The Gorman DNA Project

  • 105 members

About us

Click here to see a video of one of the more recent additions to the Gorman clan.  He's the little guy who sings the first verse and chorus, and has won a national story competition in Australia with this song he wrote about his family tree.  His father is a member of the Gorman DNA Project (Lineage II).  Talent obviously runs in the Gorman genes!

Click here to visit the Gorman Clan Ireland: Mac Gormain Facebook page, or just search for that page name if the link doesn't work.  I do not have any personal affiliation with the page, but I have corresponded with the page's creator, and it seems like a great place for Gormans to interact and share information.



Click on any of the below map descriptions to see an interactive Google map of places of interest relavant to the Gorman surname variants.

You can zoom in or out by using the slider bar, and you can click on any placemark symbol to show you a description (or click on a description in the left list to take you to a placemark).

Note that the placemark locations are not meant to show the exact locations of plots of land, only the general locations of townlands, and in some instances are just rough estimates based on the information available to me.  Also note that the placemarks in these maps are generally set on the present townland locations, whose boundaries have changed in many cases from the original locations.

These maps contain a large amount of data and may not display properly on all browsers and computers.  If they do not work on one browser, and you have an alternate browser installed on your computer (such as Firefox, on which they appear to work fine), please try another one.

Earliest known locations of the Gorman DNA Project members' patriarchs, with early MacGorman/O'Gorman/Gorman migrations and historical Gorman-related place names

Regional localities with the highest concentrations of Gorman households on the Irish Flax Growers census, 1796

Regional localities with the highest concentrations of Gorman households on the Griffith's Valuation in Ireland, 1848-64

Locations of Gorman households on the Griffith's Valuation in Ireland, 1855 -- Co. Clare

Locations of Gorman households on the Griffith's Valuation in Ireland, 1851-52 -- Co. Limerick



Gorman Lineage I
Haplogroup: R-M269-P25
Apparent Place of Origin: Ireland

The only marker which differs between members G-4 and G-14 is DYS389-2. This marker has an average mutation rate, being neither unusually fast nor slow. It tends to occur on average once every 413 generations, though there is some evidence that mutation rates can vary among families. However, it is just as likely to have occurred at generation #1 as at generation #413, so there is no way of knowing how long ago these two project members shared a common ancestor, and we can only estimate probabilities. Considering that all the other markers matched, including some notoriously fast-mutating markers, and that they share a surname, it is highly likely that they shared a recent common ancestor.

Within haplogroup R1b, DYS389-2 = 29 is the modal value, occurring in about 80% of the people in this haplogroup. DYS392-2 = 28 is far more uncommon, occurring in only about 9% of R1b. I believe it is likely that member G-14 is closest to the original (ancestral) haplotype, and member G-4 represents a more recent mutation, though this is only speculation, as mutations (and back mutations) can happen at any time.

I recommend that both of these project members upgrade their testing to 67 markers, to see if the tight relationship will hold up to closer scrutiny. While it is highly unlikely that such an upgrade will change the lineage grouping of these members or lead to more matches appearing in their list of Y-DNA matches, information on additional mutations within the lineage can be very valuable for refining the degree of relatedness.




Gorman Lineage II
Haplogroup: R-M269-L21
Apparent Place of Origin: Ireland

Lineages are not generally declared in this project until a 23/25 match is observed. However, in this instance, there is another important consideration. All members of Gorman Lineage II have the exceedingly rare DYS392=11 mutation. Although this mutation is quite common (in fact being the modal value) in some haplogroups, such as I, J2, and R1a, it is almost never found in R1b (
click here to see its frequency distribution in R1b). Because it is common in haplogroups I and J2, Gorman project members such as G-8, G-10, and G-13 should not read any significance in their possessing this mutation. However, any R1b haplogroup members who possess it may potentially be quite strongly related, provided they match on most of the remaining markers.

All of the project members who I have assigned to Gorman Lineage II are either confirmed or predicted R1b haplogroup members, and all share this rare DYS392=11 mutation.

