DNA Project Results

What We’ve Learned So Far

The following summarizes our findings to date. Note that current results are based on an extremely small sample size and could change dramatically as additional McQuillans are tested. This is particularly true for findings based on negative evidence.

All McQuillans Tested Fall Within Haplogroup R1b. This finding is not particularly surprising as R1b is overwhelmingly the most common haplogroup represented among Irish, Scots and British populations. However, it does cast light on the prehistoric roots of the clan’s deep ancestry.

The McQuillans Have a Diverse Male Ancestry. Rather than all being descendants of a shared male ancestor who lived about 750 years ago, the surname’s membership descends from a variety of male lineages.

Our First “Cluster” Shows Recent Shared Ancestry for Monaghan & Fermanagh McQuillans. The close match between these three McQuillans reveals the first localized McQuillan haplotype cluster to emerge in our study.  This cluster also shows a relationship with some Cullens, and with the McMahons of Monaghan.

A Second “Cluster” Characterizes Male Line Descent from Teague Quillen. A distinctive haplotype has been found among several American Quillin, Quillen and McQuillen participants with paper trails suggesting descent from Teague Quillen, who went to Virginia from Ireland in the 1630s. Their distinctive pattern does not match any other McQuillans tested to date.

A Small Third “Cluster” with Unusual Marker Values Links Two Lines Suspected of Possible Chiefly Descent. While it cannot yet be definitely shown to represent the descendants of the McQuillan Chiefs of the Route, circumstantial evidence associated with both lineages in this DNA cluster independently suggests for each a possible descent from the chiefs of the clan. The cluster is also very interesting because it has some extremely rare marker values at several positions.

One McQuillan Line Shows Descent from Niall of the Nine Hostages. The NW Irish Modal Haplotype has been associated with clans traditionally held to descend from the semi-legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. To date, only one McQuillan lineage we have tested shows this pattern.

Some Evidence Could Suggest a Scots Origin for many McQuillans. At least one McQuillan appears to be related to the so-called “Scots” modal haplotype.  Circumstantial evidence for several of the lineages tested so far, including the places of origin of their closest Y-haplotype matches, suggests the possibility of an early ancestral connection with southwestern Scotland.

No Evidence for a Close Relationship with Clan Campbell. Despite 17th century references in Campbell pedigrees to a common descent for the Campbells and “Clan Uilin in Ireland,” none of the McQuillans so far have closely matched a haplotype reconstructed for the chiefs of clan Campbell.

The reported Y-DNA STR and SNP values for participants in our project are shown in tabular form here.