Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Meguire Surname Group

The subject group classifies various Maguires into categories and displays their respective matches. On that site, cousin Sam McCown and I are shown under McCown McAuley Maguire, indicating that our matches are with the MacAuley family which is one of the four major families of Clan Maguire. The others are Maguire (of whatever spelling), McManus and McMahon.

Just this last week, we got our first Y-DNA match with Robert McMahon at 61/67 markers. We also gained a 61/67 match with Robert McNeill. All of these families lived historically in County Fermanagh, a portion of which is named Clanawley in honor of the MacAuley family. Others lived in that portion of County Tyrone which borders County Fermanagh and also in County Cavan.

Another recent match is Bill Buchanan at 33/37 markers who has found an interesting story about how the Maguire DNA happened, in at least one case, to occur in a Buchanan. I hope that we find such a missing link in the McCown line as well so that we can tie our South Carolina ancestor with ancestors in Ulster and perhaps in Scotland as well.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Cluster of Maguire DNA Families

One McGuire in particular has a great many DNA matches that show promise of shedding light not only on his family but perhaps illuminating new information on the rest of us with Maguire DNA. He has the highest matches
with the reconstructed DNA of Donn Carrach Maguire, first Maguire prince of Fermangh of any of the Maguires tested to date. This reconstruction of the DNA of Donn Carrach Maguiire was the result of a DNA study by
Trinity College, Dublin using hundreds of American test subjects from all of the major families of Clan Maguire.

My personal results to date indicate a genetic distance of 4 with Donn Carrach at 37 markers. Since he died in 1301, a little more than 800 years ago, there has been ample time for accidental mutations to occur in the DNA of his descendants. Brad McGuire's line has the fewest mutations in that time, in fact, appears to have no mutations. Since all of the principal families of the Maguire Clan are related to the ruling line by blood, this Clan is the basis for an excellent DNA study and supporting documentation.. Again in the case of my McCown line, we now have high quality matches with all of the major families of the Clan Maguire. They are Maguire, McManus, MacAuley and McMahon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Still Searching

No new progress to report but we are continuing both conventional and DNA genealogical research. I am expecting new input in the next couple of weeks and will report any new developments here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

MacQueen, MacGuire and MacEwen

Barry McCain of the Ulster Heritage Group,, found mention of MacEoghain in Argyll who were bards and had some connection with the Maguires. Using the Google search term "MacQueen and MacGuire" I found that the names in the title block above are associated with each other. And also with McKown and McQuown, which latter is itself a spelling variant of McCown.
The MacEwens (MacEoghain) were bards to the Campbells of Argyll and Breadalbane and to the MacDougalls of Dunollie.

This does not prove anything about my family history, but is an avenue which must be investigated because it ties together my Irish and Scottish matches and surname with my Maguire DNA. That in itself offers some encouragement.

Barry says that he will look into this more closely when he returns from Ulster in the next couple of weeks. It also give a bit of credibility to our word of mouth family tales of being of highland Scots descent. In this case the Scots most likely having come from Ireland.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Help ont the Way

Barry McCain reports that Dr. Roulston sent parts of my DNA package to Dr. Brian Traynor in Fermanagh. Dr. Traynor specializes in Fermanagh genealogy and is personally known by Barry. I am most anxious to see what Dr. Traynor has to say about any connection between MacEoin/McCown and any of the Maguire Clan surnames. The momentum seems to be building and that gives us hope for an early connection. It would be great if we could find someone in Fermanagh who has the same surname or a spelling variant thereof willing to be tested to see if we match at 67 markers.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

This Just in to Our Newsdesk

Dr. William Roulston has recived and read our DNA genealogical package and will send his comments to Barry McCain next week. Barry's email included a short piece about how easily surnames changed between Mag Uidhir (Maguire) and Mac Eoin (McCown) although he didn't use this specific example. If you would like a copy of that email please contact me.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Right People

In any endeavor, it helps to know the right people. In this search for my line of McCowns, I am most fortunate to have Barry McCain,, administrator of the FTDNA Ulster Heritage Group,, in my corner and hopefully Dr. William Roulston, Chief of Research, ULster Historical Foundation. The latter is dependent on Dr. Roulston's evaluation of my Y-DNA results and whether or not we have enough data to proceed. Dr. Roulston received the data by email today and I am on pins and needles awaiting his analysis.