Comparing G-19 with G-22, these two members are a 61/67 match. This is not an especially tight match at first glance. Using its rules of thumb, FTDNA does not technically consider these members to be a match at either the 12-marker or 37-marker level, though they do show up as a Genetic Distance=2 match at the 25-marker testing level, and they do show up as a GD=6 at the 67-marker level.

This is a perfect example of how 12-marker testing can lead to misleading results. Had these two members stopped testing at 12 markers, they would have appeared so distant that there would have seemed to be almost no possibility that they are related, and FTDNA would classify them as "Not Related." At the 25-marker level, FTDNA considers them "Probably Related." At the 37-marker level, FTDNA labels them "Not Related," but they are back to being classified as "Related" at the 67 marker level! This is a case where it is important to consider the nature of the individual mutational differences between them, and other factors.

All Gorman Lineage II project members share one other uncommon mutation: GATA H4 = 12, which occurs in only about 9% of R1b haplogroup members. Although this mutation is not sufficiently rare, examined separately, to conclude common ancestry, it does, when taken into consideration along with the extremely rare DYS392=11 value, confer strong support to the idea that these project members are related.  Given published mutation frequencies for Y-DNA markers, I estimate that the probability that any two given R1b haplogroup members having both the DYS392=11 and the GATA H4 = 12 mutations are less than 0.04%.  So if no other markers were tested than those two (hypothetically speaking), the probability that two people possessing both of those two mutations are related (within a genealogical timeframe) is exceedingly high.  Having those two markers plus almost all of the remaining markers in common makes a relationship virtually a certainty.

Putting aside DNA evidence for a moment, there is another layer of evidence to support the common ancestry of these two members. Member G-22's earliest known ancestors lived at about the same time as member G-19's earliest known ancestors, and both ancestral families lived in a small area of County Tipperary, Ireland, near the towns of Clogheen and Kilbeheny. They lived within less than 10 miles of each other! They belong to a local concentration of Gormans who likely migrated to Co. Tipperary from western Co. Clare, possibly in the 1700’s, and who probably originated as the surname MacGorman (Mac Gormáin) (barring the possibility of any "non-paternal events"--see the introduction on the project's home page) in the barony of Slievemargy, Co. Laois, sometime around the 8th century A.D. These historical migrations, as they apply to Gorman Lineage II, are largely speculation though (based on the known origins of the Gorman surname), and are at present not supported by any DNA evidence.


Note added 2 October 2008:
I just completed a careful analyses of all DYS392=11 mutation bearers in every major geographical DNA project that I've examined. I've identified a total of 79 people, worldwide, within the R1b haplogroup (and subclades), who bear this mutation. Considering that tens of thousands of R1b people have been tested, it is clear that this represents an extremely rare mutation for R1b, occurring in less than one-half of one percent of that major haplogroup.

Among the non-Gorman-Lineage-II people who possess this mutation, I have not been able to identify any noteworthy grouping of markers that link them with the Gormans, other than the common modal markers that tend to occur in most R1b's. In other words, the non-Gormans within R1b who possess this mutation appear to have developed this mutation independently (convergently), and are of no close relation to any Gormans. Therefore, I conclude that within this Gorman lineage, this mutation is a "private mutation" that possibly originated relatively recently (within the past several centuries).


Note added 31 May 2012:
After the recent additions of project members G-44, G-45, G-48, and G-49, I now have sufficient data to tentatively construct a phylogenetic tree illustrating the relationships among the members of Gorman Lineage II.  I have replaced the modal values in the top row of this lineage (the row in bold type) with the allele count for each marker that is shown by the lineage member whose count for that marker is closest to the R1b modal, which is ancestral to all members of Lineage II.  In other words, the row in bold indicates my best guess as to the haplotype of the hypothetical ancestor of all the members of Lineage II. 

