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Origins of the Surname

Gormley is a surname of Irish origin.  The main sept of the clan originated in the north western county of Donegal and the modern barony of Raphoe, in that county.  The sept was formerly known by their tribal name of Cinel Moen.  The common ancestor and progenitor of these Gormleys was Moen son of Muireadach, son of Eoghan (who gave his name to Tyrone), son of Niall of the Nine Hostages.

Niall was High King of Ireland from 377 to 404 AD.  His father was Eochaidh Muigh-Medon, of the Celtic line of Erimhon.  As High King of Ireland, Niall reigned from the ancient Irish royal seat at Tara, in modern County Meath.  During his reign he conquered all of Ireland and Scotland as well as much of Britain and Wales.  He took a royal hostage from each of the nine kingdoms he subjugated, hence his famous nickname.  Niall had twelve sons, eight of whom founded septs: Eoghan (from whom the Gormleys descend), Laeghaire (or Leary), Conall Crimthann, Conall Gulban, Fiacha, Main, Cairbre, and Fergus.  The collective descendants of Niall are known as the Ui Neill.

In the "The Annals of the Four Masters" and in the "Topographical Poems" of O'Dugan and O'Heerin, the name is spelled O Goirmleadhaigh.  The "Annals of Loch Ce" write it O Gormshuil and O Gormshuiligh: the editor (William Hennessy) writing in 1871 states that the latter was then anglicized
O'Gormooly, but Gormley is universal today. The name means "blue spearman".

In the Partry Mountains of County Mayo is found a sept also called
Gormley, Gormaly and Gormilly.  The Irish form of this family's name is O Goirmghialla or possibly O Gormghaille, both Irish forms meaning "blue hostage".  They were chiefs of this area along with the Darcy or Dorcey family.  The present parish of Ballyovey, also called the parish of Party shows the location of this ancient territory in Mayo.  In the area of Lough Key, County Roscommon, we find families of the name (O') Gormaly or Gormally. O'Donavan says that these are quite distinct from the O'Gormleys of County Tyrone and that the Irish form of this name is O Garmghaile.  It is likely that this family is of the same stock as the Mayo sept, but it is unclear if both are related to the main sept of Ulster.  In seventeenth century records they are found both as O'Gormley and Mac Gormley, located chiefly in Counties Armagh and Derry, but also in Roscommon and Westmeath.  Gormleys today are chiefly found in County Tyrone and surrounding areas.

In modern times some families of Gormley in Counties Cavan and Longford have changed their name to
Gorman.   Others in County Tyrone, nearer to their homeland, have become Grimes.  Grimes, however, is also used as the anglicised form of several other Gaelic surnames particularly O Greachain in Munster, which is Grehan and even Graham elsewhere.  It has also become Grimley, for instance, in the Keady district of County Armagh, and Graham in many areas.  In 1659 Gormley was already a principal name of Dublin.  By the time of the 1890 index, Gormley had forty four recorded births, in Antrim and Tyrone.

History of the O'Gormleys


Annals - Annals (Latin ann lis, yearly from annus, a year) are a concise form of historical representation which record events chronologically, year by year.

Annals of the Four Masters (Annala na gCeithre Maistri) are chronicles of medieval Irish history. The entries span from the Deluge, dated as 2,242 years after creation to AD 1616.

Annals of Ulster - (Irish: Annala Uladh) are annals of medieval Ireland.  The entries span the years from AD 431 to AD 1540.  The entries up to AD 1489 were compiled in the late 15th century by the scribe Ruaidhri O Luinin, under his patron Cathal Og Mac Maghnusa on the island of Belle Isle on Lough Erne in the province of Ulster.  Later entries (up to AD 1540) were added by others.

