All YDNA projects appear to be comprised of several different genetic groups. The more common and older the name, the more genetic groups. The Neely project is no exception. It is hard to say how and when the blending of the genetic groups happened. We have recently recognized a total of six Neely "branches" from the different genetic groupings that have evolved from participant's YDNA STR results. In order for a grouping to qualify as a branch, we have decided it must contain at least 3 Neely surnames (or spelling variant) of 37 marker haplotypes, with each having a FTDNA TiP calculation of 50% or more probability for a MRCA from the group average (modal haplotype) in the last 12 generations. This should be useful for looking atNeely history back to about 1500 or slightly earlier The remaining participant groupings may or may not grow into a Neely branch in the future, depending on results of future participants. A brief summary for each of the 6 Neely branches as of 2015 is shown below. We consider a 37 marker STR test to be the minimum needed to give us the information we need to understand groupings and relationships. Additional marker tests, up to the maximum 111 marker test are helpful in refining STR relationships and are also more "accurate" than the 37 marker test, but also cost additional money.
1. Listed as PA group,the 17 participant's results show a tightly related genetic group. The origin of this group appears to be from Scotland or perhaps England based on current information. The MRCA of several participants in this group, including Jim andStephen, has been traced to Thomas Neely, who came from Co Tyrone to PA about1730 with his young family. At least two of his sons moved to the Carolinas about 1760. At this time, we have been unable to tie participants from this group to records of their family in Ulster, Ireland.
2. Listed as NY group, the 16 participant's results show a slightly looser related genetic group that is related to the PA group. Comparison of the averages of this group and the first group above are exactly the same except for DYS570 and CDY a & b (markers33, 34 and 35). One group must have mutated from the other sometime in the fairly distant past. Like the first group, the also appear to have come from Scotland or perhaps England. Also, several MRCA have been identified in the early 1700's as coming from Ulster from paper trail genealogy, but no connection to the records in Ireland have been established thus far.
3. Listed as the John Hill Neely group, it is the most recent branch with 4 participants who have all completed testing with 111 markers. John Hill Neely is the MRCA for this group and was born about 1756 in Ireland and immigrated to America with his parents and siblings as a boy. It is a completely different haplotype where matches on YSearch.org could not be found. There are identified descendants living in Lancaster, SC and Cowetta, GA in addition to those from Mobile, AL who will be contacted to take the YDNA tests to better document this group. It could be possible this group may have originated from the MacConghaile Clan in the area around Galway in western Ireland, but they could equally have different origins. We have no evidence to even speculate at this time. There were two Gaelic native-Irish clans whose names eventually became McNeely, Neely, etc. after being anglicized, probably starting around 1700 or so. The other was in Ulster.
4. Listed as Mac an Fhilidh group, this 4 person (5 including a matching McNeely from the McNeely YDNA project) genetic grouping of Neilly, Neelys and McNeelys is believed by Mark Neilly, based on circumstantial evidence he has accumulated, to be descended from the Mac an Fhilidh (Gaelic) Clan/Sept of Native Irish living in Co Antrim in Ulster since at least the 1500's. Mac an Fhilidh was one of two Gaelic native Irish clans whose names eventually became McNeely, Neely, etc, etc. after being anglicized, probably starting around 1700 or so. The other is the MacConghaile Clan of the area around Galway in western Ireland and was probably anglicized several years later. Mark's ancestry has been documented in Glencul, Co Tyrone from the mid 1700's. Mark speaks, reads and writes Gaelic and also Middle Scots. He is a nephew of John Neilly and now lives in Scotland.
5. Listed as the McGregor group, this 4-person group all live in Ireland. They directly descend from the McGregor Clan. The McGregor history shows the Scottish government attempted to annihilate their clan beginning in 1603. Their very name was banned and the government planned to ship their male children 12 and older to Ireland and England based on the minutes of the 1611 Privy Council. We believe a Neely family in Co Donegal likely adopted one of these McGregor boys (probably prompted by a subsidy).
6. Listed as the Viking group, this 5-person group of Neelys have a 37 modal haplotype exactly the same as a large 33-person subgroup of McNeills, except for one step difference in marker 34 (CDYa). The halplogroup is I1a, which is associated with the Vikings. Thus, it seems likely that these 'matching' McNeills were most likely part of their clan living in the Hebrides islands where the Vikings settled, then mixed with them, and the Neelys in this branch are descended from them. Some of these early descendants may have migrated into western Scotland first and from there, moved to Ulster, Ireland. Name changes that became McNeely and then dropping the Mc when arriving in Ireland were not uncommon in the early Plantation period of Ulster.