Below that row, I've ordered all the Lineage II project members, in decreasing similarity to that hypothetical Gorman ancestor.  "Decreasing similarity" means "less ancestral," or "more derived," in evolutionary biological lingo.  In layman's terms, it's just a way of arranging the lineage members with respect to how closely related they are to each other.  Two immediately adjacent lineage members probably shared a common ancestor who lived closer together in time than two lineage members who are in widely-separated rows within the lineage.  For example, lineage members G-19 and G-48 probably share a common ancestor who lived more recently than either of those members shared a common ancestor with member G-49.

I chose the above example deliberately, because I know, based on a strong paper trail, that G-19 and G-48 share a common ancestor who was born in Co. Tipperary, Ireland, in about the year 1770 (a man named John Gorman).  So I know with reasonable certainty that all 3 of the mutations that differentiate those two members from each other happened after the year 1770.

Similarly, I know that members G-22 and G-9 share a common ancestor who was born very nearby, just across the border in adjoining Co. Limerick, in about the year 1760 (a man named Maurice Gorman).

There are just enough genetic differences between those two pairings of project members that I believe that the common ancestor between, say, members G-48 and G-22 may have been a few generations further back than 1760.

Member G-24 ande G-33 are currently arranged at opposite ends of Lineage II, to reflect my opinion that those two members share a common ancestor who was farther back in time than any other two Lineage II members are to each other.  This opinion, based strictly on the genetic evidence, is supported by paper trail evidence:  Member G-24's most recent common ancestor is from Co. Clare, Ireland, which is the county from which the Gormans are known to have migrated to Co. Tipperary centuries before they proliferated in the latter.

Another Lineage II member, G-49, has his earliest-know Y-DNA ancestor from a nearby vicinity of Co. Tipperary to the ancestor of members G-19 and G-48.  His ancestral name is Cleary, but I have included him in the project because he is clearly closely related to the Lineage II Gormans.  Intriguingly, he and I have identified a presumed member of his Cleary ancestor's family who was a land tenant of a man named David Gorman, in 1848 Co. Tipperary!  His genetic distance from G-48 suggests that his common ancestor with G-48 was a few generations earlier than John Gorman's birthdate of 1760.  Although it could simply be a freakish coincidence, I consider it likely that John Gorman and David Gorman shared a common ancestor a very few generations back from themselves.

The known paper trails of members G-25, G-33, G-44, and G-45 do not currently extend back far enough to speculate on their hypothetical relationships to other Lineage II members, though they are clearly related to them all.  It is very possible that the additions of future project members might help illuminate their relationships with the other Lineage II members.   



Gorman Lineage III
Haplogroup: R-M269
Apparent Place of Origin: Northern Ireland

Among the 37 markers that most of this lineage’s members had tested at the time of this writing (21 June 2014), virtually all of the markers that differ among the lineage members are fast-moving markers.  The time to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) between any two given members of this lineage may therefore not be as large as it appears from the color differences in the chart. 

That being said, there do appear to be two sub-lineages within this lineage.  Notice that the colors match more clearly amongst the bottom-most members of the lineage compared with the upper-most members.  I had previously tentatively broken out these sub-lineages into two different groupings, "Gorman Lineage IIIa" and "Gorman Lineage IIIb."  However, with the results of a new project member, G-65, he appears to bridge these two subgroups and represent a sort of intermediate stage between them, though he does bear more similarity to the bottom-most members.  I have therefore merged the two sub-lineages into a single combined "Gorman Lineage III."

Therefore, either of these two mutations could potentially have happened relatively recently, and the observation that these two members differ at those two loci does not necessarily imply that there is a lot of relational distance between them.

Despite it fast mutation rate, the DYS456=18 value shown for members #G-2 and G-40 is very uncommon, occurring in only about 2% of R1b haplogroup members.  This observation provides further evidence that the two sub-lineages are related, though it is difficult to make such inferences based on only a single marker.

The only way to refine the estimated degree of relationship for this lineage's members would be for them to upgrade to at least 67 markers, which I highly recommend.

