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Interpreting Non-YDNA Test Results

Several weeks ago I received a file of DNA test results from a biological male Whipple descendant of a disconnected biological male Whipple listed on the Disconnected Whipples page of the Whipple Website. The file had 668,961 lines of data from a test performed by a large genealogical company. I was unable to draw any conclusions from that file. (I lack the expertise necessary to interpret that file.)

Background: Y-DNA Tests for Whipples

The late Blaine Whipple of Portland, Oregon, first suggested the value of a specific DNA test to me in an email a number of years ago. At the time, he wanted to see if the Rhode Island Whipples and the Bocking/Ipswich Whipples were related.

He reviewed the elementary genetics that I had learned in college:

  • Biological males generally have one X and one Y chromosome—the X chromosome is received from their mother; the Y chromosome is received from their father.
  • Biological females generally have two X chromosomes—both received from their mother.

Blaine reasoned that Y chromosome DNA tests could be conducted as follows:

  1. Find a statistically significant sampling of biological male Whipples that can trace the male line of their ancestry to either Captain John Whipple of Rhode Island or Matthew Whipple of Bocking, England. (The “top” branch of these Whipples’ pedigree chart would all be males surnamed Whipple, connecting to either John or Matthew.)
  2. Test only DNA markers on their Y chromosome.
  3. Compare the results to see if the Rhode Island Whipples and the Bocking/Ipswich Whipples are biologically related.

Those tests have been conducted. The two Whipples aren’t biologically related.

Blaine also suggested that if the two branches aren’t related, male Whipples could use Y-DNA tests to see if they are descended from either of those two Whipple ancestors.

Non-YDNA Tests

During the years since Blaine Whipple first contacted me, DNA tests have made stunning advances. Companies have amassed huge DNA databases. At a conference I attended this summer, I attended a lecture by an executive who described the wonderful ways they could help individuals identify their relatives. I was impressed.

As I listened to the lecture, I quickly realized that determining biological relationships using Ancestry’s database should be left up to Ancestry.

Fortunately, I already know my Whipple ancestry. (I descend from the Rhode Island John.)

Which DNA Test(s) are for you?

If you are a biological male Whipple trying to determine your Whipple ancestry, a Y Chromosome DNA test is potentially a good choice. (I had my YDNA test from Family Tree DNA in Houston, Texas. Ancestry doesn’t offer a YDNA test.)

Otherwise, Ancestry’s DNA test might be helpful for you. Unfortunately, I’m unable to draw any conclusions from the hundreds of thousands of lines of output from their tests—depend on Ancestry for that.

Enjoy your genealogical research!


Y-DNA Haplogroup T Reversal

This past April 3-4 I wrote a negative post on the value of Y-DNA tests as tie-breakers for Whipples. In the additional thoughts on April 4 (at the bottom of that post) I suggested that male Whipples who reported their Y-DNA haplogroup as T were likely mistaken—that their T-haplogroup was likely a mitochondrial (mtDNA) haplogroup.

My opinions changed completely on August 26.  Raymond “Ray” Whipple of Hamilton, Massachusetts emailed me that day, reminding me that he is in the Y-DNA T haplogroup. (I actually helped him get the test several years ago through Family Tree DNA. [duh!])

How This Changes Things

As stated in my April 3-4 post, Y-DNA haplogroup T is extremely rare in northern Europe. Since The R1b… Y-DNA haplogroup is common among descendants of the Rhode Island Captain John Whipple (—as well as European populations in general, we can surmise the following:

  1. Any patrilineal male Whipple in the U.S. who is a member of Y-DNA haplogroup T is very likely a descendant of the Ipswich Whipples.
  2. Male Whipples in Y-DNA haplogroup R1b
    • are possibly a descendant of Rhode Island Whipple Capt. John Whipple, OR
    • are possibly a patrilineal descendant of some European male, OR
    • have a very slim chance of being a descendant of an adopted (or otherwise non-biological) son of an Ipswich Whipple.

So this realization radically alters my ramblings of April 3-4.

