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.