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Using DNA to Reunite the Clan Gregor

king-james-vi.jpg

James Stuart, known as King James VI in Scotland and King James the I in England and Ireland, issued an edict in 1603 that abolished the surname MacGregor and declared that everyone named MacGregor or Gregor must renounce the name or suffer death, all in response to the murder of the King’s Forester, who himself had hanged some MacGregors for poaching. A bounty of 1,000 merks (apparently a great deal of money) was placed on the heads of the clan leaders, with 100 merks for other members of the clan.

This the origin of Rob Roy, also known as Red MacGregor, or Robert Roy MacGregor. For the next 200 years The Clan Gregor endured this persecution. Men were killed while women and children were sold into slavery in the New World. Finally, in 1774, the Act of Proscription against the clan was repealed.

Now, the Clan Gregor Society has announced that they are using the latest tricks in DNA to reunite the MacGregor clan. Using the DNA profile of a known descendant of the line, the MacGregor’s of Glencarnoch, they have decided that they will “admit to full membership of the society anyone who can prove they share 31 out of the 37 DNA markers in common with the main MacGregor bloodline profiler – irrespective of their surname.”

Professor Richard McGregor, the chairman of the Clan Gregor Society of Scotland, said:

“The council has taken this decision in recognition of the fact that, as a result of Clan Gregor’s past turbulent history, individuals were required to assume names which were totally divorced from their actual clan, and although such name changes were often documented at the time, others were not. The council recognises the ancestors of some MacGregors chose not to return to the original clan name for a variety of reasons, and that advances in DNA testing now allows descendants of such individuals to be identified as belonging to the clan.”

I certainly hope the Clan Gregor Society has used at least two independent sources to identify the MacGregor DNA profile! Without verification it is impossible to say that the DNA profile they’re using is actually MacGregor. 300 or 400 years is a VERY long time which can allow lots of non-paternal events to occur.

This process will of course miss those MacGregor descendants who were not, according to their DNA, directly related to the Clan but had adopted the surname. There probably isn’t any way to identify those individuals, however. And naturally, the female MacGregors are lost here as well.

Thanks to the Genealogue!

Blaine Bettinger

Intellectual property attorney, genealogist, and author of The Genetic Genealogist since 2007

12 Comments

  1. Pingback: Genomicron
  2. Type your comment here.The Glencarnoch line, of which Malcolm – 2124 is a member, is the predominant existing line. About 40 persons have the characteristic mutation to 10 at 385a. It is this back mutation which characterizes other Erainn tribe clans in the Highlands who have a 10 at 391 and an 11 at 385a. This mutation is relatively recent, about 875 AD and ties the MacGregor line to the Colla Uais MacDonalds, the MacMillans, the Buchanans etc.

  3. i have traced my family tree back to 1781.i am now a bit stuck. the surname is smith.from stewarton in ayrshire. my father used to tell me we were part of the magregor clan. i would like to have the dna testing but at the moment cannt afford it. any ideas of what i should do next. thanks sylvia

  4. I never knew that about the name Gregor..kinda funny cause I went to a school with one, but everyone just called him Greg..When I use clan hosting I never really put much thought into the origins of the word clan but the true meaning of the sense brings thoughts of ancestry and pride.

  5. I too am a smith allegedly according to fasmily tales from the clan gregor due to an act of heroism on an ancestors part that was rewarded by the chieftain? How does that work and how can i trace my ancestors?? please.

  6. It’s quite remarkable, these days, the idea of utilizing the latest tricks in DNA to reconstruct genealogical lines. I find this all quite remarkable.

  7. i am a very close family to king stuart,my grandma’s father carried the stuart named,then passed to her and her brother,she got married then it became dail then passed to my father then me.stuart’s son earl of galloway came to america when the british attacked and that formed my family,i beleive mine is the closest living family to king james stuart.

  8. My grandmother told me a family legend that we were the clan Gregor’s descendaents. In 1918 on the russian north there were scottish soldiers (so cold intervents). One of them, officer MacGregor fall in love with my gand-grand mother and became father. After he was obligedto return home. It was the beginning of this branch of vy family. How could I know any details??? Sincerely yours Alexander MacGregor. Arkhangelsk. Russia.

  9. My Grandmothers fathers name was “McConnell (his line was from Ireland), Her mothers maiden name was Mary Johnston Barrowman (She was emigrated directly from Scotland). I traced the line back to where William McGregor had to change his name from McGregor to his mothers name Barrowman, due to the Kings edict………How would I go about having one of my sons do a DNA test for the McGregor line????? Thank You…….Lora Ashley

  10. I wound’er if were related our clan name is Ruthven but in 1617,3 William Ruthven the earl of gowrie fled escaping being beheaded, under King James 6 and first of england for the fact that we were in line for success of the Crown of England we reacived the title earl of Gowrie came from margrett tudor because william ruthven married dorthy stewart daughter of henry Stewart ! lord methven and marrgrett Tudor henry the 8th sister

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