Barry McCain has pinned down Enniskillen, Fermanagh, as the most likely loacaton of my McCowns no longer ago than 1600AD. He believes that we are paternally related to the Maguire Clan and that the MacEoin/McCowns are in fact part of the Clan. This is most encouraging.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

One Step at a Time

The genealogical package of Y-DNA is being put together by Barry McCain to be sent to Dr. William Roulston of the Ulster History Foundation. He will evaluate whether we have enough material to warrant moving ahead with a combined conventional geneaology and DNA genealogy to learn something of our McCown line history.

I prepared a list of 23 matches at 67 markers and a list of 5 matches at 37 markers with no duplications, making a total of 28 high quality matches. Hopefully, more matches will continue to be reported and these will be forwarded to Dr. Roulston as they come in. The highest Match other than cousin Sam at 66/67 markers is Dr. Thomas James McGuire at 63/67 markers. It would be nice to get an exact match at 67/67 plus others at 64 and 65/67 and it may happen yet. Sam would be an exact 67/67 marker except for a one step mutation at 37 markers. As far as I am concerned, he is an exact match since he is descended from a younger brother of my great grandfather.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Down and Out in Abingdon

Sad but true, no state records of marriage were required before 1850 in Virginia. The only records older than that are church records and they do not include the names
of the parents of the couple who were married. I had thought the church records might include the parents' names, but no such luck. At this moment, unless some legal paper such as apprenticeship, property transfers or gravestones are found, I don't have a clue as to where next to find the names of the parents of our earliest known ancestor, Lawrence McCown.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Abingdon, Virginia Search

I have contacted the Sinking Spring Presbyterian Church in Abingdon, Virginia.
The object is to see if they will recommend someone to search the marriage record of my great great grand parents to see if their parents' names are recorded.

If so, that would be a tremendous break through. It might be possible to determine if these parents were the first of our line in America and the location in South Carolina where they settled. This church (though not this building) is where my gggf&m were married in Janurary 1815.

Also, I have contacted Debra McCown in Abingdon who has been very helpful and may be able to come up with a McCown contact in northeastern Tennessee who has done a lot of genealogical work related to various McCown lines. As with all things genealogical, none of this may pan out, but never the less some very helpful people already have been encountered in the search.

Another goal of this search in Abingdon, Washington County, VA is to locate other male McCowns willing to take the Family Tree Y-DNA test which could give us an indication of whether or not our lines are related.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The New Haplogroup has been Reported by FTDNA

It is official. As of today my haplogroup is R1b1b2a1b5 as expected (and hoped for). That is consistent with all of my best matches at 37 and 67 markers.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Initial Deep Subclade Results

As mentioned in the previous update, FTDNA is testing me for six additional SNP's.
Results on two of the six have been received about a month before their target dates.
They are L49 and L23. I know it is a bit like watching grass grow, but the result was positive on both and my haplogroup has changed from R1b1b2 to R1b1b2a. Another
man of Irish descent has tested positive on all six of these SNP's which came as a big surprise to me, because I had assumed that at least some of them would be mutually exclusive. So, like that man, my results when they are all in could well be the same as his are, R1b1b12a1b5. That is the most common of the R1b haplogroups so I guess that makes me a man of the people.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Looking Farther Back than the first McCown

As many of you know, there is more to Y-DNA testing than just finding your score on
12, 25, 37 or 67 markers or locations on the male Y chromosome. There are also groupings called haplogroups. If you match someone in all 67 markers but are in a different haplogroup you are not related by a common ancestor.

My major haplogroup is R1b but that is further divided into clades and subclades. After testing for my haplogroup, it turned out to be R1b1b2. It stayed that way even after having deep sub clade tests. But now, FTDNA and the science of DNA genealogy have discovered "new" sub clades and my DNA specimen is now being tested for the following Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP): L21, L23, L49, P310, P311 and P312. Now, if I am truly related to my highest quality matches, my new haplogroup will be R1b1b2a1b5. So, that will validate all these high quality matches.

R1b1b2a1b5 is present in several countries in Europe, Africa and Asia, but it's highest concentration per capita is in the British Isles and there, more specifically in Ayrshire, Argyll and the inner Hebrides in Scotland and in Ulster.