Cenel - race, tribe

Tir - "Lands of"

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Irish_clans_in_Ulster 

and the Google Books' Article entitled "Ceneal Moain and the O'Gormleys in East Donegal and West Tyrone" by the late Dr. Brian Deeney:



The historical data of the O'Gormleys is quite extensive and has been found in several different ancient documents.  How much is true is debatable, but with the use of DNA testing, perhaps the validity of the documents might be proven or disproven.  Either way, we're looking for an accurate genealogy of Ireland and this group is concentrating on the Gormleys and various other surnames which might have been derived from the surname O'Gormley.

Through YDNA testing, The Annals of Ulster, and The Annals of the Four Masters, the Ulster Gormleys have been able to trace their lineage back to Niall Noighiallach (Niall of the Nine Hostages) who was King of Ireland until his death in 405 AD.  He may or may not have existed, but someone was very prolific as his DNA is scattered in over 20,000,000 males worldwide.  His YDNA Modal is M222+.  Several books claim he had several sons and three of them were sent to rule what is now the County of Donegal and sections of modern Tyrone. 
Eoghan took Inishowen and was the progenitor of Tir Eoghan.

Conall took the western part of Donegal was the progenitor of Tir Conall.
Enda took the river valley of the Foyle, which was fertile planting land and contained Maghe Ith, the modern barony of Raphoe . He was the progenitor of Tir Enda.
They set up a kingdom consisting of the three territories known as Aileach with the head of the kingdom crowned at Aileach.  Tir Eoghan and Tir Conall were constantly fighting with Tir Enda because they wanted to control the fertile lands in its territory.  Tir Enda was eventually known as Cenel Moain under the lordship of the O'Gormleys and was able to attain Kingship of Aileach from 1143 to 1145.  Eventually the O'Gormleys were unable to maintain sovereignty over their own lands and became chiefs of Cenel Moain under the overlords of either Tir Eoghan, ruled by the O'Neills, or Tir Conall, ruled by the O'Donnells.  They remained in Donegal until the early 1500s when they were relocated into County Tyrone living in the civil Parish of Ardstraw and portions of the Barony of Strabane. 

Eoghan's eldest son and heir was Muireadhach and his eldest son was Muircheartach who was eventually called Eirc.  Eirc had two brothers, one named Fearadhach from whom the Cenel Fearadhaigh was named.  His lands included Clogher and Fermanagh.  Eoghan's other son was Moain, progenitor of Cenel Moain, which was controlled by the Gormleys several generations later.  Cenel Moain's lands contained Maghe Ith and the West bank of the River Foyle.  They were likely a powerfully seasoned fighting force as they were constantly in battle.  Cenel Moain in turn was a reliable and loyal fighting force for Tir Eoghan after 1160 AD up until the Battle of Down in 1260 AD.

Maghe Ith was originally controlled by Conchobhair of Clan Chonchobhair (Conor).  He was the brother of Niall Frasach, King of Ireland who died in 778 AD.  The area gets its name from the group of people who originated with Conchobhair and were known as Fir Mhuighe Iotha.  Conchobhair (Conor) was descended from Eoghan but not the same branch as Cenel Moain: Conchobhar m. Fearghal m. Maile Duin m. Mael Fithrich m. Aeda Uaridnaich m. Domnal m. Muircherdaigh m. Muiredaich m. Eoghan m. Niall Noighiallach.  Conor was from the branch that produced all of the O'Neills and MacLochlans.  In Conchobhar's line Muiredaich was the father of Moain.  Clan Conor left Maghe Ith between 900 - 1000 AD and went into Derry where the O'Kanes pushed them out Eastward into what is now the barony of Keenaght.  After Clan Conor left, Cenel Moan moved in and controlled Maghe Ith.  At that time they were a large enough fighting force to challenge MacLochlan and O'Neill for the Kingship of Aileach.  By way of eliminating eligible males for the throne, Domhnall O'Gormley became King of Aileach from 1143 to 1145.  Through deceit and a bit of nasty warfare, the O'Neills and Lochlans ended that drive in 1160 AD.