Project members G-5 and G-6, who were previously tentatively color-grouped with G-1 and G-2 in the unassigned section of the results chart, have now been removed from that grouping, as they have not tested enough markers to be certain that they are part of this lineage.  I recommend that both of those members upgrade to at least 37 markers, or preferably 67, so that their placement in the results chart can be determined more accurately.



Gorman Lineage III-b
Haplogroup: R-M269
Apparent Place of Origin: Ireland

I had formerly tentatively assigned the members of this lineage along with the members of Gorman Lineage III-a, in a single combined Gorman Lineage III, based on the limited number of markers that these lineage members had tested.  After some members upgraded their tests, sufficient differences in the results warranted breaking them out into two separate lineages.  There are still enough similarities between the two lineages that they may still be related, so I have given them similar lineage names, but it will be necessary for all the members of these two lineages to upgrade to at least 67, or preferably 111 markers, to be sure.


Member G-40 is particularly problematic, as I could almost as easily have classified him into Gorman Lineage III, because he shares strong similarities to both lineages.  My somewhat arbitrary classification of him into Lineage IV should therefore be considered tentative, pending further testing.  He may represent an ancestral “bridge” between the two lineages, if they do indeed turn out to be related.


It is noteworth that lineages III-a and III-b both have ancestors from directly adjacent counties in Northern Ireland (Armagh, and Tyrone).  Whether this observation is a coincidence can only be answered with further testing of these lineage members.



Gorman Lineage IV
Haplogroup: R-M269
Apparent Place of Origin: Ireland

As of 2 Feb 2014, there are three members of this lineage (G-12, G-39, and G-61), G-12 and G-39 are a 64/67 match.  This is a strong match, but we need to examine the mismatched markers to gain further insight.  One of the mismatched markers, DYS439, is a fast-moving marker, and could potentially have occurred relatively recently.  The other two, DYS438 and DYS537, are slow-moving markers, and potentially indicate a more distant common ancestor.

DYS438=13 (the value found in member G-12) is relatively rare, occurring in only 3% of R1b.  DYS537=11 (the value found in member G-39), is fairly uncommon, occurring in only about 9% of R1b haplogroup members. Without further members of this lineage to test, it is difficult to ascribe any further significance to those mutations, or to determine which version is the likely ancestral form.

G-61 has only tested 37 markers as of this date, and he is a weak match to the other two members of this lineage at this level.  An upgrade to at least 67 markers would be very helpful in determining how well he actually matches the other members of this lineage.



Gorman Lineage V
Haplogroup: I-P37.2
Apparent Place of Origin: Unknown (see link below)

The paper trail for this lineage currently extends back to the mid-1700’s in Lunenburg Co., Virginia.  Their haplogroup, I2a, sets them distinctly apart from the other Gorman project lineages.  A discussion of this haplogroup’s distribution and potential origins can be found at the Y-Haplogroup I2a Project’s website.

Member G-29 and G-41 are known close family members, sharing a common ancestor 1-2 generations back, accounting for their identical test results for those markers that they both tested.

Although it is impossible to do a detailed comparison due to the different number of markers tested, G-47 shares a common ancestor with the above members farther back in time than the above family group, and G-43 apparently shares a common ancestor with all of the above even farther back than the others.  That opinion should be taken as tentative, pending any testing upgrades.

Not Yet Assigned to a Lineage

The project members in this section either currently have no matches, or have only tentative matches due to the fact that they are grouped with people who have only done an inconclusive 12-marker test.

While upgrading to additional markers will not likely increase the number of matches that any 12-marker testees have (a possible exception is people who have a mutation within their first 12 markers, as noted above in the example for Gorman Lineage II), it will help them to evaluate their place in the project, and will help them greatly in evaluating any future matches that join the project. The field of genetic genealogy is growing very rapidly, and new Gormans are certain to join the project in the near future.

I highly recommend that all 12-marker testees upgrade to either 67 or 111 markers. If you are still unclear about what benefits this will confer to you, I can personally evaluate your existing test results and give you my advice. Please feel free to e-mail me, using my e-mail link in the gray box below.


