Graham Surname DNA Project - Results


We can now recognise and describe a very significant subclade among the Grahams.

 By far the largest single family group in our Graham DNA Project has been tested as J1 or J1e, with 60 out of the 190 testers classified in this group. They match each other closely and we believe that they all descend from the single ancestor who founded the Ancient Graham family in Scotland in the early 1100s. They appear to belong to a single family, and their most recent common ancestor has been estimated to live 700-950 years ago. This is in accord with the history of the Noble House of Graham in Scotland, as the first recorded member was William de Graham (c1080-1127). He was one of the gentlemen who accompanied King David I north from England in 1124, when David succeeded to the Scottish throne after the unexpected death of his brother Alexander I.

 A Fluxus diagram of the Graham J1 subgroup suggests that the family split in two quite early in the piece, and this also agrees with the historical record, as there have been two main lines of Grahams in Scotland from about 1400 onward.  The senior branch of the family is that of the Grahams of Montrose, the present Chief of Clan Graham being James Graham, 8th Duke of Montrose. The second line is that of the Grahams of Menteith who were ennobled in 1406, when Sir Patrick Graham married Euphemia Stewart, Countess of Strathearn and Menteith, granddaughter of King Robert II of Scotland.

 We had expected that the ancient Graham line would belong to one of the subclades of R1b, as appears to be the case with many of the ancient names in Scotland. R1b is certainly the largest major haplogroup among the Grahams, with 59 individuals altogether, but there is no sign of a single related family among our R1b testers. In fact it is subdivided into at least 15 different small families, plus many unrelated individuals, with the largest single R1b family in our dataset consisting of just 7 people. The modal value for the line of J1 Grahams, and probably the signature of the earliest Scottish ancestor of the Ancient Grahams, William de Graham (c1080-1127), can be found in Ysearch at CMCFF. Several of the Grahams from this line have been subclade-tested as J1e in FTDNA terminology, now renamed J1c3d in the latest ISOGG Table, with P58+, L147+, L222-. However all the Grahams in our J1 group can be recognised from their STR values, as all have DYS388=15 and YCAII=22-22.

 Modal values for the first 12 markers, in FTDNA order, are:

12 23 14 10 13-17 11 15 11 13 11 30.

 This subgroup of J1 is extremely rare on the world scene, but is common among Grahams. It turned up just 3 times out of 2416 tests in the Blood of the Isles dataset, published by Dr Bryan Sykes in 2006, where there were single records from each of three different localities: Central Scotland, Argyll, and East Anglia. It is interesting to note that by far the largest single collection of J1 Y-DNA values in any of the surname projects at FTDNA appears to be here in our Graham Project.

 Unfortunately we do not yet have Y-DNA test results from any declared members of the Ancient Graham family, so that this theory cannot be regarded as proved. However we can think of no other explanation for the existence of this DNA family, as the Grahams have always been a numerous and influential group within Scotland, and the pattern of one large related family, plus a number of other unrelated lines which carry the same surname, is common to most of the important Scottish family names that have been studied to date.