Even though Cenel Moain was knocked down to being under the over-Lordship of Tir Eoghan (at that time either the Lochlans or the O'Neills were lords of Cenel Eoghan) they still expanded their grip in Donegal to include both baronies of Raphoe North and South along with the parish of Urney and part of the parish of Ardstraw in the County of Tyrone by 1185 AD.

Cenel Moain remained loyal to either the MacLochlans or the O'Neills until 1241 at the Battle of Caimerge when the O'Neills decisively eliminated the MacLochlans from challenging the Lordship of Tir Eoghan for good.  After that there were only O'Neills as Lords of Tyrone.  The battle was the result of Donal MacLochlan expelling Bryan O'Neill from Tyrone.  Bryan went to the current lord of Tirconnell, Malachy O'Donnell, and combined forces to slaughter MacLochlan.  O'Donnell of course, was more than happy for the opportunity to inflict major damage to Tyrone.  The battle resulted in the deaths of Donal MacLochlan, nine of his family, and ALL of the chiefs of Tyrone.  That means another O'Gormley lost his head.  I'm sure the MacLochlans didn't completely disappear from the planet, but they and their allies were reduced and traumatized enough so that the MacLochlans gave up their ambitions for the position of Lord of Cenel Eoghan.  They probably would have had a hard time getting other clans and cenels to ally with them, considering the possible consequences.  The O'Gormleys were still chiefs of Cenel Moain in the barony of Raphoe.  In 1252 Bryan O'Neill exerted his authority by killing off Conor MacCathmoil, chief of Cenel Feredaidh, who was trying to keep peace in Tirconnell, Tyrone, and Airghiall as well as standing up for O'Gormley in Cenel Moain and O'Kane in Derry.

Cenel Moain had very fertile soil producing successful crops, thus creating a desire by other clans, cenels, and kingdoms to wrest control of the land.  As such they were a good source of taxes, were able to feed a healthy army, and made a good stop for lodging an army whenever a war came around (which was quite frequent during this era).  This might be one reason why the O'Gormleys held the territory for so long.  If someone conquered them, they still needed someone to manage the territory.  Another reason might be that there were many O'Gormleys who held varying positions within the Roman Catholic Church.  At that time, all of the lords, chiefs, and chieftains wanted God on their side during any confrontation.

In 1260 the battle of Drom Deirg (aka Down) decimated much of the control the O'Neills had in Tyrone for years to come.  Bryan O'Neill, Lord of Tyrone, tried to unify as many clans and cenels in a war against England in Northern Ireland, but he couldn't get O'Donnell to join him.  It seems, from the Four Masters, that he was quite a ruthless leader so it's not surprising he generated a list of clans who disliked and feared him.  The English soundly defeated Bryan O'Neill's army including the decapitation of Bryan and the chiefs of the cenels that supported him.  Cenel Moan really had no choice in the situation and Awlave O'Gormley was added to the list of headless O'Gormleys.  After the battle, the O'Donnells of Tirconnell formed a plundering expedition and went through Tyrone slaughtering everything in their path.  In 1261 Niall O'Gormley died, further weakening the cenel.  At this point O'Gormley and the Cenel Moain were now under the Lordship of the O'Donnells of Tirconnell, however, they still remained the chiefs of Cenel Moain and they kept the Barony of Raphoe as their homeland.

Continuing in the pattern of alliances frequently changing, the English formed an alliance with the O'Neills in 1281 against O'Donnell of Tirconnell and slaughtered Donal Oge O'Donnell in the battle of Disirt-da-Chrioch (the parish of Desertcreight in the barony of Dungannon, County Tyrone).  Again, Donal and many of his kin and chiefs lost their heads in this affair including Enna O'Gormley, chief of Cenel Moain in the barony of Raphoe.  I would gather the English began to fear the power that Donal Oge O'Donnell of Tirconnell was gaining in Ulster and decided to slow him down.  New treaties were drawn up and once again the O'Gormleys and Cenel Moan in Raphoe were under the command of the O'Neills of Tyrone.  Oddly, in 1292 Sorley O'Gormley was killed by O'Neill.  This makes it uncertain as to whether O'Neills or O'Donnells were Lords over Cenel Moain at that time.  Frequently different factions of the O'Neills would fight against the O'Neill who was lord of Tyrone at the time, claiming the title for themselves.

