barnes, in one record or census and Barron in another, and even Barnes, Barron and Barrow within the same document.  


How can one know they are related to the other individuals in the clan if the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) isn’t known?

That is the beauty of Y-DNA testing, which is the basis of identifying Barron clans.  If two or more males who Y-DNA test show close or exact matches at a level of at least 37 markers, then they share the same Barron Y chromosome.  As discussed above, the Y chromosome is passed from Barron father to son, basically unchanged from generation to generation.  Y-DNA testing can tell you conclusively if you are a member of a certain Barron clan.  In addition, with various tools, it can estimate how many generations back two members shared the most recent common ancestor (MRCA). However, it cannot tell you exactly how you are related to members of that clan.  Nor can it tell you the name of the MRCA nor their dates of birth or even specific places of birth. As that vital information is not magically encoded within – that leads us to what is equally as essential and goes hand in hand with any DNA testing – namely documented research to identify specific relationships and lineage.  Y-DNA is a great help to focus that research on the correct Barron line, and disregard other Barron lines that your results have proven are unrelated.