Not many of my best matches have been tested to this level, but those that have are
R1b1b2a1b5. The result will be known on all of the SNP's except L21 on August 19th and SNP L21 is expected on August 24th. You will see the results on the website. Navigate to that page, then click on DNA Test, then on Test Results and then scroll down the left hand margin until you come to the heading Mag Uidhir II (Maguire II). Look for Lawrence McCown under that heading. There are two of us under Lawrence, mine is the first one. The tension mounts.

One last thing, you don't have to be a by-stander, during July only, FTDNA is offering good discounts to new test subjects who join under a surname group such as the McCown Surname Group. There is probably a surname group for your surname, but if not, they will help you start one and you still get the discounts. See and sign up for the most markers you can afford or maybe more.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


We have made contact with another descendant of Lawrence McCown. This one is descended from Lawrence's son,Leander who married Jane Gaston. This cousin knows of no male descendants in her line still living. Since we have documentation on Leander and his descendants but no living male to carry on his DNA,we have asked her if she would like to be kept current with our progress because it is pretty much a certainty that Leander's DNA would be very close to Lawrence's and sons William and Eli, and therefor to mine. Jennifer, the newly discovered cousin is definitely interested in our search for our roots both in America and in Ulster.

The doldrums mentioned in the title refer to trying to find parallel family lines and are currently trying to make contact with descendants of Lawrence McKown. We know that this Lawrence's children don't have given names similar to ours, but we could possibly be related several generations before these two Lawrences were born.
Now we have to see if we can get some of these McKowns to take the FTDNA Y-DNA test.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Getting Help

Barry McCain, administrator of the UHG,, has been consulting with Dr. William Roulston, Head of Research at the Ulster Historical Society, in regards to how adequate our data is to proceed in researching my line of McCowns in Fermanagh. Dr. Roulston is very interested in seeing how much can be done using DNA with high quality matches and then traditional primary source material. This would be sort of a test case. Mary Becker, administrator of the Oriel Septs of Ireland Group, suggested contacting Dr. Roulston because of some help he provided to her in researching a family from Ulster. It turned out that in her project, it was necessary for him to use records in Scotland. Mary said that the effort paid off.

With both Barry and Mary having had acquaintance with Dr. Roulston and his work and sharing that information with me, there is an outside chance that a seemingly impossible mission could come to fruition. On the surface, it looks like trying to connect unidentified ancestors in Fermanagh with unidentified ancestors in South Carolina, I know,lots of luck! It does seem like trying to connect a suspension bridge between a couple of unsupported sky hooks.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wrong William or Sloppy Genealogy

In the previous post, I mentioned looking into the possibility that this William was one of my ancestors. He is now claimed as an ancestor by an unrelated McCown line in many different family trees of various surnames. Claiming is one thing, but proving is the color of another horse. The rest of the non-related line of McCowns had relocated to the American colonies by 1740,some in PA and some in VA. There are brothers shown is some family trees not shown in others who are known to be related by DNA. Why would this William alone move from Antrim to Fermanagh while the rest of the family moved from Antrim to the Ameriacan Colonies? On the surface, it looks as if it is all grasping at straws. The nearest name in Fermanagh for the location of this William's death is Knockmakegan, not Knockmaoleigan. So far, the closest match for McCown in knockmakegan is McCue,not McCown so to get to the truth of the matter some on serious research will have to be done, probably in Ulster.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

William McCown of Knockmaoleigan, Fermanagh

The Person in the title is the current potential ancestor that I am trying to find some info about. He was born in 1708 and died in 1747 in the village mentioned in the title. He was located in the Ancestry Genealogy of the Walter Family. Two others are shown, one in 1809 in Knoxville, Tenn. and another in 1908 in Iowa. Presumably they are in the same line, but that is to be determined. The subject has the right name and lived at the right place and could fit nicely in our timeline.

So far, there is no evidence of another male in the line using any of the above names as his earliest known ancestor or being tested by FTDNA. I am trying to determine whether or not someone in that line has been DNA tested.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Welcome Scott

Patrick Hermann MacAuley is visiting Fermanagh and Cavan Counties this month and said that if he gets the opportunity he would see if he could get information on McCowns. PLease don't hesitate to write to me directly: or

Two new matches showed up this week, one 62/67 and one at 63/67 and both are Maguire Clan family names, MacAuley and McGuire, as you may imagine, this is very good news.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A 66/67 Match

Cousin Sam's 67 marker test results are in and we match 66/67. Because we only match 36/37 it is not possible to match 67/67. Nevertheless, we did learn and gain by Sam's upgrade. We learned that our FTDNA Y-DNA tests were accurate and error free.We learned of a potential link to the MacAuleys. Hopefully, this will help us in our search for our family origin, at least in Ulster.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cousin Sam at 57 Markers

Cousin Sam and I match exactly at 12 and 25 markers and now we match on 36/37 markers. That one step mutation on marker 35, DYS 442, is characteristic on the MacAuley line in the Maguire Clan. We now match at 56/57 markers tested and expect the final ten marker results by March 25th. We are on course to being closely aligned with the Maguire chiefly line, although, only the primary and junior Maguire lines have actually been chiefs or princes in Fermanagh.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

McCowns and MacAuleys?