I am guessing that by 1292 Cenel Moain was under the over-lordship of Torlogh O'Donnell of Tirconnell.  There might have been an O'Neill lord claiming rent for the use of Cenel Moain, but during this period there was so much disorder in Tyrone within the leadership of the O'Neill dynasty that I think it would be a safe bet that Cenel Moain was under the leadership of the O'Donnells.  The lordship of Tirconnell was basically in a tug-of-war between Torlogh and Hugh O'Donnell at this time as well, but in the end Hugh killed off Torlogh and became lord of Tirconnell.  Hugh died in 1333 and at his death one title he held was lord of Cenel Moain.  Add that to O'Neill killing Sorley O'Gormley, and I think it's fairly safe to assume Cenel Moain was under the lordship of Tirconnell in 1292 AD.

In 1307, Malachy O'Gormley, chief of Cenel Moain in Donegal, died.  The significance of this is to confirm Cenel Moain's presence was still in Donegal and the O'Gormleys were still chiefs.  In 1340 there was another Malachy O'Gormley who was chief of Cenel Moain in Donegal who died.

In 1401 Cenel Moain was still under the lordship of Tirconnell.  Bryan O'Neill led a force into Tirconnell, killed a few O'Donnell royalties and friends, and made off with valuable items and stock from Cenel Moain, while Henry O'Gormley was chief.  In return, Torlogh of the Wine O'Donnell, lord of Tirconnell, caught up with Bryan, killed him and returned home with O'Gormley's valuables.  Incidents like this, along with the big turn-overs in O'Gormley chiefs, are a sign that Cenel Moain was in the middle of many skirmishes and must have been a powerful and resilient fighting force.

In 1432 Henry O'Neill, son of Owen O'Neill, lord of Tyrone, led a fighting expedition into Cenel Moain. The O'Donnells and Tyronians camped in Cenel Moain and proceeded to skirmish with each other for several days.  Many people died and Henry returned home to Tyrone.  This indicates Cenel Moain was still being fought over and that after about 150 years; the O'Neills were attempting to take it back.  In 1435 Henry O'Neill led another party into Cenel Moain and this time soundly whipped O'Donnell's behind.  Still, Cenel Moain appeared to stay in O'Donnell's hands.  Finally in 1442 Henry enlisted the aid of the English.  Naghtan O'Donnell, lord of Tirconnell, realizing he had insufficient forces to win the battle, handed Cenel Moain to Henry O'Neill.  Cenel Moain now was under the lordship of the O'Neills of Tyrone.

After the defeat of Tirconnell, Henry handed Cenel Moain over to his brother Art, the progenitor of the Clan Sliocht Art.  At the time the two brothers had an amicable relationship.  Cenel Moain remained in the barony of Raphoe in Donegal with the O'Gormleys as its chiefs.  Art O'Neill had power over Cenel Moain but I don't believe it was ever integrated into the Clan Sliocht Art.  However, I have no doubts that Cenel Moain was now Art's most powerful fighting force.  In 1450 Henry and Art were still fighting as allies so Cenel Moain was still completely in the O'Neills of Tyrone hands.