Ray’s Patrilineal Whipple Ancestry

In 2012, Ray published the 4th edition of his book entitled The Whipples of Ipswich and Its Hamlet. I have a signed (by Ray) copy of the book in my possession.

Ray traces his male genealogy back to Matthew Whipple of Bocking/Ipswich as follows—all his American ancestors lived in Ipswich Hamlet/Hamilton, Massachusetts:

  1. Raymond Arthur Whipple Jr. (
  2. Raymond Arthur Whipple (
  3. Arthur Eli Whipple, 1872-1926 (
  4. John Henry Whipple, 1831-1917) (
  5. John Whipple, 1807-1871 (
  6. Edward Whipple (Lt.), 1780-1861 (
  7. John Whipple, 1743-1832 (
  8. John Whipple (Capt.), 1695-1769 (
  9. John Whipple (Capt.), 1660-1722 (
  10. John Whipple (Lt.), 1632-1695 (
  11. Matthew Whipple, 1590-1647 (
  12. Matthew Whipple Sr., abt 1550-1618/1619 (

Note: The Whipple Website extends Matthew Sr’s ancestry two generations:

  1. Thomas Whipple, b. abt 1510 (
  2. Thomas Whipple, b. abt 1475 (

Observations about Ray’s Ancestry

  • Half of the ancestors in Ray’s lineage back to Matthew Sr. are named John
  • Two of the six Johns are Capt. John.
  • Neither Capt. John is the Capt. John Whipple of Rhode Island (
  • The Whipple Blog post entitled “Captain Who?” lists 11 Capt. John Whipples. (The list might be incomplete.) The two Capt. Johns in Ray’s ancestry are numbers 3 and 6 on that page.


Ray isn’t the only Whipple in Y-DNA haplogroup T. In a note inserted inside the book he sent me in 1912 (?), he states his relief at learning that there are other Whipples in Y-DNA haplogroup T. (Yes, there were other reports of Whipples in that haplogroup before Ray. If only I had kept better records! [sigh])

Feel free to question any information on the web sites of (I’m certain that many more errors are lurking among their pages.)

DNA Tests in the new Whipple Database

During the past few days I’ve upgraded the software of the former web site. In the process I changed it’s address to

I now notice a new section of that site called “DNA Tests” (currently empty). I’m contemplating entering my own DNA information.

Unless I become inundated with email, I’m willing to accept (and enter) information from individuals who are found in the Whipple Database (i.e. whose name is listed at (Send your information to Be sure to include your individual number …)

Here are the fields that appear on the Test Information page:

  • Test Type. One of:
    • atDNA (Autosomal)
    • Y-DNA
    • mtDNA (Mitochondrial)
    • X-DNA
  • Test Number
  • Vendor
  • Test Date
  • Person who took this test (linked to a person at
  • Number of STR Markers
  • Haplogroup
  • Significant SNPs
  • Terminal SNP
  • Notes. (This is a large, free-format field)
  • Relevant Links (probably for URLs of other sites/pages?)

Before You Submit Your Information

I haven’t had time to consider all the ramifications of posting DNA test information on the site. Before you send me your information, please think about whether or not you have privacy concerns (etc.).

The Whipple Genweb and Whipple Database already have a policy of not (intentionally) posting dates and places for living individuals.

We’ll see where this goes…

Recent Thoughts on DNA Testing

[On September 7, 2016, I revised my opinion of the usefulness of Y-DNA haplogroup T in identifying Ipswich Whipple descendants. You probably ought to read that post before reading this post further.]

Lately I’ve had second thoughts about the value of Y-DNA tests as a “tie breaker” in helping fill in a missing generation in one’s Whipple ancestral tree.

I’ll begin with these facts (from page 83 of the 2004 book entitled Trace Your Roots with DNA: Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak and Ann Turner, ISBN 1-59486-006-8):

Y-DNA “haplogroup R1b is the most common haplogroup in Eurpoean populations. … This lineage is … the haplogroup containing the Atlantic modal haplotype.”

My interpretation: In 2004 (when the book was written), if you were to take a cross-section of all European males—not just Whipples—and test their Y-DNA, the most common haplogroup of that cross-section would be R1b.