Note added 27 August 2008:
I carefully examined the mutation frequency distributions for the first 12 markers for all project members who are in the "Not Yet Assigned to a Lineage" section. Although some of you have some rather uncommon mutations in those markers (which would account for the small number of 12-marker matches that some of you have on your results page at FTDNA), none of them are what I would consider to be sufficiently rare that they would justify declaring a new lineage the way I did with Gorman Lineage II. We'll need to wait until more project members upgrade their testing before we can confidently define any new Gorman lineages. In the meantime, any of those groups of two or three project members who are grouped together as the same color in this section need to be careful to consider those subgroupings to be tentative, and they could change when upgrade results come in.


Those of you who have tons of matches on your 12-marker results section at FTDNA... This may simply mean that you have many of the most common (modal) marker values in your haplogroup, so you just happen to match a lot of people who are unrelated to you. This underscores the importance of upgrading your testing, so you can weed out the true relatives!


I welcome any discussion of these topics, including any debate that anybody might have with these findings, in the Gorman forum for this project. I will periodically revise the information presented here with any new information that I obtain from discussions with project members, or through my own analyses of new member results.


Historical Discussion on the Origins of the Gorman Surname, and Early Migrations

An understanding of the distribution of Gorman DNA haplotypes would be well-served by an understanding of the historical settlement and migration patterns of the Gormans and their progenitors. I am beginning this discussion with the Irish origins of the Gorman surname, simply because that is the branch with which I am familiar, and because it appears to be the ancestry of the majority of the current project members. I would however welcome any discussion on Gorman (or any other surname variant) lineages from other countries, and would be happy to add such discussion to this page.

I make no claims whatsoever to be an expert on Irish history, and I am simply presenting the following discussion based on various sources that I have consulted (cited at the end of this section), most notably the excellent work  Bairrche (Leinster): Origins and History. I invite any and all comments, corrections, or discussions, in the forum topic that I have set up for this purpose. See the topic titled Gorman surname origins and early migrations

Feel free to contact me personally via the e-mail link in the gray box at the bottom of this page. I will periodically make revisions to the following discussion based on input from project members and forum participants.

The earliest historically-traceable roots of the Gorman surname in Ireland appear to have originated sometime during the earliest centuries of the first millennium A.D. At that time, there was not yet a Gorman surname, but rather a tribe of associated families called the UíBairrche. The tribe is descended from Cathair (Cahir) Mór, King of Leinster in the early 2nd century, and his son Dáire Barraig, for whom the  Bairrche were named. They appear to have originated in what is now South Wexford, in the baronies of Forth and Bargy. These original  Bairrche are said to have been related to the Brigantes tribe of northern Britain. By 854 A.D. (and possibly beginning around 500 A.D.), they appear to have been distributed into two major groups, the  Bairrche Maighe (in Co. LaoisCarlow, and Kildare), and UíBairrche Tíre (Co. Wexford).

By the 10th century A.D., the  Bairrche had predominantly settled in the barony of Slievemargy, in southeastern Co. Laois (formerly Queens Co.) and immediately adjacent areas in Co. Carlow and Kilkenny. I have indicated the location of Slievemargy with a green house icon on the Gorman DNA Project map, along with an icon for the earlier  Bairrche settlement in South Wexford.

One of the primary families that represented the  Bairrche in Slievemargy was the Mac Gormáin (MacGorman) clan, whose surname the  Bairrche adopted when that the practice of using surnames came into use (around the time of Brien Boru, 1st King of Ireland). These Mac Gormáins have been stated to be kings of the  Bairrche, or alternately, Lords of Slievemargy. There was an early reference, in 590 A.D., of a "Burchardus Gurmundi" (a.k.a. "O Gormagheyn, duke of Slieve Margi and Leinster"), who may be the same person as a King Gormundus who invaded England around 593 A.D. There is also a reference to a "Macraith, son of Gorman, son of Treasach, lord of Ui-Bairrche" in 1042 A.D. Shortly thereafter, there are references of death dates in 1103 A.D. for a "Muirchertach Mac Gormán," and 1124 A.D. for a "Muireadhach Mac Gormáin, lord of  Bairrche, and the chief old hero of Leinster." These early-12th century Mac Gormáinswere the first documented people to use a recognized Gorman surname variant as a surname. Elsewhere there is an a similar reference to the  Bairrche king Gormáin, son of Echach, and later a king Gormáin, son of Muircherdaig, both supposedly of the same patrilineal lineage.