In 1452 Naghtan O'Donnell, lord of Tirconnell from 1439 to 1452, died and one of his claims was to have been the overlord of Cenel Moain.  This could have referred to 1439 to 1442 when Henry O'Neill took control of the cenel.  Another point of interest in 1452 was Donal, son of Niall Garv O'Donnell, and Roderick, son of Naghtan O'Donnell, were fighting over the lordship of Tirconnell causing much confusion in the land.  The Four Masters claim there was a lot of fighting, plundering, and killings between them and their allies.  Unfortunately for the O'Neills, Henry O'Neill backed Naghtan O'Donnell's line and Art O'Neill, Henry's brother, backed the sons of Niall Garv O'Donnell.  Cenel Moain would have been backing Art and the sons of Niall Garv.  This was the beginning of more infighting within the O'Neills.  In 1455 Henry O'Neill became lord of Tyrone and in 1456 he helped Naghtan O'Donnell's son, Torlogh Cairbreach O'Donnell, assume the lordship of Tirconnell.  This action caused even more friction between Henry and Art O'Neill.

In 1458 Art O'Neill, progenitor of the Clan Sliocht (of the sept of) Art, died.  In the meantime Henry O'Neill was allied with Torlogh Cairbreach in plundering portions of Ulster.  The residence of Art O'Neill and headquarters of the Clan Sliocht Art was Castle Omie in the town of Omagh, barony of Omagh.  In 1459 Henry O'Neill attacked the castle but made peace with the Clan Sliocht Art and left them be.  The son of Naghtan O'Donnell, Torlogh Cairbreach, lord of Tirconnell and ally of Henry O'Neill, was deposed and Hugh Roe O'Donnell, son of Niall Garv and ally of the Clan Sliocht Art, was nominated the new lord of Tirconnell in 1461.  I think it would be safe to say that at this point, Cenel Moain was under the over-lordship of Hugh Roe O'Donnell of Tirconnell.

In 1470 there was another deadly conflict within the O'Neill clan which ended up with another attack on Castle Omie (caislean-na hOghmhaighe).  Finally in 1471 Henry O'Neill took Castle Omie from the Clan Sliocht Art and gave it to his son Con.  To make matters more volatile, Niall O'Neill, son of Art O'Neill and chief of Clan Sliocht Art, was married to the daughter (Sile) of Niall Garv O'Donnell, father of Hugh Roe, lord of Tirconnell.

From this point in time until 1507 AD there was constant fighting between the O'Neills, who were lords of Tyrone, and the Clan Sliocht Art who were freqently allies with the O'Donnells of Tirconnell.  In 1505 Hugh Roe O'Donnell, lord of Tirconnell and Cenel Moain, died and left the position to his son Hugh Oge.  In 1507 Hugh Oge O'Donnell made peace with Donal O'Neill, lord of Tyrone.  Cenel Moain was still the barony of Raphoe in Donegal and when Donal O'Neill left Hugh Oge after they made peace, Donal went on to plunder Cenel Moain on the way home out of spite for their allegiance to O'Donnell for the past forty years.  From now until 1514, Cenel Moain seemed to be in a chaotic state.

Art Oge O'Neill, son of Con O'Neill and progenitor of Clan Sliocht Art Oge, became lord of Tyrone in 1514.  Con was lord of Tyrone from 1483 - 1493 and was constantly fighting against Cenel Moain, who were at that time under the control of the Clan Sliocht Art, close allies of Hugh Roe O'Donnell, lord of Tirconnell.  Art Oge O'Neill gathered a great force to face off against Hugh Duv O'Donnell, lord of Tirconnell.  Hugh Duv being greatly outnumbered decided to conclude the conflict peacefully and new charts were drawn up as well as old ones ratified at the Bridge of Ardstraw.  I believe this settlement included Art Oge taking Cenel Moain away from Clan Sliocht Art, moving them East across the river Foyle into the barony of Strabane, County Tyrone, decimating the Clan Sliocht Art, and moving Cenel Fearadaigh West of Ardstraw to accommodate room for Cenel Moain.  They also gave a portion of the barony of Strabane to the O'Gormleys as their own demense lands.  Unfortunately Art Oge died in 1519 but he had a major impact on the history of Cenel Moain.  Cenel Moain probably assimilated easily into the Clan Sliocht Art Oge and likely made up a significant portion of its members.  One can easily understand why Art Oge wanted the members of the Cenel Moain.  After defending the most sought after piece of real estate in Ulster for 600 years, the members of Cenel Moain must have been hardened fighters.  The Clan Sliocht Art Oge became quite famous and their deeds were put into prose by the McNamees who were famous bards living in Ardstraw.  Clan Sliocht Art Oge headquarters were at Shancasla, which was demolished during one of many uprisings, but there was a castle partially standing in its place now known as Newtown-Stewart.