The I, I1, and I1a lineages are nearly completely restricted to north-western Europe. These would most likely have been common within Viking populations. One lineage of this group extends down into central Europe.

My interpretation: In 2004, a significant number of males—not just Whipples—living in north-western Europe belong to the I, I1, and I1a haplogroups.

Patrilineal male Whipples who have reported being in the R1b haplogroup have all been (as far as they can tell) descendants of Captain John Whipple of Rhode Island.

It was an exchange of emails last month that has gotten me to thinking:

  1. A patrilineal male Whipple descendant of a Whipple thought to descend from the Ipswich Whipples (which have heretofore been reported as being members of the T, T1, I2b1, etc. haplogroups), informed me that he is a member of the R1b1b2 haplogroup—the same as mine.
  2. Then that  Whipple’s cousin (or nephew?), who isn’t a patrilineal Whipple descendant reported that his haplogroup is also R1b1b2.

Then it hit me: Most male Whipples whose ancestors came from Europe in the past are probably members of the R1b haplogroup—regardless of who their ancestors are—just like the majority of all other (non-Whipple) males who trace their patrilineal ancestry back to Europe (including England).

Most of us who have traced our genealogy for a few generations have probably encountered:

  • a foundling ancestor, left on a doorstep and adopted by a non-relative.
  • an orphan, adopted by an aunt, uncle, or other relative.
  • out-of-wedlock ancestors whose father is uncertain.
  • other non-biological father-son relationships.

The majority of male Whipples—even those who have encountered the above situations (perhaps without knowing it)—are in the R1b haplogroup.

At this point I’m wondering if it was a mistake to create the Whipple DNA website. I don’t think I’ll delete it—not yet, at least.

What a relief that the Whipple Genweb and related site are open to anyone named Whipple, regardless of origin—whether or not they are related to ANYONE else named Whipple. (See Scope of This Site for the actual scope of the Whipple Website.)

If you have comments about this post, feel free to email me at … or perhaps say something on the Whipple Website Facebook page (you’ll have to join that group first), or tweet to @WhippleWebsite.

Feel free to enlighten me. (I’m still trying to update myself on the latest advances in genealogical DNA!)

Additional thoughts on April 4, 2016

In re-reading about Y-DNA haplogroups in Europe, many sources make no mention of the T haplogroup at all (in Europe). It now appears that the T haplogroup is found mainly in west Asia: only about 0.9% of European males (chiefly in the eastern Mediterranean) belong to the T haplogroup.

On the other hand, a female T haplogroup is common in Europe. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) tests are a common method for tracing ones matrilineal lineage with DNA.

I now suspect that the report(s) I’ve received of membership in the T haplogroup are mtDNA reports … and should be omitted.

Unfortunately, the individual who first reported his ancestry as being in the T1 haplogroup is deceased, and thus not available to question about his original report.

Who Is Henry Whipple?

According to the Whipple Genweb, Henry Whipple (one of many Henrys in the database) was born on May 13, 1788, in Rhode Island. He died March 19, 1848, in Cumberland County, Illinois.

Until last month it was assumed that his parents were Ezra Whipple and Abigail Harwood. Ezra is a great great grandson of Matthew Whipple, born in Bocking, England, in about 1590. Matthew sailed from England to Ipswich, Massachusetts, with his brother John in 1638. The brothers were great grandsons of Thomas Whipple of Bishops Stortford, England, born in about 1475.

Last month I received an email from a relative of a direct patrilineal descendant of Henry. The direct descendant had just received the results of his Y chromosome DNA test, which showed  him a member of the R1b haplogroup.

A significant number of patrilineal descendants of Captain John Whipple of Providence, Rhode Island, have all belonged to the R1b haplogroup. Thus far, no confirmed patrilineal descendants of Bocking/Ipswich Whipples have been in the R1b haplogroup.

Several weeks ago I unlinked Henry from parents Ezra and Abigail. Some have suggested that Henry is the son of Luther Whipple—a confirmed descendant of Captain John—and his wife Eunice Gates.

… So who is Henry’s father?

