Haldane DNA Genealogical Project - Results

The Haldane DNA Project has four participants: John, Don, and Ian Haldane (all with results in) and Ted Haldan whose results are pending. This report is on the results of the DNA findings. John and Ian have a proven (by paper trail) common ancestor in Adam Haldane, born 1746 in Longniddry, East Lothian, Scotland. Don's family can be traced to George Ward Haldane, born before 1838. His place of birth is unknown, but his children were born in Durham County, England. There is no paper trail connection between Ian's and John's family and Don's family.

The DNA is tested in three stages: the 12-marker test, the 25 marker test, and the 37 marker test. Each subsequent test supersedes the prior one and provides greater detail about the genetic history of the person being tested. Imagine the 12 marker test to be like viewing a beautiful landmark from several miles away - you can see it and observes general things about it. The 25 and 37 marker tests bring you closer and enable you to see much greater detail.

There are many, many different groupings of like-DNA in the world. Each can be traced to points of origin in Africa some 35,000 years ago or more. Many of the groups have common beginnings, but have split into distinct measurements. These groupings are called HAPLOGROUPS. Each Haplogroup is a distinct "family" of DNA. Some can be traced to certain places in the world in past history.

This DNA study is exclusively on the male Y-chromosome. Women do not have a Y-chromosome. Therefore, the data examined on the Y-chromosome of the study participants has been passed down through the generations from father to son. Since surnames (Haldane in our case) have also been passed from father to son, the correlation between these DNA tests and surname history is statistically pretty high (although certainly not absolute, as surnames have changed over the years - Haldane has been spelled Hadden, Halden, and many other variations).

RESULTS

The DNA tests of John, Don, and Ian reveal a lot of answers and many questions as well.

Don's Haplogroup is identified as R1b while John and Ian are a part of Haplogroup I (the letter after H). These two Haplogroups make up more than 80% of the Haplogroups in all of the United Kingdom, with R1b consisting of more than 50% and Haplogroup I making up about one-third of the total. As to placement in other parts of the world, R1b shows origins and the strongest presence in Spain and France while the Haplogroup I is very widespread with a very strong presence in both Scandinavia and Greece. R1b makes up over 85% of the DNA at the Spain/France border area, more than two-thirds of the DNA in Portugal, and more than half in Germany. Haplogroup I does not show that level of dominance anywhere, although it is more than one-third of the DNA in Sweden, almost half in Norway, and almost half in Greece. It also shows more than 40% in Afghanistan.

The fact that Don's group (R1b) is different from Ian's and John's group (I), is significant. It proves beyond any doubt that they do not share a common ancestor in the last 30,000 years - long before surnames were a part of human history. Therefore, we have already proven that there is more than one origin of the family name, Haldane.

To measure relationships between individuals, the DNA testing compares markers at the three stages of testing. The closer the match at the higher levels of testing, the greater the likelihood of a common ancestor. This probability can be increased or decreased with additional data. While additional data could be gathered by testing each individual for more than 37 markers, the cost-effectiveness of that approach is poor. After 37 markers, the increase in probabilities is negligible. A far better way to increase probabilities is having additional data points from DNA tests of other Haldane men. The data can then be "triangulated" - compared in more ways - and certitude of the results increases even more.

The results available for Ian and John: Ian's 37 marker test results are in and they matched John's exactly. The odds that they share a common ancestor in the last 300 years are 97.56% - a virtual certainty. We know from the paper trail history that our common ancestor was born about 260 years ago in East Lothian, so this serves as confirmation of that paper trail. There was only one minor difference between Ian's and John's Y-chomosome DNA results.

For what it is worth, the odds of them sharing a common ancestor in the last 600 years is put at 99.98%.

The family myth that Haldane means "Half-dane" and that our origins are from the Norse Kings and invaders of that name (Haelfedane) is still unproven, of course. The fact that Haplogroups R1b and I both occur in Scandinavia is fascinating, but not definitive. To find positive identification with Scandinavian ancestors would be the evidence we need. That would require someone from Scandinavia to participate in the study and their DNA would have to match closely at the 37 marker test, that of Ian or John or Don. For now, we will have to wait for additional participants and hope to answer this question.

To determine if any of us are related to the honored Haldanes of Gleneagles, we would need at least one, and preferably two or three, proven descendants of that family to submit samples for DNA testing. A submission from one person would provide the Gleneagles Haplogroup - probably either R1B or I - and would rule out blood relationship of someone in our study. It would not prove the other was related, however, it would just show the probabilities. A second and third DNA test from that family would enable the odds to increase or decrease, as above.