Cenel Moain remained under the overlordship of the O'Neills of Tyrone, but, I think it would be accurate to say that from 1592 - 1602 all of Ulster was under the control of Hugh Roe O'Donnell of Tirconnell.  After Hugh's death, the backbone of the Irish spirit to fight the English was broken.  By 1609 and the flight of the Earls, Ulster finally lost to the English.  This opened up all of Northern Ireland, with the exception of Donegal, for King James to give to his English and Scottish allies.  In his original plan known as the Plantation of Ulster, the theory was he would displace all of the Irish with English and Scottish settlers to build towns and farm the land.  Unfortunately for James there weren't enough English and Scottish settlers who wanted to do that much work, so he ended up giving the land to his aristocratic friends, as well as debtors, to lease out to the indigenous Irish.

One such debtor was named James Claphane and he decided to rent directly to the Irish.  James claimed the castle at Newtown-Stewart and the surrounding lands.  Perhaps he wanted to own the headquarters of the famous Clan Sliocht Art Oge along with the lands of their most important families.  At the time he went against King James' wishes and decided to rent directly to the indigenous Irish.  He figured it would save a lot of time and money over the alternative of bringing in a new group of lessors who in turn would rent out to the Irish.  The document listing the Irish who were living in the area, and who were also high members of the Clan Sliocht Art Oge, that James rented to, was preserved in "The Conquest of Ireland, Pynnar's Survey, Special Census of Northern Ireland" by Rev. George Hill.  In it I found two O'Gormleys and a McNamee.  There were a lot of O'Neills, but that is to be expected.  As I have said all along, the O'Gormleys were chiefs of Cenel Moan since somewhere around 800 AD to 900 AD until the late 1500s.  Thank you, James, for being thrifty and leaving us a record.  The King eventually made James Claphane rent the land to English and Scottish settlers.

I assume many Gormleys either relocated to other parts of Ireland or immigrated to other countries from the late 1500s all the way up to the early 1900s.  We could use all of the DNA testing we can from Gormleys and similar names who can be traced back to County Tyrone to verify the true background of the Gormley's History in Northern Ireland.

Michael Anthony McNally

Y-DNA Haplogroups

There are Gormleys (and variant spellings) in all corners of the world today.  Most descendants are usually in the y-DNA haplogroup R1b1a2 which is by far the most common haplogroup in western Europe.  It reaches frequencies of over 90 percent in Wales, Ireland and the Basque region of Spain.

Many Gormleys also share a unique y-DNA Haplogroup called R-M222.  The R-M222 branch of the Y-DNA tree is defined by a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) called M222.   This diagnostic marker is associated with many individuals whose roots lie in the counties of Northwest Ireland, Ulster and Lowland Scotland.  In no county is this pattern the dominant DNA profile, but in some counties (Donegal in NW Ireland, for example) it approaches 20 percent.  See R-M222 Haplogroup Project for more information.

Haplogroup R1a is the largest group in much of an area stretching from eastern Europe to India.  It is not common in western Europe outside of Scandinavia.  For that reason, this group is usually thought to denote Viking heritage when found in the British Isles.

Haplogroup I originated approximately 25,000 years ago among the people of Eastern Africa and/or Southern Europe.  It represents nearly one-fifth of the population of Europe.  It can be found in the majority of present-day European populations; the greatest density to be found is in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Norway, Sweden, Serbia, Sardinia, Denmark and Germany.  The haplogroup is almost non-existent outside of Europe, suggesting that it arose in Europe.  As the ice receded after the last glacial maximum, Haplogroup I spread into Northern Europe.  There is some speculation the initial dispersion of this population corresponds to the diffusion of the Gravettian culture, named after the archeological site of La Gravette in the Dordogne region of France where its characteristic tools were first found and studied.