Cousin Sam, who is descended from Eli, the younger brother of my great grandfather, William, just received his Y-DNA results at 25 and 37 of 67 markers. We match exactly at 12 and 25 markers and at 36/37 markers. The one marker value difference is on DYS 442 where he has a value of 13 and I have a value of 12. Of all of the Maguire related families descended from Donn Carrach Maguire, only one of two MacAuley lines has that same mutation at DYS 442. Now, we hope to learn if this mutation will help in finding our deep family history.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

McCown, McKeown, Johnston, Johnson

In answer to one of my postings on the McCown Surname Bulletin Board, in 2002, one respondent mentioned the account of Bissett moving to Antrim from Scotland and adopting the surname McKeown. It seems that some Irish McCowns changed their names to McKeown. Over time, and possibly in the British effort to eradicate Gaelic names, some of the McKeowns changed their surnames to Johnston or Johnson. Many more chose Johnston than Johnson.

The reason that this comes as a revelation to me at this late date, is that I now have a 61/67 Y-DNA match with a Johnston(e). At first I assumed that this was a Scottish match, first because I thought the name was Scottish and second, because this match's earliest known ancestor was born in Dumfriesshire Scotland in 1805. Barry McCain pointed out that it was also an Irish surname and occurred frequently in Fermanagh Co., Ulster. Barry also pointed out that many Irish moved to Scotland during the Industrial Revolution for job opportunities. This in turn could explain how an Irish Johnston(e) happened to be born in Scotland in an area rife with Johnston(e)s of the Scottish border clan, in that it was in southern Scotland that the Industrial Revolution had most effect.

It sounds as though McKeown, Johnston(e) and Johnson surnames may all have to be considered in our genealogy. I was doing a Google search on the McKeown name and one of the results that came up was the aforementioned 2002 posting to Genforum.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Y-DNA Results

The McCown surname is Mac Eoghain in Gaelic and on the Ulster Heritage DNA Results page ( you will find a heading for Mac Eoghain---but not all McCowns are shown under that heading. The majority of the 25 tested have their results shown under that heading. Most of those are descended from Francis McCown, John McCown or George McCown who are all believed to descend from Alexamder McCown, a Presbyterian minister.

You will find two or three others listed under the haplogroup heading R1b1b2 or R1b1b2a1b. The remaining two are shown under the heading Mag Uidhir II (Maguire II). That is one of two places that you can read my 67 marker test results. The other is at under User ID G2K6P

These two outcasts are a cousin descended from a younger brother (Eli) of my great grandfather (William). My best match to date is a McManus at 62/67 markers. We project to a 99.95% probability of having a common ancestor 33 generations ago. Using a 50 to 70% probability, we shoud have a Most Recent Common Ancestor within the 13 most recent generations.

Ancestral Origins Revisited

FTDNA has recently provided the information that countries of origin shown on the subject report are meaningful if at least 2% of those tested in that country are a match and very meaningful at 4%. Since there are vast differences in the populations and the percentage tested between countries, I believe that such differences must be taken into account. No country rose to the level of two percent at 12/12 matches, however, at 11/12 matches these levels are of interest: England 3.8%, Wales 6.6%, France (Alsace) 4.9%, Iceland 4.4%, Ireland (including N.I.) 4.5% and Scotland 5.2%. At one step mutation, these are all very strong. Scotland, Wales,Iceland and France (Alsace) are proportionally much stronger in relation to Ireland than I would have supposed.

An anomaly is just how haplogroups and haplotypes affect the outcome of the report in terms of matches. FTDNA has also said that the matches shown on my personal results page include all haplogroups that begin with R1b1. Since mine is R1b1b2 and many others are R1b1b2a1b or greater, that leaves open the question as to which matches are truly matches.