Henry is likely a direct descendant of Captain John of Providence, Rhode Island. On the other hand, it is possible that Henry or one of his ancestors was adopted, or one of his descendants could have been adopted.

While Y-DNA tests can be a tie-breaker in helping to choose between two candidate Whipple ancestors—one a Rhode Island descendant and the other an Ipswich/Bocking descendant—Y-DNA tests aren’t foolproof.

Because the R1b haplogroup is the most common among European males in general, a random male (of any surname) in the U.S. or Europe is most likely a member of that haplogroup. Y-DNA tests are useful (for Whipple genealogists) only when a male of surname Whipple is trying to choose between two possible ancestors—one a Rhode Island Whipple and the other a Bocking/Ipswich Whipple.

Are Whipples Descendants of Scandinavians and Normans?

On the Whipple Website Facebook group this morning, a Whipple posted the following:

After watching the series “History of Britain,” it seems to me that Whipple’s may either originally be from the Scandinavian countries (viking hordes) or from Normandy in northern France, who were also from Scandinavia originally …..anyone who’s a direct line descendant, who’s had a DNA profile, did it show either of those ethnic origins, along with Britain?

I was about to post a long reply to the Facebook group, but decided it might be better to post it here (and refer the Facebook group to this post). … So here goes:

Sometime during the past 10 years (or so) I owned (and read cover-to-cover) a book entitled Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain by Robert Winder. From what I recall, it basically concludes that everyone in modern-day Great Britian is a “foreigner.”

Captain John Whipple ( is my 8th great grandfather. He is one of my (mathematically speaking) 1024 different 8th great grandparents. (If none of them are duplicates because of cousins marrying cousins, that could mean that I have 512 8th great grandmothers and 512 8th great grandfathers.)

Captain John Whipple immigrated to New England from England aboard the Lyon in 1632.

Thomas Whipple ( is the 12th great grandfather if my wife. He is one of her (mathematically speaking) 16,384 different 12th great grandparents. (If none of them are duplicates because of cousins marrying cousins, that could mean that she has 8192 12th great grandmothers and 8192 12th great grandfathers.)

I haven’t spent money on Ancestry’s DNA tests, which could potentially (?) find information from the origins of all 1024 of my 8th great grandparents.

I HAVE spent money on the Y chromosome DNA tests from Family Tree DNA in Houston, which showed my patrilineal YDNA haplogroup as being R1b1b2. Many other male patrilineal descendants of Captain John of Rhode Island have “similar” YDNA haplogroups (R1b…)

Purportedly patrilineal descendants of my wife’s 12th great grandfather have reported being from YDNA haplogroups T, T1, and I2b1. The “T…” haplogroups have been reported to me more frequently than the “I…” haplogroup. (Since my wife is female, she has no Y chromosome, so the YDNA test doesn’t work for her …) See to read more.

After reading Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain, I’m 99% certain that “most” Brits of the 15th and 17th century likely had ancestors from both Scandinavia and Normandy—and many other places.

Page 83 of the book Trace Your Roots with DNA (ISBN 1-59486-006-8) summarizes the origins of some YDNA haplogroups:

The I, I1, and I1a lineages are nearly completely restricted to northwestern Europe. These would most likely have been common within Viking populations. One lineage of this group extends down into central Europe.

Haplogroup R1b is the most common haplogroup in European populations. It is believed to have expanded throughout Europe as humans recolonized after the last glacial maximum 10 thousand to 12 thousand years ago. This lineage is also the haplogroup containing the Atlantic modal haplotype.

Just this past week I have been receiving emails from a patrilineal male Whipple who is a descendant of Henry Whipple ( His YDNA haplogroup is R1b, yet the Whipple Genweb shows him as a descendant of Thomas Whipple (my wife’s ancestor). Based on Henry’s descendant’s YDNA haplogroup of R1b, I’m guessing that the Whipple Genweb has misidentified Henry’s father. (Another task to add to my “to do” list …)

What’s the Advantage of Doing the Y DNA Test?