Haplogroup I1 is a northwestern European group with its highest percentages in Sweden and Norway,though it is quite common in most of the Germanic speaking areas.  In Britain, it is the second largest group (after R1b) and is usually associated with the Anglo-Saxon migration or with the later Viking invasions.

Haplogroup I2a is a European group which is found primarily in the Balkans.   It reaches its zenith in Bosnia where it constitutes over 40% of the population.  The most likely source for this haplogroup in Britain would seem to be from Thracian, Dacian or Illyrian soldiers in the Roman army.

Haplogroup J has two main branches, J1 and J2.  Both are found in Eastern African populations.   It also spread into Europe and the Indian subcontinent during the Bronze Age.  J2 lineages originated in the area known as the Fertile Crescent.   J1 lineages may have a more southern origin, as they are more often found in the Levant region, other parts of the Near East, and North Africa, with a sparse distribution in the southern Mediterranean flank of Europe, and in Ethiopia.

Haplogroup J2b is most common in the Middle East and reaches its highest percentages in Turkey.   In Europe, the largest J2b populations are in Greece, Albania and Italy.  This haplogroup is rare in Britain where it could represent remnants of eastern Mediterranean troops stationed on the island during the Roman occupation.  It also might indicate Jewish heritage.

Mitochondrial (mtDNA) Haplogroups
Specific mitochondrial haplogroups are typically found in different regions of the world, and this is due to unique population histories.  In the process of spreading around the world, many populations with their special mitochondrial haplogroups became isolated, and specific haplogroups concentrated in geographic regions.  Today, certain haplogroups have been identified that originated in Africa, Europe, Asia, the islands of the Pacific, the Americas, and even particular ethnic groups.  Of course, haplogroups that are specific to one region are sometimes found in another, but this is due to recent migration.

Mitochondrial Haplogroups A,B, C, D, and X are Native American mitochondrial haplogroups.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup A has its highest frequencies are among Indigenous peoples of the Americas.  Its largest overall population is in East Asia, and its greatest variety (which suggests its origin point) is in East Siberia.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup B is the only mitochondrial haplogroup whose distribution encompasses both sides of the Pacific Ocean, the Americas, Polynesia, the Philippines, Japan, China,Indonesia, Thailand, and has even been found in Madagascar.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup C is believed to have arisen somewhere between the Caspian Sea and Lake Baikal some 60,000 years before present.  The sublades C1b, C1c, C1d, and C4c are found in the first people of the Americas.  C1 is the most common.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup D is found in Northeast Asia including Siberia.  It is also found quite frequently in Central Asia, where it makes up the second most common mtDNA clade (after H). Mitochondrial haplogroup D also appears at a low frequency in northeastern Europe and southwestern Asia.   D4 is also frequent to Koreans according to latest study.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup F is most frequent in southeast Asia.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup H is a predominantly European haplogroup that participated in a population expansion beginning approximately 20,000 years ago.  Today, about 30% of all mitochondrial lineages in Europe are classified as haplogroup H.  It is rather uniformly distributed throughout Europe suggesting a major role in the peopling of Europe, and descendant lineages of the original haplogroup H appear in the Near East as a result of migration.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup HV is a primarily European haplogroup that underwent an expansion beginning approximately 20,000 years ago.  It is more prevalent in western Europe than in eastern Europe, and descendant lineages of the original haplogroup HV appear in the Near East as a result of more recent migration.  One of the dominant mitochondrial haplogroups in Europe, haplogroup HV pre-dates the occurrence of farming in Europe.