When the Normans invaded Ireland in 1169 A.D., the Mac Gormáins were driven out of Slievemargy. They migrated to Owney (Uaithné), in Co. Limerick, and then on to Co. Clare,. There, their chief was granted residence, by the ruling O'Briens of Thomond, at the barony of Ibrickan, where they became marshals of the O'Briens army. There is a castle called Cahermurphy, in ruins today, located in Castleparktownland, Kilmihil Parish, where the Mac Gormáins lived. This castle, and the migration there from Slievemargy, are indicated on the project map with another line and green house icon.

Other branches of these Mac Gormáins migrated at that time to Co. Monaghan and Co. Meath (also indicated with green house icons on the project map).

During the era of the Penal Laws in Ireland, the use of the Irish surname prefixes was outlawed, and all the Mac Gormáins (MacGormans) in Ireland all became known as Gormans. In 17th-century Co. Clare, many of the Gormans refused to convert to Protestantism, and rather than lose their Catholic religion, they abandoned their collectively-held lands and migrated east, primarily to Co. Tipperary, where there are today concentrations of Gormans and O'Gormans.

When these restrictions were later relaxed in the late 17th - early 18th century, leading up to the Catholic Emancipation in 1829, many Gormans began to revert their surnames to the ancestral form, but the MacGorman spelling had been out of use for so long that is was largely forgotten, and the name was mistakenly recreated as "O'Gorman," except in a small area of Co. Monaghan, where the anglicized MacGorman (McGorman) spelling is still used today. Presently, the Gorman and O'Gorman spellings are both common in Ireland, though one spelling or the other often tends to be more concentrated in different regions. Despite the spelling variants, Gorman and O'Gorman represent the same name, and are often used interchangeably from one record to another, even within the same family, and should not be looked upon as different branches of the surname, except perhaps where it is suspected to have independently originated in other countries (e.g., Scotland or England). Determining whether these branches in other countries do indeed have independent origins is one the main focal points of the Gorman DNA Project.

The historical distributions of the Gormans can be readily seen in the many Irish place names that are variations of the name Gorman. I've mapped 35 such places on the project map (indicated with blue flag markers). Most of these locations are geographical subdivisions known in Ireland as “townlands.” The townlands in Ireland were first referenced in Ireland the 11th century, but were mainly named in the 16th and 17th century, with refinement of their boundaries continuing into the mid-19th century, perhaps giving a clue as to when many of these townlands may have been settled by Gormans. I mapped them here for two purposes: (1) To provide clues as to the historical distribution of the Gormans in Ireland, and (2) so that people who have known ancestors in a locality can see if there is a nearby Gorman townland in that locality, perhaps hinting at a possible residence place for their ancestors.


Seán MacGorman Powell
Administrator, The Gorman DNA Project




 Bairrche (Leinster): Origins and History

The Genealogy of the Gorman Family of Saginaw and Ingham Counties, Michigan

The Bowles of Ballickmoyler, Co. Laois [maps of Slievemargy]

The O’Gorman Family of County Clare, Ireland

The O’Gormans of Canada and County Clare, Ireland

Griffiths Valuation of Ireland: Barony of Ibrickan [map]

The History and Topography of the County of Clare: Family of MacGorman

(Mac)Gorman, (O)Gorman

The Gorman Coat-of-Arms

Antiquities Near Miltown MalbayCahermurphyKiltumper, and the O’Gormans

Kilmihil: Places of Interest


Thanks also to Stephen P. Gorman for some info presented here from my discussions with him on the Co. Clare Gormans.