The Clan Cameron DNA Project

The Clan Cameron Y DNA Project

Genetic Genealogy is one of the fastest changing and most widely publicized innovations in family history research. We inherit DNA from both of our parents so we each have as a result a unique DNA fingerprint which we can use in combination with traditional genealogical and historical records to document a family tree. There are 3 basic categories of Direct to Consumer (DTC) DNA tests: YDNA, mtDNA & atDNA.

The Clan Cameron Y DNA Project has been working for some years, becoming more active in 2018 with increasing technology and, more importantly, increasing numbers of Cameron participants. The administrators for the project generously give their time voluntarily.  The company used is Family Tree DNA and once you order the test everything is done online via a username and password emailed to you once you have paid for the order. The test itself is a simple cheek swab and FTDNA store your sample for 25 years in case you wish to upgrade your testing at any time.

YDNA, the study of the male Y chromosome, is passed directly from father to son. A male’s Y DNA will be identical (baring periodic mutations) to that of his father’s father’s father etc.  The periodic mutations are how we can follow and trace a particular family line.

The Cameron DNA Project was set up as, and intended to be, a YDNA or surname DNA project. In simple terms, this means that the intention of the project is to explore the origins of the surname Cameron; of course, when we’re dealing with a surname like Cameron, that also defines a Highland Clan, the project serves the dual purpose of exploring the origins of Clan Cameron itself. In addition to the origin of the name and the Clan, surname projects aim to link individuals with common direct line male ancestry together.

Usual conventional wisdom is to test up to 111 STR markers before doing the Big Y, the idea being that STRs are more useful for genealogical purposes. Unfortunately, for Cameron’s & others in the A7298 area of the tree, this is NOT the case. In essence, STRs are virtually useless for the purpose of determining how closely 2 men may be related in this particular area of the tree.  The reason for this appears to be due to a phenomenon known as convergence, or back mutation. In essence, this means that the STRs mutate away from each other, and then back again.

It is strongly recommend to start with an initial Y37 STR test, to clarify which group you belong to. Once those results are in the project administrators will provide you with a review and explanation of your results, and options for further testing. For all testers who fall within Group A, BigY testing will be strongly recommended.

Many of those bearing the Cameron surname descend in some way from the original Lochiel line, the MacGillonies, MacMartins or MacSorlies. Others will have taken the name for various reasons, and at various times in history. Most families have a tradition of descent from the Lochiel line through one of the cadet branches and this may be proven correct. Some will be reluctant to find these families stories proven wrong – and of course at any level other irregularities may become apparent. If this might be a worry to you, or to your close relatives, it may be better not to join the testing project.

In 2018 we discovered the Cameron defining SNP R-A6138.  This only came about because of the number of Cameron’s who ventured forth and tested the Big Y 500.  The price of YDNA testing has come down considerably over the last 18months or so, and the testing itself has also improved greatly.  In 2019 the Big Y-500 was upgraded to include 50% more testing of the Y genome and renamed Big Y-700. Since the improvements were made we have discovered defining SNP’s for MacGillonie, MacMartin and Clunes lines!

We are going from strength to strength and our Project will only get bigger and better with each and every test that is taken.  Another thing which is invaluable is having men test who have a known Cameron lineage. This helps immensely with placement in the correct line for those who don’t know where they belong.

Feel free to contact administrators Loraine Smith or Joanne Cameron if you have any YDNA queries.

Family Finder focuses on autosomal DNA (atDNA), which is inherited from both your mother and your father, your four grandparents, etc. This test is designed to find living relatives in all of your ancestral lines within the last five generations and can also give you a breakdown of your ethnic makeup by percentage.

This is the cheapest and currently most widely advertised test. It can certainly be interesting, but often frustrating trying to work out which potential cousins to follow up. It can also be extremely useful when uncertainty related (on paper) fourth cousins turn out to be true relatives on DNA testing, confirming years of work. The American administrators have done a lot of complex work with Cameron related results and we can expect more information in the future.  Those who have tested their atDNA will need to join the Clan Cameron atDNA Project.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) – Traces the direct maternal line (mother’s mother’s mother, etc). While this can often be of personal interest, it is of little practical help in the search for Cameron ancestry.

For more details and prices see the FamilyTreeDNA website – and watch out for the frequent price reductions on “sales”.  The sales are usually seen in April for World DNA Day, in June for the North American Fathers’ Day, in August and in December FTDNA have their biggest sale of the year which runs for the whole month of December and often they extend it into the first few days of January.

Clan Cameron YDNA Project updates can be found at the following links:

Aonaibh Ri Chéile

February 2020

August 2019