Recently a close relative asked me the question that is the subject of this post. I asked her to wait for me to answer the question on this blog. So here goes …

Until a few years ago I kept asking myself the question, “What’s the advantage of doing any DNA test?”  I want to know exactly who my ancestors are; I don’t want to take a test that will tell me who my ancestors might be. DNA tests won’t tell me that, I thought.

Then someone gave me a good reason for DNA tests–specifically the Y chromosome DNA test. Here it the one scenario where the Y DNA test can be useful (in my humble opinion):

Let’s say a someone named Sam Whipple wants to trace his Whipple ancestry.

  • Sam has heard that most Whipples in the United States descend from one of two Whipple families that immigrated to Massachusetts in the 1600s.
  • He can trace his Whipple line (going from father to father to father) until the 1700s in New York.
  • Sam’s earliest known Whipple ancestor is the son of two possible Whipples named Thomas who lived in the same vicinity as his distant ancestor.
  • One Thomas is a known descendant of the Ipswich Massachusetts Whipples; the other is a descendant of the Rhode Island Whipples.
  • Sam takes the Y DNA test and sees that it shows he is in the same haplogroup as other male descendants (“patrilineal descendants”) of the Rhode Island Whipples.
  • The Y DNA test results are a tie breaker between the two Thomases; he is able to trace his roots back to Captain John Whipple of Providence, Rhode Island.

Unfortunately, Y Chromosome DNA tests don’t always work out the way they did for the fictitious Sam Whipple above. Adoption, illegitimacy, and other stumbling blocks get in the way.

However, if your situation is the same as Sam’s, you might want to try a Y DNA test.

If not, then someone else needs to show me a good justification for a DNA test. (I’m sure  there are good reasons for them. I just don’t know of one that interests me.)

Y DNA Test not part of AncestryDNA

Yesterday I came very close to ordering a DNA test from, assuming that it would include Y Chromosome  test results.

Before clicking the button to place the order, I decided to phone their 800 number to verify that the test would include a Y Chromosome haplogroup if the person being tested is a male.

Unfortunately, Ancestry doesn’t offer a Y DNA test. Fortunately, I phoned before placing the order. Ancestry’s test is an “autosomal” DNA test. According to the customer support person I spoke with,  it uses the other 22 pairs of chromosomes, but not the X and Y chromosomes.

Why Y DNA?

For many individuals desiring to know their roots, an autosomal DNA test might be helpful. However, the Y Chromosome DNA test is particularly helpful for a Whipple trying to learn if they are descended from Captain John Whipple of Providence, RI or instead from the Ipswich, MA or Bocking/Bishops Stortford, England Whipples (Thomas Whipple or his great grandsons Matthew or John.)

Worth noting:

  • A “large” number of male Whipples that know they descend from Captain John of RI have taken the Y DNA test and found that they are in haplogroup R1b1b2.
  • Most male Whipples who know they descend from the Ipswich Whipples are in haplogroup I2b1. One who “assumes” he is an Ipswich Whipple based on records research has learned he is in haplogroup T.
  • If you are a male with surname Whipple with a missing link in your patrilineal Whipple line, a Y DNA test will tell you one of three things:
    1. You are a biological descendant of Capt. John of Providence if your haplogroup is R1b1b2 …
    2. You are a biological descendant of the Ipswich Whipples if your haplogroup is I2b1 …
    3. You are descended from some other Whipple line, or an adoption, illegitimate link may exist.

So a Y DNA test isn’t guaranteed to pinpoint your Whipple ancestry, but it might (in case 1 or 2 above) help prune your tree of possible ancestors.

Where to get a Y DNA test

I purchased my test from Family Tree DNA ( several years ago for less than $100. I just checked their web site, and at the time of this writing their cheapest Y DNA test is $169. In the past, they have periodically offered tests for considerably less than that. (I recommend waiting for a “special.”)

What if you are female?

Females don’t have a Y chromosome. However, their brothers, uncles and male cousins do. If one of them is surnamed Whipple and a patrilineal descendant of an incomplete Whipple line, you can invite them to have a Y DNA test.

If you have additional facts about DNA testing that I’m missing, please email me at!