Principally a European haplogroup, mitochondrial haplogroup I is detected at very low frequency across west Eurasia with slightly greater representation in northern and western Europe.  Given its wide, but sparse, distribution, it is likely that it was present in those populations that first colonized Europe.

The mitochondrial haplogroup J contains several sub-lineages.  The original haplogroup J originated in the Near East approximately 50,000 years ago.

Haplogroup J*, the root lineage of haplogroup J, is found distributed throughout Europe, but at a relatively low frequency.  Haplogroup J* is generally considered one of the prominent lineages that was part of the Neolithic spread of agriculture into Europe from the Near East beginning approximately 10,000 years ago.  Within Europe, sub-lineages of mitochondrial haplogroup J have distinct and interesting distributions.

Haplogroup J1b is found distributed in the Near East and southern Iberia, and may have been part of the original colonization wave of Neolithic settlers moving around the Mediterranean 6000 years ago or perhaps a lineage of Phoenician traders.  Within haplogroup J1b, a derivative lineage haplogroup J1b1 has been found in Britain and another sub-lineage detected in Italy.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup K is found through Europe, and contains multiple closely related lineages indicating a recent population expansion.   The origin of haplogroup K dates to approximately 16,000 years ago, and it has been suggested that individuals with this haplogroup took part in the pre-Neolithic expansion following the Last Glacial Maximum.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup L1 is found in West and Central sub-Saharan Africa.  Some of its branches (L1d, L1k, L1a, L1f) were recently re-classified into haplogroup L0 as L0d,L0k, L0a and L0f.  Haplogroup L1 arose with Mitochondrial Eve and haplogroup L0 is an offshoot.  The descendants of haplogroup L1 are also African haplogroups L2 and L3, the latter of which gave rise to all non-African haplogroups.  Haplogroup L1 is believed to have first appeared in Africa approximately 150,000 to 170,000 years ago.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup L2 is native to sub-Saharan Africa, where it is present in approximately one third of all people.  It is believed to have arisen approximately 70,000 years ago from the line of haplogroup L1.

Mitochondrial Sub-haplogroup L3e is wide spread in Africa. It is the most common of the L3 sub-haplogroups, accounting for just over one-third of all L3-type sequences and is the most common sub-haplogroup within the Bantu-speaking populations of east Africa.  L3e is suggested to be associated with a central African/Sudanese origin about 45,000 years ago and is also the most common mitochondrial haplogroup L3 subclade amongst African Americans, Afro-Brazilians and Caribbeans.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup M comprises the first wave of human migration out of Africa, following an eastward route along southern coastal areas.   Descendant populations belonging to mitochondrial haplogroup M are found throughout East Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Melanesia, though almost none have been found in Europe.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup N may represent another migration out of Africa, heading northward instead of eastward.  Shortly after the migration, the large R mitochondrial haplogroup split off from the N.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup R consists of two subgroups defined on the basis of their geographical distributions, one found in southeastern Asia and Oceania and the other containing almost all of the modern European populations.  Haplogroup N(xR), i.e. mtDNA that belongs to the N group but not to its R subgroup, is typical of Australian aboriginal populations, while also being present at low frequencies among many populations of Eurasia and the Americas.  Its arrival in Europe around 35,000 years ago coincided with the end of the Neandertals.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup T is common in eastern and northern Europe and found as far east as the Indus Valley and the Arabian Peninsula.  It is considered one of the main genetic signatures of the Neolithic expansion.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup U has a wide distribution.  Most in mtDNA haplogroup U come from a group that moved northwest out of the Near East. Today they are found in Europe and the eastern Mediterranean at frequencies of almost 7% of the population.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup V tends to be restricted to western, central, and northern Europe.  It is found in 12% of Basques and is thought to have been established within the European refuge during the last Ice Age.

Mitochondrial Haplogroup X is found in Europe and Asia, and is believed to have migrated to the Americas about 15,000 years ago, making up a very small component of the Native American population as in the Ojibwa, Sioux, Nuu-Chah-Nulth, and Navajo tribes.